Crazy white male seeks fellow canoe sailors

(Update:  I have closed down the MeetUp groups mentioned in this post.  If you live in the Northeast or in Florida and are interested in sailing with me, leave a note with your contact information in the comments section)

When I got my Grumman canoe in the mid-70’s I also bought a sail rig for it. With a rudder, dagger boards and 65 square feet of sail I can get some serious speed and fun out of it and there have been years that I have put more miles on it under sail than with a paddle. For a number of years in Florida I took it out almost every week. Then the sail rig went nearly unused for a decade or more.

Fast forward to last year. Two things happened.  First, I attended a canoe sailing workshop in October put on by the New Hampshire Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club. I took my sailing rig to it and had a blast.   And second, I discovered the power of the operation for finding like-minded people. Through it I have met and paddled with lots of folks in lots of interesting places in a five-state area.

The sailing bug had bitten once more and I now knew of a way to actually look for fellow sailors.

So in November I formed a Meetup Group based in Florida called Small Boat Sailing. I found a handful of folks with small sailing craft, canoes and kayaks, and had a couple of reasonably successful ‘regattas.’

(I also attracted a number of people who paddled only or who didn’t even own a boat. This despite liberal use on the site of variations on the word ‘sail,’ and a photo of an actual canoe with a sail. Go figure! Not complaining though, as it makes the membership look very robust.)

As a Meetup Group ‘organizer,’ I pay a monthly fee (membership is free) and I can run up to three groups. So when I got up to the Northeast this spring I formed another Small Boat Sailing group, this one based in Connecticut. I’ve so far attracted a half dozen folks with sailing craft, and the usual contingent of just paddlers or boatless people, so the membership’s nearing 40.

If all I end up with out of all this after a year or so is a handful of folks here and in Florida who I can call up or email and go sailing with once in a while it’ll be a resounding success.

And here’s what’s made it worthwhile already: At the first meeting in Connecticut this year some other crazy person showed up with a rig just like mine. And his name is Ron!

Here are some photos from the canoe sailing workshop last October, including one of a couple of the participants taking a spin in my boat.IMG_2598c IMG_2607ccIMG_2614ccc

And here are two shots from the first session of the Connecticut group in May, showing the two identical canoe sailboats, mine and the other Ron’s.IMG_0443cc IMG_0446cc


About Ron Haines

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11 Responses to Crazy white male seeks fellow canoe sailors

  1. Denise Hurt says:

    Looks like you met at least one friend of mine! And you’ve now entered and alternate universe where all Grumman sailors are named Ron! Fun!


  2. DJ says:

    Your blog & pix are so interesting. So happy to hear from you.


  3. Roger Haines says:

    I’d say wildly successful!
    By any chance, does the duplicate crazy-Ron-with-old-Grumman-and-sail also have a good-looking, highly-intelligent, multi-talented brother named Roger? Just wondering. 🙂


  4. Lisa Hanley says:

    The New England version of the outrigger canoe, complete with sails made out of insulating plastic!


  5. Tim Crawford says:

    I have 3 Grumman sq sterns, 2 double Enders, 2 sport canoes. 4 complete Gunter rigs, the correct sport canoe rudder, and one lateen rig. Got it bad! Yes I met Ralph F. Got some parts from him and a Bell Merlin ll
    Anyway, are there any people like me around St Louis? I actually live in Glen Carbon. You used to be in this area right? But Fka now. Right .


    • Ron Haines says:

      Yes, you’ve got it! Nice to hear from you. Yes I am in FL now, don’t know of anyone around St. Louis. There are two Facebook groups you may want to look into for finding someone: Open Canoe Sailing (UK based but has American following too) and Skinny Hull Canoe and Kayak Sailing. There is also a Yahoo Group called SAILING_CANOES. Or you can do what I did and just form a meetup group. Meanwhile, if I get over your way I will definitely give you a heads up and we can meet.


  6. Dave says:

    I have a vintage Grumman sail kit for a canoe, but I no longer have a canoe for it. It is the rig seen in your photos above and is in very good to excellent condition. The kit has the mast, thwart, sail where all rigging is complete and working. Also, I have the original leeboards (some minor damage on one of the ends) and the rudder. I also have the mast support for the floor of the canoe. I am probably going to list it on Craigslist. What can I expect to get for it or what should I offer in the Pittsburgh, PA area? Thanks! Dave


    • Ron Haines says:

      Sorry, Dave. I have no idea on going prices for stuff like this. There is a facebook group called Open Canoe Sailing (UK based but has American following too) and another called Skinny Hull Canoe and Kayak Sailing. There is also a Yahoo Group called SAILING_CANOES. You might check these out as places to look for advice. Also, offers kits for canoes and kayaks. Looking at their prices will give you an idea what new stuff is going for. The last time I saw a rig like mine for sail was on a Miami craigslist about two years ago and the guy was asking $1,000, which included the canoe. Don’t know if he got that though. If I was much much younger and knew I’d be using my rig for another 40-50 years I’d buy yours for parts, but I think what I have is going to outlast me. Let me know what you end up doing with it. All the best.


      • Dave says:

        Thanks, Ron. I used to be in contact with Ralph Frese until his passing about this sail and trying to set up on my canoe. From what I learned, they are pretty rare and he talked me through some setup and keeping it. Since the canoe is gone, I would hate to see it sit idle and rot. You gave me some great places to start looking at values. I will post again what we end up deciding to do with the kit. Thanks for the reply.


  7. Henry Jacques says:

    My father has a very similar canoe. He would love to talk to you or even sail with you.Henry Jacques 1-401-728-2597 Rhode Island.


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