Fishing in the ocean is practiced by some kayak anglers, although they rarely venture to distant fishing grounds, but prefer to fish in protected areas such as bays and estuaries. This is due mainly to the fact that human powered fishing vessels such as kayaks are no match for ocean currents, wind and waves, and neither are electric trolling motors.
Captain Larry Jarboe, of Key Largo, Florida, is Wavewalk’s authorized dealer for south Florida. He recently retired from his business in Maryland, and moved to live in Key Largo permanently, where he’s developing a diverse business that includes commercial fishing, reselling Wavewalk kayaks and boats, and guided fishing tours offshore, at the reef, in the mangroves, and in the nearby everglades.
Here is an ocean fishing video shot on board Larry’s mother ship –
I wonder, how many of you have watched this old video?
I thought I’d re-post it on the occasion of it reaching 50,000 views. This sounds like a lot, but we posted in 9 years ago, in 2007. The boat seen here is the original W300, before the modification we did in 2008. The paddler is me, but I looked much better back then, and I was in better shape too 🙂
Back then I was still focused on the surf-play market… 😮 and good people like Gary Rankel, Jeff McGovern and Rox were trying to explain to me the advantages of the Wavewalk design for fishing 😀
The W300 was 10’4″ long and 25″ wide (this is not a typo). Unbelievably, Jeff and I managed to paddle one of these tiny kayaks in tandem 😀 (Jeff is bigger than me), and an Englishman named Jim McGilvray outfitted his with a 2.5 hp Suzuki outboard (and DIY outriggers).
Time goes by, and we’re not getting any younger, but at least our boats get better 🙂
When you paddle your Wavewalk in waves without covering the front end of its cockpit, some spray may get inside, especially if you paddle through big surf. The water is drained to the bottom of the hulls, and it flows backwards to the rear part of the hull tips. Altogether, this is rather insignificant.
When you drive a motorized Wavewalk in the ocean for a long time, at high speed and through waves, your boat generates more spray, and breaking waves can result in more water getting into the cockpit. A Spray Shield works to minimize intake from the front, but not from the sides. Some water may accumulate on the bottom of the hulls, at the rear end of the boat. A few gallons of water would be unnoticed, but having effective means to remove any amount of water at any time is highly recommended, simply because stuff happens, and you’d better be well prepared for any case.
Comparing different solutions
1. One-way valves
Many motorboats and sailing boats feature one-way valves at the rear end of their hulls. When the boat moves in the water at high speed, the low pressure behind its stern causes the valve to open, and pulls out the water that accumulated at the bottom of the hull, namely the bilge. A hull outfitted with such a valve is called ‘self bailing’. Needless to say that SOT kayaks described by their manufacturers as “self bailing” are not, and the misuse of this term is misleading.
After much consideration, we decided not to outfit the hulls of the Wavewalk with such valves, for two reasons, which are:
Unlike big motorboats, a Wavewalk can be dragged on the ground and over rocks, and this might damage the valves.
One-way valves can get jammed, and since the Wavewalk often goes in shallow water that’s mixed with sand and mud, and where vegetation can be abundant, the possibility of such malfunction cannot be disregarded.
2. Electric bilge pump
Battery recharged on board – Some small outboard gas motors (e.g. Tohatsu, starting at 4 HP) offer the option to add an alternator (electric current generator) and an AC to DC converter. Thus, the motor continuously produces an electric current that can charge a battery that would power an electric bilge pump and/or an electric trolling motor. This solution sounds perfect – just press or turn an electric switch, and bail the water out. And if you get an automatic pump, you don’t even have to remember to activate it. But a closer look at the details of this solution revels some problems:
Cost – The combined cost of an alternator and converter is around $450. The cost of a battery and an electric bilge pump would bring the total cost of this solution to over $500. It may not be a prohibitive price, but it’s still a considerable sum in the context of a Wavewalk boat.
