Tag Archive: kayak paddling

Whether paddling or fishing in your kayak, try to stay dry

Abstract

This article examines the problems stemming from prolonged exposure to wet clothing, which is sometime viewed as inseparable from all forms of kayaking and kayak fishing, and all types of kayaks. It exposes possible dangers and inconveniences associated with direct exposure to water, excessive humidity and cold in various circumstances, and describes solutions based on the new, patented technology applied in Wavewalk’s Kayaks, which offers the users a drier way to paddle and fish.

What’s the problem?

The problem, often called “wet ride” can be described as a kayaker’s experience of paddling and/or fishing while being wet. It can be caused by many things, including stepping in water while launching, being splashed by spray and waves, water getting into the cockpit through the scupper holes in sit-on-top kayaks, condensation under the spray skirt in sit-in kayaks, and more.
A most common and unpleasant sensation associated with wetness is being seated in a wet area, but a being wet can also be hazardous –
The combination of cold water with cold wind can cause hypothermia, even if the kayaker did not go overboard. Hypothermia is a condition that significantly reduces the paddler’s physical and mental ability to navigate and arrive safely to his/her destination.

In warm waters,  exposure to water can cause exposure to jellyfish larvae (‘sea lice’) in sea water, parasites and bacteria in both fresh and salt water etc., and result in unpleasant and sometime severe skin and allergic reactions.

Snails infected with certain microscopic parasites found in some birds and mammals release those parasites into both fresh and salt water. Swimmer’s itch (cercarial dermatitis), which appears as a skin rash is caused by an allergic reaction to those parasites burrowing in the person’s skin.
The presence of certain chemicals in the water is known to cause unwanted physical reactions as well.

Contact with sea water can cause a highly pruritic eruption known as Seabather’s eruption (SE).

Contact with warm, stagnant waters such as found in swamps can in some extreme cases lead to serious bacterial infections.
Vibrio bacteria are usually found in warm waters. Coming in contact with those flesh eating bacteria can cause severe infections leading to limb loss and even death. Vibriosis is a risk for swimmers, boaters and fishermen.

Giardiasis– an infectious diarrhoeal disease usually transmitted through oralfaecal contact and by contaminated water was diagnosed in 14% of US paddlers, compared to a background level of 4%, according to one study.

Another infection called Leptospirosis and its more severe form, Weil’s disease, are considered to be typical paddling hazards. These infections are often transmitted by infected rats’ urine in the water. The diseases are characterized by jaundice, fever, headaches, muscle aches, rashes and enlargement of the liver and spleen. They can be treated with antibiotics in most cases but sometime they lead to septicemia, organ damage and even death.

Kayakers risk infections of enterovirus and coliform as well.
And obviously, everybody knows that wearing wet clothes can cause skin rash, especially during and after a prolonged physical effort.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that getting wet while kayaking is either unpleasant or hazardous, but it certainly points to the need to provide kayakers with means of protection in case they don’t want to get wet or come in contact with the water.

Recent research indicates that water in popular subtropical beaches contains staph and MRSA bacteria that may infect open wounds in your skin.

‘Kayaking and kayak fishing are water sports’

Some ‘Pro Staff’ kayakers and kayak fishermen associated with SIK and SOT kayak brands use the term ‘water sport’ to define kayaking and kayak fishing, and by that they mean to say that getting wet is an inseparable part of any kayaking activity, as it is of water skiing, surfing etc. It’s their way to justify the fact that this problem is unsolved for people who use the kayaks produced by their sponsors.
This approach also implies that the kayaker or kayak fisherman should not expect to be comfortable in his/her kayak, and that getting wet is inevitable.
This argument is fallacious for a number of reasons:
1. Originally, the native people of the arctic who invented and developed kayaking tried as much as possible to avoid getting wet, and for good reasons.
2. Like kayaking, canoeing is another group of traditional, popular paddle sports and activities, but unless practiced in whitewater it does not involve getting wet, since most canoes offer a better protection to their passengers than kayaks do.
3. Fishing from other small boats (e.g. dinghies, pirogues etc.) does not involve getting wet as much as kayak fishing does.
4. Considering the efforts different groups of kayakers from sea kayakers to kayak fishermen put into avoiding and minimizing wetness, it is obviously a very real problem.

What causes wetness kayaks?

The general cause is insufficient protection but specific causes vary depending on kayak type and application:
Traditional, or sit-in kayaks (SIKs) have little free board, so that even paddling in eddies and small waves can result in some water getting inside the kayak through the open cockpit. As for sea kayaks, these are normally equipped with a spray skirt, which doesn’t necessarily make them watertight in surf and waves conditions.
Sit-on-top kayaks (SOTs) offer even less protection than SIKs do in terms of free board, and typically let water into the cockpit through holes called ‘scupper holes’. This is why SOT kayaks have become popular only in warm waters.

The dry storage problem

Another unwanted effect of water getting into your kayak is the difficulty to keep your gear dry. Some seasoned sea kayakers say that before they go on a kayak expedition they simply take into consideration that eventually all their gear will get wet, even if it’s stored below deck. The solution to that is using watertight bags, which similarly to sea kayaks are not absolutely watertight…Most fishing kayaks come with storage compartments called ‘hatches’, which are notorious for letting water in.

The solution to these problems

Since the wetness is challenging many kayakers’ well being it must be addressed by kayak designers and manufacturers. Wet suits are uncomfortable, and dry suits aren’t that comfortable either. The solution offered by the patented Wavewalk™ Kayak concept is simple, and basically consists of more free board protecting the passengers inside the cockpit.
W kayakers can also sit change positions on their boat’s longitudinal saddle and sit, ride or stand in the back of the cockpit. By doing so they raise the bow and avoid much of the splashing and spraying that other kayakers are forced to put up with when launching in the surf or paddling in choppy water.
Another good news for kayakers is the fact that even if some water gets into the W Kayak’s cockpit it just gets drained to the bottom of the hulls and away from the passengers’ sitting area on top of the saddle. This eliminates the unpleasant sensation of sitting in a puddle that many people who use ordinary kayaks (SOT and SIK) have to put up with.
Since it’s possible to enter the W Kayak’s from behind and exit it from the front it is no longer necessary for a W Kayakers to step in water when putting their boats in and taking them out. Some say that keeping your feet dry is priceless…
And finally, since W Kayaks have a big, internal dry storage space it is no longer necessary for the equipment carried on board to get wet.

Related articles:

More About Dangers To Kayakers and Kayak Anglers in Warm, Fresh Water

Vibrio Bacteria

Cutaneous Manifestations Following Exposure To Marine Life

Swimmer’s Itch

Sea Bather’s Eruption

Bites and Stings: Marine Envenomations

Over-Exposure To Cold

Hypothermia

Injuries and Infections

 

More Wavewalk™ Kayak information

Fishing Kayak reviews

 

Kayak Speed Basics, the Twinhull Advantages, and the Principles of W Kayak Design

How Fast Is The W500 Kayak?

Before you attempt to read this 5,000 word technical article, please note that the answer to the simple question “How fast is the 11’4″ long Wavewalk™ 500 kayak?” is this:  The W500 kayak is faster than any fishing kayak that’s shorter than 15′ , and it’s as fast as any touring kayak that’s 13′ long.
The difference stems from the fact that touring kayaks are faster than fishing kayaks.
These numbers were compiled from data gathered in real world tests and observations made by numerous W kayakers since 2009, when the W500 series was introduced.
This article explains the technical principles that enable this performance.

Abstract

Anglers need their boats to be stable, and that includes most people who fish from kayaks – although some of them may not openly admit it.
The phrase ‘fast kayak’ evokes the image of a long and slender hull, and most people sense that a kayak can be either fast or stable – never both, which does not prevent many kayak manufacturers from ignoring this basic trade-off in monohull design and claiming that their fishing kayaks are both stable and fast…
We maintain that a fishing kayak should be stable enough to allow its user to paddle and cast in full confidence while standing in it, and we’re able to prove that our W fishing kayaks largely surpass anything that was imaginable so far when stability is concerned (watch our demo videos)
Our 11’4″ long W500 kayak is reported to be as fast as a 13′ long touring kayak, which may appear to be a contradiction to those who are not familiar with naval design, especially with the hydrodynamic science of it, or with recent years’ speed achievements of multi-hulled (I.E. catamarans and trimarans) sailing and power boats.
The purpose of this article is to present the principles and advantages of the W boat concept in the context of its application in the design of small paddle crafts such as canoes and kayaks. It discusses the main points in the hydrodynamics and hydrostatics of twinhull kayaks of the W type, as well as ergonomic and biomechanic considerations.
More technical information is available in our U.S. utility patent No. 6,871,608

What Makes a Kayak Faster?

Statistically, multihulls are faster than monohulls. Their higher stability helps to increase their seaworthiness, but there are other factors that contribute to creating this advantage, including the reduced wetted beam whose benefit can exceed the loss resulting from higher skin friction.
When human powered boats are considered, ergonomics and biomechanical factors play a crucial role in determining real life performance including speed.
Generally speaking, the speed of a boat is the result of the power propelling it forward (effective propulsion) and the resistance of the water to this effort.
You can generate power with a motor, a sail or the human body.
The displacement of a boat creates many types of resistance, all of which except Frictional Resistance (‘skin friction’) are included in the term ‘Residual Resistance’ (RR).
The faster the boat goes the more the Residual Resistance becomes the main problem to overcome.

