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How to Avoid and Repair Scratches in Your Kayak

Going with your kayak over oyster beds, shells, sharp rocks, broken glass, metal debris and even concrete ramps can get its hull scratched. In most cases such scratches are negligible, and you need not pay attention to them. However, if you want to avoid getting your kayak scratched you’d better watch out for signs of such potential hazards in the water – especially if you’re fishing or paddling in shallow water. Needless to mention is the fact that fishing and paddling from a higher position than ordinary kayaks offer you can help a lot in detecting potential problems in the water ahead of time, that is before hitting them. This is yet another advantage the W Kayak offers you, and W Kayak paddlers and fishermen indeed stand up in their boats from time to time to look at the water around them.

When it comes to repairing scratches in polyethylene kayaks the methods are similar and depend on how deep the scratch is.

For superficial scratches we don’t recommend any treatment, but if you insist on doing something you can just flame the scratch using a hand-held, propane blow torch. You should apply the flame over the scratch slowly and cautiously until it disappears or diminishes considerably, while being careful not to overheat the area so as not to cause a local deformation. In any case, flaming alters the color of the polyethylene to a darker hue.

hand torch and metal spoon for repairing scratches in kayaks

For deep scratches or ‘grooves’ it’s better to heat the end of a metal spoon and apply the hot tip gently and cautiously along the scratch, thus ‘welding’ the surface. Here too, you need to be careful not to overheat the area you’re working on since this would cause the polyethylene to deform. You’d need to protect your hand that’s holding the spoon with a thick glove since metal conducts heat and you might get your fingers burnt.

Keep the work area free of any flammable materials and make sure you’re not accidentally directing the flame at yourself or at other people. Don’t allow children or pets nearby.

If you’re not experienced in working with a propane blow torch you may want to reconsider such a project because it can be dangerous.

As for cracks in a polyethylene kayak, those are rare, and they must be properly fixed. Just flaming or welding won’t be enough to fix a crack, and you’d need to patch it – preferably with an internal patch that you’ll weld over the entire area. This is necessary since even if welded the hull in the cracked area will be weaker than in other places, and it could reopen while you’re paddling your kayak or fishing from it – with dire consequences. If the crack appears above waterline you can reinforce the patch with rivets, but we recommend not to use rivets when making repairs below waterline because we think that drilling holes in the hull below waterline is simple too risky in the long run.

Kayak Side Flotation: Why Use It, and How Does It Work?

A flotation module is a 5 ft long plastic foam ‘noodle’ with a bungee cord going through its core. The bungee hooks at its ends enable attaching the module to Nylon eyelets around the cockpit.

The flotation modules are essentially recovery accessories: In case you capsized your W500 kayak, flotation modules attached to its side (see figure below) can help preventing it from overturning, and if your kayak is overturned they help keeping it afloat, and by that make it easier for you to turn it back.

In some cases, when your W500 kayak is laying on its side, the presence of a single flotation module or better – a pair of such modules under the top side of the lower hull can lead to the boat righting itself, and this is how it works:

The top part of the lower hull is prevented from sinking by the presence of the side flotation module ‘A’.

The flotation module helps keeping water from from getting in by pushing the cockpit rim above the surface.

If water gets into the lower hull through the cockpit opening it will flow to area ‘B’ and make this part of the boat heavier. By making it increasingly heavy it would make it tilt and regain its normal position – that is with the cockpit opening facing upward.

fishing kayak side flotation module in action

If your W500 Kayak doesn’t right itself in such a situation it’s easy to right it by unbalancing it.

It’s clear to see why in any case outfitting your W kayak with two pairs of such flotation modules is more effective than outfitting it with one pair.

In sum, if you’re taking your W kayak on a paddling, camping or fishing trip, it makes sense to take preventive measures that can minimize the severeness of a capsize accident by outfitting it with side flotation modules.

Whether you’re taking with you on board fishing tackle, camping gear or other stuff – it’s always a good idea to secure this equipment by attaching it to the boat. You will find there are plenty of spots inside the cockpit that you can use to attach bungees, carabiners, hooks and rope to secure your gear.

 

How to use detachable flotation to right a capsized Wavewalk kayak »

Trends in Fishing Kayak Design

As the popularity of kayak fishing increases more kayak designers and manufacturers are drawn to offer their solutions to kayak fishermen. Interestingly, if one can judge from the solutions the main problem that needs addressing is the fishing kayaks’ poor stability.

Out of three recent, original monohull designs all three are explicitly designed to be stabler than regular fishing kayaks, and two out of the three represent experiments in combining canoe features into the kayak design – for the purpose of increasing overall stability.

