- Feb 27, 2006
So I went for an unplanned swim this summer when the ferrule on one of my sponson arms cracked while I was under sail. The ferrule and spring button were very similar to those used to hold take-apart kayak paddles together.
In fairness to Hobie, who built the Sidekick sponson system I adapted to my kayak, it wasn't their fault. I'd overloaded the system beyond their intended use in two ways: firstly, I added extensions to the arms. That put the sponsons further out from the hull, adding more righting moment, but also increasing the torque on the ferrules. And at the time of failure, I was sailing not only with Hobie's own sail but also with my Pacific Action sail as a foresail/jib, putting more pressure on the downwind sponson arm.
There obviously wasn't much point in replacing the cracked ferrule with the same part - it wouldn't be any stronger. So I opted to make new ferrules out of solid oak doweling.
Since the new dowels aren't hollow, they can't hold the V-spring buttons that snapped the originals in place. So I drilled holes to hold stainless steel clevis pins that slide down and are held in place by gravity and snugness.
I've been sailing with the new system for several months now and it seems bomber. As I was out sailing yesterday, I was thinking about lucky I'd been to have the equipment failure in the summer, when I could hang around in the water long enough to get all my gear loaded on the boat and back to shore. At this time of year, even in my drysuit, I'd probably have had to ditch the sail to ensure my own safety. Or worse, the snap-and-swim could have happened at the WCP Spring get together - I'd never have lived that down!
The other tweak I've made is adding a bigger rudder blade, hoping to increase the boat's ability to sail to windward. I was already using the largest "double kayak" blade made for my Smart Track rudder system, so I had to adapt a larger aluminum blade made for another system. This required enlarging the centre pivot hole in the new blade, fashioning several oversized plastic washers to hold it wiggle free in a housing it was never made for, installing a fat clevis pin as a pivot, and adding a shackle for the uphaul line.
I haven't really put the new blade through all its paces yet, but I'm very hopeful that in combo with my leeboard, I'll be able to get to windward better.