Tag Archive: deck

The deck is the top side of the kayak, in sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks, the user sits on the deck.

The smallest and greatest skiff

Skiff design, built, main advantages, and noteworthy shortcomings

Skiffs come in different sizes and configurations, and similarly to Jon boats, they are flat bottomed mono-hulls, a feature that reduces draft, which is advantageous for fishing in shallow water.
But this design feature also makes skiffs less seaworthy compared to other boats of similar size.
This is yet another example of specialization that enhances the product’s performance in one application while diminishing its performance in others.
Skiffs’ limited seaworthiness is the reason for their being unpopular as boats for offshore fishing, and opinions about their performance in bays and estuaries are mixed. The skiff design’s limited seaworthiness is one of the reasons why owners of big boats and yachts don’t use small skiffs dubbed microskiff as tenders.
Typically, skiffs’ hulls are molded from fiberglass, mainly because this material is more durable in saltwater than aluminum, which is the most common building material in Jon boats. However, fiberglass doesn’t perform well in terms of impact resistance, and it requires maintenance, while other polymer resins (plastics) such as Polyethylene don’t.
Fiberglass is also heavier than Polyethylene, too heavy to make a small skiff that’s lightweight enough to be transported on top of a vehicle’s roof, namely a portable skiff.
Skiffs are propelled by one or more outboard motors mounted at their stern.

Typical skiff features

Depending on a skiff’s size and level of outfitting, it may feature a center console, a casting platform at its front, and a tall structure at the stern, for a person to use for poling and/or for sighting fish for one or more anglers fishing from the deck.
Skiff are sometimes outfitted with an electric trolling motor, typically mounted at their bow.
The main advantages of a frontal casting platform are that it offers the angler a broader range of casting, be it with bait, lures, flies, or a fishing net, and it puts a bigger distance between them and other fishers working from the middle of the deck.
The main advantage of a center console is that it improves the driver’s comfort and stability, relatively to driving from the stern, and it allows them to drive standing.
Poling is both exhausting and rather ineffective as a mode of propulsion, and therefore increasingly unpopular among anglers who fish the flats and other shallow water. This leaves the poling platform to serve mainly as a watchtower, and possibly as an ornament.
Electric trolling motors are quiet, and they can be controlled remotely, which is one of the reasons that more skiff owners use them these days.

Microskiff – a class of very small small skiffs

Microskiff is a term that refers to compact skiffs, namely of small size, and typically of reduced features as well. The smaller size saves money on gas and maintenance, but the need to transport microskiffs on a trailer still presents a challenge in terms of launching and beaching, as well as storage.
At the lowest end of microskiffs both in terms of size and price, is a group of large size boards, some of which feature backward pointing extensions that provide extra support for the outboard motor’s weight, and some that don’t. These boards usually offer enough stability and load capacity for just one user (I.E. “solo” skiff), and they hardly offer any free board, which pretty much guarantees that this user will get soaked, whether they like it or not.
As far as comfort is concerned, these large size boards marketed as microskiffs or “solo” skiffs seem to be designed with no concern for ergonomics whatsoever, to a point where watching a video featuring such a skiff might give the viewer an uneasy feeling.
In terms of portability and transportation, their small size allows for an unusually strong person to transport one on a pickup truck bed, but car topping such a vessel is beyond reach for anyone who’s not a professional weight lifter.
Most of these board type skiffs are molded from fiberglass or other cold-molded resins, which reduces their impact resistance, durability, and therefore reliability.
The board skiff that’s made from Polyethylene weighs 150 lbs without the motor, which is still too heavy to rival the portability of most fishing kayaks and canoes, and let’s not forget that square-stern canoes can be outfitted with small outboard motors…
Despite their small size, including a beam (width) that’s narrower than the beam of conventional skiffs, board skiffs do not paddle well, a factor that reduces their appeal to anglers who fish skinny water and water where aquatic vegetation abounds.

