Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Sailing Canoe Story

“You do not put a sail to a canoe, said a relative,” teasing me up.
Yvon R. Lalonde, Ste-Émélie-del’Énergie, Québec Province, Canada

Editor’s Note: Real’s first language is French and he asked me to make corrections for him, which I did, but only where needed. I left much of his article untouched so as to maintain the quality of his "voice."

What’s the hole for, I asked the salesman at sportcenter? Some people put a mast there and go canoe sailing. Huh! Are you kidding? But he showed me a products list from Sportspal Company, makers of good aluminum canoes. Nice, I said, and 2 weeks later, I purchased the sail outfit!!! (Sail, Mast, Leeboards). I went sailing with my brother two weeks later. We went downwind, but it was impossible to come back windward. Few more weeks later, I went sailing again, alone, no experience, sitting at the rear seat trying to sail, then a small breeze made canoe to capsize!!!!

That was my first experiences in canoe sailing. “You do not put a sail to a canoe, said a relative,” teasing me up. Others said I was dreaming or a bit nuts. So after a while I quit sailing canoe, cuz I thought they might be right. Three years passed until one day in September 2007, while paddling with another relative, a very light breeze made me dreaming again about canoe sailing. My relative lives in Switzerland and by the end of that month, he was back to Zurich.

I began looking literature and pics on Internet, see how people were sailing a canoe, I learned about leeboards, real lift able rudder instead of a paddle, rigging, all parts, from leeboards thwart to mast thwart, and from cordage to blocks and so on. "If they can do it, so do I." The Web is an awesome source of informations. I was lucky, a friend of mine gave me a fine book from a French writer (written in French, my mother language), all about canoe, from natives' birch bark canoe to modern Royalex, aluminum, fiberglass, polyurethane and last but not the least, his majesty—the cedar canoe. All my needs were in that single book. How to sail, mastering wind. Making masts, leeboards, thwart, rudder, sails. But I was terrified about capsizing again.

Read More

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Canoe Sailing Magazine - Anchoring - a Followup - the SCARY Device

New anchoring device could mean world peace, okay, less chance of rolling over at anchor

In the article "Anchoring Surely and Keenly" I discussed a few options for anchoring your canoe or kayak. One of these involved using an anchor pulpit that involves running your anchor line from hand, along the rail and through the bow-mounted mechanism that also doubles as a bow sprit that can add protection when ramming seawalls, etc. (Don't ask how I know.)

During a recent fishing trip in my sailing canoe I found the need to anchor over a promising spot. Now, not having the pulpit rigged on this boat, my anchor line is attached to the forward hand grip. Ah, now this makes it a bit iffy to retrieve the anchor because I'd have to climb to the bow to bring it in, which can be iffy at best. And it was windy, which adds to the uh, potential, for, uh, issues.

It's times like that when idea lights come on (if one is lucky) and one did for me. The image shows the result--an anchor "leash." No, it's not a new idea, I'm sure, but this is the first time I've seen it, so I'll take credit, apply for a patent and name it the "Sailing Canoe Anchor Rope Yanker," SCARY for short. (Patent Pending)

The SCARY (Patent Pending) consists of a line with a loop that the anchor line passes through. The line passes back to hand and is secured. It need only reach the anchor line with a bit of slack when anchored. The retrieve the anchor, just pull the line to bring the anchor line, uh, rope, to you or your crew. Easy, safe and cheap, though there is a (Patent Pending) which could increase the value and subsequent cost significantly.

Oh--just be ready to handle the boat when you do this. Pulling the anchor alongside while it's still planted can increase your chance of getting knocked down. If your sail is up, make sure its sheet is free! You've been warned....

Monday, March 23, 2009

Now Spring's Resprung!

Went for a nice paddle yesterday! Cool and windy--should have sailed--but made for a nice paddle anyway!
Objective was the slough just seen at upper, right in this image. Made it to the mouth but returned before going farther since I knew I'd have to paddle against the wind on the way back and wanted to leave myself time before sunset. Route (yellow line) beginning at lower, right. Wind also from lower, right, which meant that most of the trip was in cross-wind or headwind. Not bad, though, but a good wringing-out for the first paddle of any sort of the year. 5 miles round-trip.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

And Now -- It's Unsprung (Unsprang?)

Wet, chilly, windy...'nuf said.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Spring Sprang (at least for this weekend)

FINALLY got to sail yesterday! Water was cold, very windy, too much boat traffic in the ICW, not enough water over the oyster bars (scraped my leeboards and rudder, but they're designed to handle that), got soaked...had a great time!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Is Spring Springing?

