Thursday, September 25, 2008

Kayak Sailing on Lake Douthat - September 2008

A subtropical storm moving inland off the coast of the Carolinas produced a windy day today, and I took advantage of the wind on Lake Douthat with my 17' Heritage Expedition and Spirit Sail. Lake Douthat is a small 40 acre lake in a nice Virginia State Park tucked between two ridges in the Allegheny Mountains. Its north-south orientation helped funnel the north wind today making conditions advantageous for sailing. Read more about Lake Douthat in my earlier posting about this area.

The winds today were strong and straight enough to test the rigging I'm using for the sail, which consists of some PVC tubing, bungees, a rod holder, plus the sail and its mast. It works well and moves the boat across the water with authority when the wind gets above 15-mph or so. Read more about this set up here.

Since the lake is relatively small, I use the sail to get from one side of the lake to the other, then turn around and paddle back into the wind to get some exercise. Doing this four or five times took a little over an hour this afternoon. I shared the lake with several groups of fishermen in fishing boats (electric motors only), and they no doubt looked on in amusement as I sailed and paddled back and forth across the lake. View a short (15 second) clip showing the boat skimming across the water:

It's been a dead summer in the Shenandoah Valley as far as wind is concerned, so I enjoyed the opportunity to get a solid chance to sail. Given the current price of gas, I've been trying to keep my paddling destinations to within a 35 minute drive of my home. Douthat is a little bit farther than my arbitrary limit, at about 45 minutes. But given this lake's shape and north-south orientation, I took a chance on the possibility of good sailing, and I wasn't disappointed.

View this location in Google Maps by clicking here.


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