A boat is deemed seaworthy if it is built and outfitted for a voyage at sea. By extension, when small boats are concerned, going on big lakes requires a seaworthy boat as well. A portable boat can be easily carried or moved, especially because of being lighter and smaller than other boats. Skiffs are flat bottomed boats designed for fishing flat water. Micro skiffs (microskiff) are smaller skiffs designed to do the same. These boats draft less than other boats that are made for fishing in deep water, and offshore. When used on flat water, skiffs and micro skiffs are relatively stable for their size, but they don’t excel when seaworthiness is concerned. Some skiffs and microskiffs can handle waves better than others, due to a somehow different form of their hulls called Shallow V Hull that feels less stable on flat water. But going with these boats through choppy water, let alone rough water, is uncomfortable at best, as typically, the passengers feel unstable, and get tossed around. This is to say that as a general rule, boats that are made primarily for going on flat water are not among the most seaworthy.
Portable microskiffs are smaller than the typical microskiff, and as such they are less seaworthy. In order for a boat to be portable, it must be small and lightweight enough to be car-topped, and carried to the beach either by dragging it on the ground, or with a lightweight wheel cart. Typically, microskiffs that offer these advantages are not full fledged boats – They are boards with little or no free board, whose decks get washed by water and spray even when they go in mild chop. The only full-fledged portable microskiffs are the Wavewalk 700 and Wavewalk S4 that offer sufficient free board to offer reasonable protection to their passengers and gear, as well as sufficient stability and balancing capabilities when going in rough water.
Microskiffs that are portable and seaworthy
Despite their similar catamaran design that’s based on Wavewalk’s patented invention, the W700 and S4 are two different micro skiffs in terms of performance and capabilities.
The Wavewalk 700
The W700 can be described as a hybrid kayak-microskiff. It is extremely stable even in comparison to the biggest ordinary fishing kayaks, and it paddles very well with a crew of one or two, and up to three medium size paddlers. It can be driven with an outboard motor of up to 4.5 HP, at speeds over 10 mph. The W700 offers stand up paddling and fishing to up to two anglers, and its on board storage capacity is greater than the storage offered by any sit-in or SOT kayak. The W700’s light weight (80 lbs) makes it easy to carry over long distances and rough terrain, including rocks and deep sand. The W700 also works perfectly well as a canoe, namely with single-blade paddles.
The Wavewalk S4
The S4 is more stable and more seaworthy than the W700, its load capacity (payload) is greater, and it has more room for passengers and gear. On top of this, the S4 can be driven with much bigger and more powerful motors, at sustained speeds of 17 mph (with a 10 HP outboard). The S4 weighs 20 lbs more than the W700, and it is likely to be outfitted with a more powerful, and therefore heavier motor, it is less easy to carry over rough terrain and deep sand. This said, the S4 is a car-top boat that one guy can handle without a problem. The S4 also works well in a paddling mode, with both kayak and canoe paddles.
The performance of the S4 is in rough water is most impressive, even compared to inflatable dinghies that are designed primarily for going in rough seas. The S4 easily handles waves of up to 4 ft, while its driver and passengers ride its saddle in comfort and confidence stemming from the fact that they can balance themselves easily and intuitively, in the most effective way, being supported by their own legs and a large size hull on each side. The saddle in Wavewalk’s micro skiffs is of similar size and dimensions as the saddle featuring in large-size models of personal watercraft (PWC), often referred to as jet-skis. Similarly to jet skis, the driver of an S4 can drive it standing up, even in choppy water.
The video below shows a Wavewalk S4 user downloading it from his SUV, dragging it over a rocky beach, and launching it in a “rock garden” –
Similarly to micro skiffs skiffs, the S4 features a front deck that an angler can stand on and cast, although probably not in the presence of waves.
The S4 can be outfitted with accessories such as a wheel cart that can be carried on board, and a large-size, detachable spray shield that protects the front passenger from being sprayed when the boat goes in waves at high speed. The S4 micro skiff is more stable than other skiffs its size, and unlike typical skiffs, it is not made from fiberglass but from Polyethylene, which is a resilient and more durable material. This makes it possible to move the S4 over rugged terrain, rocks and various obstacles.