The two canoe-like or canoe hybrids are different by the fact that one is a SOT and the other a SIK. Both are very wide, and are offered as solutions for flat water fishing. This could mean that either their manufacturers estimate the offshore kayak fishing market to be too small to be worth addressing, or their boats not to perform well enough in the surf. This brings up again the question of seaworthiness, and whether these designs are indeed stable, comfortable and and safe enough to be used for standup fishing.

The third new fishing kayak design is a monohull as well, but it departs from the conventional approach of trying to increase stability by making the hull wider. This design offers a mechanism enabling splitting the rear part of the kayak in two and pulling the ends sideways, thus creating a stabler platform for the fishermen to fish from. The obvious problem with this design is that once the fishing configuration is deployed the ‘kayak’ becomes nearly stationary since paddling it does not meet any standard of efficiency. This fishing kayak is not offered for offshore fishing either, which again implies that its manufacturers may have some concerns about its possible performance in the ocean.

In this context it is interesting to see that another manufacturer of fishing kayaks now offers outriggers to accompany their kayaks, which is yet another fact that shows stability to be a problem at the core of the kayak fishing concept.

Overall, the appearance of new designs and solutions that address the stability problem is a sign showing that some kayak designers and manufacturers are attentive to the real problems that kayak fisherman face. Whether any of the solutions offered are viable in the long run remains to be seen.

A Little Honesty About Kayak Fishing

A couple of days ago I visited the website of a rather known figure in the world of kayak fishing. The man who resides in Florida published a book on kayak fishing and produced instructional kayak fishing videos as well.

This is what he wrote on his website:

No matter who you are — or what physical condition you are in—-eventually, if you sit in your kayak long enough— you will eventually begin to experience back pain. It will creep up on you at first, but eventually, it will be noticeable enough to erode your enjoyment of the outing even if you are catching fish.”

Why was I surprised to read such an honest statement from a kayak fishing professional? Because kayak fishing pros are in many cases so passionate about this sport and are so keen to promote it that they tend to close an eye to the difficulties that most kayak fishermen face in practicing it.

In many cases kayak fishing pros would brush aside issues such as back pains, leg pain, leg numbness, wetness and other symptoms of discomfort resulting from poor ergonomic design because let’s face it: their livelihood depends on kayak fishing, and telling the full and sometime not so pleasant truth about this sport would be against their interest – whether they sell kayaks, rent them or offer outfitting, instruction or guide services.

In some cases kayak fishing pros would advise you to cushion your seat with some foam or other soft material such as a gel bag, or add foam under your knees – as if such means could provide more than a temporary and partial relief. Some of them are unaware of the real causes for kayaking and kayak fishing back pain, but it seems others simply chose to ignore these issues.

And why do we keep talking about the ergonomics of kayak fishing, back pain and other such painful issues? Simply because we think they are real and widespread problems, and kayak fishermen deserve to hear the whole truth about them. And last but not least, we happen to offer a solution to these problems – Read more on kayak fishing ergonomics »

Overcoming Windage Issues – Paddling and Tracking in Strong Wind

Once you get used to your Wavewalk Kayak you’ll find that you’re likely to be out paddling it and fishing from it on windy days, when other kayakers and kayak fishermen prefer to stay at home or simply can’t use they kayaks because of ‘windage’ problems.

Thanks to its exceptional, ‘catamaran’ tracking capabilities the W kayak has less windage issues than traditional SIK and SOT kayaks, including sea kayaks. In addition, your ability to move fore and aft along the saddle as well as lean sideways give you effective means to counter affect the wind.

  • Side Wind

You’ll be able to track well while a strong side wind is blowing once you’ve mastered the following things:
1. Position yourself in the middle of the cockpit (not in the back for this matter). In case of exceptionally strong side wind you can even position yourself a notch forward and by that let the stern ‘trail’ behind the bow. Generally speaking, you will find that your location along the saddle can help you in more than one way.
2. Lean into the wind, similarly to leaning into the turn – You can use the difference in the hulls’ height to act as a powerful ‘rudder’ that would help your W kayak track.
3. Apply the appropriate paddle stroke on each side of the kayak, that is use a weaker and regular style stroke on the side from which the wind is blowing, and a stronger, longer stroke on the lee side. By doing so you will compensate for the wind’s tendency to deviate your boat from its intended course.

  • Head Wind

Interestingly, much of the headwind passes between the W hulls, and eddies have a lesser effect on it than they have on monohull kayaks that have broader hulls.

You can paddle against a strong head wind in the Riding position (recommended) or one of the Kneeling positions.
The more you lean forward the more power you’ll be able to apply in your paddling.

The paddle itself might become a mini ‘sail’ when a strong wind is blowing, therefore it is advised to keep the paddle at a low angle above the boat, regardless of the direction from which the wind is blowing.

Read the full article about paddling and tracking in strong wind »