Kayak Sail for Passat G3 Seaward kayak

I’ve been mucking about sea kayak sails for many years and had a variety of shapes and types fitted on lots of my kayaks, starting in the early 1980’s. I’ve been using the common fold down mast on my single kayaks with a 1sq metre sail for many years and thought this was the simplest model.

With the arrival of our Passat G3 double from Seaward Kayaks, Robyn and I have had to rethink the sailing idea. We looked at a couple of normal style mast fittings, but decided that we needed a” through the deck” mast socket. I wanted it to be able to paddle effectively whilst the sail was up so I decided on a central sail mount, between the 2 paddlers, and close to the front paddler, meaning that I couldn’t actually reach the mount to insert the mast.

I enlisted the help of Mal B, our Mr Gadget on this one. His design was  a stainless steel tube with exterior flange, matching underdeck reinforcing plate with a bracing bracket to the bulkhead. It incorporated a “lead in” section in the tube so that the mast could be inserted at an angle, and then pushed upright by the rear paddler. Luckily Mal had a few ideas and some expert engineering skills to install it and make it work. After buying some tube and plate it was off to the workshop to cut and weld it together. The fairlead cleat for the boom rope is not attached by bolts through the deck as is common practice, but threaded onto a spectre cord that is attached to the deckline mounts meaning fewer holes drilled in the kayak.

Then the problem of deck storage. Because the sail mast was not attached to the foredeck as in my previous fit-out with single kayaks, I had to get a more streamlined full length bag made for the furled sail and store it on the deck.

As my sewing skills are well known to be zero, I contacted an old friend who makes kayak sails as well as doing windsurfer sail modifications and repairs.

Di knocked up a perfect storage bag suitable for storage on the deck. Di had previously built lots of sails for me and all are still in excellent condition, so if you’re in Adelaide, or infact anywhere in Australia, and  need a sail repair or bag made give Di a call on (08) 82965464 or her mobile 0404040593.
I’m sure she will be able to help you out.

I took a couple of photos and filmed a little of the Passat under sail during our recent trip along the coast of Yorke Peninsula. Hope it gives you an idea of the mounting system and sailing fun.

This is only a basic overview of the system so if you want more information please contact me. The next project is to design a sail fitout for my Nimbus Njak kayak, that doesn’t involve extra holes drilled in the kayak and can be easily fitted as one unit. I’ll get onto that one when I get back from our next holiday.

Happy paddling
Ian and Robyn

PS. There is a review of the Passat G3 double sea kayak here

Kayak Bilge Pump – one electric pump to fit all my kayaks

I have had all sorts of electric pumps installed in kayaks over the last 20 years or so, with many different combinations requiring the need to keep the battery dry. I have had the battery installed in the rear hatch, day hatch and in waterproof boxes etc.

The pump I now use is the Rule Automatic style that senses water in the cockpit and activates the pump switch.This is an emergency pump system used if you capsize and have to bail out of the kayak. Yes, there is a time delay in starting, however, by the time you are out of the kayak and have righted it the switch has normally activated (about 15 seconds).

It doesn’t get out every single drop of water but its’ benefit is in the “no hands operation” in a capsize situation. There is also a switch on the side of the pump so that you can manually activate the pump if required. The benefits are the removal of a manual switch from the system, which has been the only part that has malfunctioned in all the pumps I have ever fitted. Water simply gets into the switch system eventually, even reed switch systems etc. have failed on me.

The battery doesn’t get flattened by the automatic system as it only turns on when there is a good deal of water in the kayak. Also the number of emptying cycles needed to drain the battery is considerable. I have used the kayak for capsize demonstrations  with at least 20 cycles with no sign of a flat battery. Remember that the system is designed for use in a capsize situation to get the bulk of the water from the kayak, not pump it absolutely dry. You will still need a sponge to get out the last bit of water from the cockpit, but in the case of a capsize the bulk of the water will be removed by the time you have completed a rescue or re-enter and roll. Considering the conditions that capsized you in the first place, you are probably not going to be worrying about a small amount of water in the cockpit.

The pump I used is a Rule-Mate Automatic Bilge Pump 500 GPH (Available from any good marine dealer) which has an inbuilt water sensing switch that senses water and turns the pump on and off automatically, with inbuilt time delays. There is also a manual switch on the unit.  This is different to the older pumps with a float switch which will activate when the kayak is turned upside down (i.e. rolling), which causes the pump to run dry.

