Boat stability in a kayak

The W700 series has redefined stability in kayaks and small boats:

 

 

The importance of stability in small boats and kayaks

Stability is the main attribute of small boats and kayaks. It defines passengers’ safety and comfort level, and determines how they can use the boat, or kayak. Insufficient stability limits a motorboat’s speed.

What makes a boat or a kayak stable

The hull’s width and form are the two main features that contribute to the stability of boats and kayaks –

Kayak stability

Generally, the width of a kayak is derived mostly from the width of a person’s body, and more precisely the width of their shoulders, where the movement of the paddle begins. Hydrodynamics is another important factor that limits the kayak’s width. Wider kayaks are noticeably more sluggish and hard to paddle over long distances and in less than perfect conditions.
Most kayaks today still feature a single, elongated ellipsoid hull (a.k.a. mono-hull), a fact that makes them inherently unstable.
Patented Wavewalk™ kayaks feature a twin hull, and they are more stable.

Even the widest mono-hulled fishing kayaks are not stable enough to allow for a full size angler to stand and fish in full confidence and comfort. Such extra-large fishing kayaks aren’t stable or ergonomically suitable for motorizing with anything else than feeble electric trolling motors.

Boat stability

The width of a typical small fishing boat is determined mostly by the width of motor vehicles that transport them, and the width of roads on where such vehicles travel.
The narrowest small boats are about 4ft wide, and the widest bass boats can attain 8ft in width.
The most common way to transport a fishing boat is by trailer, as few fit into a pickup truck bed, and realistically speaking, even the lightest ones aren’t lightweight enough to be car topped by one person.
Most small fishing boats feature a single hull. Typically, such hull is pointed at the bow and square and the stern, where its outboard motor is mounted.
Some of the smallest fishing boats resemble large-size, square-stern canoes. Others are known as Jon boats, microskiffs, dinghies, and more.
Even the smallest fishing boat is too wide for effective paddling.
The Wavewalk™ 700 features a patented twin hull that makes it easy to mount an outboard motor at the cockpit’s rear end, and it works perfectly as a motorboat. It is also easier to paddle than other kayaks (and canoes) are.

Differences between kayaks and boats

In sum, mono-hull kayaks are designed for paddling but they don’t perform well enough when outfitted with outboard motors, and small fishing boats work well with powerful outboard motors, but they can’t be paddled. In fact, some extra-large fishing kayaks dubbed ‘barges‘ are too wide and heavy to allow for paddling to any reasonable distance, but that’s another story.
Generally, kayaks can be car-topped while motorboats cannot.
Typically, a fishing kayak is used by a single angler, including tandem fishing kayaks who perform rather poorly as as such. And while many fishing boats are designed for up to five passengers, their typical crew seldom exceeds two anglers.

The W700 works perfectly both as a solo and tandem fishing kayak, as well as a two-person fishing boat.

“Ridiculously stable”

People who get into a Wavewalk™ 700 for the first time often comment that it’s “ridiculously stable”.
What’s funny about a kayak being so stable? –
What makes these people feel like laughing is the pleasant surprise  they experience –  They walk into the cockpit of what they perceive to be a “kayak”, but once they’re on the water, they almost immediately get an unexpected and pleasant sensation of being as stable as in a boat.  This mixture of pleasant disbelief, surprise and relief makes them feel like laughing, and this is what they mean when they refer to the W700 being “ridiculously” stable.
Unlike other kayaks out there, the W700 frees its user from thinking about stability and having to deal with it. As a kayak, the W700 is instability-free. It delivers boat-like stability, and as such it belongs in a class of its own –

A new class of boats

In the previous sections of this article, we’ve defined kayak and boat in terms of size, stability, usage, and performance, and when we positioned the W700 relatively to these two classes of watercraft, it stood out as a class of its own, namely an ultra-lightweight, trailer-free, two-person fishing boat that one person can easily paddle and car-top on their own, without assistance.
The car-topping benefit makes the W700 a ‘launch and beach anywhere boat‘, since it frees the user(s) from the need to use boat ramps, and the ease of paddling it turns it into a ‘go anywhere boat‘, as it enables its user(s) to travel in very shallow water (a.k.a. skinny water) where an outboard’s propeller drafts too much, and through grass and other aquatic vegetation that can get entangled with the propeller and make the motor useless.

