How to Make a Kayak Sail

How to Make a Kayak Sail
Kayaking with a sail provides more speed with less fatigue. You still have to paddle when using a kayak sail, but you have the ability to take advantage of the wind, and your paddling will be used more to steer the kayak rather than to provide all of the power. Kayak sails are available at sporting goods stores, but you can make your own to match your kayak and save money. Don't be afraid to dress up your sail with a custom look once you have the initial pattern laid out.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • 2 yards 60-inch ripstop nylon
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • 1 spool nylon carpet thread
  • 1/2-inch PVC pipe, 4 pieces, 34 inches each
  • 1 can PVC cement
  • 2 PVC 1/2-inch joiner connectors
  • 1 PVC 3/4-inch joiner connector
  • 6 PVC 1/2-inch 90-degree tees
  • 1 heavy sewing needle
  • 1-inch nylon strap, 3 feet
Step 1
Lay two yards of 60-inch ripstop nylon on the floor so that the longer side is horizontal. Fold the left side of the nylon fabric over so that the left edge is laying on top of the right edge and the fabric is folded in half. Grasp what is now the upper left corner of your rectangle-shaped fabric and fold it into the center of the piece of fabric. Grasp the lower right corner of your rectangle-shaped fabric and fold it into the center of the piece of fabric. The fabric is now shaped like a parallelogram. Cut along the two corner folds.
Step 2
Fold the top left corner of the fabric in until it is 6 inches long. Cut along this edge to form a hole to stabilize the sail. Sew the upper side of the sail together with a sewing machine threaded with nylon carpet thread.
Step 3
Use PVC cement to secure a 1/2-inch joiner to a 34-inch section of 1/2-inch PVC pipe. Repeat. On one of the pipes, cement a 3/4-inch joiner connection on top of the 1/2-inch connection to form the bottom of your kayak sail mast. The other pipe will be the top. Cement two PVC tee connectors so that the pipe sticks into the middle opening and the barrel is at a right angle to the PVC pipes.
Step 4
Cement two 1/2-inch 90-degree tees to both ends of the two remaining 34-inch PVC pipe pieces. The openings at opposite ends of the pipes should be at right angles to each other.
Step 5
Cut off a 10-inch piece of nylon strapping. Set the lower portion of the mast that has the 3/4-inch joiner on it on the floor tee at the base with the tees of the other pipes lined up with it on either side. Lay out your sail under the mast. Pass the 10-inch piece of nylon strapping through all three tees and tie in the bottom right corner of your sail fabric. Tie the strap tightly, and hand sew it with nylon carpet thread to secure it. Cut off 6-inch pieces of nylon strapping and pass them through the tees to tie the sail fabric to the PVC pipes. Sew the straps to the fabric by hand with nylon carpet thread once the placement is noted.

Tips & Warnings

Use a mini-carabiner and nylon rope to connect your homemade kayak sail to your kayak deck rigging.

Article Written By Elizabeth Grace

Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Elizabeth Grace is a freelance writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in public relations from Pepperdine University, and has 15 years of experience developing marketing campaigns for universities and multinational corporations.

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