Tag Archive: tiller extension

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.

Steering motorized fishing kayaks and small boats

Why drive and not just paddle?

Driving a motorized fishing kayak or a small motorboat is easier than paddling, and using a motor offers anglers additional advantages, such as a longer range of travel, a chance to spend less time on getting to remote fisheries and more time fishing there, and increased safety and independence in the presence of strong currents and winds.
But being easier than paddling doesn’t necessarily mean that driving these motorized kayaks and small boats is comfortable and pleasant. In fact, it may not be easy, especially in rough water and over long distances.

What makes steering a small boat comfortable?

Physical Constraints

The ergonomics of steering a small boat or a motorized kayak are simple and easy to understand, and the basic factor that determines in what way the boat can be steered is the stability it offers.

Wider boats –

Small boats that are wide enough to provide a high degree of stability, such as wide dinghies and especially inflatable dinghies, offer their driver to sit next to the outboard motor, in the rear corner of the stern, facing the other side of the boat, and thus holding the tiller rather comfortably while moving it forward and backward relatively to their torso, a motion that is not physically demanding. The ergonomic problem with this posture is the need to turn one’s head and torso sideways in order to face the boat’s direction of motion, and this can be straining over long drives and in choppy water. Another disadvantage in this driving position is the decreased stability when making a sharp turn to side where the driver is seated, especially in rough water. Generally, these wide boats offer plenty of stability, but little means for their passengers to balance themselves, and this is true for the driver as well.

Narrower boats –

Other, narrower and therefore less stable boats such as smaller dinghies, Jon boats, small skiffs a.k.a. microskiff, large square stern canoes, etc. force the driver to drive from a position that’s closer to the boat’s center line, and therefore more forward of the outboard and away from the stern area.
A stabler design may allow the driver to sit in an intermediary position between the above described sideways facing position and a forward facing position, and consequently, with their arm holding the tiller stretched behind them, to some degree.
A narrower, less stable boat, forces its driver to sit in front of the motor, with their torso turned fully sideways, and the arm that’s holding the tiller stretched behind their back while their legs are somehow stretched forward, in a visibly non-ergonomic posture. Using an articulated (U-jointed) tiller extension can help in such cases by allowing the driver to sit while facing forward and holding the tiller extension on their side. However, not all small boats can offer such an option, since in many cases their rear seat or bench (i.e. driver seat) is too close to the stern and therefore to the motor attached to it.

The driver’s seat

After stability, the second most important factor that determines driving comfort is the driver’s seat. Typically, small fishing boats come with a bench type seat, or a box type seat. Since these seats offer the driver to sit higher than common kayak seats do, they are more comfortable, but still, benches and boxes don’t offer much in terms of comfort or the ability to balance yourself easily, which is critical when small boats are concerned.  Some small boats are outfitted with padded swivel seats that are usually higher than a bench or a box. A swivel seat certainly improves the driver’s comfort, but it doesn’t necessarily improve the driver’s ability to balance themselves, and sometimes it may even reduce it.

The personal watercraft (PWC a.k.a. jet-ski) is a small boat worth mentioning in the context of this discussion, as these high-performance sports boats feature a high, longitudinal saddle that offers their drivers both a powerful and ergonomic sitting posture, as well as optimal balancing. But jet-skis also feature a steering bar located in front of the driver, in contrast with the above mentioned typical small boats.

What works best for the driver?

Facing forward

If you had drive any vehicle, be it on land or on water, or in the air, you’d want to face forward, and not sideways – to any extent. This is such a basic notion that it requires little or no explanation. Simply put, we’re built this way, and any other posture is between sub-optimal and most uncomfortable.

Sitting high

You want to sit high so that your legs can do their job in supporting your upper body and helping you in balancing yourself. Sitting at floor level with one’s legs stretched in front of them is called the L kayaking position, and it makes kayaks so notoriously uncomfortable and unfit for fishing, at least when sensible anglers are concerned.

Good distance between one’s feet

Sitting with your feet close to each other is both uncomfortable and unstable, and any seating arrangement in a small boat should offer the driver the comfort and stability provided by having their feet located at a good distance from each other, preferably on both sides of their body, such as in the riding posture offered by jet-skis and Wavewalk’s twin-hull kayaks and boats.

Frontal steering

Again, when driving anything from a bicycle to a jet fighter or a mega-yacht, you want to hold a steering device that’s located in front of you – Not on your side, and especially not behind you… You want to be able to manipulate this device easily, and hold it with both hands if necessary, such as in adverse conditions, or if you simply feel like it. This steering device can be a bar, as found in bikes, all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles and jet-skis, a steering wheel, such as in cars and boats, or a joystick, such as in airplanes and Wavewalk 700 microskiffs. The steering device should not be placed too low, and the driver should be able to somehow lean on it, or at least have their hands rest on it, for more comfort.

