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.

SOT kayak stability, or lack thereof

Three anglers fishing standing in the world's most stable kayak, the Wavewalk S4

Why do you need a stable kayak?

Simply, stability is key to your Safety, Comfort, and Successful Fishing. Without it, you could end up swimming, or worse – drowned, and if you happen to lose balance, you could also lose some precious gear that would slide down from the deck and into the water, never to be seen again. Any stability issue that you have to deal with while fishing automatically draws mental and physical resources from you, and mobilizes them for the task of keeping you balanced, and your kayak level. This continuous effort affects muscle tension in your legs, your back and your shoulders, and it reduces your casting performance, as well as your ability to turn and to focus. But most importantly, the feeling of instability leads to discomfort, and this hurts your well being. In other words, fishing out of unstable or insufficiently stable kayak is not fun. 

Under such conditions, your ability to land big and powerful fish is significantly reduced, and you can’t expect to be very successful in your fishing trip.

Now you know the reason why despite the fact that kayak fishing looks so easy, simple and fun, and most kayaks are cheaper and easier to transport than boats, the number of kayak anglers has stayed stable in recent years, after years of growth. Many people have tried fishing out of kayaks, but the combined effect of instability, wetness, discomfort and back pain, and not enough catching has led many of them to quick this sport, or outdoor activity.

What’s the most popular fishing kayak?

The primary concern of any angler who fishes out of kayak is stability, of course. The inherent poor stability that kayaks offer make it the first and foremost concern, which is why fishing kayaks are typically much wider and often bigger than kayaks used for Recreation, Touring, and obviously speed competition. The fear of capsizing their kayaks and the potentially disastrous results of such event drives kayak fishermen toward sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks, and therefore, they are more popular than sit-in kayaks.

Are SOT kayaks more stable?

No, they are not. In fact between two ordinary (mono-hull) kayaks of identical size, namely the same width, length, and overall buoyancy, a sit-in kayak will always feel ore stable than a SOT kayak. Why is that? Simply because the sit-in kayak offers its user to sit lower than the SOT kayak, and the lower you are the stable you are. Therefore, SOT kayaks are the least stable kayaks out there. If this is hard for the reader to understand, they should try standing on the steps of a ladder, and once they start climbing up, they will feel the decrease in the ladder’s stability. Now you know why the typical SOT fishing kayak is so wide and so huge – It’s because if it wasn’t that big, fishing from its deck would be limited to children and very small and lightweight people. And you you also know why pictures that show anglers fishing standing on the deck of SOT kayaks are typically not very big, and if they appear to be big, or at least just tall, the image appears to have been doctored…

In this context, it’s interesting to observe that people who fish from boats are frequently seen standing, while people who fish from kayaks rarely stand up in them. The reason for this is stability, or lack thereof in kayaks.

What’s the problem with big SOT fishing kayaks?

The problem that users of big SOT fishing kayaks users face is twofold – First, these behemoths are are to transport and carry, and the biggest can hardly be moved even on land. Second, these huge kayaks don’t paddle well – They are slow, hard to move, they track poorly, and they are mostly for short trips on flat water. People who are not in good shape find it hard to handle these large size SOT kayaks, both on land and on water. The same people also find these kayaks to be most uncomfortable.

What is the most stable kayak?

The Wavewalk S4 twin-hull is the world’s most stable kayak, and it beats kayaks that are much bigger and wider.  Three large size guys can easily fish out of an S4 standing up, in full confidence and comfort. The S4 powered by a 10 HP outboard gas motor can go at full throttle in rough water, in the ocean, and its driver can stand up while driving it. Three adult passengers can stand up in a Wavewalk S4 and paddle without any balancing or stabilizing issues.

The world's most stable kayak is the Wavewalk S4
Stability tested in various environments, crew size, and propulsion modes

What makes this kayak more stable?

