Rafael owns a catamaran yacht that he and his wife Heidi designed. For the past six years Rafael and his family have used a Wavewalk 500 as a tender boat for it, as well as a versatile fun boat, which they sailed with a DIY outrigger. Rafael was looking to replace his Wavewalk 500 with a bigger Wavewalk 700, but he decided to order an S4 as soon as he heard that we were planning to offer such a boat. Rafael and his family waited patiently for several months for the S4 project to materialize, and they were among the first to receive their order. This is Rafael’s “first impression” review of his Wavewalk S4-
Outboard motor: I had no problem at all.
Sailing by wind: I tested the W S4 in light wind, and it handles very nice. Sailing without a rudder, and without a dagger board, I can control the direction by moving my location in the W S4 front and aft.
Very easy seating on the saddle.
Paddle: Too bad I didn’t order an extra long paddle, because I found that my common 8 ft kayak paddle was too short.
The W S4 is more stable than I expected. It’s a real pleasure.
One of our friends likes the S4 and he’s thinking of getting one too.
After Rafael repaired his S4, he and his family started using it in various applications –
Says Rafael: – “The S-4 is alive and well, in the picture, last week the S-4 is decorated for a dinghy party. There is a lot of interest in it. In two days the S-4 is going on a camping trip to Oregon to see the Eclipse. We hope to use it on Shasta lake. When on the water the S-4 is a very stable boat, using the 3 hp Yamaha it moves very nice. It is little heavy to lift on to our “big” boat, but it pays back when in use on the water.”
Tracking is the main problem that paddlers need to overcome when paddling in strong wind. Wavewalk paddlers usually report excellent performance of their boats under wind, since catamarans tracks well, generally, and also thanks to the fact that it offers multiple means for power-paddling, as well as for counter-affecting the wind. Since 2004, thousands of people have been paddling Wavewalk kayaks from the 300, 500 and 700 series, and none of these paddlers outfitted their Wavewalk with a rudder – that cumbersome device that has become an integral part of all other types of high-end kayaks used for touring and fishing.
Here are some tips that can improve your Wavewalk kayak’s performance when you’re paddling in strong wind:
1. Paddle only in the Riding Position, which is the optimal posture for power and balancing, and lean a bit forward, with your knees lower than your hips – That would give you extra power.
2. Paddle from the middle of the cockpit, as much as possible –
If you paddle from its rear it would raise your W kayak’s bow and expose it to the wind, and the boat will turn away from the wind.
If you paddle from the front of the cockpit, the stern will go up, and the kayak will turn into the wind.
3. Lean your W kayak into the wind – That would make it harder for it to affect the course of your W kayak.
4. Apply short J strokes on the side from which the wind is blowing, and more powerful strokes on the lee side (the sheltered side) – That would help you track. You may even hold the paddle not from its middle, so that you can apply longer strokes on the lee side.
6. Any object protruding from the deck is exposed to the wind, and therefore generates additional drag – Detach the spray shield if you have one attached, dismount deck mounted rod holders, and store your fishing rods inside the hulls whenever possible. A milk crate would act as a small sail that’s controlled by the wind, so you’d better avoid using one altogether.
7. Keep paddling in a steady pace and a straight course – This is not about one-time corrections, but about minimizing your effort and getting there. Precision and efficiency are as important as power.
8. IMPORTANT – Remember that you can easily move fore and aft along the Wavewalk’s saddle, and by doing so control the angle in which your W kayak will point relatively to the direction from which the wind blows: Paddling from a forward position will tend to point the kayak’s bow into the wind, and paddling from a backward position will tend to point the bow away from the wind. By applying small changes to your own location on the saddle, you can minimize the wind’s unwanted effect on your Wavewalk, and keep it tracking with little effort.
My W700 arrived on last Monday. My son wanted to head out to the nearest pond straight away but the rain put a stop to that. The weather was much improved on Wednesday afternoon so we headed out for our first trip! We carried the boat out of the house (happy wife 🙂 ) and easily loaded it on top of our SUV. I ran nylon tie-down straps through the pad eyes and secured the boat to the rack. We arrived at the pond, removed the straps and had the W700 in the water in 5 minutes. My son and I stepped in and pushed off from the shore. Good call on recommending the 9′ paddle. Paddling was easy. So easy that my 13 year old volunteered to take over. There was a fair amount of wind but it didn’t seem to cause us any problems. We spent a very comfortable (no back ache) hour on the pond, stepped out (dry of course) and loaded the boat back on our SUV in no time. My son decided he was cold so he headed in to the house as soon as we got back home leaving me to remove the boat from the SUV. No problem! It is so easy to handle. I took it down and slid it across my yard to the storage area at the back of my house. We’ve been out three times so far and I already caught my first fish of the season! Looking forward to many more fishing trips in my W!
