Bob Smaldone and I headed out in our W 500’s today. Bob cheated a bit with his trolling motor, but I managed to keep up with him most of the time. He was almost run over by a group of yakers out for a day of fun. We got some nice trout but nothing worth bringing the camera out for.
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 🙁
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.
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.
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.
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.
My friend David Hernandez took another fisherman on board this Wavewalk 700. He was driving the boat standing up, and after a flawless turn he came back, and that’s when the other guy decided to stand up and keep fishing standing. This boat is so stable that none of them experienced any problem.
A couple days ago, I launched my W700 for the first time. It has taken a couple weeks to get my stone crab traps set up and dropped overboard from my commercial fishing boat “Line Dancer”. This vessel, a 27′ Lindsey w/ a B-series Cummins diesel, will make a fine mother ship to transport the W700 and my W500 to the Everglades, wrecks, reefs, and Gulf Stream waters surrounding Key Largo.
My initial observations include:
The W700 is the ideal family or couples vessel for economy and ease of transport. Where will you find a tandem yak that combines the best qualities of a kayak, canoe, catamaran, stand-up paddle board, and micro-skiff in one boat?
The W700 really is a magic boat. Not only is the W700 more stable and roomy than the W500 (which was the most stable yak I had previously used), the air tight buoyancy straddle seat is a major safety improvement. The center holes in the separately molded flotation seat can be used as rod holders. I plan to install a removable PVC post in one to hold a waterproof GoPro camera for videos.
Though a double paddle works fine to propel the W700, I prefer to use a canoe paddle. The W700 and W500 Wavewalks actually solo paddle easier than a canoe but you should know the J-stroke, sweep stroke, and other canoe paddling techniques to use a canoe paddle effectively.
Presently, I do not intend to make major mods to the W700. But, in time, there will be fore and aft motor brackets for both gas and electric motors as well as an anchor bracket and rod holders.
It is obvious, that the W700 is a great addition to the Wavewalk series but the W500 will travel with me up and down the East Coast from the Chesapeake to the Keys by truck bed or car top. The W500 is more portable for a solo yakker. Thus, it still has an important place in the product line.
I know many of the Wavewalk owners have put away their vessels for the winter. But, the temperature in the Keys is in the 70 degree range and the skies are mostly blue and sunny. So, there is still great fishing and boating to be found here in the Caribbean of the U.S.
What makes it possible for you in the real world, and why SHOULD it matter to you?
This article examines what makes stand up fishing so important, and why an increasing number of kayak fishermen are disappointed by kayak designs that fail to deliver adequate stability, comfort and safety. These anglers end up standing and fishing in a Wavewalk® 500 Kayak, often despite potentially problematic factors such as their body size, old age, and even certain disabilities.
Three big guys fishing standing in the new Wavewalk S4 –
Before going further, please watch this video that shows what we call ‘boat stability’:
The above video shows that the stability offered by the W700 is comparable to the stability offered by boats such as Jon-boats and dinghies, namely that although the W700 paddles better than any fishing kayak or canoe out there, it is no longer a kayak when stability is concerned – It is a boat. This is why this article about kayak fishing standing is mainly about the super-stable Wavewalk® 500 kayaks in comparison to other fishing kayaks out there.
People all around the world have been fishing from small boats for millennia. Interestingly, many native fishermen like to stand up in their boats when they propel them and fish from them. After all, what could be more natural? If possible, standing is both a powerful and comfortable position for a person making a continuous physical effort. It is good for our blood circulation, less strenuous on our back and it enables us to make a good use of our legs, which happen to have the most powerful set of muscles in our body. It is worth noting that wade fishermen, people who fish from shore and people who fish from bigger boats also like to fish standing, if not all the time at least for a great part of the time. Standing makes is easy to cast a line or throw a net, and certainly makes it easier to scout for fish and better stops to fish in. When the native people of the arctic circle developed their kayaks the L position was natural to them and they were not particularly concerned with comfort but rather with stealth, as their kayaks were designed mainly as hunting boats enabling the hunter to get close to its prey without getting noticed. However, when these people went fishing or whaling they usually preferred to use Umiaks – a type of big, wide and stable multi-passenger seaworthy canoe that offered them the possibility to stand up.
2. What about stand up fishing from sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks?
Stand up kayak fishing sounds like an oxymoron since most people find it difficult enough to sit it inside or on top of a kayak, especially when it involves fishing. Some fishing kayak manufactures advertise that their most stable models may enable a person to stand in or on top and cast but there is no real proof to support such claims. At best, those very wide SOT kayaks may enable a child or a very small and lightweight adult to stand on but certainly not with enough confidence to enable casting and landing fish. No traditional SIK or SOT kayak manufacturer ever claimed they offer a kayak that may enable a person to paddle standing… The reality with regards to traditional SIK and more recent SOT kayaks is that these small and lightweight crafts offer good mobility at a low price and for a low cost of maintenance, but at a price of diminished comfort and the inability to do anything standing up.
