How to Make a Sail for a Kayak?

If you’ve recently gotten into kayaking, or you’ve been doing it for years and are looking to take your hobby to the next level, adding a sail to it is a surefire way to elevate your sailing experience with speed and power.

Whether you’re looking to cover long distances in shorter amounts of time, or you simply want to add a bit of fun to your usual kayaking session and stand out from your friends, there are plenty of reasons why you may be interested in building your own kayak sail. 

If you don’t want to purchase a pre-made sail and fancy trying your hand at building your own, you’re in the right place! Below, you will find everything you need to know about the benefits of adding a sail to your kayak, as well as how to make one. Read on!

Making a Kayak Sail: What to Keep in Mind

First things first, before we get started, the first thing to keep in mind is that there are a few safety precautions to consider before you begin building your sail.

Though there are plenty of different types of kayak-related things that you can build yourself (such as a mesh for the top of the kayak) building a sail is slightly different, and precautions should be taken.

For starters, as building a sail for your kayak can slightly dangerous, we do not recommend trying to build a sail for your kayak if you’re an inexperienced kayaker, as a poorly-built sail could potentially cause damage to the structure of your kayak or even cause it to lose balance and topple over.

Regardless of your level of expertise, situations such as these pose their risks and could be potentially dangerous, especially if you plan on kayaking in open waters. For these reasons, we recommend making sure to take all of this into account before you decide to go ahead and make your own kayak sail.

Making a Kayak Sail: What You’ll Need

Nevertheless, if you do intend to go ahead and make your own kayak sail, you’ll need to make sure that you have all the necessary tools and equipment to make it correctly!

There’s no set way to building a kayak sail, however, as a general rule of thumb, make sure that you have these basic essentials to get you started:

  • Ripstop tarp
  • 15 feet of PVC
  • Gorilla glue (or another kind of strong glue)
  • One roll of parachute cord
  • Fiberglass resin
  • Fiberglass matting
  • Fiberglass rod
  • Screwdrivers
  • 1-inch pipe 7-8 inches long
  • 1 pipe 5 feet long, 12 inches in diameter
  • Scissors
  • Two medium-sized pieces of wood

Making a Kayak Sail: Step-by-Step Instructions

Like we mentioned above, there are many different ways you can go about making a sail for your kayak. However, the method that we’re going to be showing you today is one that has been tried and tested by sailers time and time again.

What’s more, everything you’ll need to make the sail will cost you less than 50 dollars, making it great for those who want to save their money. Let’s take a look at the steps:

  1. Take the ripstop tarp and cut it so that it is around 6 inches larger across the top and the mast side. Keep in mind that the outside of the tarp will be acting as the outside of the sail, so it does not need to be touched or changed.
  2. With your chosen pipes, connect them together to make a 1 ½ inch elbow positioned at 90 degrees.
  3. Taking your scissors, carefully make two incisions across the top and bottom of the ripstop tarp (inside) so that you will be able to roll the 5 feet long pipe into the tarp.
  4. Using the gorilla glue, coat the pipe in the glue, and then roll it into the tarp to give the inside of your sail stability. Allow time for the pipe to bond to the tarp before moving on to the next step.
  5. Next, take a drill and drill holes into both sides of the now glued pipe, as this will allow you to attach the parachute cord to the mast, being sure to double-check that the grommet ring is facing outwards.
  6. After you have done this, carefully melt holes into the tarp using a heated screwdriver, or use your scissors to make small incisions. By doing this, you will be able to then tie the tarp to the mast, which will help to hold the sail in place effectively. We recommend making these holes towards the outer of the sail, as this will help to enhance stability.
  7. Take the medium-sized pieces of wood and drill holes into one of them - large enough for the 1-inch pipe to fit inside. The wood will help to keep the sail standing upright, and is the part of the sail’s structure that is going to be in constant contact with your kayak.
  8. Carefully knock the 1-inch pipe into the piece of wood that has a hole inside it. Then, after doing this, place the wood with the pipe inside it onto the block of wood that doesn’t have a hole inside it.
  9. Once you have done this, the two pieces of wood will be ready to be fiberglassed together. This will act as the baseplate, and keep the sail rigid while out on the water.
  10. Lastly, take the pipe that is 1 and a half inches in width and 2 and a half feet in length, and then carefully place it over the 1-inch pipe held inside the woodblock. This will allow the larger pipe to rotate in a circular motion so that when the sail is attached over the top, it will allow the sail to move freely without any restrictions.
  11. After you’ve done this, you should have a sail ready to be taken out on the water! Carefully place it into your kayak, and you’ll be ready to set sail.

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