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Looking for simple sail

Discussion in 'Canoe Sailing' started by Treewater, Apr 24, 2012.

  1. Treewater

    Treewater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    I am looking a simple sail for a canoe. The lateen rig is good but I want to get away from the three stick sail that is difficult to set up when underway and fully loaded. Something I can unfurl from the rear seat w/o climbing over gear. I wonder about a simple two stick sloop rig that would fold vertically while paddling and unfurl with a single motion when switching to down or cross wind conditions. Any ideas?
  2. Paul Waqué

    Paul Waqué Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    I think that the Kayakers have a good idea with a maststep that hinges. So that the paddler throws up the folded sail and mast from their seat. Here is an example:

    It is probably limited to being functional for a smaller downwind rig, which is fine if you do not have leeboards anyways.

  3. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Simple usually equates to only being able to sail down wind since rudders, leeboards, and other complexity usually becomes necessary to sail across or up wind. I would also be more concerned about the ability to drop the whole thing quickly and easily while underway if the conditions build to the point where you don't want to be sailing any more.

    The comments from Todd Bradshaw and others at and may be helpful. A design like the "Twins" rig, built by Balogh Sail Designs could be an interesting option. This is listed at with pictures at and showing it on a kayak. Let us know what you decide and how it works.

    Last edited: Apr 24, 2012
  4. Paul Waqué

    Paul Waqué Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Being able to de-power in a gust is a good point, especially on a downwind rig that might not have a tendency. To round up into the wind without rudder input.
    The Twins Rig is novel, but it is not clear how to quickly de-power it.
  5. OP

    Treewater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Ah yes. Thank you all. If such a sail existed everyone would have it. I'm strapping a single lee board to the center carry thwart so I hope to sail cross wind or even tack. You can see the dilemna from the amount of gear to crawl over. IMG_2054.jpg this is not the intended canoe.
  6. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    The Twins rig will stream instantly as soon as you let go of the sheet and is a vast improvement over any other downwind rig I've ever seen - BUT - it is pretty much a downwind only rig. Even with leeboards and a rudder added, it most likely would be a pretty poor general purpose rig.

    The lack of ability to move around in the boat at all is problematic. You could use a spritsail with a brail eyelet to jiffy-furl it when needed, but it's not a particularly neat or efficient furl. Fine for launching and landing, but not really something you want to leave flapping there all afternoon. A balanced lug has three spars, but they tend to be substantially shorter than those on a lateen. With parrels on the yard and boom around the mast you can usually raise or lower it very quickly down to gunwale level is a few seconds. It's easier if you're close to the mast, but it could be rigged to operate from the stern with a bit of work. In terms of getting the sail up and down fast and leaving nothing to cause windage aloft but a mast, it's probably the best bet.

    The problem with most Bermuda-style sails (3-sided, typical sailboat-sail-shaped) on canoes is that they usually end up being awfully tall by the time you have adequate sail area to do the job, and that brings a lot of heeling force that you don't want.

    In the "outside the box" arena, did you ever notice the profile similarity between a lateen sail and a big boat's Genoa? I suspect that you could rig a mast and hang up a sail similar in size and shape to a lateen, but on a dinghy headsail's roller furler, like a genoa. Release the furling line and pull the sheet and the sail unfurls. Pull the furling line, easing the sheet and the sail rolls on it's stay in a neat bundle. Use the halyard as a backstay when the sail is up and if you want to minimize windage, ease that and lower the rolled sail the gunwale.
  7. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    Here is the outside the box furling sail explained more clearly. One spar (the mast) with a combination mast thwart/leeboard bracket attached to gunwales near the middle of the boat. The lower drum and upper swivel of a roller furler like the Harken Small Boat Furler are attached to the sail's upper and lower luff. The drum attaches to the deck, the swivel is attached to the halyard - which passes up through a masthead sheave and down to the aft deck to function as a backstay. The furling line leads from the stern seat to the drum, the mainsheet leads from the sail's clew corner to the stern. The sail can be raised, lowered, trimmed, furled or unfurled from the stern seat. Furling/unfurling takes less than five seconds. If desired, the sail can be lowered to deck level to reduce windage aloft by releasing and easing the halyard.

    All around sailing performance should be pretty decent, though you might want to pole out the clew corner with a simple whisker pole if you plan to sail dead downwind. The boat is probably more efficient with better VMG sailing broad reaches and going farther, faster than it is sailing a run.

    Attached Files:

  8. OP

    Treewater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Thanks Todd. Interesting idea. who makes them or is it just something to make up?
  9. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    Ive never seen one either presented as a plan or in the flesh that I can remember, but it wouldn't be difficult to build. Not quite as all-purpose as some more conventional set-ups, but given the requirements, the restrictions of the sailor's mobility in the boat and the desire for a sail that will do more than just sail downwind, it might be pretty hard to top.
  10. mukluk

    mukluk New Member

    I've wondered about that. I was afraid that setting up enough luff tension on that rig would be asking a lot of the canoe hull. With the small area of a canoe sail would it be manageable? Would you want something like a three part tackle on the backstay?
  11. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    On something that small I doubt you would need it. A good hunk of non-stretch line for the halyard/backstay and a little goosing of the luff sag variable that gets figured into the calculations when you design the luff curve would probably do the job. You can sail with a fair bit of luff sag - as long as you account for it in the design phase. If not, the sail gets more and more drafty as it sags and you lose the ability to control its shape, among other things (speed, pointing angle, etc.).
  12. Pernicious Atavist

    Pernicious Atavist Canoe Sailing Publisher

    Novel idea, Todd. I recognize from some old photos...or maybe drawings. In any event, it would want twin sheets like a jib; I bet the lazy sheet could be employed to control the shape. Worth a try for sure!

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