Tag Archive: bass boat

A bass boat is a motorized watercraft designed especially for carrying several anglers engaged in bass fishing

Jon Boat Stability vs. Wavewalk® S4

Are Jon Boats Stable?

 

If you ask whether Jon Boats are stable, some people would say that they are, and others would warn you to stay away from them because they are tippy and unreliable. Their answer would depend on what they understand by ‘Stability’, what kind of Jon boat they see in their mind, and in what kind of water they see it being used, and these are often based on personal experience.

Is there a stability difference between a Jon boat and a skiff?

Both skiffs and Jon boats are flat bottom lightweight boats that differ in certain hull details, materials used in their construction, and deck structures.
Both are designed to offer as much stability as possible for a small mono-hull boat going on flat water, and as such they are stabler than wide canoes and kayaks of the same length and width.
Foot for foot and inch for inch, we don’t think there are major differences between Jon boats and skiffs in terms of the stability they offer. In other words, a Jon boat and a skiff of the same size, namely both length and width, can be expected to be about as stable as each other.

The twin-hull (“catamaran”) Wavewalk S4 is the world’s most stable portable boat. It is more stable than many Jon boats that feature a bigger hull, as shown in these photos of three fishermen fishing standing in it –

Click images to enlarge

Who Uses Jon Boats, and Where?

Jon boats are small fishing boats that are popular among inland fishermen who fish ponds, small lakes, marshes, and slow moving rivers, namely flat water that’s usually well protected from wind, waves, and preferably from fast motorboats that generate big wakes. These anglers may fish alone, but typically they fish in crews of two. Bigger Jon boats can be used in bigger lakes and rivers.

Factors in Jon Boats’ Stability

Structure, size and passengers

A typical Jon boat features a flat bottom designed to make it draft as little as possible, and thus work well in shallow water, while other Jon boats feature a bottom that’s partially V shaped (sometimes referred to as “Semi-V”) that drafts a little more but offers better performance in choppy water. This V shape should not be confounded with the more seaworthy Deep-V design.
Jon boats can vary in width (Beam) from less than 3 ft to over twice as much, and this difference results in big variations in their stability, in this case initial (primary) stability, sometimes dubbed reserve stability.

When watercraft as small as Jon boats are concerned, passengers are typically the heaviest things on board, which is why passengers’ location and movements can greatly affect the boat’s stability.

Narrow-beam Jon boats are notoriously unstable, especially with a crew of two on board. Their instability can be felt even when they are used for fishing ponds and small lakes, where they are expected to perform at their best. Reading articles about Jon boat stability and user testimonials on this subject could lead the reader to the conclusion that any Jon boat that’s narrower than 48″ might not be stable enough for a tandem crew, and starting from this size, Jon boats get sufficiently stable, especially longer models. Another factor that affects a Jon boat’s stability is its length, since it acts as an enhancement to its width – A longer Jon boat is more stable than a shorter Jon boat of identical width (Beam).

External factors

External factors may destabilize a Jon boat as well, or at least destabilize the passengers on board – Such factors can be wind, waves and other boats’ wakes that hit the boat, especially on its sides (lateral waves).

Size matters, but it may not be enough

We found the following instructions for Calculating a Boat’s Capacity to Carry a Number of Passengers on a boating education website:
On boats less than 20 feet long, the following rule of thumb can be used to calculate the number of persons (weighing 150 lbs each) the boat can carry safely in fair weather and calm water conditions:
Number of passengers = boat length in ft x boat width in ft : 15
Example for a good size Jon boat or skiff: 15 ft x 4 ft = 60, and 60:15 = 4 passengers

However, the above formula seems outdated in view of the fact that these days the average adult US female weighs 160 lbs, and the average adult US male weighs 200 lbs.
Therefore, to calculate the number of adult passengers in a Jon boat, we suggest to use the same formula and divide the result by 20 instead of by 15.
Example for the same Jon boat or skiff: 15 ft x 4 ft = 60, and 60:20 = 3 passengers

Can the 13 ft long and 38″ wide Wavewalk S4 carry 3 passengers on board?
The answer is yes, in fair weather and calm water conditions:

Captain Larry Jarboe, of Key Largo, Florida. Click image to read the story

 

Balancing capability

When small craft are concerned, the boat’s own stability plays an important role in the overall stability of the combined boat and crew, but the passengers’ ability to balance themselves effectively is critical as well, which is to say that a wider Jon boat may not necessarily offer better means for its crew to balance themselves effectively –
Jon boats often feature rudimentary bench-like seats that are similar to ones found in canoes and dinghies, or high swivel seats such as can be found in bass boats. Neither types of seats are optimized for supporting the user’s balancing efforts, and they’re not very good in keeping their user anchored to their place and in full  control of their body’s center of gravity (CG).
This ergonomic deficiency exposes a Jon boat’s passenger to unexpected lateral (side) motion, as well as vertical motion, whether such motion is the result of an external force such as a wave or another boat’s wake, the movement of another passenger on board, or even the strong reaction of the boat to that passenger’s own movements.  More specifically, people on board a Jon boat can have a hard time finding their footing and balancing themselves intuitively, comfortably and effortlessly, and from the moment they lose their footing and balance, their own weight can act as an additional destabilizing factor that may tip the boat over, send its passengers overboard, and in some cases even overturn the boat.

A Jon boat of a smaller size works better as a fishing boat for one angler than it does for a crew of two.

Directional stability and lateral stability

Typically, Jon boats are motorized, and the flat bottomed ones can be easily deflected from their course as well as destabilized when going in lateral waves, especially at higher speeds. In such cases, the deficiency in a Jon boat’s lateral stability can become more problematic by the lack of good directional stability (tracking capability) that characterizes such boats, in particular ones that feature a flat bottom. People who use such boats are quick to head back home as soon as the wind picks up.
Jon boats with a V-shaped hull do better in waves and wind, thanks to the fact that they have some capability to go through waves and not necessarily on top of them, which isn’t the case with flat bottomed Jon boats that are essentially designed for use on flat water only.
This said, although Jon boats are not considered to be seaworthy craft, the bigger ones are sufficiently stable to offer a good experience to a crew of two or more anglers who fish inland, preferably in calm and protected waters, and away from fast motorboat traffic.

