Deck reinforcement for the sail

When I described installing the sail, I was rather optimistic with my assessment of the strength and suitability of the front deck of the Tahe Wind 585. I was completely preoccupied with the ‘downward’ forces acting on the mast base, in fact the Tahe deck manages these down forces well.

Having read Rob Mercers Kayak Sailing safety guide, it was when I had a session on the water trying some some self rescue techniques that I discovered some very different forces were acting on the deck.

If you look at the two shots above you can see the mast foot is subject to a ‘Turning’ force. This force compresses and ‘caves in’ the deck allowing the side stays to fall slack with this change in geometry. Not a good situation at all, especially in these dead calm conditions, add in wind and waves and the likely result would be some serious damage to the Deck.

The problem is with the relatively thin deck between the center Apex moulding and the Side gunwhale. Many years ago when preparing to take glass slalom boats to Austria we reinforced the front lightweight decks using thin timber lathes, it was simple and worked. I decided to use this method for the Tahe

The red lines show the area that I need to reinforce, it’s set back about 30cm from the front hatch opening, it was not going to be straightforward, I could get my head in the hatch… but not with an arm.  So it was simply a matter of taking a look then working blind with a quick check every so often make sure all was in order.

I was pleased with the end result, I laid the 3mm Lathes on top of two layers of a heavy chopped strand mat, then a further layer of mat over the lathes. To keep everything smooth over the work I mixed up a little ‘Flowcoat’ and gave everything a coating.

(I removed the Saddles for the stays, and when refitting through the additional reinforcement had to cut new bolts to length)

Without doubt the deck is more rigid, Ive decided to install an electric pump tomorrow  before getting out and testing the reinforcement.


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Playspots on the Etel

Here’s a  google earth view of the area showing the two Islets creating the white water on the Flood tide.

Below these two Islets is another rocky clump which creates a powerful wave on the Ebb.  The current flows around 7 knots here and on the big springs you will see large boils rise in the water then dropping into whirlpools, really chaotic water.

In the video clip are three different playspots. The video was shot around 15.30 hrs, Low tide on the Etel was at 12.10 hrs. At the time of he video, the volume of water and the tide height had increased to the point where the water starts to flatten out, better shaped waves are a little earlier, although the speed and power of the water increase.  The tidal coefficient was a high spring at 104, and on this occasion the water was higher than expected because of the low pressure.

A coefficient of 88 and above ( a MHWS tide = Coefficient 90 )  will give white water to play on, around 2 hours after Low water, and it starts dropping of 2 hours later as is approaches high tide

These two aerial shots show the Islets from two sources, that on the left is google earth and shows the plumes of water on a rising tide.

The shot on the right is from the French yellow pages (Pages Jaunes)  and shows the playspots dry at low tide .      (This link takes you to BELTZ a small town just east of the Etel.  click on Vue on the map for an aerial photo and scroll across)

The quality of the imagery published by Pages Jaunes is far superior to that on Google earth or maps, I use it all the time when trip planning.


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Ria D’Etel … Spring Tides !

The Ria d’Etel has been mentioned several times in this blog …. just three weeks ago we paddled from the source to Pont Lorois and back, this week it was a ‘good’ spring tide.

This time we took the playboats to Pont Lorois, these tidal rapids are a great playspot. Whilst a river changes with increases or decreases with volume, they rarely change as quickly as tidal rapids,  as food for thought …. in the following photos imagine the current flowing in the opposite direction ?

In fact it does on these tidal rapids  ! … and rivers do not do that !

The next photo is the same spot viewed from the opposite side, the tidal height is a little lower

Behind the big ‘Rounded’ rock is another playspot …. the video is ‘under construction’  and will be posted soon

This tide was particularly high and the results here were quite different to usual,  very ‘grippy’ stoppers and huge volumes of water …   Jersey kayaks explains  here

Another great day on the water


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A few minutes video of my first Kayak Paddle Sail

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Paddling with the Sail again

Well worth mentioning is the article written by Rob Mercer in Australia covering Kayak Sailing Safety, it’s an excellent text which has given me plenty of food for thought.

Another day with a depression just off the West coast of Brittany, with consequent high winds forecast. However a window of some gentler Bf 3 to 4 winds in the morning were predicted, later to rise to Bf5 by late afternoon.

I was itching to get back on the water and get using the sail again.It was bright with bursts of sunshine and the sky gave no indication of what was to come, I was soon on the water with the Sail up

The wind was filling the sail nicely and I was much more relaxed, and starting to understand how the sail was working.

After carrying out a little research on the internet I discovered some terms for Sailing with reference to wind direction.  So how was I doing ?  Firstly I’ll explain that my kayak has both a Rudder and Skeg !   ( It was an ex Demo boat and was fitted with both to allows demos with either )

With the rudder up Sailing Close Reach was fast but I noticed a lot of sideways drift (Leeway) When I dropped the Rudder I founbd by turning into the wind I could counteract the Leeway, as I turned closer to wind the Sail would not fill so well and I needed to pull the mainsheet in tighter. I was then able to sail somewhere between Close Reach and Close Hauled, there was a loss of speed from 7Kmh down to 5Kmh.

