Testing my Kayaksailing Rig in a Force 4

The 2nd day was more lively. The wind had re-turned blowing about a Force 4, it was strong enough to test the rig and to make the incoming tide choppy. I desided to go in an anti-clockwise direction around the harbour walls so I would get an all point sailing direction, for the rig and wind; with a reach and a run, tacking and gybing. Some areas were calmer than others, by the mouth of the harbour it was quite a race. The rig gybed without any problems, it did not heel me too much and even in the thick of it I was not knocked off balance. On one tack it worked well but on the other it was less efficient, but this is true with all sailing rigs. I was still using the sail as an aid to paddling not a sailing rig in its own right. It gave me a feeling of an ‘added paddler’, and certainly made my paddling a lot easier and increased my speed, but I could now by how much. Very please with the results in such conditions. I could change the sheets with my new cleats and sheets, positioning them so I could get at them easily and even with the wind pushing me off course I could sheet in the sail or let it out with out fumbling for the cleat. Works best on a run.

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New Trials with the Improved Kayaksail Rig

I was waiting for a good day to test my new Crab-claw kayak sailing rig. I had made some new changes since my 1st attempt. I got rid of the wooden frame as it was too heavy to carry, and I made a simpler construction out of plastic tubing. It was a lot easier to assembly and the purchase of new cleats and sheets made the whole process a lot easier and enjoyable.
The gales had gone leaving very little wind which eventually died away to nothing. I got up early morning to meet the tide and enjoyed a good time following the tide down to Drumbrugh where I noticed the banks errosion from the tide on the English side (they joke “Scotland is getting bigger as England gets smaller).
The wind died and the rain came, I paddled past Port Carlisle down to Bowness-on-Solway with the ebb and pushed against the ebb to get back to Port Carlisle. Not an exciting morning but it was very enjoyable and gave me the confidence to know that the rig was ok and in working order. The rig was easier to set up and although there was not much wind she performned well and did as she should. I still was using a Leeboard put my paddle for directional control, it works fine for this rig/kayak. When the wind gets too strong I paddle into the wind and cleat in hard. The sail does not flap around and she does not heel me, so in a way it is like reefing.

Wind Gusts

The evening of the 22nd looked promising, Sunday evening and the sun was out and the wind had died down to a breeze on the way to the boat. I brought out the mainsail hoping to mark reef points onto the sail but this was difficult with the midges attacking from the gorse bushes nearby. As the sun set I hoisted the sail to test it out, not a great success, so I dispensed with the lower baton and furled it around the boom, it set fine. I packed everything away as the wind came back and remained with me all night; I made food and prepared to sleep. I did not sleep much as the wind howled and rocked the boat. At 4am the tide came in and Sadaf began to scrape on the stony bottom, then she heeled drastically as her keels got stuck on the stones and the wind pushed her over, she skidded and slid away and came up again. When there was depth she danced around the mooring as the wind pushed her about. She would get a gust on her beam and she would heel over and come into the wind then would right herself. Often the gusts would blow her to her mooring chain’s length then she would jerk forward. I did not sleep at all, the rain pelted the cabin, we were tossed around, and the sounds of the jerking and heeling made it impossible to feel calm.

When the tide was out I ate, read then slept until about 1pm. I went for a walk and saw a mass of pink flowers along the saltings; I walked over the sands out to the low tide mark. The wind was shrieking across the shallow pools leaving dark streaks on the water, shaking my hands as I took the videos. The wind increased when I got to the tide, it was lifting the waves and throwing them over the surface as spray. In the distance the dry sand of Rockcliff Marshes was treated in the same way making it look like the Sahara in a dust storm. I turn and faced the wind and it nearly blew me over. The center of the channel was a mass of white tops and I noticed that the tide was advancing against the wind, tide was coming in and I was a long way from Sadaf. There was a channel between me and the boat. I walked fast but was hampered by the wind, I ran and could hardly make headway so strong was the gusts. I waded through the channel and headed for the boat, reaching it as the tide encroached.
On the boat there was a repeat as the morning, but with more wind strength and gusts that heel Sadaf drastically and pulled at her mooring chain with loud bangs. I changed into my wet suit and put on my life jacket, I also got ready 2 anchors incase she pulled from the mooring. After a while I got used to these conditions and read and cooked, amazing how you can get used to new situations. I videoed the sea but the wind’s strength actually flattened the waves and made it look quite flat on the video.

A brief shower brought with it a glorious rainbow over the estuary. The Shipping forecast for that day reads: Irish Sea, Gale warning issued 23 May 15:30 UTC. Storm force 10 veering westerly and decreasing gale force 8 imminent
• Wind Westerly or southwesterly 6 to gale 8, occasionally severe gale 9 at first, decreasing 5 or 6.
• Sea State Moderate or rough.
• Weather Showers.
• Visibility Good.

