kayak paddling

Paddling is the easiest and most effective form of human powered propulsion for small and lightweight craft such as kayaks and canoes. In recent decades, paddling has become more popular than rowing, and dual-blade paddles (‘kayak’ paddles) have become more popular than single-blade (‘canoeing’) paddles.
Paddling offers a way for the kayaker to propel, control and steer their kayak using one, lightweight and easy to use tool, and this multiple functionality is highly appreciated, especially if the kayak lends itself to easy paddling, which most fishing kayaks don’t, unfortunately. Such kayaks are typically mono-hulled, large-size and heavy, and they track poorly, which is why most of them feature a rudder.
Wavewalk kayaks are easier to paddle since their users benefit from increased stability, the ability to optimally engage their legs substantially in both balancing and paddling efforts, and the advantage of rudderless steering and tracking through relocating the kayak’s center of gravity by simply moving its saddle (longitudinal seat).
In addition, W kayaks offer the average user easy stand up paddling in confidence, in real world conditions, which other kayak don’t.
Typically, paddling traditional (mono-hull) kayaks is done with the paddler sitting in the L position, which is non-ergonomic to a point that it has become associated to back pain. In contrast, paddling W kayak is typically done from a Riding posture similar to the powerful and comfortable position in which drivers of All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV), snowmobiles and jet-skis operate such high-performance vehicles.
W kayaks also offer their users the possibility to apply a broader range of paddle strokes, as well as to use their extra-long paddle for poling in shallow water, such as when launching or beaching, or when going over obstacles.

A paddle for going in narrow mangrove tunnels

This is a special multitasking paddle that Captain Larry Jarboe of Wavewalk Adventures Key Largo created following a conversation that we had a few weeks ago.
The conversation was about advancing in extremely narrow and low mangrove tunnels. By narrow we mean barely a couple inches wider than the S4, and by low we mean with branches going across the mangrove tunnel at a height that sometimes forces the paddler to lay on their back and push the branch upward in order to allow the kayak to slide forward. This may involve turning around and lifting the branch over the motor too.
Paddling is just part of what the paddle has to do, and pushing branches is not less important. In this mode of advancement through a tortuous tunnel of dense vegetation, the ability to grab branches in order to pull the kayak sideways and/or forward is a real necessity.
A regular kayak paddle is much too long for this confined space, and a single-blade canoe paddle works only on one side, and since space is so restricted it’s not always easy to switch sides. In fact, sometimes it can be very hard.

Larry’s multitasking paddle is just a little over 4 ft long, and he made it by combining two canoe paddles, and cutting the blades according to these special challenges.

This is Larry’s first prototype, and he’s likely to keep coming up with new versions.

BTW, a trip in the mangrove tunnels is an adventure that’s impossible to forget!

 


More diving, fishing and outfitting with Captain Larry »

Thanksgiving speckled trout

By Jill Toler

North Carolina

What do you get when you put a Sunshine W700 on a local creek, add a Dubiel Pop-N-Fly, a 7 wt TFO BVK fly rod, some Rio floating fly line spooled on a Lamson Guru 3.0, and a 20 minute paddle to just the right spot… a fat, sassy 18″ speckled trout.

What a trip. I went to the infamous Northwest Creek with a similar plan that I have unsuccessfully executed on four previous occasions. Fortunately, trip number 5 turned out a lot better.

I paddled into the wind to get to a point that I was hoping would be holding some fish, and cast the Dubiel Pop-n-Fly toward the reeds and grass. Pop, pop, pause, pop, pause, pop, pop, pause; over and over again while drifting and trying not to be overrun by the trolling motor brigade. I decided to make a move and fish between some docks that had some very unhappy bait flicking around. Cast, pop, pop, pause…FISH ON! Went on a little sleigh ride before I was able to gain control and scoop her up. Best feeling ever!

It’s been way too long since I have enjoyed my Wavewalk and I am very thankful for a little break and a great trip.

 


More fly fishing and rigging with Jill »

The smallest and greatest skiff

Skiff design, built, main advantages, and noteworthy shortcomings

Skiffs come in different sizes and configurations, and similarly to Jon boats, they are flat bottomed mono-hulls, a feature that reduces draft, which is advantageous for fishing in shallow water.
But this design feature also makes skiffs less seaworthy compared to other boats of similar size.
This is yet another example of specialization that enhances the product’s performance in one application while diminishing its performance in others.
Skiffs’ limited seaworthiness is the reason for their being unpopular as boats for offshore fishing, and opinions about their performance in bays and estuaries are mixed. The skiff design’s limited seaworthiness is one of the reasons why owners of big boats and yachts don’t use small skiffs dubbed microskiff as tenders.
Typically, skiffs’ hulls are molded from fiberglass, mainly because this material is more durable in saltwater than aluminum, which is the most common building material in Jon boats. However, fiberglass doesn’t perform well in terms of impact resistance, and it requires maintenance, while other polymer resins (plastics) such as Polyethylene don’t.
Fiberglass is also heavier than Polyethylene, too heavy to make a small skiff that’s lightweight enough to be transported on top of a vehicle’s roof, namely a portable skiff.
Skiffs are propelled by one or more outboard motors mounted at their stern.

