These outriggers fit the W500 and W700 series, as well as canoes, and many common kayaks. Wavewalk® Sailing Outriggers provide more stability than most outriggers, thanks to the combination of larger size floats and longer arms (crossbar). Other advantages are their light weight (10 lbs total), ease of installation, and their versatility, as their inflatable floats can also be attached directly to the boat’s main hull, without any intermediary rigid structure.
Sailing Outriggers Product Info
Width (side to side): 6′ (180 cm)
Outriggers’ Length (front to back): 5’4″ (162 cm)
Total Weight: 10 lbs (4.5 kg)
Volume: 2 x 8.65 gallons (2 x 32 liter)
Positive Buoyancy: 2 x 70 lbs (2 x 32 kg)
Structure: 3/4″ anodized aluminum bars
Inflatable Tubes: 30 MIL HD PVC
Made in USA
Wavewalk® XL Outriggers
Shipping: $90. in the continental US (48 states), $100 to addresses in Canada and Alaska.
this product has been discontinued
The crossbar can be easily attached to a W500, W700 and any canoe that features a gunwale. Drilling is required. The crossbar can be attached to some kayaks too, and if this is not possible, straps can do the job. The crossbar features wing bolts – no tools required when attaching / detaching during regular operation.
Each outrigger is quickly and easily attached to the crossbar by means of one eye bolt. No tools required.
The tubes can be easily inflated / deflated via a large-size mouth valve. No pump required. The inflatable tubes are attached to the aluminum bars with carabiners, for quick and easy attach / detach.
Why use outriggers?
OUTRIGGERS Main USAGE and POSITION
Outriggers main role is to provide secondary stability, namely help in preventing the boat from capsizing. If you’re counting on a pair outriggers as stabilizers, namely to provide primary stability when the boat is level (I.E. not tilting sideways), you’re probably not using them correctly, or not using the right boat, or both.
When outriggers touch the water, they generate drag that slows down the boat. Therefore, if possible, the outriggers should be mounted high enough, in a way that prevents them from touching the water unless the boat tilts sideways dangerously, so much that the user and passengers could lose balance and the boat itself capsize.
How high above the water should you mount the outriggers?
The height depends on factors such as your skill level as a boater, the size of your sailing rig, and how reasonably confident you feel about being able to handle the situation before the outrigger touches the water and starts supporting the boat.
Outriggers for fishing kayaks and canoes?
If you fish out of a canoe or a kayak, the last thing you want is outriggers, because sooner than later they’ll snag your lines and provide great opportunities for the fish you hooked to get away. On top of this, most outriggers out there are too small and feature arms (crossbar) that are too short. These outriggers offer some initial (primary) stability, namely an impression of being stable, but they are not effective in supporting your weight in case the canoe or kayak tilts strongly on its side. In other words, the secondary stability these outriggers offer is insufficient in more difficult situations, and that’s when they’re mostly needed. Another reason why canoe and kayak outriggers are not particularly effective is that they’re attached to the boat’s rear section, and therefore add stability mostly in that area, while having very little effect the middle section of the boat, and no effect all as far as stuff that happens in its front section. And as everyone knows, stuff happens…
For these reasons, we do not recommend using outriggers for fishing kayaks and canoes.
Outriggers for paddling?
Outriggers may add stability, but they also generate quite a bit of drag, and if you need to paddle over long distances you may find that the added outriggers make you too tired to enjoy your trip.
What about outriggers for motorized kayaks and canoes?
Not a great idea, unless the outriggers you use offer a sufficient amount of buoyancy, and most of them don’t. Again, thinking you’re stable isn’t the equivalent of being stable in real-world terms, namely as soon as you lose balance and the outrigger has to support your weight. If you want to motorize your canoe or kayak, get a pair of big outriggers. This is especially true if you use a powerful outboard gas motor, as those are not as forgiving as weak electric trolling motors can be.
Outriggers for sailing
Yes! – Practically speaking, if you want to sail a canoe or a kayak, you must compensate for these boats’ deficient stability (and compensate for their other deficiencies by other means*). Sailing a canoe or a kayak with a rig featuring a good size sail (say over 35 square feet) exposes you to sudden gusts, and to capsizing, and that’s where outriggers are a must-have. But not all outriggers were created equal, and the bigger the outriggers the better stability they deliver. And when it comes to stability, there’s no such thing as “too stable”. If you want to put the odds on your side (you do!), you should get large-size outriggers.
Boats from the Wavewalk® 500 and 700 series are more stable than any canoe or kayak out there, which is one of the reasons why you can motorize them more effectively, but sailing is different: If you’re planning to use a good size sail with your W, you should consider outfitting it with outriggers, and attach them as closely as possible to the mast, namely in the front section of the boat, where they would be more effective.
* Canoes and kayaks track poorly, which is why they require a leeboard to reduce downwind drift, and a rudder to allow for tacking and tracking when they’re sailed. Wavewalk® kayaks and boats track very well, which is why you may sail them without a leeboard and a rudder, but only up to a certain point determined by your sailing skills, sail size, and wind power.
The W700 series has redefined stability in kayaks and small boats:
The importance of stability in small boats and kayaks
Stability is the main attribute of small boats and kayaks. It defines passengers’ safety and comfort level, and determines how they can use the boat, or kayak. Insufficient stability limits a motorboat’s speed.
What makes a boat or a kayak stable
The hull’s width and form are the two main features that contribute to the stability of boats and kayaks –
Generally, the width of a kayak is derived mostly from the width of a person’s body, and more precisely the width of their shoulders, where the movement of the paddle begins. Hydrodynamics is another important factor that limits the kayak’s width. Wider kayaks are noticeably more sluggish and hard to paddle over long distances and in less than perfect conditions. Most kayaks today still feature a single, elongated ellipsoid hull (a.k.a. mono-hull), a fact that makes them inherently unstable. Patented Wavewalk™ kayaks feature a twin hull, and they are more stable.
Even the widest mono-hulled fishing kayaks are not stable enough to allow for a full size angler to stand and fish in full confidence and comfort. Such extra-large fishing kayaks aren’t stable or ergonomically suitable for motorizing with anything else than feeble electric trolling motors.
The width of a typical small fishing boat is determined mostly by the width of motor vehicles that transport them, and the width of roads on where such vehicles travel. The narrowest small boats are about 4ft wide, and the widest bass boats can attain 8ft in width. The most common way to transport a fishing boat is by trailer, as few fit into a pickup truck bed, and realistically speaking, even the lightest ones aren’t lightweight enough to be car topped by one person. Most small fishing boats feature a single hull. Typically, such hull is pointed at the bow and square and the stern, where its outboard motor is mounted. Some of the smallest fishing boats resemble large-size, square-stern canoes. Others are known as Jon boats, microskiffs, dinghies, and more. Even the smallest fishing boat is too wide for effective paddling. The Wavewalk™ 700 features a patented twin hull that makes it easy to mount an outboard motor at the cockpit’s rear end, and it works perfectly as a motorboat. It is also easier to paddle than other kayaks (and canoes) are.
Differences between kayaks and boats
In sum, mono-hull kayaks are designed for paddling but they don’t perform well enough when outfitted with outboard motors, and small fishing boats work well with powerful outboard motors, but they can’t be paddled. In fact, some extra-large fishing kayaks dubbed ‘barges‘ are too wide and heavy to allow for paddling to any reasonable distance, but that’s another story. Generally, kayaks can be car-topped while motorboats cannot. Typically, a fishing kayak is used by a single angler, including tandem fishing kayaks who perform rather poorly as as such. And while many fishing boats are designed for up to five passengers, their typical crew seldom exceeds two anglers.
The W700 works perfectly both as a solo and tandem fishing kayak, as well as a two-person fishing boat.
People who get into a Wavewalk™ 700 for the first time often comment that it’s “ridiculously stable”. What’s funny about a kayak being so stable? – What makes these people feel like laughing is the pleasant surprise they experience – They walk into the cockpit of what they perceive to be a “kayak”, but once they’re on the water, they almost immediately get an unexpected and pleasant sensation of being as stable as in a boat. This mixture of pleasant disbelief, surprise and relief makes them feel like laughing, and this is what they mean when they refer to the W700 being “ridiculously” stable. Unlike other kayaks out there, the W700 frees its user from thinking about stability and having to deal with it. As a kayak, the W700 is instability-free. It delivers boat-like stability, and as such it belongs in a class of its own –
A new class of boats
In the previous sections of this article, we’ve defined kayak and boat in terms of size, stability, usage, and performance, and when we positioned the W700 relatively to these two classes of watercraft, it stood out as a class of its own, namely an ultra-lightweight, trailer-free, two-person fishing boat that one person can easily paddle and car-top on their own, without assistance. The car-topping benefit makes the W700 a ‘launch and beach anywhere boat‘, since it frees the user(s) from the need to use boat ramps, and the ease of paddling it turns it into a ‘go anywhere boat‘, as it enables its user(s) to travel in very shallow water (a.k.a. skinny water) where an outboard’s propeller drafts too much, and through grass and other aquatic vegetation that can get entangled with the propeller and make the motor useless.
