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The Flying Crutchman uses its noodle

In line with my earlier musing on the matter to hand, I have added a swim noodle to the stern 'steerage' on my sailing canoe/kayak/paddleski -- The Flying Crutchman.

This means that the paddle blades will trail higher in the water and 'may' offer some lateral support -- like an outrigger -- during wind gusts. I'm not sure where the tipping axis of the craft is located but I suspect it is further back than I originally thought especially now that I prefer to sail with a crab claw type sail elevated above the deck.

This design has not, as yet, been water tested. So don't try this at home unless under adult supervision.

It always seem to me that the design brief I'm after is to create a phantom craft longer than the one I have as 'length' offers better tracking in the water. This is why almost all sailing canoes are at least 12 feet (3.65 metres)  long. Mine is short and stubby at  2.4 metres.  So with the bits hanging off the back I gain almost another 0.75 metres in full hypothetical stretch without adding extra hull weight.

The good news is that by holding the end tip of either blade in a horizontal position in line with the stern I can turn the craft any which way with a twist of my fingers.Such is its  response on dry land while on its carry cart. On the water before a wind....well,who knows?  But that's  what the ocean is designed for: knowledge.

For the newly arrived, here is a recap:

I've been fiddling with my 2.4 metre/7.8 feet long kayak trying to convert it to sailing. I gave up the project for a time not because I couldn't rig an effective sail but I had steering problems. Being so short of course was a major handicap.

My 'kayak' has a twin hull and is quite beamy so it doesn't cut through the water with much verve. So given its stable base I thought I'd add as much sail as I could hoist aloft and ran an arm the length of the boat hanging off a settee -- lanteen -- sail which fell from a mast at 45 degrees.


I tried many permutations in order to improve tracking and coincidentally discovered that if I ran two whatevers off the stern (they aren't skegs, keels or rudders so I don't know what to call them) either side of the beast I could track very well indeed.

Short video of the thing sailing is here.

Skegs attached to the craft didn't seem to work nor were my leeboard experiments successful.

I now use two pivoting single paddles hanging off the rear to hold me to a course. They will bounce along the sandy bottom when I have to traverse shoals in the bay and I can flip them up or detach them for portage.

Everything is light and easy on/easy off. Indeed a good part of it is held in place with stretch cords and zip ties. All very temporary.

It was pure happenstance that I found the position for these stern paddles .I found that an inch or two laterally/medially here or there or to the front makes a lot of difference to how the craft tracks.

More so than how deep these paddles may submerge.

But I wonder about moving into a sort of outrigger option -- albeit only at the rear of the craft. I'm thinking that if I added some buoyancy to the paddles themselves I'd have steerage with an outrigger attached, albeit a short ama well to the rear of the boat -- in fact, trailing behind.

But I wonder: is this worth anything in way of offering sailing stability? Such as in this image and this dual outrigger design.

I suspect that my centre of effort, given my leaning back sail is further aft than I originally thought and maybe I can do a lot more with my back end.

But can it be put to work to keep me upright in a blow?

Twin/cat-like hulls are only so protective in gusts of over 15 knots and seated low I don't have many lean-to-windward options.(So maybe I should get a simple seat and raise myself up to alter my weight shift choices?)


Each expedition on the water is instructive. Originally I thought that what I needed was to drop my sail to the deck so that I could harness the wind energy close to the water. This may be inconvenient for seeing where you are going, of course, and you miss out on the views either to port or starboard, but the literature seemed to suggest that a wall of sail is best. However, it now seems to me that if I raise the sail arm so that the sail resembles a crab claw sail waving diagonally above the deck I'm getting better drive forward especially when tacking, even though the surface area of the sail presented to the wind seems to be reduced.

Is this impression likely to be true?

I now have a ready billow akin to a dhow's -- so I'm also wondering if that is a good thing? My mast runs at 45 degree angle from the prow.

Tilted like that it is easy to rig and especially convenient for reefing from a seated position (I just throw my line over the mast a few times and pull tight and the sail rolls up and wraps).

The irony is that my boat moves better (faster, sharper,with less effort) under sail than it did when paddled...As a purely paddling craft it's a bit of a drag.

As a sailing craft: I am surprized.



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