The Froude Number and the Practical Meaning of ‘Hull Speed’

In order to understand this complex subject we must first present it a simplified form: The main effort in overcoming Residual resistance consists of
1. ‘Pushing’ water up and aside from the bow, and
2. ‘Pulling’ the boat away from the water behind the stern, that is overcoming a ‘suction’ effect.
A longer boat (longer waterline) will keep the water from filling back that space for a longer time. This means that a long boat could go faster than a shorter boat before that significant increase in residual resistance occurs. When this happens a big wave can be seen coming from the stern, and a second big wave is formed at the bow, and from that moment on the boat seems to be moving between the crests of these two waves.
William Froude showed that the speed of waves in knots = 1.34 x L^1/2 where L is the boat’s length in feet.
Froude discovered that as the boat’s speed increases the number of waves along the hull decreases until the boat moves between a big wave at the bow and a big wave at the stern. From this point increasing the boat’s speed becomes much more difficult, or in other words the boat reached its ‘Hull Speed’.
A boat 100% longer than another will have a nominal hull speed that’s about 42% higher (0.42 linear correlation). For example: the hull speed of a 20 ft boat is 6 knots and that of a 10 ft boat is 4.23 knots.
However, the longer boat could generate 100% more skin friction (Fr) and consequently moving it at its higher hull speed will require adding more than 42% in power.

Hull speed is just another term taken into consideration in the process of designing a boat, and taken out of a broader context it is meaningless: If you made your house watertight and put it in the water it would have a higher hull speed than the world’s fastest paddle sports boat just because it is longer… It does not mean the house would actually be a fast vessel.
Hull speed is by no means a final limitation on speed, and it’s very common for boats, including human powered ones to go faster than their hull speed.

Different Strategies for Increasing Boat Speed

1. Add power: With a strong engine and a big budget for fuel you don’t have to worry too much about the energy spent on going faster than your ‘hull speed’. The same goes for a stable sailing boat with lots of sail power.
If you want to add power to a human powered boat you need to find a way to add more groups of muscles to the propulsion effort by offering the user/s a better posture i.e. biomechanic improvements, and/or means to reduce discomfort and fatigue i.e. ergonomic improvements.
2. Add length: That’s applying a ‘delaying’ strategy – You delay the occurrence of the steep increase in residual resistance by paying in increased frictional resistance that you get from having a longer hull. This strategy is good as long as you have the additional power needed to overcome the additional friction. Another problem you’d have to deal with is a decrease in your boat’s maneuverability, which is more of a problem in human powered boats where the additional power needed for maneuvering is taken away from propulsion.
3. Reduce residual resistance: A good strategy for a human powered boat with only human muscles for propulsion. Very thin racing canoes and kayaks generate relatively little residual resistance even after when they go at speeds that are higher than their hull speed – This is why they create relatively small waves.
4. Reduce hull surface: This is pretty obvious, since it reduces frictional resistance. However, some kayak designers seem to be either unaware of this strategy or ignore it by adding rather useless tunnels, skegs and scuppers in their kayaks’ hulls, and by outfitting them with various types of outriggers that add little real-world stability (secondary stability) while increasing both frictional resistance and residual resistance.

The boat’s ‘fineness’, often described by its Length to Beam ratio (L/B) at waterline is most useful for predicting its speed: An ICF K1 racing kayak has an L/B of 11:1. This kind of boats have low displacement and are very ‘fine’, which makes it possible to paddle them at up to twice their hull speed.

Speed in Human Powered Boats, Including Kayaks

Adding power for propulsion is not always practical in canoes and kayaks. However, it’s good to keep in mind that a boat offering a better paddling position, improved stability and control, and the comfort of being able to reduce fatigue and prevent injury by changing positions adds to the paddler’s effective propulsion and therefore may achieve and sustain higher speed.
The Comfort factor and the ability to sustain the physical effort over a longer period of time with less fatigue and no injury pertains to Ergonomics, and the effective power available per paddle stroke pertains to Biomechanics

Making the kayak longer is good for as long as increasing surface area does not end up in slowing you down.
Reducing Residual resistance is severely limited by the width of the person sitting in the boat but why sit inside the hull?…
-Rowing shells are faster than racing kayaks not only due to their great length, but also due to the fact the rower sits on top a hull that’s narrower than his waist – A rowing shell’s L/B is much higher than that of any racing kayak.

Displacement/Length (D/L)

“High speeds for canoes are only made possible through their having excellent Displacement/Length ratios and narrow beams. The two combine to produce very small waves which are the major resistance at speeds above S/L 1.34.”
-John Winters, “The Shape of the Canoe”

The smaller the D/L the faster the boat-

For a W kayak and a canoe or traditional (monohull) kayak of the same volume, with the canoe or kayak being twice longer than the W boat, the Displacement/Length for each of the W boat hulls and the canoe/kayak is the same.
For a W kayak and canoe or monohull kayak of the same volume and length, the Displacement/Length for each of the W boat hulls is 1/2 that of the canoe or kayak.

-But the W kayak has a more important advantage:

The Decisive Gain From Reducing the Wet Beam (Waterline Hull Width )

Residual Resistance is a complex phenomenon affected by a number of variables of which the wet beam is the greatest factor. A popular article on canoe [and kayak] design offers a simplified formula that closely approximates experimental results according to which Residual Resistance (Rr) varies as the square of the Beam (B) and the first power of Length (L): Rr = B^2L.
Consider the following: A molecule of water pushed by the bow will follow the path of least resistance until it is out of the hull’s way. In this course it will push other molecules that have been pushed aside before, and those molecules will push others that were pushed before, and so on.
In addition, thin hulls are generally more streamlined than wide ones: They have a more gradual adverse pressure gradient and enable delaying flow separation thus reducing drag from the bow wake, which is especially important at speeds higher than hull speed.
Rr is also affected by negative pressure exerted of curved objects moving in fluid (Bernoulli Effect)- The higher the curvature and speed the higher the negative pressure (drag) -A wider beam means a higher curvature in the horizontal plane.
See: “ON THE SUBJECT OF HIGH SPEED MONOHULLS” by Daniel Stavisky, 10/2003

Since reducing the wet beam is beneficial in more than one way, its effect is particularly important, especially at speeds close the to the boat’s hull speed and above that.

When designing the cross section of a hull in a twinhull boat the beam size is no longer a given constraint.

Given a certain beam a semi-circular cross section offers minimal girth, hence minimal surface area, and therefore minimum Frictional resistance. Because of human constraints (Beam to Draft ratio) a good kayak with a mid ship cross section surface of slightly above 50 square inches will have a non optimal girth slightly over 30″ long.
But the beam of each of a twinhull hulls is not a given constraint, and we are free to design any type of cross section we want, according to what is best, which may not necessarily be the absolute minimum in skin friction: The same cross section surface of 50 square inches can be divided in two equal surfaces of a little above 25 square inches each, with each having a girth about 15″ long – This is possible if the Beam to Draft ratio of each of the smaller new hulls is 1:1. The price to be paid in this case will be a certain increase in the boat’s total surface area, but the gain will be a huge decrease in Residual resistance (see formula for Rr):
A 100 liters ICF K1 racing kayak is 220″ long and has a 20″ beam. The residual resistance for it will be 20^2 x 220 = 88,000.
According to the same formula, a 100 liters, 10 ft long twinhull boat with each hull 5 1/2″ wide at waterline will generate residual resistance equal to 2 x (5 1/2 ^2) x 120 = 7,260. That is 91.75% less residual resistance than for the ICF K1 racing kayak.
A 100 liters, 220″ long twin-hull boat with 5″ wide hulls will generate 87.5% less residual resistance than a comparable ICF K1.

On the other hand, adopting an “optimal” shape in terms of skin friction would result in two hulls each having a beam of about an 8″, a 4″ draft and less than 13″ girth. The combined girth of these two hulls will be 10% smaller than the girth of a traditional fast monohull kayak. This means that the a total surface area of a twinhull boat does not necessarily have to be much bigger than that of a comparable traditional kayak. Consequently, a beam size of 5″ to 8″ will be between the optimum Beam to Draft ratio and the optimal Beam length, which is a promising range of possibilities.

Having two hulls instead of one increases the kayak’s stability, which is always good for speed.

But will the increase in wet surface as a result of having two hulls nullify all these achievements?

Surface Friction and Frictional Resistance (Fr)

“With most kayaks the transition from 4 to 5 knots marks the transition between skin friction being the most significant factor and wave-induced [I.E. Residual Resistance] drag being the most significant factor.”
Kayak Review Info, Sea Kayaker Magazine – 2004

Note: Sea kayaks and racing kayaks reviewed in those tests are characterized (among other things) by being long and having narrow beams, usually between 20″- 24″. “Chubbier” (lower L/B) kayaks start generating high Residual Resistance at lower speed.

Note: A typical sit-in or SOT fishing kayak is 36″ wide (3′) and 156″ long (13′), which gives it a sub-optimal L/B of 4.3 – and a claim for the title ‘Barge’. In fact, such monohull fishing kayaks are hardly suitable for longer trips, simply because their low speed makes them harder to paddle than the faster touring kayaks and W fishing kayaks.

The following formula can be used to calculate Frictional Resistance: Rf = C x Cf x Sw x V^2 where:
Rf = Resistance in pounds
C = Constant for fresh water or salt water
Cf = Coefficient of friction
Sw = Wet surface
V = Velocity in ft/sec

It’s easy to see that any change in Wet Surface (Sw) will result in a proportional change in the total Frictional Resistance (Rf).
Practically, this near-linear correlation counter affects the sub linear improvement in hull speed achieved by increasing the boat’s length.

A smaller wet beam is better since it reduces the hull’s proportional surface area: S/V ^ 2/3 where
S = Surface area and
V = The boat’s volume
An optimal Beam to Draft ratio for an elliptical mid ship (monohull) cross section is about 2:1, but we cannot expect a monohull kayak to come close to having such ratio because of the user’s sitting position. A fast traditional kayak would usually have a Beam to Draft ratio higher than 4:1. This means that the monohull kayak’s surface area is far from the optimum for its volume, and the further a solution is far from being optimal the easier it would be to conceive a better one…

However the hulls of a twinhull boat are not limited by the ‘Sitting-Inside’ position constraint, and therefor can be designed to have an optimal wet Beam to Draft ratio. For example: when fully loaded the B/D of each hull will be optimal in terms of residual resistance and with less load the B/D will approach 2:1, which is the best in terms of frictional resistance.
A range of practical solutions stretching between two optima is certainly good news for designers –
Since the Length to Beam ratio for the hull of a twinhull boat is superior to that of a monohull kayak, it is possible to make the twinhull boat shorter than a monohull having the same displacement. Eventually all this enables designing a twinhull boat with a surface area not much bigger than that of a fast monohull kayak with a similar volume.
Also, Turbulence (non laminar flow) at the bow and the stern is a considerable source of Frictional resistance in non optimal hulls, but it is much smaller in ultra thin hulls. This means that in the case of a twinhull boat a bigger surface area can increase surface friction by less than a full 1:1 factor.
Note: Ultra thin catamaran hulls don’t look like thinner versions of kayak hulls, and those of you who would like play with hull design software and test their ability to design W kayaks should remember that such hulls have much higher Prismatic coefficient (Cp), Block coefficient (Cb) and Waterplane coefficient (Cwp) than kayak hulls have, or more simply- they are much ‘fuller’.