Allowing the boat to turn away from wind, and letting the mainsheet out to fill the sail gave me a sharp increase of speed, not so noticable when looking out at the horizon, but when looking at the coast zooming past, it was quite amazing.

I have today understood the term to Gybe, that is turning the boat downwind causing the sail and boom to cross the boat and fill on the other side. The first time it ‘happened’ it was quite unexpected and unsettling, the sail crossed the deck rapidly and filled quickly with a snap, needing a good support stroke on that side !

I soon learnt that tightning the mainsheet and bringing the sail in closer reduced the shocks effect of the Gybe.

It was another fun day,  wind speeds at the start were 12Km per hour rising up to 23 Km hour at the end. When the ‘White horses’ appear, I know it’s time to land.



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First trip on the water with the Flat Earth Sail

My first choice to test out the new Flat Earth rig was my local beach at Villes Martin,  Magic Seaweed was predicting Bf4 along this stretch of coast all morning, I was a bit concerned that this may be a little high for a first outing…. I’ve never sailed before !

However at 9am after a 5 minute walk I was at the head of the beach with my Anenometer it recorded Zero !   I decided to go further west to Pornichet which is more open to a Westerly, sure enough as I approached the Sea Front flags were fluttering nicely I measured a 7 knot steady wind

The sun was shining, a bright 18°C  I parked the sail for launching and was soon paddling forward into the wind.

Having put some distance between myself and the shore, before I even thought about sailing I practiced raising and lowering the sail, all was fine everything running smothly.

I headed straight into the wind then pulled the mainsheet to allow the sail to fill. Then I noticed in my haste during the setup, I had assembled the boom joint upsidedown leaving the sail twisted, so back to the beach to correct it.

Again once on the water I headed off into the wind and raised the sail, pulled the mainsheet bringing the boom in closer and the sail filled nicely turning me to Port and I was Sailing !

Over the course of the next hour my confidence increased, along with the wind strength !  I was sailing along anywhere between 3knots and 6knots, it truly was great fun and I learned how to turn into the wind and with the wind behind.  I alm looking forward to my next trip


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Nantes to Saint-Nazaire on the River Loire, 60 km of Art, History and Nature

I have paddle the Loire Estuary below the bridge at Saint-Nazaire on many occasions, but have never ventured further up river. It’s time we took a look.

We arrived at Nantes just before dawn, the lights reflecting on the water looking great

We had time for a cup of tea as the sun rose, it was a spectacular display of colours

With the boats lightly loaded for a day trip we were ready to go. We were quite fortunate to have arrived at the slip at the same time as a couple of members from a Society called ‘Loire Pour Tous’  … the Loire for everyone.

They very kindly gave us permission to leave our van outside their clubhouse saving us the stress of looking for parking.  These guys are involved in the restoration, and new building of the traditional timber barges used on the Loire over the last Century

As the Sun rose in the Sky, we saw an Otter swimming upstream, I am always grateful to see these natural displays.

Behind the Lock at the entrance to the Riviere Erde, we could see the Cathedral

We passed the enormous Naval museum Maillé Brézé    a post WWII French Destroyer, there is an interesting account on the associations website  at

We passed under the Pont de Cheviré which carries the périphérique circular  autoroute around Nantes, the graceful curves are much more impressive when viewed from below.

By mid morning the temperature was reaching 18°C  and once again I find myself paddling in a T Shirt, Sea temperatures are published as 16°C around the Saint-Nazaire estuary,  but the river was probably a degree or two colder.

The dockside cranes are massive and numerous, they hint at the past when Nantes was a busy Port receiving goods from all over the World for onward transmission via the Rivers canal and the road network.

Then we came across this house ……  it is in fact a piece of work from the Artist Jean-Luc Courcoult    “La Maison dans la Loire” although it is a ‘decorated concrete fabrication’        5 years on it still looks remarkable ‘real’  The Artist is popularly known as the original founder of the ‘Royal de Luxe’ Theatre company who build giant puppets and perform all over the World

A little further on, at the Lock to the Canal by Le Pellerin, we came across another piece of Art from the artist Erwin Wurm titled  “Misconceivable”

The river was now becoming wider, and we also saw the sky getting darker, we knew there wind would be increasing and bringing a heavy front of rain, we still had another 16 km to do.

We reached Montoir de Bretagne about 5 km from our destination when the front arrived, the sky turned a dramatic grey, the herring gulls took off noisily and the Bridge at Saint-Nazaire disappeared from view.  Exactly on schedule at 4pm the winds increased to force 5 and we chose to land a km earlier, on the small beach just next to the Port, after clocking up 60.5 kms michelle’s longest day trip todate.

This was an excellent trip, there is so much to see, but at 60 kms, it is a committing journey to undertake on one tidal cycle using the slack water at each side of the cycle, we were on the water for 7 1/2 hours .  We also made the trip on a very low neap tide, a high Spring tide would have knocked the kms off quicker.

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Installing a keel strip….. and stainless steel cables

This post is not an instructional post …  but is here to give me a record which I can refer back to when I find I need to do the job again.

