Tag Archive: load capacity

Jon Boat Stability vs. Wavewalk® S4

Are Jon Boats Stable?

 

If you ask whether Jon Boats are stable, some people would say that they are, and others would warn you to stay away from them because they are tippy and unreliable. Their answer would depend on what they understand by ‘Stability’, what kind of Jon boat they see in their mind, and in what kind of water they see it being used, and these are often based on personal experience.

Is there a stability difference between a Jon boat and a skiff?

Both skiffs and Jon boats are flat bottom lightweight boats that differ in certain hull details, materials used in their construction, and deck structures.
Both are designed to offer as much stability as possible for a small mono-hull boat going on flat water, and as such they are stabler than wide canoes and kayaks of the same length and width.
Foot for foot and inch for inch, we don’t think there are major differences between Jon boats and skiffs in terms of the stability they offer. In other words, a Jon boat and a skiff of the same size, namely both length and width, can be expected to be about as stable as each other.

The twin-hull (“catamaran”) Wavewalk S4 is the world’s most stable portable boat. It is more stable than many Jon boats that feature a bigger hull, as shown in these photos of three fishermen fishing standing in it –

Click images to enlarge

Who Uses Jon Boats, and Where?

Jon boats are small fishing boats that are popular among inland fishermen who fish ponds, small lakes, marshes, and slow moving rivers, namely flat water that’s usually well protected from wind, waves, and preferably from fast motorboats that generate big wakes. These anglers may fish alone, but typically they fish in crews of two. Bigger Jon boats can be used in bigger lakes and rivers.

Factors in Jon Boats’ Stability

Structure, size and passengers

A typical Jon boat features a flat bottom designed to make it draft as little as possible, and thus work well in shallow water, while other Jon boats feature a bottom that’s partially V shaped (sometimes referred to as “Semi-V”) that drafts a little more but offers better performance in choppy water. This V shape should not be confounded with the more seaworthy Deep-V design.
Jon boats can vary in width (Beam) from less than 3 ft to over twice as much, and this difference results in big variations in their stability, in this case initial (primary) stability, sometimes dubbed reserve stability.

When watercraft as small as Jon boats are concerned, passengers are typically the heaviest things on board, which is why passengers’ location and movements can greatly affect the boat’s stability.

Narrow-beam Jon boats are notoriously unstable, especially with a crew of two on board. Their instability can be felt even when they are used for fishing ponds and small lakes, where they are expected to perform at their best. Reading articles about Jon boat stability and user testimonials on this subject could lead the reader to the conclusion that any Jon boat that’s narrower than 48″ might not be stable enough for a tandem crew, and starting from this size, Jon boats get sufficiently stable, especially longer models. Another factor that affects a Jon boat’s stability is its length, since it acts as an enhancement to its width – A longer Jon boat is more stable than a shorter Jon boat of identical width (Beam).

External factors

External factors may destabilize a Jon boat as well, or at least destabilize the passengers on board – Such factors can be wind, waves and other boats’ wakes that hit the boat, especially on its sides (lateral waves).

Size matters, but it may not be enough

We found the following instructions for Calculating a Boat’s Capacity to Carry a Number of Passengers on a boating education website:
On boats less than 20 feet long, the following rule of thumb can be used to calculate the number of persons (weighing 150 lbs each) the boat can carry safely in fair weather and calm water conditions:
Number of passengers = boat length in ft x boat width in ft : 15
Example for a good size Jon boat or skiff: 15 ft x 4 ft = 60, and 60:15 = 4 passengers

However, the above formula seems outdated in view of the fact that these days the average adult US female weighs 160 lbs, and the average adult US male weighs 200 lbs.
Therefore, to calculate the number of adult passengers in a Jon boat, we suggest to use the same formula and divide the result by 20 instead of by 15.
Example for the same Jon boat or skiff: 15 ft x 4 ft = 60, and 60:20 = 3 passengers

Can the 13 ft long and 38″ wide Wavewalk S4 carry 3 passengers on board?
The answer is yes, in fair weather and calm water conditions:

Captain Larry Jarboe, of Key Largo, Florida. Click image to read the story

 