In an article on monohulls and multihulls, Tuck and Lazauskas found that for ships with an ideal Length to Beam ratio (over 40:1) and ideal Beam to Draft ratio the Residual resistance can be reduced to less than 10% of the Total resistance. Tuck and Lazauskas emphasize that those are optimal numbers achieved in a theoretical exercise under unrealistic conditions, and expect results for realistic boats under various constraints to be considerably different. In the case of paddle sports boats those figures imply that an optimum monohull kayak would be around 27 feet long and 8 inches wide, which is not even imaginable.

Designers of fast canoes and kayaks (e.g. sea kayaks, racing kayaks and canoes) have noticed that a gradual increase in surface friction of up to 50% can sometimes stay unnoticed by the user. This could imply that Frictional resistance (Fr) is worth less consideration than Residual resistance (Rr) in the design of fast kayaks, canoes etc.
Another fact worth remembering is that the importance of residual resistance vs. that of frictional resistance increases at higher speeds.

Sensible Design in View of Required Performance – The ‘Optimum Shape’ for the Real World

The most comprehensive source of information on kayak speed available is the series of tow tank tests conducted over a decade ago for Sea Kayaker Magazine.
The tests’ findings are interesting in the context of ‘Real World Paddling’:

1. The Rudder Factor

Most of the trials were run with rudders retracted, however the trials run with rudders deployed revealed that rudders created a significant amount of drag.
The magazine decided not to use the figures recorded with rudders since rudders help counter yaw and can be very effective in keeping a boat on course while the paddler focuses on straight ahead paddling, and the the benefit of rudders in real life conditions could outweigh the disadvantage of the drag they create.

2. The Waves Factor

The towing tanks tests were conducted both in flat water and in waves.
The results recorded in waves had dramatic differences from those recorded in flat water due to Pitching and Rolling problems.
The magazine decided not to include those results because of the difficulty in testing dozens of kayaks of different lengths in different types of waves.

3. ‘Fish vs. Swede’ or ‘Seaworthiness vs. Theoretical Speed’

Kayak designers seem to agree that while the ‘Swede’ form for a kayak (where the greatest beam at waterline is aft of the Center of Gravity- CG) is faster on flat water due to its lower (horizontal) angle of penetration, the ‘Fish’ form (where the greatest beam at waterline is forward of the CG) is more seaworthy as it reduces the the kayak’s tendency to pearl and broach.
-This article was published in SeaKayaker Magazine

Tow Tank Tests vs. Real World Tests

While these considerations may be relevant (though far from decisive) when testing speed performance within a specific kayak category (e.g. ‘Sea kayaks’) they would significantly distort the picture when applied to cross-category comparisons (e.g. monohull kayak vs. W kayak): In the real world (e.g. ocean) even the fastest kayaks must be paddled with rudders (or skegs), otherwise their low directional stability (yaw problem) decreases their effective speed by too much, while even the 10 ft long (short..) W Kayak boat does not require a rudder because catamarans track better than monohulls.
Furthermore, in the real world the kayaker is required to pay attention to the rudder as well as to use his body to manipulate it. These cognitive and physical resources are drawn for the same pool the kayaker uses for propelling his boat. Consequently, the kayaker’s power that’s available for propulsion is reduced.
As for waves, which are given in the real world, it is widely accepted that the less stable a boat the less seaworthy it is. Since the W boat concept offers better stability and control in both hydrostatic and biomechanic terms the ‘Wave Factor’ should be included in the discussion as favorable to the W kayak concept. Considering both Rudder and Waves factors combined it is safe to conclude that the theoretical real-world speed of sea kayaks and other fast kayaks is in average 20%-25% lower than that indicated by the flat water tow-tank results.

In one of the articles recommended in this page E.O. Tuck and L. Lazauskas offer the results of an elaborate, theoretical comparative study on the drag created by ships of 1, 100, and 10,000 tons with monohull, catamaran and trimaran designs.
Their two main conclusions seem to be:
1. Optimum (extra long) monohulls are always better than optimum catamarans or trimarans of the same total displacement, from the point of view of total calm water drag alone, unless there are restrictions on the ship geometry.
2. The inclusion of further restrictions is of greater importance. Further constraints, such as on maximum length or minimum beam arise inevitably from commercial, structural, safety, sea keeping, or sporting requirements. When these constraints are imposed, the ship proportions will return to the more conventional range, but at a price in terms of increased total drag.

This optimal world excludes sailing boats since they are moved by wind, which makes them heel, and generates waves that further destabilize them. The solution to this problem is a keel, which considerably enlarges the boat’s wetted surface area and makes the hull non optimal for this article. The stability of motorized monohulls can be increased using ballast, but that also increases the total wet surface area and places any monohulls outside the definition of ‘optimal’ according to this article.
therefore, there are no real world examples for an absolute speed advantage of displacement monohulls over multihulls.

Tuck and Lazauskas found that a 40:1 Length to Beam ratio is optimal for speed, and with such ratio Residual resistance counts for only 10% of the Total resistance to the boat. Moreover, they allowed for the monohulls a Beam to Draft ratio of 2:1, which is not a realistic one for canoes and kayaks, which is closer to 4:1. Considering the L/B ratio of an ICF K1 racing kayak is merely 11:1, it is clear that the constraints imposed on the design of small paddle sports boats are severe, and the actual performance of such boats in terms of speed is therefore very different from that of Tuck and Lazauskas’ optimal boats navigating in straight lines in an ideal environment, under no constraint other than their volume.

A canoe or kayak’s volume is given before starting its design: It is dictated by the weight of the user(s), the gear carried and the boat itself, the user being the most important factor. The user’s power, skill and endurance are other severe limitations.
The boat’s required performance is measured mainly in terms of speed, stability and control.
The monohull kayak design offers a less than optimal solution for allocating the boat’s ‘asset’, which is its projected volume:

Nearly all the monohull kayak’s buoyancy is concentrated along its longitudinal axis (center line), where it contributes close to nothing in terms of lateral stability.
The monohull kayak’s wet sides contribute little lateral stability at a price of a large surface area and a big increase in residual resistance that limit speed. The monohull’s above waterline sides offer some secondary stability but at a price of a decrease in directional stability (i.e. yaw) as the waterplane cross section of a monohull tilting sideways is no longer symmetrical in the longitudinal direction, that is relatively to the boat’s direction of progress.

Reducing a monohull’s wet beam in order to increase speed decreases lateral stability, which has a negative effect on speed and comfort.
To be ‘fine’ a monohull needs to be excessively long, which requires more effort for propulsion and maneuvering. Tuck and Lazauskas found that for speeds roughly above 1.5 hull speed optimum catamarans are about 25% shorter than optimum monohulls.
The low sitting position in a monohull kayak is wasteful in terms of paddler’s energy since a small and relatively weak group of muscles in the shoulders, chest and back has to provide most of the propulsion and control efforts, while other, more powerful and better fit parts of the body are largely prevented from sharing the load and increasing available power.
Sitting low also makes it more difficult to make the paddle move in parallel to the hull and at a close distance from it. Instead, the natural movement of the blade is more in parallel to the water surface, in a curved course at a distance from the boat. This leads to high energy loss as a result of the difference in speed between the paddle’s tip and the part that’s closer to the shaft, and because the paddler needs to put more effort in keeping directional stability.
Since the paddle moves at a low angle relatively to the water surface the difference in resistance between the blade’s low (more submerged) and high parts creates an unwanted rotational effect with the shaft acting as axis. Overcoming this problem is achieved by a combination of the paddler’s continuous effort (‘technique’) and an asymmetrical, thin (less full) and consequently less efficient design of the blade.

Most fast kayaks (and canoes) have hard chines that increase their wet surface i.e. further distance them from an ‘ideal’ shape in speed terms.
Looking at the findings in Tuck and Lazauskas’ article it seems that in average an optimal catamaran generates roughly 15% more Total resistance than an optimal monohull of the same volume. But real life monohull kayaks and canoes cannot be considered being even close to optimal according to this article, while real life twinhull boats are not limited by the constraints imposed on monohull boat design, and therefore can be made to be closer to the theoretical optimum catamaran design.

11’4″ Long W500 Kayak Model vs. a Longer Monohull Kayak – Speed Comparison

The speed advantage of the 11’4″ long W500 is limited to canoes and touring kayaks in its size category, that is about up to 13′ in length, and to longer canoes and kayaks with very wide beams (e.g. typical fishing kayaks).
This can be explained by the very steep increase in Rr as function of speed above the hull speed, which is typical to wide-beam monohull canoes and kayaks, compared to a milder increase in Rr under those circumstances in ultra thin hulls such as those of the W1.
Fast touring canoes and touring kayaks with very long and narrow hulls (high L/B) were faster than the 11’4″ W500 in most cases.
These findings basically correspond to the observed average 25% speed advantage that multihulls have over comparable [displacement] monohulls (i.e. similar displacement and length) in the sailing and motorboat worlds.
An additional explanation to this relative speed advantage of the W500 is its improved biomechanic and ergonomic design, which enables the paddler to allocate more power more effectively than the traditional monohull kayak does.

