Kayaks Can Sail- Mast Mount

Here is a picture of the Scotty mast mount all set up with a 1 square meter reef-able lug rig set with the sheet off the front of the boom to keep the cockpit clear.

Kayaks can sail - Mast Mount or Fishing Rod Holder

Here is the Rod holder I use on my Cobra Expedition:

This rod holder has worked great as a deck stepped mast mount and also as a fishing rod holder. The Base of the unit accepts 1/2 pvc pipe that you can use to make a camera mono pod. Also Scotty sells lots of accessories that plug into the base.  Fishing rods are subject to great strain and I've tested this holder for winds up to 20 miles per hour with a one meter sail.  I suspect I'll want the sail down before it ever breaks.

Naturally you'll need to strengthen the deck of most kayaks that are not made for mounting a rod holder.  Even when you have a fishing kayak, they are usually not set up for anything stronger than freshwater bass.  I usually use a block of 1/2 inch to one inch thick piece of polyethylene under the deck.

You can buy one here on Amazon if you cannot find it at your local dealer:


Bah Humbug!

We were all loaded to go for an after Christmas paddle.

When we started the car the low tire pressure light was on so we checked the car out and found....

We canceled our paddling plans and spent the afternoon getting a new tire.  Tomorrow it will be raining, windy, and cold. So I guess we are all packed for another day.

P&H is fixing the slider!

Aparently I am not the only one who complained.  I look forward to the production model slider and hope it will be available as a retrofit for their plastic and composite boats.

Surf Swimming in Waders

I'm not really going to speak to the safety of swimming in the surf in cold water wearing waders, but I want to share my experience as I expect a lot of kayak anglers are wearing waders and going through the surf.

First of all I always wear a life jacket with waders.  My most serious paddling injury happened when I slipped on a rock, banged my head and ended up in the water.  Had I been knocked unconscious I could have easily drowned in knee deep water.  So I'll be the nerdy looking guy wearing a life vest whenever I'm on the water. The life vest also serves as a wader belt limiting the amount of water that can scoop into any set of waders. 

Secondly, I choose neoprene waders for their extra padding and buoyancy. They also provide needed padding to protect from bruises when you bang into rocks or boats.  I want these waders to be tight, about as tight as a wet suit.  I can wear socks and thin pants under them and a rash guard but that is all.  Waders that are not form fitting inhibit swimming well and have room for more water in them.  Some Waders I have can hold about a gallon of water in each foot because they seem to make the foot and ankle area too big on waders. It's a pretty funny sight waking on the beach with this water in my feet!

More thoughts will follow on this topic....

Refurbished Pentax W60

Just got a Refurbished Pentax Optio W 60 from Best Buy for about $100.  So far I'm very happy with what it is doing with my around the house experiments.  No great Pictures to share yet, put I'll be able to turn a lot of trips into short movies by changing a picture every minute into a picture every half second.

I'm welcome to any suggestions about how to use this camera best.  I have and in from 6 inch high mounting post and am making an over the shoulder 2 or 3 foot high mounting post for the back.

I was very please with the condition of the refurbished camera. I looks and acts like new.

NeoSport Xspan Long sleeve Top

This 1.5 mm top is really flexible and did not inhibit my paddling at all.  It was great alone in surf in the low 60's. Later as the clouds came out I put an IR splash top on over it to keep even warmer.  This is my third neoprene top. The others were less flexible and only 0.5 mm. This definitely wins the FatFrank Seal of Approval!

Why not a bath mat???

Those of you whom I have shown my bath mat loading method, please send me the 25 dollars you have saved by not buying the Thule bath mat loading system below:

I all fairness I think the Thule system will work great.  They use straps to hold it in place and a bath mat stays in place because the bottom side is rubber coated.  The bath mat also works to keep your car seat dry for the ride home and has other uses.  Once I've collected all your money I will let you know when the party is where you'll get your free book  "50 ways to use a bath mat". 

Thanks again friends!

Larry always takes the best pictures of me!

It looks like I might be holding the paddle upside down! I just had so much fun, but the waves hammered me and hammered me.  My huge hatches on my Tarpon leak like a sieve so I had to come all the way in to pump out the boat twice!  Next time I'll bring an electric pump!  I really liked the new 1.5 mm Neosport top I got, and later when I got colder it worked fine under my IR splash top.

Tired of cold hands?