The W700 and W500
These two W series are similar in many ways, and they differ in others. The biggest difference between the two is in their load capacity – The W700 can carry 580 lbs and the W500 can carry 360 lbs. In practical terms, this means that both can serve as tandem kayaks (or canoes), but the W500 limits the crew size in terms of their aggregated weight, while the W700 doesn’t. As for motorizing, the W500 works well with a small outboard motor, but the W700 is easier for the driver to handle, and it can take both a heavier crew and a more powerful motor, as well as go faster and in tougher water thanks to its increased stability. When it comes to a big and heavy user (I.E. taller than average and heavier than 240 lbs), the W500 works remarkably well, but the W700 works even better. When car topping is considered, the W700 is easy for one person to upload onto a car rack, as well as to attach, but doing these things with a W500 is a little easier.
Since boat classification is about clarifying differences and drawing lines, we think the following definitions could be helpful as basic reference:
The W500 is a ultra-stable fishing kayak with limited tandem capabilities that works well when motorized, even with an outboard motor.
The W700 is an ultralight, car-top fishing boat that can be easily and effectively paddled by a crew of one or two large size users.
Could we further reduce these definitions to “Essentially, the W500 is a kayak and the W700 is a boat”? – We think this would be an oversimplification, namely an expression that misses the point and overlooks too much important information. For example, the fact that the W700 is world’s best tandem kayak (and canoe) for fishing and touring, and an amazing solo kayak as well, and the fact that when motorized, the W500 works great as a little high-performance motorboat.
Classifying boats isn’t easy because it requires taking into consideration so many parameters and factors, while keeping things simple, if possible. Therefore, classifications are not necessarily clear and complete – If you feel somehow confused it’s perfectly natural, and you’re welcome to contact us by email or by phone. We like to hear what’s on people’s mind, and we’ll be happy to answer your questions and provide you with more detailed and specific information.
This article examines issues related to the seaworthiness of kayaks in general, including fishing kayaks, and of sea kayaks in particular, and it discusses an alternative approach to sea kayak seaworthiness based on the new W Kayak concept, and on micronautics – the art and science of designing watercraft that are small and lightweight enough to be affected by the size and movements of one passenger. The reader is encouraged to watch online videos demonstrating performance of 11 ft long W500 kayaks. The subjects discussed here include launching, going over and through incoming waves, going over lateral waves and playing with them, surfing and paddling standing at sea, and tracking in strong wind.
1. Sea kayaking – Past and Present
“…safe on the sea is an oxymoron” Wayne Horodowich, University of Sea Kayaking
Touring and sea kayaking were the two first kayaking applications outside the traditional use of kayaks by native people of the arctic zone. Nevertheless, after many decades these activities are still practiced by a small minority of kayakers whose number has been declining in recent years while recreational kayaking has become widely popular and dominates the kayaking scene in terms of participation and number of boats sold. sea kayaks are faster than recreational kayaks, and paddling in the open ocean and in the surf is certainly more exciting and challenging than ‘recreational’ paddling. Also, younger generations are naturally attracted to speed and more exciting outdoor sports, so why is the number of sea kayakers small and decreasing? Polyethylene sea kayaks are not much more expensive than the better recreational kayaks, and are for the most part equivalent in performance to FRP (Fiber Reinforced Plastics) sea kayaks, so we’ll rule cost as a valid explanation. It seems that in order to answer this question we’ll have to first determine what’s a ‘sea kayak’ vs. ‘recreational kayak’: A sea kayak is a long, narrow, traditional sit-in kayak (SIK) in which the paddler sits while being protected by a spray skirt, while a recreational kayak is either a SIK or a sit-on-top (SOT) kayak that’s wider (up to 42″ wide) and stabler, where the passengers are not protected by spray skirts. Modern, commercial sea kayaks differ from the native kayaks by the fact they are all equipped with seats and foot braces, and in many cases rudders too. Since recreational kayaks are slower than sea kayaks they also have a more limited range of operation, and since they offer little or no protection to their passengers they are generally limited to more warm and flat waters. For these reasons many sea kayakers view sea kayaks as being seaworthy boats, and in fact some sea kayakers have crossed oceans in them. However this fact is by no means an indicator of seaworthiness since people have crossed oceans in a variety of contraptions including floating skis, sailboards etc. Similarly, the world record for the longest unicycle trip is 9,136 miles but we doubt this fact would inspire anybody to switch from bicycles to unicycles… But are sea kayaks really seaworthy, and if indeed they are why do the overwhelming majority of kayakers prefer recreational kayaks? If sea kayaks were indeed seaworthy shouldn’t we expect most kayakers, or at least a bigger number of kayakers to adopt sea kayaking as an outdoor sports activity? Apparently, the vast majority of kayakers do not perceive the narrow sea kayak to be seaworthy although it offers superior speed and is constantly advertised as being the true and ultimate kayak. Sea kayakers are likely to find this incomprehensible, but to most people the idea of being trapped in a narrow and unstable boat that offers the ‘Eskimo Roll’ as an only safety option is perceived as similar to being handcuffed to a motorcycle that has no breaks: It’s an equivalent to a death trap. Interestingly, the number of people who practice board surfing is many times bigger that the number of surf kayakers, which is extremely small. This means that under similar conditions surfers prefer a board to a kayak that requires both a spray skirt and a helmet.
Are the majority of kayakers right about this? Is the saying ‘Vox Populi Vox Dei’ valid in this case? This article will attempt to examine the seaworthiness of sea kayaks from a number of angles.
2. Seaworthiness and Capsizing
“For us the definition of a seaworthy kayak includes being “Forgiving of the most egregious paddling and judgmental errors.” John Winters, ‘The Seaworthy Kayak’
Indeed, this is a most seaworthy definition!
Look outside the kayaking world and ask yourself the following question: -“What type of small sea vessel needs to be seaworthy?” There can be a number of answers starting from sailing crafts to inflatable rescue boats, but all these examples would have one thing in common: their stability, and more specifically – lateral stability. Why? -Simply because all boats are narrower than they are long, and therefore small boats are particularly narrow, that is highly unstable and prone to capsize. The ways to deal with this problem are multiple, from weighted keels in sailing boats to very wide beams in traditional ‘cats’, rescue boats and some big canoes, but these solutions are not applicable in kayaks. Kayaks belong to a group of watercraft that are just a little wider than their passengers, and weigh even less than them. We like to call the field of nautical design of such very small boats ‘micronautics’.
Ask naval designers if they would consider a boat that’s prone to capsize as being seaworthy and you can be sure to get a categorical ‘no’ as an answer. Those of them who will remember the existence of those little boats called kayaks might add -“Well, maybe if you’re an experienced sea kayaker then a sea kayak could be seaworthy for you, to some extent”
Sea kayaks are faster than most paddle crafts and speed is a good thing in terms of seaworthiness: Slow kayaks that are hard to paddle expose their users to fatigue and could make it difficult or in some cases even impossible for them reach to their destination under unfavorable weather and/or water conditions. But the sea kayak is a singularity in the micronautical world since it is the only seafaring boat that offers less lateral stability than what is required to maintain balance without constant, active intervention from the passenger/s. This puts the sea kayak in an extreme position – that of offering little or no static (form) means to prevent capsizing. In practical terms it is a watercraft designed to capsize. sea kayakers might find this definition somehow harsh, and point to the fact that sea kayaks are designed to be rolled and not to be capsized. The problem with this argument is that rolling is not a prevention strategy but a recovery strategy. In safety terms sea kayaks simply don’t offer considerable means of prevention other than their passengers’ skill in balancing the boat, and therefore are seen as unsafe – a term that’s is commonly perceived as the equivalent of ‘not seaworthy’. In response to this sea kayakers and sea kayak designers may point to the origins of the ‘Eskimo Roll’ as the native arctic people’s solution for the safety issue, and therefore as a ‘natural’ and acceptable one. We find this argument to be weak for a number of reasons:
1. Although kayak designs are at least hundreds and possibly thousands of years old, it seems like some of the original kayakers had their own doubts about the usefulness of the ‘Eskimo Roll’ as the primary or optimal measure of seaworthiness and preferred to exercise more caution by relying on form stability. While kayaks in Central and Western Canada were used mainly in rivers, lakes, estuaries and generally in protected waters, Eastern Canada kayaks which were designed to be used in the ocean were wider and stabler, up to 82 cm (32″) in width:
“The Inuit of Baffin Island, northern Quebec and Labrador used kayaks that were more or less flat-bottomed and relatively wide, characteristics that contribute to stability. With high, rising prows that helped to override the waves, these relatively heavy kayaks were well adapted to their primary function: hunting waterfowl and sea mammals in the open sea.” ‘Native Watercraft in Canada” – The website of The Canadian Museum of Civilization
2. The Labrador Inuit people used long sea kayaks with a 23″ beam, which should have made them easy to roll. However, these skilled sea kayakers chose not to rely on the Eskimo Roll:
“These huge kayaks were up to 24ft. long and had a beam of 23 in. They were never rolled by their occupants, and in the event of a capsize the paddler would need assistance from a companion in order to get back into this boat” -Derek Hutchinson ‘The Complete Book of Sea Kayaking’ (1995.. Old Saybrook, Conn.: The Globe Pequot Press, Inc., p.166).
3. Native peoples’ kayaks were never equipped with a seat while all present-day sea kayaks are. This makes the latter both less stable and more difficult to roll than native kayaks. On top of this, the average contemporary North American sea kayaker is significantly taller and heavier than the average native arctic kayaker was, a fact that further reduces the sea kayak’s safety from both stability and rolling perspectives.
