Mast – 12mm diameter wooden dowel or aluminium tube  Kayak sail
Boom – wood about 15 X 10 X 1100mm long
Sprit – wood about 15 X 5 X 970mm long
Mast base – swivel from a tiller handle extension
Sail – any lightweight fabric such as rip-stop nylon, about 1.5m2. Bright colours are good for visibility.
Miscellaneous – one very small block, bits of string

Why a sail?
Why not? They look cool and it means less paddling. With a good wind behind you, a kayak will sail at twice your paddling speed. One of these sails covered 22km in four hours, with only one hour of paddling.  On another trip, the sail took one tired paddler all the way from near Fawkner Beacon to Port Melbourne

Making a sail
There is nothing original about this design. It’s a sprit sail that a friend designed after looking at other designs. The good features are that it folds up neatly, is easy to raise and lower while you are on the water and does not require a hole through the deck for the mast. You can vary the dimensions if you want, but it’s good if the ends of the mast, sprit and boom coincide when it’s folded up because that makes it neater on the kayak’s deck.

Kayak Sail Figure 1 Kayak sail Figure 2

 The figure on the left shows the general layout. There are three pockets, one each for the vertical mast, the diagonal sprit batten and the horizontal boom. The figure on the right shows the dimensions that we have settled on. 

The next photo shows the complete sail assembly. The yellow string is the sheet and the brown wooden dowel is the mast. The boom has yellow jaws made of plastic (they don’t need to be bent, straight pieces work just as well).

The grey string raises and lowers the mast (the small block is mounted at the front of the kayak to bring the grey string back to a jam cleat in front of the cockpit. The pink strings are the shrouds.

Here is another sail folded up and mounted on a kayak, and a close up photo of the swivel base of the mast.

Kayak sail full Kayak sail folded Kayak sail swivel

Refinements include increasing the area of the sail or giving shape to the sail by adding darts to the leach.
Let me know if you are interested in making a sail because I have a lot of left over pink fabric to give away. I even have an old sail that you can use as a pattern.

Jim Stockton.