The W700 and W500

These two W series are similar in many ways, and they differ in others.
The biggest difference between the two is in their load capacity – The W700 can carry 580 lbs and the W500 can carry 360 lbs.
In practical terms, this means that both can serve as tandem kayaks (or canoes), but the W500 limits the crew size in terms of their aggregated weight, while the W700 doesn’t.
As for motorizing, the W500 works well with a small outboard motor, but the W700 is easier for the driver to handle, and it can take both a heavier crew and a more powerful motor, as well as go faster and in tougher water thanks to its increased stability.
When it comes to a big and heavy user (I.E. taller than average and heavier than 240 lbs), the W500 works remarkably well, but the W700 works even better.
When car topping is considered, the W700 is easy for one person to upload onto a car rack, as well as to attach, but doing these things with a W500 is a little easier.

Since boat classification is about clarifying differences and drawing lines, we think the following definitions could be helpful as basic reference:

  • The W500 is a ultra-stable fishing kayak with limited tandem capabilities that works well when motorized, even with an outboard motor.
  • The W700 is an ultralight, car-top fishing boat that can be easily and effectively paddled by a crew of one or two large size users.

Could we further reduce these definitions to “Essentially, the W500 is a kayak and the W700 is a boat”?  – We think this would be an oversimplification, namely an expression that misses the point and overlooks too much important information. For example, the fact that the W700 is world’s best tandem kayak (and canoe) for fishing and touring, and an amazing solo kayak as well, and the fact that when motorized, the W500 works great as a little high-performance motorboat.

Classifying boats isn’t easy because it requires taking into consideration so many parameters and factors, while keeping things simple, if possible. Therefore, classifications are not necessarily clear and complete –
If you feel somehow confused it’s perfectly natural, and you’re welcome to contact us by email or by phone. We like to hear what’s on people’s mind, and we’ll be happy to answer your questions and provide you with more detailed and specific information.

3 Comments

  1. PackerYaker

    I’m curious, Yoav, why you designed the 700 using two separate pieces, rather than simply creating another longer mold. Seems to me that the longer one-piece mold would have increased stability (compared to the 500) without adding as much weight??

  2. fish

    Gary,

    Simply, due to their special form, molding W kayaks requires special machines and skills. There’s only a handful of rotational molding machines in North America that can be used effectively to produce the W500, and no machine that can be used to produce a one-piece W kayak that’s bigger than the W500.
    Since we started in 2004, we’ve been treading on the edge of this molding technology.
    It took us over a year to develop this two-piece concept for the new W700. No one has done a similar thing before.

    Making the W700 in one piece would have still required adding about 10 lbs simply because it’s a bigger product.
    Such a one-piece product would have not been more stable than the two-piece W700 that we offer.
    Having a watertight saddle gives the W700 the flotation that otherwise would have been added by attaching flotation modules to it.

    The W700 weighs 80 lbs, and the W500 weighs 60 lbs. 20 lbs sounds like a lot, but try to find another top-tier fishing kayak out there that weighs less than the W700, and you’d be surprised how heavy those barges are.
    According to stats that Michael Chesloff compiled, the weight of the average top-tier fishing kayak is 93 lbs, and there are quite a few models out there that weigh over 100 lbs.
    As for tandem fishing kayaks, those weigh even more. The heaviest tandem fishing kayak I know of weighs 180 lbs without accessories and 230 lbs with them. Note that this is just about added accessories, and no motor is taken into account… In other words, even two strong men cannot car-top this thing, or paddle it effectively.

    Yoav

  3. PackerYaker

    Thanks, Yoav………..I was just wondering. As usual, your explanation clarifies things.

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