So, by way of introduction I have previously glassed on a keel strip but this was over a year ago.   I was very content with the results and I believe the materials cost about 50% less than having the work done on a paying basis.

I previously, and this time used the instructions I found online at

I used 200 grams of resin to lay the tape on, and finished the keel strip with 300 grams of pigmented ‘Flowcoat’   I used a 2% mix of Catalyst working outside on a bright clear day at 18° C.

I took the skeg out, and the cable I replaced some 3 months ago was in perfect condition. My boat had a Valley cable skeg with a stainless steel flat tape cable. It required continual maintenance,  the manufacturers even had a video demo on their website. The problem was rusting.

I discovered a supplier in the UK several years ago who’s cable has been good in my P&H boat for over 5 years. Here’s their Website

I ordered:
3mm 1×19 A4-AISI 316 Stainless Steel Cable MBL 720 kgs
Catalogue Code 602.000.030

As well
as the 3mm cable for the skeg, I also ordered this 4mm PVC covered Stainless Cable with the fittings to enable me to rig up a good Security cable for locking the boats up. I made up a 6 meter length which gives plenty of scope for securing multiple boats. It is a great deterrent with its highly visible red coating.


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Google Maps GL 3D and plan for ‘Work Avoidance’

I’ve been aware of google mapsGL for quite a while, but have not explored much with the new 3D Earth button ….. then I stumbled across a Lighthouse on the Brittany coast
It’s a lighthouse I’ve previously visited and photographed on the Île de Sein ….  I decided to compare, and it was impressive a good 3D reproduction  ….  So I looked for more, Brittany is not short of lighthouses!

Here is Créac’h on Île Ouessant (Ushant) not only is the lighthouse 3D but also the Coastguard Semaphore building.

Having come across these lighthouses on land I wondered whether there were any rendered in 3D out at sea, I checked out the famouse Le Jument lighthouse off the Ouessant coast, and sure enough found it…So here is le Jument, possibly the most famous lighthouse in the world after photographer Jean Guichard captured a series of amazing images of the lighthouse being engulfed by a huge wave, but what made this shot that once in a lifetime shot was the lighthouse keeper who was standing at the door

(For those wondering about “what happened next”   goto

As I moved around the google maps 3D lighthouse,  I smiled….  a clever touch the lighthouse keeper had been rendered in too !

It was about now I realised that I had just discovered a whole new way to waste time on the internet !    I found many 3D images with a kind of Sea relationship …  but I wanted to find the unusual ….   So here was my next quirky discovery

The war memorial at Saint-Nazaire ….. wearing a french Beret instead of a tin hat  🙂

then I started looking at the UK ….   I found another man standing on the base of the Longships lighthouse.

I wish you all many happy hours hunting the strange, the funny and the humerous.

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Ria D’Etel … finding the source

With plans for a crossing to the Glennan Archipelago defeated by the weather an opportunity arose to discover the source of the River D’Etel.

We quickly discovered that the Etel is quite short, and is fed by both the Riviere de Landévant and the Goah Gouillerm, the aerial photo suggested there was likely to be more water in the Gouillerm and having the town of Nostang nearby also gave us better options to access the water.

We discovered a wide shallow stream leading out of the town centre which ran alongside an enormous car park, it suited us fine, we did think we may have to walk a little along the shallow bed.

Preparations were quick and easy and we started our trip in bright sunshine

The previous evening we walked down to the tidal section of the river, we found enormous mud flats with a small channel of water snaking its way along.

We were leaving at high water and expected to return a few hours earlier than the next high water, we had a neap tide and the following was going to be smaller. In case we ran out of water for the return we found an alternative exit point on the main river alongside a bridge in the town.

At high water the mud flats were flooded, it looked completely different.  Making our way south, we saw many Cormorants and Egrets, there was a kingfisher too by the stream.

A little further on we came across the ostréiculteurs , the people that cultivate the oysters. The estuary is famous for its oysters, and is an important industry in the region which last year was under threat by the grounding at Erdevan of the Cargo ship TK Bremen.
The ship was eventually dismantled in just 10 days pollution was minimal and quickly cleaned.

Long flat motor barges are used to collect the oyster sacks from the beds in the estuary.

After entering the Etel, we were once again on familiar territory, we could see the scenic town of Saint Cado and made our way into the interior of the causeway.The church behind the fountain was built by St Cado a Welsh Monk who fled to this small island in the 6th c.

We enjoyed lunch at Saint Cado after which time the Estuary was emptying rapidly, with time to explore one more creek on the far side.  It really is quite wild and a haven for birds, many Gulls, Egrets and even Spoonbills were seen

Even on a neap tide the ebb was running at about 7 knots, we flew down the stream towards the bridge Pont Lerois, on a big spring tide the speed increases to 9 knots but the additional volume of water moving creates a much more difficult environment. Whirlpools form quite randomly and will pull the rear deck of a sea kayak under, boils erupt spinning the kayak off course.

We finished our trip just past the Pont Lerois where the currents slow down as the Estuary opens up.  We had a little more play in the currents under the bridge before returning back up the estuary to Nostang.


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