I’m a retired guide, and I live in the mountains of western North Carolina.
I bought my S4 early this year, but so far I had only one chance to take it out on the river because this year has been been very unusual, since it kept raining until July, and the rivers have been high. The S4 was very stable in fast moving water, and easy to maneuver.
I outfitted our S4 with a 1987 6hp Johnson outboard, and it works perfectly.
My wife and I took our S4 to Florida, and we enjoyed it very much. She likes it, and she even likes driving it.
I drive my S4 with a tiller extension, and I can drive it standing with no problems. I drove it in saltwater at a top speed of 15 mph, and at 13.4 mph in a sustained mode. I noticed that it was going faster in saltwater and at sea level than in freshwater in the mountains. I attribute this to the combination of more oxygen and more buoyancy. Note that the place where I live is at a 2,700 ft elevation.
I take a lot of gear on my fishing trips, and the first time I went fishing with my S4 was confusing for me, since I didn’t know how to store my gear in its hulls. But after I gave it some thought and arranged things properly, the boat turned out to be perfect. I added a storage hatch inside the saddle, works great. I also stiffened the gunnels with wooden ribs so that I could use the sides of the boat to store my fishing gear, and I laid foam on the bottom of the hulls.
I’m planning to add rowing oars to it.
Here are some pictures that show how I rigged it.
Wavewalk S4 motorized kayak skiff
I need the gunnels ridged because I will be attaching oarlocks soon
I wish this was a report on the first trip down the river with the S4 but its not. I had planned to take it out today but we had a pretty strong wind heading upriver most of the day. I have seen people have trouble going down the river with regular kayaks when the headwind was strong, so I figured that I should wait for a later time for my first trip.
I have a 5hp long shaft Honda on order. I was going to go with a Tohatsu but the Honda dealer is local and the Tohatsu dealer is 90 miles away.
I’m attaching a few pictures of what I have been working on as far as a dolly and storage. I bought a C-Tug kayak dolly not knowing if it would work or not but the S4 fits just fine and hauls well.
I attached a couple pulleys to hoist the S4 to the top of the storage cover. I left the C-Tug wheels attached so when I lower it I can just tighten the strap on the dolly and its ready to go.
Finally I put a tarp over the opening to keep the wasps and other critters from setting up a home on the inside.
Skiff design, built, main advantages, and noteworthy shortcomings
Skiffs come in different sizes and configurations, and similarly to Jon boats, they are flat bottomed mono-hulls, a feature that reduces draft, which is advantageous for fishing in shallow water.
But this design feature also makes skiffs less seaworthy compared to other boats of similar size.
This is yet another example of specialization that enhances the product’s performance in one application while diminishing its performance in others.
Skiffs’ limited seaworthiness is the reason for their being unpopular as boats for offshore fishing, and opinions about their performance in bays and estuaries are mixed. The skiff design’s limited seaworthiness is one of the reasons why owners of big boats and yachts don’t use small skiffs dubbed microskiff as tenders.
Typically, skiffs’ hulls are molded from fiberglass, mainly because this material is more durable in saltwater than aluminum, which is the most common building material in Jon boats. However, fiberglass doesn’t perform well in terms of impact resistance, and it requires maintenance, while other polymer resins (plastics) such as Polyethylene don’t.
Fiberglass is also heavier than Polyethylene, too heavy to make a small skiff that’s lightweight enough to be transported on top of a vehicle’s roof, namely a portable skiff.
Skiffs are propelled by one or more outboard motors mounted at their stern.
Typical skiff features
Depending on a skiff’s size and level of outfitting, it may feature a center console, a casting platform at its front, and a tall structure at the stern, for a person to use for poling and/or for sighting fish for one or more anglers fishing from the deck.
Skiff are sometimes outfitted with an electric trolling motor, typically mounted at their bow.
The main advantages of a frontal casting platform are that it offers the angler a broader range of casting, be it with bait, lures, flies, or a fishing net, and it puts a bigger distance between them and other fishers working from the middle of the deck.