Stability: Jon Boats vs. Wavewalk® Series 4 (S4)

 

A detailed stability comparison between Jon boats and the Wavewalk® S4 is almost impossible to complete, because Jon boats vary so much in size and structure, and they can range from a flat bottomed, 32″ wide and 10 ft long (1032) boat to a V-bottom 72″ wide and 18 ft long one (1872), which can be assigned to another class of boats.

The Wavewalk form presents two main stability advantages:
The first comes from the fact that all the Wavewalk’s buoyancy is distributed as far as possible from the boat’s center line, where this buoyancy works more effectively to support lateral changes, whether such changes are external of generated on board.
The second advantage is the Wavewalk’s Personal Watercraft saddle seat that offers the passengers who ride it optimal, easy and intuitive means to balance themselves. This advantage is critical in view of the fact that the passengers’ total weight can be as big the the Jon boat’s weight, and it often exceeds this weight. For example, in the photo above, the passengers’ aggregated weight exceeds the S4’s weight by a factor of 5:1.

So, in order to avoid tedious detailed stability comparisons, let us simplify things and state that in general, the bigger models in the Jon boat class (over 54″ beam) are more stable than the S4, the smaller Jon boat models (less than 48″ beam) are less stable, and as for the the midsize models (48″ to 54″) the answer would depend on parameters such as their length (longer is more stable), and whether they feature a flat bottom or a V-shaped bottom, as discussed in the previous section of this article.

Bottom line: Compared to the traditional Jon boat design, the Wavewalk S4’s form and improved ergonomics add stability which is the equivalent of about 1 ft in width.

Portability and paddling capacity

More specifically, the Wavewalk® S4 is stabler than any car-topper namely portable Jon boat. Which is to say that if you’re looking for a Jon boat that’s more stable than the S4, you must take into consideration transporting and storing it on a trailer, as well as limitations in launching it, namely being dependent on launch ramps that come with trailer boats.

In addition, the Wavewalk® S4 is more stable than any Jon boat that can be propelled by means of paddling, whether it’s with dual blade (kayak) paddles or single-blade (canoe) paddles. This fact is particularly meaningful when very shallow water (‘skinny water’) fisheries are concerned, and no-motor zones (NMZ).

 

 

Seaworthiness

Generally speaking, Jon boats are not considered as being seaworthy, while Wavewalk® boats are more seaworthy thanks to their good  tracking capability and advanced ergonomics. These two factors allow for high performance when dealing with choppy water, which is why the S4 punches above its weight in terms of seaworthiness.

 

 

 

Payload

Small craft are penalized for their size in several ways, and one of them is their sensitivity to carrying more weight on board, which makes them slower and less stable. This is true for all boat designs, including Jon boat and Wavewalk. Therefore if you’re looking for stability for a larger crew of heavier people, say two big and heavy guys or more, your best bet is a very large Jon boat or skiff, that is 6 ft or more in width, and over 16 ft in length, and preferably with a V shaped bottom, so that you could drive it at higher speed. Two large size fishermen can go in an S4 and have a great time traveling and fishing for an entire day without experiencing any stability problem, even standing up, but they would not necessarily be able to go at speeds as high as a large size Jon boat or skiff offers.

Wavewalk® Series 4 (S4)

Top Performance Portable Boat, Car-Top Skiff, and Paddle Craft

 

Wavewalk S4 kayak skiff

The S4 is changing everything…

 

1. DEMO VIDEOS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watch more Wavewalk S4 movies on our YouTube channel »

2. ABOUT THE S4

 

This is Wavewalk’s 4th boat series since 2004, following the 300 (Mark I and II), 500, and 700 series.
Like all other Wavewalk® products, this boat is 100% Made in USA.

The S4 delivers the highest performance in the field of small boats and skiffs, even before you’ve reached the water, starting from the fact that at 98 lbs it doesn’t require a trailer for transportation, and it’s easily portable even on rough terrain.
Its patented twin-hull design delivers more stability than any small boat out there, including much wider and heavier ones.  This allows for driving in fast currents and in choppy water.
In addition, being a true catamaran makes this boat track better than other boats.
The S4’s extra large cockpit (8′ long x 38″ wide) offers ample room for two anglers or hunters and their gear, or for up to three adult passengers – a total of up to 680 lbs.
The S4 features a long saddle seat similar to the saddle of other high performance vehicles, which offers maximal balancing capability as well as full comfort for going in choppy water and for long trips.
The S4 features a stand up casting platform at its bow, such as can be found in a typical skiff.
The cockpit’s slanted sides allow passengers to paddle with more ease and better control than what canoes and tandem fishing kayaks may offer them.
The S4 has an extremely shallow draft, and this fact in combination with its portability, load capacity and high performance as a paddle craft makes it the most practical solution for shallow water fishing.

Availability: We ship to clients, and some of our dealers already have demo S4 boats.

 

 

3. FEATURES

Dimensions

 

  • Length: 13 ft (396 cm)
  • Beam (Total Width): 38″ (97 cm)
  • Cockpit Length: 95″ (241 cm)
  • Cockpit Height: 17″ (43 cm)
  • Saddle Height: 15″ (38 cm)
  • Width of a single hull: 13″ (33 cm)
  • Total Weight: 98 lbs  (44.5 kg)

 

Structure Overview and Features

 

        • Patented twin-hull Wavewalk® catamaran hulls
        • Personal watercraft (a.k.a. ‘jet-ski’) style 7’6″ long Saddle seat featuring a series of seven molded-in brackets, and six vertical molded-in reinforcement columns
        • Integrated Skiff Style Stand-Up Casting Platform at the bow, with anti-skid surface. Read more »
        • The Cockpit’s Slanted Sides allow passengers to paddle with more ease and comfort than paddling a canoe or a common kayak of such width.
        • Preparation for a vertical mounting plate for outboard motor or rod rack at the stern
        • S4 Saddle Bracket - Click thumbnail to enlargeTwo Medium Density Overlay (MDO) 0.75″ thick Saddle Brackets – One bracket at each end of the saddle.
          The bracket in the front provides additional support for the stand up casting platform, and the rear bracket serves as extra support for a motor mount.
          Each bracket is attached to the vertical wall that’s adjacent to it by means of two rivets. The rivets are sealed with waterproof adhesive.  Click thumbnail to enlarge

