By Warren “Wardog” Thomas
2.2hp 2-stroke Mercury test on first fishing trip to Rainbow Reservoir, CT, back in April this year. 18 to 25 mph winds, but she ran great!!
Read more about Rox Davis and her bass fishing adventures »
Earlier this year, Kenny One-Shot Tracy outfitted his W500 kayak with side flotation and a 6 hp Tohatsu outboard motor, and showed it going at 13 mph. This was intriguing, and several months later, after we came up with the W570 series for offshore fishing, we wanted to test it with a similar motor.
A W kayak weigh 60 lbs and it’s rated for 2-3 hp motors, so it goes without saying that using it with a 6 hp motor means overpowering it, since these motors are rated for moving boats up to 3,000 lbs, that is 50 times heavier.
However, testing and experimenting are part of any Research and Development (R&D) process, and we try as much as we can to test our products under various conditions in order to better understand possibilities, problems, and hazards, and inform our clients about them, so they have more options to choose from, and can make better decisions.
Tohatsu America showed interested in this project and cooperated with us through their dealer Steve’s Marine in Rhode Island, and we got the 6 hp Tohatsu motor (20″ shaft) in late October.
Watch the movie -
Although the 6 hp (20″ long shaft) Tohatsu is a sophisticated outboard motor, it is relatively lightweight for its class. However, at 59 lbs it still weighs twice more than the 2-2.3 hp Honda outboard that we’ve routinely used so far. This additional weight was our first concern, and we wanted to experience what it means for a W kayak angler who uses such a motor.
We found the weight difference to be noticeable, but not a major issue – It’s possible to carry such a motor over short distances, whether on its own or mounted on the kayak. Dragging the kayak on a sandy beach was considerably more difficult, but not a big problem over a short distance.
Lifting the motor into the car wasn’t too hard either.
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Launching is easy both from the beach and from a dock, and the same is true for beaching.
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Kenny reported that his 6 hp Tohatsu outboard had broken a DIY motor mount. Such accidents can be dangerous, so we knew that we had to consider both weight and power. Kenny later reported that his 6 hp motor worked with the TMM 20 motor mount that we had sent him, but we preferred to beef up a TMM 20-15 motor mount with an additional 3/4″ board for its vertical mounting plate, making it 1.5″ thick.
Another concern we had about the 6 hp motor’s weight was how our W570 would take it.
The following pictures show that we had no reason to be concerned, as the boat is pretty much level, and the side flotation modules rest several inches above waterline –
Driving the boat with the 6 hp Tohatsu / 20″ shaft was easy and convenient.
This outboard motor features a 3 position gear system (Forward-Neutral-Reverse) that’s safer than a centrifugal clutch, and makes it easy to start any time. The fact that this motor is water cooled makes it relatively quiet in comparison with the air cooled 2-2.3 hp Honda.
Access to the motor’s controls is easy and convenient once you slide backward on the saddle all the way to the back of the cockpit.
The inflatable flotation modules stayed above waterline and did not cause splashing.
Although a W kayak can carry heavier loads, we rate these kayaks for a total load of 360 lbs, for both safety and performance reasons. This number includes everything that the boat may carry, from passengers and their personal belongings to fishing gear, an anchor, and last but not least – a motor. With a 60 lbs motor and all the extra accessories that come with the Wavewalk 570, and considering the high speed in which you’re likely to drive, it would be safer to consider the W570 as a one-person motorized kayak, or a solo skiff, if you prefer. This is unless the user is not heavy, and they take a lightweight passenger on board. For example: A driver that weighs less than 200 lbs could take on board a small child weighing 60 lbs, plus some lightweight fishing tackle.
The 6 hp Tohatsu outboard model that we’ve tested features an integral fuel tank that allows it to go for 45 minutes full throttle, but as long as you drive a W570 with it you won’t go over 1/3 throttle since doing so is likely to increase your speed dangerously, unless you’re towing a bigger boat or several kayaks and canoes.
