Below is a picture of the finished homemade sail mounted on a kayak. This was a first attempt at the mounting and footing which was altered in the end.
Below is a video of the sail pictured above sailing on a reservoir in Southern Oregon in light wind conditions. Estimated speed is 5 mph.
Below is a diagram of the sail.
Making The Pattern
These instructions are for making a pattern for the sail shown above. You may adjust dimensions as necessary to accomodate your sail or material size. The width of your sail will be determined by the width of the nylon used at the top of your sail (color #1), unless you choose to make it wider by sewing pieces of ripstop nylon together. Most ripstop nylon comes in 56", 60" or 66" widths so this will generally limit the width of your sail.
Begin by taping pieces of paper (newspaper, butcher paper, etc) together to form a rectangle or square with measurements a bit larger than the width and height of your sail. Once you have your pattern material taped together, draw a horizontal line 10" long near the bottom and in the center of the paper. At each end of the 10" line, draw a vertical line (90 degrees to the horizontal line) 60" long. Out from each of these vertical lines draw a horizontal line 25". Draw a diagonal line from each end of the 10" line to the end of each of the 25" lines. Cut out sail pattern along the red lines shown in Fig. 3. If you plan to use the pattern repeatedly, reinforce the edges of the pattern with masking tape, both front and back.
Materials List These materials are for a tri-colored sail. You may combine yardage amounts as needed for a two color or single color sail.
20" ripstop nylon in color #1
18" ripstop nylon in color #2
18" of 12 gauge vinyl
12" ripstop nylon in color #3
18" of 1" webbing
2/3 yd. sport nylon
Two 6' pieces of PVC - 1/2"
Dowels or two 1/2" green sturdy stakes with steel reinforcement (garden center) inserted in the PVC to stiffen them.
Four screw eyes
(Optional: plugs for the ends of the PVC pipes if needed to keep stiffener intact.)
1/2 yd. of 3/4" hose (garden hose)
Two plastic Ts: 1/2" x 3/4" - to accomodate the 1/2" PVC masts and 3/4" hose.
1/4" - 3/8" bungy cord or shock cord for the rigging between the sail and the bow.
3/16" nylon rope for the rigging between the sail and the cockpit.
Quicklinks for attaching the rope to the screw eyes and as rope guides back at the cockpit.
Dog clip, snap hook or quick link for attaching the bungy to the bow of the kayak
Attaching the footing to the boat: 1" webbing and 2 ladder lock buckles; or 2 snap hooks and bungy; or "D" rings; or a light load ratchet strap
Closed cell foam (backpackers sleeping pad) to protect the boat under the footing.
Small bungy cord to secure the bottom of the sail to the footing using the grommet.
Other Helpful Materials
Steam - A - Seam 2 - 1/2" wide
Double sided tape
Constructing the Sail
Read through these instruction completely before trimming and sewing. Sizes given in the diagram above are finished measurements. Trim material if needed to achieve the finished sizes in the diagram above once you take your
seam allowances. Sew nylon color # 1 to nylon color # 2 using a French seam (1/4" first seam and 1/2" second seam); press the seam flat to color #1 or color #2, whichever seems appropriate (usually the darker color), and stitch down.
Using double sided tape, attach the vinyl to color #2 and stitch with 1/4" seam allowance. (I put 1/4" of the 1/2" wide doublesided tape on the vinyl and trimmed the excess 1/4" off.) With your hands, press the seam up to color #2 and zig zagging over the stitching to reinforce.
Repeat this process when attaching the vinyl to color #3, pressing the seam down to color #3 and zig zagging over the seam to reinforce. You could use French seams on all the fabric joining if you want a more finished look, however you may want to purchase a couple more inches of each color if you decide to do this.
Lay your sail pattern over the material you have sewn together and cut out. (When I cut it out I added on an extra 1" at the bottom and top to allow for the hem since this allowance was not in the pattern.) Hem the bottom and the top with a 1/2" hem.
Constructing the Mast Pockets
Cut the sport nylon into four 5.5" strips. Take two of the strips and sew them end to end with a 2" hem. Repeat with the other two strips.
Fold under 1" of both seam allowances and stitch over each fold. This gives you three thicknesses of material through which your eyelet will go. Repeat with the other mast pocket. I laid the joined pieces flat and on the right side I sewed a very tight zig zag (close like a button hole) across the seam. This really welded the two pieces together.
