By Bill Davis
Quite a few years ago, back in the mid-1970’s, I was fortunate to work as a mate then captain of a large passenger carrying boat that took people snorkeling on the shallow coral reefs of John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo, Florida.
I promoted our business with the phrase “If you can swim, you can snorkel.” Twice a day, we hauled up to 61 passengers a trip on a wooden Harkers Island-built boat to witness the amazing coral reefs and tropical fish that are found right here in the United States.
Today, the State Park concession that I worked from has about 4 multi-passenger snorkel boats that have evolved from that one vessel.
Like snorkeling, there are many marine sports that have sprouted over my lifetime.
Obviously, canoes have been with us for many years. But, who figured out that you could sit on top of a kayak or stand up to paddle a fat surfboard? These are relatively recent innovations that have attracted a huge following.
Then, there are those Wave Runners. When I grew up in the Fifties, we never figured you could have a motorcycle that flew across the water.
All of those sports are fun for those of us who swim but owning all four: a canoe, kayak, paddle board and Wave Runner is expensive, space consuming, and a major maintenance hassle.
What if one vessel did all this, and more?
The Wavewalk catamaran style skiff is the stable and portable boat that literally, does it all. A visit to the company website at wavewalk.com will show you the W500 and W700 solo and tandem twin hull kayaks that are easy on your back because they are straddled like a Wave Runner. Fishermen are especially fond of the Wavewalk design because they are so easy to stand up in order to spot or cast to their prey.
These magic boats can be paddled with kayak or canoe paddles or outfitted for gas outboard or electric trolling motor or both! And, they are lightweight enough to carry on top of your car without a special carrying rack or trailer.
I discovered the Wavewalk design while I was searching the Internet for the perfect kayak to establish a retirement rental business in Key Largo. My first Wavewalk was purchased at retail price. That little W500 was so good that I used it in my commercial fishing business in the Chesapeake region to supply Blue Catfish fillets to Linda’s Cafe in downtown Lexington Park and the Victorian Candle Bed and Breakfast in historic Hollywood, Maryland.
At present, in addition to two commercial fishing work boats, I have a fleet of Wavewalk kayaks for weekend Wavewalk Adventures in the State Parks and National Sanctuaries that surround Key Largo.
And, I am fortunate to be the exclusive Wavewalk distributor for all of South Florida. Contact me if you are in the Chesapeake region and I can arrange for you to have your own Wavewalk kayak.
On a nearly daily basis, I motor my green W700 skiff through mangrove creeks or out in the ocean to make my own adventures exploring places that are almost impossible to reach by any other method of marine conveyance. This Wavewalk lifestyle is a most wonderful and unexpected retirement pastime that I am most happy to share.
So, if you are tired of being cold this winter and want an excuse to visit the Florida Keys, you have one (as if you really need an excuse to visit paradise).
A trip to my website at floridafishingkayaks.com. will provide all the info you need to schedule a free Wavewalk Wednesday demo of this vessel. Or, a weekend rental with included guide service might be a way to enjoy a complete kayak, canoe, stand-up paddle board package in a boat that “does it all.”
Who knows? You might drive home with one.
I took some time off on Saturday from setting up my Chesapeake Fish Camp and Wavewalk friends and family demos to make a run to Mallows Bay on the Potomac River.
In this shallow cove, resides the largest shipwreck graveyard in the Western Hemisphere. There is a beautiful park and public boat launch.
Though the catfish are spread out in the river and up the creeks, you can still catch a mess of catfish if you fish the right tide with the right bait.
The four way removable PVC spreader rod holder rig / anchor line cleat helps put enough baits all around the boat to tickle their whiskers.
8 Blue Cats and 3 Channel Cats did not come close to loading up the W700. But, they will make a fine fish fry.
Just wait till November when the big Blue Cats are lined up at the edge of the channel waiting for me to return…
Looking forward to summer Wavewalk adventures in the Keys.
Key Largo, Florida
A couple days ago, I launched my W700 for the first time. It has taken a couple weeks to get my stone crab traps set up and dropped overboard from my commercial fishing boat “Line Dancer”. This vessel, a 27′ Lindsey w/ a B-series Cummins diesel, will make a fine mother ship to transport the W700 and my W500 to the Everglades, wrecks, reefs, and Gulf Stream waters surrounding Key Largo.
My initial observations include:
The W700 is the ideal family or couples vessel for economy and ease of transport. Where will you find a tandem yak that combines the best qualities of a kayak, canoe, catamaran, stand-up paddle board, and micro-skiff in one boat?
The W700 really is a magic boat. Not only is the W700 more stable and roomy than the W500 (which was the most stable yak I had previously used), the air tight buoyancy straddle seat is a major safety improvement. The center holes in the separately molded flotation seat can be used as rod holders. I plan to install a removable PVC post in one to hold a waterproof GoPro camera for videos.
Though a double paddle works fine to propel the W700, I prefer to use a canoe paddle. The W700 and W500 Wavewalks actually solo paddle easier than a canoe but you should know the J-stroke, sweep stroke, and other canoe paddling techniques to use a canoe paddle effectively.
Presently, I do not intend to make major mods to the W700. But, in time, there will be fore and aft motor brackets for both gas and electric motors as well as an anchor bracket and rod holders.
It is obvious, that the W700 is a great addition to the Wavewalk series but the W500 will travel with me up and down the East Coast from the Chesapeake to the Keys by truck bed or car top. The W500 is more portable for a solo yakker. Thus, it still has an important place in the product line.
I know many of the Wavewalk owners have put away their vessels for the winter. But, the temperature in the Keys is in the 70 degree range and the skies are mostly blue and sunny. So, there is still great fishing and boating to be found here in the Caribbean of the U.S.
Took the W500 for a trip to open water in the Potomac River. The cooler weather has driven the Blue Catfish from the sheltered creeks to the edge of the river channel. I learned a few tricks about catfishing in the Wavewalk that will up the catch of cats on future expeditions.
Zero fuel was expended. I paddled.
And, I only used 5 dollars in bait, a third of which I gave to a father and his two sons who needed a little help.
Blue Catfish are probably the most predatory invasive fish in the Chesapeake Watershed. Maryland DNR (Dept. of Nat. Resources) says to catch and keep all you can. I take that as a mission statement.