Tag Archive: mobility

Portable boats

Car-topped Wavewalk S4 portable skiff

Introduction

Portable boats have been around for decades, and over time, they have gained many fans, as well as opponents.
This article is an attempt to shed more light on this subject, clarify the basic things that are worth knowing, determine factors that should be given consideration when deciding whether to buy a portable boat or not, and which type, as well as offer information on the latest developments in this field.
Special attention is given to Wavewalk’s Series 4 (S4), a new type of portable boat based on the company’s patented invention. The S4 is good new for those who are looking to get a high performance car-top boat without compromising on stability, comfort and dryness.

The following playlist includes YouTube videos showing the S4 used in different applications and environments, and by different people. One of the videos shows a user uploading an S4 on top of his SUV in under thirty seconds –

 

Make sure to set the YouTube player to watching the videos on this playlist in 1080p HD Hi-Definition.
Use the > button to play the next movie, and the < button to return to the previous one.

Portable boat – Definition

A portable boat is a small boat that’s lightweight enough for a person to upload onto their vehicle’s roof rack in order to transport it this way. A portable boat must also be lightweight enough for one person to carry by hand from their vehicle to the water, and back. In other words, a portable boat is a car-top boat, and vice versa.
This is to say that portable boats do not require transportation by trailer.
But not all trailer-free boats offer the same degree of portability, and some small dinghies, Jon boats and motorized boards may be hauled onto a pickup truck bed, but still be too heavy and bulky for either car topping or easy carrying. Therefore, these small boat are not true portable boats.

Are kayaks portable boats?

Kayaks are not considered to be portable boats despite their being small and typically lightweight enough to be car topped and carried by hand. This is because kayaks don’t lend themselves to effective motorizing, and the same is true for canoes, with the exception for square-stern canoes designed to accommodate a small outboard motor, and be driven on flat water.
Kayaks with built-in electric trolling motors are not portable boats either, since their motors are extremely weak in comparison to the smallest portable outboard gas engines that power boats.
Only a vessel that is both a boat in the full sense of functionality and comfort expected from a motorboat, as well fully portable, may qualify as a portable boat.

Are motorized boards portable boats?

Motorized boards are vessels that offer neither minimal free board nor sufficient load capacity to count as boats. Ironically, some of them are too heavy to be car-topped, which is yet another reason why they may not count as portable boats.

Portability is key

Portability can save you both time and money.
In dollar terms, portability saves you the money that you would have spent on a boat trailer. It’s always good to have a few extra dollars to spend on the boat itself, or on fishing gear.
However, what’s more important is the fact that a portable boat saves you time that you can spent having fun on the water, instead of on the road, driving to or from a boat ramp, as boat ramps are the only places that allow you to launch a boat from a trailer. By the same token, a portable boat saves you waiting time at the boat ramp, waiting for other boat owners to launch their boats, or take them out before you could do it with your own boat. Owning a car-top boat guarantees that you’d never arrive to a boat ramp just to find that the facility had run out of parking space for your vehicle and your boat trailer.
Simply put, portability frees you to launch anywhere you want, and in the case of the S4, even in rocky beaches a.k.a. “Rock Gardens”, as seen in one of the videos featuring in the above playlist.

Rigid Hull

Portable boats include dinghies, Jon boats and square-stern canoes that are small and lightweight enough for car topping. Typically, such boats are made from aluminum (welded or riveted), fiberglass, or plastic resin such as Polyethylene (PE).
A rigid hull offers the advantage of being ready to go on water without spending time and energy on inflating and assembly. As soon as they are out of the water, rigid-hull portable boats (RIB) cannot be car-topped without deflating or disassembling them.
One of the drawbacks of a car-topped boat compared to a boat transported on a trailer is that with a car-top boat, you have to mount the outboard motor on the boat before you launch, and dismount it at the end of the trip, so you could transport it inside your vehicle. This said, an experienced boat owner can mount and dismount a small, namely portable outboard motor within a couple of minutes.