Reefing the Jib Spar

It was not the best of days to test out my jib reefing system but in another way it was ideal. Heavy rain and gale force winds blew me and the jib all over the place, but these conditions I would have to reef while out at sea so I tried to do it while I was learning how to do it. In the end after trying different ways I settled on the hanks remaining in place (around the forestay) while I attached the last one to a shackle on the spar. I then furled the jib around the spar but I found it just as effective to slap reef it and tie the loose jib to the spar with reef knots. As the jib became smaller the end of the spar was sticking out with the jib not supporting it so it was dipping down onto the hull. I fixed a rope from the top of the jib down to where I wanted the spar to be and tied it off, this enabled the spar to be at the correct angle away from the hull and side stays as it swung (as the jib got smaller this rope had to be shortened to keep the spar at the right distance).
I had marked where the reef would be so it matched where the hanks were situated, when I had shackled the hank I could position the marking on the spar and bunji strap it, this gave me the correct distance between the two reef points. The rest of the loose jib I reefed with ties. As the jib was now shorter I had to make the rope shorter too to compensate and keep it off the deck and swinging freely. If I pre-mark the points where the rope needs to be shortened and using a quick release shackle I can complete the reef faster. In total there will be 3-4 reef points the last being so small as to make it a storm jib.

Spar on the Jib

I finally sorted out my oversized genoa problem and reefing problem. I fitted a spar to the foot of the genoa and by rolling up the excess sail from the foot and tying it off with bunji straps effectively making it a jib. I fix the jib sheet to the spar (and not to the sail); I fix the other end of the spar to the jib forestay and attach it also to the hull by shackles/rope. The spar is cut to length so it will miss the side stays and swing easily. I use one jib sheet that goes inside of the side stays and I bring the sheet back to the cockpit.
I can roll up the jib for reefing in the same way by attaching the jib slug to the spar and tying off the other end, but I cannot do this from the cockpit…yet, but it does reduce the sail to a manageable size and it seems well balanced compared to the other ways I have tried.
By having a spar on the jib it will be more stable and less likely to flog in the wind, I think performance will be improved by having it. I can drop it quickly when needed and raise it just as easily.

A Problem with the Rig…again!

It was the first time this year I had a chance to go sailing, but although the weather conditions were nice my bilge keeler was not! She had not been tested since I put the mast up in April. The mast was too far forward so when I hoisted the genoa the luff was slack. I began to reposition the stays, slackening the forestays and tightening the backstay until the mast head was pointing backwards slightly. Hoisting the genoa this time meant that the luff was tight. I then tried to reduce genoa size my wrapping it around the forestay but the wind took it and it started to unwind. I noticed that the tack was not cut right, and the corner tension was not right, this is why it was flapping. Whoever had sewn this genoa had done a bad job. I was getting quite mad, 2 years of trying to get this boat to sail is wearing me out.
I decided I could dispense with the furling idea, and dispense with the badly sewn tack. I would reduce sail permanently by rolling up the foot of the genoa around a boom. The boom would be long enough to go past the side stays without touching them, in effect making it a self tacking jib.

I next tried the mainsail and after a few tries I reefed the main to a modest size. I am concerned about all this as I realise one of the faults with the Hurley Felicity is that the keels are too small, so when out at sea with full sail she heels over rather badly. All last summer I was sailing in strong winds and she was heeled over most of the time. So I have decided to reduce the sail area so she will be more controllable and pleasanter to handle. There was no reefing system on either of the sails so I have had to make my own, but finding a badly cut genoa is too much for me to correct. So I hope by getting it out of the way completely will make a small jib easier to control.

Redesigning Kayak Rig

After a delightful time in Spain, I came home with pits and pieces to add to my inflatable kayak rig…4mm chord, cleats etc. to make it more efficient and safer while on the water. By adding these bits I slowly began to modify it more, in the end I completely re-did the structure. I built a frame for the mast to fit into; I re-drilled the bottom and top cross beams and added a thicker wooden mast higher than previous; I widened the cross beams to I can add a 3ft leeboard and strengthened it with an extra piece of wood for the tube to sit upon as it holds the leeboard. The mast and the yard are telescopic so I can reduce their size when travelling. The cleats I fixed to a plank of wood that extends underneath the seat, my body pressure keeps the plank/cleats firmly fixed, and yet I can remove them when not in use/travelling. I fixed pulleys and the sail hoisted very easily and I could cleat it off effortlessly and quickly. The wind was very strong gale force winds blew the sail about as I experimented, without paying attention the boom jibed and caught me on the side of the temple, luckily I was in my garden and not out at sea, it was a wake-up call and I will remember to watch the boom in future. I will replace the boom with a lighter material.
The picture is the newly constructed frame and mast, with leeboard down the side of the kayak.