I first became interested in a W kayak when I saw some amazing videos of owners doing amazing feats in it. Then I read about the other benefits… walk in, sit down, stand up, turn around, lay down… any position you want. I even saw one guy paddling while standing on the saddle!
I decided this W500 kayak would be perfect for me. I looked at the dealer list on wavewalk.com (excellent site) and found the closest one was Oregon Fishing Kayaks in Hood River, Oregon. Living on a Lake and somewhat away from things, I am used to driving an hour or so to get some of the things I need, but the drive to Hood River was about three hours. I called Perry Platt the proprietor of Oregon Fishing Kayaks. He is a very friendly guy. With the help of Perry giving directions on the phone, I was ready to go to get my W500.
If you have never taken the trip down the Columbia River Gorge along I-84 from Portland, it is worth the trip. My wife and I decided to make a day of it. The scenery is gorgeous; with lush greenery and rocky crags on one side, and the mighty Columbia on the other. If you have never seen the Columbia River, it is so wide it looks more like a bay. The wind always blows there, and today the wind was blowing against the river current, dotting the river with small chop and whitecaps (more on that wind later).
Well, because a trucker hit a dog on I-5 (I swear to God, that was the explanation) traffic was backed-up for miles, so we arrived very late at the demo site. I think Perry thought we were a no show. We called him and he arrived very quickly. Perry, is even a nicer guy in person than he is on the phone. He had two W500s loaded on his nifty double-decker hand cart with bicycle wheels and easily wheeled them across the parking lot to the demo area.
Now, more on that wind; Waterfront Park in Hood River is a favorite place for kite surfers and wind surfers. When I looked out at the river, there were probably 25 – 30 surfers out there, cutting tracks with their boards and holding on for dear life to their kites in 15-20 mph wind. Perry took us to a “protected” area where a small jetty protected us the worst winds and where the wind surfers launch their boards. We looked completely out of place and got some funny looks from the crowd. Perry took the sturdy W500s off his cart and we dragged them down to the water. He gave us some instruction and threw the life jackets in the kayaks. Just like in the videos I had seen on the websites, we stepped in from the back, sat down, scooted forward, and we were off.
Now, in this “protected” area the chop was still about 8 inches and the winds 8 – 12 mph. I sat in the riding position in the center of the boat. The chop and the wind were doing their part in rocking the W500, but I did a little rocking myself. I couldn’t tip this kayak over if I tried. Ok, great conditions to demo a new kayak. I paddled against the wind to get back to the launch site. The W500 cut an impressive wake and didn’t even notice the chop. We loaded the W500 back on that nifty double–decker cart and pushed back to Perry’s shop.The demo ride sold me. We loaded a W kayak on the little trailer I had hooked up to my trusty Ford van. It fit the W like it was built for it. We strapped it down, (paid Perry) and off we went for Lake Limerick, WA. If you want a Wavewalk kayak in the Northwest (and why wouldn’t you?) call Perry at Oregon Fishing Kayaks.