 

        • Built-In Flotation – The S4 Saddle is a watertight compartment that offers 180 lbs of positive buoyancy.
        • Two pairs of integrated, molded-in heavy duty Carry Handles – A pair at the bow, and a pair at the stern.
        • Average Wall Thickness: 0.150″ (3.8 mm)
        • Colors:
WhiteLight GrayMud Brown

White ColorClick images to enlarge

 

Light Gray ColorClick images to enlarge

 

Mud Brown ColorClick images to enlarge

 

Capacity

 

        • Max Total Payload:  650 lbs (295 kg)
        • Max Number of Passengers: 3 adults, or 2 adults and 2 children
        • Internal Space for Dry Storage : 34.7 cubic ft (0.98 cubic meter), namely 260 gallons
        • Draft –

Empty: 0.75″ (1.7 cm)
With 200 lbs Payload (90.7 kg) : 2.5″ (64 mm)
With 400 lbs Payload (181.5 kg): 4.25″ (108 mm)
With 600 lbs Payload (272 kg): 6″ (152 mm)

        • Max Outboard Motor Power: 6 HP
        • Outboard Motor Compatibility: 20″ Long (L) Propeller Shaft

Read more: How much HP for my S4 skiff’s outboard motor? »

Materials

 

Recyclable kayakHull: Rotationally Molded High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
Saddle: Rotationally Molded High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
Heavy Duty (HD) Saddle Bracket: Medium Density Overlay (MDO).

Our boats are made from 100% recyclable materials

Country of Origin

 

US flag 46Our kayaks, paddles and accessories are 100% Made in USA

 

 

4. PRICE    $2,505.

 

This price includes shipping in the US to land addresses in the contiguous 48 states, with insurance and call before delivery service.
This price does not include the S4 mounting plate, whose cost is $104.

 

5. ACCESSORIES

 

S4 Heavy Duty (HD) Motor Mounting Plate: $122

 

1.5″ thick. Made from Medium Density Overlay (MDO) and coated with urethane.
Each mounting plate ships with a pair of bolts, and self locking nuts.
It takes a couple of minutes to attach this mounting plate to the boat: Just insert it into the molded-in stand for transom motor mount, drill two 5/16″ holes, and secure in place with the two bolts provided.

Fits 20″ long (L) propeller shafts.

Click image to enlarge

 

Wavewalk® 9 ft long dual blade (‘Kayak’) paddle: $186

Common dual blade (‘kayak’) paddles are neither long nor sturdy or rigid enough for paddling this paddle craft, pole it in shallow water, and paddle standing.

 

Wavewalk® 9’8″ extra long dual blade (‘Kayak’) paddle: $220

For very tall people, or people who plan on paddling standing and poling most of the time.

 

Wavewalk® Detachable Spray Shield: $136

For high speed motorizing in choppy water.

 

Wavewalk® Joystick Steering System: $265

For easy and fun steering seated and standing.

 

6. BENEFITS

 

Best Stability in Small Boats

 

        • Initial (Primary) Stability: The S4 is more stable than any kayak, canoe, Jon boat and small skiff, including Wavewalk’s W700.  A 200 lbs person standing with both feet in one of the S4 hulls will make it draft barely 1″ lower than it would if that person stood with one foot in each hull – hardly a noticeable difference.
        • Secondary Stability and Balancing Capability: The unique combination of a saddle seat (such as ATVs, PWC and snowmobiles feature) with high-volume twin hulls enables the passengers to balance themselves easily, intuitively, and more effectively than in any other boat, including kayaks, canoes, Jon boats, dinghies, skiffs, and personal watercraft (PWC / ‘jet-ski’).

The S4 is unrivaled in Stability terms.

Read more: Jon Boat Stability vs. Wavewalk® S4 »

Best Boat Ergonomics

 

The 15″ high saddle featuring in the S4 is similar to the saddle featuring in other high performance land and water vehicles, such as All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV), Personal Watercraft (PWC / ‘jet-ski’), and Snowmobiles, as well as certain Rigid-Inflatable Boats (RIB) designed for high speed motorizing offshore.
Passengers riding this saddle can travel for long hours, including in choppy water, without suffering from back pain or fatigue. This is due to the fact that while seated in the Riding position, with a leg on each side of the saddle, the passenger’s legs support them in the most effective way, and no horizontal pressure from a backrest is being applied on their lower back.
In addition, the S4 passengers can stand up any time they want, and keep driving and paddling while standing up. They can even lay down with their back on the saddle, and relax. Switching between positions assures that no extreme fatigue or tension would build up in any part of the passenger’s body.

Easy Transportation and Full Portability

 

The S4 weighs 98 lbs without a motor attached to it. This means that it does not require a trailer for transportation, since it can be car-topped. The S4 can be dragged or carried over rough terrain, and launched practically anywhere, whether it’s a rocky beach, shallow water, and other difficult spots that are not accessible to other boats.

Mobility and Range of Travel

 

The S4 can go anywhere, thanks to a number of special features –
No other boat offers such a combination of shallow draft and total multi-modal propulsion, namely the ability to keep going in an effective paddling and poling mode even if the water is too shallow and/or infested with weeds to allow for motorizing.
No other small boat works so well both on flat water and in the chop.

On Board Storage

 

The space available for dry storage on board the S4 is equivalent to the storage offered by a good size Jon-boat, or a regular skiff.

7. S4 vs. W700

 

        • W700 advantages over the S4:  Solo kayaking, tandem kayaking, solo canoeing, portability.
        • S4 advantages over the W700: Motorizing, tandem motorizing, tandem fishing, stability, offshore trips, load capacity.
        • Shallow water – The S4 drafts less than the W700, and it features a skiff stand up casting platform, but the W700 paddles better, generally.
        • Offshore – Being more of a boat than the W700, the S4 offers a clear advantage in the chop.

 

MORE READING

Choosing an outboard motor for your Wavewalk® 700 skiff

This article is an attempt to answer some questions that Wavewalk skiff owners ask in the process of choosing an outboard motor for it –

Short shaft or long shaft?

