Tag Archive: sailing

Review of the Wavewalk S4 – first impression

By Rafael Francke

California

Background

Rafael owns a catamaran yacht that he and his wife Heidi designed. For the past six years Rafael and his family have used a Wavewalk 500 as a tender boat for it, as well as a versatile fun boat, which they sailed with a DIY outrigger.
Rafael was looking to replace his Wavewalk 500 with a bigger Wavewalk 700, but he decided to order an S4 as soon as he heard that we were planning to offer such a boat. Rafael and his family waited patiently for several months for the S4 project to materialize, and they were among the first to receive their order. This is Rafael’s “first impression” review of his Wavewalk S4-

Outboard motor: I had no problem at all.

Sailing by wind: I tested the W S4 in light wind, and it handles very nice. Sailing without a rudder, and without a dagger board, I can control the direction by moving my location in the W S4 front and aft.

Very easy seating on the saddle.

Paddle: Too bad I didn’t order an extra long paddle, because I found that my common 8 ft kayak paddle was too short.

The W S4 is more stable than I expected. It’s a real pleasure.

One of our friends likes the S4 and he’s thinking of getting one too.

 

 

 

 

Read how a few weeks later, Rafael’s S4 survived a car accident, and how he repaired it »

UPDATE (August)

After Rafael repaired his S4, he and his family started using it in various applications –

Says Rafael: –
“The S-4 is alive and well, in the picture, last week the S-4 is decorated for a dinghy party.
There is a lot of interest in it.
In two days the S-4 is going on a camping trip to Oregon to see the Eclipse. We hope to use it on Shasta lake.
When on the water the S-4 is a very stable boat, using the 3 hp Yamaha it moves very nice.
It is little heavy to lift on to our “big” boat, but it pays back when in use on the water.”

Personal Catamaran

What is a Catamaran?

Typically, a Catamaran, a.k.a. ‘Cat’ is a twin hulled watercraft that features two slender, parallel hulls of equal size, and a wide structure that’s connected to the upper sides of these hulls, holding them together at a big distance from each other.
This structure makes the typical catamaran a geometry-stabilized craft, deriving its lateral stability from its wide beam and the distribution of its buoyancy along its sides, rather than from a ballasted hull, which lowers the boat’s center of gravity (CG), as a typical monohull (single hull) boat does.
The catamaran’s two hulls combined often have a smaller hydrodynamic resistance than monohulls of comparable size, and therefore require less propulsive power.
Catamarans range in size from small sailing boats and motorboats to large ships and ferries. The structure connecting a catamaran’s twin hulls can vary from a simple, lightweight frame to a bridging superstructure, namely deck from which the catamaran is operated, and can be used for carrying freight and passengers.

Is the Wavewalk a Catamaran?

The Wavewalk resembles a catamaran, but it is not a one in the full sense. The Wavewalk design is based on a proprietary (patented) invention – a new type of small watercraft. This patent is entitled “Twin Hull Personal Watercraft”, which is revealing of the fact that a Wavewalk is meant to serve one person, or a small number of persons, and closely interact with them. A Wavewalk is designed around the person and for that person, and it offers them the optimal means to balance themselves. Wavewalk and user are an integrated system that can achieve the most stability in a watercraft of similar size and even bigger ones.
Unlike a typical catamaran, a Wavewalk is narrow – It is slightly wider than its operator, similarly to typical monohull paddle craft such as kayaks and canoes.
The user of a Wavewalk operates the boat neither from one of its hulls nor from the top of a deck-like structure that bridges the hulls. Instead, the Wavewalk user operates it from within, with a leg in each of the boat’s two hulls. The user’s feet rest firmly on the bottom of the hulls, below waterline, namely as low as possible.
And this is the main difference between a Wavewalk and a typical, wide catamaran – The Wavewalk is a smaller and narrower watercraft whose design offers a hull for each of its user’s legs, and the means for them to balance themselves effortlessly, intuitively, and with the maximum effect.
In sum, the Wavewalk is different from a typical catamaran in that it is not a pure form-stabilized boat, but one that combines more than one feature and approach in order to maximize stability*

Another difference between the Wavewalk and a typical catamaran is the form of the structure that connects its twin hulls. This structure is called the Saddle, because it resembles the type of seat found in personal watercraft (PWC) a.k.a. ‘Jet-Ski’, snowmobiles, and all-terrain vehicles (ATV), all of which are high-performance personal vehicles.

If not a catamaran, is the Wavewalk a kayak, a boat, a PWC?

Thanks to its overall size, dimensions, and primary propulsion by means of a dual blade paddle, the authorities, namely the US Coast Guard, officially classify the Wavewalk as a kayak.
Motorizing a Wavewalk with an electric or gas outboard motor does not change this basic classification, and when its owner registers it at the local DMV, they register it as a kayak with a motor, and not as a full fledged motorboat, and this is a good thing both for all parties involved, namely the manufacturer, dealer and owner of the Wavewalk.