The sides of the Wavewalk S4 are more buoyant than the sides of ordinary (SOT and sit-in) kayaks, which are generally oval. The S4 features two large size, straight hulls, separated by a wide saddle seat. The people who sit on its saddle have their feet rest at the lowest point of the hulls, and the same is true when they stand up. The riding posture is similar to the posture of people who ride large jet-skis, ATVs, snowmobiles, and dirt bikes. The posture offers a higher degree of balancing capability that simply sitting with our knees in front of you, such as when you sit on a canoe or Jon-boat bench, and it is also more stable than the very unstable and most uncomfortable L position, where your legs are stretched in front of you.

Boat for waterfront property

What is the best boat for a waterfront property?

Waterfront properties differ from each other, and so do boats, so the answer depends on a multitude of factors including –

Location of the property

Does the property border the ocean, a big lake, a small lake, a pond or a river?
Is the water adjacent to the property deep or shallow?
If the property borders the ocean, how strong are the tides there?
Is it a beachfront property, or does it border a canal, or a cove?
Are waves and currents too strong there?

Physical attributes of the property and access to the water

Does the property feature a beach or a dock, or both?
Is it necessary to carry the boat from the house or the boat shed to the water and back?
Is the water at the beach very shallow, and does it feature rocks, and/or vegetation?

Docking

Is the dock high or low above the water?
Is it a permanent or a floating structure?

Boat size and type

Some boats are too big, and they draft too much to be docked close to shore. These boats may be moored close enough, but then they require a small service boat, namely a boat tender to allow transportation of passengers and goods from shore and back.
Other vessels, such as canoes, SOT kayaks and sit-in kayaks, don’t offer much as far as boating goes, and they are not comfortable.
Jon boats and skiffs work well on flat water, and they can go in relatively shallow water. However, they are not seaworthy, and they are not useful in water where abundant vegetation grows, unless they are outfitted with a surface drive (mud motor). These flat bottomed boats are usually too wide for their users to paddle them effectively over any meaningful distance.
Inflatable dinghies are typically more seaworthy than Jon boats and skiffs, but they are notoriously uncomfortable, and similarly, they don’t paddle well. Most anglers would be reluctant to fish out of an inflatable boat, because fishing hooks can easily perforate their walls.
Pontoon boats work well on flat water, but despite their extreme stability, they are not comfortable in choppy water.
Big motorboats are fun, and they are more seaworthy than small boats, but they draft too much to go in shallow water, they won’t go in water with vegetation, and there is no way to paddle them, even over very short distances.
In general, the bigger the boat the harder it is to carry it over land, and the more its owners depend on docks. Needless to say that maintaining a large size boat is not cheap, even if it’s possible to moor or dock it next to your property.

Could this boat fit your waterfront property needs?

Comfortable, seaworthy, lightweight, extremely versatile, no maintenance: The S4

The main advantages of the Wavewalk S4  as a boat for a waterfront property are:

  1. It is lightweight and portable – barely 100 lbs without the motor. This means that you don’t necessarily need a dock to launch and beach it, and if needed, you can haul it on top of your dock. Moreover, being a car-top boat makes it available for you to take on trips to other places, even without a trailer.
  2. It’s a kayak, and it paddles well as such, and as a canoe.
  3. Very shallow draft, even with a motor. For many anglers and paddlers, this feature means everything.
  4. It’s seaworthy – more than Jon boats and most micro skiffs.
  5. It’s fast – 17 mph sustained with a powerful outboard motor.
  6. It’s an all-terrain boat that you can outfit with a surface drive (mud motor)
  7. It’s comfortable and back-pain free, thanks to its saddle seat that its passengers ride similarly to the way you ride the saddle of high performance personal watercraft (jet-ski), all-terrain vehicles (ATV), and snowmobiles.
  8. It’s extremely stable – more than Jon boats and micro skiffs of similar size, which makes it great for fishing. It even features a front deck for casting.
  9. Plenty of storage space and good carrying capacity – The S4 can carry a payload of 650 lbs, which means a powerful portable outboard motor and three passengers. The on board storage space it provides is equivalent to the storage space offered by good size skiffs and Jon boats.
  10. It’s durable, thanks to the fact that it’s rotomolded from High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), and you can carry and launch it over rocks.