The Potential of the W Kayak Concept

Statistically, multihulls are 25% faster than comparable monohulls in the world of yachting, powerboats and sailing. This could give the reader an idea of the potential of twinhull paddle sports boats but it’s not necessarily a final limit:
The improvement in stability and hydrodynamics is relative to the effect of the constraints of the basic [displacement] monohull form. The relatively wide beam and difficult paddling posture imposed by traditional kayaks may be more significant limitations than propulsion constraints imposed by monohull designs in larger boats. Paddlers’ complaints about leg and back pains induced by the traditional paddling postures are strong indications to a general and serious ergonomic problem that impacts both well being and paddling speed. Narrow monohull canoes and kayaks can sometime be slower than wider and more stable ones simply because their instability makes them too difficult to paddle in some cases.

The following figure represents the useful potential of the W concept in the design of a wide range of paddle crafts:

Kayak Design: Speed and Stability

Kayak Design: Speed and Stability

This schematic drawing shows the trade-off between Speed and Stability in traditional (monohull) kayaks and canoes (Red line), which limits the performance of any monohull K or C model to the area under this line.
The relationship between Speed and Stability in W kayaks is represented by the Green line.
Contrarily to monohull kayaks and canoes, the W Stability increases as a function of Speed (I.E. longer hulls).
The potential speed advantage of W kayaks is about 25% higher than that of monohull kayaks and canoes of similar weight, volume and length, based on statistics from motorboats and sailing boats, and confirmed by tests run on 3 experimental W kayak models, and two production model – the 10’4″ long W300 (2004-2010), and 11’4″ long W500 (2009 – present)

The W’s initial potential stability is considerably higher than that of monohull canoes and kayaks – Watch Demo Movies »

The gray areas in the above figure represent models that are either too slow or too unstable to be useful.

“Catamaran-Kayaks” vs. W Kayaks – The Differences

Interestingly, while some traditional ‘Catamaran Kayaks’ are more stable than monohull kayaks they are not faster than regular monohull kayaks. This can be attributed to two factors:

1. Stability: The ordinary ‘Catamaran Kayak’ design places the paddler on top of a platform connecting two hulls or pontoons, with his/her legs stretched forward in the typical ‘L’ kayaking position. This elevates the Center of Gravity (CG) of both paddler and boat compared to regular kayaks and SOTs without improving the means available for active balancing and control.
As a result a paddler sitting on top of a traditional ‘catamaran-kayak’ may find himself quite unstable and lacking good means for controlling his/her boat.
The W Kayak is significantly different by the fact the paddler’s legs are not stretched in front of him/her but go deep down into the hulls, and his/her feet rest firmly below waterline at the boat’s lowest point. This position both lowers the CG as well as offers optimal balancing and control capabilities over the boat. In fact the W Kayak is more stable than any kayak or canoe- monohull or dual hull, see: Kayak Stability article.

2. Power: Paddling from a higher position is known to improve the paddler’s leverage on the paddle, but only if the paddler benefits from adequate support, which traditional catamaran-kayaks cannot offer. In comparison, the Riding, and Standing positions offered by the W kayak enable applying powerful paddle strokes similar in strength to those applied by racing and whitewater canoeists who paddle in the kneeling positions.

Limits of the W Kayak Concept

As a result of the user sitting or standing with a foot in each hull, the W kayak design presents a special problem relatively to normal, larger size twinhull boats (catamarans), which is the small distance between the hulls. The water flowing in this space generates a higher resistance, especially if the hulls are very long and very close to each other.
However, the two hulls are very narrow (high L/B) and displace a small volume each, and consequently generate very small waves so that practically this limitation seems to have negligible effects. This potential problem is also dealt with by having the asymmetric hulls divert some of the flow from the space between the hulls.
Tuck and Lazauskas found that in speeds lower than 1 x hull speed the optimum separation (W/L – Width to Length) is roughly 20-30% from the catamaran’s length, but for speeds between 1 and 2 times the boat’s hull speed there seems to be no optimal W/L.
They also found that in some cases optimum catamarans can generate less resistance than comparable optimum monohulls due to a phenomenon known as Wave Cancellation.
The second generation of W kayaks named the W500 series, was designed with the sides of both hulls facing each other completely straight and flat. This has reduced to a negligible minimum the flow disturbances in the space between the two hulls.

Tests we performed years ago with a 15 ft W boat prototype have shown no significant increase in wave interaction and non laminar flow in the space between its hulls compared to a short (10 ft) model. This positive phenomenon can be attributed to the decrease in Draft in the longer boat.

More Food For Thought:

Multihull sailboats are heavier than the ‘ideal shape’ because of their additional structural elements and increased hull surface by volume, while monohull sailboats are heavier than the ‘ideal shape’ because of their ballast and weighted keels that are required to improve directional and lateral stability.
These structural, static elements represent ‘prices’ that designers have to ‘pay’ in order to increase the seaworthiness of their designs.
When it comes to human powered boats the possibilities for adding heavy static elements are very limited, and much of the problems of tracking, balancing and controlling are left to the user/s to deal with dynamically, i.e. by drawing on the power of their muscles and their attention, and consequently, pay a price in speed terms.

“Improvements to the monohull design have only increased sailing efficiency about 20% over 100 years, whereas by changing from a monohull to a multihull a much greater increase in sailing efficiency is realized.”
-Richard Boehmer, Naval Architect

 

W500 kayak front view

W500 kayak front view

It is possible to design W hulls that are wider, longer, deeper etc.

 

 

 

 

 

Cross section of a W500 fishing kayak

Cross section of a W500 fishing kayak

The user sits, rides or stands in it with each foot resting firmly at the bottom of each of the kayaks’ twin hulls, below waterline, for max power, control and stability.
The 11’4″ long W500 kayak is just 28.5″ wide, and its patented form makes it the world’s stablest kayak.

About this Article

We published the first version of this article ten years ago.
At that time, the leading application in kayaks was sea-kayaking (Touring), and kayak fishing was in its infancy.
Stand Up paddling (SUP) was almost nonexistent, and many people opposed the idea of paddling standing.
Few people attempted to outfit their kayaks with feeble electric motors, and no one contemplated the possibility of using powerful outboard gas engines.
Back then, most kayakers believed that the only way to increase a kayak’s stability was to make is substantially wider or to outfit it with outriggers – both methods resulting in increased drag and reduced speed and convenience as many contemporary fishing kayak designs prove..
Many people then didn’t realize that multi-hulls, and especially catamarans, have revolutionized boating, including kayaking, by offering both more stability and the possibility to reach higher speeds. Nowadays, the dominance of multi-hulled boats in sailing and motorizing races leaves no room for doubt.

Things have changed since then, and today most people are more knowledgeable, aware and open minded than a decade ago.

As we predicted back then, kayak stability and ergonomics have become by far the top priorities of both users and manufacturers.
In contrast, long and narrow traditional style kayaks equipped with tight spray skirts that require their user to have a ‘bomb proof’ Eskimo Roll technique have fallen out of fashion.

Since 2007, this article was viewed over 33,000 times by 23,000 people, and its popularity hasn’t decreased over time.

Special Thanks

Over the years, many people proof-read this article and contributed their comments and questions about it, both in public discussions and in private emails.
Some of them were known kayak designers, others less known ones, and many were kayakers and kayak anglers, of which the majority owns a W kayak from either the discontinued W300 series and/or the present W500 series.
All these people deserve our thanks, since without them this article would have been less complete.

Read a shorter, simplified version of this article: What makes the Wavewalk™ 500 faster and easier to paddle than other fishing kayaks?

What Do W Kayak Users Say About Their Wavewalk™ Kayaks?

Our Fishing Kayak Blog features hundreds of stories and thousands of pictures contributed by W kayakers.
Our website’s Fishing Kayak Reviews section features links to nearly 200 reviews contributed by W kayak owners, including their full name and state.
Note that we seldom publish a review that’s not accompanied by pictures.

Additional Resources:

Are Sea Kayaks Seaworthy?

‘CATDESIGN v1″ – Catamaran Design Software Program by Rene Calvo:
http://www.wavewalk.com/CATDESIGNv1.xls

Paddle VS. Pedal Drive in Common Fishing Kayaks

Paddling 340 Miles In 83 Hours, In My 11 ft Long W Fishing Kayak, By Clint Harlan, Missouri

Are SOT Kayaks Safe For Offshore Fishing?

Visit our blog’s Motorized Kayaks Section

The secrets of the SOT kayak’s underside

Are Sea Kayaks Seaworthy?

This article examines issues related to the seaworthiness of kayaks in general, including fishing kayaks, and of sea kayaks in particular, and it discusses an alternative approach to sea kayak seaworthiness based on the new W Kayak concept, and on micronautics – the art and science of designing watercraft that are small and lightweight enough to be affected by the size and movements of one passenger.
The reader is encouraged to watch online videos demonstrating performance of 11 ft long W500 kayaks.
The subjects discussed here include launching, going over and through incoming waves, going over lateral waves and playing with them, surfing and paddling standing at sea, and tracking in strong wind.

1. Sea kayaking – Past and Present

…safe on the sea is an oxymoron” Wayne Horodowich, University of Sea Kayaking

Well said!

