Tag Archive: ergonomics

Ergonomics is the applied science of designing and arranging things that people use in ways that would make these people use them more productively while feeling more comfortable and being safer.
Traditional kayaks such as sit-in, SOT and hybrid kayaks are notoriously hard to paddle and uncomfortable due to their poor ergonomic design, among other things.
W kayaks’ improved ergonomics make it possible for more people to paddle them and fish out of them for longer hours without experiencing pain and discomfort associated with the use of traditional kayaks.

Portable boats

Car-topped Wavewalk S4 portable skiff

Introduction

Portable boats have been around for decades, and over time, they have gained many fans, as well as opponents.
This article is an attempt to shed more light on this subject, clarify the basic things that are worth knowing, determine factors that should be given consideration when deciding whether to buy a portable boat or not, and which type, as well as offer information on the latest developments in this field.
Special attention is given to Wavewalk’s Series 4 (S4), a new type of portable boat based on the company’s patented invention. The S4 is good new for those who are looking to get a high performance car-top boat without compromising on stability, comfort and dryness.

The following playlist includes YouTube videos showing the S4 used in different applications and environments, and by different people. One of the videos shows a user uploading an S4 on top of his SUV in under thirty seconds –

 

Make sure to set the YouTube player to watching the videos on this playlist in 1080p HD Hi-Definition.
Use the > button to play the next movie, and the < button to return to the previous one.

Portable boat – Definition

A portable boat is a small boat that’s lightweight enough for a person to upload onto their vehicle’s roof rack in order to transport it this way. A portable boat must also be lightweight enough for one person to carry by hand from their vehicle to the water, and back. In other words, a portable boat is a car-top boat, and vice versa.
This is to say that portable boats do not require transportation by trailer.
But not all trailer-free boats offer the same degree of portability, and some small dinghies, Jon boats and motorized boards may be hauled onto a pickup truck bed, but still be too heavy and bulky for either car topping or easy carrying. Therefore, these small boat are not true portable boats.

Are kayaks portable boats?

Kayaks are not considered to be portable boats despite their being small and typically lightweight enough to be car topped and carried by hand. This is because kayaks don’t lend themselves to effective motorizing, and the same is true for canoes, with the exception for square-stern canoes designed to accommodate a small outboard motor, and be driven on flat water.
Kayaks with built-in electric trolling motors are not portable boats either, since their motors are extremely weak in comparison to the smallest portable outboard gas engines that power boats.
Only a vessel that is both a boat in the full sense of functionality and comfort expected from a motorboat, as well fully portable, may qualify as a portable boat.

Are motorized boards portable boats?

Motorized boards are vessels that offer neither minimal free board nor sufficient load capacity to count as boats. Ironically, some of them are too heavy to be car-topped, which is yet another reason why they may not count as portable boats.

Portability is key

Portability can save you both time and money.
In dollar terms, portability saves you the money that you would have spent on a boat trailer. It’s always good to have a few extra dollars to spend on the boat itself, or on fishing gear.
However, what’s more important is the fact that a portable boat saves you time that you can spent having fun on the water, instead of on the road, driving to or from a boat ramp, as boat ramps are the only places that allow you to launch a boat from a trailer. By the same token, a portable boat saves you waiting time at the boat ramp, waiting for other boat owners to launch their boats, or take them out before you could do it with your own boat. Owning a car-top boat guarantees that you’d never arrive to a boat ramp just to find that the facility had run out of parking space for your vehicle and your boat trailer.
Simply put, portability frees you to launch anywhere you want, and in the case of the S4, even in rocky beaches a.k.a. “Rock Gardens”, as seen in one of the videos featuring in the above playlist.

