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That narrowed the field quite a bit but, surprisingly, there were still about a dozen different designs to consider. On the low end was an inexpensive triangular sail with a wide seam into which you would insert one-half of your take-apart paddle to act as a mini-mast. The web site didn't disclose just how you would secure the "mast"; it appeared that you held it between your knees while you used the other half of the paddle as a rudder. We weren’t impressed! We saw a number of “inverted triangle” sail designs which appeared to be effective in the sense of being able to capture wind but somewhat clumsy to rig and to store. There were also triangular sails (i.e. miniature versions of the classic sloop sail design). Of all the sails we considered, these were probably the most efficient in terms of performing under all sorts of wind conditions but again, they required the installation of deck hardware and storage would not be as simple as we had hoped. Then we stumbled across something called WindPaddles (which we refer to as our "WindBags").
The WindPaddle sail is perfectly round; it requires no mast; it needs virtually no hardware; it is self-erecting; it weighs only 12 ounces; it has a huge see-thru window; and it stores flat as a pancake in 10 seconds, ready to spring into action again at the drop of a hat. It can be rigged on either a canoe or a kayak. Imagine a three-and-a-half-foot beachball cut in half and that’s what it resembles. Instead of hoisting a sail up a rigid mast, this sail simply pops open just like one of those fold-up sun screens you place on your windshield on hot days. Basically, it looks like and behaves somewhat like a spinnaker on a sailboat. And, at around a hundred bucks, it's very affordable.
To mount the sail on your kayak or canoe you simply clip the two snap-hooks to whatever is conveniently located: deck lines, bungie cords, it doesn't really matter as long as it positions the sail where you can easily reach and control it. the only alteration we made was to affix two little "pad-eyes", one on each side of our kayaks.) When folded, the sail is held by a sort of a waist-strap and to "raise" it, all you do is remove the strap and let it pop open by itself. When it opens it flops down in front of you so, to catch the wind, you simply haul back on the sheet lines and - - - you're off! This sail performs beautifully when you’re running straight downwind. Just sit back and enjoy the ride, occasionally using your paddle to steer. When you have wind coming over your shoulder loosen the slider at the base of the sail so that it can pivot a bit to pick up the wind and tighten your left or right sheet line to trim the sail. With these adjustments you can reach across the wind at about a 75º angle, tacking left then right instead of running a straight line. What this sail cannot do is "beat" close-hauled straight upwind like a sloop. But, all things considered, that's not much of a negative when you compare it to all the positives.
These WindBags are a real "hoot". They're at their best when, instead of fighting the wind to go where we want to go, we just change our mindset and let the wind take us where it wants us to go.
All in all, the sail is durable, easy to stow, and is a good time when you just want to relax on the way back in or during a longer trip.
Took the Windpaddle to the Florida Keys last week and was quite pleased with its ease of use and performance. This sail will also see use on our canoes and other kayaks. Setup easy, deployed quickly, and came down easily (see YouTube videos on how to fold back up--that's the only tricky part). All in all, a great addition to the paddling kit.
I have had this puppy for 3 months now in 25+ mph winds and I fly faster than I could possibly paddle. The real fun comes when you are going the same speed as the waves and you feel a surfing effect under the boat as you catch a wave.
I find the further forward towards the bow the sail is .... the more wind I can catch. Since I don’t use the paddle when I am under sail, I recommend you use a paddle leash, since you will need both hands to control the sail, especially when catching wind 90 degrees to the side. I also strongly recommend this for kayaks with rudders.
The biggest Kayak I have tried this on is my Wilderness Systems “Northstar” 18.5 foot, 95 lb tandem. My girlfriend ran the sail in the front while I paddled in the back and ran the rudder. We were going so fast that my paddling was slowing us down.... so I lifted my paddle and decided to “enjoy the ride”.
Although I still enjoy a calm day on the water.... I really look forward to a windy day now !!
First of all, if you are considering the Wind Paddle, get the Adventure, not the Sport. In a decent wind, the sport would get snatched out of your hand. Both sails are attached to my Caper midway on top of the front hatch. I've added padeyes on both sides for attachment points.
The WindPaddle could be moved from boat to boat easily, with no major modification. My PA style sail seems more substantial and rugged. I like the better field of view also. Both are fun !!
You can read more wind paddle info at windpaddle.com