The Wavewalk is considerably more stable than kayaks are, including the wide fishing kayaks. It tracks better than kayaks, and paddles infinitely better in strong wind, which is why it does not require a rudder. The Wavewalk also offers much more storage space.
But most importantly, unlike monohull kayaks that force their users to paddle seated in the notoriously uncomfortable L posture, the Wavewalk is back pain free, since it offers it users to comfortably ride its ergonomic saddle, with a leg on each side of their body.

The unique combination of maximal stability and better ergonomics makes the Wavewalk such a perfect match for a motor.

A personal watercraft (PWC)?

Riding the saddle of a motorized Wavewalk® 700 at over 10 mph is an exhilarating sensation that may remind the driver of driving a PWC, but the latter type of watercraft feature much more powerful engines, and can go much faster than a Wavewalk. Additionally, PWC are designed for instant full recovery in case they capsize, which is not the case with a motorized Wavewalk, although outfitting a Wavewalk with inflatable side flotation greatly reduces the probability of it capsizing.

A boat?

Even a small boat is still much wider than a kayak, or canoe, which is why it’s practically impossible to paddle a boat to any meaningful distance. This extra width gives a boat a significant stability advantage over kayaks and canoes, and typically, a normal size person can stand on one side of a boat without tipping over.
But a normal size person can do this in a Wavewalk® 700 too, and this unique fact places the Wavewalk® 700 in a class of its own – a kayak that offers the stability of a small boat.
Motorized, a Wavewalk® 700 offers the performance of a small boat, on top of its unique and unrivaled performance in terms of mobility, comfort, storage space, etc.

What about A canoe?

Canoes can be very big, and transport dozens of passengers. The popular North American recreational canoes that measure up to 17 ft in length can take 3 to 4 adult passengers on board.
While Wavewalks work perfectly with single-blade (canoe) paddles, both solo and in tandem, they can carry less payload than large size canoes do. However, a Wavewalk tracks better than a canoe does, and unlike canoes, it is easy to paddle in strong wind.

… and a motorized canoe?

A motorized square-stern canoe performs much like a lightweight dinghy, and as such it doesn’t work very well as a dedicated paddle craft, namely a canoe…. In addition, it is usually less stable than a typical dinghy, which is wider.
Thanks to its slender, parallel twin hulls, the Wavewalk® 700 tracks better than a motorized canoe, it’s more stable, and being narrower it paddles better as well.
Driving a Wavewalk® 700 is easier too, thanks to the ergonomics of its saddle, and the fact that the motor is located closer to the middle of the boat, away from its stern, which improves balance.

Skiff?

In the sense that it works well as a skiff, namely a small, flat bottomed boat used for fishing in flats, estuaries and protected bays, yes, a motorized Wavewalk® 700 is an ultra lightweight, trailer-free micro skiff, and it can even be outfitted with a bow mounted electric trolling motor powered by a battery fed by the alternator in a small stern mounted outboard motor. This said, its form is very different.

Wavewalk vs Other fishing boats

When it comes to discussing various types of small fishing boats, Michael Chesloff is an expert, and his encyclopedic comparative Wavewalk review entitled “All My Other Boats”  is eye opening »


* Interestingly, the crew of competition sailing catamarans has to relocate from one side of their boat to the other in order to help stabilize it.

Outriggers

this product has been discontinued

Wavewalk® Sailing Outriggers

These outriggers fit the W500 and W700 series, as well as canoes, and many common kayaks.
Wavewalk® Sailing Outriggers provide more stability than most outriggers, thanks to the combination of larger size floats and longer arms (crossbar).
Other advantages are their light weight (10 lbs total), ease of installation, and their versatility, as their inflatable floats can also be attached directly to the boat’s main hull, without any intermediary rigid structure.

Sailing Outriggers Product Info

Dimensions:
  • Width (side to side):  6′ (180 cm)
  • Outriggers’ Length (front to back): 5’4″  (162 cm)
  • Total Weight: 10 lbs (4.5 kg)
  • Volume: 2 x 8.65 gallons  (2 x 32 liter)
  • Positive Buoyancy: 2 x 70 lbs  (2 x 32 kg)

Materials: 

  • Structure: 3/4″ anodized aluminum bars
  • Inflatable Tubes: 30 MIL HD PVC
Made in USA
Wavewalk Outriggers 1024

Wavewalk® XL Outriggers

Price: $455.

Shipping: $90. in the continental US (48 states), $100 to addresses in Canada and Alaska.

this product has been discontinued

Installation

  • The crossbar can be easily attached to a W500, W700 and any canoe that features a gunwale. Drilling is required. The crossbar can be attached to some kayaks too, and if this is not possible, straps can do the job. The crossbar features wing bolts – no tools required when attaching / detaching during regular operation.
  • Each outrigger is quickly and easily attached to the crossbar by means of one eye bolt. No tools required.
  • The tubes can be easily inflated / deflated via a large-size mouth valve. No pump required. The inflatable tubes are attached to the aluminum bars with carabiners, for quick and easy attach / detach.