4. For the vast majority of modern paddlers the Eskimo roll is impossible to practice and therefore not a safe option. In fact, even seasoned sea kayakers can ‘miss their roll’, especially in emergency situations: It’s one thing to roll your kayak in a pool with nose plugs on and the water around you perfectly still, and quite another thing to roll it in the surf after you’ve been slammed by a breaking wave and hit the bottom with your head There are countless accounts of experienced sea kayakers who occasionally ‘missed their roll’, which indicates that the common perception of the Eskimo roll as being unreliable is anchored in reality.
5. Over the years sea kayakers and sea kayak designers have developed a ‘sea kayaking philosophy’ that seems to have turned things around: The highly undesirable situation in which you are trapped inside a narrow and unstable boat that you can’t even hold straight without keeping your paddle in the water has become justified by the glorification of an extreme, dangerous and unreliable recovery technique that requires endless, tedious practicing that wouldn’t even guarantee results in real life conditions.
6. A common sea kayaking myth links native kayaks to long journeys at sea, but it appears most native kayakers used their kayaks for short trips and only the Greenlanders used their kayaks fro long coastal summer expeditions:
“For long trips the umiak, and more recently the whaleboat, are used“. Hawkes, E.W. 1916. The Labrador Eskimo. Canada, Department of Mines, Geological Survey, No. 14, Anthropological Series, pp.71-73.
“The other type of aboriginal boat, the kayak, was used by the men for short trips and for hunting“. Taylor, Garth. Labrador Eskimo Settlements of the Early Contact Period. Publications in Ethnology. No.9. Ottawa: National Museum of Man. 1974. pp. 39-40.
We conclude from these data that most native kayakers were well aware of their kayaks’ limited seaworthiness. The exception of the Greenlanders can be explained simply by the fact that extreme climatic conditions forced these people to stretch the use of their kayaks and rely more heavily on them.
“A sea kayak’s seaworthiness is entirely dependent on the paddler.” – We found this sentence and similar ones in a number of sea kayaking websites. It seems to summarize the situation where kayaks that are not seaworthy naval or common standards have become synonym to seaworthiness, so much that they are called as a group ‘sea kayaks’ Is it any wonder that sea kayaking has not grown to be a widely popular sport and has been continuously receding in recent years while recreational paddling in stable kayaks is popular and still increasing in popularity? Unfortunately, some sea kayakers don’t perceive people who paddle other types of kayaks (e.g. recreational, SOT, W) as ‘real kayakers’ since they don’t roll their boats. These sea kayakers erroneously identify rolling with kayaking and vice versa. Unfortunately, so far such attitude seems to have resulted in further alienation of the broad public from sea kayaking.
3. Seaworthiness from a sea kayaker’s perspective
In the first part of this article we examined the question of sea kayak seaworthiness from a general perspective of safety, as viewed by the overwhelming majority of boat designers, boaters and paddlers. In this section we’ll examine the seaworthiness of the sea kayak from its own cockpit, in performance terms, and while comparing with solutions offered by the new W Kayak concept:
Pitching “…Because the pitching inertia varies as the square of the distance from the center of rotation … tremendous forces are involved and their reduction is advantageous.” -John Winters, ‘The Seaworthy Kayak’
Pitching is the vertical rotation of the boat around its center of gravity (CG). Pitching causes significant increase in residual resistance (Rr), especially when the kayak goes through waves – The longer the kayak the greater the loss of energy because of pitching. All mono-hull kayaks are constrained by the need to place the paddler in a fixed position in the center part of the hull’s longitudinal axis. This puts a strict limitation on the kayaker’s ability to control his boat’s pitching. However this constraint is nonexistent in W kayaks where the kayaker is free to travel forward and backward along the longitudinal saddle inside the cockpit and thus distribute his/her weight ad hoc where it is likely to be more needed in a proactive manner. For example, when facing waves coming from the direction of the bow it is highly advantageous to place yourself at the back of the cockpit and thus lift the bow. This would not only be helpful for riding up the wave instead of smashing right into it, but also in reducing the impact and loss of momentum when descending on its other side.
Rocker is a must in monohull sea kayaks since without it the boat won’t turn well. But rocker also decreases the monohull sea kayak’s ability to track, and therefore its potential speed and by that its seaworthiness since speed is a good thing to have in terms of seaworthiness. Both tracking and maneuverability are desirable in terms of seaworthiness, and the unwanted tradeoff between them is typical of monohull kayaks only: W kayaks can turn effectively by having the W kayaker lean into the turn, which means That W hulls don’t necessarily need not be curved vertically to offer rocker. This, among other reasons enables W kayaks to perform the impossible in terms of monohull kayaks, which is to both track and turn very well and without requiring a rudder, which is a considerable source of drag and added complexity in operation.
Primary and Secondary Stability
Monohull sea kayaks are designed for speed and for rolling. These two requirements make them very narrow below and above waterline, and therefore lacking in both primary and secondary stability. There is no way a monohull kayak can be fast if it is wide. The first production W kayak (a.k.a. W300 series) was 25″ wide, and each of its hulls has a waterline beam (WB) of 6″ when the boat is loaded with 200 lb. The W500, which is the second generation of W kayaks is 29″ wide, and each of its hulls is 8″ wide. Most kayakers are impressed with this W kayak’s unmatched primary and secondary stability, which allow for a 200 lb man to stand up in it as well as jump up and down and from one leg to another (see demo videos).
Tracking and Rudders
Monohull kayaks, including sea-kayaks track extremely poorly in currents and under strong wing, a factor that gravely reduces their seaworthiness. For this reason, nearly all sea kayaks come outfitted with rudders or skegs, which help their users track at a price of additional, unwanted drag that slows them down.
Wavewalk’s twin-hull kayaks are different since they require to be outfitted with neither rudders nor skegs. A W kayak can track better in strong wind thanks to its two thin, parallel hulls, and the fact that their user can easily relocate the kayak’s center of gravity (CG) for and aft along the saddle, thus determining whether the kayak would point into the wind or away from it, and by how much.
“Part of the storage problem …has always been hatches.” -John Winters, ‘The Seaworthy Kayak’
Adding weight above the boat’s center of gravity (CG) is undesirable, especially if this weight has no means of its to balance itself… This is why the optimal storage solution should offer the possibility to store things as low as possible. Since a monohull sea kayak must have some rocker the bottom of its front and back hatches will inevitably above the hull’s lowest point, which is in its middle section… On top of this, sea kayaks generally offer a very limited storage space so that sea kayakers often find themselves obliged to attach gear on top of their boats. This is bad for stability and not particularly good for the gear itself. W kayaks don’t present these problems since their hulls can have a straight bottom and even an eleven feet long Wavewalk™ 500 Kayak offers far more protected storage space than the biggest ‘expedition’ sea kayak does.
And last but not least, hatches are prone to let water in not only when the kayak is overturned but also in wavy sea, when water flows over the deck. This is not just a storage problem but can also quickly become one of speed and maintaining proper control over the boat.
‘Narrow beam vs. wide beam’ or ‘speed vs. stability’
“Does this mean that narrow boats are more seaworthy than wide boats? Absolutely not. So long as the boat can be heeled to present a favourable attitude to the waves the adverse effects of beam can be offset.” -John Winters, The Seaworthy Kayak
Unfortunately, most of us don’t look like we would have wanted to look, and most monohull sea kayaks are not 18″ wide as sea kayakers would have liked them to be for speed sake. In fact, most sea kayaks are wider simply because even for experienced and dedicated sea kayakers the narrowest monohulls are too unstable for practical purposes.
Since speed is relevant to seaworthiness we would like to refer the reader to another article on this website, which discusses speed factors and particularly the effect of the beam on total resistance (drag): http://www.wavewalk.com/COMPARISON.html
To make a long story short, stability is desirable in sea kayaks as in all other boats – big or small. The problem with monohull designs is that they can’t be made both stable and fast since one has to come on account of the other. This constraint of speed vs. stability is nonexistent in catamaran (twinhull) designs, and since W Kayaks have twin hulls they can be made to be both very stable and very fast. This has two implications: 1. sea kayakers who are willing to give up their reliance on the Eskimo roll for a very stable kayak would be able to do so without having to give up the speed that is so dear to them. 2. More important is the fact recreational kayakers wanting to go on longer trips and paddle faster without giving up the higher stability they are used to could do so and paddle W sea kayaks that are as fast as ordinary (monohull) sea kayaks and offer a higher level of stability than recreational kayaks do.
Kayak Seaworthiness and Comfort
“Sitting with stretched legs feels comfortable for a little while but cramps are sure to follow if you cannot get good circulation.” ‘Choosing a Sea Kayak’, Article by Vaclav Stejskal
Seaworthiness and comfort are two terms which are closely linked. An uncomfortable sea kayak is dangerous as its paddler might develop fatigue, leg numbness, cramps and back pains that could put him in jeopardy and create a severe problem for other paddlers in the group. The reason why present-day kayaks are equipped with seats and foot braces is because unlike native kayakers, present-day kayakers are unable to sit and paddle in the L position without support for their backs and feet. These support elements known as ‘seat’ or ‘lumbar support’ and ‘foot braces’ or ‘foot rests’ are the source of various ergonomic problems that directly affect safety and therefore are strongly related to seaworthiness. sea kayaks are particularly narrow and offer no way for the passengers to change or even modify their sitting position in case a problem develops while paddling. Consequently, the overall seaworthiness of present day sea kayaks is being further reduced. These poor ergonomics typical to monohull sea kayaks are in contrast with the ergonomic solution offered by W Kayaks, which includes a number of interchangeable comfortable positions. Kayaking biomechanics and ergonomics are discussed in detail in another article on this website.
