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Ongoing impressions of Stellar 18 Expedition


I installed a sail and took it for a spin the other day. I suspected that the deck of this boat might be a bit too flexible if there was any slack in the stays which keep the mast vertical. I was correct. I heard the distinctive crack of gelcoat and sailed for another 2 hours afterwards. The only damage was a bit of spider cracking. Not a worry, I was planning on doing some fibreglassing anyways.

I think I mentioned earlier that I never liked the deck pod in front of the cockpit. It was deep enough to prevent a bear canister from slider between the footpegs and too small to hold anything significant. A small tube of sunblock and a snack is about the max it could hold.
So I cut the old one out. I used a regular old hand saw, and trimmed it until it was mostly free. I was able to get the remainder of the pod to separate from the deck pretty cleanly.


In this picture you can see two small holes, these are for some of the deck mounted hardware for the sail. I figured I would add a small reinforcing patch at all holes, since I would be mixing up epoxy anyways.


It's hard to get a good picture of the inside of a kayak, but this shows the deck reinforcement I added. The strip that goes across is about 4 or 5 inches wide. I pulled material from the scrap pile at work. There are 2 layers of unidirectional carbon fiber, 2 layers of carbon/kevlar with the carbon weave running across the deck, and another layer rotated so the carbon runs along the keel. On the sides there are two smaller pieces of the same carbon/kevlar material to reinforce where the pad eyes for the stays mount to the deck.
I used a release ply so everything is nice and smooth, no sanding needed afterwards.


Under the deck in front of the cockpit I added patches of the same material wherever a padeye, fairlead, or cleat will mount.
Replacing the round deck pod is a rectangular tray, which I made earlier using a Tupperware container as a mold.
I went a bit heavy handed with thickened epoxy to cover the remains of the old rim and generally round out any pointy bits. It isn't beautiful but I'm happy enough with it. Maybe I'll sand it a bit to clean it up (probably won't).

Now a bear canister can fit easily and the tray can accommodate larger items, such as a cell phone, or a small VHF radio!
Cool, I sometimes think about adding a sail but wonder how often I'd use it. Please add updates once you've had some experience with it. Cheers
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I was on a 3 day trip on Howe Sound and probably used the sail 50% of the time. Pretty much any time there was a steady breeze I had it up. I haven't quite figured out how to maximize upwind performance, but downwind and across the wind has been fun. GPS was reading 12kmh across the wind and up to 16kmh downwind in some spirited conditions.

When the sail is on deck it's quite out of the way, so there's not much tradeoff.
Sounds cool. From many years of dingy sailing I'd guess you'd need a centerboard for real "close hauled" upwind legs. Any capsizes or close call during the "spirited" bits? And one last question; where'd you get the sail?
Do you have to use a lee board? Do you stick a float bag out on your paddle as and outrigger? I tried a circular sail design at a local lake. The wind wouldn't cooperate. Much to the amusement of my paddling partner, just as I get the sail set up and the boat oriented, the wind would change direction.

But for one instance, for about 5 glorious seconds, the wind/sail/boat orientation was just right and I could see and feel the bow wave as the Express surged forward.

So I'm guessing, when you can use it, it can add many more miles in a day.
There were a few moments that seemed dicey, but nothing that knocked me over. The least stable I felt was when I had wind and waves coming from behind, but had put my water bladder towards the front of the kayak, in an attempt to get better upwind performance. This was recommended by some others with a similar set up.
I found it didn't make a difference upwind and made downwind absolutely terrible, with any waves attempting to broach me. This would cause the sail to dump all wind, and then later fill will wind suddenly and push me around. I lowered the sail, went ashore, and rearranged weight a little. Then things were good.

I don't have an outrigger of any kind, but having a low brace ready is pretty much a necessity if sailing across the wind. When sailing across the wind at 10-12kmh I had a brace engaged pretty much all the time. As waves would knock me off line a bit I would correct with a small rudder input. It was a bit of an adrenaline rush, but quite fun, and definitely less effort than maintaining those speeds with a paddle.

The sail I installed is a Falcon Sails 1.0 meter sail. They also produce a 1.4 meter sail which is better suited for low wind. The sails can be swapped out very quickly, using the same mast and boom. You can customize the colours of the sail which is great if you're as vain as I am.

I was very impressed with the build quality and overall engineering of the kit. The slackening of the stays was definitely a user error, which I've since corrected.