We definitely recommend using outboards that feature a long (20″) propeller shaft, and for multiple reasons, which are discussed in this article entitled Outboard motor propeller shaft length for Wavewalk fishing kayaks and boats »
We recommend not to be tempted by the availability and lower price of 15″ short shaft outboard motors, because such motors don’t fit the W700, and using one would never produce optimal results, even for a highly skilled individual with a lot of experience in boat outfitting.

Here is a list of long (L) 20″ shaft outboard motors currently available in the 2 to 6 horsepower range, and their HP rating:

  • Honda 2.3 HP (air cooled), 5 HP
  • Suzuki 6 HP
  • Evinrude 6 HP
  • Tohatsu 3.5 HP, 4 HP, 5 HP, 6 HP
  • Yamaha 2.5 HP, 4 HP, 6 HP
  • Mercury 3.5 HP, 4 HP, 5 HP, 6 HP
  • Mariner 3.5 HP, 4 HP, 5 HP, 6 HP

Recommended reading –

Air cooled or water cooled?

Water cooled motors are quieter but heavier than comparable air cooled motors.
The only motor featuring on the above list that’s not water cooled is the Honda 2.3 HP. It is very lightweight, and works very well, but being air cooled makes it considerably noisier.

Note: Outboard motor manufacturers recommend flushing the motor’s cooling system with fresh water after every trip in saltwater. It’s possible to flush an outboard with a garden hose outfitted with a special adapter.

4-Cycle or 2-Cycle engine?

Nearly all new small motors on the market are 4-Cycle (4-stroke) and not 2-Cycle (2-stroke).
The advantage of the 4-Cycle system is twofold –

  1. The motor runs on regular fuel, and there is no need to mix it with oil.
  2. A 4-Cycle motor is cleaner, namely it emits far less stinky fumes than 2-cycle motors do.

Some experts argue that for the same displacement of its combustion chamber (cc, volume, size), a 2-Cycle engine in more powerful than 4-Cycle one, but we think that convenience and fresh air are more important.

electric or gas?

Many Wavewalk owners outfit their W500 and W700 with electric motors in the 30 to 50 lbs thrust range, and some go as far as 70 lbs thrust. They use their electric kayaks and skiffs for assisted paddling, recreation, touring, trolling, fishing, snorkeling, etc., but we prefer not to include electric motors in our list of “real” outboard motors for two reasons, which are:

  1. Power – Although some small electric motors are offered as “outboard motors”, just looking at their basic, objective power rating makes us think that they are too weak. Kilowatts to Horsepower conversion: 1 KW = 1.34 HP, and 1 HP = 0.745 KW. Consequently, an electric motor can work well on flat water and at a moderate speed, but not necessarily in adverse conditions, namely strong current, strong wind, etc.
  2. Range of travel – A gallon (3.8 liter) of fuel costs a few dollars, and it’s enough for a typical small outboard motor to run for 4 hours at a high RPM, or an entire day at a lower RPM. You can refuel a small outboard’s built-in fuel tank when you’re on board your Wavewalk®. You can take several gallons of fuel with you on a long camping trip, and you can buy more fuel almost everywhere, while recharging an electric motor’s battery can take half a day. Therefore, gas outboard motors offer a reliable and convenient solution whose price / performance ratio is unbeatable by any electric motor available today.

Weight

All small outboard motors listed above are considered to be Portable. However, between the 29 lbs of the 2.3 HP Honda and the 59 lbs of the 6 HP motors there is a considerable difference, if you need to carry the motor by hand over a distance.

The shallow water position

Most of the small outboard motors listed here offer to lock their propeller shaft in an intermediary position between the vertical (down) and horizontal (up) positions. In this intermediary, slanted position, the propeller drafts less than in the vertical position, and this allows for driving the boat at a moderate speed in very shallow (‘skinny’) water. Therefore, if you’re looking to fish in skinny water, we recommend that you look for this feature.

gear shift lever

Most outboard motors on our list feature a gear shift level, and this is a good thing, because the alternative is a centrifugal clutch that lacks an absolute neutral position. The absence of a full neutral gear can make starting the motor a little tricky, if you’re a beginner.
Our preference goes to the outboard motors that feature the gear shift lever at the front, rather than on their side. The frontal position makes it easier for the driver to access the lever whether the motors points left or right, and even if the driver is facing forward.

built-in fuel tank

All the above listed outboard motors come with a built-in (integrated) fuel tank, and this is a convenient feature considering the alternative is to have a fuel line run from a separate tank to the engine. When you operate such a small craft as a Wavewalk, simplicity becomes increasingly important.

propeller

The propellers that come standard with these outboard motors fit Wavewalk’s kayaks and portable skiffs. Typically, these motors propel much heavier boats, which is why the propeller’s diameter and pitch which determine output in terms of speed and torque are of no real consequence to the owner of a Wavewalk under normal conditions.

price and brand

All the brands listed above are known to produce quality motors, and in fact some of them produce motors for others. For example, Mercury is a Tohatsu brand. This is to say that we see no reason to pay more for a particular name brand, and we recommend to consider only the motor’s technical attributes, and its price.

HP rating – can i overpower my skiff?

6 HP is the absolute maximum for which the W700 is rated, and this is only for its RIB model. Overpowering your Wavewalk can be hazardous, and if you use the wrong motor mount you’d be calling for trouble. This said, if you happen to own a 20″ shaft 5 HP motor and your W700 is rated for a 4.5 HP motor, you can keep your motor, and you won’t necessarily have to get a new one. Similarly, if your W700 is rated for up to 4.5 HP and you found a nice 4 HP that you like, you’d be fine with it.

motor mount

If you choose to make a DIY mount for an electric trolling motor, chances are that you’ll succeed, since these motors are so weak that they’re not likely to cause trouble. But this is not the case with the gas outboard motors in the range that features on the above list.
There are several issues to overcome with motor mounts, and the motor’s weight is the least of them. The main problem is that operating at the end of a 20″ lever, the motor’s propeller generates a great amount of torque, especially at high speed, in rough water and when making sharp turns at high speed. This torque can twist and crack a 4×2 timber, and pull out nails and screws from their place. After having seen motor mounts get broken by outboard motors ranging from 6 to 3.5 HP that were mounted on them, we strongly recommend not to build a DIY motor mount for these motors, and to use only the motor mounts that Wavewalk recommends.

alternator

Some of the more powerful outboard motors listed here can be outfitted with an alternator and an AC to DC converter. Note that such accessories cost hundreds of dollars.
The electric current produced by this system can be used to power lights on board, or to charge a trolling motor’s battery. Such setups are common in bigger boats (e.g. bass boats) that feature much more powerful motors. Although some Wavewalk owners have outfitted their W700 with two motors (a powerful one for driving and a small one for trolling), we don’t know of anyone who’s outfitted their outboard motor with an electric current generation system.