Trim to length for your masts allowing 2" on each end for a hem.
Fold under a 1/2" hem on each side of the mast pockets, the full length the mast pockets. I secured these with Steam - A - Seam 2 as the material is rather slippery to work with.
Fold up hem on bottom and stitch with the tight zig zag stitch along the bottom. Repeat on the other mast pocket.
Fold under a hem on the top. This is the tricky hem if you want the mast pocket to maintain the same profile as the top edge of the sail. Fold under and trim bulk as necessary. Stitch the hem down with the tight zig zag stitch and reinforce the top edge with the zig zag stitch.
Wrap the mast pocket around the PVC mast and mark where the eyelets/screw eyes will go. Each mast will have an eyelet and screw eye facing the paddler to attach the nylon rope, and each mast will have one eyelet and screw eye on the other side, facing the bow, to attach the bungy.
For the eyelets/screw eyes that face the paddler, I put them on the upper hem and the eyelets/screw eyes facing the bow of the kayak on the lower hem. Install the eyelets according to package directions.
Pin the long edges of the mash pockets together and baste stitch 1/2" from the edge. This will keep your edges together for top stitching the pocket to the sail as well as give the sail material a "stop". Fit the mast pockets over the sides of the sail and pin or masking tape in place. Sew the mast pockets to the sail material by topstitching with the tight (close) zig zag stitch. Sew a piece of 1" webbing to front and back over the bottom hem of the sail and insert a grommet in the center. (When rigging the sail in the footing you will loop a small bungy under the hose of the footing and attach to the grommet)
Constructing the Masts
Cut your PVC to the desired length and insert the material you purchased as a stiffener. If the inner material will easily fall out, put end caps in each end. I used steel reinforced green sturdy stakes from the garden center to stiffen my masts. These have small raised knobs which made driving it into the mast very difficult. On the second mast I used a planer and removed the knobbies which made inserting it easier yet still gave it a tight fit.
I used my electric sander to "soften" the top edges of the PVC mast to avoid excess wear on the inside of the mast pockets.
Insert the masts into the mast pockets and make a mark (through the eyelet) where the screw eyes will screw in. Remove the PVC masts and drill a small pilot hole, reinsert the masts into the pockets and screw in the screw eyes.
Constructing the Footing/Mounting
From this point on you could just go to Rebecca Heaps solution for a footing at the link at top of this page, or you can read on and see what I have done. Here's where I am still experimenting. First of all, I had a few requirements when it came to my footing. I did not want it to be permanent on the kayak as we have multiple kayaks and wanted to be able to move it from one to another (and I just don't like the looks of having the footing on the boat when not in use - its a vanity thing). I also wanted to use the existing saddles on the kayaks so that I would not have to drill more holes in the boat (its a resale thing). Secondly, I found out that plastic Ts are not all created equally. The first ones I bought at Home Depot would not take a 3/4" hose because the stops inside were too prominent. Then I found some at the farm and ranch store where I bought the hose
and they fit snugly without any alteration. I have made two different footings (three really but I am not talking about the first one shown in the photo). One of the footings was very rigid as I reamed out the two Ts and inserted another piece of PVC which I heated up over the stove and bent to the exact curvature to allow the
masts to open fully. It satisfied my need for stability (Rebecca Heaps is loosey goosey) but it had "no give" to allow the sail masts to fold together when the sail is not in use (something I could have foreseen had I given it a bit more thought before barging ahead). So then I went back to the hose inserted into the plastic Ts as Rebecca recommended. This is a bit loose for me (makes me slightly nervous which I am sure I will overcome with more experience), but I can see where it needs to be flexible after sailing a couple of times. Then how to mount the footing. I have tried a bungy through the hose with a snap hook on each end - waay too loosey goosey for me. I have tried webbing through the hose with ladder lock buckles on each end with another piece of webbing attaching it to the deck through the saddles. Still made me nervous that it would not hold in a strong wind. Where I am right now is a ratchet strap around the hull of the boat, through the saddles on the deck and through the ladder lock buckles - my version of compromise between a secure mounting and somewhat loosey goosey footing. I don't think the resistance caused
by the strap around the hull is too significant. So feel free to experiment - I still am. I have sailed in slightly stronger wind since the video, but not anything that makes whitecaps yet. This sail cost me under $60 and some of that was for materials I would only use a little of (eyelets, grommets, closed cell foam, skein of nylon rope, etc).