Tag Archive: spray shield

Review of my Wavewalk S4

This review of the Wavewalk S4 kayak skiff was written by the guy who designed it, as well as the W500 and W700.

Why this Wavewalk S4 review?

Typically, kayak and boat reviews are written by clients who mean what they say, but aren’t necessarily professional, or by people that the manufacturer paid to review their product. The latter reviews are not objective to begin with, and in many cases they are not even professional. Designers seldom publish reviews of the kayak or boat that they designed.
Other reviews commonly found on the web are fake, and they were written by individuals who are affiliated with the manufacturer of the reviewed product (fake positive reviews) or with their competitors (fake negative reviews). Some fake reviews that appear on websites that offer people to publish kayak and boat reviews appear to have been written under an alias by the website owners, probably in order to make their website look more popular than it is in reality.

Wavewalk does not pay people to review its products, and it does not post anonymous reviews on websites that offer to do so to anyone who can come up with an alias and a few sentences. We think that such websites have a low credibility from the beginning, and their credibility has declined over the years, as people who read the reviews that these websites feature have become used to apply critical reading, and common sense.

We decided to publish our own review of the Wavewalk S4 after it’s been out there for nearly a year, which is enough time for us to see what it can do, and what our clients think of it (Read S4 clients’ reviews » ). In this review of the S4, we try to compare our initial plans for this boat to what it does in reality, and we also try to look into the future, as much as possible, and see what it could still do.
Many Wavewalk clients are interested in the design of kayak and small boats, and we think that such people may have a particular interest in reading this review.

Why the Wavewalk S4?

It takes close to a hundred thousand dollars to produce a new product such as the S4 in terms of time and money invested in the design and manufacturing of a capital tooling (rotational mold) for it. Once the product is out there, it takes more time and money to test and promote it.
This means that before a small company decides to invest in the development of such a product, it needs to make sure that it has a good reason to do so, and preferably more than one good reason.

Before we started defining the requirements from a future Wavewalk product, we looked at existing products in various markets, including our own W700 that we had launched back in August of 2015 –

The W700

From the moment we launched it, the W700 became an immediate, remarkable success, both as a tandem kayak for touring and fishing (and hunting, photography, etc..) and as an ultralight portable motorboat / microskiff. This success gave us the motivation and the funds to take the Wavewalk concept to the next level. Our clients loved to motorize their W700, but few were willing to give up paddling altogether, and this convinced us that paddling was important, so we decided that our next product, namely the S4, will be more of a high performance, fast and seaworthy motorboat with a bigger payload capacity, but it would still offer good paddling capabilities as a kayak and a canoe. Another thing that our clients love in their W700 was the ability to car-top it without a problem, and this meant that the next Wavewalk had to be a car-top boat too.

Other boats

Before we started to design the S4, we looked at different products in a number of markets, and tried to identify unfulfilled needs as well as opportunities for our new product –