Paddles and the Bio-mechanics of Kayaking
Some sea kayakers erroneously believe that shorter paddles offer a better bio-mechanical solution and therefore the longer, 9 ft paddle commonly used in W Kayaks are less ergonomic. Since this issue relates to propulsion efficiency and fatigue it belongs to this article’s subject. These people’s error is double:
1. The paddling positions in W Kayaks offers more leverage on the paddle, which makes it easier to use a longer paddle i.e. to move the paddle faster. A longer paddle enables applying longer strokes aft while making a better use of the W Kayaker’s own weight, and thus minimize effort. See demo movies »
2. The original, native kayakers themselves sometime used very long paddles, as the following quotes teach us:
“The Labrador paddle (pau’tik), is double-bladed, like the Greenland type. It is quite long – 10 to 12 feet…” Hawkes, E.W. 1916. ‘The Labrador Eskimo’. Canada, Department of Mines, Geological Survey, No. 14, Anthropological Series, pp.71-73.
“…paddles in Baffin Island could reach 110 inches” -Chuck Holst ‘Making a West Greenland Paddle’
Things you need to know before choosing a fishing kayak
Your overall kayak fishing experience depends first and foremost on your physical well being – You want perfect comfort regardless of where you fish, and for how long. Fishing kayaks can compete with bigger boats in price, portability, maintenance, ease of use, and in some cases mobility, but they fail when it comes to comfort and other ‘fishability’ factors, with one exception: our patented, well tested Wavewalk kayaks. Comfort is multi-dimensional – like yourself, and it starts with stability and ergonomics. This article discusses fishing kayaks from a particular standpoint – yours.
What can you really expect from kayak fishing?
-And is it what you really want?…
Native people have been using small, personal paddle craft for fishing out of necessity, as means for survival but this is probably not your case, so what is it that draws you to kayak fishing? Obviously, you like fishing as an outdoor, fun, both relaxing and exciting activity. That makes you a candidate for traditional fishing from shore or from a motorboat, so why consider fishing kayaks in the first place? Compared to bigger boats, fishing from a canoe or a kayak offers the following advantages:
Portability– unlike bigger and heavier boats, kayaks can be car topped and do not require a towing trailer, unless they’re ‘barges’, which means so big and heavy that you’d find it hard to move them on land as well as on the water… Convenience- the hassle of launching and beaching is considerably reduced. Mobility– you can launch and beach kayaks in more locations, and access very shallow waters. However, motorized boats have a bigger range of operation, and they’re more comfortable. Unless you consider the new Wavewalk™ 700 » Low Cost– both cost of purchase and cost of maintenance of kayaks are minimal. Physical Exercise -something you get from paddling but not from motor boating.
Why is it that some people prefer kayaks to canoes, and why choose a kayak over other, traditional fishing paddle crafts?
Good question indeed, considering most people who fish from paddle crafts still prefer canoes and other traditional boats for fishing since those are usually made bigger than kayaks… Nevertheless, fishing kayaks offer some advantages that most canoe and other traditional boats don’t:
Ease of use- speaking, paddling and controlling your boat with a double blade (‘kayak’) paddle is easier to learn than paddling and controlling it with a single blade (‘canoe’) paddle, especially if you’re paddling solo.
Less windage – Most canoe models are quite big and have an open cockpit stretching all the way from bow to stern, which tends to cause a windage problem: The user finds it difficult to progress and steer his/her boat under wind conditions. Kayaks are generally less problematic when it comes to wind, unless they are very long and/or wide: Being long increases the wind’s leverage on the boat, and being wide makes it hard to propel it efficiently as well as track and maneuver. Unfortunately, a reasonably good fishing kayak must be wider than recreational and touring kayaks in order to offer more stability and support.
Portability- sit-in and sit-on-top kayaks are smaller and lighter than the average fishing canoe models since canoes today are usually made for more than one person.
How do you fit into this picture?
You’d probably want to ask yourself a number of basic questions, which are: -Who am I, and what experience am I looking to have? -Where am I going to fish, and what am I going to fish? -What else would I like to do with my kayak besides fishing.
Who am I and what experience am I looking to have?
Sounds pretty obvious, but after all this is about you wanting to enjoy a lasting, good personal experience, and not about you conforming to an image created by kayak vendors: Factors like your weight, height and age are important as well as physical condition, experience in paddling and experience in fishing from small watercraft. Needless to say, that the same boat can confer a totally different experience to different paddlers or fishermen. Remember – most adults suffer from some issue with their back, and these same factors (size and age) work against you when you have to spend long hours in a kayak.
First of all, a few words about your personal safety:
The height and weight factors are often discussed but age and physical condition not so- You need to be aware of the fact that in case of very small watercraft ‘expecting the unexpected’ means that sooner or later you may have to face some hazardous situations on the water. Naturally, the best strategy in planning for such cases is prevention and not reaction, which means you should first think in terms of minimizing the probability of accidents happening. Reaction is your second line of defense – the one you don’t want to have to reach. Reaction is a strategy designed to reduce the potential damage in case an accident already happened. This is where it is useful to understand the term Redundancy in planning: Redundancy is all but unnecessary – On the contrary, it is a critical factor that must be integrated in any planning for unexpected problems, which eventually never fail to materialize.
Two examples may clarify this:
Redundancy in prevention: The best example for applying redundancy as part of the first strategy is your fishing kayak’s stability: You may be a seasoned kayaker and used to paddling fast (i.e. narrow and unstable) kayaks, and you may even be able to use such kayaks for fishing. However, you are likely to find that the unfortunate yet perfectly expected combination of a moment of inattention when you are casting or landing a fish (and therefore not holding your paddle) with either a wake coming from a bigger boat passing nearby or a sudden lateral gust of wind or wave can easily lead you to lose balance and capsize. Such event can be perfectly harmless, but in case you’re not in good physical condition it might be dangerous, especially in cold waters and/or weather that can lead to hypothermia and even cardiac arrest. Other factors such as underwater rocks that might injure you as well as marine predators, jellyfish etc. need not be taken lightly. Planning for redundant stability is your best policy against having to need to use emergency tactics and second lines of defense (i.e. reaction strategies) that may or may not work. Interestingly, what is the prevalent approach in evaluating the seaworthiness of watercraft of all sizes and types is contested by some in the kayaking world, whose reasoning is that you should rely on the extreme and in most cases inapplicable recovery (i.e. post accident) technique known as the Eskimo Roll…
Redundancy in reaction: The obvious example for applying redundancy in your second line of defense is wearing a Personal Flotation Device (PFD): It doesn’t contribute a thing to your paddling performance or experience, but in case you fall overboard and need to get back into the boat or stay in the water for a long time this seemingly redundant object becomes highly necessary, and sometime even vital.
See and be seen:
A kayak is not just a very small boat for others to see, it is also very low above the water and therefor even more difficult for others to perceive. Your kayak can easily disappear behind the waves, especially if light conditions are not optimal. As for radar, you shouldn’t count on those devices to detect you since they can’t always do it. Furthermore, sitting so low limits your own field of view and puts you in double jeopardy… In view of this you should consider fishing from a boat that’s either yellow, orange or bright red – the three most visible colors on the water. You may also consider the advantages of fishing standing or sitting in a higher type of kayak.
Sea kayakers have developed a strict and elaborate sea paddling code of conduct, and one of the essential things you learn as a sea kayaker is never to paddle alone. In fact, even paddling in pairs is not considered very safe, and sea kayakers prefer to paddle in packs. While fishing in groups may not seem like an appealing idea to you, it’s important to remember that the ocean is too unpredictable and powerful for tiny, under powered vessels such as kayaks, and in this aspect planning for enough redundancy is essential for safety: Sooner or later fishing by yourself in the ocean is likely to get you in some trouble that otherwise you would have had a much better chance to get out of.
After safety come your well being and comfort. The main questions you may want to ask yourself are:
Do I feel secure and confident in this kayak, or is it good just for flat water?
Am I going to be comfortable after sitting more than an hour in it? Discomfort, fatigue, leg numbness and back pain tend to amplify with time.
In the likely case I don’t feel comfortable, is there anything I can do to improve the way I feel, such as switching positions or stand up?
Is this kayak fun to paddle or wide and clumsy? Most fishing kayaks are wider than 30″ (76 cm) and therefore don’t paddle well.
Do I want to go through the hassle of manipulating a rudder? No you don’t, but with most kayaks you’ll have to.
If I feel numbness in my legs can I change positions? Some kayak fishermen feel so bad after sitting in or on their traditional kayaks that they jump overboard and swim or walk if the water is shallow enough.
Do I feel any pressure points when sitting? And what about after an hour? Foam cushioned back rests don’t prevent back pain, they just delay it for a while.
Is this kayak easy for me to launch, or do I have to struggle to enter it?
Is it acceptable for me to step in water each time I launch and beach? Well, let’s say you want to be able to decide if and when you’ll step in water, but regular fishing kayaks don’t offer you such choice.
What kind of gear am I going to take with me, and are storage solution offered by ordinary kayaks acceptable for me? You want to be able to take whatever gear you feel like, and access it anytime you want, but storage hatches won’t let you do that.
Where am I going to fish, and what am I going to fish? Is that fishing kayak going to protect you in bad weather? wind? cold? surf? Is it stable and reliable enough to enable you to deal with strong fish?
Where and what am I going to fish?
