I ran this article in the local fishing paper.
I was considering upgrading my kayak so started cruising the internet. I saw an interesting catamaran kayak called a W500. I made contact with the distributor in the Waikato [upper North Island of New Zealand] to see if I could have a look at one. I got a reply back that they have a rep in St Arnaud [NZ Southern Island] and would CC him in on the e-mail. Murray, Wavewalk’s rep, then made contact and told me he was heading out of the country for a couple of weeks and could let me have a W500 while he was away. Next morning, true to his word, Murray arrived with an impressive looking machine.
I had a 4.2m long [14′] sit-in fishing kayak [from a local brand], and the W500 is 3.45m long [11’4″]. My other kayak was a bit wider and heavier than the W500, and it could take a slightly heavier load. The paddle I used with it was 2.2m long [7.2′] and the W500 paddle is 275m long [9′], this is because you sit higher out of the water and can also stand up and paddle.
My first trip out with the W500 was to Cable Bay. No major plans just get used to it. I found it easy to paddle and was able to change position while paddling moving my feet forward, stretching my legs out, and back tucking them in behind me. The seat was firm and as I didn’t want to get off and stayed out for 8 hours I had a sore butt. Foam rubber seat on next trip. There were a few kahawai [local saltwater fish] about so I tried standing and casting. A bit wobbly at first but after a few goes felt comfortable doing it. Would be great up the lakes you trout fishos. I managed to land half a dozen snapper and 7 gurnard and a couple of kahawai.
The end of the trip came and I headed for shore. Tail wind and following sea. My sit-in kayak had a rudder and was pretty easy to control unless you get side on with a following sea and then it can be interesting… The W500 has no rudder but you don’t need one. It tracks beautifully and if you get side on to a wave you just lean into it and carry on, very stable.
When I got out of the sit-in kayak at the end of a long trip I have to walk around a bit to loosen up my ankles and knees as I have arthritis in both and sitting for long periods with legs stuck in the same position causes a bit of pain. When I pulled on to the beach in the W500 I just stood up and stepped out, no pain. . Felt like I could go out again.
Next trick was loading up. I had to lift my sit-in kayak over my head and onto the roof rack, not excessively hard unless the wind is blowing then it gets interesting… The W500 I lined up with the rear of my station wagon, lifted the front up and rested it on the back end of the car. I walked to the back of the yak and lifted it up and slid it all the way on with hardly any effort at all.
Over all for the day I would rate the W500 as 8 out of 10 with a more comfy seat it would have been 9.
The speed of the W500 I would have rated about 85% of the 4.2 m sit-in kayak though it was hard to judge as I used a longer slower paddle stroke. At first I wasn’t comfortable standing up and paddling but have tried a few more times since then and I got better.
An issue I had had with a sit-in kayak was getting the anchor stuck. I lost a few anchors as the get lodge in the rock occasionally and you can’t put a hell of a lot of effort into retrieving them without tipping out. You normally end up cutting them loose unless someone else is around. With the W500 you can put the anchor rope between the hulls, brace your feet and heave till your heart’s content without fear of tipping out. Brilliant! I used the same anchor that I use on the catch and I did find that when the wind comes up the anchor did not hold so I have gone to a heavier anchor. I was using a 750gm anchor [1.5 lbs] with 2m of chain [6.5′].
Fish finder – The sit-in kayak had a brilliant hidey hole complete with cover for a fish finder and a scupper hole for the transducer. Excellent idea. There is no specific area for one on the W500 so I have set up a nail box on its side with my old Lowrance X4, and battery mounted together and secured in place. I have them held on the seat at the front with a bungee and with a safety rope in case of upending. I have mounted the transducer on the end of a board.
At the end of my trial period I found that I had fallen in love with the W500 and I now have one of my own in the garage. I put my sit-in kayak for sale.
The W500 comfort and stability were the biggest sellers for me. I enjoy not having sore ankles and knees at the end of the day. Oh and I have slept on it a few times as well with no concerns about falling overboard.
The other selling point is storage. I have bought some long narrow bins and everything on board goes in them. One for bait one for fishing tackle one for food. There is room for up to four good sized kingies, if you get lucky.
Jeff Holden a.k.a Jeff the wave walker
Committee Member of the Nelson Dawnbreakers Fishing Club (NDBFC)
Nelson, New Zealand Southern Island
Resting in my W500
Pictures of fish caught – Click images to enlarge
Scenic pictures – Click images to enlarge
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