Recently got these at Reef and Ridge sports in Raleigh.  They are a small scuba shop run by a man who paddles as well.  I really love it when I find a local shop that has the same prices as the internet or at least reasonably close. Especially on gear I want to try on first.  These gloves have pre-curved fingers for comfort in gripping the paddle. They are really thick neoprene, maybe 5mm.  And they have cuffs that are much like semi dry suits so your hands will not be flushed with cold water.

More Rudder Ideas - Should I chop it?

So far I like this rudder. It does help me keep the boat in trim when I am sailing or single blade paddling.  It is very strong. and the depth is shallow enough that I can bump right over logs or back up onto the beach without trouble.

But when I really turn it, I can hear the water churning and I know it is acting more like a break than a foil.  I'd like my boat to glide like and airplane not grind through turns like a tank. So I'm thinking about how to reduce the drag.  One way would be to use a thicker material and shape a NACA 10 cross section into the rudder.  A simpler way may be to re-cut the profile shape along the bottom to give it a more swept back profile instead of the swept forward profile. Sweeping the center of area back may make it a quieter shape, but it could reduce the area too much and make the rudder less effective.  Also it would change the balance of the rudder, but I don't think that will cause any problems on a tiny kayak rudder.

Right now it looks king of like a dinosaur head.  Do you think I should chop it into a more traditional swept back rudder shape?

Swimming gets you the best pictures!

I really like swimming in the surf and I am getting some better pictures by doing it.  Next time I hope to have a wet suit top instead of a baggy splash top.  The paddling gear just doesn't lend itself to swimming well.

This is what it looks like before I go into the washing machine.

Here I am in the washing machine.

Here's a paddler starting out on a wave.

Looks like he has caught it but needs to paddle faster to get forward!

Too late for that!  Now he's riding in a submarine! You can see the whole boat is submerged.

And naturally the boat stops and re emerges backwards out the back of the wave!

Next time I'm bringing swim fins and keeping my helmet on for swims.

Don't replace your straps for bungees!

Those of you who know me, know that fast access to snacks is really important!  And with that in mind I removed the three straps and buckles from my tarpon hatches and replaced them with bungees.  It did make the hatches much faster to access, but over time the bungees stretch, and then you go surfing, and then your hatches get knocked off by the waves!  Lot's of fun swimming it in but, I'm thinking the best solution might be these special strap buckles from Tom at http://topkayaker.net/TopKayakerShop/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=18_99&products_id=966

Even little waves are hard on the hatches.

Here's a Mystic in the surf doing well.

I've seen this paddler surf like a dream in a Solstice and now he is grace in motion in a Capella. 
I guess it's not all about the boat.

All in all the Tarpon 160 was more fun in the surf than I expected.
I really should go back to straps for the hatches!

Swamp fun!

What are you two smiling at?

Hmmm... I think he is smiling back!

Snakes may look dangerous, but this old cypress looks like it is reaching down to pluck Maria from the water. I wonder how a tree got to be so crooked.  

More information about the Three sisters Swamp Part of the Black River is here:

And more info about the Black River is here:

As you can tell I just love Eva's blog, I wish she and Tamas took more trips with us and posted them!

Surf Fun!

Is that my red helmet?

This is my helmet SILLY!  You are wearing your helmet!

You guys should get helmets that match your boats! 

See how my yellow helmet matches perfectly with my yellow decked Mystic!

Hey! I may not be color coordinated. And I may not be very good at surfing, but I'm getting to be an accomplished rough water swimmer!

I want the best of both worlds.

I've always leaned towards more simple sails, so I've been most happy making lug rigs with easy roller reefing.  V sails can be even easier to make and use but they don't sail as well and it can be hard to dump the wind instantly.

 To further ease the use of the sails I've made I took a lesson from Matt Layden's Kayak rig and made the sheet come off the front of the boom instead of the rear.  This makes it really easy to enter and exit the cockpit unencumbered.

 I also moved towards simplicity by eliminating the stays and having the mast slip into a hole on deck.  The whole rig and mast can be dropped in the water with a simple sweep of the paddle. I've yet to see another rig that dumps so completely and instantly.  On a sit on top it is easy to plug the mast back in and go. But with a sit inside you'd need a to get out of the cockpit to reach the fore-deck. I'm working on this solution and I think I'm on track for a reliable easy method of setting the mast in the step.

My final stumbling block it to move to a non reefing sail.  This means the sail would just be one meter and there would be no option for reefing.  This is pretty practical for long trips where you'd want the simplest sail available.  But here on the Atlantic Coast we have very light winds all summer and a 2 meter rig would mean you could still sail during the summer months.  So I'm struggling with the decision to make an even larger reef-able lug sail or with making my existing size even simpler by maintaining the same size and eliminating the reefing gear.