Why an outboard motor?

Skiffs, Jon boats and other small boats sometime come with other motors, among which are air drives or air motors (large diameter propellers) for running marshes and flats, jet drives (similar to personal watercraft, a.k.a. jet-ski), long shaft mud motors for going in shallow water and over obstacles, and outboard motors that run on propane.

While each of these motors offers certain special advantages, and we’d love to see the W700 outfitted with any of them, as well as with other propulsion systems ranging from sails to oars, and even pedal drives… we think the common small outboards such as we listed here offer the optimal mix of price, performance, reliability, versatility, ease of use, and ease of maintenance – Just think how common are boat dealerships and repair shops that service these motors… And if you know how to use your outboard motor and you take care of it, it’s truly a wonderful thing that you’d enjoy for years, and possibly even decades.

Happy Birthday W700!

It’s been a year since we launched the W700 series, the third generation of Wavewalks, and our biggest and costliest project so far. So this may be a good time to look at our thoughts and expectations prior to designing this product, and compare them to reality, as we can perceive it at this point in time.

Technically Speaking

-How does the actual product compare to the plan?

Although we made no prototype for the W700, we had enough prior knowledge, and that helped us extrapolate, calculate and foresee its actual performance. Our design for the saddle was extremely innovative, but the driving notion for it was ‘build strong’, so we had no doubt that it would work well.
This boat has fulfilled all our requirements and exceeded our expectations with its gliding capability and ease of paddling in both a tandem and solo modes. It does exactly what we expected it to do when motorized, and we expected a lot, including both the driver and passenger standing up, and full offshore capabilities.
We were also relieved to see that although the W700 weighs 20 lbs more than the W500, car-topping it is still very easy.
Stability wise, we knew the W700 would be the world’s most stable kayak, but we wondered how such stability would feel like – Now we know that the W700 feels “Ridiculously Stable”, namely that it defies the user’s senses. In other words, it delivers a stability level that can be experienced only in full size motorboats.

-Problems?

None, so far. In twelve months we received no complaints about this new product, and no one has made any kind of negative comment about it. Ironically, one client, a scientist from British Columbia, Canada, who had been using a W500 for his work prior to getting a W700, commented that the new boat was “too stable”, because when he took a second crew member on board, that person felt so stable that they stood up right away, and without warning…

-New and meaningful developments

The introduction of the Joystick Steering System has made driving the W700 comfortable, easy, and fun, both seated and standing. Solving the ergonomic problems associated with driving also increased the range of travel of the W700, and added a new dimension to it as a sporty leisure watercraft that one drives for fun, and not just to get from point A to point B, or for touring.

Market Performance and Position

Despite being over 50% more expensive than the W500, the W700 outsells the W500 by a wide margin, and it has become Wavewalk’s main product line. In its first year, we sold almost as many W700 units as our business plan for it had projected that we’d sell in the first three years.
Many clients have told us that they had bought their W700 after considering buying a motorboat, e.g. Jon boat, skiff, and in one case a pontoon boat, and they didn’t buy their W700 as a fishing kayak, or even as a motorized kayak. Currently, we ship a motor mount with one out of three W700 units. These facts mean a lot to us.
Thanks to its lower price, the W700 R base model outsells all other 700 models combined, but we think it’s significant that the newly created, expensive W700 Z model that includes ‘Everything, From A To Z’ comes second, although in much more modest numbers.

Looking forward to the second year

-DIY

Some W700 owners have already started outfitting their boats in innovative ways, and we look forward to more interesting projects, reports, and movies.

-RIB / RHIB

Rigid-Inflatable Boats, namely boats that feature a hull, or part of it that’s rigid, and parts that are made from inflatable tubes or chambers, are popular in a broad variety of boating applications and environments, and our own experience with the W700 shows that we can go further in this direction, and offer additional RIB / RHIB models in the 700 series.

-New type of boat

Years ago, we positioned the W500 as a ‘Super Kayak’, and over time, together with our clients, we have proved that it is indeed a superlative kayak, and the world’s best one-person fishing kayak, according to people who use it.
We think we can do the same with the W700 as a ‘Super Boat’, in the sense that it delivers high performance not just as a kayak and a motorized kayak, but as a small, car-top boat that competes with other small boats and skiffs, as such. This is not a minor challenge, in view of the fact that there are so many different boats out there, but so far it looks like we’re in the right direction.

Thanks

The list of people who have been involved in conceiving this watercraft and doing R&D with it as initial users is getting longer, and this makes it harder for us to thank each one of them separately. But we know who they are, and they who they are, and we want to use this opportunity of the W700’s first birthday to thank them again.
We look forward to doing more interesting and yes, sometimes crazy stuff, and from now on we’ll try to avoid getting sunburned… 😀

Review of my Wavewalk 700

Disclaimer: This review was written by the guy who designed this boat and manufactures it. It also tells the story of how the boat came into being, so it’s kind of long…

Why am I writing a review of a boat that I created?..

Good question, especially since I’ve already written several articles about it…
The answer has two parts – The first is that many months ago, before we launched this product, I had promised some Wavewalk fans that I’d write such a personal and professional review on this new boat. The second reason is that now that the initial phase of launching this product is winding down, and it got such positive and exciting reviews from clients and fans, I also feel like talking about it from a personal angle and a professional one, but this time more as a designer than a marketer.
But this is in theory… – Is it possible for someone like me to fully dissociate the personal from the professional, and the designer from the marketer? Well, I think it would be hard, which is why I wrote that disclaimer at the top of this page 🙂

Boat first, kayak second

Where did the W700 come from?