Balancing capability

When small craft are concerned, the boat’s own stability plays an important role in the overall stability of the combined boat and crew, but the passengers’ ability to balance themselves effectively is critical as well, which is to say that a wider Jon boat may not necessarily offer better means for its crew to balance themselves effectively –
Jon boats often feature rudimentary bench-like seats that are similar to ones found in canoes and dinghies, or high swivel seats such as can be found in bass boats. Neither types of seats are optimized for supporting the user’s balancing efforts, and they’re not very good in keeping their user anchored to their place and in full  control of their body’s center of gravity (CG).
This ergonomic deficiency exposes a Jon boat’s passenger to unexpected lateral (side) motion, as well as vertical motion, whether such motion is the result of an external force such as a wave or another boat’s wake, the movement of another passenger on board, or even the strong reaction of the boat to that passenger’s own movements.  More specifically, people on board a Jon boat can have a hard time finding their footing and balancing themselves intuitively, comfortably and effortlessly, and from the moment they lose their footing and balance, their own weight can act as an additional destabilizing factor that may tip the boat over, send its passengers overboard, and in some cases even overturn the boat.

A Jon boat of a smaller size works better as a fishing boat for one angler than it does for a crew of two.

Directional stability and lateral stability

Typically, Jon boats are motorized, and the flat bottomed ones can be easily deflected from their course as well as destabilized when going in lateral waves, especially at higher speeds. In such cases, the deficiency in a Jon boat’s lateral stability can become more problematic by the lack of good directional stability (tracking capability) that characterizes such boats, in particular ones that feature a flat bottom. People who use such boats are quick to head back home as soon as the wind picks up.
Jon boats with a V-shaped hull do better in waves and wind, thanks to the fact that they have some capability to go through waves and not necessarily on top of them, which isn’t the case with flat bottomed Jon boats that are essentially designed for use on flat water only.
This said, although Jon boats are not considered to be seaworthy craft, the bigger ones are sufficiently stable to offer a good experience to a crew of two or more anglers who fish inland, preferably in calm and protected waters, and away from fast motorboat traffic.

Stability: Jon Boats vs. Wavewalk® Series 4 (S4)

 

A detailed stability comparison between Jon boats and the Wavewalk® S4 is almost impossible to complete, because Jon boats vary so much in size and structure, and they can range from a flat bottomed, 32″ wide and 10 ft long (1032) boat to a V-bottom 72″ wide and 18 ft long one (1872), which can be assigned to another class of boats.

The Wavewalk form presents two main stability advantages:
The first comes from the fact that all the Wavewalk’s buoyancy is distributed as far as possible from the boat’s center line, where this buoyancy works more effectively to support lateral changes, whether such changes are external of generated on board.
The second advantage is the Wavewalk’s Personal Watercraft saddle seat that offers the passengers who ride it optimal, easy and intuitive means to balance themselves. This advantage is critical in view of the fact that the passengers’ total weight can be as big the the Jon boat’s weight, and it often exceeds this weight. For example, in the photo above, the passengers’ aggregated weight exceeds the S4’s weight by a factor of 5:1.

So, in order to avoid tedious detailed stability comparisons, let us simplify things and state that in general, the bigger models in the Jon boat class (over 54″ beam) are more stable than the S4, the smaller Jon boat models (less than 48″ beam) are less stable, and as for the the midsize models (48″ to 54″) the answer would depend on parameters such as their length (longer is more stable), and whether they feature a flat bottom or a V-shaped bottom, as discussed in the previous section of this article.

Bottom line: Compared to the traditional Jon boat design, the Wavewalk S4’s form and improved ergonomics add stability which is the equivalent of about 1 ft in width.

Portability and paddling capacity

More specifically, the Wavewalk® S4 is stabler than any car-topper namely portable Jon boat. Which is to say that if you’re looking for a Jon boat that’s more stable than the S4, you must take into consideration transporting and storing it on a trailer, as well as limitations in launching it, namely being dependent on launch ramps that come with trailer boats.

In addition, the Wavewalk® S4 is more stable than any Jon boat that can be propelled by means of paddling, whether it’s with dual blade (kayak) paddles or single-blade (canoe) paddles. This fact is particularly meaningful when very shallow water (‘skinny water’) fisheries are concerned, and no-motor zones (NMZ).

 

 

Seaworthiness

Generally speaking, Jon boats are not considered as being seaworthy, while Wavewalk® boats are more seaworthy thanks to their good  tracking capability and advanced ergonomics. These two factors allow for high performance when dealing with choppy water, which is why the S4 punches above its weight in terms of seaworthiness.