  1. Jon boats – These popular small motorboats feature a generally flat bottom hull and a spacious open cockpit, and they usually offer sufficient stability for a crew of one person, on flat water. When the crew includes more than one person, or the water gets choppy, these boats tend to deliver insufficient stability, and generally speaking, they are not seaworthy, including bigger and therefore more stable models that are stable enough on flat water. Since Jon boats are typically made from aluminum, they are not lightweight enough to be car topped, at least not by one person. And last but not least, paddling a Jon boat is not an option, at least not over a meaningful distance, so these boats are excluded from traveling in very shallow (dubbed “skinny”) water, and in water where much vegetation is to be found – unless they are outfitted with a surface drive (a.k.a. “mud motor”), which is typically more heavy than a standard outboard motor, and takes more room in the cockpit. The next Wavewalk had to offer as much carrying capacity as a good size Jon boat, while being at least as stable, and considerably more seaworthy. This had to be achieved while keeping the new product from being overly wide, since wide boats don’t paddle well. Needless to say that the new boat couldn’t be nearly as heavy as a Jon boat, since it had to be car-topped by one person. We achieved all this with the S4, and more, including successfully outfitting an S4 with a surface drive, as demonstrated by Chris Henderson, from Washington state.
  2. Microskiffs – Small skiffs (“microskiffs”) are generally similar to Jon boats, and they too are designed mainly for fishing on flat water. The main differences are in the material used to make skiffs (typically fiberglass), and typical additional deck features and structures. These differences reflect the fact that microskiffs are used primarily in saltwater, which is corrosive for aluminum, and the fact that people who fish out of microskiffs like to practice sight fishing. Microskiffs don’t paddle well, to say the least, and they are too heavy to be car-topped, including a product that’s essentially a rotationally molded motorized board for a single user who’s not particularly heavy, and who fishes in flat water only. The next Wavewalk had to feature a front deck, for casting, go as fast as a small microskiff, and be more seaworthy – All this while offering its users to launch anywhere, namely to transport it on top of a vehicle, and not by trailer. We did it.
  3. Motorized kayaks – Since both the W500 and W700 had already surpassed all products in this category, we deemed motorized kayaks too lame to serve as a basis for formulating requirements for a next generation Wavewalk. This is true for all but one pretty exciting kayak-like product for one person that’s officially designated as a boat, and is propelled by a 7 HP jet drive. When we weighed the pros and cons of a proprietary jet drive and compared them to the advantages offered by outboard motors, it became clear to us that the latter were the way to go, due to their initial cost, ease of troubleshooting, low maintenance, and high quality as well as effective local service offered to our clients. As for speed, we decided that the next Wavewalk would have to be at least as fast as that exciting jet-drive kayak-like watercraft, and if people had a special need to drive their S4 in extremely shallow water, they could outfit their new Wavewalk with a surface drive (mud motor), which works better than a jet drive, since it doesn’t get clogged. The next Wavewalk had to be a car-top boat, and portable in terms of carrying it over rugged terrain, something that said jet drive kayak-style watercraft is not. The new Wavewalk also had to be seaworthy, and transport at least two full size adult passengers, which that jet driven kayak style boat cannot do. We achieved all that.
  4. Personal Watercraft (PWC) – Such comparison may seem odd at first sight, but Wavewalks and PWC share one important feature, which is their longitudinal saddle seats that offer their users to balance themselves in the most intuitive and efficient way, and enhance their boats’ performance both in terms of stability and seaworthiness. In this sense, it was appropriate for us to think about PWC, and establish some requirements from the new product that would have nothing to do with fishing or paddling, but would go to what people like in PWC, namely speed, seaworthiness, and fun. We realized that in order for an S4 to reach speeds that are close to the speed of a small, basic PWC, the S4 would have to be outfitted not just with an extremely powerful outboard motor, but also with a proper steering and control system to go with it, be it a wheel or a bar, something that hasn’t been done, so far. Captain Larry Jarboe clocked 17 mph in an S4 powered by a 9.8 HP outboard motor, and the same boat was driven at full throttle offshore in choppy seas, with the drivers holding the throttle grip in one hand. In comparison, a typical PWC can go at 40-50 mph, and the faster ones can go at much higher speeds. Something to think about… On the other hand, an S4 is much less expensive than a PWC, including small ones designed for one person, and it is also more versatile.
  5. Inflatable dinghies – These fast, stable and seaworthy boats are popular with yacht and big boat owners, who use them as boat tenders. But these small inflatable boats are uncomfortable for their driver and passengers, who find it hard to stay dry in them, and they don’t paddle well. As for standing in them, it is not easy either. Compared to them, the W500 and even the W700 were inferior in terms of load capacity and speed, but neither of these is a problem with the S4, with its carrying capacity of 650 lbs and the high speed in which it can go, even in choppy water. Simply, the S4 is as seaworthy as a good size inflatable dinghy, while being drier, more comfortable, and offering better paddling and standing capabilities. The S4’s polyethylene hulls are more durable and dependable than the soft hulls of inflatable boats, and clients who use an S4 as a boat tender report the highest degree of satisfaction, even when they tow the S4 behind the mother ship, which is the kind of performance that we weren’t sure it would achieve when we started designing it.

Other considerations

  • Keeping the kayak designation and paddling functionality – In order to make it easier for our dealers to sell the S4, and for our clients to register it, we wanted to keep its design within the requirements that would designate it as a kayak, and not as a boat, and that wasn’t hard to do. We also wanted to keep the S4 work as a paddle craft, which we achieved by making the sides of the cockpit slant, thus allowing the paddlers to move their paddles more closely, easily, and effectively alongside the kayak.
  • A motorboat’s look – On the other hand, we wanted to distance the S4 as much as possible from the image of a kayak, because in comparison to motorboats, kayaks are sluggish, uncomfortable, unstable, and wet. Therefore, we got rid of all deck rigging items that are typical to kayaks, namely eyelets, hooks, bungees, rubber carry handles, and even flush mounted rod holders. The S4 comes with two integrated (molded-in) carry handles in its front tip, and a molded-in carry handle on each side of its rear hull tips. These molded-in carry handles are stronger than kayak handles that are riveted or bolted to the deck, they are as comfortable, and they look better.
  • Keeping the S4 cost low – The rotational mold for the S4’s twin hull cost more that the mold for a typical full-size SOT kayak. We also had to mold the saddle for the S4, but luckily, we managed to design it in a way that allows us to use the same saddle as the one used in the W700. This saved us tens of thousands of dollars on a mold for an S4 saddle, and we were able to keep the S4 unit price within a reasonable range, considering its high performance in so many applications.
  • Building it tough – Carrying heavier loads while going at higher speeds meant that the S4 would have to be tougher than the W700, which is why we decided to incorporate two wooden brackets in every S4, standard, compared to just one similar structural element in the W700.
  • The motor mount challenge – The S4 is made from high density polyethylene, similarly to other kayaks as well as a motorized board offered as a one-person skiff. Polyethylene is a resilient material, which makes it highly resistant to impact, but this critical advantage comes at a cost, which is that polyethylene walls tend to be flexible relatively to similar structures made from more rigid materials, e.g. fiberglass and wood. We knew that a motor mount that would serve to attach to the S4 heavy and powerful motors that generate a lot of torque couldn’t be made from polyethylene only. If we wanted such mount not to flex, it should feature a totally rigid and very sturdy mounting plate, made from the right materials for the job. This is why we created the S4’s motor mount with a broad basis molded in polyethylene, and a mounting plate made from a wooden composite named Medium Density Overlay (MDO), which has served us successfully for years in the W500 and W700. The basis of the S4’s motor mount structure is firmly anchored on both its sides in the boat’s two hulls, and it is bolted both to the cockpit’s rear wall and to the saddle’s rear wooden bracket, whose top is inserted into the cockpit’s spray deflector (coaming). So far, this combination of polyethylene structures, wood composite board, and steel, has proved itself to work under difficult conditions, with powerful motors running at full throttle, and the boat going at high speed in ocean waves.