Once you’ve established what the answers to the first set of questions are, you need to think about the type of fishing you’d like to do. The conclusion may be that you don’t need or want a kayak at all, and you may be better served by another type of paddle craft (e.g. canoe, pirogue), or even a small motorboat.
In case you’re thinking about kayak fishing at sea you need to make sure you understand the risks involved, and realize that ‘stuff happens’ – sooner or later, in a mild or severe form. Most fishing kayaks don’t handle the surf well, which means you’re likely to capsize either on your way in or out, and even if you don’t capsize you’ll be soaked from the first moment throughout your entire fishing trip: Traditional kayak fishing experts would tell you that fishing from sit-in kayak (SIK) is not practical since you’d have to use a spray skirt that would limit your access to gear inside the cockpit. They would recommend that you use a sit-on-top (SOT) kayak that has offers practically no protection against the elements and lets water penetrate the cockpit through its scupper holes… In sum, whether you fish from a SIK or a SOT a ‘wet ride’ is a fact you have to accept, unless you wear waders, which can be very dangerous if you go overboard in water that’s too deep for you to stand in.
You may also want to consider the fact that traditional, native kayak fishing was done mainly in protected waters such lakes, rivers, estuaries and bays, while native arctic fishermen were more likely to use large-size and stable canoes called Umiaks for their Ocean fishing and whale hunting expeditions.
The ocean is challenging not only in the surf zone, but practically everywhere and at any time: While you’re sitting peacefully in your kayak a motorboat passing nearby may fail to perceive you and either run you over or what is more likely simply cause you to overturn by the effect of its wake hitting your kayak. Such event may turn out to be anything from funny to fatal.
Another factor that should not be taken lightly is marine life: Every year there are divers, surfers, swimmers, wind surfers and paddlers being attacked by sharks. Fishing in shark infested waters from a small watercraft that offers no protection at all is risky by definition, especially in view of the fact that sharks are attracted by the shape of the kayak that similarly to the shape of a surfboard resembles that of a fat seal, and by the scent of bait and fish. Jellyfish, worms and bacteria are sometime abundant in warm waters, and may present other risks. Cold water can be extremely dangerous, as well as exposure to cold from the combination of spray and wind – Water and weather can kill, and they do. Currents and wind can easily carry you where you don’t want to go, without you being able to do anything about it.
Bottom line: Unless you use an appropriate boat (primary – prevention strategy) and are perfectly capable of dealing with emergency situations (secondary – reaction strategy) you should abstain from fishing at sea and in large-size bodies of water such as big lakes, big rivers etc.
What’s a fishing kayak, actually? –
The common ‘fishing kayak’ is in most cases a wide, stabler recreational kayak accessorized with ‘special’ features for kayak fishermen such as rod holders and hatches. But while recreational kayaks are normally very affordable, fishing kayaks are considerably more expensive. No wonder many kayak fishermen prefer to purchase recreational kayak models and outfit them for fishing with off-the-shelf fishing accessories and sometimes even home-made fishing accessories created from inexpensive materials offered in hardware stores. So, do you really need a ‘fishing kayak’ or could you be satisfied with a self outfitted recreational kayak? This is a question that only you could answer.
How to test a fishing kayak?
Leg numbness, back pain etc. are problems that usually appear after some time. Don’t think that because you felt comfortable paddling a certain kayak for half an hour and casting from it a number of times that you’ll be comfortable after two or three hours in or on that kayak. Test kayaks in real life conditions i.e. wind, and if you’re planning to fish at sea you must check how you’re doing with the kayak in the surf and with some real waves… -The reason for this is that even if you decide to fish only on beautiful and windless days the weather may change by the time you go back home, which can mean difficulties in the surf zone and even at sea. Remember – the wake of a motorboat passing by can overturn your kayak, especially if you didn’t notice it because you were too busy fishing, which means you can’t stabilize yourself using your paddle. Check if the boat is stable enough to support you when you’re struggling with a strong fish -Do you feel safe and confident enough? Ask yourself in all honesty: -“Am I going to like this in a year from now?” (many don’t) -“How do I really feel about sitting there in wet clothes for hours?” (few would admit it, but nobody does) -“Do I miss casting standing?” (yes, of course, but don’t try standing in or on a regular kayak, or you’ll learn the hard way that pictures on vendors’ websites and forums are one thing, and your reality is another) -“Do I really get along with paddling, carrying and car topping this wide, heavy, 14′ long kayak?” (you probably don’t) -“Would I rather spend this time in a more comfortable boat?” (indeed you would)
After all, fishing should be about you enjoying your free time safely and comfortably, and not about trying to accommodate yourself to an inadequate and greatly over hyped craft.
What else would I like to do with my kayak besides fishing?
Go on long touring, camping (and fishing) trips, take passengers on board, play in the surf, stand up paddling (it’s fun!) and more. There’s no reason why such an expensive toy shouldn’t offer more than just fishing, but most fishing kayaks barely do that. This the dimension we call Versatility. After all, when you own a motorboat you don’t just cast lines from it, but you’re supposed to do other things as well. Although kayaks are smaller and cheaper than motorboats, they should be versatile enough. A kayak that’s not versatile is an under performing one, and nearly all fishing kayaks on the market are such.
List of Busted Fishing Kayak Myths:
First fishing kayak myth busted:-“A kayak can get you where other boats can’t”
-This statement is not very accurate since those who claim so ignore a wide range of small water crafts including motorized and human powered pirogues, canoes, dinghies, rafts and more. Both whitewater canoeing and down river canoeing are still practiced by many, and so is fishing from canoes, dinghies etc.
Second fishing kayak busted: -“A kayak is faster than a canoe”
–This statement is based on an erroneous comparison between some faster kayak models and the most common canoe models that are usually large and very stable, while in fact fishing kayaks are rather slow by nature and some racing canoe models are very fast.
Third fishing kayak myth busted: -“Kayaks are more stable than canoes”
-This statement is false, and canoes are still popular for fishing, mainly because they are usually wider and offer more stability. You can sometime see people casting standing in a canoe if water and weather permit, but have you ever seen someone fishing standing in a kayak? (in reality, not on a vendor’s website or brochure) -It is said that very small and lightweight people can, but this is certainly out of the question for the overwhelming majority of people. Try it (in shallow, clean and warm water…) and you’ll see for yourself.
Fourth fishing kayak myth busted: -“The Sit-On-Top (SOT) is a new type of kayak”
–Wrong. The first commercial SOT models were introduced on the US market in the beginning of the seventies. Native peoples all over the world have used small sit-on-top paddle crafts for millennia, often with double blade paddles.
Fifth fishing kayak myth busted: -“Kayaks were the fishing boats of choice for native people of the arctic circle.”
-In fact these people preferred large and stable canoes called Umiaks. Kayaks were used more often in protected waters, and mainly for hunting.
Sixth fishing kayak myth busted: -“Modern kayaks are both stabler and faster”
-Totally false: Paddle sports are generally slow, and the slowest kayaks are those designed for fishing. The reason for that being that the monohull design is constrained by the laws of hydrodynamics to a trade off between speed and stability, and since fishing kayaks are required to offer more stability than other kayaks they are slower. Furthermore, Sit-On-Top (SOT) kayaks are even slower than sit-in kayaks are since their scupper holes substantially increase drag.
Seventh kayak fishing myth busted: -“A good kayak seat is very important”
–In fact, the original native people’s kayaks never had seats, and the whole concept of kayak seat is rather misleading since leg numbness is the result of bad circulation in the legs coming from being seated in the “L” kayaking position, which most of us stopped using since we were toddlers. As for lower back pains, they result from the legs pushing your body against the seat’s backrest (AKA ‘lumbar support’) in an attempt to prevent your body from sliding down. Expensive, cushioned seats advertised as being ‘ergonomically designed’ or adjustable-height canvas seats may delay these annoying and potentially dangerous physiological symptoms, but eventually they will appear simply because kayaks offer you just a single, unusual and non ergonomic and therefore problematic sitting position, without any option to switch to other paddling or fishing positions. More reading about kayak back pain »
Eighth fishing kayak myth busted: -“Kayak fishing is a water sport and therefore you have to get wet!”
-Not acceptable. First of all kayak fishing doesn’t necessarily have to be wet if you use a sit-in kayak on flat water. Second, getting wet and staying wet for long hours is not an option in colder climates and waters, that is in about half of the US territory. Third, being wet for hours is unpleasant even in warm climates and waters, and can cause rashes and infections. Conclusion: You don’t have to listen to SOT manufacturers’ excuse for not having found better solution to “wet ride” and “soggy bottom” problems that are plaguing people who fish from SOTs, and are a main turnoff for those who want to fish from kayaks. And just for the record, you don’t really want to wear waders while in your kayak, not just because it’s uncomfortable but because it’s dangerous.
Ninth fishing kayak myth busted: -“SOT kayaks are self bailing.”
