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A Kayak Sail: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Published May 14, 2022

As you probably know, having a kayak sail will make your kayaking experience easier and more enjoyable. But, you may know that kayak sails are not cheap, and they can cost you around 100+ bucks. If you don’t want to spend that much money and still want a decent sail, you have come to the right place.

Here, I am going to teach you how to make a kayak sail. This would be very helpful for you to make a sturdy sail at home.

In order to help you make your own kayak sail, I’m going to write a step-by-step guide.

How to Make a Kayak Sail: Summary

How to Make a Kayak Sail

how to make a kayak sail

A sail is a great addition to your kayak and can make it much easier to get around. Making a sail for your kayak is actually pretty simple if you have the right materials. All you need is to follow the steps given below.

Things Needed for Making a Kayak Sail:

Here are some things you will need while making a kayak sail.

  1. Medium Size Sewing Machine
  2. Sturdy Sewing Thread
  3. 1 * Small Plastic Fabric Sheet
  4. 1 * Tent Fabric
  5. 2 * Strong PVC Pipes
  6. 1 * Small PVC Pipe
  7. 5-10 Feet Bag Strap
  8. 2-4 Bungee Cords
  9. Strong Glue
  10. 4 * Strong Ropes

Step #1: Take Measurements of the Kayak

Take measurements of your kayak to determine which size of sail is best for you. Measure the length, width, and height of your kayak. If you have a rudder on your kayak, measure that as well.

The sail needs to be long enough to reach from side to side, so you’ll need to know how wide it is. You’ll also need to know its length (from front to back).

The ideal size of sail would be the length of your kayak and the width of the area where you will be installing the sail.

Step #2: Cut the Fabric according to the Size

When you have taken the measurements and decided on the size of the sail, you will need to cut down the fabric according to the required size.

The tent fabric will be installed on the upper side of the sail, so cut it according to the size. Similarly, the plastic sheet fabric will be installed on the bottom side of the sail. So, cut it accordingly.

After that, set both of the fabrics to each other and cut them again in a V shape. This will be the final fabric you will install with the pipes.

Step #3: Sew the Sides of the Fabric

Now, you will have to sew the sides of the fabric and make room for the pipes. The room for the pipe should be not too loose and not too tight. Sew it in a way that the pipes smoothly go inside and fit there.

Step #4: Install Pipes into the Fabric

After sewing the sides of the fabric, install the pipes into the fabric and apply glue on the pipes before inserting them into the fabric.

The glue will ensure the pipes wouldn’t come out easily, making the sail stronger. After installing the piper, you will have to wait for the glue to dry. For this, I recommend you to wait at least 2-3 hours and keep the sail in direct sunlight.

This will quickly dry the glue, making the kayak sturdy enough to withstand air blows.

Step #5: Join Big Pipes with a Smaller One

After successfully installing the pipes (which can be found in your local Home Depot or Lowes), you will need to joint the smaller pipe with the bigger ones, creating a triangle. For this, you will need 2 or more elbows that will help you successfully join the pipes with each other.

Step #6: Install it On the Kayak with Bungee Cords

Now the mainframe of the sail is ready. So, you will have to install it on your kayak with the help of bungee cords and bag strap fabrics.

For this, try binding the sail frame with the kayak with the help of bag strap fabric and install the bungee cords with the hooks to support the sail.

This will make the sail stand on the kayak, but it’s not ready yet.

Step #7: Make Use of Ropes

The final thing would be to strengthen the sail with the ropes. You will have to make use of the ropes to install the sail on your kayak properly. Bind the ropes on all sides of the sail and then bind them with the hooks given on the kayak.

So, this is how you can make and install a DIY Kayak Sail at home without spending much money.

Final Words

A Kayak sail may not be essential for the survival of a human being while going on the water. However, these sails help them in crossing rivers, lakes, and oceans. So, this is how you can easily make a kayak sail. You just need to gather the above-mentioned things and follow the steps; you will be able to make any size of sail within a few hours.

I hope these steps will help; please leave your comments below if you found this guide helpful. If you have any confusion in mind regarding these steps, you can also share that with me in the comments.

I will try to answer you within a few hours.


How do sails on kayaks work?

Sail is used to harness the wind and propel a vessel across the water. As waves travel from the direction of the wind, they have a tendency to push the sailboat in its wake.

The sail must be positioned at an angle in order for it to best harness the wind. This angle is created by adjusting the tension on ropes that are attached to each corner of the sail.

So, in short, sailing on a kayak works by harnessing the energy in the form of wind power, which allows this form of transportation to move quickly and easily through the water.

Can you sail a kayak?

Sure, you can sail a kayak. Whether it’s for extreme competition or simply for pleasure, these boats are easier to sail than you might think. The best thing about kayaking is that there is no real experience necessary. You can do it as long as you are willing to give it a try and not be afraid to get your hands a little wet.

How fast can a sailing kayak go?

Sailing kayaks are designed for speed and top performance. Back and forth paddling is replaced with sailing, as you cover miles of water effortlessly. A quick look at the world record will tell you that traveling at over 20kph over a long period is possible.

But, an average speed of a sailing kayak can be between 10 to 20 mph depending on various factors like the size of the kayak, water types, wind speed, etc.

Besides that, kayaks are considered one of the fastest vessels in the world. They are narrow, with a sharp prow, and typically feature two side-mounted rigid sails acting as an extension of the hull that is controlled by a single tiller that can move in either direction.

The kayak’s high maneuverability and speed make it extra useful on rivers, which account for a large part of the planet’s surface area.

Does sail make a kayak faster?

Yes, sail makes a kayak faster if it’s used in an appropriate way. As mentioned above, if you install the sail in a way that the wind pushes it harder, then it will also push the kayak, making your kayak faster on the waters.

Do homemade sails are better than market purchased?

Home-made sails have a lot of advantages over market-purchased ones. Firstly, a chain sewn sail can be custom tailored for your boat. Secondly, a chain sewn fabric will last longer than the commercial ones.

Thirdly, in case the company which produced your sails is not around anymore, or if the sail broke, you would have to buy a new one by spending more money.

That is why homemade sail is always better than market purchased.

Why are kayak sails expensive?

Kayak sails are a little pricey. But you’ll be paying for performance and quality construction. The more comfortable and durable the kayak sail is, the better it will last and cost more money.

Can you kayak in 10 mph winds with a homemade sail?

Of course, if you make a sale with the best materials, you can take your kayak in front of 10+ mph winds easily.

Jay Schwartz author of Kayak Guidance

About the Author - Jay Schwartz:

Hey there kayak lovers! I’m Jay Schwartz, the author here at Kayak Guidance! You know water sports – you know me! My life is all about it. Kayaking, Paddleboarding, Fishing, Snorkeling and so much more. I love to share my passion and knowledge with all of you. 

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