Not much wind today, but with a few refinements to try out it was worth taking the Pacific Action sail out on a regular ride over to the island.
I chose my big-faced Corry paddle and it has to be said it’s quite a strain (the opposite of a Greenland paddle) when you’re a bit out of condition. But then I bought it primarily for the packraft. What felt like a worthwhile breeze heading out to the island was probably more than doubled by the 4mph I was chucking out. Knowing I could afford to be, I was pretty tired once I reached Tanera Mor’s rocky shore. The state of the tide? who knows – coming in I think so it was with the wind, but I really think it makes little difference around here most days.
As the graph left and the video below both show, I had a bit of trouble getting it up and never got close paddling speeds while sailing back. But once I did get on the wind, it was a bit of a revelation to find I could pin the sail at a certain stance and, providing the rudder was on the case to, just sit back and enjoy the slow ride. It may have taken me longer to get back, but I could have easily read the Sunday papers, checked my email or just looked around and enjoyed the scenery, had most of it not been suffocated by the clouds of an imminent downpour.
It was also a surprise to learn I was not the prisoner of a given wind angle, but could modify it by up to 180° or maybe even more. At one point back near the beach, from the lapping of the passing waves across my beam it looked like I was paddling a few degrees upwind. Conditions were exceedingly tame but the cord-lock things worked pretty well and their position alongside the cockpit was just fine to slide them up and down.
At one point I tried paddling with the sail which I’d assumed would be rather tricky. Sure, the control cords got in the way a bit, touching my hands as I paddled, but it was possible to paddle lightly and so – as the graph shows – raise the speed with little effort to 4mph. Had I tried paddling harder I think I’d have outrun the sail, but it proves a good point: it need not be either paddle hard into the wind or sit back and sail; you can sail and paddle too if conditions allow- or enable it, gaining a bit more speed and exercise. I may try fixing the shock cord a little further forward to the nose which may help keep the sail up at marginal (low) angles or low wind speeds. I also need to tighten the webbing a little more, so the mast feet touch directly toe-to-toe so that, at the angle they’ve been locked against the masts, they’ll splay the sail out more readily.
The Google Earth screenshot of the GPS track on the right features the long-sought OS layer – useful as GE’s close-up resolution hereabouts is terrible. With it you can depict all the accuracy of a true GPS track over a detailed OS map. It’s a simple kml file found here. Download and open with GE and it’s there to click in the sidebar on the left when/if you choose to view OS maps in GE. Thanks to Gael A. for sending the link.
As things stand today I’m pleased I bought the PA sail; primarily for its simplicity of installation, deployment and possible repairs, its ease of use in the hands of a sailing beginner like me, the compactness when furled, as well as its ability to pulled down fast and attached/removed from the Incept in a minute or two. All that remains to be assessed is the kayak’s stability in rougher and windier conditions. The forecast shows a bit more wind on Tuesday so hopefully, there might be some surf-slicing sail action to grab then.