Hello my Wavewalk friends! It’s been way too long since I posted a story about my most awesome W700 and how happy it makes me.
So, last October I traveled a little ways to a town called Vandemere, here in North Carolina. It’s actually not too far from me as the crow flies but, the crow didn’t build the roads. The town just prettied up the boat ramp and surrounding land to make a very nice area for the public’s pleasure. I really wanted to try a new technique and fly combination that my good friend, Capt. Gary Dubiel invented, to catch some fish. It’s called the Pop-n-Fly and although I didn’t catch anything on this particular day, I caught a bunch the day after Christmas fishing with Capt. Gary. The area was just beautiful and I really enjoyed fishing and paddling. What I didn’t enjoy was the skunk. I don’t care for getting skunked so, I had to come up with Plan B.
Plan B was to slide in at Lee Landing to fish the Upper Broad for redemption. Plan B was executed and yielded a great catch of sunnies. Sitting in my kayak tossing little poppers and catching sunnies is just about as close to perfect as you can get, as far as I’m concerned. My “happiness” meter pegs out every time.
On June 3rd of this year; yes, it was a looooooong time between kayak trips, I thought to myself: “Self, you should give Northwest Creek another try”. I have not had the most success in Northwest Creek; except for that awesome day after Christmas fishing with Capt. Gary, with catching much of anything. Fish are hard to come by in that area for some reason. Anyway, loaded up the kayak the evening before so that I could be on the water early and execute what I thought would be an outstanding time of fish catching. Yeah; not so much! I’m pretty sure I will NOT return to Northwest Creek until at least November or December.
Knowing how I feel about getting skunked, I bet you can guess what I did that afternoon? Yep. Lee landing and Upper Broad Creek kayak fishing time! After some lunch and a nap, I took the W700 back to it’s roots and commenced to redeem myself and the day in a fantastic manner. So much so, that my smartypants phone became overheated from taking pictures and being out in the sun that it refused to take the picture of that 3 pound bass that I caught. My thought of course was, “Seriously!” My words were more like “son of a biscuit eater!” Here I have been fishing with one little popper and catching a bunch of fish, when this big bass sucks that popper down like a grape slurpee and runs around that kayak like a dirt track racer and my smartypants phone suddenly becomes sensitive to Eastern North Carolina weather! It even displayed a bright red thermometer in case I didn’t quite understand the displayed message of, “phone must cool down before use”. Well, I considered dunking it in the relatively cool water to help with the hot flash but, my inner adult thought better and just politely tucked it inside of my new favorite bag that I found at Academy Sports.
The bag is actually a kayak fish keeping bag that I discovered held ALL of my stuff and sits just beautifully on the saddle in front of me. I do secure it with some cords that have a ball on one end and a securable hook on the other so if I flip the yak it will still be attached. I slide the ball up under the teeth of the saddle and it stays in there nice and tight.
Back to the epic afternoon of fish catching… I managed to catch a whole bunch of sunnies and some bass in a relatively short period of time. The time of day was just right and the barometric pressure was falling, putting those little fish tummies on chow down time. My adventure evidently caught the attention of some folks that live on the creek as well as a couple of fellas that were trying to duplicate my success. After explaining fly fishing everybody wanted to know about my ‘boat” so, I showed it off and answered all of their questions.
This past Saturday, the 10th, I slid out to Upper Broad Creek very early and paddled way up the creek to an area that I had not fished. The morning was just so beautiful and peaceful. At least until the Saturday bass fishing tournament guys came screaming up the creek. The fish were very picky that day and although the numbers of fish I caught were low, the size was impressive.
I still regard my Wavewalk kayak as “the best money I ever spent” and I am looking very forward to paddling and fishing this year. Y’all take care and keep the stories coming as I love to read all about your adventures.
We had a beautiful day for our annual Family Fishing Day!
Every year the State of Washington does a Fish Washington Free day to promote and encourage fishing in our state. Our church (Wellspring Fellowship) also wants to encourage great families and family time, and there are few activities better than going fishing!
So we gather up the Wavewalks and anything else that floats and take folks fishing!
We had two W700s and a W500 taking out kids and adults to catch fish. Some were catching their first fish ever. There is nothing quite so satisfying as watching kids catch fish. At first they are scared to touch them but it doesn’t take long and they want to hold them. I spent 12 hours on the water and lost track of the number of trout that I helped kids and adults catch.
What a great day!
We took the boat out for the first time last night and it was the smoothest I’ve ever seen the back waters around here and no boat traffic. We paddled around for hours watched the sun go down on the gulf, saw dolphins, fish, and listened to music under the stars.
Loving the boat!
If you ask whether Jon Boats are stable, some people would say that they are, and others would warn you to stay away from them because they are tippy and unreliable. Their answer would depend on what they understand by ‘Stability’, what kind of Jon boat they see in their mind, and in what kind of water they see it being used, and these are often based on personal experience.
Is there a stability difference between a Jon boat and a skiff?
Both skiffs and Jon boats are flat bottom lightweight boats that differ in certain hull details, materials used in their construction, and deck structures.