Conception, birth, and growth

A new boat often starts as ideas that the designer’s mind generates in reaction to external stimuli, such as impressions, challenges or compliments. The general idea and major challenge with the S4 was to create a boat like which the world has never seen before, and no one had thought would be possible. We knew the Wavewalk invention would guarantee that whichever design we choose for a Wavewalk boat that’s wider than the W700, it would automatically become the world’s most stable kayak, as well as the world’s most stable boat for its size. Within this framework, we still had a lot of things to think about, including –

  • The new front deck – The main challenge was to depart from the previous ‘catamaran’ look, and create a front that would still perform as a twin-hull (catamaran), but offer some protection from spray as the boat goes in waves at high speed. The totally redesigned bow had to feature a front deck that would serve as a casting platform, similarly to casting decks that skiffs feature. Since we knew that the S4 would serve crews of two and possibly three anglers, a deck extending in front of the cockpit would also serve to put more distance between crew members, and thus make the boat both more functional and more comfortable for them to fish from. This is to say that the S4’s new style of front deck is the result of both aesthetic and ergonomic, namely practical considerations. Developing these ideas and turning them into a computer aided design (CAD) file required months of hard work, plenty of problem solving, and innovative thinking.
  • Displacement hull vs. planing hull – Understanding this subject requires some knowledge in kayak and/or boat design. The problem we addressed was that paddle craft (canoes, kayaks, etc.) travel at very low speeds, and the most efficient hull form for such low power propulsion and low speeds is called a displacement hull. In contrast, motorboats travel at much higher speeds, and people who drive them like to travel in a planing mode. The most efficient type of hull form for a small motorboat is a type of hull called planing hull. The S4 was required to serve both as a paddle craft and a motorboat, and do well in both applications. We realized that unlike the W700, most people who use the S4 would choose to motorize it, so we designed its hulls in a way that would offer top performance with a powerful motor, and still paddle well enough, and this is basically what the S4 has achieved in reality – One person can paddle it effectively and easily without reaching high speed, but they can also drive it with an outboard motor that’s powerful enough to propel bigger and heavier boats, and go at  speeds that are considered high even by small boat standards, and inconceivable in kayak terms. Being big for a kayak, the S4 paddles better with a tandem crew than it does in a solo mode. It paddles equally well in canoeing and kayaking modes. In sum, the W700 is a great kayak that you can effectively motorize, while the S4 is a great motorboat that you can effectively paddle. It’s a subtle difference that’s worth remembering if you’re not sure which of these two models is better for you.

Launching the product, and testing it – We launched the S4 in May of 2017, and since then, the S4 has kept growing in terms of proving what it’s capable of doing. We were pleased to see that a 214 lbs guy could easily stand with both feet in one of the S4 hulls, and turn around, without flipping the boat, and without even making it tilt by much. We were more pleased to see three adult paddlers standing in it and paddling without any problem. But we were astonished to see three full-size guys fish standing out of a motorized S4, with one of them landing a good size fish in the boat. Many thanks to Mike Silva for these amazing pictures!
We loved watching the videos that showed the S4 driven through lily pads, propelled with a surface drive powered by a 6.5 HP motor. But driving an S4 powered by a 9.8 HP going at full throttle was a blast, and it was such a smooth drive that it certainly opened the door for testing it with more powerful motors, as a couple S4 owners already said they will do.

Multi-boat configuration – Another innovative and inspiring development was Captain Larry Jarboe’s S4x3 multi-boat, composed of a motorized S4 hip-towing (side towing) an S4 on each side, and thus allowing the driver to transport a much larger number of passengers, in full comfort, and with the stability of a large size pontoon boat. Captain Jarboe uses the S4x3 multi-boat for his guided diving tours in Key Largo.

