I flew down to Seattle for a long weekend to check out the boats and some of the gear. We bought the kayaks used, and really didn’t know if we got everything we needed for the sail kits and what configuration we might want to use for paddling. I learned a lot in a few days.
The sail kits are awesome. The sails are Batwing sails, and are really well made. They have tensioned battens to shape the sail, and they sail to wind well. We need to change the rigging around, however, and clean up how the lines are run. There are two mast mounts on each boat, one in front of the paddler and one in back of the paddler. It would be nice to use the rear mount, so the sail is out of the way, but it seems like there is too much weather helm for the rudders with the sail mounted that far back. We went out Saturday to test the sails, and in winds that started around 10 knots, the boats sailed 3 – 5 knots easily. When the winds picked up to around 20 we needed more ballast in the outriggers (we didn’t have any), and it was a little tougher to handle the boats. The sails can be shortened, but not from the cockpit without removing your spray skirt. Sailing along at 5 knots that close to the water is pretty cool.
I learned lots of other things, like the Exped mattress is probably more comfortable than my bed! That will make weather days in the tent much more bearable. And the Kokatat dry gear is super comfortable. And the AT carbon paddles are sweeeeet! Overall, there weren’t any big negatives to the boats or gear selection so far. It’s not going to be a walk in the park, but we should be able to stay as dry as one can living outside for 3 months on the Inside Passage. And of course, it is going to be a beautiful and fun trip. Paddling to Sucia in the sunset on water like glass was like moving through a painting.