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Kayak Sailing Trimaran
11-29-2017, 04:53 PM
Post: #1
Brick Kayak Sailing Trimaran
Going to cut to the chase on this one since I could write a book on it all and the past year...

Wanted to buy a sailboat 2 years ago, was poor, bought a kayak instead.

After learning the local water ways on the yak, decided to go with a small powerboat to beach bum and back (made the most sense).

Started taking the boat on the bigger lakes which is much more abuse on everyone... a bigger powerboat or a sailboat would have been nice much more enjoyable.

Now, would like to get back into the idea of sailing and plan on purchasing a boat after we purchase a house next year.

But, to feed my interest and give me something to do this winter, I have decided to break out the yak again and build a kayak that also sails.

... this was a fairly quick summary of my past 2 years spent on the water.

One reason I wanted to take on this task was due to the enjoyment I get when building. This project is small enough to handle over the winter without sinking money into, but would also get me out on the water and even sailing.


1. Able to sail upwind
2. Able to paddle and sail at the same time
3. Able to be broken down fairly easily (Everglade challenge rules)
4. Able to be used as a kayak
5. Cheap!!

The kayak to be used is my 10' pelican sit-inside. Its a wider hull with a large cockpit. Not the most ideal hull for the application, but I really enjoy it and think it will work fine for achieving the goals.

I also picked up some used vanguard 15 sails (jib and main) for $50.

This will be a trimaran (kayak with outriggers). The out riggers will be removable and the mast will be easily folded down and even removed if need be. I really wanted to make both sails work, but since the main is so tall, it would be easily overpowered and created a mast that would be around 20' tall. Playing with the idea of making the mainsail into a gaff sail using the top batten as the header, I finally decided to eliminate the mainsail all together and just run the jib sail (12' tall). This will eliminate 6 lines!

To be able to control the jib I am adding a jib boom to the rigging in order to have more control of the outhaul on the sail. This will also be beneficial during a broad-reach or run.

During a close-haul or close-reach, I am unsure of the speeds that will be able to be produced, but since there are quite a few upwind kayaks running a single mainsail, I think a 3 knot upwind is possible.

The backstay will be adjustable on the fly (it will act as my jib halyard for reefing) which will ultimate bend the mast backwards tightening the luff of the jib.

As of right now, there is still a lot up in the air. I want to make it functional but still practical for a kayak rig.

The port and starboard lines will be adjustable on the fly, since it is hooked to a boom, I can also use the lines in a way that allows me to 'fake' a traveler without needing one.

The outhaul, backstay, and shrouds will also be adjustable, but not necessarily underway.

The other hurtle will be a rudder system. Since I have already built a skeg, I may reuse or rebuild using the same idea.

As far as the outriggers go, the plan is use insulation foam and do the poor mans "fiberglass".


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11-29-2017, 06:52 PM
Post: #2
RE: Kayak Sailing Trimaran
To get things rolling...

Since I removed the mainsail, I decided to go with a smaller mast OD at 1 7/8" and wall thickness of 3/16" Aluminium. I cut down the mast. The idea is that the mast will have a 2' + step up to a hinge where the rest of the mast will be able to drop down. This allows the mast to be connected, but dropped at 90 degrees overhead of the sailor. It will also have two pins at the bottom of the mast which allows the mast to be removed completely and attached to the side of the kayak for further travel.

doesnt look like much, but its a start.

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11-30-2017, 05:00 PM
Post: #3
RE: Kayak Sailing Trimaran
Went with 1/4" mild steer for the hinge instead of aluminum for several reasons. With only a few 1" length welds on the hinge, I don't trust aluminum to hold up over time, and this is a place where it CANNOT fail. Could be very dangerous having a mast snap only about a foot from my crouch. Also, by building a steel hinge tube insert, I can weld up everything on a smaller scale and then bolt them to the large lengthy mast. Ads a little bit of weight, I would say the hinge is at least 2 pounds or so.

The center is 3 1/4" plates welded together to make 3/4". The outters are 1/4", all welded to 1/4" plate and 1/8" tube. This tube will be inserted into the mast sections and through bolted.



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12-04-2017, 08:45 AM
Post: #4
RE: Kayak Sailing Trimaran
That's a cool winter project. Looking forward to seeing it all come together.

Too Many Projects . . .
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12-06-2017, 09:10 PM
Post: #5
RE: Kayak Sailing Trimaran
Its a little different than the norm for sure.

Started on the bowsprit this evening. 1" tubing makes the body, back sleeve is for the mast, front sleeve is for the outriggers. Total weight is 7.2 lbs.