I'm leaning towards smaller and simpler, because when I want to bring a sail on a trip or just bring one along in case I need it, I always reach for the Flat Earth Kayak Sail that I rigger to be freestanding without stays.  It is too small for most days around here, but it is super easy to use and it sails very well on most points of sail.

New Rudder...so far so good!

I am liking the new rudder! it has a much lower aspect ratio so it works great in shallow water.  It is 3/8ths inch polyethylene so it is strong.  It is a flat plate so I might have someone make one out of 1 inch polyethylene in a NACA 10 profile someday.  In the mean time it is OK!  Can't wait to try it in the surf!

Here is a close up:

Here is a picture on the Neuse River:

Here's the kind of happiness that occurs when rudders work like they should:

Only a Dollar!

The new club stickers are in.  They are only a dollar each  I'll mail them to you for an additional dollar or you can get them at the meetings!  By the way, the regular monthly meetings are free for anyone to attend so check it out at www.carolinakayakclub.org.

Please don't hesitate to send along extra dollars to help support the F.A.K.E.  B.O.O.B. political agenda that you can read all about here:  http://silbs.blogspot.com/

Wonderful Maglite

In the past I've found expensive headlights lasted no longer than the cheapest Eveready ones at Wal-Mart.  But I recently picked up this Mini MagLITE that has a very powerful 3 watt LED and a multi-mode switch.  Twist it once for full power, twist it again for 25% power, again for regular flash like your life vest strobe has, and again for a true SOS strobe.  

It is not a coast Guard Approved visual distress signal (VDF), but it could be some day.  I've had Coast Guard Approved signals that were not as well made as this light and I've had a few of my VDF's fail when tested.  Another problem is that this thing does not float.  So you may want to keep a tether on it.  Your results may vary. Don't get tangled in a tether you cannot break in the surf....

I got mine at Wal-Mart, lot of other places sell them.

Carbon vs Glass


I really like my Werner Little Dipper because it is so light and easy on my body.  I did have to shorten mine but it does come from the factory in 215cm which seems about right.  I think I shortened mine down to 213 cm.  I noticed the NRS having a sale so they are a really good buy right now.  The premium for a full carbon is about $75 for about two ounces.  I got mine used, but if I was buying one new I'm not certain I'd notice the difference in the two ounces.  Even on a 20 plus mile day I think paddle length and shape make a lot more difference than weight.  

As far as paddle shape goes, nothing is more comfortable in warm weather than my Lumpy Paddle. I really wish I could get a two piece model.  It's getting a few big lumps on it so maybe some day I'll modify it.  In the mean time it is winter so I'm paddling with a single blade most of the time to keep my hands warm and dry.

Are they real?

Check out the story here:  http://www.grindtv.com/outdoor/blog/30833/kayaker+enjoys+amazingly+close+encounter+with+two+humpback+whales/

Those seem a lot bigger than any humpback whales I've seen.  The closest I got was less than a half mile off the beach from Ocracoke Island.  I'd say the whale was about 40 feet long, but it is hard to estimate the size of something that big swimming under your boat.  The ones in the picture above have such big heads sticking out of the water they must be over a 100 feet long!  I've never seen them feed like that. It must be pretty special to watch.

I have to admit that because I spend a lot of time outdoors I'm pretty indifferent to most wildlife I see, but I'm always excited to see whales and dolphins.  Here is some more info about the North Carolina humpbacks that I have seen on our coast between December and February:  http://thepocomokepubliceye.blogspot.com/2010/05/sick-whale-euthanized-off-coast-of.html

Am I canoeing or kayaking?

Recently I got into a very short discussion of what constituted a canoe vs. what was a kayak.  A very experienced friend of mine said that the blade is what makes the difference. So whenever I switch to a single I'm canoeing. And whenever I use a double I'm kayaking.  Too bad there are no canoeing instructors around as I'd really like some tips on my forward single blade stroke.  I bend forward and back with the single blade stroke doing little ab crunches as I go along.  With the double blade the core movement is rotating side to side.

By the way I think the ideal kayak touring blade is a 46 to48 inch bent shaft single blade.  I like to use that whenever I am not using my Lumpy Paddles Greenland Paddle.  I prefer the double when it is really rough, but the rest of the time I keep up with groups just fine with a single.

The advantages of the single are:  light weight, change of motion provides a rest break for some muscles, no useless second blade catching wind over your head, and DRY HANDS.  Try one this winter!

Thanks for letting me tag along!