I've been on the coast of North Carolina for a few months now and have had it with this winter weather! Now, to be reasonable, it's not a very serious winter around here. Having just moved here from the Tampa bay area, though--it's cold, man! Windy, too. I haven't been on the water sailing or fly fishing in weeks, okay--months. I am ready for spring!

This weekend we go back to daylight savings time (or do we go back to 'regular' time? Would that be 'daylight wasting time'?) and it seems this may be the weekend that begins spring here. Ready, I am!

So, in a few days I should be getting the canoe back on the water, sailing Bogue Sound and finding new places to sail, and fly fish, of course. We'll see how it works out....

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Canadian Canoe Museum Raises Sails With CSM

Built around what is now the world’s largest collection of canoes and kayaks, Peterborough, Ontario’s Canadian Canoe Museum tells the story of Canada like no other museum or cultural institution in the country. Rotating permanent exhibits, with ever-changing temporary installations, supported by presentations, workshops and award-winning education programs create a living context for visitors to experience the Canadian canoe tradition in its many dimensions. From massive ocean-going West Coast whaling dugouts to the delicate intricacies of a fur trade canoe made of pure silver to decked and open sailing canoes, The Canadian Canoe Museum welcomes visitors from all across Canada and around the world, each of whom have found or forged often surprising personal connections to Canada and its waterways through its rich and diverse canoeing traditions. For paddlers, a visit to The Canadian Canoe Museum is like a trip to the source. For others, it is a beginning, a discovery of one of the true wonders of Canada, that often continues with a hop back to the waterway for a paddle or a boat trip on the very waters where the Canadian canoeing tradition began. For directions, details and hours of operation go to

Canoe Sailing Magazine Contributing Editor, John Summers, is the General Manager of The Canadian Canoe Museum

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A First Time Builder Builds a Modern Sailing Canoe

Old designs keep resurfacing in modern materials

Gary DeJong, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

One day in the fall of 2006 I dreamt of combining my interests in sailing, engineering design and building projects in wood. Over the years I have experienced the joys of sailing windsurfers, dinghies and cruising sailboats to 27 feet long. The small car-topped boat has been a favourite. My dream was to build a sailboat that would be within a reasonable budget, be completed within a year and be suitable for a first time builder.

Read more!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

John Summers Comes Onboard as Contributing Editor

General Manager of The Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, joins a stellar staff

 During more than two decades in the maritime museum field, John Summers has worked as a curator, historian, boat builder and educator, and has written, lectured and published extensively about watercraft history. He has particular interests in the history of yachting and pleasure boating, sailing canoes and pleasure boat advertising. Although a childhood ambition to be a naval architect was thwarted when he discovered that the profession involved doing math, Summers has continued to dabble with designing and documenting small craft. As well as designing the new 16-30 and building Somethin’ Else, 16-30 hull #2, he is restoring IC USA 132 Jelly Roll, a King Ferry Canoe Company International 10 Square Metre sailing canoe; he previously owned IC US 151. A veteran user of a wide variety of small rowing, paddling and sailing boats, John is a US Sailing-certified Level I instructor.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The 16x30 Sailing Canoe, a Fast and Nimble Sailer

Turn-of-the-Century Gilbert Boat Company design updated for S&G construction

John Summers, Contributing Editor, and General Manager, The Canadian Canoe Museum, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada

Would you like to build and sail a unique small boat that will draw admiring glances wherever you take it, let you learn new skills in the workshop and on the water and make you a better sailor? If so, you may be a candidate for the 16-30 decked sailing canoe.

Read more!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Canoe Sailing Magazine Celebrates Its First Year

Great support makes it possible, and fun (sorta)

During this year, Canoe Sailing Magazine has published about a hundred articles and has been read by more than 27,000 individuals on every continent, save Antarctica, for a total of more than 297,000 pages read and more than 41Gb of data transferred. As far as I can tell, it’s not too shabby for a pastime that’s so unknown to many people. So far.

With our success, we have established a presence sponsoring Facebook’s Canoe and Kayak Sailing Group with its ever-growing membership and the Canoe and Kayak Sailing Blog that provides readers yet another avenue to read some past articles and comments and observations that are more at home there than in the magazine.

We have also begun writing on Twitter (I guess that would be Twittering….) and we invite any of you fellow Twitterers to keep an eye on what we do and let us Twitter with you, too! Of course, if you are not yet a Twitterer, you can join easily enough and become part of this growing social network.