First steps – The 300 series

Back in 2004, when we came out with our first product, the W300, we called it a Personal Catamaran, and then a W-boat. Soon after, I had thought about motorizing it and about creating future models that would be small, “personal” boats, with spray shields and steering bars:

(Click the images to enlarge)

However, the W300’s main application was kayaking, namely paddling with a dual-blade paddle, so we gradually started calling it W-kayak, and as anglers discovered it shortly after, it became known as a Wavewalk fishing kayak. The boat’s main commercial application had defined it.
Several Wavewalk fans such as Rox Davis outfitted their W300 with electric trolling motors, and one outfitted his with a 2.5 HP Suzuki outboard, but although their W300 boats seemed like fun to drive, some things were still missing in terms of comfort and performance…

The next step – The 500 Series

In 2009, when we launched the W500 series, it was primarily a fishing kayak, and we knew that more anglers would motorize it, which indeed happened.
Around 2011, following Sungjin Kim’s successful outfitting of a W500 with a 2HP Honda outboard motor, we became seriously involved in developing the motorized application for our kayaks… We developed transom motor mounts, spray shields and inflatable flotation modules to go with them, and we tested and demonstrated their performance, both with one person on board (I.E. the driver), and with an additional, lightweight passenger.
People became increasingly interested in this concept, and at the same time, we became aware of its shortcomings , mainly the limited load capacity and limited stability offered by this 29 inch wide design.
Early in 2014, Kenny Tracy, a.k.a. ‘One-Shot’, outfitted his W500 with home-made Styrofoam side flotation and a 6 HP Tohatsu outboard, and soon after drove this boat at 13 mph, at 1/3 throttle, thus shattering the previous speed record for it, which was just under 10 mph… What first seemed like a crazy idea of a motorcyclist who likes to tinker with boats turned out to be a pivotal event.
Soon after Kenny’s speed record, I purchased a 6 HP Tohatsu outboard, knowing it was overkill for the W500, but I had plans…

Kenny’s breakthrough acted as a catalyst that led us to developing the large-size inflatable flotation tubes that together with the Spray Shield served to create the W570 model, which is the intermediate concept between the 500 and 700 series.

We realized that if we wanted to offer a motorized watercraft that can take two full-size American anglers with their fishing gear, as well as go at high speed in choppy water, we’d need to come up with an altogether new product, I.E. a boat that would be bigger and more stable than the W500, but lightweight enough for one person to car-top, and narrow enough for paddlers to paddle easily, effectively, and comfortably.

The design spiral of the 700 series

This was the beginning of process known as Design Spiral, which is typical to the way new products come into being. The main reason why this process took a long time, and as a result we missed the main part of the 2015 season… was the fact that if we simply enlarged the W500 design, there would have been no rotational molding machine capable of effectively producing it. So we spent a long time and much efforts looking into other molding technologies and other materials, only to realize that Polyethylene (PE) was the best material as far as resilience and durability are concerned, as well as price, and we wanted to have a product that offers the most with regards to all these parameters.
This basic research phase brought us back to rotational molding, and we began exploring ideas that would allow us to produce this new and bigger boat on existing machines. Our molders helped us by providing insight on the solutions that we explored, and after several months, we got their approval for a solution like which no one has come up with before – Essentially, in order to create the W700, we had to innovate in rotational molding…
Tough beginnings!

In essence, the W500 is molded like any other kayak, namely in one piece, out of one mold, while the W700 is molded in two parts, out of two separate molds. These two parts of the W700 are the Twinhull and the Saddle, and they are assembled together at the factory (watch video » )
The bigger size of the W700 and the need to create industrial tooling that consists of two cast aluminum molds instead of a single one practically doubled our investment, compared to what we had paid in 2009 for the W500 tooling.

What we wanted the W700 to be

In the period that preceded the creation of the computer aided design (CAD) files for the W700 molds, I had many interactions with clients and dealers who were interested in this project. Among them were Michael Chesloff and Steve Lucas, to name a few. These people provided their ‘wish lists’, and voiced both their concerns and recommendations. It became clear to me that unless the new product is not just better than the W500, but a true breakthrough in boating and fishing, it might not justify itself. And by justify I mean commercially, in dollar terms, with an investment of nearly $80,000 in the tooling, including adaptations performed at the rotational molding plant after the molds got there, and not including the long hours that we spent on creating the CAD files for it.

Paddling vs motorizing

The main reason why SOT and Sit-In fishing kayaks are so sluggish is their excessive width, which generates so much residual resistance (Rr), also known as form resistance from the water they travel in. This wouldn’t have been an issue with the W700, since it is a true twin-hull (catamaran) featuring a pair of very narrow hulls. However, the extreme width of those other fishing kayaks (some exceed 40 inches…) works to make them sluggish also by preventing their users from moving their paddles effectively.
As for motorboats, even the smallest ones are stabler than kayaks, because they are much wider, but you can’t paddle a boat, practically speaking.
We wanted the W700 to be a great paddle craft even for one paddler going in rough water, which meant keeping this boat slim, but we also wanted it to be a great motorboat even at high speed (for its size), which meant that we had to increase its width in order to make it more stable than the smaller, 29″ wide W500.

Overall size, cockpit size and features

The overwhelming majority of anglers who go on water don’t fish from kayaks – They fish out of motorboats. And while most of these craft are designed to take more than two large size fisherman on board, it is quite rare to see a boat manned by a crew of more than two. In fact, the typical crew of a recreational fishing boat is two. So the W700 was required to take two large size American guys on board, plus their fishing gear, an outboard motor, and the fish caught…. Adding up all these things and their aggregated weight gave us the volume (number of cubic inches of buoyancy) that the W700 had to have, and since the boat’s width had already been decided, as well as the saddle’s width that was known after a decade of successful use in the W300 and W500 series, it was the aggregated load requirement that decided the boat’s total length from end to end.
We knew that the W700 would be much stabler than the W500, so we used the opportunity to make its saddle a bit higher, for the benefit of passengers with long legs, arthritis, neurological problems, and for those who had joint replacement surgery or suffer from other disabilities in their legs.