Both are designed to offer as much stability as possible for a small mono-hull boat going on flat water, and as such they are stabler than wide canoes and kayaks of the same length and width.
Foot for foot and inch for inch, we don’t think there are major differences between Jon boats and skiffs in terms of the stability they offer. In other words, a Jon boat and a skiff of the same size, namely both length and width, can be expected to be about as stable as each other.
Who Uses Jon Boats, and Where?
Jon boats are small fishing boats that are popular among inland fishermen who fish ponds, small lakes, marshes, and slow moving rivers, namely flat water that’s usually well protected from wind, waves, and preferably from fast motorboats that generate big wakes. These anglers may fish alone, but typically they fish in crews of two. Bigger Jon boats can be used in bigger lakes and rivers.
Factors in Jon Boats’ Stability
Structure, size and passengers
A typical Jon boat features a flat bottom designed to make it draft as little as possible, and thus work well in shallow water, while other Jon boats feature a bottom that’s partially V shaped (sometimes referred to as “Semi-V”) that drafts a little more but offers better performance in choppy water. This V shape should not be confounded with the more seaworthy Deep-V design.
Jon boats can vary in width (Beam) from less than 3 ft to over twice as much, and this difference results in big variations in their stability, in this case initial (primary) stability, sometimes dubbed reserve stability.
When watercraft as small as Jon boats are concerned, passengers are typically the heaviest things on board, which is why passengers’ location and movements can greatly affect the boat’s stability.
Narrow-beam Jon boats are notoriously unstable, especially with a crew of two on board. Their instability can be felt even when they are used for fishing ponds and small lakes, where they are expected to perform at their best. Reading articles about Jon boat stability and user testimonials on this subject could lead the reader to the conclusion that any Jon boat that’s narrower than 48″ might not be stable enough for a tandem crew, and starting from this size, Jon boats get sufficiently stable, especially longer models. Another factor that affects a Jon boat’s stability is its length, since it acts as an enhancement to its width – A longer Jon boat is more stable than a shorter Jon boat of identical width (Beam).
External factors may destabilize a Jon boat as well, or at least destabilize the passengers on board – Such factors can be wind, waves and other boats’ wakes that hit the boat, especially on its sides (lateral waves).
Size matters, but it may not be enough
We found the following instructions for Calculating a Boat’s Capacity to Carry a Number of Passengers on a boating education website:
On boats less than 20 feet long, the following rule of thumb can be used to calculate the number of persons (weighing 150 lbs each) the boat can carry safely in fair weather and calm water conditions:
Number of passengers = boat length in ft x boat width in ft : 15
Example for a good size Jon boat or skiff: 15 ft x 4 ft = 60, and 60:15 = 4 passengers
However, the above formula seems outdated in view of the fact that these days the average adult US female weighs 160 lbs, and the average adult US male weighs 200 lbs.
Therefore, to calculate the number of adult passengers in a Jon boat, we suggest to use the same formula and divide the result by 20 instead of by 15.
Example for the same Jon boat or skiff: 15 ft x 4 ft = 60, and 60:20 = 3 passengers
Can the 13 ft long and 38″ wide Wavewalk S4 carry 3 passengers on board?
The answer is yes, in fair weather and calm water conditions:
Captain Larry Jarboe, of Key Largo, Florida. Click image to read the story
When small craft are concerned, the boat’s own stability plays an important role in the overall stability of the combined boat and crew, but the passengers’ ability to balance themselves effectively is critical as well, which is to say that a wider Jon boat may not necessarily offer better means for its crew to balance themselves effectively –
Jon boats often feature rudimentary bench-like seats that are similar to ones found in canoes and dinghies, or high swivel seats such as can be found in bass boats. Neither types of seats are optimized for supporting the user’s balancing efforts, and they’re not very good in keeping their user anchored to their place and in full control of their body’s center of gravity (CG).
This ergonomic deficiency exposes a Jon boat’s passenger to unexpected lateral (side) motion, as well as vertical motion, whether such motion is the result of an external force such as a wave or another boat’s wake, the movement of another passenger on board, or even the strong reaction of the boat to that passenger’s own movements. More specifically, people on board a Jon boat can have a hard time finding their footing and balancing themselves intuitively, comfortably and effortlessly, and from the moment they lose their footing and balance, their own weight can act as an additional destabilizing factor that may tip the boat over, send its passengers overboard, and in some cases even overturn the boat.
A Jon boat of a smaller size works better as a fishing boat for one angler than it does for a crew of two.
Directional stability and lateral stability
Typically, Jon boats are motorized, and the flat bottomed ones can be easily deflected from their course as well as destabilized when going in lateral waves, especially at higher speeds. In such cases, the deficiency in a Jon boat’s lateral stability can become more problematic by the lack of good directional stability (tracking capability) that characterizes such boats, in particular ones that feature a flat bottom. People who use such boats are quick to head back home as soon as the wind picks up.