False. ‘Self Bailing’ means equipped with a special device that allows water in the hull to be sucked out through a valve at the stern, as a result of negative pressure applied there while the hull moves swiftly forward. Such devices are used in motorboats and sailing boats. The hulls of SOT kayaks are not self bailing, and there’s no means to drain water out of them unless you pump it out, or drain it out through a hole while the SOT is on dry land. The only part in a SOT that’s continuously drained is its deck, through water flowing down its sides and down the scupper holes, which in many cases conduct water up onto the deck… By the way, those vertical tunnels’ real mission is to serve as support for the kayak’s deck so it won’t collapse under the weight of the user sitting on it. Those support elements were misleadingly dubbed ‘scuppers’ for some unknown reason, probably to make the paddle board dubbed ‘SOT Kayak’ more like a boat. SOT kayaks’ hulls are neither self bailing nor offer proper means for seeing water that gets in through the hatches, deck rigging holes, and cracks, and this means you could find yourself paddling a sinking kayak when it’s already too late to do anything about it. More reading about SOT kayaks’ safety, or lack thereof »
Tenth fishing kayak myth busted: -“Kayak stability is important only for beginning fishermen.”
–Not when it comes to fishing kayaks, since the overwhelming majority of North Americans have neither the skills nor the physical attributes that Inuit and other native kayak fishermen had, and SOT kayaks are essentially less stable than comparable sit-in kayaks since their center of gravity (CG) is higher. Therefore, modern, recreational kayak fishermen are exposed to a much higher risk of capsizing than the original, native kayak fishermen were. You may get used to fishing from an unstable kayak until the inevitable moment comes when you’ll capsize in unsafe or unpleasant conditions. –Some people can ride a mono cycle quite easily but that doesn’t mean you should try it…
Eleventh fishing kayak myth busted: -“SOTs are more versatile than Sit-in kayaks.”
–Not if you would even consider fishing with a SOT in cold water and/or cold weather, -conditions that are common in much of the US and Canada, and present even in the South in winter. Also, SOTs offer you little or no protection in the surf, and are less maneuverable than sit-in kayaks, which elevates the risk of injuries and accidents even in warm waters (e.g. shark bytes, jellyfish etc.)
Twelfth fishing kayak myth busted: -“You can roll a SOT.”
-In fact, the overwhelming majority of people who paddle kayaks nowadays can’t even roll a sit-in kayak, although it’s basically easier than rolling a SOT, so it would be a waste of time for you to try to roll a fishing SOT, considering the fact that in order to do so you’ll have to strap yourself to your boat, which is unsafe, especially in the surf where capsizing is more likely to happen.
Thirteenth fishing kayak myth busted: -“You can fish standing in a kayak.”
-Do you really believe this one? Few people do, and rightfully so. In fact, most kayak fishermen don’t even feel that confident just sitting in or on top their kayak. This myth keeps being mentioned on Internet forums in discussions about stable fishing kayaks, and some fishing kayak manufacturers go as far as claiming that certain models they offer enable it, and even show pictures. Technically speaking, children and small size adults can sometime stand in a kayak, usually a wide sit-in since it has a lower center of gravity than a SOT does, and always on perfectly still, flat water. However, no full size adult can stand in any monohull fishing kayak confidently enough to cast in full comfort and seriously fight strong fish. As hard as you may try you won’t be able to find any proof to substantiate such claims, because they are not true. The problem is simple, and has a lot to do with ‘what if’: Some people can cast standing in large-size canoes, some can fish standing from kayaks outfitted with a pair of fairly big outriggers on both sides, and practically anybody can cast confidently and comfortably standing in a Wavewalk kayak, as our demo videos and customer reviews prove. So what? -Stuff happens (that’s the rule in boating), and sooner than later any stand up kayak fisherman is bound to find himself destabilized by a fish, a wave (or boat’s wake), wind or simply a wrong move in a moment of distraction – and things like that happen all the time, and to everybody. Since neither SIKs nor SOTs offer any ‘plan B’ solution for such cases, such stand up fisherman is bound to go overboard, and is likely to do it while overturning his kayak. Such accident could be quite unpleasant, cause loss of equipment, etc. Even those rare daredevils who insist they can fish while standing on top of their wide SOTs admit they ‘go swimming’ from time to time, or in other words: have frequent accidents, which is not acceptable because sooner or later one of those accidents is likely to turn ugly. In sum, you’d better trust your basic intuition and common sense in this case. Things are very different in Wavewalk kayaks not just because they are much stabler than other kayak designs are, but also because in case of destabilization while standing you’re likely to simply drop down on the 14″ high saddle, and find yourself in the Riding position with both your feet planted at the bottom of the hulls, several inches below waterline – as stable as possible. More reading about stand up kayak fishing and paddling »
Fourteenth fishing kayak myth busted: -“Rudders solve your tracking and maneuvering problems.”
–Although many would like to believe so, the reality is more complex and not particularly encouraging one to use a rudder: Native kayakers never used rudders but Kayak manufacturers introduced rudders with the intent to improve kayaks’ directional stability (i.e. tracking) and maneuverability. Keeping any monohull including kayaks going straight (i.e. tracking) is a problem, and zigzagging makes the boat go a longer distance. Constantly correcting the kayak’s course requires energy and time from you. Moreover, tracking becomes more difficult as water and weather conditions deteriorate. But looking only at (unpublished – one can only wonder why…) results of hydrodynamics tests shows that rudders increase total drag by up to 10%, and considering the constant mental and physical effort that manipulating the rudder requires from the paddler it is possible to say that rudders reduce effective speed by about 25%. Naturally, the more experienced the paddler the less effort is wasted, but the less the rudder is required the better. As for maneuvering, a rudder can make a noticeable difference especially if the kayak is very long (e.g. 16’-18’ long sea kayaks) and the paddler inexperienced, but its effectiveness is dubious in shorter (i.e. more maneuverable) kayaks. W kayaks require no rudder, and you can get them to track perfectly even under strong wind »
Fourteenth fishing kayak myth busted: -“Modern fishing kayaks are so stable you can hardly tip them over, even if you try.”
-This is an absurd falsehood: The only people who are not in danger of tipping a modern fishing kayak are small children who sit and behave nicely in their kayak. In fact, when you need to struggle with a big fish kayaks are impractical since they can offer little support to your pulling effort. Only few kayak fishermen are capable of catching big fish from their kayaks without any assistance. Red more about what makes a kayak stable »
Fifteenth fishing kayak myth busted: -“Most kayak fishermen fish at sea.”
–This image doesn’t fit reality, where most people who use kayaks for fishing tend to do it in protected waters such as estuaries, rivers, flats, lakes and ponds – and for obvious reasons.
Sixteenth fishing kayak myth busted: -“Kayaks are very mobile.”
-While this may be true compared to boats that require towing, it’s not necessarily true within the class of paddle craft since kayaks are more difficult to get into and out from than canoes are, and consequently also more difficult when it comes to launching and taking out. Learn more about mobility in kayaks »
Seventeenth fishing kayak myth busted: -“SOTs are stabler than SIKs.”
-Quite the opposite: SOTs offer paddlers to sit in the unstable “L” kayaking position on top of a deck, while SIKs offer them to sit it that same position at the bottom of the hull. This difference in the center of gravity (CG) height works against the SOT and needs to be compensated by a wider hull.
Eighteenth fishing kayak myth busted: -“Hatches offer practical means for storage.”
-Few thing could be further from the truth: In fact, hatches are small and you can hardly access what’s inside them from your seat, and in most cases the hatches fail to be totally watertight, which can be hazardous in case you paddle or fish in moving water, such as offshore.
Nineteenth fishing kayak myth busted: -“SOTs are very safe kayaks.”
-This is partly true: SOTs are self bailing, which means they are designed not to let water in the hull even if the kayak is capsized. The problem is that eventually some water can get in through small cracks or mainly through holes made in the hull for attaching various accessories. When this happens you can’t notice the leakage before it’s too late »
-…Unless you need to go somewhere, and then you’ll be required to steer using a hand activated rudder system, so you’ll be left with just one hand to hold a fishing rod. But reality doesn’t stop here, and if you happen to observe pedal kayakers you’ll probably notice that in most cases they hold their kayak’s sides with their hands while they pedal, and that’s because recumbent pedaling (even in recumbent bikes) requires some kind of extra support and stabilization. Learn more about pedal driven kayaks »
Twenty first fishing kayak myth busted: -“Tunnel hulled monohull kayaks are stabler than other monohull kayaks.”
-Not really. In fact, most SOT kayaks have some kind of groove or tunnel (often more than one) at the bottom of their hulls. This reinforces the bottom and somehow helps correcting poor directional stability. Such tunnels can be very narrow (1″) or wide (1 ft), but as long as the design is a monohull, meaning that it does not feature two distinctly, full size and fully separated hulls, the kayak will be unstable simply because nearly all its buoyancy is distributed along its longitudinal axis, where it offers minimal or no stabilizing effect at all. This myth and other ones are discussed in depth in this kayak stability article »
Kayak fishing is becoming increasingly popular, but many people who fish from kayaks end up going back to more traditional forms of fishing because of the problems described here. Kayak fishermen as well as people who are considering fishing from kayaks need to be informed, and we bring this information to you as food for thought. All the subjects mentioned in this article are discussed in more detail in specific articles and blog posts – see Full List of Articles Our patented Wavewalk kayaks offer the best solutions to all problems mentioned in this article. You are welcome to read what our customers have to tell about their personal kayak fishing experience with common fishing kayaks (I.E. monohull), and with our Wavewalk kayaks: Wavewalk Fishing Kayak Reviews Seeing is believing, and you may want to watch these demo movies: Wavewalk fishing kayak demo movies
This section provides basic, ‘getting started’ tips and advice on using your Wavewalk® Fishing Kayak, and it offers links to other parts of this website that contain in-depth information. It is written in a sequential order of use, as much as possible.
