Kayak Sailing on Little Lake Santa Fe

Nice day for sailing! Wind was about 12 mph with some gusts, warm but not hot. I recently bought a 2010 used Hobie Adventure with the optional sail. It works amazingly well, especially considering how narrow the hull is! (The first day I took it out in heavier winds I turtled it. It was very easy to right and self-rescue!) To be very specific, the rig pictured here does not depend on the pedal drive (an amazing bit of engineering that!). It uses a two foot dagger board that inserts through a special slot in the hull. I also have the larger rudder installed. Below is my informal review…

dagger-board

The asymmetrical controls take some getting used to. The “tiller” is a small lever near my left hand. It works in reverse, you turn it the direction you want to go rather than away as in a traditional sailboat. The dealer had added a small pulley to the aft lift point for the sheet. I discovered that there was a small eye fitting near the dagger board that served well as an informal block. This allowed me to pull the sheet upward and sort of lock it over my leg. This position was comfortable, easy to maintain for an entire tack and could be quickly released if there was a gust. I found it more natural to sail on a port tack because of the controls. With the boat heeling to the right I could lean to the left and still have full control of both the tiller and the sheet. (I can actually reach my left arm out and around the hull to hold on!) On a starboard tack I was leaning away from the tiller and into the sheet. This was a bit awkward and limited my ability to hike out. Not a big deal, just a factor you don’t have in a standard sailboat.

This is serious sailing craft in winds from about 8 to 16 mph. In light air you’re better off paddling or pedaling. When the wind is gusty above 20 mph it becomes difficult to keep the sail trim for more than a few seconds. You’re forced to let the sail luff to avoid capsizing. On the other hand, the challenge can be part of the appeal! <smile> On a warm day with warm water this is a very safe boat to tip over. (There is also an option to partially reef the sail by rolling it on the mast. I have since tried this and it works well!)

reefed-sail

The boat turned well both coming about and jibing. I was never “in irons” and since there is no boom there is nothing to swing across and hit you in the head. I used the paddle only to get off the shore. It points well and tacks upwind effectively. It seems to go fastest at a beam reach. When going downwind I discovered I could improve performance by holding the sheet out to the side with a free arm. The telltales are very useful, which surprised me for such as small sail. [The photos below were taken by Cathy Schell.]

Kayak Trip to Cedar Keys and Hall Creek

My colleague Carlos and I took a quick overnight trip to The Cedar Keys and the primitive campsite at Hall Creek. We put in at “Bridge #4” at low tide and paddled through some very shallow water for the first hour or so. Once out in the Gulf I had a chance to try out my new sail.

   

Carlos is an experienced fisherman and he did catch fish… At one little eddy pool (which we named “Trout City”) he reeled in seven or eight Sea Trout in less than thirty minutes! Four of these were keepers and we dined well when we got back.

   

The Hall Creek Campsite is an isolated group of trees on slightly higher ground next to a very narrow branch of the creek. It was overgrown by prickly pear cactus and appears to be seldom used. There are what I think are limestone outcroppings in the creek (watch out!) and this may in part explain why there is higher ground at this location. Carlos took two amazing panoramas with is phone camera (iPhone 5) and I took a few HDR sets of the setting sun.

As we paddled we noticed many butterflies fighting the wind and heading out to sea. At the campsite we saw one of their refueling stations. Butterflies were everywhere in the warm afternoon sunlight. Monarch Butterflies make a four thousand mile journey to and from Mexico every year. Apparently those that make a left turn and wind up in Florida rather than Texas are doomed. But you can help admiring their perseverance! It is within the realm of possibility that some of them make the five hundred mile crossing. No one knows…

  

Finally there were the birds… lots of them. The second day started out foggy and remained mostly foggy for the rest of the day. At one point we could see what appeared to be a large white boat on the horizon, but this turned out to be a small flock of White Pelicans resting on a sand bar. They are magnificent birds! I drifted along in front of them and got a few good digital zoom photos before they took off. Most impressive were about a dozen American Avocet in winter plumage feeding in the flats. They never got close enough for a photo.

  

Link to Carlos’ Blog Entry for This Trip

Link to Carlos’ Blog Entry for 2009 Trip