Click images to enlarge –

A decade later – Review of the Wavewalk 500 (W500) kayak, by its designer

Wavewalk 500 kayak (W500)

Why am I writing this review of the Wavewalk 500?

This kayak has been around for close to a decade, and our website features over 200 Wavewalk 500 reviews that our clients have contributed over the years. But I thought that since in the past few years we’ve introduced the bigger W700 and S4, there may be a need for a more comprehensive and professional review that would tell the full story of this kayak, especially in comparison to our new models.

I designed the Wavewalk 500 in 2008. Creating a cast aluminum rotational mold of this size and complexity takes a long time, so we rolled out the first production units of this kayak in 2009.
Despite its small size, the W500 was the world’s most stable kayak for years, and it held this title till 2015, when the bigger W700 came out. A couple of years later, the W700 lost its title to the Wavewalk S4, which is currently the world’s most stable kayak, and is likely to maintain this title as long as Wavewalk doesn’t come out with an even bigger model, which is unlikely to happen. Simply, there is no kayak form that can produce more stability than that of our patented combination of a twin hull and a riding saddle.
The Wavewalk 500 is still the world’s smallest twin-hull (catamaran) in production, and the most stable for its size, and at 60 lbs, it is also the world’s lightest production catamaran.
Despite its small size and light weight, this kayak can carry on board two adult passengers that aren’t particularly heavy – The average man in the US weighs 200 lbs, and the average woman weighs 160 lbs. Their aggregated weight of 360 lbs is exactly the maximum payload we recommend for the W500. The W500 offers limited tandem capabilities, but when it comes to small size passengers such as kids, its capacity is pretty amazing –

Wavewalk 500 kayak with 4 passengers on board- One adult and three children

4 children in a Wavewalk 500 kayak

The W500’s 1:6 Weight to Payload ratio (60 lbs /360 lbs) is remarkable, and only the Wavewalk 700 and Wavewalk S4 offer slightly better ratios of 1: 6.25 and 1:6.5, respectively.

The Wavewalk 500 was also the first kayak to offer full standing capability and zero back pain paddling to practically everyone, including big and tall guys, elderly people, and people with various disabilities, ranging from fibromyalgia and sciatica to Multiple Sclerosis (MS), dislocated vertebrae, and spinal fusion. This is a unique ergonomic advantage that the W500 offers to people who otherwise would have been prevented from paddling, and it’s one of the things that has made it such a special boat.

The W500 pioneered an era in kayak fishing, and to this day, only the biggest SOT and sit-in fishing kayaks that are much longer, nearly 50% wider, and twice heavier than this little, patented twin-hull kayak, can offer a level of stability that comes close to the stability that it provides.

The W500 was much better than the proof-of-concept Wavewalk 300 (2004-2010), without being heavier, so it naturally replaced the W300. I like the idea that after the W700 and S4 came out, the W500 still has its diehard fans.

Changes over time

Over the years, we offered the W500 in a number of configurations that included various types of deck mounted and flush mounted rod holders, flotation devices, anchors, bungees, motor mounts, spray shield, etc., but in recent years we offer it ‘as is’. Nothing beats Simple.

When it came out, the W500 did not feature a saddle bracket, and we left if to the owners to decide whether they wanted us to install this structural accessory in their kayak, or not. In hindsight, that was a mistake on our part, since some people who should have outfitted their W500 with a bracket chose not to do so, and sometimes damaged it. The damage was easy to fix, but still, these incidents could and should have been prevented. In 2013, we decided to offer the W500 with an integrated saddle bracket as a standard feature – Choice is not always a good thing, apparently, and we have learned that lesson.
We also started shipping this kayak in a custom cardboard box, in order to better protect it during transit.

