Homemade Kayak Sail

This video shows how well the sail performs in windy conditions. My max speed topped 9.7MPH as shown in the picture. I really couldn’t believe the figures while having so much fun on the choppy seas.

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As promised a few weeks ago, here is my step-by-step guide to make you kayak sail. Firstly lets start with the shopping list.

1. Ripstop Nylon – 1.5m x 150cm wide
2. 22mm Class PVC pipe x 2 (Cut to 6ft Length)
3. 18mm Dowel x 2 (Cut to 6ft Length)
4. Tee pieces for PVC pipe x 2
5. End capes to fit over pipe x 2
6. Bungee approx 5mm – 3 meters
7. Stainless steel hose clamps x 2
8. PVC sheeting (Only if you require a sail window)
9. Sail control line (amount is dependent on your setup) mine are direct so I required 4 meters of 4mm nylon line.
10. Extra strength sewing thread

Step 1

Below are the dimensions required for the sail. My measurements do include an extra 1 1/2 inches top/bottom for the hem, and 2 inches extra either side to allow room for the PVC poles.

Good tip would be to measure twice and cut once. Although the fabric is pretty cheap it makes sense to get it right first time.

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Step 2

I firstly sewed the bottom piece followed by the top using the spare material for the hem with a zig-zag pattern for extra strength.  The thread is extra strength rather than the regular stuff to keep everything nice and tight

You’ll see that I’ve cut 2 squares in the ripstop nylon which will later be used to attach the hose clamps. I also sewed around those edges to ensure it doesn’t fray or split in high winds.

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Step 3

Make sure the PVC pipe fits before sewing otherwise it starts getting very messy. Once complete it looks like below. The PVC window is all down to personal preference. I installed it to make the sail complete. You can purchase a Teflon foot for the sewing machine to prevent it from sticking to the sheeting, otherwise my cheaper alternative was to use washing up liquid, placing a fin film along the area I wanted to sew. This worked perfectly and doesn’t make any mess or stain the material (Pictured later).

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Step 4

I then used the webbing buckles from an old kayak seat to begin making the mount. Using a hot screw driver I pushed a hole in the centre which eliminates any frayed ends. I then unscrewed the pad eye, put the webbing into position and screwed back tight using all the existing pieces on the kayak. Don’t be tempted to drills holes, look first at what’s available and then decide.

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Step 5

This process is easy to achieve. inside the PVC piping are the 18mm dowels. They are a perfect fit which make the poles very strong and stable. Using marine goop or any good adhesive glue the tee pieces and end caps on, although end caps are not essential.

I sewed a piece of webbing to the bottom part of the sail to secure tight around the hose pipe. This prevents the sail from riding up the poles. Theres nothing special about the yellow pipe. It’s from my garden hose. Run another piece of webbing all the way through as pictured.

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Step 6

Now cut a piece of pipe insulation or even a swimming pole noodle will do the trick

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Step 7

Place it around the hose pipe and PVC tees ready to secure with masking tape or any suitable strong bonding tape.

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Step 8

I put quite a lot of tape around the foam for extra strength.

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I left the middle exposed to allow the poles to move around when using the sail. The reason for putting this on is to stop the PVC tees from scratching the kayak.

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Step 9

Utilising the webbing from the hose, you can begin to piece it together. Using the buckles make sure you thread it through correctly.

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Once i’d secured the sail to the kayak I folded the loose ends of the webbing under the buckle to prevent it loosening under pressure. This works perfectly.

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Step 10

Using the bungee, I fitted a yellow ball to a carabiner to make attaching/disconnect very easy. This bungee then fits onto the sail.

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Step 11

The bungee runs right up to the gaps in the sail you’ve made which connect to the hose clamps on either side. Put the hose clamp around the PVC pole and then your bungee line followed by your controlling lines underneath as pictured. Once everything is in place you must tighten up the hose clamps to prevent any of those lines slipping when the sail is in use. The bungee must be tight, however not so tight that you cannot pull the sail down and stow for paddling. I’m not giving any instructions on how to secure the sail control lines (My red lines) because I’m still coming up with ideas which do not involve me drilling holes anywhere.

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This sail is very simple to make, and although it make not perform exactly like the pacific action sail, it’s fun and very cheap to make. Shop around and looks for bargain where possible. My sail cost all in £30 to make. The most expensive part being the wooden dowels at £7 each. Other bits and pieces I found in the garage from previous jobs which helped cut the price in some areas.

More than anything though, I hope this helps.


16 Responses to Homemade Kayak Sail

  1. Hey Mike,
    Great job on the sail. Does it work in cross wind?

  2. ciao
    do you think that is possible to use with inflatable kayak (sevylor Sirocco)???
    Thank you

    • I certainly think its worth giving a go!

      • thank you Mark!
        My problem is no support for tree(the grey one in picture of step 9).
        Could Bic kajak sail be better?

        • Ciao, I’ve seen the bic sail, but never actually used it. It could work and is certainly cheap enough to try. Not much more than the cost to make your own.

          Worth a go anyway?

  3. Hi Mike you have some great ideas on your website. I have made a sail rig which is built on a pair of ladders. It clips on to the yak in about 1 minute with no drilling required and you can sail slightly upwind on it
    You can see it here:

  4. Have looked at this site a few times to get ideas for a sail. Here is my finished product.

    Mounting etc, self-explanatory.
    thanx for the encouragement.

  5. Hi Mike, Great plans .. can you tell me the sail dimensions if I have 5ft sections.

    • To be perfectly honest, I’m not to sure. My best advice would be to lay the poles either side of the material and gauge the measurements that way?

      Hope this helps.


  6. Michael Chidiac

    Mike, really like this style. Will this work on an inflatable kayak like the Maxxon Namu II?

  7. Made one of these last year for my 17 ft. sea kayak and have used it several times since. Works amazingly well, and I always get lots of comments and questions from folks that see it!

    I made a couple of slight modifications: one was to use small eye bolts through the poles for the rigging lines instead of hose clamps, and the other was to use a couple of Ronstan Small Fairlead V-Cleats mounted near the cockpit for the sail control lines. These allow easy adjustment on the fly, and hold the lines very securely without any pesky knots or anything. Yes you have to drill holes to mount them, but they’re very small holes well above the waterline, and they don’t get in the way of anything when not in use.

    Anyway, thanks for putting these great directions out for all to see and use!

  8. Hi Mike coming to the discussion late but I like your design, can you tell me the purpose of the white bungee chord attached to the front of the kayak? Everything else looks awesome (especially since you didn’t have to drill any holes- that would scare me and wreck my boat I’m sure).

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