Vulnerability – Keeping a battery and electric pump somewhere in your Wavewalk may not be enough, and you’d need to secure both, so that in case of an accident they would remain inside the cockpit and be fully operational when needed the most. This could prove to be somehow hard to achieve.
Battery not rechargeable on board- An electric bilge pump powered by a battery that isn’t being continuously charged makes sense, because unlike propelling the boat, pumping a few gallons of water out of its hulls require little power. The downside of this simple solution is having to remember to charge the battery before each motorized trip offshore, and the possibility that in case of an accident the system could stop working.
3. Hand bucket
Simply a square bucket with a handle (or without one) that fits into a Wavewalk hull, and used as a bilge bucket. It works, but only in case there is a lot of water in the hull, namely that the water is deep enough, and the user faces the water. But such a scenario is extremely unlikely, and in a typical case only a small quantity of water may accumulate at the bottom of the rear end of the hulls, that is far behind the driver. This said, it wouldn’t hurt to have a bucket on board, as an addition to the solution that we recommend, which is:
4. Hand pump
A 36″ long, lightweight hand pump costs $29 at Lowe’s. It allows to pump water from the rear end of the hulls while the user sits facing forward. This is a major advantage, ergonomically speaking, and in simple terms of convenience. The pump provides a sturdy, simple, and easy to operate solution that you can count on. The piston is lubricated by the water itself, and this makes pumping easy. Capacity wise, four strokes bail out one gallon, and since it’s hard to imagine having to bail out more than a few gallons at a time, the effort required is almost negligible. The pump features a simple filter at its end, and this prevents it from getting jammed. If there is a perfect solution, we think this is it.
This is the story of my trip across Buzzards Bay, to the Elizabeth Islands, a chain of small islands between Martha’s Vineyard and the mainland.
Before the actual trip…
My first trip was ‘preliminary’ to the actual one, because it was cut short due to time constraints – I arrived to the boat ramp in Gooseberry island at the Horseneck Beach Reservation, found the parking lot full, and headed back on the causeway. I parked a quarter of a mile down the road, next to a rocky beach, a.k.a. a ‘Rock Garden’. It was early in the afternoon, and by the time I launched, filled the gas tank, and tested the boat (and myself), I realized that since I’m a novice seaman, I’d have to drive slowly, namely at less than 5 mph, which would have made the trip longer than I had planned. That meant that I might have gotten back home too late, which is a no-no.
What’s left from that preliminary, or shall we call it ‘Test’ trip are the panoramic view of the parking lot and the beach, and the still images from the end of the trip, where I’m seen dragging the boat on the beach, and up the ramp, back to the parking lot. Joao, a local resident, shot these nice photos – Thanks Joao! 🙂
The actual trip
I came back the next day to the same parking lot, before noon. I wore blue shorts and and a blue shirt that’s identical to the one I wore the previous day – It’s called ‘Movie Continuity’ 😀 Speaking of continuity, the weather was identical in both days – sunny and beautiful. That wasn’t due just to luck, since I had planned this trip a week in advance.
Launching in that rock garden was a piece of cake. To start the motor, I dropped the anchor about 100 yards from shore, turned around in the cockpit so I faced the motor, added fuel to the gas tank (I did it standing up, using a long spout), and I started the motor in full comfort, like I would on a big boat. I turned around, which is easy to do in the W700, raised the anchor, grabbed the joystick, pushed in the choke, put the motor in forward gear, set the RPM, and headed to the islands. I drove at a leisurely pace, giving myself time to enjoy the ride and shoot video.
I had two cameras on board – a Sony 400 with a telescopic x63 optical zoom lens, and a Sony Xperia watertight smartphone with a 4K Ultra-HD camera, mounted on a selfie stick. I used both cameras, and it turned out that the 400 performed well, while the Xperia didn’t produce good results, mainly because I failed to operate it properly 🙁
Massachusetts South Shore, Buzzards Bay, and the Elizabeth Islands.