The Wavewalk S4 – the smallest and greatest skiff

In physical terms, the Wavewalk S4 is smaller and much lighter than any skiff, microskiff, and board skiff, and it its Polyethylene hull makes it more resistant to impact. It is the only skiff that anyone can car top without help from a second person.
The S4 can carry up to three adult fishermen on board, which is comparable to the crew size of good size skiffs, and it enables these anglers to fish at the same time and standing up, which is something that only full fledged medium sized and bigger skiffs may offer.
The S4 is a much seaworthy skiff that can be driven through ocean waves and other choppy waters without problems, both in a solo mode and with a second passenger on board. The patented combination of its twin-hull (catamaran) and saddle seat is extremely stable as well as easy for the users to balance, even more than a personal watercraft (PWC).
In fact, driving an S4 in the ocean and in choppy water is pure fun.
The S4 offers plenty of free board, which is good news for passengers who are looking to stay dry, and it is the only skiff that can serve as a tender for a big boat or a yacht.
The S4 offers its passengers to use the entire internal space of its twin hulls for on board storage, and this makes its storage capacity rival with full fledged and good size skiffs.
Like a full fledged skiff, the S4 can be easily outfitted with a front mounted electric trolling motor.
And unlike any other skiff, including the smallest board-type microskiffs, or kayak skiffs, the S4 works really well as a paddle craft, namely kayak or canoe, to a point that some owners use it as a fishing kayak, without even motorizing it.
Typically, the S4 is used with outboard motors in the 3.5 HP to 6 HP range, but it can be powered by bigger motors.

In sum, the S4 is a craft that’s so advanced in performance and versatility that it deserves a class of its own.

 

 

 

Read more about the Wavewalk® Series 4 (S4) »

 

Review of the Wavewalk S4 as a shrimping boat

By Fin Gold

North Carolina

The stability and closeness to the water make the Wavewalk S4 a perfect shrimping platform.
We go out on our S4 boat, named “The Dub”, with 2 or 3 people. One person in the back to operate the Tohatsu 3.5 hp motor, the shrimper in the front standing up with the cast net, and maybe a shrimp processor/sorter in the middle.
We recently harvested 40 lbs (heads off) of green-tail shrimp in 4 days of outings.

 

 

 

 

 

 


More from Fin »

New method for attaching a deck for fishing gear to the W700

By Chris Henderson

Fishing Kayaks of Gig Harbor

The versatility of the W700 means that it gets used for multiple things from having fun at the lake to seriously pursuing fish. Being able to attach and detach features is definitely a plus. In that light people have been using the holes located in the saddle of the W700. Here is an idea that I had that may help and further such innovation.

Try using PVC test plug fitting, (about $4.50 any place that carries pvc fittings) or some other mechanical plug. As you tighten the wing nut the two sides are compressed forcing the rubber o-ring to squish against the sides of tube. Just one will provide some grip but I wanted a much tighter stronger connection from deeper into the hole. I have seen some other more industrial plugs which I have no real source for but might even be superior to what I have. But I went with what was at hand and purchased four at my local big box hardware store and a longer 5/16 carriage bolt. Simply insert them into the hole and tighten it down. Once tightened down it was secure enough to lift the boat.

In this instance it is for a small deck that will host a Scotty rod holder for my downrigger. I have industrial strength Velcro on the front to prevent any lateral movement. If one really wanted to prevent that, or if you wanted to make a larger deck you could expand it to cover two of the holes. I could also imagine a small piece of plywood spanning two of the holes might be an ideal way to attach a seat or a pot puller for shrimp or crabbing.

Wavewalk owners are innovators, so I hope this would allow them to go a step further with their innovations.

Tight lines,

Chris

detachable-deck- for-fishing-kayak

Front deck, top view

plug-for-attaching-deck (2)

plug-for-attaching-deck

plug-for-attaching-DIY-deck-close-up

More is less in your fishing kayak’s cockpit – Too much stuff and too little fishability

Kayak manufacturers seem to be locked in an arms race intended to make their fishing kayaks relevant to the average angler out there. This epic struggle for market survival produces kayak designs that are increasingly dysfunctional, or lack ‘fishability‘ if we use the term that anglers commonly use.
The most obvious manifestation of this trend is the proliferation of those enormous, extra-wide, cumbersome, hard to paddle, heavy and practically impossible to carry or car top kayaks known as ‘barges’.
But it’s not just the size of those beastly yaks that makes one wonder whether they defeat the purpose of kayak fishing, nor the fact that their manufacturers tout them as being suitable for fishing standing (they’re not, unless you’re an aspiring acrobat) – It’s the fact that they’ve become overly accessorized, to a point where it’s increasingly hard for their users to fish from them.