 

 

 

Payload

Small craft are penalized for their size in several ways, and one of them is their sensitivity to carrying more weight on board, which makes them slower and less stable. This is true for all boat designs, including Jon boat and Wavewalk. Therefore if you’re looking for stability for a larger crew of heavier people, say two big and heavy guys or more, your best bet is a very large Jon boat or skiff, that is 6 ft or more in width, and over 16 ft in length, and preferably with a V shaped bottom, so that you could drive it at higher speed. Two large size fishermen can go in an S4 and have a great time traveling and fishing for an entire day without experiencing any stability problem, even standing up, but they would not necessarily be able to go at speeds as high as a large size Jon boat or skiff offers.

Beach cleaning mission – Wavewalk 700 as a service boat and pickup truck with lots of storage

By Captain Larry Jarboe

Florida Fishing Kayaks

 

Yesterday, I was joined by my wife, Carlene, and our local pirate queen, Calypso, to take a beach clean-up of the only naturally sandy beach in Key Largo.
We took the commercial fishing boat decked with W700’s to paddle and motor our way in.
Upon arrival offshore of Rattlesnake Key beach, I proceeded to anchor beyond casting range, upwind, and up current of a flats guide boat. Never, would I place my boat down current within the chum slick of a working fisherman. Nor, am I stupid enough to put my boat within casting range of an 8 ounce lead flung by a 6 foot Ugly Stik.
The most fashionably dressed guide proceeded to dress me out at the top of his lungs which I could barely hear as he was shouting into the breeze fifty yards downwind.
Somehow, I managed to gather that he thought I was blocking his fish from coming to him. to bite.
Rather than argue with ignorance, I moved my work boat further out to sea. The outboard motor on my Wavewalk more than compensates for increased distance to travel to shore.
My wife stayed on board as the “monitoring mate” of the Line Dancer while Calypso and I motored ashore to do our part to clean up the environment.
We all watched the guide and his two customers not catch fish as he spent most of his time flinging a fly line back and forth into the wind.
First rule of fishing: put your hook in the water.
However, that nasty tempered guide did look king of pretty in his fancy fishing outfit. But, my mates are a lot more foxy…

 

 

Carlene and Calypso on board the Line Dancer, which served as mother ship for our beach cleaning expedition

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

More fishing adventures with Capn’ Larry »

Wavewalk 700 as a service boat

By Captain Larry Jarboe

 

Keeping Key Largo mangroves clean – The Wavewalk 700 fishing kayak in a pickup truck capacity.

Keeping the mangroves clean – Wavewalk 700 taking part in a personal environmental conservation initiative

 

Upper Sound Point at Rattlesnake Key.   Dragging this fishing kayak on the ground is easy even with a 5hp outboard motor attached to it, in a skiff mode.

 

 

More fishing adventures with Capn’ Larry »

Storage

How much gear can you store in a Wavewalk® 500?

 

Thom and Julie Martin from Michigan love to go on long camping and fishing trips, and they always take their Wavewalk kayaks with them.
They wanted to check how much camping and fishing gear they could fit in a W kayak, and they documented their findings.
Says Julie:
-“Plenty! This is clothing and linens for the both of us for two weeks, charcoal, chairs, umbrella, hammock, personal flotation devices, snorkel masks with flippers, and of course the fishing rods!
With 8.8 cubic feet available, I got it all in the boat, except for three large bags that I will strap to the top. It will all be tarp covered, as we are expecting rain tomorrow during our drive up north.”

 

How much camping and fishing gear fits in a W kayak

 

kayak with biggest storage space for gear

 


SUGGESTED VIDEO OF WAVEWALK 500 RIGGED FOR FISHING WITH INSIGHT ON STORAGE:

 


Read more:

Can you store 36 duck decoys plus other duck hunting gear on board a Wavewalk® 700? (Movie) »

The answer is yes – It all fits inside the boat’s hulls.

No need to attach large size bags on top.

Whatever floats your boat – flotation for fishing kayaks

What is flotation?

Flotation is a category of products and technical solutions that keep your kayak or boat floating in case an accident happened, such as capsize, a punctured hull wall, etc.
What flotation solutions and products have in common is their ability to trap air and attach it to the hull, and by that keep the hull afloat so it could be more easily recovered.
This is to say that typically, flotation provides means for recovery, and it usually adds neither to the boat or kayak’s stability nor to its load capacity.

Why is flotation necessary?

The US Coast Guard (USCG) mandates incorporating flotation In boats bigger than kayaks. Although flotation is not mandatory in kayaks, we think it is necessary as means to preserve our clients’ investment in their W kayak. Many other kayak manufacturers, including those who offer sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks outfit them with some flotation, because they know that SOT kayaks are sinkable.