Even more versatility – Food for thought
Skiffs and micro skiffs are designed for flats fishing. The problem with these fisheries is twofold – The first challenge is that in low tide, the water can be too shallow even for a micro skiff to move in it, and the propeller is the lowest point in the boat that determines its actual draft. The second problem is vegetation that can get entangled in the outboard’s propeller. In this context, on top of its being a seaworthy boat, the S4 works well with a surface drive, also known as a mud motor. These motors work at sea, and they outperform regular outboards in shallow water, muddy water, and water where much vegetation grows. For some anglers, the S4 offers top performance and extreme versatility as a seaworthy microskiff, as well as an all-terrain and all-water boat.
I am building my Suburban into an Overlander. My first step was to build the roof rack so I can take either two S4s, an S4 and a W700 or of course 2 W700s. The rack is not complete until it gets a floor (perforated steel) and ladders (one on each side). We will have a roof top tent.
My church does an annual church campout. This year we went to Alta Lake which is on the East side of the state. I was able to sneak out in the mornings and in-between activities to do a bit of fishing. The wind was a constant and irregular companion. One moment it would be dead calm and the next moment whipping 15 mph through the canyon. But that is no problem for the ole W700. Kokanee were quality fish 15-16 inches. Now I need to go back for just a fishing trip!
I finally got a chance to take the S4 out and test it on the water. It’s working beautifully with the Honda 2.3 engine. We actually have 3 people seat in it comfortably and both paddling and using the motor works quite well.
We launched the S4 at a rocky beach, and dragging the S4 over the sharp rocks caused some scratches on the bottom of the S4. This is a minor issue, and I’ve decided not to worry about it 🙂
Overall, I am very satisfied with the S4. Great Kayak and I can’t wait to show it off to my friends on the next fishing trip!
I was too busy with the S4. There aren’t any pics while the S4 is cruising in the water since all three of us were in the S4 and didn’t have anyone to take pictures from the shore. Here are some of the pics my friend took on the beach –
UPDATE – August 2018
I have been taking the S4 to many fishing and clamming trips and it’s working great and impressed a lot of people! A couple times we encountered bigger than expected swells so if it wasn’t the S4, we would have tipped over for sure. Most of the people who ride on it confirmed the S4 is the most stable kayak compared to everything they have seen. One small thing I noticed is that when we have close to max load on the S4 in the bigger waves, the water splashes front and gets in the cockpit, so I think the splash shield may help with this.
Captain Larry Jarboe from Wavewalk Adventures in Key Largo, Florida, drives his “White Knight” workhorse S4 kayak-skiff powered by a 9.8 HP 2-cycle Tohatsu outboard motor, outfitted with a 9″ pitch propeller. Larry easily gets to a 17 mph speed, which is probably a world record for vessels that are officially designated as kayaks, such as the S4. He drives sitting in the side-saddle position, similarly to the way that he’s been driving dinghies and other small boats for decades – No stability problems, and no control problems, even in the chop. Most people who drive the S4 and other Wavewalk kayaks / boats do it in the riding position, with a leg on each side of the saddle seat, similarly to the way that Personal Watercraft (PWC a.k.a. jet-ski) drivers operate these vessels.
Generally, 2-stroke outboard motors are lighter than comparable 4-stroke outboards, which makes them more portable. 9″ is the highest pitch for propellers that fit this motor. A propeller with a higher pitch would have probably added some speed to Larry’s record. In any case, 17 mph falls within the upper range of speeds achieved by small, lightweight boats with propellers of such pitch.
Practically speaking, this performance coupled with the S4’s capability to carry on board up to three anglers and their fishing gear, puts it on par with Jon boats, skiffs, and even some bass boats. The S4 is an ultralight car-top boat that can be launched and carried anywhere, as well as paddled in extremely shallow water, and it is most seaworthy. These facts offer its users an advantage that neither conventional nor new boats do.
Note that Larry is a most experience boat driver, and driving such a small craft at such high speeds requires skills that not anyone has. This is to say that we do not recommend such powerful motors for the S4.
Portable boats have been around for decades, and over time, they have gained many fans, as well as opponents. This article is an attempt to shed more light on this subject, clarify the basic things that are worth knowing, determine factors that should be given consideration when deciding whether to buy a portable boat or not, and which type, as well as offer information on the latest developments in this field. Special attention is given to Wavewalk’s Series 4 (S4), a new type of portable boat based on the company’s patented invention. The S4 is good new for those who are looking to get a high performance car-top boat without compromising on stability, comfort and dryness.