What’s an overly accessorized fishing kayak?

An overly accessorized fishing kayak is a kayak that makes it hard for you to fish from it –
We’ve already talked about kayak rudders, and the fact that they slow down the kayak and impose on the paddler yet another activity (I.E. steering) they’d rather do without.
But one may argue that tracking in one of those heavy and extra-wide kayaks is impossible without a rudder, especially in the presence of wind and/or current, so let’s focus on the cockpit area, sometimes called the ‘deck’ in SOT and hybrid kayak models –
The kayak’s cockpit, or deck, should provide the angler with maximum range of motion and comfort, and in this sense any additional item attached in or on it is potentially counterproductive.
Furthermore, the negative effect of any additional object in such a restricted space is amplified due to the fact that it encroaches on an already diminished space.
This is yet another example of how the fundamental economics law of diminishing returns works: At some point more is less.

The foot brace – don’t put your foot in it

To begin with, the big ‘barge’ kayak’s cockpit features sophisticated foot braces that take too much room away from the user’s feet and legs. Let’s face it – being seated for a long period of time is not a pleasant thing, especially when you’re wet or partially wet and you’re stuck in the notorious L kayaking posture that causes discomfort, leg numbness and back pain. Therefor, being able to move your legs is important, and restricting the space available for your feet and legs to move works to aggravate the problem – Think traveling coach in an airliner, and the magnitude and severity of this ergonomic problem would become clearer to you, especially if you’re neither a small, skinny or young and physically fit person.

The seat of the problem

The kayak’s foot braces are paired with its seat. In the past decade, kayak manufacturers became somehow aware of the huge back pain problem that users experience when paddling and fishing while being seated in the L position, so they stuffed their kayaks’ seats with more foam and more gel, without achieving any noteworthy results: These kayaks kept being uncomfortable for normal people to use, and they kept inducing back pain and leg numbness.
Then came the new trend of higher kayak seats, and seats offering adjustable height. These larger seats are typically made from woven material stretched over a light metal frame, and their shape is reminding of some beach seats or stadium seats.
The basic idea behind this kayak seat design is to allow the user to sit a few inches higher, and by doing so alleviate some of the pressure exerted on their lower back, also known as lumbar spine.
Does this work? -Not really, and the reason has to do with the faulty ergonomic reasoning behind it: The fact that the angler sits higher yet they keep their basic position with their legs stretched in front of them makes more of a challenge for them to balance their kayak, as the boat’s center of gravity goes higher although its user isn’t given better means to stabilize it with their body.
The only thing you can do is try to stretch your legs a little more and increase muscle tension in them. This means you have to make a bigger physical effort, continuously, and therefor exert more horizontal pressure on your back, thus increasing discomfort, fatigue, and eventually pain. Problem unsolved.
The seat’s higher and wider backrest is in the way of the kayaker’s shoulders and upper arms when they paddle and cast lines. It further restricts the little range of motion they have, and further limits their ability to change positions and give their back and neck some respite.
Simply put, the L kayaking position imposed by the unstable mono-hull kayak design is not a problem, it’s a given. This is to say that it does not have a real solution – only false ones. The way to get rid of discomfort and pain when you paddle a kayak or fish from it is to ride the saddle of a stable W kayak.

More stuff that means less room and less fun for you

Another way in which kayak manufacturers manage to restrict their clients’ range of motion and ability to fish comfortably and in a way that makes sense is by sticking a variety of accessories between their legs. These items range from storage hatches to fishfinder consoles, cup holders, bottle holders, elevated rod holders, and so on.
The result is a critical absence of free space for you to handle your tackle, take care of your lines and lures, and catch fish – if and when they happen to land one in the space between your legs, right on top of the fishfinder, rod holder, or cup holder…
This attempt to simulate the design of a jet fighter’s cockpit in which everything is within the pilot’s arm’s reach is dysfunctional to the point of being pathetic, but amazingly, the problem doesn’t end here –