In one occasion, while the boat was going pretty fast, the propeller hit a rock on the bottom of the lake, and got ejected out of the water, as it’s designed to do in such cases. Lowering it back into the water presented no problem. The reinforced TMM 20-15 transom mount didn’t budge, and the inflatable side flotation proved that it’s useful in helping to prevent the boat from rolling (flipping) if it’s tilting strongly as it did following the impact and momentary loss of control that resulted from it.
The role that the inflatable flotation played in that accident emphasizes its importance.
A W kayak outfitted with a 2-2.3 hp outboard can go at 8.5 mph, full throttle, while the same kayak outfitted with a 6 hp Tohatsu motor can reach 13 mph at 1/3 throttle, a speed that for most people makes it too much of a challenge to drive safely. This is where we found that a 6 hp motor wasn’t the best fit for the Wavewalk 570. In other words, overpowering the W570 with such a powerful motor can be hazardous and cause accidents if you drive too fast relatively to your boating skills and/or to water conditions, or if you accidentally accelerate abruptly or even just too quickly for you to safely maintain control over the vessel.
This lightweight craft is no match for the power and torque of such a big engine, and that makes it too ‘nervous’ compared to when it’s outfitted with a smaller and less powerful motor that tks longer to accelerate.
Having said that, you might like this overpowered configuration if you’re a risk-loving speed fan who enjoys the feeling of danger. It’s your choice, as long as you’re aware of the safety hazards, and you know that the W570 isn’t rated for motors that are more powerful than 2-3 hp.
A more productive way to make use of such a disproportionally powerful motor could be for towing other boats. For example, if you use the W570 as tender (auxiliary service boat) for a bigger leisure craft such as a sailboat, it could tow the mother ship, if necessary, or tow another tender with several passengers and provisions on board (e.g. an inflatable dinghy).
If indeed you’re thinking about such use, make sure the towed craft are properly attached to your W570, and don’t use its handles or eyelets for this purpose.
Similarly, if you go on a camping and fishing trip in which several people take part, your W570 on steroids could tow several kayaks and canoes over long distances, and make life easier for the other members of your expedition.
If you’re thinking about driving up fast rivers, such as in springtime, or on fast tidal rivers, more power and torque may be justified, although it’s hard to imagine cases where a 2-3 hp motor would not suffice for your W kayak. Just remember that fast moving rivers are hazardous, and we recommend neither paddling nor motorizing in them.
Another case in which you could be interested to use a 6 hp outboard motor with your W570 is if you already own a larger boat that you propel with such a motor, and you want to alternate between your W570 and that bigger boat. For example, you may prefer to go fishing on your own in the W570, and take the bigger boat when you fish with your family and friends. If you don’t like to purchase a smaller outboard for your W570, you could try using your 6 hp outboard with it, and see how it works for you. If it does, it could save you the additional expense on a small motor. Just remember to be very cautious with the throttle when the motor is mounted on your W570.
All the above said does not imply that we rate the W570 for use with an outboard motor that’s more powerful than 2-3 hp, because we don’t. We think that using a W kayak with motors that are more powerful than 2-3 hp could be hazardous.
Again, the purpose of this article is to inform people about what using much stronger motors implies, and warn them about problems and dangers associated with such practice.
Liam and I had a great time showing off our new Honda 2.3 and the Wavewalk fishing kayak at the local trade show in Babylon! We handed out about 40 business cards to people who showed interest.
I am glad I was able to gain exposure and introduce this new product.
I think it takes a while to sink in to customers about all of the benefits, but most of the people were genuinely interested. I left cards on the table and they kept taking them. I am proud to be a dealer for this product.
Some pics I found in my waterproof camera –
Let us define Offshore Fishing as fishing in the ocean or in the Great Lakes, away from shore, beyond the breakers. Such fisheries are characterized by currents and wind that are hard to overcome without adequate propulsion, and therefore hazardous to fishers who venture in them in small, human powered vessels such as canoes and kayaks.