Rule Automatic switch pump

Rule Automatic switch pump

I have put together a few photos to give you an idea of the installation method I used on a recent pump fitment.

I am using the 500 gph Rule automatic pump with a 12 volt 3.2 amp battery in a waterproof case. The battery is much larger than I normally install, however , this will also be used to charge my camera battery on expeditions.

Pump wired and connector attached

Pump wired and connector attached

First job is to drill a hole in the side of the waterproof box and push the pump wires through.  In this case I am running the pump in full automatic mode so the extra “manual switch ” wire is cut and taped off.

Next  wire in a standard fuse holder and attach the battery connectors to the wires. I use standard spade connectors to the battery for simplicity. Test the system using the pumps manual switch located on the side of the unit.

Battery box complete with fuse older and all wiring in place

If all working as planned I seal the wires though the battery box with Sikaflex Marine sealant and let cure as per instructions. Remember to fit a foam block into the battery box to stop any movement of the battery when in use.

Next it’s on to fitting to the kayak which varies with each kayak.

Mark the position of the skin fitting on the kayak deck, covering the area with masking tape to avoid any unwanted scratches. Use a hole saw to cut the correct size hole for the skin fitting (you can also use a series of small holes to complete the circle) and fit and seal the skin fitting and nut, with Sikafex sealant.

Drill hole for outlet

Drill hole for outlet

I used a small bung (from marine dealer) inserted in the skin fitting to help keep water from entering back into the pump/cockpit, a non-return valve is not required, which is restrictive to water flow, and can block with weed etc. Drill a small hole through the bung and push through a small diameter cord, knot at the end and attach at a convenient place on the deck.

Skin fitting with plug installed

Skin fitting with plug installed

I had to install a pump in a CS Canoe My Sun kayak which presented a change from the normal outlet. The deck of the My Sun is angled in such a way that if I installed the standard outlet then the ewater would be directed back into the cockpit. For this installation I used a chromed breather outlet which did the job nicely. It has a slightly restricted flow due to the 90 degree outlet but was still fine in practice.

CS Canoe My Sun Pump outlet

There are many ways to attach the pump into the kayak  and I have used velcro at times as well as aluminium brackets attached to the back of the seat pan. It really depends on your cockpit layout.

Mount the pump in place as required and measure the length of outlet hose so that it fits fully onto the skin fitting and is easy to remove from the pump spigot. I used the corrugated style hose as it bends easier and also helps keep the pump firmly in place.

pump installed behind seat

pump installed behind seat

Attach the pump and battery box into kayak in a convenient place. Many people find it easy to mount the battery box against the rear bulkhead with velcro or shockcord and others have used a lightweight aluminium bracket.

Add water and give it a test. Wet exits can now be fun!!

With this method you can easily remove the pump from its’ hose (leaving the hose connected to the skin fitting), remove the battery, and transfer the pump/battery into a second, third, etc  kayak.  All you need, is to have the skin fitting, bung, hose, and pump bracket already installed in the other kayaks.

Thighbraces retro-fit

I have had lots of kayaks from river tourers to playboats and sea kayaks and the one problem I always have is getting the thighbraces to fit. It’s better these days with playboats,as they have lots of great adjustments, but then white water paddling is not something you get a lot of near my place.
I have the Njak sea kayak from Nimbus and it’s beautifully padded out under the deck for your knees, only my legs don’t really reach the proper spot. I need extra thighbraces. In my previous Raider X I got some plastic ones from a Dagger sea kayak and fitted them with a few bolts and a lot of bending. They were just great. At last I have found a set of after market set, designed to be fitted to composite kayaks. Bought them from Rosco canoes in Brisbane and I will get a review and photos up after I have used them for a while.

Nimbus Kayaks – Njak kayak for Xmas

I think I’m in trouble again. The shed is full again, Robyn’s yoga mat got rolled up out of the way and the Nimbus kayak Njak was installed in the kayak rack. Full kevlar construction ofcourse !!!. Nothing but the best. It was going to be Robyn’s new kayak, but once I had a couple of paddles in it it became mine and she’s still in the Seaward Cosma (and still loving it ).

I really love the construction on the Nimbus kayaks and this one is way better than the first one I bought in 1986. Full kevlar construction, vacum bagged, beautifully finished and even great to paddle. Super smooth finish on the inside making it comfortable even in bare feet which is great with summer now here.  I’ve got to get to work and add a few things such as a camera mount, allround deck-lines and thigh braces, but that may take a while.