Fast moving water, or water with large eddies and waves (‘chop’). Choppy water makes it harder for kayakers to navigate, and people who use sit-in, hybrid or sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks in choppy water get wet, since they’re not protected.
This afternoon, I took my workhorse S4, the White Knight, through the Key Largo Cut to get some video from Blackwater Sound and the Southern Everglades. Prior to reaching the IntraCoastal Waterway, I spotted a couple in a SOT kayak trying to paddle their yak into a stiff wind and close 2 ft. chop.
The planned video can be recorded another day. I volunteered to tow them back to the Marriott from where they had launched. They gratefully accepted.
We had a grand time beating our way home against the wind and the waves. Christina and Zach got a Wavewalk S4 real world demo and a motorized tour of Key Largo.
This is a video that shows people driving their S4 skiffs standing, riding the saddle seat, and sitting side-saddle, with and without a passenger on board, on flat water, in the chop, and in the ocean, in 2 ft waves. No problem whatsoever – Just fun, fun, fun!
Stability is non-issue in the S4 – It’s neither a problem in the physical sense, namely how the boat reacts to external forces, or in the ergonomic and psychological sense, namely balancing oneself as a driver or a passenger. Driving is easy and intuitive, with or without a tiller extension, and the boat does what you want it to do, and feels almost like an extension of yourself. Driving standing feels like skiing, except for the fact that you fully control both speed and direction. Unlike standing in a Jon boat or on the flat deck of a common skiff, you stand in the S4 with a foot at the bottom of each hull and the saddle serves you as extra support and balancing enabler. In this sense, it’s more like riding a big personal watercraft, a.k.a. jet-ski, waverunner, etc. A person who had never driven a boat before can drive an S4 standing within a short time on their first trip in it.
Many thanks to Captain Larry Jarboe, who made this possible and so enjoyable 🙂
Starring in this movie are (alphabetically) Dave, Larry, Orit and Yoav.
We wanted to show the Wavewalk S4 going in rough water, but since we couldn’t find water that was choppy enough in Key Largo, we made our own chop 😀 Larry drove his commercial fishing boat, the Line Dancer, Orit sat at the stern and shot video with our new Nikon camera equipped with a X83 optical zoom lens (great camera), and I drove an S4 in the boat’s wake.
The Line Dancer’s wake was V shaped, with pronounced “ridges” of waves and turbulence on both sides, and a quieter area in between. When we went in open areas where the tidal current and wind created natural chop, adding the boat’s wake on top generated pretty hectic conditions that were a bit challenging to drive through, mainly because the motor on my S4 was a little 3.5 HP that didn’t allow for much planing and playing. This application calls for a more powerful motor, and a 6 HP outboard would have probably yielded more spectacular action shots. But at least we were able to demonstrate the principle… When we drove in quieter zones, I just surfed the Line Dancer’s wake, and that was easy and fun.
What’s the real-world advantage of the S4’s ability to go through fast currents and chop? “Real World” usually means you have to go from point A to point B, and you’re not just looking for some driving action fun. This can happen when you use the S4 as a tender for a bigger boat, or yacht, or when you drive in fast rivers that are swollen by water from melting snow in spring, or by tidal currents in coastal areas. Jon boats and skiffs don’t excel in such conditions, to say the least, and inflatable dinghies are neither the most comfortable nor the most reliable choice. But the S4 shines in the chop, not just due to its natural, physical, “catamaran” stability, but also because it offers the driver to ride a saddle seat similar to the seat that other high performance vehicles feature, such as personal watercraft (PWC a.k.a. “jet ski”), all-terrain vehicles (ATV), snowmobiles, and dirt bikes.
Wavewalk S4 driven in choppy blue water in the Atlantic ocean close to Key Largo, Florida. It was fun to drive this watercraft that seems to be almost immune to waves, wherever they come from. Hopping on waves and making sharp turns was easy solo and with a passenger on board.
As a skiff, it’s extremely seaworthy, and as a kayak it’s anything but 😀
We towed it behind the mother ship, and it was a pleasure to watch how well it behaved… It can serve as a perfect boat tender for a big boat or a yacht – It’s seaworthy, comfortable, fun to drive and to paddle, can be beached anywhere, and it can carry up to three people on board.
The S4 in this movie is under powered by a 3.5 HP outboard motor – A 6 HP outboard would have worked better in this case, but still, driving this ultralight microskiff in the chop was a lot of fun. Thankfully, the S4 is not a solo skiff, and driving it with a charming passenger on board was even more fun.
We didn’t have to outfit it with a spray shield, as hardly any spray got it.