We (finally) moved to Spain for good after living in the UK long enough to call it Home. The kayak has been sitting there in the store room, staring at me everytime I walked past it, shouting at me “hahaha, you won’t have time for me dude, plus you’re missing all that turquoise-blue waters!”
A month passed and the kayak kit was covered with a layer of reddish-orange coloured dust as we had couple weeks of high winds since we moved in. I forced myself to pause everything else and pulled out the kayak & sail kit, laid it out on the terrace.
Small Sail or BIG SAIL?!
I had a chance to visit the local recycle centre just before our moving van loading-day in Exeter and managed to find not one but TWO wing-surfing sails just sitting there on the damp and mucky floor. I went on to ask how much it was, and the man said “That’s a fiver (GBP£5) each mate”, so I took both! Strapped them up on the roof-bars, smiling from cheek to cheek, I drove home feeling achieved!
One of the sails were marked 6m (Alpha) and the other was 5.4m (Tushingham). The 5.4 was narrower and tall and the 6m was noticeably wider, so I went with the 6m since I really wanted big seahorse-power. We’ll leave the Tushingham for the next phase of this wacky project. Hint, I have a proper wind-surfing carbon mast to match, ha!!
This sail was actually bigger than the Itiwit 2 kayak, so I improvised by cutting it in a way that it’ll still be sail-worthy. If you recalled watching Episode 4 on YouTube, the Alpha was about twice the size of that sail. Check this out :
I measured the Alpha to fit my 3.0m mast, drew out a cut line just allowing about 200mm above the Itiwit-2’s body when set up with the IKEA parasol-base. The foot (cut line) was also curved lower in the middle to allow stretch compensation when sailing, if that makes sense?
The sail came with 4 battens, like fiberglass ruler sticks and I managed to get the 2 top ones on but left out the 2 lower ones as their tips are no longer ‘in range’ of the mast. Here’s how they both looked like ready-to-sail:
The Alpha has more surface area due to the battens to hold the curved shape = more power!
Harnessing the Power
Hold on there! With that much force, if I plainly use the seat mounts, kayak side-handles or any stitched-sewn mounts, it’ll almost definitely rip out easily on a big wind gust. So, I went on to improvise the design by making a webbing harness to distribute the force evenly on both bellows of the inflatable kayak.
This harness acts as mounting points for the mast tensioners on the left and right … or port & starbord -if you like. When the wind blows hard from the right/starbord, the right side tensioner line would pull hard which transfers the pull force under the kayak… over the left side kayak body and tied to the IKEA parasol base. The force was effectively distributed over the left-facing surface of the parasol base. Same goes to wind coming from left/port side, it transfers the force vice versa.
With this harness as mast stabilizers, I’ve noticed that I can now control the amount of listing, ‘body-roll’ or tipping-over when in sailing.
However, the front seat mounts still comes in handy to keep the blue-harness from slipping off the front of the kayak when sailing. I used 2 short ropes to simply secure the blue-harness in place. Remember, the Itiwit 1/2/3 is still a ‘balloon’ and they flex a lot. Flexing causes the harnesses to slip off from where they were supposed to be.
The Newly Designed Rudder Mount?
Oh yes, I dare say that this was by far my best design for a rudder mount. It did not slip at all from beach-launch to beach-landing. The top and bottom webbing held up for the vertical forces, and the gutter-channel or ‘cannelon’ in Spanish worked great for lateral forces. Fit’s like a glove!
I’m proud of how far we’ve come from researching to making such a practical & functional design.
What do I think about this new setup?
I believe that this setup is going to be the kit for this season and probably couple seasons more before we take another step into either making a jib, or even a spinnaker to get more sail out of this kayak.
I’m comfortable with sailing this on a 5 to 12 knots wind day with low to medium choppy waters for my level of sailing experience. Speed is on the books, but it’s not a priority at this point of time. Even if we want more speed out of it, it’s hard to achieve with a hull-design that’s just meant to be for paddling around with kayak-oars at low speeds.
Achieving greater sailing speeds require a hard shell kayak or a proper hard-body dinghy such as the Laser Pico, Topper or the like. But, that beats the purpose of keeping the kit light and easily stowed away off-season. Hard bodies need space to store (eg. garage, side or backyard) and not possible for a single-person to handle.
If you have questions about kayak-sailing even when you haven’t bought a kayak, feel free to leave a comment on the YouTube video by clicking HERE. I usually respond within 24 hours. I’d love to see this community grow!
The Bottom Line
If you’d like to try out sailing as a person that never had a chance to try the hobby, go for it! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that buying an Itiwit and slapping on a DIY sailing kit is going to beat a purpose-built sailing dinghy, I’d say it’s a good place to start without you being put-off by the cons like storage, owning costs, intimidating sailing-schools, etc.
Like I’ve mentioned in the YouTube video for this sail-out, Everybody can sail! You can too!