A standing problem

Kayak manufacturers are engaged in a verbal competition, and one of the hottest fronts in this battle is over the notion of kayak fishing standing. Kayak manufacturers have come to realize that in order to get anglers interested in their kayaks they need show that their kayaks are stable.  The best way to do is to show someone fishing standing in the kayak’s cockpit. Whether this scenario is practical for the average middle aged or elderly angler out there, or for anglers who happen to be somehow overweight, or tall, or suffer from balancing issues is a whole different story. The same problem applies to those kayaks’ stability in real-world conditions, such as when the stand-up angler loses balances for some reason, and they’re required to sit down swiftly in order to regain it…
Furthermore, who wants to stand up and fish while constantly having to pay attention to their balance and allocating considerable physical and mental resources to such task?
If you stand in a boat and fish from it, you need to be able to focus on fishing and on nothing else, and you want to enjoy fishing without a little red light blinking in the back of your head warning you to watch out and maintain your precarious balance or you’d go swimming with your tackle…
How is this related to superfluous accessories? – Well, kayak manufacturers devised yet another way to clutter the decks of their fishing kayak models, and they do it all the way by outfitting their top of the line models with lean bars –

Lean at your own risk – the lean bar

What’s a lean bar, or lean frame? It’s a large size, folding metal frame that the angler can erect in the front part of their kayak’s deck. The idea behind this device is that when the angler stands up in their mono-hull (sit-in, SOT or hybrid) kayak they feel unstable (duh!), and they would like to lean on something in order to feel less unstable.
It’s a purely psychological notion, since such bar cannot increase the actual (physical, I.E. real-world) stability that the kayak offers, because what determines that kayak’s stability are its form and size, in other words – its design.
This is to say that a lean bar may offer the angler some (potentially hazardous) illusion of stability in a best case scenario, while significantly reducing the kayak’s fishability by  adding to the already severe clutter in its cockpit.
In fact, such a large-size metal frame stuck in front of the angler is a perfect recipe for a perfect storm when one considers things that constantly move in that space, such as fishing poles, fishing lines, fishhooks, lures and bait, as well as fish – from time to time…

But wait, there’s more!

Yes, unbelievably so, kayak manufacturers found ways to stick even more stuff in front and around anglers who attempt to fish out of such barge kayaks: Among these unproductive objects are live bait tanks and live fish tanks… and even the pedals of a pedal drive that you, the angler can push or rotate with your feet, while attempting to stabilize yourself with one hand and manipulating the rudder with the other. Go figure why these tedious and simultaneous activities are being promoted as ‘hands-free fishing’…

And if you thought that’s where the ridicule stops, a closer look at ads for those humongous and rather dysfunctional fishing kayaks would reveal to you a plethora of additional objects and large-size systems offered to populate your kayak’s already crammed cockpit.
Among these things are sailing rigs that you can try to manipulate while pushing the pedals of the drive offering illusory ‘hands-free’ fishing, and wheel carts to help you drag these super-heavy barges from your vehicle to the water and back, since there is no way this could be done without such a cart.
Some over creative manufacturers offer special horizontal holders to protect your fishing rod tips from low-lying tree limbs…

Keep it simple

Observing the cockpit of one of those barge fishing kayaks can be a stupefying experience. The intense clutter in such a restricted place demands that you, the angler, possess an unlimited amount of good will coupled with impressive acrobatic skills.
But what if you have neither?
The solution is simple: Get a fishing kayak that features a real cockpit offering enough room for you to paddle and fish in full comfort and confidence, as well as enough room for you to store and handle whatever gear you want to have on board, without it becoming a nightmare.
This simple solution is exactly what the W kayak offers you. Simple is good.

The secrets of the SOT kayak’s underside

Have you ever seen a picture of the underside of a sit-on-top (SOT) kayak? –
It’s unique, and the bottom of no other vessel looks like it.