Typically, people who fish offshore from kayaks tend to do it in more protected areas such as bays, or stay within a short distance from shore.
While these fisheries are relatively safer in comparison to distant and deeper ocean fishing grounds, they still present considerable challenges to kayak anglers, as well as to those who fish from other small, light, non-motorized craft such as canoes and dinghies.
Offshore kayak anglers know that traveling out there in a human powered vessel doesn’t grant them that they’d be able to go where they want or even get back to shore. For this reason, some anglers venture on long distance fishing trips with a mother ship, I.E. a large size motorboat that carries their kayaks into the ocean, and enables the members of such expeditions to return safely to shore. Typically, the kayaks used for such trips are sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks.
Those who fish offshore from a kayak can be exposed to wind and waves from the moment they launch. Sitting in the L posture isn’t easy to begin with, but having to deal with the waves’ rocking motion and the constant wetness and makes it even harder, especially for anglers who fish in colder regions, where low water and air temperatures can be a critical factor.
Some kayak anglers outfit their ride with an electric trolling motor, and while this certainly adds an element of safety and increases their range of travel, it still doesn’t offer them the freedom to go on long fishing trips, or overcome fast currents.
Outboard gas motors are more suitable for this purpose. However, there are no kayaks out there except Wavewalk’s that can be outfitted and used with this type of powerful and reliable propulsion in a way that makes sense to the user. The problem isn’t just the poor stability of the mono-hull kayak design and the lack of effective means for its users to stabilize it, but also the fact that outboard motors are rather heavy and they work best when they’re attached at the stern, which is too far behind the area in which the kayak’s user is seated – Anglers who try to outfit their sit-on-top, hybrid or sit-in kayaks with an outboard motor soon discover that they can’t easily reach its controls, and they can steer neither safely nor conveniently, even when they use a long and articulated (U-jointed) tiller extension.
Unlike kayaks, small fishing motorboats (e.g. Jon boat, dinghy, small microskiff) are designed for motorizing, and their users can drive them without experiencing the safety and ergonomics problems that occur in motorized kayaks.
The users of such small fishing boats sit either facing forward on benches stretching across their deck, or facing sideways on benches located along their sides, or on a raised seat or swivel seat.
The problem with those small craft is that they feature flat bottomed hulls that work well on flat water, but offer neither good stability in waves nor much comfort to their users in the constant rocking motion created by the waves.
The same is true for the three above mentioned seating solutions – Sitting on a bench is fine as long as you can stand up from time to time and stretch, but it’s uncomfortable when you’re constantly struggling to balance yourself, and you’re prevented from standing up in confidence.
As for raised seats, they are great for comfort as long as you can stand up whenever you wish to do so, and as long as you don’t have to balance yourself while sitting in them. However, this is not the case when your boat is being rocked by waves, and in such cases you’d be likely to experience discomfort.
Most small fishing motorboats are not designed for car topping, or are just too hard for one person to car top. Therefore, they require transportation by trailer, which means launching and beaching in boat ramps, with the time loss and aggravation that entail…
For all these reasons, small flat-bottomed motorboats offer limited offshore fishability.
As for ergonomics, the W570 offers its users to travel facing forward while riding a saddle similar in size and shape to the saddles commonly found in personal watercraft (PWC – jet-ski). The riding position is unmatched as far as the power, control, comfort and balancing capabilities it provides, which is why it is so well suited for small, high performance, personal, offshore motorboats. No wonder that other high performance personal motor vehicles such as all terrain vehicles (ATV), dirt bikes, and snowmobiles all feature similar saddles.
A few weeks have passed since Wavewalk announced its new W570 series of kayaks that are ready for motorized offshore fishing. During this period we’ve obtained substantial input about this new concept from W clients, fans and dealers who fish in different parts of the world.
It’s possible to classify their reactions to the W570 series into three categories – negative, mixed and positive.
