Sailing in Far North Queensland [40]

By Mike Snoad

See also the trip story, the croc incident story, the fishing story, the camp oven, the TI paddling story.

Our mast and sail sizes and configurations were loosely based on a Tasmanian design. However the Tasmanian setup restricts paddling (the mast is quite close to the cockpit) so we made a number of changes to the mast position and mounting details to allow a full range ofpaddle movements while sailing. We mounted the mast further forward in a deck mounted hinged mast socket. (Arunas’s idea) I was worried about losing the mast and sail over the side with this arrangement so I riveted the mast to the hinged socket in a manner similar to The Old Sea Dogs folding mast. (NSW Sea KayakerNo. 36, Spring 1998) This had the added benefit of allowing me to raise and lower the sail with one hand. An important point as Arunas discovered at Point Pilka on the morning of our first day when he capsized in shallow water and bent his mast while attempting a gybe without his paddle in hand ready to brace. (I also capsized twice on the trip while sailing)

There is a problem with the typical sea kayak sail with the boom sewn into a pocket at the lower edge of the sail. When sailing downwind the unrestrained forward end of the boom tends to force about 10% the sail around to the front of the mast in a large fold. I modified my boom and sail to include a sliding yoke connection between the boom and the mast. This arrangement, which was the norm on old sailboats, resolved the problem. I felt that my sail (0.9m2) was too large for safe sailing in 30 knots of wind and above. Arunas seemed to be much more relaxed in these conditions. However his kayak (a Greenlander) was slower and seemed to spend a lot of time with water over the deck, possibly because it was overloaded.When required I was able to sail and hold a course of about 50 to 60 degrees off the true wind direction. However keeping the kayak right side up was not easy, especially with steep wind waves of one to two metres on the beam. Fortunately most of our sailing was fast and furious down wind surfing. Out of control some of the time but exciting and great fun!