Big boats, seaworthiness, maintenance, etc. – Interestingly, the S4 is already used, successfully, as an alternative to full-size skiffs. Its users prefer their S4s to the large size boats that they had previously used because of its easy launching, shallow draft, and better seaworthiness in choppy water. Indeed, we found that if you happen to get seasick in a boat going or anchored in the chop, riding the saddle of an S4 would instantly cure you, whether you’re driving it or just taking a ride in it as a passenger. The S4 is practically immune to other motorboats’ wakes, including big and fast boats traveling at a short distance from it, and this is not an exaggeration but an accurate description of a pleasant reality. And the S4 works as a paddle craft, so that it’s practically impossible to get stranded at low tide when you fish from it. Another reason to prefer the S4 over a full size boat is that it’s totally maintenance free, and if you’ve never owned a boat, it would probably be hard for you to appreciate the importance of this fact.

Spray shield – It turned out that when one person drives the S4, even at high speed, and even in the chop, the hulls and front deck deflect much of the spray that’s generated when they hit waves. However, when a passenger sits in front of the S4 driver, their weight lowers the bow, and it tends to generate more spray when it hits waves. And this is when a spray shield can still be useful.

A new type of watercraft – The S4 has already shown that it’s a new type of watercraft with a performance envelope that sets it apart from all boats of similar size. But it still has room to grow, in the sense of showing that it’s capable of more. We’ve already mentioned more exploits with mud motors, as well as bigger and more powerful outboard motors. We’d also like to show how a sculling (shell rowing) coach from Massachusetts uses his S4 as a coaching boat because he’s found that it generates a much smaller wake than other boats of similar size, and a small wake is the name of the game when coaching this sport is concerned.
On the other side of the performance spectrum, we should find an opportunity to run the S4 in rough seas with inflatable flotation modules attached to its sides, RHIB style (RHIB stands for rigid hull inflatable boat).
And on a completely different angle, we’re waiting for clients who use their S4 in whitewater, as a guide boat and a raft, to send us pictures too.

Extreme efficiency with a 1:6 weight to load ratio (payload ratio) – The S4 weighs a little less than 100 lbs without a motor, and it can carry a payload of over 650 lbs including a motor. This is a solid 1:6 weight to load ratio that shows how efficient the S4 design is.

Bottom line

We could have talked more about our S4, but with 3,700 words, this review is getting too long for a reasonable person to read – Thank you for making it this far  🙂

New pictures of my motorized Wavewalk 700 fishing kayak

By Rox Davis

Connecticut

I put the W700 together on how I’d like to set it up for fishing.

Not sure if I’ll leave the windshield on, but I’ll know better after my next outing.

One thing I know for sure, if anyone wants those flush rod holders, don’t do it, if they plan on adding a motor, they get in the way of the mounts.
I cut mine down and capped them so they won’t leak, and they’re are out of my way for storage.

I have a couple of showings with some friends who want to see the W700, hopefully it will bring in some sales.

 

 

 

More fishing and outfitting posts from Rox »

 

Visit Rox’s website »

15 miles round trip, offshore, in my Wavewalk 700 skiff

This is the story of my trip across Buzzards Bay, to the Elizabeth Islands, a chain of small islands between Martha’s Vineyard and the mainland.

Before the actual trip…

My first trip was ‘preliminary’ to the actual one, because it was cut short due to time constraints – I arrived to the boat ramp in Gooseberry island at the Horseneck Beach Reservation, found the parking lot full, and headed back on the causeway.
I parked a quarter of a mile down the road, next to a rocky beach, a.k.a. a ‘Rock Garden’. It was early in the afternoon, and by the time I launched, filled the gas tank, and tested the boat (and myself), I realized that since I’m a novice seaman, I’d have to drive slowly, namely at less than 5 mph, which would have made the trip longer than I had planned. That meant that I might have gotten back home too late, which is a no-no.

What’s left from that preliminary, or shall we call it ‘Test’ trip are the panoramic view of the parking lot and the beach, and the still images from the end of the trip, where I’m seen dragging the boat on the beach, and up the ramp, back to the parking lot.
Joao, a local resident, shot these nice photos – Thanks Joao!  🙂

The actual trip

I came back the next day to the same parking lot, before noon. I wore blue shorts and and a blue shirt that’s identical to the one I wore the previous day – It’s called ‘Movie Continuity’ 😀
Speaking of continuity, the weather was identical in both days – sunny and beautiful. That wasn’t due just to luck, since I had planned this trip a week in advance.

Launching in that rock garden was a piece of cake.
To start the motor, I dropped the anchor about 100 yards from shore, turned around in the cockpit so I faced the motor, added fuel to the gas tank (I did it standing up, using a long spout), and I started the motor in full comfort, like I would on a big boat.
I turned around, which is easy to do in the W700, raised the anchor, grabbed the joystick, pushed in the choke, put the motor in forward gear, set the RPM, and headed to the islands.
I drove at a leisurely pace, giving myself time to enjoy the ride and shoot video.