The main advantage of a center console is that it improves the driver’s comfort and stability, relatively to driving from the stern, and it allows them to drive standing.
Poling is both exhausting and rather ineffective as a mode of propulsion, and therefore increasingly unpopular among anglers who fish the flats and other shallow water. This leaves the poling platform to serve mainly as a watchtower, and possibly as an ornament.
Electric trolling motors are quiet, and they can be controlled remotely, which is one of the reasons that more skiff owners use them these days.
Microskiff – a class of very small small skiffs
Microskiff is a term that refers to compact skiffs, namely of small size, and typically of reduced features as well. The smaller size saves money on gas and maintenance, but the need to transport microskiffs on a trailer still presents a challenge in terms of launching and beaching, as well as storage.
At the lowest end of microskiffs both in terms of size and price, is a group of large size boards, some of which feature backward pointing extensions that provide extra support for the outboard motor’s weight, and some that don’t. These boards usually offer enough stability and load capacity for just one user (I.E. “solo” skiff), and they hardly offer any free board, which pretty much guarantees that this user will get soaked, whether they like it or not.
As far as comfort is concerned, these large size boards marketed as microskiffs or “solo” skiffs seem to be designed with no concern for ergonomics whatsoever, to a point where watching a video featuring such a skiff might give the viewer an uneasy feeling.
In terms of portability and transportation, their small size allows for an unusually strong person to transport one on a pickup truck bed, but car topping such a vessel is beyond reach for anyone who’s not a professional weight lifter.
Most of these board type skiffs are molded from fiberglass or other cold-molded resins, which reduces their impact resistance, durability, and therefore reliability.
The board skiff that’s made from Polyethylene weighs 150 lbs without the motor, which is still too heavy to rival the portability of most fishing kayaks and canoes, and let’s not forget that square-stern canoes can be outfitted with small outboard motors…
Despite their small size, including a beam (width) that’s narrower than the beam of conventional skiffs, board skiffs do not paddle well, a factor that reduces their appeal to anglers who fish skinny water and water where aquatic vegetation abounds.
The Wavewalk S4 – the smallest and greatest skiff
In physical terms, the Wavewalk S4 is smaller and much lighter than any skiff, microskiff, and board skiff, and it its Polyethylene hull makes it more resistant to impact. It is the only skiff that anyone can car top without help from a second person.
The S4 can carry up to three adult fishermen on board, which is comparable to the crew size of good size skiffs, and it enables these anglers to fish at the same time and standing up, which is something that only full fledged medium sized and bigger skiffs may offer.
The S4 is a much seaworthy skiff that can be driven through ocean waves and other choppy waters without problems, both in a solo mode and with a second passenger on board. The patented combination of its twin-hull (catamaran) and saddle seat is extremely stable as well as easy for the users to balance, even more than a personal watercraft (PWC).
In fact, driving an S4 in the ocean and in choppy water is pure fun.
The S4 offers plenty of free board, which is good news for passengers who are looking to stay dry, and it is the only skiff that can serve as a tender for a big boat or a yacht.
The S4 offers its passengers to use the entire internal space of its twin hulls for on board storage, and this makes its storage capacity rival with full fledged and good size skiffs.
Like a full fledged skiff, the S4 can be easily outfitted with a front mounted electric trolling motor.
And unlike any other skiff, including the smallest board-type microskiffs, or kayak skiffs, the S4 works really well as a paddle craft, namely kayak or canoe, to a point that some owners use it as a fishing kayak, without even motorizing it.
Typically, the S4 is used with outboard motors in the 3.5 HP to 6 HP range, but it can be powered by bigger motors.
In sum, the S4 is a craft that’s so advanced in performance and versatility that it deserves a class of its own.
I love my hard top. It has a removable middle section and permanent raised seats at either end. I can store equipment in the boat while traveling and it provides security for the contents when I am not there.