Folding Hull

A folding hull is made from rigid panels attached by flexible sections. Folding a boat makes it take less space, and being less bulky can be an advantage for transportation.
Upon arrival to the launching spot, a folding hull needs to be unfolded, and the boat requires assembly for its seats, transom, etc., which can take up to twenty minutes. Disassembling the boat and folding it back can take a similar time, and altogether, whatever time is gained as a result of not having to launch at a boat ramp thanks to the lack of a trailer, might be wasted on tedious assembly and disassembly work.

Inflatable Boat and Inflatable Pontoons

Inflatable dinghies are made from soft parts, and rigid inflatable boats (RIB) have rigid parts too, which require both assembly and inflation before launching, and disassembly as well as deflation and folding at the end of the trip. These extra activities can take considerable time, even for an experienced user with a good electric pump.
Generally speaking, anglers typically prefer not to fish out of inflatable boats because of the risk of a fishing hook or a knife perforating the hull.

Folding Catamaran

Some small catamarans may be transported on top of a vehicle. These boats feature closed rigid hulls namely pontoons, and their decks are made from sections that can be assembled for boating, and disassembled to allow transportation on a vehicle. Typically, these are sailing catamarans, and they are rarely used for fishing.

Stability, Comfort, and Seaworthiness problems in portable boats

The need to compact the boat so it could be car-topped leads to some portable boat designs lacking in seaworthiness, stability, and comfort.
Canoes feature either round bottomed or flat bottomed hulls. The first is extremely tippy and prone to rolling, especially for a crew of more than one, and the latter is stabler on flat water, but insufficiently stable in choppy water, and in the presence of powerboats’ wakes.
Jon boats, aluminum dinghies and micro skiffs that feature a flat bottom hull are moderately stable on flat water, especially if they are very wide, but they lack the stability required for driving and fishing in moving water.
Jon boats, dinghies and skiffs with a shallow V hull are more stable in moving water, but less stable on flat water.
Inflatable dinghies are very wide, and they are designed to allow driving in moving water, but these boats are not comfortable.

Small, compact boats are not the most comfortable, with the exception of the S4, which features a large-size saddle resembling the saddle seats found in bigger personal watercraft (PWC) sometimes called jet-skis. The S4’s saddle combined its twin-hull design delivers the highest performance in terms of balancing, namely the users’ ability to react instantly, intuitively and effortlessly to changes, as well as actively balance the boat. The S4’s stability combined with the effective balancing capabilities it offers to its users contribute to its exceptional seaworthiness.

Which car-top boat is the most portable?

A boat’s portability is affected mainly by its weight. The S4 weighs a little less than 100 lbs without a motor, and this makes it the lightest boat relatively to its load capacity of over 600 lbs. The S4 also features a fully rigid twin-hull that requires no time-consuming inflation or assembly. Therefore, it is fair to say that the S4 is the world’s most portable boat.

Which portable boat is the most stable?

The Wavewalk S4 is the world’s most stable in its category of portable boats that require neither inflation nor assembly. With its load capacity of over 600 lbs and its saddle seat, this patented boat can carry up to three adult passengers on board, and they may all stand up at the same time  –

Which portable boat is the most seaworthy?

This question is more difficult to answer, since many inflatable and rigid-inflatable dinghies are very wide and designed to go in rough water. However, for a rigid hull portable boat, the Wavewalk S4 is the most seaworthy, since it can go in the ocean in waves up to 5 ft, and its driver can drive it in waves while they stand.

What is the most comfortable portable boat?

Portable boats usually come with simple bench-like seats, or basic swivel seats. Inflatable dinghies offer the driver and sometimes the passengers to sit on its inflatable chambers, or pontoons. Such seating accommodations are not ergonomically designed, which is why they are rather uncomfortable. On top of this, such crude seats do not provide boaters with effective means to o balance themselves, and this balancing deficiency becomes a severe comfort problem in rough water, as well as on longer trips.
The Wavewalk S4 is the only portable boat that features an ergonomically designed PWC saddle-seat. These seats prevent back pain and they offer their users means for quick and efficient reaction to change, as well as easy, natural, intuitive, and highly effective balancing, including whilr going in rough water. S4 driver and passengers can face forward while they ride (straddle) the saddle with a foot in each hull, and they can also face sideways while sitting side-saddle with both feet in one hull. This works not just for small size people as well as for big and heavy guys. The above video playlist includes a movie showing an angler who weighs 330 lbs enjoying driving an S4 and fishing from it while seated side-saddle.