I had two cameras on board – a Sony 400 with a telescopic x63 optical zoom lens, and a Sony Xperia watertight smartphone with a 4K Ultra-HD camera, mounted on a selfie stick. I used both cameras, and it turned out that the 400 performed well, while the Xperia didn’t produce good results, mainly because I failed to operate it properly 🙁

Offshore-Trip-Elizabeth-Islands-MA-1024

Massachusetts South Shore, Buzzards Bay, and the Elizabeth Islands.

At about 6 miles from shore, Penikese island was closer, but I decided to go a little further, and land on Cuttyhunk island, which is 7 miles from where I launched. It just looked better the trough the telescopic lens of my camera…

I approached Cuttyhunk island, scouted for a good landing spot, and beached without a problem. I didn’t even have to step in water 🙂

As I was making my first steps on that beautiful beach, enjoying the pristine nature and solitude, my cellphone rang… It was my mother in-law, who was concerned about me  😀   That conversation added a comic touch to the situation…

I refilled the gas tank, and checked how much water got into the boat. I had a towel tucked in each rear hull tip, and both towels were almost dry, which is to say that hardly any spray got in. This is due to fact that I drove slowly and didn’t give the waves a chance to splash into the cockpit.

Going back

The first half of the trip back to the mainland was a not that pleasant – The wind had picked up, and the boat was getting hit by waves from 7 o’clock, which made it harder to drive. The joystick offered me the perfect means to drive responsively and with precision, as I needed to, given that the W700 is such a small boat. Comfort wise, it was perfect.
Under these conditions, driving while facing sideways and gripping the tiller directly would have been hard, and even driving while facing forward with an articulated (U-jointed) tiller extension would have been somehow uncomfortable.

The motor didn’t sound like it appreciated the continuous abrupt alternations between acceleration and deceleration, as each passing wave projected the boat forward and then dumped it behind…
It turned out that this 6 HP Tohatsu motor isn’t just quiet and easy to operate – it’s also reliable.

The second part of the trip back was easier.
As I approached the shore and recognized the area from which I had launched, I allowed myself to drive faster, and even standing up, which felt great.
Spray getting into the boat was no longer a matter for any concern as this stage, of course.

Beaching in the rock garden was a piece of cake, but I have to admit that due to the shallowness of the water I wasn’t able to drive the boat high enough to step on dry land, this time.

Dragging the boat up the beach and back to the car wasn’t easy… After a few steps I stopped, and I used a little manual pump that I had with me to get water out of the hulls. I also took the towels out and squeezed water out of them. Altogether, I removed a couple of gallons of water from the boat, which made it easier to pull it up to the parking lot.

The aftermath

Other than getting my face and knees sunburned, I feel no physical impact whatsoever. No muscle tension in my legs, not even the slightest sign of back pain, and no pain in my left wrist and forearm, which could have happened had I used the articulated tiller extension in such a long drive.

Thinking forward

The 6 HP Tohatsu outboard features an alternator, which means that it could feed the battery powering a small electric bilge bump, and thus turn spray into a non-issue. Some smaller Tohatsu outboards feature an alternator as well.
Anyways, a long manual bilge pump such as many kayakers use would do equally well, I guess.

W570 with a 6 hp Tohatsu outboard motor

Why overpower this fishing kayak with a 6 hp outboard motor?

Earlier this year, Kenny One-Shot Tracy outfitted his W500 kayak with side flotation and a 6 hp Tohatsu outboard motor, and showed it going at 13 mph. This was intriguing, and several months later, after we came up with the W570 series for offshore fishing, we wanted to test it with a similar motor.
A W kayak weigh 60 lbs and it’s rated for 2-3 hp motors, so it goes without saying that using it with a 6 hp motor means overpowering it, since these motors are rated for moving boats up to 3,000 lbs, that is 50 times heavier.
However, testing and experimenting are part of any Research and Development (R&D) process, and we try as much as we can to test our products under various conditions in order to better understand possibilities, problems, and hazards, and inform our clients about them, so they have more options to choose from, and can make better decisions.

Tohatsu America showed interested in this project and cooperated with us through their dealer Steve’s Marine in Rhode Island, and we got the 6 hp Tohatsu motor (20″ shaft) in late October.

beached motorized kayak

Wavewalk 570 beached.

 

Driving-a-motorized-fishing-kayak-640

 

Watch the movie –

Motor weight and handling considerations

Although the 6 hp (20″ long shaft) Tohatsu is a sophisticated outboard motor, it is relatively lightweight for its class. However, at 59 lbs it still weighs twice more than the 2-2.3 hp Honda outboard that we’ve routinely used so far.  This additional weight was our first concern, and we wanted to experience what it means for a W kayak angler who uses such a motor.
We found the weight difference to be noticeable, but not a major issue – It’s possible to carry such a motor over short distances, whether on its own or mounted on the kayak. Dragging the kayak on a sandy beach was considerably more difficult, but not a big problem over a short distance.
Lifting the motor into the car wasn’t too hard either.

