The challenge: Keeping the front passenger dry when driving your S4 at full speed in choppy water. The solution: Outfitting your S4 with a spray shield that’s big enough.
Wavewalk S4 outfitted with a full size spray shield and carrying a wheel cart on its deck. This wheel cart has an extension that can fit into the second slot in the S4’s front deck.
We used a 48″ x 24″ x 0.093″ Makrolon (Polycarbonate) sheet cut into three sections to create a 90″ long, 16″ high spray shield. This material is available at Home Depot. We assembled the sections using Goop adhesive and rivets. We attached the spray shield to the S4 deck using eyelets and short bungees.
This full size spray shield effectively protects from spray the passenger sitting in the front of the cockpit, and it further enhances the seaworthiness of your S4.
Warning: Stay away from Acrylic sheets because this material is too rigid for this kind of application, and it will develop cracks as soon as you start cutting it.
“Kayak”??… This is likely to be the last thing that comes to mind of anyone watching this movie, but indeed, the S4, like all Wavewalk’s patented catamaran boats, is officially designated as a kayak, not just because of its light weight (98 lbs) and high performance as a paddle craft, but mainly thanks to certain design features required by law. Skiff?… The kind of performance seen in this movie is not what you’d expect from a skiff or skiff by name. Wavewalk likes to bring forward the S4’s performance as a skiff, namely a fishing boat for flat water, but there’s no flat water to be seen in this offshore movie… far from that! PWC?… Such comparison would have been more appropriate if we used wheel steering instead of direct steering with the tiller, and possibly an even more powerful motor than the 9.8 HP Tohatsu that features in this movie. Nevertheless, the movie conveys some of the action and excitement associated with Personal Watercraft (PWC), sometimes referred to as jet-skis.
PWC stability at high speed
This video shows the Wavewalk S4 powered by a 9.8 HP Tohatsu outboard motor, driven at full throttle, offshore, in choppy water and waves. It demonstrates a performance level that’s new in the world of small boats and watercraft, including both unrivaled speed and stability that enables stand-up driving and wave-hopping that one expects to find only in Personal Watercraft (PWC).
Perfect balancing and ergonomic saddle seat
The Wavewalk design and PWC have one feature in common, which is their similar saddle seats that deliver the best balancing capabilities to the driver and passengers. But the advantage of the saddle seat doesn’t end there – The saddle also allows the driver and passengers’ legs to act naturally as powerful and effective shock absorbers that protect their backs from the unwanted impact of the constant leaps and bounds, and high speed clashes with waves.
Being officially designated as a kayak, the S4 delivers these capabilities in a paddling mode too, although at much lower speeds…
A most seaworthy small boat
The performance seen in this video is not the kind of performance that flat-bottomed boats such as Jon boats or skiffs can deliver. The S4 is seaworthy, while these traditional small fishing boats aren’t. What cannot be well perceived from watching this movie is the fact that the S4 is dry too – Frontal clashes with waves do not let water into its hulls, and the only time when spray gets in is when the boat is hits a wave with its broadside. Even then, very little water gets inside.
Shooting this video
The cameraman was Captain Larry Jarboe, standing on the deck of his fishing boat, the Line Dancer, that was anchored in the same choppy waters as the S4 is seen going in. The Line Dancer was constantly bouncing and tilting, which made it particularly difficult to shoot video of another, distant and fast moving small boat. Larry used a Nikon Coolpix 900 digital camera with a powerful x83 optical zoom lens, in an auto-focus mode, but since placing this camera on a tripod would have been useless under these hectic conditions, Larry’s sea legs were the decisive factor that helped produce the video footage for this movie.
The White Knight – Larry’s workhorse S4
The boat in this movie is Larry’s personal S4, dubbed the White Knight. Larry offers fishing and diving tours in Key Largo, and it is this boat that he uses in these trips, and on a daily basis. The White Knight features a base for a diving ladder at the bow, and foam boards on its sides, since Larry sometimes uses it to side-tow two other S4s,each attached to a different side of the White Knight.
The White Knight is powered by a 9.8 HP 2-cycle Tohatsu outboard motor, and Larry recently clocked 17 mph with it, which is a world speed record for kayaks.
Driving the S4
The S4 operator in this movie is 56 years old, and not in great shape. An athletic driver half his age would have probably driven the S4 more aggressively and spectacularly, but that tired-looking, gray haired driver adds a feeling of reality to the video, or so we hope…
We wanted to show the Wavewalk S4 going in rough water, but since we couldn’t find water that was choppy enough in Key Largo, we made our own chop 😀 Larry drove his commercial fishing boat, the Line Dancer, Orit sat at the stern and shot video with our new Nikon camera equipped with a X83 optical zoom lens (great camera), and I drove an S4 in the boat’s wake.
The Line Dancer’s wake was V shaped, with pronounced “ridges” of waves and turbulence on both sides, and a quieter area in between. When we went in open areas where the tidal current and wind created natural chop, adding the boat’s wake on top generated pretty hectic conditions that were a bit challenging to drive through, mainly because the motor on my S4 was a little 3.5 HP that didn’t allow for much planing and playing. This application calls for a more powerful motor, and a 6 HP outboard would have probably yielded more spectacular action shots. But at least we were able to demonstrate the principle… When we drove in quieter zones, I just surfed the Line Dancer’s wake, and that was easy and fun.
What’s the real-world advantage of the S4’s ability to go through fast currents and chop? “Real World” usually means you have to go from point A to point B, and you’re not just looking for some driving action fun. This can happen when you use the S4 as a tender for a bigger boat, or yacht, or when you drive in fast rivers that are swollen by water from melting snow in spring, or by tidal currents in coastal areas. Jon boats and skiffs don’t excel in such conditions, to say the least, and inflatable dinghies are neither the most comfortable nor the most reliable choice. But the S4 shines in the chop, not just due to its natural, physical, “catamaran” stability, but also because it offers the driver to ride a saddle seat similar to the seat that other high performance vehicles feature, such as personal watercraft (PWC a.k.a. “jet ski”), all-terrain vehicles (ATV), snowmobiles, and dirt bikes.