Developments

Years before the Wavewalk 500 came out, anglers already outfitted their kayaks with small, weak, electric trolling motors, Several W300 owners did so too, and one of them, Jim McGivray, in the UK, outfitted his W300 with a 2.5 HP Suzuki outboard gas engine. But Jim’s project turned out to be a little premature, since the W300 was still not the right platform for motorizing with powerful gas engines. It was the W500 who became the first full fledged motor kayak, namely a kayak outfitted with a powerful motor, whose driver can drive it in comfort and confidence in rough water, including in the ocean.

The W500 powered by a powerful outboard gas motor made electric kayaks look like supermarket’s motorized shopping carts. It still does, but when compared to an S4 powered by a 10 HP outboard, even the W500 looks almost like a toy.

Sungin Kim, in South Korea, was the first to drive a W500 powered by an outboard gas motor. It was a 2 HP air-cooled Honda, and ironically, he didn’t like his motorized ride very much, at first, since it was so fast. Later, Sungjin got used to it, and went on many fishing trips in the ocean, solo and in tandem.

Interestingly, around 2010, Captain Gary Thorberg experimented with mounting outboard motors on the side of his W500, but the advantages of transom motor mounts made them become the de-facto standard.

We tested the Wavewalk 500 with a 6 HP motor, and we came to the conclusion that with that much horsepower, it was overpowered. Currently we recommend not to exceed 4 HP with this little kayak.

In 2018, Keith Sylvester was the first to outfit a W500 with a surface drive (a.k.a Mud Motor). Keith’s ride looks good, with no apparent problems. He proved that even the smallest Wavewalk is stable enough to work with such a special and demanding motor, in shallow streams and ponds.

The W500 opened the era of full fledged motor kayaks, and it is currently the world’s third best motor kayak, with number two being the W700, and the S4 being the world’s best and fastest motor kayak, with a top speed of 17 mph, sustained. This record was achieved by Captain Larry Jarboe, of Key Largo.
Oddly, we can’t think of a motor kayak that would fit in the fourth place, not because our competitors haven’t tried to come up with such a product, but because so far they have been unsuccessful. Simply, monohull kayaks don’t work well with powerful motors, and if you modify their form to make them work better, they no longer fit the kayak designation, which all Wavewalk’s kayaks do. Even large-size SOT kayaks that feature an outrigger don’t look good with a motor.
The only class of small watercraft that’s comparable to the three Wavewalk motor kayaks are motorboats dubbed micro skiff (microskiff).

The storage revolution

Ten years after the Wavewalk 500 entered the kayak fishing market, it still offers much more on board storage space than its biggest competitors, whose overcrowded decks and tiny, hardly accessible hatches keep frustrating and disappointing anglers. Indeed, when it comes to fishing kayak design, storage is an unfinished, gloomy story, and a problem solved only by Wavewalk’s kayaks.

How much fishing and camoing gear can be stored in a W500 kayak

Before – How much gear can be stored in a W500 kayak?

After – All this fishing and camping gear got inside the W500

Paddling the Wavewalk 500

Paddling any ordinary kayak is not easy, as soon the paddler faces wind or currents. The challenge is tracking, namely to keep going in the direction that leads you to your destination, and not where the elements drive you. Ordinary, mono-hull (SOT and sit-in) kayaks track poorly, which is why high-end models feature complicated rudders. This is true for both fishing and touring kayaks, but not for the Wavewalk 500, since being a catamaran, it tracks better naturally, and it also offers effective means for the paddler to control its course just by moving forward or backward on the saddle, thus relocating the boat’s Center of Gravity (CG), as explained in this article about paddling and tracking in strong wind »

Indeed, many Wavewalk 500 paddlers who paddle it in strong wind and currents are unaware of the fact that it is missing a rudder, simply because they don’t need such an accessory. No paddler ever put a rudder on their W500, and the only W500 owners to use such accessory are those who sail it.