Touring and sea kayaking were the two first kayaking applications outside the traditional use of kayaks by native people of the arctic zone. Nevertheless, after many decades these activities are still practiced by a small minority of kayakers whose number has been declining in recent years while recreational kayaking has become widely popular and dominates the kayaking scene in terms of participation and number of boats sold.
sea kayaks are faster than recreational kayaks, and paddling in the open ocean and in the surf is certainly more exciting and challenging than ‘recreational’ paddling. Also, younger generations are naturally attracted to speed and more exciting outdoor sports, so why is the number of sea kayakers small and decreasing?
Polyethylene sea kayaks are not much more expensive than the better recreational kayaks, and are for the most part equivalent in performance to FRP (Fiber Reinforced Plastics) sea kayaks, so we’ll rule cost as a valid explanation.
It seems that in order to answer this question we’ll have to first determine what’s a ‘sea kayak’ vs. ‘recreational kayak’: A sea kayak is a long, narrow, traditional sit-in kayak (SIK) in which the paddler sits while being protected by a spray skirt, while a recreational kayak is either a SIK or a sit-on-top (SOT) kayak that’s wider (up to 42″ wide) and stabler, where the passengers are not protected by spray skirts.  Modern, commercial sea kayaks differ from the native kayaks by the fact they are all equipped with seats and foot braces, and in many cases rudders too.
Since recreational kayaks are slower than sea kayaks they also have a more limited range of operation, and since they offer little or no protection to their passengers they are generally limited to more warm and flat waters.
For these reasons many sea kayakers view sea kayaks as being seaworthy boats, and in fact some sea kayakers have crossed oceans in them. However this fact is by no means an indicator of seaworthiness since people have crossed oceans in a variety of contraptions including floating skis, sailboards etc.  Similarly, the world record for the longest unicycle trip is 9,136 miles but we doubt this fact would inspire anybody to switch from bicycles to unicycles…
But are sea kayaks really seaworthy, and if indeed they are why do the overwhelming majority of kayakers prefer recreational kayaks? If sea kayaks were indeed seaworthy shouldn’t we expect most kayakers, or at least a bigger number of kayakers to adopt sea kayaking as an outdoor sports activity?
Apparently, the vast majority of kayakers do not perceive the narrow sea kayak to be seaworthy although it offers superior speed and is constantly advertised as being the true and ultimate kayak.  Sea kayakers are likely to find this incomprehensible, but to most people the idea of being trapped in a narrow and unstable boat that offers the ‘Eskimo Roll’ as an only safety option is perceived as similar to being handcuffed to a motorcycle that has no breaks: It’s an equivalent to a death trap. Interestingly, the number of people who practice board surfing is many times bigger that the number of surf kayakers, which is extremely small. This means that under similar conditions surfers prefer a board to a kayak that requires both a spray skirt and a helmet.

Are the majority of kayakers right about this? Is the saying ‘Vox Populi Vox Dei’ valid in this case?  This article will attempt to examine the seaworthiness of sea kayaks from a number of angles.

2. Seaworthiness and Capsizing

For us the definition of a seaworthy kayak includes being “Forgiving of the most egregious paddling and judgmental errors.” John Winters, ‘The Seaworthy Kayak’

Indeed, this is a most seaworthy definition!

Look outside the kayaking world and ask yourself the following question:
-“What type of small sea vessel needs to be seaworthy?”
There can be a number of answers starting from sailing crafts to inflatable rescue boats, but all these examples would have one thing in common: their stability, and more specifically – lateral stability.
Why?  -Simply because all boats are narrower than they are long, and therefore small boats are particularly narrow, that is highly unstable and prone to capsize. The ways to deal with this problem are multiple, from weighted keels in sailing boats to very wide beams in traditional ‘cats’, rescue boats and some big canoes, but these solutions are not applicable in kayaks.
Kayaks belong to a group of watercraft that are just a little wider than their passengers, and weigh even less than them.  We like to call the field of nautical design of such very small boats ‘micronautics’.

Ask naval designers if they would consider a boat that’s prone to capsize as being seaworthy and you can be sure to get a categorical ‘no’ as an answer. Those of them who will remember the existence of those little boats called kayaks might add -“Well, maybe if you’re an experienced sea kayaker then a sea kayak could be seaworthy for you, to some extent”

Sea kayaks are faster than most paddle crafts and speed is a good thing in terms of seaworthiness: Slow kayaks that are hard to paddle expose their users to fatigue and could make it difficult or in some cases even impossible for them reach to their destination under unfavorable weather and/or water conditions.
But the sea kayak is a singularity in the micronautical world since it is the only seafaring boat that offers less lateral stability than what is required to maintain balance without constant, active intervention from the passenger/s.
This puts the sea kayak in an extreme position – that of offering little or no static (form) means to prevent capsizing.  In practical terms it is a watercraft designed to capsize.
sea kayakers might find this definition somehow harsh, and point to the fact that sea kayaks are designed to be rolled and not to be capsized.  The problem with this argument is that rolling is not a prevention strategy but a recovery strategy.  In safety terms sea kayaks simply don’t offer considerable means of prevention other than their passengers’ skill in balancing the boat, and therefore are seen as unsafe – a term that’s is commonly perceived as the equivalent of ‘not seaworthy’.
In response to this sea kayakers and sea kayak designers may point to the origins of the ‘Eskimo Roll’ as the native arctic people’s solution for the safety issue, and therefore as a ‘natural’ and acceptable one.  We find this argument to be weak for a number of reasons:

1. Although kayak designs are at least hundreds and possibly thousands of years old, it seems like some of the original kayakers had their own doubts about the usefulness of the ‘Eskimo Roll’ as the primary or optimal measure of seaworthiness and preferred to exercise more caution by relying on form stability.  While kayaks in Central and Western Canada were used mainly in rivers, lakes, estuaries and generally in protected waters, Eastern Canada kayaks which were designed to be used in the ocean were wider and stabler, up to 82 cm (32″) in width:

“The Inuit of Baffin Island, northern Quebec and Labrador used kayaks that were more or less flat-bottomed and relatively wide, characteristics that contribute to stability. With high, rising prows that helped to override the waves, these relatively heavy kayaks were well adapted to their primary function: hunting waterfowl and sea mammals in the open sea.”
‘Native Watercraft in Canada” – The website of The Canadian Museum of Civilization

2. The Labrador Inuit people used long sea kayaks with a 23″ beam, which should have made them easy to roll. However, these skilled sea kayakers chose not to rely on the Eskimo Roll:

“These huge kayaks were up to 24ft. long and had a beam of 23 in. They were never rolled by their occupants, and in the event of a capsize the paddler would need assistance from a companion in order to get back into this boat”
-Derek Hutchinson ‘The Complete Book of Sea Kayaking’ (1995.. Old Saybrook, Conn.: The Globe Pequot Press, Inc., p.166).

3. Native peoples’ kayaks were never equipped with a seat while all present-day sea kayaks are. This makes the latter both less stable and more difficult to roll than native kayaks.  On top of this, the average contemporary North American sea kayaker is significantly taller and heavier than the average native arctic kayaker was, a fact that further reduces the sea kayak’s safety from both stability and rolling perspectives.

4. For the vast majority of modern paddlers the Eskimo roll is impossible to practice and therefore not a safe option.  In fact, even seasoned sea kayakers can ‘miss their roll’, especially in emergency situations:  It’s one thing to roll your kayak in a pool with nose plugs on and the water around you perfectly still, and quite another thing to roll it in the surf after you’ve been slammed by a breaking wave and hit the bottom with your head  There are countless accounts of experienced sea kayakers who occasionally ‘missed their roll’, which indicates that the common perception of the Eskimo roll as being unreliable is anchored in reality.

5. Over the years sea kayakers and sea kayak designers have developed a ‘sea kayaking philosophy’ that seems to have turned things around: The highly undesirable situation in which you are trapped inside a narrow and unstable boat that you can’t even hold straight without keeping your paddle in the water has become justified by the glorification of an extreme, dangerous and unreliable recovery technique that requires endless, tedious practicing that wouldn’t even guarantee results in real life conditions.

6. A common sea kayaking myth links native kayaks to long journeys at sea, but it appears most native kayakers used their kayaks for short trips and only the Greenlanders used their kayaks fro long coastal summer expeditions:

For long trips the umiak, and more recently the whaleboat, are used“.
Hawkes, E.W. 1916. The Labrador Eskimo. Canada, Department of Mines, Geological Survey, No. 14, Anthropological Series, pp.71-73.

The other type of aboriginal boat, the kayak, was used by the men for short trips and for hunting“.
Taylor, Garth.  Labrador Eskimo Settlements of the Early Contact Period. Publications in Ethnology. No.9. Ottawa: National Museum of Man.  1974. pp. 39-40.

We conclude from these data that most native kayakers were well aware of their kayaks’ limited seaworthiness. The exception of the Greenlanders can be explained simply by the fact that extreme climatic conditions forced these people to stretch the use of their kayaks and rely more heavily on them.

A sea kayak’s seaworthiness is entirely dependent on the paddler.”  –
We found this sentence and similar ones in a number of sea kayaking websites.
It seems to summarize the situation where kayaks that are not seaworthy naval or common standards have become synonym to seaworthiness, so much that they are called as a group ‘sea kayaks’
Is it any wonder that sea kayaking has not grown to be a widely popular sport and has been continuously receding in recent years while recreational paddling in stable kayaks is popular and still increasing in popularity?
Unfortunately, some sea kayakers don’t perceive people who paddle other types of kayaks (e.g. recreational, SOT, W) as ‘real kayakers’ since they don’t roll their boats. These sea kayakers erroneously identify rolling with kayaking and vice versa.  Unfortunately, so far such attitude seems to have resulted in further alienation of the broad public from sea kayaking.

3. Seaworthiness from a sea kayaker’s perspective

In the first part of this article we examined the question of sea kayak seaworthiness from a general perspective of safety, as viewed by the overwhelming majority of boat designers, boaters and paddlers. In this section we’ll examine the seaworthiness of the sea kayak from its own cockpit, in performance terms, and while comparing with solutions offered by the new W Kayak concept:

Pitching
“…Because the pitching inertia varies as the square of the distance from the center of rotation … tremendous forces are involved and their reduction is advantageous.” -John Winters, ‘The Seaworthy Kayak’

Pitching is the vertical rotation of the boat around its center of gravity (CG). Pitching causes significant increase in residual resistance (Rr), especially when the kayak goes through waves – The longer the kayak the greater the loss of energy because of pitching.
All mono-hull kayaks are constrained by the need to place the paddler in a fixed position in the center part of the hull’s longitudinal axis.  This puts a strict limitation on the kayaker’s ability to control his boat’s pitching.  However this constraint is nonexistent in W kayaks where the kayaker is free to travel forward and backward along the longitudinal saddle inside the cockpit and thus distribute his/her weight ad hoc where it is likely to be more needed in a proactive manner.  For example, when facing waves coming from the direction of the bow it is highly advantageous to place yourself at the back of the cockpit and thus lift the bow. This would not only be helpful for riding up the wave instead of smashing right into it, but also in reducing the impact and loss of momentum when descending on its other side.