Transporting the boat in the car

Click images to enlarge –

 

The boat on the beach and at the dock

Launching is easy both from the beach and from a dock, and the same is true for beaching.

Click images to enlarge –

The motor mount

Kenny reported that his 6 hp Tohatsu outboard had broken a DIY motor mount. Such accidents can be dangerous, so we knew that we had to consider both weight and power. Kenny later reported that his 6 hp motor worked with the TMM 20 motor mount that we had sent him, but we preferred to beef up a TMM 20-15 motor mount with an additional 3/4″ board for its vertical mounting plate, making it 1.5″ thick.

The boat itself

Another concern we had about the 6 hp motor’s weight was how our W570 would take it.
The following pictures show that we had no reason to be concerned, as the boat is pretty much level, and the side flotation modules rest several inches above waterline –

motorized fishing kayak

motorized fishing kayak

Rear view of a docked Wavewalk 570 INF 20-15 outfitted with both a spray shield and cockpit cover, and an extra inflatable flotation module attached between its hulls.

Driving the boat

Driving the boat with the 6 hp Tohatsu / 20″ shaft was easy and convenient.
This outboard motor features a 3 position gear system (Forward-Neutral-Reverse) that’s safer than a centrifugal clutch, and makes it easy to start any time. The fact that this motor is water cooled makes it relatively quiet in comparison with the air cooled 2-2.3 hp Honda.
Access to the motor’s controls is easy and convenient once you slide backward on the saddle all the way to the back of the cockpit.
The inflatable flotation modules stayed above waterline and did not cause splashing.

Load and additional passengers

Although a W kayak can carry heavier loads, we rate these kayaks for a total load of 360 lbs, for both safety and performance reasons. This number includes everything that the boat may carry, from passengers and their personal belongings to fishing gear, an anchor, and last but not least – a motor. With a 60 lbs motor and all the extra accessories that come with the Wavewalk 570, and considering the high speed in which you’re likely to drive, it would be safer to consider the W570 as a one-person motorized kayak, or a solo skiff, if you prefer. This is unless the user is not heavy, and they take a lightweight passenger on board. For example: A driver that weighs less than 200 lbs could take on board a small child weighing 60 lbs, plus some lightweight fishing tackle.

Fuel consumption

The 6 hp Tohatsu outboard model that we’ve tested features an integral fuel tank that allows it to go for 45 minutes full throttle, but as long as you drive a W570 with it you won’t go over 1/3 throttle since doing so is likely to increase your speed dangerously, unless you’re towing a bigger boat or several kayaks and canoes.

Accident

In one occasion, while the boat was going pretty fast, the propeller hit a rock on the bottom of the lake, and got ejected out of the water, as it’s designed to do in such cases. Lowering it back into the water presented no problem. The reinforced TMM 20-15 transom mount didn’t budge, and the inflatable side flotation proved that it’s useful in helping to prevent the boat from rolling (flipping) if it’s tilting strongly as it did following the impact and momentary loss of control that resulted from it.
The role that the inflatable flotation played in that accident emphasizes its importance.

Power and speed

A W kayak outfitted with a 2-2.3 hp outboard can go at 8.5 mph, full throttle, while the same kayak outfitted with a 6 hp Tohatsu motor can reach 13 mph at 1/3 throttle, a speed that for most people makes it too much of a challenge to drive safely. This is where we found that a 6 hp motor wasn’t the best fit for the Wavewalk 570. In other words, overpowering the W570 with such a powerful motor can be hazardous and cause accidents if you drive too fast relatively to your boating skills and/or to water conditions, or if you accidentally accelerate abruptly or even just too quickly for you to safely maintain control over the vessel.
This lightweight craft is no match for the power and torque of such a big engine, and that makes it too ‘nervous’ compared to when it’s outfitted with a smaller and less powerful motor that tks longer to accelerate.

Why you might want to overpower

Having said that, you might like this overpowered configuration if you’re a risk-loving speed fan who enjoys the feeling of danger. It’s your choice, as long as you’re aware of the safety hazards, and you know that the W570 isn’t rated for motors that are more powerful than 2-3 hp.

A more productive way to make use of such a disproportionally powerful motor could be for towing other boats. For example, if you use the W570 as tender (auxiliary service boat) for a bigger leisure craft such as a sailboat, it could tow the mother ship, if necessary, or tow another tender with several passengers and provisions on board (e.g. an inflatable dinghy).
If indeed you’re thinking about such use, make sure the towed craft are properly attached to your W570, and don’t use its handles or eyelets for this purpose.
Similarly, if you go on a camping and fishing trip in which several people take part, your W570 on steroids could tow several kayaks and canoes over long distances, and make life easier for the other members of your expedition.

