NEW e-Book! An Electric Kayak
Build an Entry Level Electric Power Boat for $500

  • Great for Kayak Fishing
  • Troll for 3 hrs. at 1.7 mph with a Single 6Ah Battery Pack
  • DIY Step-By-Step Instructions

Introduction & Background

To make life a little easier for myself, I invested $200 for a “sit-upon” ten-foot kayak to replace my “sit-in” 10-foot kayak. At my very senior age, getting in and out of a sit-in kayak is quite a chore! I added a pair of sturdy handles and a home-made wood mast and boom. Since the boat is basically built like the boards that are so popular today, I thought that I could install a small sail and control the direction of the boat with the paddle. That did not work. I then added a weighted centerboard, but the board still did not sail well. I decided that building a sizable rudder would have to be the next step.

While I was weighing the pros and cons of various sailing rigs, I spent a day at my favorite beach in Hingham, a town in Boston Harbor dating back to 1636. The beach is muddy at low tide, consequently, it is not a busy place. The town runs a sailing school nearby where they start the kids on Optimists (Optis) 8-foot skiffs. Their 35 square foot sail and 7.5-foot mast seemed about right for my new kayak.

The Opti was designed by an American, Clark Mills, in 1947. He built the largest pram that he could get out of two sheets of plywood. It went on to become one of the most popular ?sailing dinghies in the world. He donated the plans to the Optimist Club.

Getting back to my day at the beach, as I was walking to the sailing school to find out how the kids rigged their Opti, I noticed that there was not a bit of wind. I fully expected to find a group of kids with very long faces. On the contrary, they could not have been happier. Some of the kids were laying at the bottom of their boats, paddling with their hands, others were using the boat's scupper for water fights and some were just happy to jump in the water from the dock with their clothes and sneakers on. I could not help wondering why grown-ups can’t enjoy a day on the water as much as the kids do. I think that the grown-ups could if boats were more reasonably priced (a new Sunfish costs $5000) and the boats were easy to transport, set up and launch.

During the water tests of the Opti sailing rig, I encountered a gusty day and capsized the kayak twice. Fortunately, I was not far from shore and the boat righted itself without taking on water. The incident reminded me that kayaking can be a dangerous sport. Before venturing out too far, it is wise to learn to right the boat and practice getting back on board, take a lesson at a sailing school if necessary. At that point it was late in the season, I put the sailing idea on hold and started my new winter project: An Electric Kayak.