Rocker

Rocker is a must in monohull sea kayaks since without it the boat won’t turn well. But rocker also decreases the monohull sea kayak’s ability to track, and therefore its potential speed and by that its seaworthiness since speed is a good thing to have in terms of seaworthiness.
Both tracking and maneuverability are desirable in terms of seaworthiness, and the unwanted tradeoff between them is typical of monohull kayaks only:
W kayaks can turn effectively by having the W kayaker lean into the turn, which means That W hulls don’t necessarily need not be curved vertically to offer rocker. This, among other reasons enables W kayaks to perform the impossible in terms of monohull kayaks, which is to both track and turn very well and without requiring a rudder, which is a considerable source of drag and added complexity in operation.

Primary and Secondary Stability

Monohull sea kayaks are designed for speed and for rolling.  These two requirements make them very narrow below and above waterline, and therefore lacking in both primary and secondary stability.  There is no way a monohull kayak can be fast if it is wide.
The first production W kayak (a.k.a. W300 series) was 25″ wide, and each of its hulls has a waterline beam (WB) of 6″ when the boat is loaded with 200 lb.
The W500, which is the second generation of W kayaks is 29″ wide, and each of its hulls is 8″ wide.
Most kayakers are impressed with this W kayak’s unmatched primary and secondary stability, which allow for a 200 lb man to stand up in it as well as jump up and down and from one leg to another (see demo videos).

Tracking and Rudders

Monohull kayaks, including sea-kayaks track extremely poorly in currents and under strong wing, a factor that gravely reduces their seaworthiness. For this reason, nearly all sea kayaks come outfitted with rudders or skegs, which help their users track at a price of additional, unwanted drag that slows them down.

Wavewalk’s twin-hull kayaks are different since they require to be outfitted with neither rudders nor skegs. A W kayak can track better in strong wind thanks to its two thin, parallel hulls, and the fact that their user can easily relocate the kayak’s center of gravity (CG) for and aft along the saddle, thus determining whether the kayak would point into the wind or away from it, and by how much.

 

Storage

Part of the storage problem …has always been hatches.” -John Winters, ‘The Seaworthy Kayak’

Adding weight above the boat’s center of gravity (CG) is undesirable, especially if this weight has no means of its to balance itself… This is why the optimal storage solution should offer the possibility to store things as low as possible.  Since a monohull sea kayak must have some rocker the bottom of its front and back hatches will inevitably above the hull’s lowest point, which is in its middle section…
On top of this, sea kayaks generally offer a very limited storage space so that sea kayakers often find themselves obliged to attach gear on top of their boats. This is bad for stability and not particularly good for the gear itself.
W kayaks don’t present these problems since their hulls can have a straight bottom and even an eleven feet long Wavewalk™ 500 Kayak offers far more protected storage space than the biggest ‘expedition’ sea kayak does.

And last but not least, hatches are prone to let water in not only when the kayak is overturned but also in wavy sea, when water flows over the deck.  This is not just a storage problem but can also quickly become one of speed and maintaining proper control over the boat.

‘Narrow beam vs. wide beam’ or ‘speed vs. stability’

Does this mean that narrow boats are more seaworthy than wide boats? Absolutely not. So long as the boat can be heeled to present a favourable attitude to the waves the adverse effects of beam can be offset.” -John Winters, The Seaworthy Kayak

Unfortunately, most of us don’t look like we would have wanted to look, and most monohull sea kayaks are not 18″ wide as sea kayakers would have liked them to be for speed sake.  In fact, most sea kayaks are wider simply because even for experienced and dedicated sea kayakers the narrowest monohulls are too unstable for practical purposes.

Since speed is relevant to seaworthiness we would like to refer the reader to another article on this website, which discusses speed factors and particularly the effect of the beam on total resistance (drag): http://www.wavewalk.com/COMPARISON.html

To make a long story short, stability is desirable in sea kayaks as in all other boats – big or small.  The problem with monohull designs is that they can’t be made both stable and fast since one has to come on account of the other.
This constraint of speed vs. stability is nonexistent in catamaran (twinhull) designs, and since W Kayaks have twin hulls they can be made to be both very stable and very fast.
This has two implications:
1.    sea kayakers who are willing to give up their reliance on the Eskimo roll for a very stable kayak would be able to do so without having to give up the speed that is so dear to them.
2.    More important is the fact recreational kayakers wanting to go on longer trips and paddle faster without giving up the higher stability they are used to could do so and paddle W sea kayaks that are as fast as ordinary (monohull) sea kayaks and offer a higher level of stability than recreational kayaks do.

Kayak Seaworthiness and Comfort

Sitting with stretched legs feels comfortable for a little while but cramps are sure to follow if you cannot get good circulation.” ‘Choosing a Sea Kayak’, Article by Vaclav Stejskal

Seaworthiness and comfort are two terms which are closely linked. An uncomfortable sea kayak is dangerous as its paddler might develop fatigue, leg numbness, cramps and back pains that could put him in jeopardy and create a severe problem for other paddlers in the group.
The reason why present-day kayaks are equipped with seats and foot braces is because unlike native kayakers, present-day kayakers are unable to sit and paddle in the L position without support for their backs and feet.  These support elements known as ‘seat’ or ‘lumbar support’ and ‘foot braces’ or ‘foot rests’ are the source of various ergonomic problems that directly affect safety and therefore are strongly related to seaworthiness.
sea kayaks are particularly narrow and offer no way for the passengers to change or even modify their sitting position in case a problem develops while paddling. Consequently, the overall seaworthiness of present day sea kayaks is being further reduced.
These poor ergonomics typical to monohull sea kayaks are in contrast with the ergonomic solution offered by W Kayaks, which includes a number of interchangeable comfortable positions.

Kayaking biomechanics and ergonomics are discussed in detail in another article on this website.

Paddles and the Bio-mechanics of Kayaking

Some sea kayakers erroneously believe that shorter paddles offer a better bio-mechanical solution and therefore the longer, 9 ft paddle commonly used in W Kayaks are less ergonomic.  Since this issue relates to propulsion efficiency and fatigue it belongs to this article’s subject.
These people’s error is double:

1.    The paddling positions in W Kayaks offers more leverage on the paddle, which makes it easier to use a longer paddle i.e. to move the paddle faster. A longer paddle enables applying longer strokes aft while making a better use of the W Kayaker’s own weight, and thus minimize effort. See demo movies »

2.   The original, native kayakers themselves sometime used very long paddles, as the following quotes teach us:

The Labrador paddle (pau’tik), is double-bladed, like the Greenland type. It is quite long – 10 to 12 feet…
Hawkes, E.W. 1916. ‘The Labrador Eskimo’. Canada, Department of Mines, Geological Survey, No. 14, Anthropological Series, pp.71-73.

…paddles in Baffin Island could reach 110 inches” -Chuck Holst ‘Making a West Greenland Paddle’

REFERENCES

Reviews of the W Kayak

The Canadian Museum of Civilization: http://www.civilization.ca/aborig/watercraft/wak01eng.html

Kayak Newfoundland and Labrador Kayaking Club: The Inuit Kayak

‘The Seaworthy Kayak’, article by John Winters.

‘Making a West Greenland Paddle’ Article by Chuck Hols.

‘Greenland Style Paddle Building’ Article by George Ellis.

Speed Fundamentals, the Twinhull Advantages and the Principles of the W Kayak Concept:
http://www.wavewalk.com/COMPARISON.html

Biomechanical and Ergonomic Solutions in Modern Kayaking

W Kayaking in Strong Wind

A Wet Ride – Problem Overview and New Solutions

Getting Trapped In A kayak

Kayak Stability Factors

How Much Gear Can You Store Inside a W Fishing Kayak?

KAYAK TOURING

KAYAK TOURING

Must-read kayak review: Paddling 340 Miles in a W500 Kayak, By Clint Harlan, Missouri »

Fishing is the most popular application among people who use Wavewalk™ kayaks. These people need kayaks that are particularly stable and comfortable, and would enable them to go on lengthy trips in the quest for fish, and spend long hours in their kayaks without suffering from any sort of pain, discomfort or wetness, while moving swiftly from one fishing hole to another in the same fishery, or between different fisheries. Such trips often take place in less than favorable weather and water conditions, such as under wind, which is why these paddlers appreciate their Wavewalks’ unrivaled tracking capability. Needless to say that such anglers take plenty of fishing gear on board, and some take camping gear as well, and they love their W kayaks because it offers more storage space than any kayak out there.
The same basic requirements apply to kayak touring, which makes the Wavewalk™ particularly appealing as a long-distance touring kayak, a.k.a.  expedition kayak.

Things To Know And Consider When Choosing A Touring Kayak

The purpose of this article is to explain the basic terms and facts related to kayak touring in order to enable the reader to make informed decisions when choosing a touring kayak.

Kayak touring is a recreational paddling activity involving one or more kayakers going on medium to long range trips on freshwater and/or at sea. Kayak touring usually does not include traveling in whitewater, fishing and hunting, but it is sometimes combined with camping, bird watching and photography.
A touring kayak is a kayak designed for one or two kayakers (tandem) going on kayak touring trips.  In the range of kayak speeds touring kayaks offer average to high speed.

1. A Brief History Of Kayak Touring

1.1    The Origins Of kayak Touring
Native peoples of the Arctic Circle used kayaks for touring expeditions for hundreds and possibly thousands of years before kayak touring became a recreational activity sometime around the beginning of the twentieth century. Their custom sit-in kayaks were hand crafted, and already had the basic design of modern days touring kayaks except for the fact they featured no kayak seat, rudder or hatches that were introduced only in recent decades. Some of the native kayaks were narrow and designed to be easily rolled in case of capsize, and others were wide enough to offer sufficient stability for a native kayaker. It is important to note that native kayakers were considerably lighter as well as shorter than the average, modern North American paddler. On top of this, native kayakers practiced kayaking for long hours since early childhood and were in most cases more athletic and in better physical shape than the average North American touring kayaker. Such differences in stature, weight and skills have a critical effect on essential issues from safety to comfort, recovery, speed, tracking and maneuvering etc.