Which portable boat is the most versatile?

The Wavewalk S4 is hands down the most versatile portable boat, due to multiple reasons. These include the fact that the S4 works perfectly as a paddle craft both in a canoeing and kayaking mode. This excellent performance in a human powered mode is unique among motorboats, and it is important not just as an alternative for motorizing in case of emergency, such as engine problems, getting stranded at low tide, etc., but also for going in extremely shallow water (skinny water) where even small and lightweight boats draft too much. This is to say that the S4 is unbeatable as far as mobility is concerned.
The S4 also works both in a solo and tandem mode with up to three adult passengers, and it features a frontal casting deck, as skiffs do.
The S4’s seaworthiness is so good that it can serve as a fun boat for playing in waves. The S4 can also be easily towed by a bigger boat or hauled on board, and together with its generous load capacity, these attributes turn it into a most effective boat tender for yachts and big boats.

Image gallery

The following images offer a quick, condensed glimpse into various aspects of the S4, both as a car-top motorboat and a paddle craft, for leisure and fishing. For a better insight on the S4’s capabilities watch movies in the above playlist.

 

 

Recommended reading: Super Stability – What makes small boats and kayaks more stable »

 

Training my retriever dog with my Wavewalk 700 duck hunting kayak

By Chris Henderson

Fishing Kayaks of Gig Harbor

Went hunting yesterday and it was the first time I was able to get my retriever out.  Mixed results, she actually started getting a bit shy of the gun, which will take a lot of work to fix.  Definitely fixable but a bit more work before she is in the next video.
It was just Torri and I so I used the W700.  It is a trusty platform for getting to the duck hunting spot and my go to boat.  Others with motors and heavier boats dare not tread where we hunt (in truth they would sink trying to pull the boat across the mud the 700 is heavy enough!).  But it was a bright sunny day and the water was like glass.  I even had a cup of coffee while the current took me back to the ramp.
Here is a link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dasd8UVHWo

Wavewalk S4 with a 6.5 HP mud motor – first test

By Chris Henderson

Fishing Kayaks of Gig Harbor

Today I was able to do my first test drive of the Wavewalk S4 with a mud motor!

As a duck hunter the potential for the S4 is incredible. Couple that with a mud motor and you can access places that others cannot go. I hunt tidal mud flats where traditional boat motors are difficult to use due to the changing tides (water depth) as well as the sand bars that constantly shift. The mud motor allows operation in very shallow water and lets me get over those sand bars. Other duck hunters hunt in flooded timber where the logs eat propellers for lunch and occasionally eat whole lower units. The mud motor is the only way to travel safely in those kind of swamps. That is why putting a mud motor on the S4 is like combining peanut butter and chocolate.
This was my very first run, so I have a lot to learn about operating this kind of motor.

There are a lot of different styles of mud motors out there and the cost can be very prohibitive. But I found a kit which is created by Mud-skipper called the Twister. Rather than a straight shaft it has a curved shaft. At first I was concerned that due to this the turning radius of the boat would be dramatically effected. As it turns out that fear was unwarranted. The two hulls actually keep you from turning too sharp which could cause you to overturn considering the nature of how the motor turns. The 6.5 hp was plenty of horse power and I cavitated way before I ran out of power.

Lots of experimenting to do to get it all dialed in but it was a great first test run.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

More kayak rigging, fishing and bow duck hunting with Chris »

Pedal drive for my fishing kayak?

Again?!..

Wavewalk hasn’t offered a pedal drive with its fishing kayaks because of two reasons, which are that we found neither demand for such accessory among our clients, nor any real advantage in offering such a device to them, regardless of the increased price we would have to charge for it.

Years ago, we published the results of our research on this subject in a 4,000 word Paddle vs Pedal Drive in Fishing Kayaks article, which hasn’t gotten much interest from our clients.

The reason we now publish this new, shorter article on this subject is to make sure that our clients are exposed to all ideas and possibilities, and have a chance to express their views on this subject, as well as their wishes, if any.

