I find that the W700 is far too easy to stand up in 😀
The W700 is great. It easily carries 2 people, even two 200 lb guys. It is for this purpose I bought it, and when I am paddling with another person, we would carry it by the straps. It is very stable. I was not kidding when I said it is too easy to stand up in. It is perfect for taking people out even when they are a little nervous about the water.
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.