Read more!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sailing a Tin Can

My first time sailing a canoe: the naïve approach

It has been almost 40 years since I first sailed a canoe, and now is the time to share the experience. I’ll ask the reader to do the same when the time is right, especially if it’s a good story.

I was with my Boy Scout troop out of Miami. We went for a canoe trip into the 10,000 Islands area of Florida, a place where the land and sea fight for preeminence over the very southern tip of the state.

We paddled a mélange of canoes out to an island, maybe just a couple three miles or so. We made camp on ground barely above the high water mark, scattered with coral and transient soil. Plants consisted mostly of sea grape and whatever weedy stuff grows in such inhospitable conditions good only for crabs, mosquitoes and the ubiquitous sand fleas.

By that age I had pretty much reached the point where I was too independent to be a Scout anymore and this would prove to be my last trip hanging off the umbilical of a Scout Master, especially one who (in my youthfully arrogant thinking) was better off sitting in front of the tube watching a Dolphins game than trying to lead a hardened outdoorsman like myself (at the age of 14). I had already spent many days in the Everglades and practically lived in the drained-swamp pine barrens surrounding our southern Dade County home by then. (Within a couple years of this trip I would find myself held by the foot by trap in alligator-infested, chest-deep water in the Big Cypress Swamp; but that’s another story.)

During one of the many lulls in the camp action, I took off with the canoe assigned to me and my tent mate, a Grumman, if memory serves; aluminum, for sure. Packing a spinning rod and a mullet gig, I went in search of adventure, and maybe some fresh fish for dinner. After sticking myself a black mullet and baiting a hook, I settled down in the bottom of the canoe in my usual repose: horizontal—napping. After a bit, I had a strike. Shark! It pulled hard and began swimming to deeper water with a tin canoe and teenager attached. I hung on and adjusted my rod angle so the boat would stay inline with the fish, knowing a broach would be uncalled for when a shark is on the line.

Read the rest here!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bigger Sail, Now Need to Get to Work!

I've used a 40' lateen sail for as long as I've sailed this boat and it's fine in many conditions, but really doesn't do the job in light winds. I got a nice, light, red and white, 54' sprits'l from my Uncle Carl a couple years back, one he used on his Salmon Wherry, and I need to not only make a new mast and spars--all of bamboo--but now need to step it forward of the lateen.

I need to make a mast thwart, also known as a mast 'partner,' and a new step. The current partner [which is built into the forward seat] and step will stay in place, which gives me two rig choices.

The sprits'l needs reefing points installed though. I reckon bringing it down to 40' will be will a good choice.

Sprits'ls are a lot more efficient than lateens [how much, I don't know right off] and they allow the boat to point higher, which will be nice. I just hope the new sail doesn't over power my new leeboards!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Old Town Sailing Rig Development

Benson Gray sent me a great article on OT sailing canoes and their development from '03 - '32. I really love the looks of a 'Canadian' canoe, as they're often called--the typical open, paddling canoe--especially when sail-rigged. Yeah, they can have drawbacks, but all that open room on a pleasing form is hard to beat!

For thems of you what's interested:

A Better Leeboard Assembly

I needed better leeboards and bracket....

Having fought with leeboards that were too small for the purpose, I finally broke down and decided to make a new set. The old ones didn’t provide enough lateral resistance to allow me to sail close to the wind, or as close as could be expected by an open, “Canadian” canoe, and they were overpowered by higher winds. To add to the need, the old boards had been beat to death by running into shoals and had finally cracked.

It was time.

As with any project, careful consideration of what one wants, and what one needs, must be taken into account. This one was no different, but it came with its own requirements that others may not consider or recognize. The reader may be well aware of my opinion that two boards are generally better than one (see “An Argument for Twin, Fixed Leeboards ”) because twin boards provide a wider range of control and flexibility under more conditions. Thus, this would be a twin-leeboard project.

Moving away from that, I had the regular expectations of leeboards, and a couple “wants” as well.

-Leeboards significantly contribute to a boat’s lateral resistance, the force that counters the lateral force sails apply to the boat. By balancing resistance against force, the boat will make way, or go in the direction intended by the helmsman (or -woman.) Boards that are too small don’t get the job done, too big and they add unneeded drag.

-The boards must be easily managed. The skipper must be able to raise and lower them with the least amount of hassle, and they must not become a problem when striking an impediment like the odd log or manatee (both of which I’ve struck while at top speed.)

See the rest of this article here.