Turn a Canoe
or Kayak into a formidable sailing boat or a super stable
Whizz Along in Armchair Comfort
- or - the Ideal Fishing Platform (paddle/motor)
All Components under 10lbs
2 sheets ply
The first time I fooled around with this concept we took
an elegant Strip Planked REDBIRD canoe and fitted it with
this outrigger system. It is designed to be light and
the additional stability we were able to cram on a significant
amount of sail in a simple Lateen Rig. - about 7.5 sq
metres (80 sq ft) for real sailing performance. One of
the advantages of the lateen rig is that the sail can
be a backyard manufactured item. We made ours out of a
blue plastic tarpaulin - I think the total sail cost was
about $40. The Lateen even if cut completely flat develops
a useful driving shape when loaded up by the wind.
The boat whipped along very well and did not really require
a leeboard provided the leeward hull was well immersed.
It had a surprising turn of speed and was quite exciting
The only downside was that the Redbird canoe hull, being
a brilliant straight line paddling boat, just refused
to go round corners easily - it just refused to tack through
the wind. Either it had to be assisted by someone with
a paddle - or the tack was completed by the boat picking
up a little bit of speed in the backwards direction then
steered out with reverse rudder. Not a big problem at
all - and the speed in a straight line made it all very
relatively narrow hull (under 4ft, 1.2m) is suitable,
whether a canoe, kayak or rowboat.
In other words, the steering characteristic of the whole
shebang is defined by the main hull.
The owner used it for holidays - it all roofracks easily
because of the light weight - and for fishing.
There have been a couple of these built to make a canoe
into an excellent fishing platform. For that purpose they
used a small outboard (2 or 3hp pushes a canoe along quite
quickly) attached to a bracket on one of the crossbeams.
The outer hulls provide an extra level of safety as they
The hulls are simple stitch and glue (image right), and
the displacement has been chosen for the speed to wash
off if the boat heels too much. The crossbeams are simple
laminations and look light and simple on the boat. The
hulls attach to the crossbeams with butterfly nuts, then
the crossbeams are lashed into the hull. For sailing versions
the upper mast partner is built into the forward crossbeam
and the mast steps on a simple block glued to the bottom
of the boat.
Unfortunately I don't have any pics of Mr Webb's Fabulous
Redbird under full sail - but it was great fun.
The other advantage is that like the "drop-in kayak
rig" when the outriggers are removed from the hull
there is only the small block of wood acting as a mast
step still attached to the canoe.
Because of the potential speed and power of sailing versions
we recommend a rudder be fitted to the main hull. Steering
it with a paddle would just be too much work! While a
simple rudder makes things easy.