At about 6 miles from shore, Penikese island was closer, but I decided to go a little further, and land on Cuttyhunk island, which is 7 miles from where I launched. It just looked better the trough the telescopic lens of my camera…
I approached Cuttyhunk island, scouted for a good landing spot, and beached without a problem. I didn’t even have to step in water 🙂
As I was making my first steps on that beautiful beach, enjoying the pristine nature and solitude, my cellphone rang… It was my mother in-law, who was concerned about me 😀 That conversation added a comic touch to the situation…
I refilled the gas tank, and checked how much water got into the boat. I had a towel tucked in each rear hull tip, and both towels were almost dry, which is to say that hardly any spray got in. This is due to fact that I drove slowly and didn’t give the waves a chance to splash into the cockpit.
The first half of the trip back to the mainland was a not that pleasant – The wind had picked up, and the boat was getting hit by waves from 7 o’clock, which made it harder to drive. The joystick offered me the perfect means to drive responsively and with precision, as I needed to, given that the W700 is such a small boat. Comfort wise, it was perfect. Under these conditions, driving while facing sideways and gripping the tiller directly would have been hard, and even driving while facing forward with an articulated (U-jointed) tiller extension would have been somehow uncomfortable.
The motor didn’t sound like it appreciated the continuous abrupt alternations between acceleration and deceleration, as each passing wave projected the boat forward and then dumped it behind… It turned out that this 6 HP Tohatsu motor isn’t just quiet and easy to operate – it’s also reliable.
The second part of the trip back was easier. As I approached the shore and recognized the area from which I had launched, I allowed myself to drive faster, and even standing up, which felt great. Spray getting into the boat was no longer a matter for any concern as this stage, of course.
Beaching in the rock garden was a piece of cake, but I have to admit that due to the shallowness of the water I wasn’t able to drive the boat high enough to step on dry land, this time.
Dragging the boat up the beach and back to the car wasn’t easy… After a few steps I stopped, and I used a little manual pump that I had with me to get water out of the hulls. I also took the towels out and squeezed water out of them. Altogether, I removed a couple of gallons of water from the boat, which made it easier to pull it up to the parking lot.
Other than getting my face and knees sunburned, I feel no physical impact whatsoever. No muscle tension in my legs, not even the slightest sign of back pain, and no pain in my left wrist and forearm, which could have happened had I used the articulated tiller extension in such a long drive.
The 6 HP Tohatsu outboard features an alternator, which means that it could feed the battery powering a small electric bilge bump, and thus turn spray into a non-issue. Some smaller Tohatsu outboards feature an alternator as well. Anyways, a long manual bilge pump such as many kayakers use would do equally well, I guess.
Yesterday, in Key Largo, the wind was ripping about 20-25 kts. out of the East. We had a friend from NYC who was facing her last vacation day in the Keys. My wife had promised her a snorkel trip on the reef and it was my job to make it happen.
Despite the gusty wind and skirting a large squall, I knew the conditions would afford a calm pocket of water behind Grecian Rocks on dead low tide.
After a rather tumultuous ride offshore, we tied to one of the mooring balls behind the reef. Due to shifting wind, the mooring lines have to be far away enough from the coral rocks to allow boats to swing 360 degrees and not hit the shallow reef. This means snorkelers have to swim the distance of about half a football field of grass and sand to get to the edge of the reef where most of the fish reside.
This is a long way for many people to swim against the wind surge but it beats trying to snorkel in 4-5 foot seas which was the norm everywhere else..
I launched my W700 with a bow mounted Minnkota Rip Tide electric trolling motor from the mother ship. A line tied to a ring buoy trailed as a stern line to tow my two masked grand matrons to snorkeling nirvana. Of course, I waited at the edge of the reef to provide a place of rest and a leisurely ride home.
In addition to fishing, duck hunting, exploring, stand up joystick water skimming or laid back paddle yakking, the W700 makes a fine yacht tender as well as a snorkeler shuttle service to the reef.
Saddled aboard his trusty Wavewalk steed, indeed, Larry, The Stable Guy, got ‘er done.