Then we faced the question of the cockpit size, or basically its length. There were two approaches to consider – making the cockpit short and the hull tips long could have given the boat a sporty, ‘cool’, and possibly ‘futuristic’ look, while making the cockpit very long would have been more practical in terms of passenger space and room for anglers to cast and fight fish. We thought that for our clients, the latter consideration was more important, so the question became how to maximize cockpit length without overdoing it…
Here again, the answer came from experience and common sense, with some simple calculations – We knew that a heavy driver might prefer to sit next to the transom while they operate a motor weighing 30 lbs to 60 lbs, and in any case, they’d be sitting next to the motor when they start it. This meant that we had to make the stern buoyant enough to support the weight of both driver and motor, and since the width of the boat was already given, we had to provide this extra buoyancy at the stern by placing the motor mount and the motor attached to it away from the rear tips of the hulls. We set the distance based on the tests we had run on the W570 outfitted with the 60 lbs 6 HP Tohatsu outboard.
As for the cockpit front, we knew from previous experience driving the W570 in choppy water that bumping into waves at high speed can generate much spray, so we’d better keep the front end of the cockpit at a reasonable distance from the hull tips.
In this sense, the actual length of the W700 cockpit, which is 7’10” reflects what’s left after we applied these requirements.
Another thing we had noticed while driving the W500 and W570 was that the motor being closer to the driver helps the driver start it, manipulate its controls, and drive the boat while being seated or standing in the middle of the cockpit. For these reasons we designed the ends of the W700 cockpit’s spray deflector as straight lines and not curved ones, thus allowing for the closest possible distance between motor and driver.
And if the reader asks themselves why we designed the front end of the cockpit in the same way, the answer is that following our clients’ insight we thought that some anglers would want to attach a powerful outboard gas engine in the back of their W700, so that they could cover the distance to their favorite fishery in the shortest time, and use a small electric trolling motor attached to the front once they arrive there and start fishing.
In other words, we planned for a scenario typical to what anglers commonly do when they fish out of popular boats such as Jon boats and bass boats.
This is to say that among various other considerations, we created the W700 as an alternative to these popular boats.
Although a 3.5 hp outboard is sufficiently powerful for the W570 and W700, the reason we got a 6 HP Tohatsu outboard for our tests and demos is because the visionary Kenny ‘One-Shot’ Tracy chose this motor after he had found that it’s the smallest outboard that can be outfitted with an alternator, namely charge a trolling motor’s battery. That sounded promising…
Another reason why we got a 6 hp motor that’s overkill by a considerable margin is that many boat owners overpower their boats just because they can, and we wanted to know what this involves.
And there are more reasons, but we’d rather talk about them when we have something to show…

Prototype

Some people asked me how come we engaged in such a project without first creating a prototype for this new boat. This question is well placed, naturally.
The answer is that we had tested a similar although smaller product in the form of a W570 outfitted with a 6 hp motor. Besides, creating a realistic prototype of the W700 was technically impossible, since it needed to be done in Polyethylene, and that would have required fully developed and rotational molds…
Making a full-size W700 prototype was possible only if we did it in fiberglass or carbon fiber, and it would have cost tens of thousands of dollars, and take many months to complete. Realistically, such a fiberglass or carbon-fiber reinforced resin W700 prototype would have not told us anything interesting about the same boat made from Polyethylene.

Timing is key

We finished the work on the CAD files for the W700, and sent them to the mold makers, who used them the create ‘patterns’, a.k.a. ‘plugs’, which in their turn served to create ‘sand’ molds into which the mold makers cast the molten aluminum. Once the aluminum molds were cast, the mold makers outfitted them with steel frames that would be used to attach them to the rotational molding machines, and polished them. The last phase of mold making was coating the inside with Teflon. Coating molds is required in order to make it easier for the rotational molders to extract the Polyethylene ‘parts’ from the molds.

Making a cast aluminum rotational mold of this size is a lengthy and complex process that’s prone to delays, which was the case with the W700 project, and only in the second part of August were we able to start shipping the first W700 units to clients and dealers who had ordered them weeks and months before.
In this first batch, we got a demo unit for ourselves –

 

Testing the W700

Car topping
Some people who found it easy to car top their W500 worried that car topping the heavier W700 would be significantly harder for them. I had car topped a W500 with a 2 hp Honda outboard attached to, so I wasn’t worried about it, and indeed, one of these clients who had gotten his W700 a few days before I did, reported that car topping it was a breeze. It was indeed.

Our first test took place on lake Massapoag, on a sunny but windy day in late August. We didn’t take a motor with us since we knew that we’d have no time to test the boat with a motor on that day. In the days before I received my W700 I had already gotten very positive comments from a couple of clients who had theirs delivered to them before I did, so there was little anxiety on my part in that first time I tested this boat in real life.
Besides, I had tested it so many times in ‘thought experiments’ that I pretty much knew what to expect, kind of, although real life experience is different, being based on sensory input and not on technical knowledge aided by a trained imagination.

I entered the white W700 cockpit from a dock and started paddling standing, and I was impressed by the new level of stability that I was experiencing, although I wasn’t really surprised, because this had been my main concern and therefore my focal point… but then, after a few more paddle strokes I had my first pleasant sensory surprise: This boat was fast! It glided like a champ, and tracked like a dream… -“Wow!” I thought to myself, “What a nice bonus!”. I had expected the W700 to be faster than the W500, but imagining speed in paddling is probably harder than imagining stability.
The next thing I tested was ease of turning, and here too I had a delightful moment, as I realized that the boat was easy to turn – “The smaller draft helps!” I thought to myself.

