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Old 06-15-2016   #1
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 151
Sailing Frame to Make Raft a Sailboat?

I have been toying with the idea of building a small wooden sailboat to sail on a small lake near me. I thought it would be fun to build it and also learn a new skill (I dont know how to sail). Then, it occurred to me that maybe I could just build an aluminum rail-type frame for my whitewater raft that could support a mast and a rudder. A little bit of Googling reveals that inflatable sail boats do exist, but I've not seen a whitewater raft with a strap-on frame like I am thinking about. There is a crappy-looking setup that a guy built out of PVC on Instructables.

I realize that it would be low performance (if it worked at all), but it might be a fun thing to do and maybe I could use the same sail on a small wooden boat if I end up liking the sailing thing. Maybe the frame extensions for the rudder could also be reworked to serve as a motor transom.

Does anybody out there with sailing knowledge or experience have any thoughts on this? Does a small sailboat have to have a keel or centerboard? The raft is a 14' Vanguard. It seems like a cataraft could be even better, kind of like a Hobie Cat catamaran (but I dont want to buy a cataraft just for sailing). Thanks!

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Old 06-15-2016   #2
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 174
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In big sailboats the keel keeps the boat from capsizing and allows it to track when the wind is coming across your boat. Small boats use a centerboard for the tracking part. You could use two boards, one on each side of the raft like a catamaran to stay on line.

But, if your goal is to sail, you can get into a small sailboat for less than modifying a raft. Look around at the sailboat kits out there on the interwebs if you want to build it.

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Old 06-15-2016   #3
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Post Falls, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2000
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Posts: 781
Where I live you can buy old fiberglass sailboats W trailer for $500. I think that would equal far more enjoyment.

Our community college is on a lake and rents them by the hour pretty reasonably.

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Old 06-15-2016   #4
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Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,909
On desert rivers you could launch in the morning and in the afternoon just let the wind blow you back up to the put in. Forget the shuttle!

Or you could stretch a Deso trip to 3 weeks by re-running the most fun stretches. Imagine setting up camp and coming right back up river to it that evening while part of the crew lounged and and fixed dinner.

I think there are going to be all kinds of possibilities with this.

Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 06-15-2016   #5
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Fraser, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
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"Thought I'd never say it, but ya'll smoke entirely to much Refer."
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Old 06-15-2016   #6
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Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Youre gonna need a keel. If your sail is solid you will never be able to stay on line and will likely flip your boat if you get some good winds. Cheap old beater sailboat may be a better option.
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Old 06-16-2016   #7
Highlands Ranch, CO Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 482
Call Freidman, he is the sailing master.

How was westwater?

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