Typical skiff features

Depending on a skiff’s size and level of outfitting, it may feature a center console, a casting platform at its front, and a tall structure at the stern, for a person to use for poling and/or for sighting fish for one or more anglers fishing from the deck.
Skiff are sometimes outfitted with an electric trolling motor, typically mounted at their bow.
The main advantages of a frontal casting platform are that it offers the angler a broader range of casting, be it with bait, lures, flies, or a fishing net, and it puts a bigger distance between them and other fishers working from the middle of the deck.
The main advantage of a center console is that it improves the driver’s comfort and stability, relatively to driving from the stern, and it allows them to drive standing.
Poling is both exhausting and rather ineffective as a mode of propulsion, and therefore increasingly unpopular among anglers who fish the flats and other shallow water. This leaves the poling platform to serve mainly as a watchtower, and possibly as an ornament.
Electric trolling motors are quiet, and they can be controlled remotely, which is one of the reasons that more skiff owners use them these days.

Microskiff – a class of very small small skiffs

Microskiff is a term that refers to compact skiffs, namely of small size, and typically of reduced features as well. The smaller size saves money on gas and maintenance, but the need to transport microskiffs on a trailer still presents a challenge in terms of launching and beaching, as well as storage.
At the lowest end of microskiffs both in terms of size and price, is a group of large size boards, some of which feature backward pointing extensions that provide extra support for the outboard motor’s weight, and some that don’t. These boards usually offer enough stability and load capacity for just one user (I.E. “solo” skiff), and they hardly offer any free board, which pretty much guarantees that this user will get soaked, whether they like it or not.
As far as comfort is concerned, these large size boards marketed as microskiffs or “solo” skiffs seem to be designed with no concern for ergonomics whatsoever, to a point where watching a video featuring such a skiff might give the viewer an uneasy feeling.
In terms of portability and transportation, their small size allows for an unusually strong person to transport one on a pickup truck bed, but car topping such a vessel is beyond reach for anyone who’s not a professional weight lifter.
Most of these board type skiffs are molded from fiberglass or other cold-molded resins, which reduces their impact resistance, durability, and therefore reliability.
The board skiff that’s made from Polyethylene weighs 150 lbs without the motor, which is still too heavy to rival the portability of most fishing kayaks and canoes, and let’s not forget that square-stern canoes can be outfitted with small outboard motors…
Despite their small size, including a beam (width) that’s narrower than the beam of conventional skiffs, board skiffs do not paddle well, a factor that reduces their appeal to anglers who fish skinny water and water where aquatic vegetation abounds.

The Wavewalk S4 – the smallest and greatest skiff

In physical terms, the Wavewalk S4 is smaller and much lighter than any skiff, microskiff, and board skiff, and it its Polyethylene hull makes it more resistant to impact. It is the only skiff that anyone can car top without help from a second person.
The S4 can carry up to three adult fishermen on board, which is comparable to the crew size of good size skiffs, and it enables these anglers to fish at the same time and standing up, which is something that only full fledged medium sized and bigger skiffs may offer.
The S4 is a much seaworthy skiff that can be driven through ocean waves and other choppy waters without problems, both in a solo mode and with a second passenger on board. The patented combination of its twin-hull (catamaran) and saddle seat is extremely stable as well as easy for the users to balance, even more than a personal watercraft (PWC).
In fact, driving an S4 in the ocean and in choppy water is pure fun.
The S4 offers plenty of free board, which is good news for passengers who are looking to stay dry, and it is the only skiff that can serve as a tender for a big boat or a yacht.
The S4 offers its passengers to use the entire internal space of its twin hulls for on board storage, and this makes its storage capacity rival with full fledged and good size skiffs.
Like a full fledged skiff, the S4 can be easily outfitted with a front mounted electric trolling motor.
And unlike any other skiff, including the smallest board-type microskiffs, or kayak skiffs, the S4 works really well as a paddle craft, namely kayak or canoe, to a point that some owners use it as a fishing kayak, without even motorizing it.
Typically, the S4 is used with outboard motors in the 3.5 HP to 6 HP range, but it can be powered by bigger motors.

In sum, the S4 is a craft that’s so advanced in performance and versatility that it deserves a class of its own.

 

 

 

Read more about the Wavewalk® Series 4 (S4) »

 

The W700 is very stable and easy to stand up in

By Darcy Paulin

British Columbia, Canada

I find that the W700 is far too easy to stand up in 😀

The W700 is great. It easily carries 2 people, even two 200 lb guys. It is for this purpose I bought it, and when I am paddling with another person, we would carry it by the straps. It is very stable. I was not kidding when I said it is too easy to stand up in. It is perfect for taking people out even when they are a little nervous about the water.

 

Wildlife photography from my Wavewalk 500

By Hendrik Broekman

Massachusetts

It took a while, but, after my broken wrist, I’m physically back to normal.
My wife and I go paddling whenever we can, but still not often enough. The Wavewalk has yet to be on something other than the Sudbury river.

This year I finally started posting images from some of our late afternoon excursions. You can find some of them at https://www.mu-43.com/threads/sudbury-river.93493/

I find the Wavewalk very steady and have confidence taking not-easily-replaceable photo gear on paddles.
The craft is easily enough driven and tracks nicely. It’s a great workout and a kick to be out on a relatively underutilized body of water.

Thank you for coming up with the idea for the Wavewalk. I simply have no interest in using a typical kayak. I just don’t bend that way and I doubt I’m alone in that regard. It has given my wife and me another shared, meaningful activity for our retirement.