I have been looking for a kayak or canoe that fits my needs for quite a while.
I love the sport, and find it a relaxing and useful mode of transportation. However, as I get “older” I found that the body does not necessarily wants to do everything my mind wants to do. I am 65 years old, 5’9” and 190 lbs having had back surgery a few years ago.
Jose stand up paddling in his W500 fishing kayak, Mission Bay, San Diego
The hours on end I used to spend paddling along the coast, around lakes and down rivers looking for thinks to photograph, enjoying the views or drowning some worms became a painful experience after half an hour of sitting in a standard kayak in the infamous “L” position.
I could not find a comfortable position and after about one hour I could not get out of the kayak in a graceful manner (actually I had to roll out on the dirt) and was unable to straighten for several hours.
I had to either stop doing what I enjoy, or find a different way to do it.
After a lot of web surfing I found Wavewalk’s website and was intrigued by the new design and its claim of ergonomic delights. I was disappointed that there were no dealers or a place where I could actually try it (or even see one,) other than in pictures and You-Tube videos, but my back kept screaming to try it and get my mind off my back, literally, so I called Yoav and ordered a W500.
As soon as it arrived, I went to one of the lakes north of Tucson, AZ and gave it a try. The lake was very busy with many motor boats so the water was choppy with lots of wakes. The W handled well and although at times felt a bit unstable, after getting used to it, it became easier to handle and I enjoyed the outing.
FIRST TRIP TO SAN DIEGO
The following weekend I made a trip to San Diego and took the W with me to give it a more thorough workout. In the calm water of Mission Bay it felt a lot more stable and easier to handle. I paddled for several hours without discomfort to my back.
Only when I tried to turn inside the kayak to paddle the opposite way (just like Yoav does it) I lost my balance and the W flipped… As I said, the body does not necessarily wants to do everything my mind wants…
I purchased a Solo Canoe paddle 280 cm. [9’1″] which is light, and can be broken down and reassembled at different featherings. After all, I am not going to do any extreme kayaking…
Heron on the river bank
LONG CAMPING TRIPS
I went camping in a long and narrow lake in the northern mountains of Arizona. I loaded it with a lot of camping equipment, water, food, etc for a 4-day trip, which was too much, and the overloaded W was riding too low on the water, and felt unstable. So the following day, with an unloaded and lighter W, I was able to paddle 14 miles in it and for about 6 hours, including breaks, side trips, etc. without discomfort, something I have not been able to do in other kayaks.
MY WIFE’S EXPERIENCE
I also tried using my W as a romantic canoe “a la Venice” with my wife in a small lake south of Tucson. However, she was very tense, and the W felt unstable since I had to compensate for any movement she made. It turned out not to be such a romantic event after all. My wife also tried going out with me in tandem one more time in San Diego, but we flipped at launching and she won’t get back in it unless I put on some outriggers … They are on order. She is going with me come hell or low water!
[Editor’s note: You should not attempt paddling a W kayak in tandem unless both paddlers are well acquainted with operating it as solo paddlers. Unlike canoes, kayaks are basically solo boats, and therefore tandem kayaking is usually considered an advanced application.]
I am using and enjoying the W very much. It is fun to be able to spend long hours on a kayak again and do the things I enjoy such as photography, fishing and sightseeing in the water. Overall, I am happy with the W.
Those are my first, second, third and fourth impressions. I hope they help!
More reading about photography from a kayak >