Rigid Hull

Portable boats include dinghies, Jon boats and square-stern canoes that are small and lightweight enough for car topping. Typically, such boats are made from aluminum (welded or riveted), fiberglass, or plastic resin such as Polyethylene (PE).
A rigid hull offers the advantage of being ready to go on water without spending time and energy on inflating and assembly. As soon as they are out of the water, rigid-hull portable boats (RIB) cannot be car-topped without deflating or disassembling them.
One of the drawbacks of a car-topped boat compared to a boat transported on a trailer is that with a car-top boat, you have to mount the outboard motor on the boat before you launch, and dismount it at the end of the trip, so you could transport it inside your vehicle. This said, an experienced boat owner can mount and dismount a small, namely portable outboard motor within a couple of minutes.

Folding Hull

A folding hull is made from rigid panels attached by flexible sections. Folding a boat makes it take less space, and being less bulky can be an advantage for transportation.
Upon arrival to the launching spot, a folding hull needs to be unfolded, and the boat requires assembly for its seats, transom, etc., which can take up to twenty minutes. Disassembling the boat and folding it back can take a similar time, and altogether, whatever time is gained as a result of not having to launch at a boat ramp thanks to the lack of a trailer, might be wasted on tedious assembly and disassembly work.

Inflatable Boat and Inflatable Pontoons

Inflatable dinghies are made from soft parts, and rigid inflatable boats (RIB) have rigid parts too, which require both assembly and inflation before launching, and disassembly as well as deflation and folding at the end of the trip. These extra activities can take considerable time, even for an experienced user with a good electric pump.
Generally speaking, anglers typically prefer not to fish out of inflatable boats because of the risk of a fishing hook or a knife perforating the hull.

Folding Catamaran

Some small catamarans may be transported on top of a vehicle. These boats feature closed rigid hulls namely pontoons, and their decks are made from sections that can be assembled for boating, and disassembled to allow transportation on a vehicle. Typically, these are sailing catamarans, and they are rarely used for fishing.

Stability, Comfort, and Seaworthiness problems in portable boats

The need to compact the boat so it could be car-topped leads to some portable boat designs lacking in seaworthiness, stability, and comfort.
Canoes feature either round bottomed or flat bottomed hulls. The first is extremely tippy and prone to rolling, especially for a crew of more than one, and the latter is stabler on flat water, but insufficiently stable in choppy water, and in the presence of powerboats’ wakes.
Jon boats, aluminum dinghies and micro skiffs that feature a flat bottom hull are moderately stable on flat water, especially if they are very wide, but they lack the stability required for driving and fishing in moving water.
Jon boats, dinghies and skiffs with a shallow V hull are more stable in moving water, but less stable on flat water.
Inflatable dinghies are very wide, and they are designed to allow driving in moving water, but these boats are not comfortable.

Small, compact boats are not the most comfortable, with the exception of the S4, which features a large-size saddle resembling the saddle seats found in bigger personal watercraft (PWC) sometimes called jet-skis. The S4’s saddle combined its twin-hull design delivers the highest performance in terms of balancing, namely the users’ ability to react instantly, intuitively and effortlessly to changes, as well as actively balance the boat. The S4’s stability combined with the effective balancing capabilities it offers to its users contribute to its exceptional seaworthiness.

Which car-top boat is the most portable?

A boat’s portability is affected mainly by its weight. The S4 weighs a little less than 100 lbs without a motor, and this makes it the lightest boat relatively to its load capacity of over 600 lbs. The S4 also features a fully rigid twin-hull that requires no time-consuming inflation or assembly. Therefore, it is fair to say that the S4 is the world’s most portable boat.

Which portable boat is the most stable?

The Wavewalk S4 is the world’s most stable in its category of portable boats that require neither inflation nor assembly. With its load capacity of over 600 lbs and its saddle seat, this patented boat can carry up to three adult passengers on board, and they may all stand up at the same time  –

Which portable boat is the most seaworthy?

This question is more difficult to answer, since many inflatable and rigid-inflatable dinghies are very wide and designed to go in rough water. However, for a rigid hull portable boat, the Wavewalk S4 is the most seaworthy, since it can go in the ocean in waves up to 5 ft, and its driver can drive it in waves while they stand.

What is the most comfortable portable boat?

