TopKayaker.Net: Guide To Kayak Sailing

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Do It Yourself Kayak Sail Instructions
Contributed By John and Naomi Royals of JNR Sail

This simple do-it-yourself kayak sail is a very inexpensive alternative to some of the more expensive ready-made sail kits on the market.

If you are like me you want to "do it yourself" but you do not want it to look like you did it yourself. With the JNR Kayak Sail you can take great pride in accomplishing this project. It will look professional. Not only will you save a ton of money on the cost but your new sail will look and perform just as good as the more expensive versions. Everyone on the lake will want a sail as cool as yours!

Note: The following instructions are demonstrated in YouTube videos by John Royals himself. We recommend using both the below well illustrated information and the videos in concert together. Jump to JNR Videos In Four Parts.

Materials needed from local hardware store: Carefully match your pvc pipe to the wooden dowels. Dimensions can vary from one supplier to another.

  • Two "1/2-inch" PVC tees (called 1/2" for some reason other than the actual size)
  • Two 1/2-inch PVC end caps
  • Two 6 foot sections of 1/2-inch PVC pipe
  • Glue and primer needed for PVC welding
  • One foot of 1/2-inch ID braided PVC tubing
  • Two 1/2-inch to 1-inch stainless steel hose clamps
  • Three 5/8-inch by 48-inch dowel rods

JNR do-it-yourself kayak sail
side release snap buckles  placement
Make sure your saddle straps are above waterline and that you have a minimum of 12 inches to shock cord attachment point.
Completed mast and saddle without sail
#2 Completed mast &
saddle without sail
Completed sail mast saddle
Completed sail mast saddle.
Sail mast saddle with sail attached and secured to saddle
Sail mast saddle w/ sail attached
& secured to saddle.
Sheeting and shock cord attachment to mast
Sheeting and shock cord attachment to mast.
Routing of sheeting around seating area.
#6 Routing of sheeting around seating area. The blocks remove most of the friction from your sheeting allowing for easy adjustment of sail from downwind to a reach.
Shock cord attachment point.
#7 Shock cord attachment point

Materials needed from Tom's

  • Sail Rig Parts Pack with SAIL OR THE FOLLOWING:

  • Two well nuts with 1-inch screw
  • Two 1-inch fender washers
  • Two to five strap eyes depending on your kayak
  • Four to ten well nuts or rivets to attach strap eyes to kayak
  • Two micro blocks
  • Two side release snap buckles for 1-inch webbing
  • Three 3/16-inch quick link chain links
  • Six feet of 1-inch wide webbing
  • Ten feet of 1/4-inch shock cord
  • Twenty-five feet of 5mm Deck Rigging Line rope
  • One JNR 16.1 sqft (1.5 sq meter) kayak sail available in red, blue, and yellow (image 1)

Step One: Attaching the side release snap buckles to your kayak

Determine where to drill holes to attach the female ends of the side release snap buckles (photo #1). The two holes must be above the water line and at least 12-inches from the shock cord attachment point on bow of the kayak.

Drill the holes just big enough insert well nut screw into hull. Now take two 8-inch long 1-inch wide webbing strips and fold in half. One inch from the end of the webbing make a mark with a pen in the center of each end of the webbing strips.

Take an old Phillips head screw driver and heat with a candle and melt a hole where you made the mark into each end of the webbing just big enough for the well nut screw to go through. Attach the female end of the side release snap buckle on the webbing loop and place one flat washer on the well nut screw and insert into both holes of the webbing and then into the hole in the kayak and install the well nut.

To install well nut: Reach inside the kayak with the well nut(s), and twist the well nut onto the screw, with the larger flange end sealing against the hull material. Hold the well nut in place while you turn the screwdriver (out of the kayak) and eventually the well nut will hold itself and only a few more turns of the screwdriver will be necessary. These instructions are from Basics of Strap Eyes, Rivets and Well Nuts by Tom Holtey. Now do the other side.

Sailing down windStep Two: Making the masts

Cut two six foot long sections 1/2-inch PVC pipe. Weld an end cap on to the end of each section of pipe. Take one section of the 5/8-inch by 48-inch dowel rod and cut in half. Then put one of the half pieces of dowel rod in to each of the 1/2-inch by 6feet long PVC sections.

Now place one whole 5/8-inch by 48-inch dowel rod into each of the mast sections. The dowel rods add strength to the PVC masts. Weld one PVC tee to the other end of each mast sections. (photo #2)

Step Three: Attaching the mast saddle to your kayak

Insert the 1/2-inch ID braided PVC tubing through both tees it will be a tight fit but it will go in. The two tees should be about 2-inches apart when finished trim off excess 1/2-inch ID braided PVC tubing so that no more than one half inch of tubing sticks out past the tees.

90 degree reachNow slide the remaining 1-inch webbing into and all the way through the 1/2-inch ID braided PVC tubing so that equal amounts of webbing is on each side of your mast saddle. (photo #3)

At this point you can now carefully slide your sail all the way onto the mast. (photo #4) Use the 1-inch webbing strip attached to your sail to secure the sail to the saddle. Next place the male half of your side release snap buckle on the 1-inch webbing.

Insert the male end of the side release snap buckle into the female ends and tighten the webbing very tight you want just enough slack in the webbing to connect the side release snaps. Finally tie the two ends of the webbing together tightly.

Step Four: Attaching the sheeting and shock cord to masts and kayak

Attach the hose clamp to one of the mast at the point where the hole in sail sleeve is located insert the 5/32-inch line and 1/4-inch shock cord between the mast and clamp then tighten the clamp to firmly hold the two lines to the mast. (photo #5)

Mark and install the strap-eyes to your kayak so that the sheeting can be routed as shown in image to right. Use the micro blocks on the two forward strap-eyes. You want to route the sheeting so as it will not be in the way of your feet.

You will want to place the rear sheeting strap eyes where they will end up on your kayak between your ankle and knee so as to be easy to reach for adjusting your sail but also not to interfere with your paddling. Use the quick-link chain links on the rear two strap-eyes as shown. (photo #6)

installedRouting of sheeting around seating area. The blocks remove most of the friction from your sheeting allowing for easy adjustment of sail from downwind to a reach.

Route the shock cord through the quick-link chain link attached to the bow of the kayak (photo #7). The shock cord will deploy your sail from a stowed position.

Attach the second hose clamp to the second mast and the ends of the sheeting and shock cord. Adjust sheeting so that both masts are plumb removing all of the slack from the sheeting.

finishedNow stretch the shock cord fairly tight (so that when the masts are pulled down in the stowed position the shock cord is at nearly at maximum stretch) and tighten hose clamp very tight (a extra set of hands would be helpful at this point).

Leave extra sheeting and shock cord until you have sailed a couple of times in case any future adjustment is needed. You may also want to mark the sheeting and shock cord where they attach to the mast with a permanent marker so you can easily remove and reinstall your sail.

You are now finished installing your sail.

You can use the sheeting to adjust your sail for downwind sailing and up to a 90 degree reach. You will want to attach a line to your kayak to secure the sail to the kayak when not in use.

To remove your sail from your kayak simply loosen one hose clamp enough to remove shock cord and sheeting and unsnap both side release buckles. I recommended that you carry a knife just in case of an entanglement problem. Oh and have fun you are now a kayak sailor!

Instructional Videos In Four Parts. Clicking on the images will open the video in a new window or find them on YouTube at this link:

Video 1 Video 2 Video 3 Video 4

Related articles at TopKayaker.net:


We also recommend:

  • SAIL THE FORUMS to get answers to your kayak sailing questions.

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