3. Why is standing in your fishing kayak important?
Besides the fact that standing up improves your chances of catching fish there’s a more important fact related to it: Your ability to stand up goes directly to your comfort and well being, and to your overall fishing experience. After all, catching fish is fun but not as much when it comes at a price of unnecessary fatigue, serious physical discomfort and even pain resulting from being limited to a single, uncomfortable sitting position, without being able to do anything to change positions and relieve pressure on your lower back. When fishing comfort is key to both success and fun, and neither leg numbness nor back pain may contribute to either although you’re most likely to experience at least one of them after sitting for a while in the traditional kayaking position. And don’t let yourself develop hopes in ‘improved kayak seats’…- Adding some cushioning and changing the shape of the seat can’t change the basic physiological facts: You’re stuck in a sitting position to which you’re not used, and your legs are pushing you backwards and creating a pressure point in your lower back. Even today, most fishing boats are big and stable enough to enable their passengers to stand up while fishing. So why shouldn’t you stand up in your small, inexpensive and portable fishing kayak? The patented Wavewalk® 500 twinhull Fishing Kayak offers you to do that, as well as many other things without giving up any of the regular fishing kayak advantages. In fact, when it comes to the known advantages of fishing kayaks over bigger fishing boats the Wavewalk® 500 Kayak offers you some real, additional advantages such as better protection against wind, spray and waves, better mobility when it comes to ease of launching and take-out, better handling of the surf, better tracking, more dry storage space, and overall a much higher level of seaworthiness. Kayak fishing may be a sport, but since you’re doing it for fun you may as well have fun doing it. Kayak fishing is a good idea if indeed it’s done properly, that is without reducing your fishing experience. The W Kayak can unleash the full potential of kayak fishing and upgrade it to what it’s really meant to be: a challenging, full sport activity that you can practice without constantly thinking of the comfort that bigger fishing boats have to offer.
The Wavewalk™ kayak is the only kayak that was developed for high performance stand up paddling and stand up fishing in moving water, and it’s the only kayak that fits both these extreme applications in terms of safety and comfort. Here are the facts we recommend you know about stand up padding and fishing from kayaks and other small craft –
4. Demo movies
These two demo movies are extreme, but they show what stability you actually need to get from your kayak when you’re out there in the real world, where stuff happens is the rule, and not a rare exception:
BTW, the new Wavewalk® 700 is more stable than the W500, and the stability is offers is comparable to the stability that one experiences in a Jon boat. We call it ‘Boat Stability’.
5. Are other kayaks safe enough for stand up fishing and paddling?
Since many things can and will cause you to lose balance if you choose to stand up in or on top of a kayak, you must be able to react effectively and regain balance even in adverse conditions, and our W-kayak enables you that while no other kayak does. Our patented twinhull Wavewalk® kayak is the only kayak that offers each of your legs to stand in a hull of its own, and it is the only kayak created especially for stand up paddling and stand up fishing. Sooner or later you will lose balance (stuff happens – you can be sure about that!), and for such cases you need to have a ‘Plan B’, which would be to fall down on something that’s high enough to stop your fall as well as support you. You don’t want to fall all the way down on your kayak’s deck since it will cause you to fall overboard. You definitely don’t want to slip either, and therefore your feet must be secure where you stand. Our Wavewalk® 500 twinhull kayak is the only kayak featuring a 14″ high saddle that you can fall down on at will, swiftly, and when you choose. The W-saddle has a hull on each side, and you ride it with each of your legs supported by its own hull, and your feet planted at the bottom, several inches below waterline. Being positioned that low is what makes your feet really effective for stabilization and control. For these reasons you’ll never be truly confident or comfortable standing on top of any sit-on-top (SOT) kayak, even if staged pictures and movies may show you people standing on their SOT kayaks and fishing. You must remember that neither sit-in nor SOT kayaks were invented for stand up paddling or fishing in the first place. Some people are capable of pedaling a unicycle while juggling oranges, and others can hop between wooden logs floating on a river. Does it mean you can do it? Would you even like to try? -What’s the point in taking the risk of falling overboard anytime you go fishing? -Would you feel confident standing up on an unstable platform?
6. What about very wide SOT kayaks?
SOT kayaks with very wide hulls track poorly and are hard to paddle, and they may be stabler than narrow ones, but definitely not stable enough when it comes to paddling and fishing in confidence. This is because most of a SOT kayak’s buoyancy (that’s what actually supports your weight) is distributed along its hull’s center line, where it is useless for effective stabilization. If you want a kayak that’s stable you need to design it with all its buoyancy on its sides – exactly as it is in the Wavewalk® 500 twinhull kayak. In fact, the W-kayak has no buoyancy wasted along its center line since 100% of its buoyancy is located on its two sides – as far as possible from the center line.