Portable boats usually come with simple bench-like seats, or basic swivel seats. Inflatable dinghies offer the driver and sometimes the passengers to sit on its inflatable chambers, or pontoons. Such seating accommodations are not ergonomically designed, which is why they are rather uncomfortable. On top of this, such crude seats do not provide boaters with effective means to o balance themselves, and this balancing deficiency becomes a severe comfort problem in rough water, as well as on longer trips.
The Wavewalk S4 is the only portable boat that features an ergonomically designed PWC saddle-seat. These seats prevent back pain and they offer their users means for quick and efficient reaction to change, as well as easy, natural, intuitive, and highly effective balancing, including whilr going in rough water. S4 driver and passengers can face forward while they ride (straddle) the saddle with a foot in each hull, and they can also face sideways while sitting side-saddle with both feet in one hull. This works not just for small size people as well as for big and heavy guys. The above video playlist includes a movie showing an angler who weighs 330 lbs enjoying driving an S4 and fishing from it while seated side-saddle.

Which portable boat is the most versatile?

The Wavewalk S4 is hands down the most versatile portable boat, due to multiple reasons. These include the fact that the S4 works perfectly as a paddle craft both in a canoeing and kayaking mode. This excellent performance in a human powered mode is unique among motorboats, and it is important not just as an alternative for motorizing in case of emergency, such as engine problems, getting stranded at low tide, etc., but also for going in extremely shallow water (skinny water) where even small and lightweight boats draft too much. This is to say that the S4 is unbeatable as far as mobility is concerned.
The S4 also works both in a solo and tandem mode with up to three adult passengers, and it features a frontal casting deck, as skiffs do.
The S4’s seaworthiness is so good that it can serve as a fun boat for playing in waves. The S4 can also be easily towed by a bigger boat or hauled on board, and together with its generous load capacity, these attributes turn it into a most effective boat tender for yachts and big boats.

Image gallery

The following images offer a quick, condensed glimpse into various aspects of the S4, both as a car-top motorboat and a paddle craft, for leisure and fishing. For a better insight on the S4’s capabilities watch movies in the above playlist.

 

 

Recommended reading: Super Stability – What makes small boats and kayaks more stable »

 

Big and heavy guy drives and fishes sitting side-saddle in the S4

By Captain Larry Jarboe

Florida Fishing Kayaks

Another example that shows how stable and comfortable the S4 is.
This 330 lbs client enjoys driving the S4 in the regular position, then side-saddle with both feet in one of the boat’s hulls.
After that, he fishes the mangroves in this position, facing the side of the boat.

 

 

 


 

Larry offers guided fishing and diving trips in the Key Largo and the areas that surround it »

More fishing adventures with Capn’ Larry »

Paddling and fishing in Kachemak bay, Alaska

By Pat Irwin

Homer, Alaska

I’m working my way up to a longer trip so the only pics I have right now are random photos around the bay in front of my house. The salmon are running (spawning) right now so my focus is to fill the freezer for winter.

This pic is from a rainy fishing day. The W500 pointing toward Grewingk Glacier and the Harding Ice Field.

BTW, the 500 is helping my MS by allowing me to stay even more fit than if I use my bicycle only. This boat is great!

Grewingk Glacier and the Harding Ice Field viewed from the kayak 1024

 

More paddling and fishing with Pat in Alaska »

 

Paddling in Strong Wind

Paddling and Tracking in Strong wind

Tracking is the main problem that paddlers need to overcome when paddling in strong wind.
Wavewalk paddlers usually report excellent performance of their boats under wind, since catamarans tracks well, generally, and also thanks to the fact that it offers multiple means for power-paddling, as well as for counter-affecting the wind.
Since 2004, thousands of people have been paddling Wavewalk kayaks from the 300, 500 and 700 series, and none of these paddlers outfitted their Wavewalk with a rudder – that cumbersome device that has become an integral part of all other types of high-end kayaks used for touring and fishing.

Here are some tips that can improve your Wavewalk kayak’s performance when you’re paddling in strong wind:

1. Paddle only in the Riding Position, which is the optimal posture for power and balancing, and lean a bit forward, with your knees lower than your hips – That would give you extra power.

