By Bill Davis
Quite a few years ago, back in the mid-1970’s, I was fortunate to work as a mate then captain of a large passenger carrying boat that took people snorkeling on the shallow coral reefs of John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo, Florida.
I promoted our business with the phrase “If you can swim, you can snorkel.” Twice a day, we hauled up to 61 passengers a trip on a wooden Harkers Island-built boat to witness the amazing coral reefs and tropical fish that are found right here in the United States.
Today, the State Park concession that I worked from has about 4 multi-passenger snorkel boats that have evolved from that one vessel.
Like snorkeling, there are many marine sports that have sprouted over my lifetime.
Obviously, canoes have been with us for many years. But, who figured out that you could sit on top of a kayak or stand up to paddle a fat surfboard? These are relatively recent innovations that have attracted a huge following.
Then, there are those Wave Runners. When I grew up in the Fifties, we never figured you could have a motorcycle that flew across the water.
All of those sports are fun for those of us who swim but owning all four: a canoe, kayak, paddle board and Wave Runner is expensive, space consuming, and a major maintenance hassle.
What if one vessel did all this, and more?
The Wavewalk catamaran style skiff is the stable and portable boat that literally, does it all. A visit to the company website at wavewalk.com will show you the W500 and W700 solo and tandem twin hull kayaks that are easy on your back because they are straddled like a Wave Runner. Fishermen are especially fond of the Wavewalk design because they are so easy to stand up in order to spot or cast to their prey.
These magic boats can be paddled with kayak or canoe paddles or outfitted for gas outboard or electric trolling motor or both! And, they are lightweight enough to carry on top of your car without a special carrying rack or trailer.
I discovered the Wavewalk design while I was searching the Internet for the perfect kayak to establish a retirement rental business in Key Largo. My first Wavewalk was purchased at retail price. That little W500 was so good that I used it in my commercial fishing business in the Chesapeake region to supply Blue Catfish fillets to Linda’s Cafe in downtown Lexington Park and the Victorian Candle Bed and Breakfast in historic Hollywood, Maryland.
At present, in addition to two commercial fishing work boats, I have a fleet of Wavewalk kayaks for weekend Wavewalk Adventures in the State Parks and National Sanctuaries that surround Key Largo.
And, I am fortunate to be the exclusive Wavewalk distributor for all of South Florida. Contact me if you are in the Chesapeake region and I can arrange for you to have your own Wavewalk kayak.
On a nearly daily basis, I motor my green W700 skiff through mangrove creeks or out in the ocean to make my own adventures exploring places that are almost impossible to reach by any other method of marine conveyance. This Wavewalk lifestyle is a most wonderful and unexpected retirement pastime that I am most happy to share.
So, if you are tired of being cold this winter and want an excuse to visit the Florida Keys, you have one (as if you really need an excuse to visit paradise).
A trip to my website at floridafishingkayaks.com. will provide all the info you need to schedule a free Wavewalk Wednesday demo of this vessel. Or, a weekend rental with included guide service might be a way to enjoy a complete kayak, canoe, stand-up paddle board package in a boat that “does it all.”
Who knows? You might drive home with one.
Yesterday, I took advantage of a calm, relatively warm day in December to make a morning run to Mallows Bay on the Potomac.
The fog was just lifting as I launched the W500.
I canoe style paddled past the “Ghost Ship” and anchored in the flats just inside the river channel north of the mouth of Mallows Bay Creek. The incoming tide was as I had planned according to the Mayland DNR “Tide Finder” tables.
Pretty soon, I was hooking up and using my rubber boots to push the Blue Cats behind me which was in the forward “foc’scles” of the twin hulls.
Sliding the big cats past my legs was a challenge in the Wavewalk but would have been impossible in a cockpit style kayak. A SOT kayak would have capsized.
I looked back after catching a Baker’s Dozen of medium to big Blue Catfish and noticed the tips of my W500 front hulls were touching the surface of the river.
The tide was still coming in as I eased up the anchor and gingerly paddled home with a couple hundred pounds of catfish chilling in the cat-a-yak.
Got a bigger boat coming. A W700.
I spent the late afternoon fishing from my W500 in my secret spring fed beaver pond.
The leaves have mostly fallen in Maryland but there are pretty colors to please the pupils by plucking pickerel from a placid pond.
Not bragging, but, I kind of lost track of the number of fish on. There were plenty of Eastern Chain Pickerel chomping on my White Pearl Zoom Fluke. One smart a$$ fish even jumped over my line on the retrieve like it was skipping rope. All fish were released. They are very good to eat if you know how to remove the numerous Y shaped bones. Presently, I don’t have good kitchen facilities. I will have my way at BK.
So, don’t put your fishing gear away and winterize your Wavewalk, yet. There are more nice days to enjoy late fall fishing before winter officially arrives.
The proof is in the pics of pickerel.
Took the W500 for a trip to open water in the Potomac River. The cooler weather has driven the Blue Catfish from the sheltered creeks to the edge of the river channel. I learned a few tricks about catfishing in the Wavewalk that will up the catch of cats on future expeditions.
Zero fuel was expended. I paddled.
And, I only used 5 dollars in bait, a third of which I gave to a father and his two sons who needed a little help.
Blue Catfish are probably the most predatory invasive fish in the Chesapeake Watershed. Maryland DNR (Dept. of Nat. Resources) says to catch and keep all you can. I take that as a mission statement.