By Captain Larry Jarboe
We took the Wavewalks out sailing again and my wife got pics on her phone.
We took the Wavewalks out sailing again and my wife got pics on her phone.
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.
Jack, a middle aged owner of a motorized S4 from Texas writes -“Love to jump the wakes of jet skis and other boats.”
Anyone who owns a Wavewalk would immediately understand what Jack is talking about, and identify with him, but other kayakers, canoeists and people who fish out of Jon boats, dinghies and skiffs would probably raise an eyebrow when they read this sentence –
For people who go in small watercraft and fish from them, a wake is a series of fast moving waves created in the water by the passage of a fast motorboat, and it is a threat. Kayakers hate wakes, and canoeists dread them, because a wake hitting their unstable vessel on its broadside can capsize it.
But even passengers on board bigger and most stable boats, such as dinghies, skiffs and Jon boats, are not big fan of wakes, to say the least, and they would not associate wakes with fun. Although wakes are typically not powerful enough to capsize a good size Jon boat or skiff, a wake suddenly hitting such a boat on its broadside is enough to destabilize passengers who stand in it, or on its deck, if they are unprepared for the sudden sideways tilt induced by the wake. And losing your balance in such a small boat can mean that you’d go overboard, or worse – capsize your boat, frequently as a result of your abrupt change in position causing another another passenger on board to lose their balance, in a chain reaction…
It is easy to destabilize a person standing on the deck of a Jon boat, or a skiff, but it is almost impossible to destabilize a person standing in a Wavewalk S4, with a leg in each hull. Why is that? It’s because a person standing this way in their S4 and momentarily losing their stability would simply drop on the S4’s saddle, to the lower Riding posture, which is the same position in which people driving a personal watercraft (a.k.a. “jet-ski”) drive their fast ride, or by extension, the same position offered by all-terrain vehicles (ATV) and snowmobiles.
All these vehicles, namely Wavewalks, PWC, ATV and snowmobiles are the most stable in their domains, and for their size, and they all offer similar saddle seats and riding postures to their users. There is no coincidence here, since the riding posture they offer is similar to the riding posture on horses and motorcycles, and it is naturally stable, namely that a person riding with a leg on each side of the saddle has the full ability to react intuitively, instantly, and most effectively to any change, and thus balance themselves in the most efficient way.
To put it clearly – a motorcycle is a vehicle with no stability it itself whatsoever. It you try to make a motorcycle stand without a person driving and balancing it, or without a mechanical support such as a metal leg or a wall, it would always fall on its side. But give that motorcycle a driver who rides its saddle, and it could go over the roughest terrain, and at high speed. This is to say that all the stability perceived in a moving motorcycle comes from its driver, and only from them, and it is the result of ability to balance themselves effectively while riding their vehicle’s saddle.
In comparison, a Wavewalk kayak offers the same balancing capability, plus its own stability as a twin-hull boat, namely a catamaran.
The following video shot by Captain Larry Jarboe’s on board his Wavewalk S4 demonstrates how little effect a fast motorboat’s wake has on him:
So what’s fun about driving a Wavewalk S4 in wakes? The fun is that nothing bad happens, and you get to hop and bounce, and maybe get splashed a little, in a worst case scenario.
Rafael owns a catamaran yacht that he and his wife Heidi designed. For the past six years Rafael and his family have used a Wavewalk 500 as a tender boat for it, as well as a versatile fun boat, which they sailed with a DIY outrigger.
Rafael was looking to replace his Wavewalk 500 with a bigger Wavewalk 700, but he decided to order an S4 as soon as he heard that we were planning to offer such a boat. Rafael and his family waited patiently for several months for the S4 project to materialize, and they were among the first to receive their order. This is Rafael’s “first impression” review of his Wavewalk S4-
Outboard motor: I had no problem at all.
Sailing by wind: I tested the W S4 in light wind, and it handles very nice. Sailing without a rudder, and without a dagger board, I can control the direction by moving my location in the W S4 front and aft.
Very easy seating on the saddle.
Paddle: Too bad I didn’t order an extra long paddle, because I found that my common 8 ft kayak paddle was too short.
The W S4 is more stable than I expected. It’s a real pleasure.
One of our friends likes the S4 and he’s thinking of getting one too.
After Rafael repaired his S4, he and his family started using it in various applications –
Says Rafael: –
“The S-4 is alive and well, in the picture, last week the S-4 is decorated for a dinghy party.
There is a lot of interest in it.
In two days the S-4 is going on a camping trip to Oregon to see the Eclipse. We hope to use it on Shasta lake.
When on the water the S-4 is a very stable boat, using the 3 hp Yamaha it moves very nice.
It is little heavy to lift on to our “big” boat, but it pays back when in use on the water.”
Is it a boat? a skiff? a tandem fishing kayak? a two-person canoe? a hunting boat? something else? …
The answer is yes.
More specifically, the answer depends a lot on what you want to do with it, and where you want to do it. This boat can do a lot, and it can do it like no other boat can.
Click any image to enlarge –
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