2. Paddle from the middle of the cockpit, as much as possible –

  • If you paddle from its rear it would raise your W kayak’s bow and expose it to the wind, and the boat will turn away from the wind.
  • If you paddle from the front of the cockpit, the stern will go up, and the kayak will turn into the wind.

3. Lean your W kayak into the wind – That would make it harder for it to affect the course of your W kayak.

4. Apply short J strokes on the side from which the wind is blowing, and more powerful strokes on the lee side (the sheltered side) – That would help you track. You may even hold the paddle not from its middle, so that you can apply longer strokes on the lee side.

6. Any object protruding from the deck is exposed to the wind, and therefore generates additional drag – Detach the spray shield if you have one attached, dismount deck mounted rod holders, and store your fishing rods inside the hulls whenever possible. A milk crate would act as a small sail that’s controlled by the wind, so you’d better avoid using one altogether.

7. Keep paddling in a steady pace and a straight course – This is not about one-time corrections, but about minimizing your effort and getting there. Precision and efficiency are as important as power.

8. IMPORTANT – Remember that you can easily move fore and aft along the Wavewalk’s saddle, and by doing so control the angle in which your W kayak will point relatively to the direction from which the wind blows: Paddling from a forward position will tend to point the kayak’s bow into the wind, and paddling from a backward position will tend to point the bow away from the wind.
By applying small changes to your own location on the saddle, you can minimize the wind’s unwanted effect on your Wavewalk, and keep it tracking with little effort.

Here is an instructional video on this subject:

For me it is the Wavewalk or nothing

By John Sealy

North Carolina

Not long ago I bought a W500. The 500 lived up to its billing. I could get in it with dry feet, I could paddle upright without back pain, and it was more stable than any canoe or kayak I’d ever been in. What a great “platform” for fishing and touring.
The Wavewalk 700 is everything the 500 is, and more.

I took the W700 out last week for my first trip and was amazed at how stable it was. The W700 is such a pleasure to paddle, easy to get into, easy to launch, and so incredibly stable. So I really put it to the test….my wife Kathy wanted to give it a try. Kathy is 60 yoa and hasn’t been on the water in 20 years. See the video of my wife coming to shore and getting out of my W700 for the first time. She’s now picked out a yellow one so it was an expensive test!

 

 

I’m 63 yoa and am no lightweight. I now have a kayak I can paddle with confidence. In the W500 or the W700 I can stand up!, move forward or back, lean forward or back, and change leg position.
I simply can’t use other kayaks or canoes due to my lower back issues and my size. For me it is the Wavewalk or nothing.

I’ve got fishing and exploring to do. I look forward to having my wife enjoy the water with me and to have grand children explore and fish with me in the 700 or alongside in their own 500.

See the pictures of me getting into and out of the W700:

Launching the Wavewalk 700

1-kayak-launching-stepping-into-the-kayak

1. Just step in

2-kayak-launching-entering-the-cockpit

2. Walk to the middle of the cockpit

3-kayak-launching-sitting-down

3. Sit down comfortably, with nothing pushing against your lower back…

4-kayak-launching-pushing-the-kayak-in

4. Push the kayak in with your paddle, and start paddling

big-guy-paddling-standing-in-his-W700-fishing-kayak-NC

Paddle sitting or standing, it’s easy even for a big guy like me

Beaching the Wavewalk 700

beaching-the-kayak-sit-in-the-back-and-raise-the-bow

1. Slide backward to the rear end of the cockpit – the bow goes up! Paddle directly to the beach…

beaching-the-kayak-slide-the-bow-up-the-bank

2. A few paddle strokes and a push, and the kayak’s bow slides up the bank

beaching-the-kayak-stand-up-easily

3. Get up (it’s easy!), stand up, and wave to your fans…

beaching-the-kayak-walk-out-effortlessly

4. Just walk out of the kayak. Feet always dry!

More from John »


More W700 reviews »