Those who reacted negatively argued that there’s no real need for a spray shield and large-size inflatable flotation tubes, and consequently, these new accessories might reflect poorly on the W product and brand.
Those who had mixed reactions said that although personally they don’t see the point in either using or offering these new accessories, there may be a demand for a such a car-top boat among fishers who are looking to fish out of a small motorboat in the ocean or in large size bodies of water such as the Great Lakes, big and fast rivers, and other challenging fisheries.
Those who reacted entirely favorably to the new W570 series are mainly people who already fish offshore or in bays and large estuaries, and are familiar with the challenges that anglers face in such fisheries. Incidentally, there’s a higher percentage of motorized W kayak anglers in this third group compared to the general population of W angers.
All three points of view are legitimate and interesting –
Those who argue against the new accessories stress that as far as motorizing goes, Wavewalk has already shown in a most convincing way that its W500 series was perfectly suitable for driving while outfitted with an outboard motor at speeds that are similar to and even higher than the typical speed for other small motorized fishing craft such as Jon Boats, motorized square-stern canoes, dinghies and various flat-bottom watercraft classified as small-size microskiff. Therefore, adding large size inflatable tubes and a spray shield to a W kayak is overkill.
This argument is correct, obviously, but only so in the context of traditional fisheries where these other small motorboats are commonly used, which are inland, flats, small and medium size lakes, slow moving rivers, and generally speaking, in areas that are not particularly challenging in the sense that anglers who fish in them are unlikely to overcome either powerful and fast currents or waves while launching, driving and beaching their fishing boat.
It goes without saying that these relatively protected fisheries correspond to areas where the majority of fishing kayaks and canoes are used, as well as most other small, flat-bottomed boats. This fact puts the new W570 series at the edge of the current market, for better and for worse, in the sense that while the current market for it doesn’t seem to be big today, there could be a substantial yet unfulfilled demand for such innovative, high-performance personal boat, whose offshore performance surpasses that of mono-hull fishing kayaks as well as traditional small motorboats when comfort, stability, ease of transportation, and launching & beaching are taken into consideration.
W kayaks offer several effective means to keep their cockpit dry on offshore fishing trips –
Typically, launching and beaching are the events that produce more spray, and are likely to get some water in if you don’t take any precautionary measure to keep the cockpit dry, which is easy since all W570 models come outfitted with a spray shield that blocks water from getting in from the front.
In addition, you can launch while riding the saddle aft of the middle part of the cockpit. Doing so would raise the kayak’s bow and further decrease the likelihood of spray getting into the cockpit.
And last but not least, all models from the W570 series feature a preparation for cockpit cover, which allows you to attach a small-size tarp over the front and middle parts of the cockpit, and thus prevent any spray from getting in. Once you’ve passed the surf zone and you’re out in blue water, you can easily detach the cockpit cover within seconds, and store it in one of the hull tips behind you.
These three defensive measures work effectively, and in addition, if any spray got in, dealing with it is very easy – All you need to do is take a couple large-size towels on board and drop them on the bottom of the hulls behind you, near the hull tips.
If any spray gets in, it will be drained to the bottom of the hulls, and the water would normally flow backwards, since the kayak’s stern is usually a bit lower than the bow.
The towels would soak the water, and if you see that a towel has reached its soaking capacity, all you need to do is grab it and squeeze the water outside the cockpit, which takes just a few seconds. This method is commonly used by canoeists and sit-it kayakers who travel in moving water.
If you’re into gadgets, who can replace the towels by an inexpensive hand-activated bilge pump. These pumps are popular among sit-in kayakers, canoeists and other small boat users. Their disadvantage over towels is that they become effective only in case a considerable amount of water has accumulated at the bottom of a hull, which isn’t likely to happen.
Another simple and effective accessory that kayak, canoe and small boat anglers use for bailing water out of their craft is a small-size bilge bucket. While this accessory is highly effective for this purpose, it’s not as easy to use as towels and bilge pumps are.
Watch the W570 in action -