Canoe Sailing Rigs

Rigs to fit out your own canoe. Select a rig below for more information.

Solway Dory Expedition RigOld Town Penobscot with Expedition rigExpedition rigExpedition Bermudan Rigsailing canoe with Bermudan rig Prospector with Bermudan rigConsiderations when choosing a sailing rig.

Solway Dory has been developing and making sailing rigs to fit on open canoes for over 20 years. As well as being our job it has been our passion. We sail regularly in the Lake District and attend most of the Open Canoe Sailing Group meets. For many years we have raced with other members of the O.C.S.G and have used this experience to improve the upwind performance of our rigs. Even though you may not want to race it is reassuring to know that our rigs will give you the best chance when beating against a foul tide or current to get home. We often read on canoe sailing forums that people make their own rigs such as batwing gunters or pacific crab claws and they usually say with pride how brilliantly they perform. This is meaningless unless they prove it sailing in a race against fully developed rigs. We usually sail upwind twice as fast as a homemade sail. We would welcome anyone to come along to a meet and prove us wrong - it hasn't happened yet!

For many years it has been our tradition to take a week long cruise on the West Coast of Scotland. We use these trips to test and refine our boats and sailing rigs. We have learned from experience to value rigs which can be reefed easily in adverse conditions and will still sail efficiently to windward even when deeply reefed. In worsening conditions it is often necessary to sail upwind in order to reach safety.

Throughout this time we have tried a multitude of rigs; Bermudans, fully battened Bermudans, balanced lugsails, standing lugsails, spritsails, lateens and staysails. We have tried high aspect, low aspect, solo rigs, ketch rigs and schooner rigs all in a variety of sizes and combinations. All of them worked and many worked well but some of them had problems. Here are a few questions that you may want to consider when thinking about a rig to suit you.

  • How easy is it to raise and lower the sail?
  • Can this still be done if the wind strength gets too high?
  • Can the sail be reefed and how difficult is it to reef if the wind gets too strong?
  • Will the reefed sail still work efficiently?
  • Does the sailing rig interfere with the paddling if the wind dies?
  • Can the rig be stowed easily?
  • Can you fit the rig around your existing seat positions?
  • Will the rig sail efficiently into the wind.

We are confident in the range of sailing rigs that we offer; each rig is suited to a particular need of the canoeist/canoe sailor.

For the committed paddler, who wants to extend his range on trips to enjoy the fun of sailing downwind or upwind, we offer the Expedition Rig. This small lugsail rig packs down to a minimal size and will not interfere with  paddling.

For the paddler who wants a canoe that will sail efficiently to windward we offer the Expedition Bermudan. This rig has a much better sailing performance than the Expedition Lugsail . It is ideally suited to solo or two up use. The rig can still be stowed in the canoe when the wind dies but it is larger. It will easily reef down to a smaller size to enable you to continue sailing as the wind gets stronger. It is small enough that the competent paddler can steer the canoe with the paddle for using it as a minimalist rig, but has plenty of power for when you want to upgrade to using a rudder

For the person who wants a sailing rig that will give the best sailing performance we offer the Bermudan Rig. This rig is best for a dedicated solo sailing canoe but can also be fitted to a two person canoe. It can interfere with paddling when stowed but we have found that the extra performance more than compensates for this.

Follow the links at the top of this page for a more detailed description.


If you prefer, we can fit it for you.

If you have a paddling canoe and you need help fitting it out for sailing we will be pleased to discuss your requirements or to give advice. If you can leave your canoe with us for a day we can fit it for you (for a modest charge).

Symphony from Mobile AdventureRudder DetailMast Thwart Detail

'Symphony' from Mobile Adventure. A 16ft. family touring canoe fitted with a Solway Dory Lugsail Ketch Rig, rudder and leeboard. Also shown are rudder and mast thwart detail.


Customers sailing their boat for the first time on Windermere.