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What is a microskiff? We found several definitions, but typically, a microskiff is a small, lightweight, flat bottomed motorboat used for flats fishing as well as in protected bays, estuaries, lakes and slow moving rivers. The typical microskiff crew consists of two anglers, and sometimes one angler. The microskiff is said to have evolved from dinghies. Small and lightweight in the case of typical microskiff means a boat that requires transportation by trailer, and therefore must be launched and beached at a boat ramp.
The Microskiff propulsion problem
Microskiff are made to be propelled primarily by outboard motors, and they are too wide and heavy to allow for paddling. This is problematic for a number of reasons – To begin with, an outboard motor can run out of gas or stall due to a technical problem, and an electric trolling motor that a microskiff may have on board isn’t enough for effective traveling over longer distances. More importantly, both outboard gas motors and electric trolling motors use propellers that must be completely immersed in water a couple of inches below the surface. The result is that the effective draft of a microskiff is not particularly shallow, and often too high for very shallow water, a.k.a “skinny water”. This problem also limits the typical microskiff in terms of potential launching and beaching locations, and this means that you must perform these operations at a boat ramp, which is a major source of frustration over a lot of wasted fishing time. To add insult to injury, propellers don’t do well in the presence of aquatic vegetation, be it seaweed, grass, etc. This is particularly frustrating for anglers who know that such waters are among the best fisheries.
Human powered propulsion – Poling, anyone?
Microskiff manufacturers often show pictures of people who use a long push-pole to propel their microskiff through shallow water. This human powered mode of propulsion is indeed possible, but it’s not very practical – To begin with, poling involves long intervals between each pole push, so the big effort invested in each push that accelerates the boat goes to waste when the boat decelerates while you are busy lifting the pole and sticking it back into the water. Acceleration is particularly demanding in energy terms, and in other words, the fact that microskiff are wide and heavy makes them lose speed quickly, and thereby drain your energy in a short time. Few people can push a typical microskiff over a distance of more than several hundred yards, and this is not enough in terms of real-world fishing. On top of this, the hull of a typical microskiff is not designed for effective tracking – It’s neither very long nor narrow, and it lacks elements such as fins, skegs or tunnels that may improve its directional stability. The result is that poling such a boat in a straight line becomes harder, which means you waste an additional and considerable amount of energy and time because your microskiff zigzags instead of going forward in a straight line. Poling is far from being on par with more effective means of human powered propulsion such paddling and even rowing.
A better microskiff must allow its crew to go in shallow water and vegetation-rich water in a human-powered propulsion mode other than poling and preferably not rowing, since effective rowing requires good technique that can be acquired only through much practice. This leaves paddling as the human-powered propulsion of choice, and therefore, a truly versatile and functional microskiff is required to offer its crew to use it easily and comfortably as a paddle craft.
The microskiff redefined for optimal performance in real-world fishing
Ideally, a microskiff should allow for either a crew of two fishermen or a solo fisherman to launch, beach, motorize, fish and paddle in any type of water, whether standing up or seated. This means that such a fishing boat should be highly stable yet narrow enough for effective paddling. Only the patented, catamaran-style Wavewalk™ from the new 700 series offers to work as a both a full tandem and solo skiff in the sense that it works perfectly well for one person too, when the second crew member is not present. The fact that the W700 features two long and narrow catamaran-style hulls helps it track better than other craft of similar size, and that helps poling as well as paddling it, with either dual-blade (kayak) paddles or single-blade paddles – canoeing style. The hulls and cockpit opening of the W700 are long enough to allow for dropping extra-long paddles in them.
The optimal microskiff must be lightweight enough to allow for trailer-free transportation, and car-topping by one person, in case no fishing buddy is present. Here too, the only two-person microskiff that offers such advantage is the new Wavewalk™ 700, which weighs just 80 lbs without a motor and accessories. In fact, this weight is lower than the weight of most high-end fishing kayaks out there, including sit-on-top (SOT) and sit-in models, especially tandem fishing kayaks, which are heavier than regular ones in in some cases heavier than jon boats…
A trailer-free microskiff with triple propulsion capability
The redefined microskiff is trailer-free I.E. easy to car top even for one person, suitable for choppy water, skinny water and vegetation-rich water, and it accommodates two full size fishermen who can fish standing in comfort. It can be easily and comfortably driven with a powerful outboard 3.5 HP motor, as well as with electric motors. One or two people can easily paddle this microskiff either in a kayak-style (with dual-blade paddles) or in the traditional canoeing style, and it lends itself to poling more easily and effectively than any other microskiff does, including solo skiffs, I.E. microskiff for just one person. Such is the new Wavewalk™ 700, and it comes in various colors including all white, which is the traditional color for this class of small fishing boats.