Climate, Kayak and Conversation: Part 2, The Details - Sailors for the Sea

Climate, Kayak and Conversation: Part 2, The Details

 November 5, 2021  | By: Jennifer Brett

When Will Freund pulled into marinas and anchorages along the Intracoastal Waterway this past spring and summer, his boat definitely turned some heads—and for good reason. For Will’s 1,000-mile-plus journey from Miami, Florida, to Norfolk, Virginia, he chose a Hobie Mirage Adventure Island sailing trimaran kayak. A long journey in a 16-foot boat, to be sure. For this project though, this vessel was perfect.

Kayak on beach

Will’s project, Climate, Kayak and Conversation, centers on his journey to film a documentary to understand how different communities approach the conversation about climate change through storytelling. Along the way, Will chatted with locals from waterfront communities about how they feel about climate change and how we can progress the conversation around it to make a better future. In Part One of Sailors for the Sea Skipper Damon Gannon’s conversation with Will, they discussed the project and what he discovered along the way; for Part Two, they take a look at the boat and the ups and downs of the journey itself. Here are some of the points they covered, but for the full story—including Will’s favorite stops, dealing with equipment failures, and just how many pedal steps he estimates that he took—check out the video.

Damon and Janet Gannon: I think we should talk a little about the sailing now! Do you want to describe your boat and its rig?

Will Freund: Absolutely! It is one of the more unique rigs out there, which I love. Its full name is a Hobie Mirage Adventure Island. I basically like to describe it as a sailing trimaran kayak. Think of your plain kayak, and then put two outboard pontoons on it, and you stick a sail in the center of it. It’s 16-feet long, the beam is about 9 feet. It does have a daggerboard that sticks down about two feet, but you can put it up and have a draft of three inches, which is pretty cool. You can’t go completely shallow, because there is a rudder to work with, which draws about 18 inches, but you can swing the rudder halfway up and go through some super shallow water.

But the sailing, in and of itself, is pretty interesting in that it has a furling mainsail, and there’s just the one sail on the boat. This makes it really easy for furling and unfurling—you can do it in like 10 seconds or less. It also allows you to put reefs in, and it does have battens, which gives it a nice rigidity. There are different points you can rig it to, and there is even a spinnaker available, although I did not have one. Beyond the sailing itself, it also has a pedal-drive system. The pedals are back-and-forth instead of bicycle style, and that translates through gears down to the bottom to move two fins that go back and forth, kind of like penguin fins.

It’s a great vessel. While Hobie has not designed it for long-distance trips, there is a community that I’m in on Facebook that figures out how to rig these boats for long distances. What kind of attachments do we put on, how do we rig tents, how do we carry food and water—all these different kinds of things. There’s people all over the world, so it’s a really fun community to work in.

Kayak in the city

D&JG: Do you have a feel for how much of your progress was by sail and how much was from pedaling?

WF: So I tried to have the sail out as much as possible. Even if I only got an extra knot out of it, I’ll take it. Also half the time it was nice because I would try to put the sail between me and the sun, when I could, which really would help sometimes. But I probably would say most of my days I tried to sail as best as I could. If I knew that I was going to have the wind directly on my nose, I just didn’t go that day. At the beginning of the trip, I tried to do that a couple of times, and absolutely burned myself out. I have to say I was probably pedaling about 60 percent of the time, and on the days there was good wind, I took advantage of it. There was one point when I was going from Charleston to Georgetown, SC, and I’d budgeted four days to do that, and I did it in two. I had a 30-mile day and a 33-mile day back-to-back just because there was great wind and it timed well with the tides.

In part three of this interview, we’ll hear Will describe what it was like to live aboard, what’s next, and advice to anyone planning a small-boat adventure.