I paddled back to the dock, on which my wife was standing with a video camera. I had planned to demonstrate the boat’s stability the way I did back in 2010, when we shot the ‘Super Stability’ movie with the W500… So I faced the dock, and started jumping up and down and from one foot to another, trying to generate a lot of spray in the process, as I had done with the W500… but the W700 didn’t cooperate – It hardly budged. A 200 lbs guy jumping in it and trying to get it to sink in the water and pop out wasn’t enough. It didn’t work even as I jumped energetically from side to side.
After a couple of minutes of vain attempts, I realized that I was in a ridiculous situation, and I tried to think about another way to demonstrate this boat’s incredible stability. The way I did it came straight out of a designer’s imagination: I stood with both feet in one hull, in a rather awkward posture (try standing with one foot in front of the other…), and I paddled on both sides of the boat. The result can be viewed in our ‘Absolute Stability‘ video, which has made quite a few jaws drop 🙂

Later, I thought about this test and realized that it proves ‘boat stability‘, namely a degree of stability that kayaks cannot offer, since they allow the user to sit or stand along their center line, but not to stand on one side of their deck, or hull. This is something that only a good size boat can offer, and the W700.

Next came a series of tests that showed how easy it is for the user to turn inside the cockpit. This is of particular importance due to the advantage of starting the outboard motor while facing it (I.E. facing backward), and then, once it’s on, turning and facing forward. Later, in other occasions, we showed how this works perfectly when the boat is motorized. In principle, this is possible with a W570 too, but it’s not as easy as it is in the W700.

After we ended that video shooting session, I took my wife for a tandem ride in the boat. She sat in the front, without paddling, and I stood at the rear and paddled. This time I had a double surprise – The first was that the boat glided very nicely on the choppy water without me putting much effort in paddling, although I had to move an additional 135 lbs… “It’s the effect of the bigger load capacity!” I thought to myself.

Then, after a couple more minutes of paddling this way, I noticed that I wasn’t paying any attention to stability… It was like the issue of stability had been erased from the agenda – Stability had become a non-issue, and I was no longer required to address it. “Nice!” I thought to myself -“This boat is instability-free”.
Michael Chesloff called this boat “ridiculously stable”, and I like this expression because it captures the feeling of incredulity mixed with relief that one feels when they first paddle it.

 

Testing the W700 with a 6 hp outboard motor

We weren’t going to test the W700 with a 2 hp outboard because doing it with such a small outboard would have been ridiculous, so we ran the first test with our 6 hp Tohatsu outboard, which can propel boats weighing up to 3,000 lbs, according to its owner’s manual. The W700 weighs 80 lbs… the motor and transom mount weigh a little over 60 lbs, and I weighed about 210 lbs at that time. That’s a total of 350 lbs. These numbers should tell the reader by how much the W700 we tested was overpowered.

The spot we picked for testing the W700 and shooting our demo video was Westport Point, in Massachusetts’ South Shore, and if the water surface there looks interesting in video it’s thanks to fast and sinuous tidal currents and big wakes generated by motorboats going in all directions. The team consisted of two camera persons – namely my wife and my younger son, and me in a dual role of test driver and director.

Tandem

boat-tender-640x640

Later, my wife joined me in the boat. She first sat in the front of the cockpit facing forward, and while I was driving, she turned around and sat facing backward. She did it effortlessly, and I didn’t have to make a particular effort to balance the boat while she was turning.

 

Cockpit
The cockpit felt very spacious. My wife and I invited our teenage son to join us on board for a family tour, but he preferred to stay on shore and keep shooting video…

The boat behaved very well – It was stable both in terms of lateral stability and directional stability (tracking), easy to maneuver, dry, and simply a pleasure to use both solo and in tandem, seated and standing.

Starting the motor while facing backward was easy, and turning in the cockpit in order to drive facing forward was easy too.
I steered using the same articulated (U-jointed) tiller extension that I had used before with the W500 and W570, and it worked very well.
My only concern was that with a 6 hp motor the throttle never passed the 1/2 mark, even when the boat was going fast… This meant that somewhere in the back of my mind I had to pay attention to the throttle, because with so much extra power available in the engine, a wrong twist of my wrist could have made me lose some control over the boat, and such glitches are unwanted by definition.

The saddle
The new saddle design performed exactly as we had intended it to. The combined effect of the multiple molded-in brackets along the saddle’s length and the wooden bracket at its rear end provided the feeling of sturdiness and comfort that I wanted to achieve when we worked on this new design.
Being 6 ft tall, I felt more comfortable sitting a little higher than in the W500.

W700-microskiff-640x640The W700 proved to be a great motorboat, and we were able to show it in a couple of movies that are fun to watch –

Wow! It felt great, and we knew we had a winner.

 

 

 

Joystick Steering – from fishing boat to sports boat

The two movies we shot at Westport Point showed the W700 as a fishing boat and a utility boat (tender), as well as small touring boat, and it looked good in all these applications. But I wanted to take it further – I wanted to eliminate my concern about this boat being overpowered, and turn steering it into a pleasure by itself – a means to have fun.
I sensed that the W700 had the potential to be used purely for the fun of driving it, and not just for transportation or going places. In other words, it could be used as a sports boat… (I can see some Wavewalk fans and dealers raising an eyebrow after reading this sentence…)

Joystick-steering-640-2

To make a long story short, I pushed forward the development of a joystick steering system that I’ve been thinking about for some time, and went together with our camera team to lake Massapoag, to test this system in real world conditions. And indeed, the conditions at the lake that day were as ‘real’ as can be – It was a particularly cold day for October, and the wind was blowing hard, as one can see in the movie…
Once again, starting the engine was easy, and so was driving, and… it happened! – I forgot about the powerful motor, and once I saw that the joystick was working flawlessly, I started fooling around with the boat, alternating between driving seated and standing, and enjoying the speed and freedom of motion that it offered. It was pure fun, exhilarating – except for the fact that the water level at the lake was low at this time of year, and I had to be careful not to get too close to shore so that I won’t run into underwater rocks, as I did the year before while I was driving the W570 at the same place…

What is the W700?

Silly question? Maybe. After all, what matters is how people see this boat and use it, and not words put together by its inventor-designer-manufacturer-marketer. However, better definitions could help people better understand this new type of watercraft.
Although the W700 bears similarities with the W500 as well as with other types of watercraft, it is unique in more than one sense. Moreover, better definitions can help us, at Wavewalk, find more markets for it, and improve the user experience of people who paddle it, drive it, and fish from it.
The bottom line is that the W700 is an exciting watercraft with an exciting future!

Yoav

 


Wavewalk® 700 kayak and boat reviews contributed by customers »

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