If you’re thinking about driving up fast rivers, such as in springtime, or on fast tidal rivers, more power and torque may be justified, although it’s hard to imagine cases where a 2-3 hp motor would not suffice for your W kayak. Just remember that fast moving rivers are hazardous, and we recommend neither paddling nor motorizing in them.

Another case in which you could be interested to use a 6 hp outboard motor with your W570 is if you already own a larger boat that you propel with such a motor, and you want to alternate between your W570 and that bigger boat. For example, you may prefer to go fishing on your own in the W570, and take the bigger boat when you fish with your family and friends. If you don’t like to purchase a smaller outboard for your W570, you could try using your 6 hp outboard with it, and see how it works for you. If it does, it could save you the additional expense on a small motor. Just remember to be very cautious with the throttle when the motor is mounted on your W570.

Rating

All the above said does not imply that we rate the W570 for use with an outboard motor that’s more powerful than 2-3 hp, because we don’t. We think that using a W kayak with motors that are more powerful than 2-3 hp could be hazardous.
Again, the purpose of this article is to inform people about what using much stronger motors implies, and warn them about problems and dangers associated with such practice.

More reading

Motorized kayaks »

Driving the W570 in the ocean »

The New Wavewalk 570 Series (W570) 2015 Models »

Fishing offshore – the next frontier

Fishing offshore – the challenge

Let us define Offshore Fishing as fishing in the ocean or in the Great Lakes, away from shore, beyond the breakers. Such fisheries are characterized by currents and wind that are hard to overcome without adequate propulsion, and therefore hazardous to fishers who venture in them in small, human powered vessels such as canoes and kayaks.

Typically, people who fish offshore from kayaks tend to do it in more protected areas such as bays, or stay within a short distance from shore.
While these fisheries are relatively safer in comparison to distant and deeper ocean fishing grounds, they still present considerable challenges to kayak anglers, as well as to those who fish from other small, light, non-motorized craft such as canoes and dinghies.

Offshore kayak anglers know that traveling out there in a human powered vessel doesn’t grant them that they’d be able to go where they want or even get back to shore. For this reason, some anglers venture on long distance fishing trips with a mother ship, I.E. a large size motorboat that carries their kayaks into the ocean, and enables the members of such expeditions to return safely to shore. Typically, the kayaks used for such trips are sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks.

Comfort and safety factors

Those who fish offshore from a kayak can be exposed to wind and waves from the moment they launch.  Sitting in the L posture isn’t easy to begin with, but having to deal with the waves’ rocking motion and the constant wetness and  makes it even harder, especially  for anglers who fish in colder regions, where low water and air temperatures can be a critical factor.

Some kayak anglers outfit their ride with an electric trolling motor, and while this certainly adds an element of safety and increases their range of travel, it still doesn’t offer them the freedom to go on long fishing trips, or overcome fast currents.
Outboard gas motors are more suitable for this purpose. However, there are no kayaks out there except Wavewalk’s that can be outfitted and used with this type of powerful and reliable propulsion in a way that makes sense to the user. The problem isn’t just the poor stability of the mono-hull kayak design and the lack of effective means for its users to stabilize it, but also the fact that outboard motors are rather heavy and they work best when they’re attached at the stern, which is too far behind the area in which the kayak’s user is seated – Anglers who try to outfit their sit-on-top, hybrid or sit-in kayaks with an outboard motor soon discover that they can’t easily reach its controls, and they can steer neither safely nor conveniently, even when they use a long and articulated (U-jointed) tiller extension.

Unlike kayaks, small fishing motorboats (e.g. Jon boat, dinghy, small microskiff) are designed for motorizing, and their users can drive them without experiencing the safety and ergonomics problems that occur in motorized kayaks.
The users of such small fishing boats sit either facing forward on benches stretching across their deck, or facing sideways on benches located along their sides, or on a raised seat or swivel seat.
The problem with those small craft is that they feature flat bottomed hulls that work well on flat water, but offer neither good stability in waves nor much comfort to their users in the constant rocking motion created by the waves.
The same is true for the three above mentioned seating solutions – Sitting on a bench is fine as long as you can stand up from time to time and stretch, but it’s uncomfortable when you’re constantly struggling to balance yourself, and you’re prevented from standing up in confidence.
As for raised seats, they are great for comfort as long as you can stand up whenever you wish to do so, and as long as you don’t have to balance yourself while sitting in them. However, this is not the case when your boat is being rocked by waves, and in such cases you’d be likely to experience discomfort.

Most small fishing motorboats are not designed for car topping, or are just too hard for one person to car top. Therefore, they require transportation by trailer, which means launching and beaching in boat ramps, with the time loss and aggravation that entail…

For all these reasons, small flat-bottomed motorboats offer limited offshore fishability.