Below is a figure showing what a typical SOT kayak looks like when it’s turned over:

underside-of-typical-sot-fishing-kayak

Understanding the design of SOT kayaks’ underside

The ‘scupper’ holes

The most striking feature in a SOT kayak’s hull are the holes in it:
All SOT kayaks feature vertical holes connecting their deck to the water below. Kayak manufacturers call them ‘Scupper Holes’ and claim they were introduced into the SOT design as means to drain water from the kayak’s deck, similarly to what scuppers do in normal boats.
The truth is different –
To begin with, these vertical holes were introduced into the SOT kayak design not as means to drain their deck but for a totally different reason: They support the deck from crashing down as the user sits on top of it –
Kayaks’ hulls have thin plastic walls, and SOT kayaks’ hulls have a general form of an empty and flattish eggshell that’s not very strong, which is why its top side (let’s call it the ‘roof’) requires reinforcement.
The way to support the roof of a large structure is by means of vertical columns, and that’s essentially what scupper holes are: vertical, molded-in plastic tubes that act as supporting columns for the kayak’s deck.
This explains why scupper holes are rather dysfunctional as drainage holes – They were not designed as such in the first place.
So next time you paddle a SOT kayak and you notice water splashing through the scupper holes onto the deck as a result of the kayak moving in the water (that’s what kayaks are supposed to do), you’ll know why the manufacturer just had to put these holes there, and why the sensible solution of letting water drain from the kayak’s deck to its sides didn’t get adopted…

The hydrodynamics of scupper holes

Any detail in a vessel’s hull that can generate a noticeable change in the regular flow of the water is unwanted since it increases drag (resistance) and makes it harder to move the vessel. In other words, it slows the vessel down.
Therefore, a hull that features multiple drag generating elements such as scupper holes is very slow, and in kayaking terms it’s hard to paddle or pedal it forward at an acceptable speed without the kayaker making an unusual effort.
Call it a barge and you’d be spot on.

Channels / tunnels

The second striking element that SOT kayak feature on their underside are channels sometime called tunnels. These are the long and narrow grooves stretching along the hull’s middle section.

Why are they there? –

Water cannot be compressed, and it doesn’t like to be forced into narrow and long structures such as these. When it does, it generates friction (Frictional Resistance – FR) and turbulence, and thereby even more drag making the kayak even harder to move, I.E. much slower.
Kayak designers know these facts, or at least they’re supposed to be aware of them, so why do they add such channels to their kayaks’ underside? –
The typical answer you’d hear at a kayak dealership is that channels add to the kayak’s tracking capability. This should be a good thing because SOT kayaks or at least those designed to serve anglers track exceptionally poorly, which is why nearly all of them come equipped with a rudder (yet another undesirable element). But if a kayak features a rudder, it doesn’t need such channels molded into its underside…
So this common explanation is false, and it masks reality –
If indeed channels are there to improve tracking, why does only the middle section of SOT (and ‘hybrid’) kayaks feature them? It would make sense to make such channels longer, so they produce a more noticeable tracking effect, wouldn’t it?
Well, the reality is that such channels are essentially yet another means to reinforce the SOT kayak’s hull, which is why they coincide with scupper holes –
Knowing that the lower end of scupper tube generates considerable drag as it comes in contact with water, the kayak designer may attempt to position it higher, that is at the top side of a narrow tunnel, such as can be observed in the above image.
It doesn’t really work, simply because the kayak sinks lower in the water as soon as it is loaded with a passenger, and if that passenger happens to be an angler, the load is heavier since it includes fishing gear as well.

Other underside elements that slow down the SOT kayak

If you thought that kayak designers and manufacturers would stop at scuppers and channels, you were wrong. In fact, in the race between kayak manufacturers to overdo each other by introducing details and accessories in increasing numbers, many SOT kayaks today feature additional elements that generate extra drag, and further slow you down –
Those include fins, keels and skegs, and pedal driven kayaks feature flapping fins or propellers.
The additional effort required to propel SOT or hybrid kayaks that feature such elements is significantly greater than the effort required to propel simple sit-in kayaks of similar proportions, and it’s much greater than the effort required to propel a W kayak.

Clearly, as SOT kayaks become bigger, wider, heavier, over accessorized and dysfunctional through clutter, we are witnessing the end of a design cycle that began sometime in the end of the 1960s, when people started outfitting paddle boards with seats and footrests and called them sit-on-top kayaks…