Types of flotation

Integrated flotation. Some kayaks feature built-in flotation. For example, inflatable kayaks that feature air chambers serving as hull walls, and kayaks that feature urethane foam cast in their hull tips and secured by hardware. For years, Wavewalk kayaks used to feature such flotation cast in their hull tips, until we decided to switch to something better.

Added floatation. Other kayaks are equipped with added foam blocks or noodles stuffed into their hulls. Typically, the material used for this purpose is Polyethylene foam, and these elements are sometimes attached to the hull with hardware. Many sit-in and SOT kayaks come with such flotation, and many anglers who use such kayaks for fishing add more floatation to them, since they don’t trust the factory supplied floatation to suffice in case of an accident.

Detachable flotation. Typically, detachable floatation consists of inflatable bladders stuffed into the kayak’s hull tips, and attached to the hull by straps.  Currently, Wavewalk’s kayaks are the only ones that feature detachable flotation modules made from Polyethylene foam. These modules can be attached to the kayak’s sides or between its hulls, under the saddle, where they’re still above the surface.

Inflatable bladders vs. Polyethylene foam

Inflatable bladders are lightweight, sealed plastic bags, and as such they’re effective as internal floatation for kayaks. But since anglers carry on board their kayaks sharp objects such as fishhooks and knives, they don’t like the idea of having inflatable plastic bags inside the boat, and most of them would scoff at the idea of having such objects attached to the deck or to the sides of their kayak, where they would be exposed to various sharp objects that could puncture them.
In contrast, polyethylene foam modules are tolerant to sharp objects, and they can keep serving their intended purpose even after having come many times in close contact with fishhooks and knife blades. As far as maintenance is concerned, unlike inflatable bladders, Polyethylene foam modules require neither checking for pressure nor being re-inflated.

Side flotation vs. internal flotation

The W kayak is the only one offering its users to attach flotation on its sides. This in itself is not a complete novelty, as some high-end fishing and hunting canoes have been featuring static (non-detachable) side flotation for decades. The advantage of attaching the flotation modules on the kayak’s side is that doing so can prevent to kayak from flipping in case on an accident.  The downside of having flotation modules on the kayaks side are  that they can be in the paddle’s way when the passengers are paddling, and fishhooks can get caught in them. Some W kayakers feel that foam noodles attached to their kayak’s sides are unsightly, so they attach their flotation modules between the kayak’s hulls, under the saddle but above waterline, where they’re almost entirely hidden from sight.

Internal flotation is hidden from sight, which is an aesthetic advantage for those who care about such things, and about paddling comfort and problems with fishhooks etc. But having bulky blocks of foam or inflatable bags stuffed inside your kayak’s hull tips takes away from the storage space it offers, and that could mean less stuff that you can carry on board.

Polyethylene foam vs. Urethane foam

Urethane foam can be cast into a cavity in a boat’s hull, or in a kayak’s hull tips, but casting it is not easy, and once the cast foam is in its place it can be easily displaced, and become moldy if moisture finds its way between the foam and the hull’s wall. Furthermore, urethane foam can deteriorate over time, so that eventually it may require replacement.

Polyethylene foam cannot be cast at will, but it is more durable and therefore more reliable as kayak flotation.

Flotation for motorized kayaks

Outfitting a W kayak with a motor mount and outboard motor can increase its weight by more than 50%, and all this added weight is located in one place, which increases the likelihood of an accident, especially at high speed. This means that adding flotation is much needed, which is why Wavewalk recommends using large-size Polyethylene foam noodles instead of standard ones, and offers two models that come with XL flotation modules.

Flotation in Moving water

Paddling and fishing in moving water such as fast streams or the ocean increases the probability of accidents, and therefore the need for flotation. Wavewalk offers all its kayak models with detachable flotation modules, and clients can order extra flotation. Alternatively, inexpensive hollow Polyethylene foam noodles are easy to find in department stores, and outfitting them with a bungee cord and a pair of hooks isn’t hard.

Flotation in shallow water

Some W kayakers and anglers who fish in very shallow water feel their W kayak is so stable that they would never capsize it, and even if they did, they would have no problem recovering it even if it’s not outfitted with flotation. We think these clients should be more prudent since accidents have a tendency to happen in conditions that aren’t predictable, and stuff happens is the rule out there, on the water. We understand that a pair of flotation modules attached under the kayak’s saddle adds a little weight to it, but we think it’s worth it.

More on Wavewalk kayaks’ flotation modules »