Always wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) when using your Wavewalk® Fishing Kayak. Do not wear heavy shoes or rubber boots, waders or any heavy or cumbersome clothes since they might prevent you from getting back into your boat or swimming back to shore in case you fall overboard. Never drink alcohol or take medication that might make you drowsy before and while kayak fishing.
Car Topping and Loading
You don’t need a special kayak rack since the Wavewalk® Kayak fits on top of any car rack.
Have one tip of the boat lean on the car rack and push upward and forward until the boat is on top of the car:
The easiest way to attach your Wavewalk® Kayak to the car rack is with its cockpit facing upward but you can also attach it with the cockpit opening facing sideways when transporting two Wavewalk® kayaks. Use strong straps, bungee cords or rope to secure the kayak to the car rack. Note: All plastic boats are sensitive to the combination of excessive heat and pressure – Make sure your Wavewalk® Kayak doesn’t come in direct contact with exposed metal parts heated by the sun.
The simple way to attach a Wavewalk® kayak to a regular car rack:
fishing kayak attached on top of vehicle
Carrying (Portaging) – One Person
On your shoulder (see ‘Downloading’) – For short and medium distances. Over your head with your head between the hulls and each hull supported by one of your shoulders and one of your hands – For short, medium an long distances. On your side: Hold the boat on its side with one hand gripping the cockpit rim in one hand supporting the lower hull – For short distances only. Dragging: Attach a rope or a leash to the boat and pull it behind you. This way you can portage for long distances and in difficult terrain. If you don’t drag it over asphalt, concrete or oyster beds the bottom of your Wavewalk® Kayak’s will be only mildly scratched, in a way that will not affect its performance. For short, medium and long distances. Watch video » Wheels: Also, see ‘Transportation’ section of the ‘Outfitting’ page »
Storing Your Fishing and Camping Gear On Board
The Wavewalk® 500 kayak offers you 8.8 cubic feet (66 gallons) of dry and accessible storage space, which is more than any kayak does, including expedition style kayaks. Take the time to think and experiment before you take any definitive action like drilling, cutting or buying new gear. Finding the optimal solution for placing and attaching your fishing gear in your W Fishing Kayak might require more than one fishing trip simply because you have much more storage space inside and outside the boat, and therefore more possibilities to consider, test and evaluate. In general, it is advised to store heavier gear such as fish tank, battery etc. in lower places, and not to fill the cockpit with large size objects that may be attached on top of the hulls’ tips in front or behind it. You may want to read this website’s ‘Outfitting’ section as well as customer stories.
1. Regular: Put the boat halfway in the water and facing forward. Step into the cockpit from behind (no need to step in water) and install yourself on the saddle. You can get the boat to move forward by either placing a foot on the front part of the spray deflector and ‘kick’ and/or by pushing your paddle backward. When the boat is sufficiently in you can pole and paddle forward. Similarly, you can put-in standing.
2. Surf launching: Standing in the water beside your Wavewalk® Kayak and lean over it while holding the two sides of the spray deflector. Then hop inside and start paddling.
This old video shows a 2006 W300 (smaller series, discontinued in 2010) launched in the surf:
3. Launching from a dock: Hold the boat in parallel to the dock and carefully get inside, one leg after another. 4. Seal launching (Warning: only for advanced paddlers): Put the kayak on a rock or a slope facing the water, position yourself in the back of the cockpit only in the Riding position, and slide down to the water while leaning backwards in order to minimize the impact. It’s possible to perform this trick from a dock or from a deck of a bigger boat.
You don’t ride a chopper the way you ride a dirt bike, and canoeing is different from kayaking in a number of ways. in paddling there are some similarities between canoing and W kayaking, and other things that W kayaking shares with regular kayaking. In addition, there are also things that are unique to W kayaking. It is important to keep this in mind before you begin paddling your W Kayak in order to improve both your experience and performance.
Getting started: It is advised to get used to the boat on flat water before venturing to moving water. As a beginner always make sure you are in the Riding (Mounted) position:
Riding, or ‘Mounted’ Position
Your legs are on your sides and deliver optimal stability, power and control
Riding (Mounted) – The Best Position For Learning, Balancing and Controlling Your Wavewalk® Kayak: Beginning W Kayakers should start in the Riding position, that is with their legs and feet on both sides of the saddle in a direct line below their upper body (see picture on the right). Riding is the stablest position and it offers best control over the boat. This is especially true if you don’t have good canoeing experience and you’re not used to balancing a boat with your legs. Your experience with regular kayaks (SIK or SOT) may help you in some ways but it does not guarantee that you’ll learn faster because of the differences between ordinary kayaking and W kayaking. Riding is also very comfortable once you get to used to it.
The Riding or ‘Mounted’ position is particularly stable and effective because all the muscles in your legs from your feet through your ankles, knees and hips can deliver quick, accurate and powerful reactions. Riding is a position that’s comfortable enough to allow horse riders to travel for thousands of miles during many months. In past centuries, a cavalry man would throw javelins, shoot arrows or slash his enemies with his saber – all while being mounted on his horse’s saddle, while a cowboy would use his lasso to catch and control cattle from the same powerful and stable position.
The Riding position: This video shows in slow motion how the paddler maintains his stability while powerfully tilting his Wavewlk® 500 kayak:
Balancing: The right way to balance yourself in your Wavewalk® kayak is to hold the paddle with both hands and use your hips, thighs, knees, ankles and feet to respond to the boat’s lateral movement by gently shifting your weight from one leg to the other and keeping your upper body upright and centered. Leaning with your hand on the spray deflector is not practical at all. Also, unlike in ordinary kayaks keeping one of your paddle’s blades in the water is not recommended for balancing your Wavewalk® Kayak since it is better if you get used from the beginning to rely on your lower body to perform this task.
Note: The new W700 car-top boat is so stable that it hardly requites any balancing.
Do not confuse Riding (mounting) with Sitting – In the Sitting position your legs are positioned in front of you – see Figure 2. Sitting is not a recommended position for beginning W kayakers.
Figure 2 The Sitting Position
Your legs are in front of you and therefore deliver less stability, power and control
For more information on the different paddling positions go to the ergonomics section.
Getting used to the Wavewalk® 500 Kayak is personal and can take from a few minutes to several hours. It’s advised not to try to rush things and not to expect to become an expert Wavewalk kayaker after one paddling session – for many people it takes more time. There is a lot you can achieve with a Wavewalk® kayak that you can’t achieve with a regular kayak, and it’s only natural to need some time to learn it.
Positioning Yourself Along the Saddle
You can move forward and backward along the saddle according to your needs and according to circumstances. For example, when paddling against eddies and waves you can sit in the back of the cockpit and by that lift the bow, which will make paddling easier, since you’d be going over the waves instead of through them. For more details visit this website’s surf and ocean section.
You’ll find that poling your W fishing Kayak in shallow water is easy. We recommend that you pole using a long and sturdy paddle such as our Wavewalk® PSP, or a poling pole. The advantage of the long and sturdy Wavewalk® paddle is the fact you can use it for both poling and paddling.
Steering by Leaning Into the Turn
You don’t need a rudder in order to turn sharply in your Wavewalk® Kayak: Turning is very easy if you lean into the turn and paddle on the exterior side. Caution: Since this is an unusual thing in paddling it is advised that you first get used to controlling and balancing the boat before you start leaning it into the turn. It is advised to do it carefully and gradually. Getting used to turning by leaning into the turn is personal and can take anything between a few minutes to several hours. You can lean into the turn in all positions but you can lean more effectively in the Riding, Kneeling and Standing positions, and less in the Sitting position.
By the time you start practicing leaning into the turn you’ll probably know that beginning in the Riding position is best for you.
The ability to lean on one hull and paddle alongside the other hull is also useful when paddling in the surf. For more information visit this website’s surf and ocean section.
Easy, Rudderless Tracking In Strong Wind
How to get the wind to help you track – You can move fore and aft along the saddle, and thus displace your Wavewalk® kayak’s center of gravity (CG). The heavier end will tend to point into the wind, while the lighter end will tend to trail. With occasional, minor adjustments of your position along the saddle, you’ll be able to track perfectly.
This kayak is the only one that offers true stand up paddling and fishing for everyone, in real life conditions, in the sense that you don’t have to be young and fit to do it, and once you get used to it, you won’t need to waste time and energy in continuous balancing efforts. True stand up paddling and fishing also means that in case you lose balance, you can simply, easily, instantaneously and intuitively regain your balance just by dropping to the Riding position on the kayak’s 14″ high saddle. This is critical for both convenience and safety. And needless to say tat rising from the lower position to standing is a breeze. To paddle standing adults need a paddle that’s longer than ordinary kayak or canoe paddles. Our company offers two extra long and rigid stand up paddles that work perfectly for paddling in the lower positions too. Children, teenagers and some people may find it as easy as paddling in lower positions but for most adult paddlers stand up paddling is a skill that can take some time to acquire, like any other skill, including kayaking. It is advised to begin practicing stand up paddling on flat water before venturing in moving water.
You can easily motorize your Wavewalk® kayak by outfitting it with either an electric motor or an outboard gas engine. We offer standard transom mounts for 15″ (short) and 20″ (long) propeller shaft models. We strongly recommend using long (20″) shaft motors rather than short (15″) ones. Motorizing your Wavewalk® kayak would greatly expand your range of travel, and could increase your safety since getting back to shore in bad weather and against a strong current is easier when motorizing than while paddling. Our website features a special section dedicated to motorized fishing kayaks »
Before going on a motorized trip, verify that the wide wooden bolt knobs that secure the motor mount to the boat are safely tightened to the maximum. Failing to tighten the bolt knobs could result in unwanted vibrations and noise. If you feel such unusual vibrations and/or hear unusual noise, stop the motor, turn around, and tighten the bolt knobs to the max. Driving with loose bolt knobs is hazardous, similarly to driving with the motor’s clamp screws loose, and it could result in an accident.
