If you launch, paddle or beach a Wavewalk kayak, you can stay drier than in any other kayak because the Wavewalk offers you more free board, and therefore better protection, and you don’t necessarily have to step in water when entering or exiting its cockpit, since you can access it from the rear or the front.
The challenge: Keeping the front passenger dry when driving your S4 at full speed in choppy water.
The solution: Outfitting your S4 with a spray shield that’s big enough.
Wavewalk S4 outfitted with a full size spray shield and carrying a wheel cart on its deck. This wheel cart has an extension that can fit into the second slot in the S4’s front deck.
We used a 48″ x 24″ x 0.093″ Makrolon (Polycarbonate) sheet cut into three sections to create a 90″ long, 16″ high spray shield. This material is available at Home Depot.
We assembled the sections using Goop adhesive and rivets.
We attached the spray shield to the S4 deck using eyelets and short bungees.
This full size spray shield effectively protects from spray the passenger sitting in the front of the cockpit, and it further enhances the seaworthiness of your S4.
Warning: Stay away from Acrylic sheets because this material is too rigid for this kind of application, and it will develop cracks as soon as you start cutting it.
Took off from work early to get my S4 on the water the first time.
Arrived at boat launch and five minutes later was in the water. That’s at first! And without getting wet! 🙂
Easy to paddle seated or standing. Only minor issue was tracking in straight line up-river while coasting. Not an issue going down-river.
Shouldn’t be a problem with two people.
Can’t wait to motorize.
Oh, love the storage. Can pack it at home and then straight in the water. Same when coming out of water. Not like a SOT kayak where you loading/unloading your gear to transport.
That’s a huge plus for me.
Spent 3 1/2 hours on Lake Dunlap this morning.
Beautiful day. Got lots of stares. Almost constant paddling, seated and standing.
Could have gone much longer.
Had a blast on the water on Sunday. Just need to get used to steering behind me. S4 handled perfectly, even over the wakes from other boats and jet skis. Got a few stares and thumbs up. Plenty of power from the 6hp Tohatsu to get to my fishing spots quickly. Then, I can tilt the motor up and paddle/pole around the skinny water.
Got my S4 up to 13 mph, but it runs consistently at 11 mph at open throttle. Just me and light gear on board. Wonder if others are experiencing the same, or better. Love to jump the wakes of jet skis and other boats. But, normally not at top speed. It could easily handle a larger motor.
Everything is fine. Only been able to use the kayak for a few hours, but love it.
I also sailed the kayak for a while using the Wind Paddle sail. Looking forward to spring!!
I finished the spray skirt this morning. The driveway marker was too stiff, so I used a fiberglass flat strip that was part of a canopy for my rope hammock. The canvas lays on my lap when I sit in the center of the kayak.
I also attached a piece of lexan with velcro to the back of the kayak to use as a table.
And for a cart I am using a modified Magnus cart from paddlelogic. When the off-the-shelf Magnus did not fit, Dave, the owner, was very accommodating and made arms that are 3 inches longer and a wider axle.
Pop rivets are widely used in the construction of boats, canoes, and kayaks.
Sealing rivets can be useful as a measure of extra precaution in case they come in contact with the water through which your kayak or boat goes.
How to better seal the rivets
Here are some tips for watertight riveting of kayaks and small boats made from Polyethylene –
Polyethylene is the most widely used polymer resin (namely “plastic”) in kayaks, and it’s softer than aluminum and fiberglass used to produce other small boats. For this reason, it is recommended to use special aluminum rivets designed for riveting jobs in kayaks. These special rivets split in three, which increases their grip on the surface around the rivet. You can get these rivets in outfitters stores, and online.
Drill holes of exactly the same diameter of the rivet that you use (3/16″), and preferably slightly smaller holes (5/32″).
Apply a dub of Goop adhesive on the hole, and push the Goop into the hole. Goop is a powerful watertight adhesive used for plumbing and marine projects. The Goop you squeeze into the hole will coat its sides, and come out on the other side.
Before you insert the rivet into the hole, coat its end with Goop. As you push the rivet into the hole, its tip will come out on the other side, and it will be coated with a thick layer of Goop. The sides of the rivet will be coated with Goop as well.
