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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