The following playlist includes YouTube videos showing the S4 used in different applications and environments, and by different people. One of the videos shows a user uploading an S4 on top of his SUV in under thirty seconds –
Make sure to set the YouTube player to watching the videos on this playlist in 1080p HD Hi-Definition. Use the > button to play the next movie, and the < button to return to the previous one.
Portable boat – Definition
A portable boat is a small boat that’s lightweight enough for a person to upload onto their vehicle’s roof rack in order to transport it this way. A portable boat must also be lightweight enough for one person to carry by hand from their vehicle to the water, and back. In other words, a portable boat is a car-top boat, and vice versa. This is to say that portable boats do not require transportation by trailer. But not all trailer-free boats offer the same degree of portability, and some small dinghies, Jon boats and motorized boards may be hauled onto a pickup truck bed, but still be too heavy and bulky for either car topping or easy carrying. Therefore, these small boat are not true portable boats.
Are kayaks portable boats?
Kayaks are not considered to be portable boats despite their being small and typically lightweight enough to be car topped and carried by hand. This is because kayaks don’t lend themselves to effective motorizing, and the same is true for canoes, with the exception for square-stern canoes designed to accommodate a small outboard motor, and be driven on flat water. Kayaks with built-in electric trolling motors are not portable boats either, since their motors are extremely weak in comparison to the smallest portable outboard gas engines that power boats. Only a vessel that is both a boat in the full sense of functionality and comfort expected from a motorboat, as well fully portable, may qualify as a portable boat.
Are motorized boards portable boats?
Motorized boards are vessels that offer neither minimal free board nor sufficient load capacity to count as boats. Ironically, some of them are too heavy to be car-topped, which is yet another reason why they may not count as portable boats.
Portability is key
Portability can save you both time and money. In dollar terms, portability saves you the money that you would have spent on a boat trailer. It’s always good to have a few extra dollars to spend on the boat itself, or on fishing gear. However, what’s more important is the fact that a portable boat saves you time that you can spent having fun on the water, instead of on the road, driving to or from a boat ramp, as boat ramps are the only places that allow you to launch a boat from a trailer. By the same token, a portable boat saves you waiting time at the boat ramp, waiting for other boat owners to launch their boats, or take them out before you could do it with your own boat. Owning a car-top boat guarantees that you’d never arrive to a boat ramp just to find that the facility had run out of parking space for your vehicle and your boat trailer. Simply put, portability frees you to launch anywhere you want, and in the case of the S4, even in rocky beaches a.k.a. “Rock Gardens”, as seen in one of the videos featuring in the above playlist.
Portable boats include dinghies, Jon boats and square-stern canoes that are small and lightweight enough for car topping. Typically, such boats are made from aluminum (welded or riveted), fiberglass, or plastic resin such as Polyethylene (PE). A rigid hull offers the advantage of being ready to go on water without spending time and energy on inflating and assembly. As soon as they are out of the water, rigid-hull portable boats (RIB) cannot be car-topped without deflating or disassembling them. One of the drawbacks of a car-topped boat compared to a boat transported on a trailer is that with a car-top boat, you have to mount the outboard motor on the boat before you launch, and dismount it at the end of the trip, so you could transport it inside your vehicle. This said, an experienced boat owner can mount and dismount a small, namely portable outboard motor within a couple of minutes.
A folding hull is made from rigid panels attached by flexible sections. Folding a boat makes it take less space, and being less bulky can be an advantage for transportation. Upon arrival to the launching spot, a folding hull needs to be unfolded, and the boat requires assembly for its seats, transom, etc., which can take up to twenty minutes. Disassembling the boat and folding it back can take a similar time, and altogether, whatever time is gained as a result of not having to launch at a boat ramp thanks to the lack of a trailer, might be wasted on tedious assembly and disassembly work.
Inflatable Boat and Inflatable Pontoons
Inflatable dinghies are made from soft parts, and rigid inflatable boats (RIB) have rigid parts too, which require both assembly and inflation before launching, and disassembly as well as deflation and folding at the end of the trip. These extra activities can take considerable time, even for an experienced user with a good electric pump. Generally speaking, anglers typically prefer not to fish out of inflatable boats because of the risk of a fishing hook or a knife perforating the hull.
Some small catamarans may be transported on top of a vehicle. These boats feature closed rigid hulls namely pontoons, and their decks are made from sections that can be assembled for boating, and disassembled to allow transportation on a vehicle. Typically, these are sailing catamarans, and they are rarely used for fishing.