A rivet dipped in Goop watertight adhesive
As you pull the rivet’s mandrel, the rivet will split in three and it will attach the two plastic walls while being coated with Goop. Excess Goop that will not come out on the other side or coat the sides of the hole, will remain on the outer surface and get squeezed by the rivet’s head. This way, the rivet’s parts that come in contact with the plastic will be coated with Goop, which will make them watertight.
After you’re done riveting, coat the rivet’s head and the surface area around it with a generous amount of Goop. This will prevent water from touching the rivet, and in case of saltwater, it will prevent corrosion.
When you paddle your Wavewalk in waves without covering the front end of its cockpit, some spray may get inside, especially if you paddle through big surf. The water is drained to the bottom of the hulls, and it flows backwards to the rear part of the hull tips. Altogether, this is rather insignificant.
When you drive a motorized Wavewalk in the ocean for a long time, at high speed and through waves, your boat generates more spray, and breaking waves can result in more water getting into the cockpit. A Spray Shield works to minimize intake from the front, but not from the sides. Some water may accumulate on the bottom of the hulls, at the rear end of the boat. A few gallons of water would be unnoticed, but having effective means to remove any amount of water at any time is highly recommended, simply because stuff happens, and you’d better be well prepared for any case.
Comparing different solutions
1. One-way valves
Many motorboats and sailing boats feature one-way valves at the rear end of their hulls. When the boat moves in the water at high speed, the low pressure behind its stern causes the valve to open, and pulls out the water that accumulated at the bottom of the hull, namely the bilge.
A hull outfitted with such a valve is called ‘self bailing’.
Needless to say that SOT kayaks described by their manufacturers as “self bailing” are not, and the misuse of this term is misleading.
After much consideration, we decided not to outfit the hulls of the Wavewalk with such valves, for two reasons, which are:
Unlike big motorboats, a Wavewalk can be dragged on the ground and over rocks, and this might damage the valves.
One-way valves can get jammed, and since the Wavewalk often goes in shallow water that’s mixed with sand and mud, and where vegetation can be abundant, the possibility of such malfunction cannot be disregarded.
2. Electric bilge pump
Battery recharged on board –
Some small outboard gas motors (e.g. Tohatsu, starting at 4 HP) offer the option to add an alternator (electric current generator) and an AC to DC converter. Thus, the motor continuously produces an electric current that can charge a battery that would power an electric bilge pump and/or an electric trolling motor.
This solution sounds perfect – just press or turn an electric switch, and bail the water out. And if you get an automatic pump, you don’t even have to remember to activate it.
But a closer look at the details of this solution revels some problems:
Cost – The combined cost of an alternator and converter is around $450. The cost of a battery and an electric bilge pump would bring the total cost of this solution to over $500. It may not be a prohibitive price, but it’s still a considerable sum in the context of a Wavewalk boat.
Vulnerability – Keeping a battery and electric pump somewhere in your Wavewalk may not be enough, and you’d need to secure both, so that in case of an accident they would remain inside the cockpit and be fully operational when needed the most. This could prove to be somehow hard to achieve.
Battery not rechargeable on board-
An electric bilge pump powered by a battery that isn’t being continuously charged makes sense, because unlike propelling the boat, pumping a few gallons of water out of its hulls require little power.
The downside of this simple solution is having to remember to charge the battery before each motorized trip offshore, and the possibility that in case of an accident the system could stop working.
3. Hand bucket
Simply a square bucket with a handle (or without one) that fits into a Wavewalk hull, and used as a bilge bucket.
It works, but only in case there is a lot of water in the hull, namely that the water is deep enough, and the user faces the water. But such a scenario is extremely unlikely, and in a typical case only a small quantity of water may accumulate at the bottom of the rear end of the hulls, that is far behind the driver.
This said, it wouldn’t hurt to have a bucket on board, as an addition to the solution that we recommend, which is:
4. Hand pump
A 36″ long, lightweight hand pump costs $29 at Lowe’s.
It allows to pump water from the rear end of the hulls while the user sits facing forward. This is a major advantage, ergonomically speaking, and in simple terms of convenience.
The pump provides a sturdy, simple, and easy to operate solution that you can count on. The piston is lubricated by the water itself, and this makes pumping easy. Capacity wise, four strokes bail out one gallon, and since it’s hard to imagine having to bail out more than a few gallons at a time, the effort required is almost negligible.
The pump features a simple filter at its end, and this prevents it from getting jammed.
If there is a perfect solution, we think this is it.