Sunday, April 3, 2011

thoughts on canoe sailing

Last Sunday, clouds and rain showers cleared off around the rain shadowed lowlands around Anacortes and Bellingham.  Since I haven't spent much time paddling the Old Town Discovery 119 solo canoe, I took it down to Heart Lake on Anacortes Community Forest.  I also wanted to see if the sailing rig from ( ) would work on the solo canoe. 

I did a loop around the lake mostly for exercise.  It was a pleasant paddle.  I switched back and forth between a Mohawk double bladed paddle and a regular canoe paddle.  If the water is calm I can keep the canoe mostly straight using the canoe paddle with a J-stroke.  

Then I put the sail rig on.  The winds picked up.  Whidbey Air Base reported gusts up to 23 mph unbeknown to me.   With the winds gusting to the upper teens at the back of the canoe, I was able to get a few good runs in.  But, I don't really understand the mechanics of sailing so I don't know how to use the boom and oar to tack (zig-zag into the wind).  One gust that felt like it was over 20 mph hit the sail broadside and nearly caused a capsize.  

I forgot the oar and used one half of the Mohawk double blade paddle.  It fit into the socket but was loose.  Sailing puts a lot of pressure on the oar so control was not very good.  As the wind picked up, the makeshift oar broke loose about time a gust of wind blew the paddle out of my hand, all while blowing the boat into lakeshore brush.  It was very frustrating to have to fumble with the boom line, drop the sail, recover the paddle and reattach a limp oar.  

Canoe sailing is a lot of work and complexity with all the attachments for just a few short periods of downwind fun.  Winds need to be about 15 mph and consistently from one direction and even then, I can only sail with the winds at the stern.  

Canoe sailing doesn't really fit into how I use the canoes for lake touring and river running.  So, I hope to sell the canoe rig.   If I can't sell it, it works much better on the tandem 16 foot canoe.  The tandem canoe has more space for fumbling with all the lines and attachments and it tracks better in wind.  Someone may not buy the sail rig.  Stuff is usually easier to obtain than get rid of unless I want to take a huge loss.  If I can't sell it than maybe I'll stick with it? A sailing lesson would help too.

Since I'm mostly a hiker, I like canoeing that is flatwater and close to swamps and shore where there is more to see.  The sailing rig can't be used in those conditions.

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