1.2    The Beginning Of The Kayak Touring Era
Canoeing became popular among settlers in North America, who adopted various native canoe designs for touring the continent’s waterways as well as for transportation of people and goods. Kayaks remained unused because canoes had the advantage of having a greater load capacity and were easier to paddle with a crew of two or more passengers. Sometime after the middle of the nineteenth century trains, motorized boats and later trucks and cars made canoes obsolete for utility touring, but at the same time people began to have more free time and disposable income, and began paddling canoes instead or rowing boats as a popular recreational, outdoor activity.  Kayaks were accepted as mainstream recreational paddle crafts starting in the sixties, as the new American society became increasingly centered on the individual. For this matter, the kayak had the advantage of being easier to handle and propel by a single passenger than a canoe is. It is then that the traditional sit-in kayak design was hybridized with the paddle board and the first commercial sit-on-top (SOT) kayak came to this world (1). Gradually, with the evolution of the consumer society it became fashionable to own a touring kayak, similarly to owning other individual recreational equipment such as a pair of name brand skis, a set of golf clubs or the latest model of fancy bicycle.

1.3    The Roaring Nineties

This trend reached its peak during the second half of the 1990s, as the soaring stock market coupled with the boom in Information Technology markets made it easy for urban professionals to buy increasingly expensive recreational sporting gear. It is during that period that expensive touring kayaks hand made from new, fiber reinforced plastics (FRP) became fashionable, and many small and medium size touring kayak manufacturing businesses thrived. This trend was equally fueled by the natural tendency that people have to compare the gear they’re using, and to assume that the more expensive the kayak the better it is.  It is in this brief half decade that many kayak touring clubs were founded and many paddle shops got into the business of selling touring kayaks.

1.4    Kayak Touring Today

Things have taken a downward course around the 2001 depression, and a new era in kayak touring has begun. Some called the beginning of this new trend the ‘Touring Kayak Meltdown’, and it reflected a number of developments – The first being a considerable drop in sales of expensive touring kayaks and at the same time a rise in sales of low-cost recreational kayaks. The second is a decline in participation in kayak touring activities such as club tours, and a rise in recreational kayaking activities including rentals, non organized short trips and kayak fishing. The difference between the trend setting kayaks in the nineties and the trendy kayaks today is not only in price and materials (rotationally molded polyethylene being the most popular material today), but also in the basic design concepts. The typical touring kayak used to be a very long, very stiff (I.E. brittle) and very narrow sit-in kayak. These attributes served the purpose of enabling higher speed and practicing the Eskimo Roll. In comparison, today’s typical touring kayak is shorter, wider and roto-molded I.E. not as rigid as an FRP (‘composite’) kayak, and it’s as likely to be a sit-on-top as it is to be a sit-in kayak.  As for the sit-in concept, most of these modern kayaks are very wide and not used with a spray skirt since they are not intended to be rolled.

2. Categories Of Kayak Touring

Expedition – Many miles and several days or more. This type of kayak touring is the most demanding from both kayak and kayaker.  The kayak needs to be solidly built and gig enough to store the gear and provisions required for a long trip. Because of its size a weight it should be stable enough to minimize the need for rolling.
·    Sea Kayaking – Kayaking on very large bodies of water (E.G. Great Lakes, Ocean) in a group of at least two kayakers. Typically, sea kayaking trips are not longer than one day.  The sea kayak is required to be fast enough for its user to keep in pace with the other kayakers in the group. As for the actual seaworthiness of such boats, the reader is welcome to read the article ‘Are Sea Kayaks Seaworthy?
·    Tripping – Long journey, mainly on rivers and lakes. The tripping kayak is required to be strong enough to withstand the hardships of going down rapids, multiple beaching on rocky shores etc. It also has to offer sufficient load capacity for gear and provisions.
·    Touring – General term for recreational paddling through longer distances, usually in groups and sometime for more than one day. Touring is often combined with other recreational activities such as camping, photography, bird watching etc.  Touring kayaks include a broad range of designs that are generally faster than whitewater, surfing and recreational kayaks and slower than racing kayaks.
·    Day Touring – Leisure kayaking for trips shorter than one day.
·    Recreational Touring – Leisure paddling limited to short trips in both time and distance terms.

3. The Touring Kayak Design

The touring kayak has to fulfill a number of sometime contradictory requirements of which the two essential ones are safety and comfort. Next come speed and maneuverability, which are important as well but not critical. Load capacity and storage come last and their importance is reduced if the kayak model is designed for shorter trips and calmer waters, as most touring kayaks are nowadays.

3.1    Safety

This is obviously the most critical requirement, and it is a complex, multidimensional one.
The first thing that comes to mind when discussing kayak safety is the ability of the kayak to protect its passenger from dangers including drowning, injury, exhaustion, hypothermia etc.
For example-
A kayak with too little free board might eventually fail to prevent water from getting inside the cockpit. In extreme cases the extra weight might impede and even sink the boat, and in cold water and weather it could cause the passenger severe discomfort, exhaustion and even death as a result of hypothermia.
A kayak that’s too narrow to offer sufficient lateral stability to its passenger is prone to being overturned by external forces such as waves, boat wakes etc., or as a result of an accidental error made by the passenger in a moment of inattention.
The paddling community is divided between the traditional, small and diminishing minority of those who see the Eskimo Roll as the ultimate recovery method and an already overwhelming and growing majority of those who prefer to paddle wider, more stable boats than increase the risk of capsizing by paddling narrow ones.
A kayak that does not offer sufficient legroom and good ergonomics will cause its passenger to suffer from discomfort, fatigue and sometime exhaustion. Such kayaks often cause cramps in the legs and thighs, leg numbness and back pain that could lead to serious boating accidents. In the long run uncomfortable kayaks might cause lasting back injuries.
A kayak designed for high speed and therefore made from very lightweight and rigid materials such as carbon fiber is also more brittle than a kayak molded from polyethylene, and might develop cracks when hitting rocks or ice.  Needless to say, that a cracked hull in cold water can be fatal. Unfortunately for passengers of such kayaks, the colder the temperature the more fragile the hull becomes.
These examples show how the requirement for additional speed might reduce both the kayak’s mobility and safety.
In this context it is appropriate to stress that designs and techniques that were perfectly acceptable and useful for native kayakers are no longer practical for most modern non-professional kayakers – including those who think otherwise.

3.2    Ergonomics and Biomechanics

These subjects are already discussed in depth in another article called ‘Biomechanical and Ergonomic Solutions To Modern Kayaking’ (Article).
In essence, when choosing a touring kayak it is useful to remember the following points:
You are going to spend many hours at a time in this kayak, and what may seem comfortable to you in the first fifteen minutes of paddling might turn to be a nuisance and sometime a source of pain after an hour or two, and it may even cause back injuries over longer periods of time.

3.3    The Kayak Seat
This is a modern-days accessory that native kayaks did not feature. Kayak manufacturers introduced it as a support for the kayaker’s back in order to prevent it from ‘falling’ backwards as a result of sitting in a position that’s not appropriate for people who are no longer used to sitting on the floor, that is nearly all of us Westerners.
But the seat has not solved the ergonomic problem at its root- it just changed the symptoms: Now the supporting structure itself I.E. the seat’s backrest created a pressure point in the kayaker’s lower back, and while generous cushioning may dissipate to a certain level and postpone the discomfort it certainly does not eliminate it.
In fact, the kayak seat created a second problem, which is the lack of sufficient support for the kayaker’s feet: Instead of the back ‘falling’ backward the feet are ‘sliding’ forward, which is why they require a rigid, vertical accessory to stop them, and that’s what the foot rests or foot braces effectively do at the cost of increasing the pressure on your lower back.
And while the kayak seat has become standard in all commercial kayak models because without it hardly anyone would be able to paddle them, it has also become the Achilles Heel of the touring kayak since it merely transforms one ergonomic problem to another, and touring kayakers paddle for long hours…

3.4    The Cockpit

What’s a cockpit?  -Basically, it’s the space in the boat from where the person who controls the vessel sits or stands.
Sit-in kayaks have a small cockpit in the boat’s center, where the seat is fixed in its place. This design offers little protection from waves and spray, and enables a single sitting position with restricted legroom. If you want better protection you can cover the opening with a tight spray skirt, and by doing so you’ll be locking yourself inside the cockpit for better or for worse… with intermediary degrees of discomfort such as being seated for long hours in a puddle of water since eventually water doesn’t fail from getting inside.  You may also experience overheating in the summer and cold in winter, and acute discomfort resulting from the fact you are forced to remain seated in the one and only sitting position that’s offered to you – and it’s not even a comfortable one.
When it comes to sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks, you’re not even offered a proper cockpit space to speak of but rather an area on the open deck of a craft that’s basically little more than a re-designed paddle board that’s paddled like a traditional kayak.  The (virtual) cockpit of a SOT offers you no protection at all. In fact, SOT kayaks’ cockpits have holes in them that go from their deck to the bottom of the kayak.  These ‘scupper’ holes are there to drain the water that accumulates in seat area, but as soon as the water gets a little rough they also let water go up in the other direction, wetting you and your gear…
As far as comfort goes a SOT’s cockpit may be somehow less restrictive than the cockpit of a sit-in kayak, but the essential problems remain the same, plus you’re more likely to go overboard unless you attach yourself to the deck with ‘thigh straps’, which isn’t safe even if you can roll a sit-in kayak.
The SOT’s cockpit (or lack thereof) is the reason why you would hardly see SOT touring kayaks anywhere in colder regions.
In sum, as a touring kayaker you should consider whether the cockpit of a kayak model offers you a functional space or if it is just a ‘place’ inside the boat or on its deck.