As for ergonomics, the W570 offers its users to travel facing forward while riding a saddle similar in size and shape to the saddles commonly found in personal watercraft (PWC – jet-ski). The riding position is unmatched as far as the power, control, comfort and balancing capabilities it provides, which is why it is so well suited for small, high performance, personal, offshore motorboats. No wonder that other high performance personal motor vehicles such as all terrain vehicles (ATV), dirt bikes, and snowmobiles all feature similar saddles.

The new W570 series

A few weeks have passed since Wavewalk announced its new W570 series of kayaks that are ready for motorized offshore fishing. During this period we’ve obtained substantial input about this new concept from W clients, fans and dealers who fish in different parts of the world.
It’s possible to classify their reactions to the W570 series into three categories – negative, mixed and positive.
Those who reacted negatively argued that there’s no real need for a spray shield and large-size inflatable flotation tubes, and consequently, these new accessories might reflect poorly on the W product and brand.
Those who had mixed reactions said that although personally they don’t see the point in either using or offering these new accessories, there may be a demand for a such a car-top boat among fishers who are looking to fish out of a small motorboat in the ocean or in large size bodies of water such as the Great Lakes, big and fast rivers, and other challenging fisheries.
Those who reacted entirely favorably to the new W570 series are mainly people who already fish offshore or in bays and large estuaries, and are familiar with the challenges that anglers face in such fisheries. Incidentally, there’s a higher percentage of motorized W kayak anglers in this third group compared to the general population of W angers.

All three points of view are legitimate and interesting –
Those who argue against the new accessories stress that as far as motorizing goes, Wavewalk has already shown in a most convincing way that its W500 series was perfectly suitable for driving while outfitted with an outboard motor at speeds that are similar to and even higher than the typical speed for other small motorized fishing craft such as Jon Boats, motorized square-stern canoes, dinghies and various flat-bottom watercraft classified as small-size microskiff. Therefore, adding large size inflatable tubes and a spray shield to a W kayak is overkill.
This argument is correct, obviously, but only so in the context of traditional fisheries where these other small motorboats are commonly used, which are inland, flats, small and medium size lakes, slow moving rivers, and generally speaking, in areas that are not particularly challenging in the sense that anglers who fish in them are unlikely to overcome either powerful and fast currents or waves while launching, driving and beaching their fishing boat.
It goes without saying that these relatively protected fisheries correspond to areas where the majority of fishing kayaks and canoes are used, as well as most other small, flat-bottomed boats. This fact puts the new W570 series at the edge of the current market, for better and for worse, in the sense that while the current market for it doesn’t seem to be big today,  there could be a substantial yet unfulfilled demand for such innovative, high-performance personal boat, whose offshore performance surpasses that of mono-hull fishing kayaks as well as traditional small motorboats when comfort, stability, ease of transportation, and launching & beaching are taken into consideration.

Keeping the cockpit dry

W kayaks offer several effective means to keep their cockpit dry on offshore fishing trips –

Typically, launching and beaching are the events that produce more spray, and are likely to get some water in if you don’t take any precautionary measure to keep the cockpit dry, which is easy since all W570 models come outfitted with a spray shield that blocks water from getting in from the front.
In addition, you can launch while riding the saddle aft of the middle part of the cockpit. Doing so would raise the kayak’s bow and further decrease the likelihood of spray getting into the cockpit.
And last but not least, all models from the W570 series feature a preparation for cockpit cover, which allows you to attach a small-size tarp over the front and middle parts of the cockpit, and thus prevent any spray from getting in. Once you’ve passed the surf zone and you’re out in blue water, you can easily detach the cockpit cover within seconds, and store it in one of the hull tips behind you.

These three defensive measures work effectively, and in addition, if any spray got in, dealing with it is very easy – All you need to do is take a couple large-size towels on board and drop them on the bottom of the hulls behind you, near the hull tips.
If any spray gets in, it will be drained to the bottom of the hulls, and the water would normally flow backwards, since the kayak’s stern is usually a bit lower than the bow.
The towels would soak the water, and if you see that a towel has reached its soaking capacity, all you need to do is grab it and squeeze the water outside the cockpit, which takes just a few seconds. This method is commonly used by canoeists and sit-it kayakers who travel in moving water.
If you’re into gadgets, who can replace the towels by an inexpensive hand-activated bilge pump. These pumps are popular among sit-in kayakers, canoeists and other small boat users. Their disadvantage over towels is that they become effective only in case a considerable amount of water has accumulated at the bottom of a hull, which isn’t likely to happen.
Another simple and effective accessory that kayak, canoe and small boat anglers use for bailing water out of their craft is a small-size bilge bucket. While this accessory is highly effective for this purpose, it’s not as easy to use as towels and bilge pumps are.

Watch the W570 in action –

Related articles

 The New Wavewalk 570 Series (W570) 2015 Models

 Motorized Kayaks