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Rigging up : rudders and an umbrella

I may be extremely new to sailing the seas but I appreciate the challenge that centuries of mariners have  embraced.

How do you  move yourself forward through the force of the wind with little effort on your part across a watery surface?

Since I begun my nautical existence with an established shape -- as in boat profile -- my paddleski  -- how do I bend the shape so that it does something it wasn't designed to do?

This isn't supposed to be an option: you should not be able to sail a cheap plastic 2.4 beamy sit-on-top 'kayak' with catamaran hull -- despite its dinghy-like impression.

The story so far...

The first thing  I had to do was get myself an umbrella. (This of course assumes you are as eccentric as I.)

Golf umbrellas make useful small craft sails. They have a billow shape and catch the wind. And some, like the Gustbuster, can take a lot of wind before they start turning inside out or collapsing. They are also a lot cheaper ($80) off the rack than a commercial kayak sailing rig (>$250).

So I got myself an umbrella....only to find that despite my forward motion, my paddleski preferred to come about rather than continue to move forward.
Research suggsts that the preference to come about is built into the design of kayaks as a means to plough through or over waves while also facilitating the forward dynamic of the paddling with its left/right cadence. The fulcrum is moved back towards the stern so that the front automatially rises. This will impact on how well the craft tracks but the longer the kayak, and the stretch of its tail, the less of a problem this will be...so long as you don't have a short stubby boat like mine with no tail at all, just a bum. 
It was clear that I needed some sort of rudder, leeboard or skeg mechanism to hold myself on course -- ie: front ways. I also needed to be able to turn  left or right  as preference may dictate. 
I suspect that because my craft is so short I may be able to get away with running my rudders behind the stern and at shallow depth precisely because there's  a ghost part of the kayak not there as it is cut off  before it lengthened into a tail. A crocodile without a tail.
So after a few experiments I now use two 'rudders'  one on each side of the hull-- ie: on each hull. Their curved stem or tiller is made from rods canibalised from a pair of crutches ($2 at the local op shop) and the 'blade' is a plastic kitchen cutting board trimmed to shape. (Another $2.) The curve in the crutches stem fits snugly against the hull of the paddleski. 
You'll note how cheap replacement parts will be.
The whole lot is held together with won't rot or rust,  plastic cable/zippy ties.


Trials at sea suggests that the 'rudder' on the windward side is the preferred and active one used to navigate with and hold course so that the craft faces where I intend it to. The passive rudder, if in the water, functions like a leeboard or skeg. To navigate flexibly, rather than swap rudders, you operate each rudder depending on where you want to go and where the wind is coming from. But  in general use you just hold the active rudder steady as she goes...balancing your forward motion with the pull from the umbrella sail.

I was able to aim for a succession of crab pot buoys while out sailing yesterday and managed in each case to 'touch base' with them while sailing across the wind before moving on. 

So the system works. Because the rudders aren't very deep I can still use them in shallow water  and because the arm/tiller is held in place by a simple pivot ring, I can raise and lower the depth at which the blade works just as the blade can bounce along the sandy bottom in very shallow water without breaking off because of the play in the arm.

This means that I can sail in very shallow water -- eg: < 30 cms -- over sand banks or when coming ashore. The rudder blades can also be pivoted up and stored on the rear deck when not in use or during portage.

So far so good. Pity about the light winds we are having -- mostly around and under 10 knots -- as the challenge has been sailing lite. 

Two handed sailing

The umbrella sailor does need to serve as the  ship's mast and hang onto the umbrella while the wind does its business. With the other hand on the tiller you aren't offered many nose scratching moments. While I'm sure I'll be able to lock the tiller onto autopilot some how (or navigate with my knee) , trimming or taking down the sails  is simply a business of letting down an umbrella. To rest your mast/umbrella arm in a stiff breeze may be cause enough to tack just  so that you can change hands. 

But in general use --in 10 knot breezes at least -- it is comfortable enough to rest your umbrella arm on your knee while the tiller requires less  attention than a car steering wheel. 

Just like riding a bicycle....
Since the Gustbuster can handle gusts of up to 47.79 knots (88.5 kph)  the real question is what  is your arm's wind tunnel rating?
Within these parameters I don't think there can be many other initiatives open to me as umbrellas are not sails nor are they designed for craft propulsion and will only  work well for  downwind sailing. At best they are a spinaker. The current exercise is overwhelmingly about controlling  navigation while 'under umbrella sail'. Rigging up is easy. I can paddle where ever I want  to go and begin sailing on impulse  by simply dropping the rudders over board and opening up the umbrella. 

Easy. Not a lot of clobber  to carry on board.

The future under sail

I'll be using this rig to skill myself  up  and learn how the wind and water works together. Nonetheless, I've begun to think through my further sailing options and am exploring by what ways and means I may be  be able to rig up a lateen sail -- as used by the Pacific Proa and the Egyptian Dhow -- made up from cheap Polytarp. 

The question is how do I mount the mast and mast step? And make the mast from what material? It also nags me that the craft may be far too stubby to be able to  tolerate the pull of a mast and sail... I'm also assuming that my beamy cat like hull will protect me from roll over if I unfurl a larger sail area than  what's on offer from a golf umbrella. 


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