7. And what about SOT kayaks with outriggers? (stabilizers)
The use of outriggers, whether as add-ons or integrated into the hull can improve your kayak’s stability, but not enough for stand up paddling and fishing in full confidence, which is what you really need. This is because kayak outriggers are located in the back part of your kayak’s hull, and therefore may support extra weight and pressure only if you apply them towards the back. Such outriggers are nothing more than a gimmick if you’re applying your weight forward and sideways, and you can be certain that when you’re standing up you’ll have to do that often. Remember: stuff happens in real life, and water is always wet, and sometimes it can be cold, and deep. Between attached and integrated outriggers the latter offer reduced stability because of the fact that their center of buoyancy isn’t located as far away from the kayak’s center line, where it would offer more support. It’s simply a bad idea when stability is concerned, and traditional outriggers offer a better support. Furthermore, integrated outriggers coming out of the main hull form a Y shaped hull which is probably the most ineffective form ever created when it comes to paddling, or any other form of propulsion. In other words don’t count on such design for paddling.
8. Differences between kayaks for stand up paddling and stand up fishing
Both need to be extremely stable, but there are differences in requirements. A stand up paddling kayak is required to be narrow as possible, since it makes it easier to move the paddle efficiently and ergonomically, as it is in regular (seated) paddling. A kayak that’s too wide would under perform in stand up paddling, as it would in seated paddling. A stand up fishing kayak needs to be even more stable than a stand up paddling one because the paddle may help you balance yourself, while a fishing rod would be ineffective for this purpose. This is where the location of the kayak’s buoyancy becomes critical, as does the location of your legs and feet. The Wavewalk® 500 is only 29″ wide, and yet, due to its revolutionary design that was granted a US utility patent, it is the stablest fishing kayak out there. This means that once you’ve learned to properly operate the W-kayak, you’ll benefit from its unique features, while other kayaks simply don’t have such a broad performance envelope to begin with, and would never offer you anything that even comes close. Again, we recommend the you watch our demo movies for a start, and judge for yourself.
9. What happens when you catch a fish standing up in a kayak?
After casting for some time you’ll probably hook up a fish. If that fish doesn’t manage to make you lose your balance and fall overboard you’d need to land it in or on top of your kayak… and then what? If getting up from the seated position and going back down to it is hard to begin with, how does it feel when you have sit down while holding a fishing rod in one hand or both hands, and there’s a good size fish dangling at the end of your line? Obviously, this doesn’t make much sense, and it’s another example that shows how important it is to have something to fall back on easily and intuitively (a ‘Plan B’), which in this case means (again) safely and comfortably. This is where the W-saddle comes into action: It’s 14″ high, and it’s waiting for you to sit down and drop the fish in one of the hulls, where it has nowhere to go, and won’t cause you any problem. In comparison, other fishing kayaks feature a seat that’s as low as possible – practically at deck level, and nowhere to park the struggling fish except in your lap…
If you’re interested in learning more about kayak design for better stability, we recommend the following article ». Never judge a kayak by stand up pictures or movies shot under regular conditions – It may look nice and cool but it’s meaningless for you since it doesn’t show performance in ‘what if’ conditions. Many things can and will destabilize you, including fish, wind, eddies, waves, wind and your own, inevitable moments of inattention. What you need to be able to judge is the ‘what if’ performance, and our demo movies will prove to you that no other kayak compares to our Wavewalk® 500 twinhull kayak.
This article would be incomplete without providing more information about what people who fish standing in their Wavewalk® 500 kayak have to say about their real-life experience with it. Our website offers over 200 Wavewalk Fishing Kayak reviews contributed by such people, including full name and state, and in most cases pictures too.
11. Stand up Wavewalk® 500 fishing kayak pictures, and what they could mean for you
Pictures of young, lightweight and athletic fishermen standing in their kayak look nice, but they don’t necessarily mean that you can do it too, and feel confident and safe while you fish. More about the stability in fishing kayaks »
Bob Smaldone – Standing carefree in full stability and confidence in his Wavewalk® 500, at 70
Jeff McGovern – Stand up with no balancing act in the Wavewalk® 500, even if you’re 6’3″ tall, 245 lbs heavy, and middle aged
The Sellards – Multiple passengers can stand in the Wavewalk® 500 kayak too
Bill Davenport – 6’3″ tall, sixty something, and with an artificial knee – Standing and fly fishing in saltwater in his camouflaged Wavewalk® 500
Ken Short – 70 y/o – Any fisherman should be able to stand up in their kayak
Stand up paddling is an essential part of kayak fishing standing
Rox Davis standing in her Wavewalk® 500 – You should be standing on the bottom of the kayak’s hulls, below waterline, and not on top of its deck
Gary Thorberg is a big guy whose passion is fly fishing standing in his Wavewalk® 500 kayak. His favorite species are musky, carp and bass
Norm Craig – Being elderly, heavy and suffering from a bad back isn’t a problem when you fish out of a Wavewalk® 500
Standing up is an essential part of fly fishing
6’3″ 250 lbs John Fabina fishing standing out of his Wavewalk® 500 – Big and tall anglers need to be able to cast freely, and enjoy the same range of motion and stability they are used to when fishing from big boats
Jeff McGovern standing in his Wavewalk® 500 and retrieving a fishing lure stuck up a tree Standing up in a kayak means having the capability to focus on things that are important to you, and not having to pay attention to keeping your balance