I had the most wonderful time sailing with my Tarpon 160 and my Flat Earth Kayak Sail this weekend.  From the boat launching beach at Shell Point on Harker's Island it was a mostly down wind run out to the light house.  The wind was opposing the tidal current so the were places with really fun waves and I did stuff the boat all the way up to my knees a few times.  Luckily I arrived with dry hot dog buns and dogs to share with those who had been there since Friday afternoon.  You never saw people like hot dogs so much! The whole pack disappeared quickly.

The wind howled all night but I still got about five hours of sleep and then plenty of rest.  The next day we walked around the beach and then paddled back against the winds. It was mostly in our faces all the way back and it was the usual 10 with a few gusts to 20 mph you get out there but a lot of time is was steady winds at just enough speed to keep up the chop and the whitecaps.

I wish I could do it all again every weekend, but it is a lot of work for a short trip.

I figured almost seven hours driving, almost seven hours paddling, two hours beach walking, a few hours by the campfire, about two hours packing all the gear, and about four hours getting all the gear rinsed and dried and repacked and getting the salt spray washed off the car.

I'm really hoping you share a comment below about any ideas you have for making the rinsing and drying and repacking part faster.

Excellent Incident report!

I think everyone who paddles in a group should read this wonderful report here:


I don't know how many times I've been on trips where things haven't gone as planned, but I think careful analysis can help us prevent problems like this in the future.

In the real world I often hear that we are going to stay together and the strongest paddlers should paddle sweep. In this case the strongest paddlers did stay out to help those in trouble. But I have been out a number of times where the winds pick up the group spreads out and the strongest end up at the take out.

I hope sharing what can happen will help groups realize that they are only safer when they stick together and keep track of each other.  If you cannot talk to all the paddlers in you group you may be too far apart. So let's paddle together or at least realize when you are not in clear hearing range of each group member you are each paddling alone.

Sail Problems

I really like this sail rig because it is large enough to help on most days and it can be easily reefed, but when I do reef it is sometimes comes loose at the boom.

As you can see in this sail the sheet actually attaches to the front of the boom to keep the deck over my legs clear of lines. So on the boom I have fashioned a large hook from and aluminum strip that clips the sail to the mast.  The hook allows me to pull the boom back and then roll up the sail and quickly reset it at the mast.  However this hook does not have enough sprint to keep on the mast at all times. And as you would expect it comes off of the mast at the worst times.

Now that I've got my rudder rebuilt for this boat, I'd like to get this reefing system more robust. If you have any ideas to make this better, I'd sure like to hear from you.

 Until then I think I'll just use my Tarpon 160 with my Flat Earth sail as we have had plenty of wind lately.

Rudders can be a pain.

Mostly I think rudders are very handy. Especially when I'm sailing or paddling with a single blade. But they break in the surf and they are a hassle in shallow rocky rivers or weedy areas.  I don't want it for turning the boat I just want it to work as a trim tab.  Mostly they work great, but I'd like one that did not break.

In my quest for a better rudder for my Cobra Expedition. I have taken a page from Mirage kayaks and fashioned a lower aspect rudder with a much longer cord length.  It always stays down and is very strong.  It is a flat plate so there is too much drag. Maybe I can have someone make a thicker one and shape it like a foil for less drag.

I think the ideal one might be very close to what Mirage has already done.  I wonder if they make any boats out of plastic or that are Sit on Tops since that is the type of boat I like most these days.

An old source for big paddlers has been rediscovered!

Over on Pnet a post showed an internet archive of a website by Wes Boyd that is no longer available!  Here it is:


I had no idea you could find archieves of old websites with all the information.  It is a really great source for Sea Hogs who are looking for a new boat or gear.

Water Tribe Race and a Cobra Kayak Blog

I've been following the Watertribe North Carolina Challenge this weekend.  The weather has been windy and colder than other years but they still had record attendance and great times.  I cannot wait to hear and read the racers stories. Check it out by clicking on the Watertribe link:

I've been working on my Cobra Expedition and making a new rudder.  I'm planning for one that is always down and very strong inspired by the design I've seen on a friends Mirage Kayak.

Also I found another Cobra Kayak paddler that really likes his racing Cobra Viper.  Check out his blog at:


And finally I went paddling for about the fifth time in our new to us Wilderness Systems Manteo.  It is a pretty nice do everything rec boat.  I took my instructor training in it because it was the only closed cockpit boat that I thought I could sit inside all day.  The front deck is very low but very wide.  The boat is 27 inches wide but paddles faster and handles well because of the v shaped hull and the hard chines.  I don't think it would be an easy but to roll but cowboy rescues are easy with it.