Many canoe sailors accept their own limitations for DIY and are content to buy a rig and have it fitted to their canoe professionally, or buy an entire sailing canoe “off the shelf.”
However some of our members enjoy the challenge of making things work for themselves. Over the years we have seen some noble and well intentioned attempts to make a sailing canoe that have been absolutely dire in their execution – either due to poor design or construction or sometimes both! Make no mistake – the creation of what appears to be a simple concept, but is actually a very complex range of interconnected factors, is really tricky. A compromise for the DIY enthusiast is to use either plans that are available from a couple of sources, or a full kit of parts to be built up yourself.
Nevertheless there are a few who have preferred to design and build their own canoes and rigs from scratch. But for this to be successful you will need knowledge, experience and do extensive research to ensure all the different important factors are properly considered.
Having said all that when it comes to the actual sail itself, designing and making a really effective sail is challenging and while not impossible, it is strongly recommended that people should use the services of a professional sailmaker – there are many around the country. Typical canoe sails are not large compared to even many dinghies and should be simple to make from soft sailcloth and are therefore not too costly.