The bowsprit will have 3 mounting locations on the kayak. 2 near the mast on each side and 1 in the front. These mounts will be hard mounted onto the hull permanently. The bowsprit will then be able to be removed using 3 bolts on the fly when the kayak is being used as just a kayak. The idea is to make this kayak as universal as possible, making sailing rigging and mast removal as quick as possible.

The original max payload of the yak is 270 lbs (evenly distributed). Now granted I will be adding the 5' floating outriggers which will increase the acceptable poundage, I was still hoping to keep everything added ( minus the outrigger hulls below 100 lbs (since I am 170 lbs).



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12-07-2017, 04:24 PM
Post: #6
RE: Kayak Sailing Trimaran
Realized that I made the bowsprit 7" longer than it needs to be, so that will be nice to clip off. Right now, its 6' 3" which is the length I wanted the boom. The reason I wanted to the boom to overhang the front of the bowsprit is so the jib halyard would pull up on the front of the boom and act as a lever which would then pull down and tighten the jib leech which would eliminate the need of a boom vang (thats the theory anyway).

Put the bottom end of the mast in tonight to give me a better idea of what I am looking at. This will allow me to start building the floor anger plate for the very bottom of the mast. The center connection and floor connection will have some sort of quick release pin of some kind to make removal easy.



Weight of lower mast = 4.8 lbs
Total combined weight so far = 12 lbs

I do have a few concerns going in thus far...

1. Still concerned about the backstay tightness and the ability to tighten up the luff of the sail. This kayak is not very stiff and is actually fairly easy to deform. I can push, pull and deform the sides about 1/4" or more just by bare hands. The amount of force the backstay will be putting on the stern is really hard for me to understand without actual testing. I am worried that the stern will bend up instead of tightening the luff, OR a wind gust will 'pump' on the jib, and instead of bending the mast, will actually be bending the stern up. I also don't see any way to fix this. Sadly, its a fault of the design and material of the kayak. But, this is just a concern, true testing will be the answer.

2. Along with the backstay, an almost equal force will be on the forestay trying to bend it up as well. And again on the boom itself. Some of these things really concern me, and then I remember that there are many sailboats (and even kayak sails) that use a mast without any standing rigging, so it may not even matter at all.

3. Also thinking about the stability of the outriggers on single aluminum tubing. Not so much the minor bending up and down, but more of the forward and back motion. This could be fixed a few different ways, but will have to test before changing design.

4. The rudder is also another issue.. not so much the rudder itself, but the feet mechanism in the cockpit. There really isnt a lot of space to work with, and they need to be adjustable for different sized people. Anyway, still thinking of ideas incorporating the original adjustable feet stops.
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12-09-2017, 03:02 PM
Post: #7
RE: Kayak Sailing Trimaran

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12-11-2017, 12:37 AM
Post: #8
RE: Kayak Sailing Trimaran
I'm watching so keep posting. Very interesting project for sure.

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12-11-2017, 04:22 PM
Post: #9
RE: Kayak Sailing Trimaran
That's pretty awesome!

Don't think this is something I have seen before. I've traditionally been afraid of Kayaks, but I want to get one since I'll be taking more camping trips this summer.

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12-11-2017, 05:48 PM
Post: #10
RE: Kayak Sailing Trimaran
(12-11-2017 04:22 PM)Miller88 Wrote:  That's pretty awesome!

Don't think this is something I have seen before. I've traditionally been afraid of Kayaks, but I want to get one since I'll be taking more camping trips this summer.

What type of water are you looking to travel?

If you can swing a flat water kayak (like my own), then I would say thats the way to go. They are wider (mine is actually a tri-hull design), usually are larger cockpit, and shorter which is really nice when exploring tight areas. Oh, and they are usually cheaper.

I ended up getting an awesome deal at Dicks and picked it up for around $200 where people were trying to sell older kayaks for double that on craigslist.... but now I have seen A LOT of new similar kayaks for really cheap.. people usually buy them, use it once, and end up selling it.

A few friends down here load up their kayaks and head out to the islands for camping during the weekends.

I also want to do a couple 'expeditions' to push myself and my abilities, which is one of the largest reasons for building the yak to sail. There are 3 lakes very close to here. One being 29 miles round trip, 54 miles round trip, and the last being 60 miles around trip. At 3 knots per hour, I am looking at 9 hour to 20 hour trips. Being able to increase the speed or even double would be amazing. Wind patterns change, temps change, there are a lot of factors involved with the success, and it may come down to camping 1 night on the two larger lakes to get it done. But I am kind of getting a head of myself.

I was also trying to figure out how to add a pedal system to give myself one more power option during the expeditions. Although I dont believe my buddies will be coming with me on these, they are also thinking about running solar power low hp motor/prop to their mix for every day kayaking.
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