Never operate the motor without the motor’s stop switch (“kill-switch”) attached to your arm.
For motor operation and maintenance please refer to the motor’s owner’s manual.
Scouting and Sight Fishing
Scouting is best done on flat water while paddling in the standing position. Since scouting is usually done at a slow speed without much maneuvering it is advantageous to learn how to paddle on one side of your kayak using a canoeing style J-stroke to keep tracking.
Many anglers are concerned about spooking the fish by making unnecessary noise, such as when they drop their paddle in order to seize a fishing rod and cast a fly or a bait at a fish they’ve just spotted. These anglers usually outfit their W kayak’s cockpit with thick foam along its rim (coaming), which dampens the impact and noise of the paddle when they let it down to rest there, sometimes in a groove they make in the foam.
You can easily drop an anchor is in the space between the hulls’ tips in front or behind the cockpit – according to your fishing needs. You can also make an adjustable anchor trolley system as shown in this website’s ‘outfitting’ section. If you fish in a stream you can use an anchor to slow your drifting downstream or a heavier anchor to keep your kayak in place. Some W anglers use an anchor pulley. For flat shallow water, using a stakeout pole can work better than an anchor.
The Wavewalk® Kayak offers you the ability to cast to longer distances, which presents two advantages: 1. Being able to cover more water from a stationary position before you need to move your kayak 2. Some fish species can sense the presence of your kayak nearby and therefore are better caught from a distance.
You can cast to longer distances with any gear from the powerful riding position. The standing position is also good for casting to longer distances. Casting from the sitting position is less powerful, although it still enables better casting than the traditional kayaking position does in other kayaks.
You will find that netting smaller catch is very easy, and by gripping the fish through the net the hooks can be removed with minimal damage to the fish. As for bigger fish, dropping them in one of the hulls will assure that they don’t slip away and will give you the possibility to deal with them on your own terms.
Reentering Your Wavewalk® Fishing Kayak From Deep Water
From the back: To enter your Wavewalk® Fishing Kayak from the back you need to position yourself behind it and grab the hulls’ two tips. Hoist yourself upward and start crawling upward and forward with your legs positioned on both sides of the boat. Use your legs to help you balance the boat. Doing it slowly and carefully is better than trying to rush things. After you have going forward enough over the cockpit just let your legs drop into the hulls, and position yourself in the stable Riding position. It is possible to perform this entry without help from other people if you do it slowly and carefully. Obviously, it is easier if someone can help you balance the boat by holding one or both handles in the bow.
From the side: Position yourself on the side of the kayak with one hand holding the spray deflector. Push yourself upward and grab the spray deflector on the other side of the kayak, then quickly move one leg up and on top of the cockpit while your head and shoulders point in the other direction, so your body is in an angle and almost sideways to the kayak. This method requires more agility and fitness than reentry from the back of the kayak. If it doesn’t work and you feel the kayak isn’t stable, slide quickly back into to water, and then try again, or try reentering the cockpit from the back of the kayak. If one hull has water in it, it can serve as a counter-balance, and you should reenter the kayak from the other side.
Demo video contributed by Berny Marsden, from the UK:
Berny designed and built this DIY Wavewalk with some help from us, and he named it “Banana Split” 🙂 . The load capacity and dimensions of this boat are comparable to those of the W700.
Before you go back into the cockpit make sure the paddle is secured, and it’s not in your way. Practicing will improve your deep water entry skills.
Your Wavewalk® Fishing Fishing Kayak offers some exceptional advantages in shallow water, so we’ve dedicated a special section of this website to shallow water fishing
Surf And Ocean
This website has a special section dedicated to surf launching, surf playing, paddling, surfing and beaching in this challenging, fun environment. Please visit our our surf & ocean page.
Normally the interior of the boat stays dry, and if some rain or spray gets in it is drained to the bottom of the hulls where it does not bother you. Similarly to other small boats, when you’re on the water in your Wavewalk® Fishing Kayak you can drain it using a small bucket, a hand operated bilge pump or an electric bilge pump. Some W kayakers use a big sponge or a big towel for this matter. When the W Fishing Kayak is on dry land you drain it in no time just by grabbing the handles and overturning it. The water will drain out from the special drainage holes in the top side of the cockpit rim.
When beaching (taking out) you normally don’t have to step in water: When paddling to shore position yourself in the back of the cockpit – This will raise the bow and make it easy for you to advance high enough on dry ground. When stepping out from the boat do it from the front so you don’t have to get your feet wet.
Tandem (Two Adults)
Paddling in Tandem
-Two children weighing less than 100 lb each can hardly be considered a real tandem in terms of the special challenges facing two full size paddlers i.e. adults.
Paddling any kayak in tandem is always a challenge, but paddling a Wavewalk® Kayak in tandem is easier. Before anything, do not attempt to paddle a Wavewalk® 500 Kayak in tandem unless both paddlers are experienced W kayakers. The heavier and more experienced paddler should preferably ride in the back of the cockpit, where he/she can see what the new paddler is doing, instruct him/her and compensate for errors if necessary. Paddling a Wavewalk® 500 Kayak in tandem is not recommended if one of the paddlers weighs over 200 lb, and if the total weight of both paddlers exceeds 350 lb. Do not paddle in tandem in any position other than Riding, which is the stablest, and the one that offers best control. Do not attempt to paddle a Wavewalk® 500 Kayak in tandem at sea or on moving water unless you’ve gained considerable experience in W Kayaking in general, and in tandem W Kayaking in particular.
You and your padding partner can paddle a Wavewalk® Kayak in tandem using either two canoe paddles, one canoe paddle and one kayak paddle, or two kayak paddles -What really matters is your teamwork, ability to understand each other and your individual paddling skills. Note: The W kayak is a small vessel, and like any other vessel it becomes slower and less stable when overloaded. You need to take into consideration these factors when planning any tandem activity with your W Kayak. Most importantly, make sure you’ve read about the weight limitations for this kayak » Also, beaching in tandem is more difficult than solo because you can no longer raise the bow effectively. W kayaking in tandem can be a lot of fun if performed correctly and safely.
Fishing in Tandem
Generally, it is not advised for two people to sit in a small boat and fish together since this is an accident prone situation. This is especially true for young and inexperienced fishermen. It is possible for two people fishing together from the cockpit of a Wavewalk® 500 fishing kayak to have one fisherman face the bow while the other faces the stern. This leaves more room in front of each of them for casting and reeling the fish in, but in any case both fishermen will not be free in their actions and they must be very careful in everything they do, and constantly aware of their partner’s actions. It is possible to paddle this way for short distances but only if the front passenger (I.E. the one facing forward) is paddling. Since the W fishing kayak is totally symmetrical from bow to stern the two passengers can take turns in paddling. For example: while the one at the bow is paddling forward the other that’s facing backward can cast or troll providing he/she does it carefully. Turning inside the cockpit is easier for lightweight passengers, but heavier passengers can learn to do it too after some practicing. It is important to do it in full coordination with the other passenger, and advised to practice in shallow water first.. It is best for people fishing and/or paddling in tandem to do so in the riding position, which is stabler than sitting. It is not advised to stand in this kayak while two people are fishing from it.
Note: Unlike the W500, the new W700 is a full-tandem paddling, fishing and motor boat
Storing the Kayak
The proper way to store this kayak is with its cockpit facing up.
Do not store this kayak with anything heavy resting on top of it, or with anything pulling its hulls apart. It’s best to cover the cockpit with a tarp, in order to prevent rain, snow, animals and insects from getting inside.
Cold weather You can store this kayak outside even in cold weather but you’d need to make sure it doesn’t get filled with water or snow, since freezing water expands and could damage it.
Hot weather You can store this kayak outside in hot weather and direct sunlight, although storing it in the shade is better in the long run.
A Wavewalk® Kayak requires no maintenance, and you can store it outside in cold and hot weather. The W Kayak is rotationally molded from High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) which is stronger, more durable and more resilient than other materials used in kayaks and canoes. This is why it is unlikely to get damaged, but it also makes it difficult to repair so it is not advised that you try and perform repairs by yourself without first consulting with us.
You will find that your Wavewalk® Fishing Kayak offers many possibilities and is very easy to outfit. For more information please visit this website’s outfitting and rigging page.
Exceptionally tall and/or very heavy people, and/or people with certain physical disabilities can find it more difficult to paddle traditional canoes and kayaks. Similarly, such people might experience some difficulties in W Kayaking that most people won’t experience, or would experience to a lesser extent.
These limitations are true mainly for the 500 series, while the 700 series offers practically anyone to paddle, solo and in tandem
Attaching outriggers to a fishing kayak offers limited benefits in terms of initial (primary) stability, and even less so with secondary stability. Outriggers significantly impede the kayak and make it harder to paddle. Outriggers are also known to limit the kayak’s mobility in shallow water where weeds and grass grow. Outriggers also reduce the kayak’s ‘fishability’ by snagging your lines.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us by phone or by email if you need additional information.
We’d welcome your comments and suggestions about the design of this page, and what additional information and links we should include in it.