Why use outriggers?

OUTRIGGERS Main USAGE and POSITION

Outriggers main role is to provide secondary stability, namely help in preventing the boat from capsizing. If you’re counting on a pair outriggers as stabilizers, namely to provide primary stability when the boat is level (I.E. not tilting sideways), you’re probably not using them correctly, or not using the right boat, or both.

When outriggers touch the water, they generate drag that slows down the boat.  Therefore, if possible, the outriggers should be mounted high enough, in a way that prevents them from touching the water unless the boat tilts sideways dangerously, so much that the user and passengers could lose balance and the boat itself capsize.

How high above the water should you mount the outriggers?

The height depends on factors such as your skill level as a boater, the size of your sailing rig, and how reasonably confident you feel about being able to handle the situation before the outrigger touches the water and starts supporting the boat.

Outriggers for fishing kayaks and canoes?

If you fish out of a canoe or a kayak, the last thing you want is outriggers, because sooner than later they’ll snag your lines and provide great opportunities for the fish you hooked to get away.
On top of this, most outriggers out there are too small and feature arms (crossbar) that are too short. These outriggers offer some initial (primary) stability, namely an impression of being stable, but they are not effective in supporting your weight in case the canoe or kayak tilts strongly on its side. In other words, the secondary stability these outriggers offer is insufficient in more difficult situations, and that’s when they’re mostly needed.
Another reason why canoe and kayak outriggers are not particularly effective is that they’re attached to the boat’s rear section, and therefore add stability mostly in that area, while having very little effect the middle section of the boat, and no effect all as far as stuff that happens in its front section. And as everyone knows, stuff happens…

For these reasons, we do not recommend using outriggers for fishing kayaks and canoes.

Outriggers for paddling?

Outriggers may add stability, but they also generate quite a bit of drag, and if you need to paddle over long distances you may find that the added outriggers make you too tired to enjoy your trip.

What about outriggers for motorized kayaks and canoes?

Not a great idea, unless the outriggers you use offer a sufficient amount of buoyancy, and most of them don’t. Again, thinking you’re stable isn’t the equivalent of being stable in real-world terms, namely as soon as you lose balance and the outrigger has to support your weight.
If you want to motorize your canoe or kayak, get a pair of big outriggers. This is especially true if you use a powerful outboard gas motor, as those are not as forgiving as weak electric trolling motors can be.

Outriggers for sailing

Yes!
Practically speaking, if you want to sail a canoe or a kayak, you must  compensate for these boats’ deficient stability (and compensate for their other deficiencies by other means*).
Sailing a canoe or a kayak with a rig featuring a good size sail (say over 35 square feet) exposes you to sudden gusts, and to capsizing, and that’s where outriggers are a must-have.
But not all outriggers were created equal, and the bigger the outriggers the better stability they deliver. And when it comes to stability, there’s no such thing as “too stable”. If you want to put the odds on your side (you do!), you should get large-size outriggers.

Boats from the Wavewalk® 500 and 700 series are more stable than any canoe or kayak out there, which is one of the reasons why you can motorize them more effectively, but sailing is different: If you’re planning to use a good size sail with your W, you should consider outfitting it with outriggers, and attach them as closely as possible to the mast, namely in the front section of the boat, where they would be more effective.

 

Canoes and kayaks track poorly, which is why they require a leeboard to reduce downwind drift, and a rudder to allow for tacking and tracking when they’re sailed. Wavewalk® kayaks and boats track very well, which is why you may sail them without a leeboard and a rudder, but only up to a certain point determined by your sailing skills, sail size, and wind power.

this product has been discontinued


 

More info on outriggers

How effective are outriggers for your fishing kayak’s stability?

How Effective Can A Fishing Kayak’s Outriggers Be?

A white fishing kayak?

Wavewalk is now offering its W500 and W570 boats in white too.
This is an unusual color for a fishing kayak, since most of these products are rotationally molded from Polyethylene, and roto-molding in white is harder than in other colors.
However, white is the typical color of other types of small watercraft including the following:

  • Microskiffs, which are small FRP motorboats used for fishing mostly in the flats and other protected areas. Anglers looking to buy a microskiff expect to be able to get one in white.
  • High-end touring kayaks that are usually molded from fiber reinforced plastics (FRP), sometimes referred to as ‘Composite’ materials. Such plastics can be reinforced with glass fiber, carbon fiber, and Kevlar.  In many cases, the bottom part of such kayaks is white and the top part is of another color.
  • Dinghies, both roto-molded and FRP, that serve as tenders (service and rescue boats) for large boats and  yachts.  People who own a large boat or a yacht and consider buying a dinghy to serve as a tender for their boat expect to be able to get one in white.
  • Sailboats are often white, and people who plan to sail their W may prefer to get it in white.