OK--here is a post to get us off on the right foot--err, I mean the right tack. I haven't been sailing since I was teenager (I'm not counting sailing across the South Pacific and Indian Oceans on a 130 foot schooner as a young adult). So, it was with a bit of trepidation that I took the helm of my Outback for the first time to try out my new sail kit. Turns out that it was a "breeze", literally and figuratively. You rig the sail according to the Hobie directions, let it luff, shove off, and then go with whatever wind happens to catch the sail. The wind velocity was a bit more than recommended (about 15-20 knots), but it still seemed to handle pretty well. It did capsize once when a quick gust caught it, but since the boat (and I) was/were already on the beach, no big ting. However, when sailing close hauled I had trouble relaxing and enjoying the ride because the extra friction of the main sheet with its contact points tended to make it not as quick to respond as I would have liked. I felt like if I left it close hauled just when I was getting up a good head of steam (so to speak), any quick gust might put her on her beam ends before I could fall off sufficiently.
To help correct this (and my confidence), I made a few modifications to the basic Hobie rig. The main sheet on the Hobie rig loops around the port side to the stern. To make the main sheet make even more responsive, I attached a Harken 16 mm #417 block to a SS carabiner that I had previously added to the stern handle eye strap. This gave me a clean and fairly friction-free fairlead up to the tag end of the main sheet.
The next thing I did was to add a West Marine cleat to the upper starboard side just ahead of the mid-ships handle. I then attached a SS shackle to this new cleat. This cleat also comes in handy as an anchor or leash attachment point. I then attached to the shackle a Harken #404 16 mm block thru which I ran the main sheet (with an overhand knot in the tag end). This tended to cut down the overall friction in the system, and to make the main sheet and sail more responsive so I could sail close-hauled and (hopefully) cut down the chance of a quick gust putting the yak and me on our beam ends.
Overall, sailing the Outback was a blast and I really enjoyed sailing again after a many-year hiatus. I have to say that a yak under sail certainly provoked a lot of stares from the CPBs (my name: "crazed power boaters") down at Shell Point, as well as the HobieCat sailors in the vicinity. Lot?s of fun and I can heartily recommend the Outback and Sport model sail kits to anyone who might be interested.
I have to add that I have not yet tried to fish and sail on the same trip, but for a long distance fishing excursion, it might be just the ticket to get there and/or back without unduly wearing out the old bod. I have heard from several folks who have done this successfully, but you sure better have your stuff together in terms of storage for both the sail and the rods on deck. Murphy's Law will eventually prevail, so K.I.S.S. is the operative motto here! The sail kit certainly gives the Outback fisher another option to go along with the pedals and paddles. No other kayak manufacturer can come close to saying that no how, no way!