Kayak as sailing tender?

I'm building a Wood Duck double, and I'd like to be able to tow it occasionally behind my Pearson 27 sailboat on weekend cruises on an inland lake.  I think it would be wonderful for early morning exploring in sheltered coves and bays before the wind comes up--or on days when there is no wind.  I know I'd need a well fortified foredeck at the bow for attaching a padeye, and I'd plan to fabricate a cockpit cover, but I'm interested in whatever additional advice or experience the rest of you might be able to offer.  Thanks in advance.



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RE: Kayak as sailing tender?

Dave,  I have an Arctic 25 Yawl and have exclusively used kayaks for a tender for the last six years.  I live is Jax FL and my sailing is mostly in the St Johns River with occasional coastal trips.  I can attest to how wonderful it is have a kayak to explore while anchored.  Now to the more practical concerns.  A strong tow line attach point is a must.  I run the tow line through the bow padeye and back to a cleat mounted in the cockpit of the kayak.  I also suggest using polypropylene line because it floats and is less likely to get into the prop on the sailboat.  Another good idea is to tie a swim noddle to the kayak end of the tow line.  If wind/waves start to push the kayak and the tow line goes slack, the noddle will dip into the water and slow the kayak.  When docking, I pull the kayak forward so that the end of the noodle is against the stern cleat on the sailboat.  This makes a semi-rigid standoff which keeps the kayak bow away from the sailboat.

In my area, I am not comfortable towing a traditional sit-inside kayak.  If caught out in a storm and it gets rough, I would be too worried about the cover coming off and the kayak getting swamped.  Another problem is directional stability.  Most empty kayaks will yaw back and forth when being towed.  In windy conditions or if you are hit by a motor boat wake, this may cause the kayak to capsize.  I find that my Hobie Mirage kayaks tow nicely with the rudder down and centered.

The last concern is boarding the kayak from the sailboat.  I have no problem with the SOT kayaks but my 22" wide sit inside kayak is too tippy.  Looks to me like the Wood Duck is pretty stable but I have no first hand experience.  Hope that this helps.Sailing P'cola Bay  

RE: Kayak as sailing tender?



I have used kayaks as tenders on my sailboat when sailing on Lake Superior. If you are concrned about the yaw mentioned in a previous response, it is possible to raise the bow of the kayak up tio the stern rail and secure it. That way only a portion of the total length of the kayk is in the water.


RE: Kayak as sailing tender?

I would try boarding your sailboat from a kayak and the and then boarding the the kayak from the sailboat on a windy day in choppy seas before you do this.  Even if your sailboat has one of these grand staircases to the sea like many of the catamarans do there is often nothing to grap hold of.   http://www.boatdesign.net/forums/multihulls/transom-steps-catamarans-40772.html

If you have a metal swim ladder it might be easier  to get into and out of the kayak but  keep in mind, if there is any chop at all your kayak is going to be getting banged against the transom of the sailboat and the swim ladder by the waves while you are getting in and out of it..  With a rotomolded plastic kayak  this is probably not goig to to any damage to the kayak or the sailboat but I am not sure I woudl try it with a wood or fiberglass kayak.

I have tried boarding a sailboat from a kayak before and while it can be done  on a calm day it is a lot more difficult than you think it would be.

RE: Kayak as sailing tender?

Many thanks for your suggestions. Nice photo of the Artic Yawl, and very helpful advice.  Newell, I had the same thought, but it's nice to hear it from someone with experience.  Appreciate your concern jeepguy2.  We'd only be moving between the kayak and boat in calm situations, and we do have a swim ladder.  Exactly how it easy it will be even then remains to be seen.



RE: Kayak as sailing tender?

That's the nicest Nimble Arctic I've ever seen!  <Jealous>

I recall CLC founder Chris writing an article about kayaks as tenders for sailboats.  It really comes down to having good balance, and being able to transfer your weight swiftly from the swim ladder to the kayak.  I've personally fallen out of just about every yacht tender ever designed at least once.  (It's tough on cell phones.)  

A stable kayak like the Wood Duck Double should be pretty easy if you have a swim ladder.


RE: Kayak as sailing tender?

Just to add..

I have two Chespeake 17's but use my SOT exclusively as tender for my Catalina. The CLC is a much better paddle, but you cant beat the stability of a SOT. I haul weekend bags, ice and even my folding bike on the SOT.


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