Recent developments

Our new 700 series offers to incorporate a pedal drive more easily than the 500 design did. On the other hand, two out of the three pedal driven fishing kayaks manufacturers mentioned in our first article have suffered serious setbacks in recent years, while some of the pro-staffers affiliated with the third manufacturer express themselves with so much zeal that it makes them look like members of a cult, and this is not a good sign, in our opinion. A fourth kayak company recently announced that it was planning to add a pedal drive to its line of SOT fishing kayaks, but a video they released revealed nothing more than a ‘me too’ version of the two existing rotational drives.

Summary of pros and cons

The following tables include some of the main points that we find relevant to this discussion:

1. Functionality

-What can I do?

 Push Pedals & Flaps Drive
Rotational Pedals & Propeller Drive
Paddle
1
Balancing
NoNoYes
2
Tracking
NoNoYes
3
TurningNoNoYes
4
PolingNoNoYes
5
Backward Thrust
NoYesYes
6
Forward Thrust
YesYesYes

Practically speaking, none of the kayak pedal drives on the market can be used without a rudder system, and no pedal kayak fisherman goes on a fishing trip without taking a paddle with them.

2. Mobility

-Where can I go without restrictions?

  Push-Pedals & Flaps Drive
Rotational Pedals & Propeller Drive
Paddle
1
Skinny Water
NoNoYes
2
Weeds & Vegetation
NoNoYes
3
Fast Streams
NoNoYes
4
Deep Water
YesYesYes

Again, using a kayak outfitted with a pedal drive automatically means that you need to use a rudder system, as well as take a paddle with you, just in case.

3. Ergonomics

-Who can use it?

  Push-Pedals & Flaps Drive
Rotational Pedals & Propeller Drive
Paddle & Ordinary Kayak
Paddle & Wavewalk® Kayak
1
Young & Physically FitYesYesYesYes
2
Middle Aged
LimitedYesYesYes
3
Elderly
NoNoLimitedYes
4
Heavy
NoNoLimitedYes
5
Balance Disabilities
NoNoLimitedYes
6
Sensitive Back
NoNoNoYes

This table refers to typical, several hour long fishing trips, and it does not show the fact that the W700 offers full tandem capabilities standard, at any time.

End of story?

So far, the data presented in this article seems to lead to the conclusion that the reader should stop wasting their time reading it, especially in view of the fact that Wavewalk leads in motorized solutions, which are so practical, fast and ergonomic. But what if we could come up with a better pedal drive? –

 A better pedal drive?

Yes, we can design a pedal drive for the W700 that would be considerably more functional than the existing kayak pedal drives in terms of turning and tracking, and therefore it won’t require the use of a rudder. Such pedal drive would offer some advantages in terms of mobility, although it won’t match paddling, and it would be somehow easier and more comfortable to operate than ordinary pedal drives are, although not as easy as paddling. Such pedal drive would require installing a seat with a backrest, which many of our fans are unlikely to appreciate, and it would limit the usability of the boat for tandem crews. And last but not least, such pedal drive would add an estimated $1,500 to the W700 retail price, a point which cannot be ignored, especially since such sum is enough to equip a W700 with both a powerful gas outboard motor mounted at the stern, and a small, lightweight, front mounted electric trolling motor. Did we mention the fact that the 6 HP Tohatsu outboard can be outfitted with an alternator that would charge the battery of such a trolling motor?…

So, this time we managed to keep our article under 800 words, and we hope it would serve the visitors of our website as food for thought, or at least as entertainment…

Everglades stand up paddling (and attempted fishing) trip

By Steve Lucas

Put the W thru some glades back country. We had no particular plan except to make it into Coot Bay. The weather was so nice that we continued into Mud Lake. We had a blast. We spotted some fish but had no luck catching anything. I remembered that the W has incredible stump jumpin’ capabilities that I have never tested. The W 500 performed brilliantly in the tightest of tunnels.

 

 

Editor’s note: The above movie is a must see. Watch in full screen mode!

everglades-fishing-and-paddling-trip-march-2015

everglades-tunnel

the-kayak-in-the-magroves

Read more about Steve’s fishing trips and rigging tips »