3.5    Storage Hatches

Imagine yourself paddling your new touring kayak on a big lake or some other large body of water, and the weather is getting windy and unexpectedly cooler so you’d like to wear your sweatshirt, which you stored just two feet away from you… but you’re unable to grab it because it’s in the hatch…
Then your cell phone rings and you’d like to answer the call but although your cellphone is just a couple of feet away it’s unreachable because it’s in the hatch… Then you run out of paper handkerchiefs for your running nose, and although the extra package is onboard your kayak there’s no way for you to reach it until you beach somewhere – because it’s in the hatch…
So, the rule for hatches is that they are designed for storing objects that you wouldn’t need on board.
Now that same unexpected change in the weather is generating some waves. -You paddle to shore and beach your kayak (while stepping in water) and open the hatch just to find that the sweatshirt you stored there for such cases got wet from water that got in, as well as the extra package of paper handkerchiefs and your cellphone…
Such stories are so common that some kayak outfitters would tell you that whatever you bring onboard your kayak is likely to get wet – including yourself.

3.6    The Rudder

Even your kayak dealer or outfitter is likely to tell you at some point that you should try to avoid using one…
Native kayaks had no rudders but modern kayak manufacturers noticed that most of their customers were facing difficulties in tracking and maneuvering their kayaks.
The problem with conventional (I.E. mono-hull) kayaks is that the longer they are the harder it is to maneuver them, which could be a severe problem in rough waters and weather since you may be going in a straight line but not necessarily in the direction of your choice because the wind, waves and currents would outmaneuver you…  -But the shorter the kayak the less well it tracks, which is too bad since in a short rudderless kayak you’ll find yourself zigzagging your way to your destination instead of going straight there.
So why are rudders so controversial?  -Simply because they obviously add an element of complexity and technical difficulty to the kayaking experience.  However, there is another tradeoff to consider – one that’s less apparent, which is the fact that a rudder slows your kayak down by 10% in average. In other words you have to spend 10% more time to get where you want to go, and you’re likely to work harder getting there because using a rudder requires that you overcome a new set of hydrodynamic and biomechanical problems…(2)

3.7    Additional Passengers On Board

Traditionally, touring kayaks are solo boats, and if you want to go kayak touring you need a tandem model, which is not practical for a single kayaker.
This is a less than optimal solution, and in fact it’s even inferior to solutions offered by canoes.
SOT kayaks are somehow more flexible on this issue, and in some cases the ‘guest seat’ on the deck can accommodate an additional passenger for short rides, but in such cases the kayak becomes laterally unstable and is not it’s not balanced fore and aft and therefore becomes even more difficult to paddle.
But additional passengers don’t necessarily have to be paddlers like you – They can also be small children or dogs, and it goes without saying that both their safety and comfort must be assured.

3.8    Speed

This is possibly the most discussed subject related to kayak touring yet it seems to be unclear to many kayakers.
The first issue that needs clarification is what makes a kayak go faster?
The answer is obviously the power and skill of the kayaker, plus the design of the kayak itself that enables the kayaker to use these resources efficiently.  Since kayakers differ greatly in physical attributes such as height, weight and strength as well as in their specific paddling skills and touring style a kayak that’s fast for one paddler may be slow for another, and vice versa in some cases or even as a general rule.
For example, a very narrow and long sea kayak may enable a kayaker to go faster on flat water than a shorter and wider kayak would, but it could be difficult to control in moving water such as rapids and surf, and therefore force the kayaker to go slower or even give up paddling it in such waters.
The classic example used by both kayak designers and outfitters is a very long and therefore potentially fast kayak that requires more power from its paddler because its increased length inevitably increases its surface area and thus also the frictional drag it generates when moving in the water…
Since the kayak is a passive object without a motor or sail of its own its speed depends its hydrodynamic qualities but possibly even more on its ergonomic and biomechanical design, or simply on what its physical impact on the paddler is.
Therefore, when choosing a touring kayak it would be beneficial for you to consider speed not necessarily as the first and foremost parameter but as yet another feature that comes at a certain price that you may or may not want to pay. You should take into consideration what type of kayak touring you’re likely to practice, and who are going to be your paddling partners. Obviously, if you intend to paddle together with kayakers who paddle fast you’d better paddle a fast kayak – but only if you’re a good kayaker yourself.  Otherwise, if like most touring kayakers you’re planning just to spend time kayaking alone or in the company or others who share the same mindset without rushing anywhere you should put speed in a much lower priority.

4.    The Kayak Touring Experience

4.1    Comfort

After reading about the safety requirements it’s easier to understand why comfort should be a critical requirement from your touring kayak.
Comfort is a multidimensional issue as well, which pertains to ergonomics (mainly minimizing fatigue), biomechanics (mainly efficiency of paddling and injury reduction) and easing the operation of the boat (just ‘Keep It Simple S…’)
In previous sections of this article we discussed some comfort issues in a safety context, but comfort is also important in itself since it’s the number one factor that’s likely to determine the overall quality of your kayak touring experience, and thus will determine if you’ll be satisfied with your kayak choice and possibly even whether you’ll stick with kayak touring as a preferred outdoor activity.

4.2    Mobility: Launching, Beaching Etc.

Both launching and beaching go to the kayak’s performance in terms of mobility, which is at the core of kayak touring: A good touring kayak should offer you the ability to launch from more places and get back to land whenever you want.
Many people find it difficult to enter a sit-in kayak, and they don’t appreciate the elaborate maneuvers required to perform what should be a simple thing. Obviously, the same thing goes for beaching your kayak and exiting it…
This is not just a matter of basic convenience but also one that has safety implications, especially if your kayak is made from one of those extra-light materials (E.G. carbon fiber reinforced plastic) that are very rigid as well as brittle. You may find that your pride and joy developed a crack in its hull because you beached it a bit too roughly, and such a discovery may occur while you’re paddling it…
So a touring kayak should be easy to get into and out of, and it should better be ‘built tough’.
Sit-on-top (SOT) and open-cockpit kayaks are much easier to enter and exit than sit-in kayaks, and this is one of the reasons that make them more popular than sit-in models. However, what makes such kayaks easier to enter and exit is what eventually will offer you less protection from the elements…

4.3 Stand Up Paddling

Back in 2004, when Wavewalk offered the first generation of kayaks enabling stand up paddling in full confidence, some pundits of the kayak touring world scoffed, and others ignored us. Today, after the market for stand up paddling (SUP) on paddle boards has become much more popular than kayak touring, the Wavewalk™ kayak is till the only one to offer all people regardless of their physical fitness both kayaking and stand-up paddling in full confidence and comfort. W paddlers enjoy both a relaxing change of paddling positions, as well as a new way to look at the world around us, and enjoy it.

5. Summary – What’s Important To Remember

The kind of kayak touring you practice may be different from someone else’s, but all touring kayakers are basically seeking an experience that may have to do to some extent with nature, freedom, escape, adventure, group participation, family, friends, healthy exercise and most of all – fun.
This precious, personal experience could be damaged by people who confuse kayak touring with racing, or others that have a tendency to compete in kayaking skills and knowledge, or by those who show off their latest acquisitions in expensive kayaking gear, electronic gadgets etc.
Your kayak touring experience can also be ruined by an inadequate kayak:  Regardless of price, your kayak is no good if it doesn’t contribute to your own, personal touring experience, so if anyone tells you what experience you should be after or what boat is proper for you just remember that these are personal things that you need to discover by yourself and for yourself – even if it takes a long time and possibly switching kayaks.
The type of kayak touring you like and the touring kayak you like are best for you, period. You shouldn’t let individuals who may be ‘purists’, ‘gear freaks’ and ‘tribal chieftains’ affect your personal judgment.
It is inconceivable that your choice of a touring kayak would be affected by considerations that may have been relevant to native hunters of the polar circle in the distant past.  Things have changed since then, and both your needs and capabilities are very different form theirs, as well as the number and types of kayak concepts and designs you can choose from nowadays.

6. New Approach And New Solutions For Kayak Touring

We hope this article has informed you in some way about the subject.
You are welcome to learn about the solutions offered by the W Kayak in this website’s Touring section, and watch W Kayak demo movies

(1)    Interestingly, small, personal sit-on-top board-like paddle boats were quite common around the world for millennia, of which some were paddled with dual blade paddles similar to kayak paddles E.G. in Italy, Pre-Colombian South America etc.
(2)    More information on rudders is available in the article ‘Are Sea Kayaks Seaworthy?’

Questions? Comments? Please call or email us

7. REFERENCES

Kayak Review: Paddling 340 Miles in a W500 Kayak, By Clint Harlan, Missouri

What do Wavewalk kayak owners have to say about the W Kayak?  Reviews of the W Kayak

Getting trapped in your kayak

Are sea kayaks seaworthy?

How Much Gear Can You Store Inside a W Fishing Kayak?

The Canadian Museum of Civilization: http://www.civilization.ca/aborig/watercraft/wak01eng.html

Kayak Newfoundland and Labrador Kayaking Club:
http://www.kayakers.nf.ca/sea_kayaking/labrador_kayak/inuit_kayak.html

The Seaworthy Kayak, article by John Winters.

Speed Fundamentals, the Twinhull Advantages and the Principles of the W Kayak Concept:
http://www.wavewalk.com/COMPARISON.html

Biomechanical and Ergonomic Solutions to Modern Kayaking:
http://wavewalk.com/blog/no-kayaking-and-fishing-back-pain/

A Wet Ride – Problem Overview and New Solutions

Encyclopedia MSN Encarta: Inuit http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761561130/Inuit.html

Just floating down the Fox river with my camera, by John Fabina

I took the camera out today and just floated down the river.
It was so peaceful and relaxing. I was amazed how some of the birds pictured could walk on the “green ” water that just had a slight “clover” like coverage.
I caught a critter under a bridge sneaking along.

John

view-of-the-kayak-bow-and-the-river

 

beaver-swimming-in-the-river (2)

bird-walking-on-the-algae

bird-walking-on-the-algae-covering-the-river

fox-river-WI

going-under-a-bridge

hawk-flying-above-the-river

scenic-view-of-the-river

turtles-taking-a-plunge

turtles-taking-a-plunge (2)

 

Read more paddling and fishing trips with John »