The W500 vs the W700

The W700 is better than the W500 – It’s faster, more stable, roomier, and it can carry a much bigger payload, or more people on board. It also works better with powerful outboard motors, and it comes with an integrated flotation compartment instead of detachable flotation modules.
The W700 is better for paddling, fishing, and driving, so why do some people prefer the W500? The answer is simple – It’s because the W500 weighs 20 lbs less than the W700, and it costs less too. Not everyone needs a fast and roomy kayak.

After the W700 came out, and the concept of the saddle serving as a watertight compartment (flotation) proved itself, we played with the idea of applying this concept to the W500. But doing so would have added 10 lbs to the W500’s total weight, and we thought that at 70 lbs, and costing significantly more than its classic version, a modified W500 would not be attractive enough compared to the W700 that weighs 80 lbs.

Reach and versatility

Some W500 owners have been using it for nearly a decade, and they’re not planning to switch to anything else (except maybe the W700, or S4). Such is Gary Rankel, a retired biologist and fisheries consultant, who wrote a book about kayak fishing, and one of the best client reviews of the Wavewalk 500. Gary also suffers from back problems, and the fact that he can spend up to eight hours in his W500, fishing, without getting out of it, is amazing to me. BTW, Gary is not the only Wavewalk user who spends such long hours in their kayak, uninterruptedly, which is to say that the saddle seat indeed delivers a back pain free experience.

People use their W500 kayaks on flat water and in the ocean. Touring and fishing are the two most popular applications for the W500. Other, less common but interesting applications are photography, diving, bow fishing, treasure hunting, sailing, rowing, and servicing big boats (boat tender). They also use it for other outdoor activities as well, from ice fishing in Sweden to duck hunting in various regions of the US.

Geographically, the W500 has users and fans worldwide, including the following countries and regions – Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Australia (countrywide), New Zealand, UAE, Canada (countrywide), the US (nationwide, including Alaska), various parts of the Caribbeans, Panama, Paraguay, The UK, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, and Greece.

So this is the story of this little kayak, the W500, as I see after ten years. If you ask me if I would have designed it differently today, knowing that its end weight is required not to exceed 60 lbs, I’d say that I don’t think it’s possible.

 

Yoav

 

This week’s kayak duck hunting trip

By Chris Henderson

 

Hunt was a bit more sporty this week in that my shooting was off and I ended up winging some birds. The big problem with that is that it results in water swats. In the spot I am hunting you are limited to 25 shells. Although I do not believe many adhere to this rule, I do. So spending a bunch of shells on water swats and a particularly crafty wigeon which was probably eaten by the seals, I came down to my last four shells with 2 birds to go. Got one with two shots, and only had two shots left. After shooting them I thought I would be foiled in my quest to get a limit. So I searched my box and then found one more live shell in my pocket! I let the bird come all the way in with feet down before I smacked him. That 25 shell limit did make it much more sporting I will tell you that. Wigeon will often come in with no calling necessary, but today the wigeon whistle proved it’s worth turning a few birds and bringing them all the way in. Torrie is improving with each trip.

Of course the W700 hunting kayak was solid as ever!

Enjoy

 

 

 

 

Duck hunting with my retriever and Wavewalk 700 hunting kayak

By Chris Henderson

 

A solid day on the mud flats.
Torrie, my retriever, improved over last time, and is starting to get this game figured out. Some work to do to finish the retrieves, but we will get there! She has not had a lot of practice with the whole transition from water to land holding the bird.
Can’t beat the weather or the birds! Wigeon whistle worked like a charm.

Stuff I Use  –

Duck Hunting Boat: Wavewalk 700

Northern Tribe Outdoors Wigeon Whistle: Northerntribeoutdoors.com

Decoys –
Avian X wigeon decoys
Assault Widgeon
Tangle Free Full Body Wigeon

Gun: Benelli Nova Tangle Free

Dog Blind: Little Buddy