Jon boats with a V-shaped hull do better in waves and wind, thanks to the fact that they have some capability to go through waves and not necessarily on top of them, which isn’t the case with flat bottomed Jon boats that are essentially designed for use on flat water only.
This said, although Jon boats are not considered to be seaworthy craft, the bigger ones are sufficiently stable to offer a good experience to a crew of two or more anglers who fish inland, preferably in calm and protected waters, and away from fast motorboat traffic.
Stability: Jon Boats vs. Wavewalk® Series 4 (S4)
A detailed stability comparison between Jon boats and the Wavewalk® S4 is almost impossible to complete, because Jon boats vary so much in size and structure, and they can range from a flat bottomed, 32″ wide and 10 ft long (1032) boat to a V-bottom 72″ wide and 18 ft long one (1872), which can be assigned to another class of boats.
The Wavewalk form presents two main stability advantages:
The first comes from the fact that all the Wavewalk’s buoyancy is distributed as far as possible from the boat’s center line, where this buoyancy works more effectively to support lateral changes, whether such changes are external of generated on board.
The second advantage is the Wavewalk’s Personal Watercraft saddle seat that offers the passengers who ride it optimal, easy and intuitive means to balance themselves. This advantage is critical in view of the fact that the passengers’ total weight can be as big the the Jon boat’s weight, and it often exceeds this weight. For example, in the photo above, the passengers’ aggregated weight exceeds the S4’s weight by a factor of 5:1.
So, in order to avoid tedious detailed stability comparisons, let us simplify things and state that in general, the bigger models in the Jon boat class (over 54″ beam) are more stable than the S4, the smaller Jon boat models (less than 48″ beam) are less stable, and as for the the midsize models (48″ to 54″) the answer would depend on parameters such as their length (longer is more stable), and whether they feature a flat bottom or a V-shaped bottom, as discussed in the previous section of this article.
Bottom line: Compared to the traditional Jon boat design, the Wavewalk S4’s form and improved ergonomics add stability which is the equivalent of about 1 ft in width.
Portability and paddling capacity
More specifically, the Wavewalk® S4 is stabler than any car-topper namely portable Jon boat. Which is to say that if you’re looking for a Jon boat that’s more stable than the S4, you must take into consideration transporting and storing it on a trailer, as well as limitations in launching it, namely being dependent on launch ramps that come with trailer boats.
In addition, the Wavewalk® S4 is more stable than any Jon boat that can be propelled by means of paddling, whether it’s with dual blade (kayak) paddles or single-blade (canoe) paddles. This fact is particularly meaningful when very shallow water (‘skinny water’) fisheries are concerned, and no-motor zones (NMZ).
Generally speaking, Jon boats are not considered as being seaworthy, while Wavewalk® boats are more seaworthy thanks to their good tracking capability and advanced ergonomics. These two factors allow for high performance when dealing with choppy water, which is why the S4 punches above its weight in terms of seaworthiness.
Small craft are penalized for their size in several ways, and one of them is their sensitivity to carrying more weight on board, which makes them slower and less stable. This is true for all boat designs, including Jon boat and Wavewalk. Therefore if you’re looking for stability for a larger crew of heavier people, say two big and heavy guys or more, your best bet is a very large Jon boat or skiff, that is 6 ft or more in width, and over 16 ft in length, and preferably with a V shaped bottom, so that you could drive it at higher speed. Two large size fishermen can go in an S4 and have a great time traveling and fishing for an entire day without experiencing any stability problem, even standing up, but they would not necessarily be able to go at speeds as high as a large size Jon boat or skiff offers.
Will Akerstrom took this photo of the three explorers who ventured out of the depths of the mangrove forest. His wife, Margaret, is in the bow. My wife, Carlene, is the flag lady.
There is a rest of the story about our afternoon:
Will and Margaret come down to visit about 4 times a year. We had planned to take a trip out on the Line Dancer. Upon the routine engine check, I spotted a sheared motor mount on the port aft side of the engine. I delivered the bad news that the trip was cancelled but recommended a kayak adventure.
Will is not a small boat person but the ladies were game.
My S4 with the 4 stroke Tohatsu seemed like a good boat to do the job. Of course, it was.
Knowing the tide schedule, I chose the mangrove tunnel that I call Jurassic Park. The ladies were in awe (and, it takes a lot to impress my wife) of the strange animals and eerie quiet vibes in those narrow confines. I assured them that they need not be afraid of alligators and pythons as the crocodiles have eaten them all.
When the creek opened to the ocean, we saw thousands of fish and lots of lobsters in the shallows at the ocean opening.
We took pictures with my disposable flip phone but have yet to figure how to get them out.
My wife noted that the sun was going down soon and we would have to paddle fast to get back.
I said, “No problemo, senora.” One pull on the 3.5 Tohatsu, and we motored our way against the tide through and out of the tunnel.
Upon coming out of the main creek, we spotted Will at the public beach with his camera. He thought we were only going out for fifteen minutes not an hour and a half.
At least, it was not a three hour tour, a three hour tour with Ginger and Mary Ann and Gilligan…