First WaveWalk Paddle Trip, By Lee Chastant

Took my WaveWalk out this morning for my first paddle and decided to take a trip thru some of our marshes down here. According to a google earth retracing of my steps I covered about 5.7 miles in 2 hours at a leisurely pace (as would be expected from a Retired Gentleman of Leisure).
The wind was blowing about 8 mph when I started and picked up to 15 to 20 towards the last half of the trip. We had a thunder storm moving in with the usual increase in winds, cloudiness and slight drop in temperature. Literally “no sweat.”
This gave me a chance to compare how the WaveWalk handled the wind as compared to my experiences with both sit in and sit on top kayaks. I think that I can sum it up as WOW! All I had to do was shift my position to raise the bow or stern enough to give me enough weather vane effect to keep me pretty much on a straight course. It took a little experimentation, but I picked up on it pretty quick. I also think that the wind being channeled between the 2 hulls helped me stay on line to a degree. The main point is that I did NOT have to paddle just on one side to keep my heading in a quartering or broadside wind, even when crossing open water. Just scoot towards bow or stern and keep on truckin’.
I had a tug pushing a load of barges up the Neches River throw a pretty good wake at me when I was fixin’ to cross on my way back to the launch. I was pretty nervous, but I shifted my weight all the way to the back of the cockpit and took the 1.5 to 2 foot wake head on. No problems once I got over the initial “oh crap” moment, and the boat took the waves just fine.
I got caught in the rain for the last 40 minutes or so, but I was having so much fun that I decided that if Indians didn’t have ponchos then I didn’t need one either. I wonder if Hyawatha got as nervous as I did when the lightening started popping…
I had a great paddle.
Snuck up on birds, fish, a boat full of fisherman and the one small gator who wasn’t paying much attention. (choot ’em, Lizabet) Got a few blisters and my muscles are a little sore (hey, I’m 60) but no yak back and my shoulder with arthritis feels pretty good. I was kind of surprised when I stepped out onto land at the end of the trip and staggered around for a few minutes. It’s true – you do use the muscles in your thighs when you paddle a WaveWalk, you just don’t notice it.

Being able to change positions while paddling also helped my knees tremendously. Years ago I shattered one knee cap twice (full of screws now) and tore cartilage in the other, so that was a big plus for me.
I only have one question – how come nobody thought of a catamaran hull concept for paddling craft a long time ago? Ok, so the Polynesians may have figured it out first on a larger scale. It needs less energy to paddle than a sit in, is much more stable than a SOT, your back doesn’t hurt and your butt stays dry! What more could you ask for?
I want to thank both of you for the amount of time that you spent giving me and my friend a test drive and a few tips. The only thing that I would suggest so far is a couple of tie downs inside the hull to tie a small dry box or whatever to securely keep your ID, cell phone, fishing license and maybe a few bucks from going swimming if you get swamped or capsize. Just a thought…

Anyway, thanks guys! I’m having a blast! I’m gonna infect my son with WaveWalk fever the first chance I get, as he is still using a SOT. I think Village Creek would be a good place to start him out.

Lee Chastant

Two paddlers standing next to their fishing kayak, Texas

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6 thoughts on “First WaveWalk Paddle Trip, By Lee Chastant”

  1. This is a remarkable review, as far as I’m concerned.
    What I like about it is that Lee was prepared for paddling his W kayak:
    He had taken the time to learn how to operate it, and didn’t assume that his previous knowledge in traditional kayaking had any relevance to the W kayak – Indeed, it doesn’t.
    The W offers its user two things: better physical attributes (e.g. stability, tracking, posture) as well as a higher level of control, but the user must be aware of the new possibilities for better control, and try to take advantage of them, which is what Lee did with both wind and waves.
    When Lee found himself paddling in 20 mph wind, he remembered what his W kayak offered him to do about it, practiced it, and enjoyed the result – perfect tracking, and easy paddling that would have been impossible in all other types of kayak.
    I wish more first time W kayakers would have taken the time to instruct themselves about these possibilities. Doing so would both shorten their learning curve, and speed up their mastering of this new craft, as well as improve their subjective user experience.
    As a professional kayaker noted years ago: “As a traditional kayaker I needed to unlearn a lot before learning to paddle a W kayak.”

  2. Exactly!
    Unless you’re kayak racing or going in class IV whitewater, the w500 gives you the means to deal with the elements more easily and effectively than any other kayak does, stay drier, and keep your body from developing premature fatigue and injuries that are typical to traditional kayakers.
    WaveWalk should try harder to bring this great kayak in front of kayakers, and let them test it, and you shouldn’t be satisfied with skimming the cream from the fishing kayak market.

  3. KW,
    I’m far from being satisfied with the degree of penetration of the W kayak into the kayaking (I.E. Touring) market.
    However, when time and financial resources are limited, it’s easier to focus on the fishing market, because, well, – it’s easier 🙂 –
    Lee was well prepared when he took his new W kayak out by himself for the first time, and that helped him pass the test with flying colors.
    In contrast, most anglers don’t even ask to take the W for a test drive, and they often buy the models that are outfitted with more kayak fishing ‘stuff’, and therefore are more expensive, and offer W dealers a better return on investment (ROI).

    This is to say that given the limited resources the W company and its dealers possess, we find ourselves focusing on the fishing segment, and allocating less time and dollars to the Touring segment, unfortunately.
    The good news is that W and most of its dealers are doing well, which may be a sign that we’re doing something right, after all 😉


  4. What a wonderful review and maiden voyage.

    Congrats on making the best choice, the W500.

    It took me 2 sit-ins on one sot, before I found this wonderful Kayak.

    The W500 is a true game changer.

    Tight Lines and MoPaddle Safe all.

  5. Thanks for the positive comments from all. I grew up in & around New Orleans in a family that spent a lot of time on the water. My first boat was a pirogue, which I paddled all over the bayous & marshes just for fun as well as for fishing & hunting. If you can paddle, fish & shoot from a pirogue, you can handle just about any paddle craft. BTW, a pirogue is the descendent of the craft used by the local Indians for getting around in the marshes.

    I did a lot of research on the W500 – read all of the blogs and watched most of the videos – before I started saving the funds to possibly purchase one. I had the “book knowledge” on the W500 but not the practical experience. The purchase was totally dependent on a test drive to see if it was as advertised. Thanks to the time I spent on the initial test run, it didn’t take long to get the basics down. My first comment when I got back to the launch was I want one!

    Although I do plan on doing some fishing from the W, I realized that I need to get more practical experience learning the boat before I do some inshore fishing in it. Plus it’s really great to get back to cruising the marshes & bayous like I used to do years ago. If you’re going into unfamiliar territory, especially back in the marshes, take the time to use GoogleEarth to print a map of the area. A compass is great, but the bayous twist & turn quite a bit and you often can see where you want to be but can’t get there without a map on board. Man, do I love GoogleEarth!

    So I’m looking forward to spending some more time just wandering around and getting better with the W and enjoying the sights before I actually go fishing. I’d rather be in a narrow twisting bayou than just about anywhere. Thanks again to the wealth of info at the W web site, for making retirement even better than it already is.

    Y’all have a good one!

    Lee, Retired Gentleman of Leisure in Nederland, Tx

  6. Thanks Lee,

    For the benefit of this blog’s readers: Pirogue is a word the French still use to describe a dugout canoe, or large size canoe, in any part of the world where they found people using such vessels, I.E. America, Asia, Africa and Polynesia.
    Here’s a picture of pirogues from Madagascar, Africa (thanks Wikipedia), made from hollowed out tree trunks, which is why their shape is a bit irregular:

    pirogues (dugout canoes)

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