10 January 2012

SHOP: sail mast base on Valley kayak

Following Jim's set up for a sail mast base on a Valley sea kayak utilizing the compass recess, I want to detail here a fitting that requires no additional holes drilled to the deck.
On the Valley decks there is usually a fitting that holds bungee cords in place typically used for stowing split paddles on the foredeck.
I have a hard time placing a paddle under those bungee cords and prefer the paddle parks.
Actually these days I prefer to carry a Greenland style storm paddle on the rear deck.
So, that fitting on the deck is the perfect anchor for a sail mast base.

Valley deck fitting recess

I remove the fitting and grease up the cavity/recess with several layers of mold release. I find that a final layer of PVA mold release works best before I fill the cavity with epoxy paste (I mix epoxy, microfibre and filler to the consistency of peanut butter).

filling cavity

Working-in the paste ensures that there are no air bubbles. I build the base high sitting proud of the deck.

filling cavity_2

glass layer

I add a layer or two of fibreglass to keep the epoxy paste from running too much

flattening top

A final layer of kitchen cling wrap to be able to shape the paste into a neat bump and I place a square object to create a flat surface.
Once the epoxy cures overnight I pry the fitting out of the mold and smooth it with sandpaper. There will be a dimple where the original bolt held the deck fitting: that's where I drill through the sail base and countersink the top to accept a new longer bolt of the same thread pitch (M6, metric). I cover the mast base with a layer of carbon (just for looks) and UV stable epoxy (West System 105/207). I make sure I push the countersunk area down to maintain the recess for the bolt's head. Often I place a small greased-up plastic cap just of the right size with a tiny weight on it to keep the wet carbon cloth in place.
Once cured, I drill through the last thin carbon layer to insert the central bolt.

Central bolt

The base of the mast is carefully positioned onto the carbon base and holes drilled to accept the fasteners.
A recess is needed for the nuts underside making sure they clear the deck.


I use M4 stainless steel Allen key button head fasteners and nylock nuts.

fastened to deck

The plastic red base is bolted to the carbon base which in term is secured to the original Valley factory anchor on deck.
The base does not rotate because of the recess. No holes were drilled into the deck for the mast base but I still needed to create some recessed anchors for the mast stays.
I also reinforced the underdeck area with a rib fabricated from foam-core, fibreglass, carbon and epoxy under the mast base since the deck is too flexible.
However I discovered that this location is not ideal on all Valley decks. The deck fitting is not located in the same place on the different model Valleys. One of my Valley kayaks tends to leecock when paddled at slow speeds.
Just like when I used to windsurf, where I tilted the mast back to turn into the wind, I have now tilted the mast of my Flat Earth Sail backwards to give the kayak a neutral direction in beam winds. 
Video of sailing with this kayak and the new Code ZERO Flat Earth Sail coming soon.



  1. "a layer of carbon (just for looks)" ...priceless! And yes it does look good! Everything I do is cheap and quick and everything you do is beautiful. I wish I had your boat work skills and some of your paddling skills.


  2. Frank, you would not be impressed with my early work or prototypes :-)
    Then again, if it works, who cares... as long as it works.


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