Stability, Comfort, and Seaworthiness problems in portable boats
The need to compact the boat so it could be car-topped leads to some portable boat designs lacking in seaworthiness, stability, and comfort. Canoes feature either round bottomed or flat bottomed hulls. The first is extremely tippy and prone to rolling, especially for a crew of more than one, and the latter is stabler on flat water, but insufficiently stable in choppy water, and in the presence of powerboats’ wakes. Jon boats, aluminum dinghies and micro skiffs that feature a flat bottom hull are moderately stable on flat water, especially if they are very wide, but they lack the stability required for driving and fishing in moving water. Jon boats, dinghies and skiffs with a shallow V hull are more stable in moving water, but less stable on flat water. Inflatable dinghies are very wide, and they are designed to allow driving in moving water, but these boats are not comfortable.
Small, compact boats are not the most comfortable, with the exception of the S4, which features a large-size saddle resembling the saddle seats found in bigger personal watercraft (PWC) sometimes called jet-skis. The S4’s saddle combined its twin-hull design delivers the highest performance in terms of balancing, namely the users’ ability to react instantly, intuitively and effortlessly to changes, as well as actively balance the boat. The S4’s stability combined with the effective balancing capabilities it offers to its users contribute to its exceptional seaworthiness.
Which car-top boat is the most portable?
A boat’s portability is affected mainly by its weight. The S4 weighs a little less than 100 lbs without a motor, and this makes it the lightest boat relatively to its load capacity of over 600 lbs. The S4 also features a fully rigid twin-hull that requires no time-consuming inflation or assembly. Therefore, it is fair to say that the S4 is the world’s most portable boat.
Which portable boat is the most stable?
The Wavewalk S4 is the world’s most stable in its category of portable boats that require neither inflation nor assembly. With its load capacity of over 600 lbs and its saddle seat, this patented boat can carry up to three adult passengers on board, and they may all stand up at the same time –
Which portable boat is the most seaworthy?
This question is more difficult to answer, since many inflatable and rigid-inflatable dinghies are very wide and designed to go in rough water. However, for a rigid hull portable boat, the Wavewalk S4 is the most seaworthy, since it can go in the ocean in waves up to 5 ft, and its driver can drive it in waves while they stand.
What is the most comfortable portable boat?
Portable boats usually come with simple bench-like seats, or basic swivel seats. Inflatable dinghies offer the driver and sometimes the passengers to sit on its inflatable chambers, or pontoons. Such seating accommodations are not ergonomically designed, which is why they are rather uncomfortable. On top of this, such crude seats do not provide boaters with effective means to o balance themselves, and this balancing deficiency becomes a severe comfort problem in rough water, as well as on longer trips. The Wavewalk S4 is the only portable boat that features an ergonomically designed PWC saddle-seat. These seats prevent back pain and they offer their users means for quick and efficient reaction to change, as well as easy, natural, intuitive, and highly effective balancing, including whilr going in rough water. S4 driver and passengers can face forward while they ride (straddle) the saddle with a foot in each hull, and they can also face sideways while sitting side-saddle with both feet in one hull. This works not just for small size people as well as for big and heavy guys. The above video playlist includes a movie showing an angler who weighs 330 lbs enjoying driving an S4 and fishing from it while seated side-saddle.
Which portable boat is the most versatile?
The Wavewalk S4 is hands down the most versatile portable boat, due to multiple reasons. These include the fact that the S4 works perfectly as a paddle craft both in a canoeing and kayaking mode. This excellent performance in a human powered mode is unique among motorboats, and it is important not just as an alternative for motorizing in case of emergency, such as engine problems, getting stranded at low tide, etc., but also for going in extremely shallow water (skinny water) where even small and lightweight boats draft too much. This is to say that the S4 is unbeatable as far as mobility is concerned. The S4 also works both in a solo and tandem mode with up to three adult passengers, and it features a frontal casting deck, as skiffs do. The S4’s seaworthiness is so good that it can serve as a fun boat for playing in waves. The S4 can also be easily towed by a bigger boat or hauled on board, and together with its generous load capacity, these attributes turn it into a most effective boat tender for yachts and big boats.
The following images offer a quick, condensed glimpse into various aspects of the S4, both as a car-top motorboat and a paddle craft, for leisure and fishing. For a better insight on the S4’s capabilities watch movies in the above playlist.