Stand up steering

Jet-skis and any reasonable-size boat that features a steering wheel can be driven standing up. This capability is important for both navigation and ergonomics, as well as for finding fish, and last but not least, for fun, because all these small boats should be fun to drive, since their main purpose is to help people have fun on the water.

Types of steering add-on systems for outboards

The owners of small fishing boats can choose between several types of add-on steering systems for outboards. These systems use either steel cables, hydraulic cables or electric / electronic components.
If your boat is permanently docked somewhere or its motor is quasi permanently attached to it because the boat requires transportation by trailer, you are free to choose any steering system. But if your boat is lightweight enough to be car-topped, you need to detach the outboard from it each time that you transport it, which means that the steering system you choose should be easy and quick to attach and detach, and this is where Wavewalk’s joystick steering system shines – It literally takes a few seconds to attach it, or shall we say plug it in, and detach it. No tools are required, and you can even ‘unplug’ it when you’re in the middle of a fishing trip, in case you prefer to have the saddle in front of you free of any object that might interfere with your fishing – You just ‘unplug’ (pull out) the joystick’s base and drop it in the hull behind you, and forget about it until you want to start the motor and drive again.
Wavewalk’s joystick steering system offers all the advantages mentioned in this article, including the ability to drive standing up in full comfort and confidence.

The Wavewalk 500 – Motorized for offshore fishing

Overview

The W500 is a new type of small watercraft that can be outfitted for high performance as a Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) technology.
RHIBs are known for their stability, high performance and seaworthiness in demanding applications such as lifeboats, rescue, and military operations. They also serve as tenders for large boats and ships, and as work boats in offshore facilities.
Unlike in regular RHIBs, the inflatable tubes that come with the W500 are easily detachable, for storage during transport, or in case they’re not needed, such as when you paddle or motorize on flat water.
And unlike RHIBs, the W500 can be outfitted with flotation tubes only in its rear part, so they don’t interfere much with fishing or paddling.
In addition, the weight of the outboard motor at the stern offers the W500 user to sit or stand closer to the bow while keeping the boat level. This slightly forward position further increases the range of motion when they fish, or paddle while launching or beaching in water that’s too shallow for motorizing, or in water with abundant aquatic vegetation.

The W500 can serve as a small, lightweight, car-top, durable microskiff with enhanced offshore capabilities.

The W500 user can drive it in the powerful and stable Riding posture, similarly to a personal watercraft (PWC, jet-ski), as well as standing up. Both types of boat feature a similar longitudinal, high saddle, although the W500’s saddle is longer, and allows the user to drive or paddle from different locations fore and aft of the middle of the cockpit.

Since motorizing at high speed in choppy water involves bumping into waves and generating spray, the W500 is offered with a lightweight, detachable spray shield that can be removed within seconds and stored flat and upright in one of the hulls, behind the user.  The reason we made this accessory detachable is in order to enable the user to get it out of their way when they fish, store it on board, and re-attach it only when it’s needed.

This video demonstrates the W500 offshore, in choppy water:

inflatable-side-flotation-modules-motorized-kayak-640

Wavewalk™ 500 outfitted with 20″ long shaft 2 hp Honda outboard gas motor and tiller extension

 

 

beached motorized kayak

Motorized Wavewalk 500  close-up

 

beached motorized fishing kayak

W500 fishing kayak outfitted with a reinforced TMM 20-15 transom motor mount and a 6 hp Tohatsu outboard motor (overpowered configuration)

 

Capabilities

  • Launching: Almost anywhere, including sandy and rocky beaches, steep banks that require seal-launching, remote beaches that require portaging and won’t allow for wheel carts, shallow water where only poling and paddling works, water with seaweed and/or grass, etc.
  • Beaching: Same as above, except less steep banks.
  • Mobility: Being a triple propulsion craft (motorizing, paddling, poling) the W500 can get anywhere a W kayak can, which means in seaweed, grass, reeds, over obstacles, in shallow water, in fast tidal currents, in strong wide, offshore in the chop,  etc.
  • Speed: 8.5 mph with a 210 lbs passenger on board and running a small, 2 HP Honda air-cooled outboard motor.
  • Range: Typically, when using a 2 HP outboard motor, 1 quart of gasoline (0.9 liter) would suffice for 1 hour at full throttle.
  • Maximum recommended load for passengers and their gear: 320 lbs (145 kg) when motorized.

 

Features

The Wavewalk™ 500 comes ready for offshore motorizing.
It comes with these standard features:

  1. A transom motor mount ( TMM 20-15). The mount requires installation that takes up to 5 minutes of easy work. The new TMM 20-15 transom mount fits both 20″ (long) and 15″ (short) propeller shafts. We recommend using a 20″ (long) shaft motor with all our kayaks and boats.
  2.  A pair of high-capacity, detachable, inflatable side flotation modules (INF). Color:  Black. Attaching and detaching these modules takes seconds. Inflating them is easy and does not require a pump.
  3. A transparent, easily detachable and easily stored spray shield.
  4. A set of 4 additional tie-downs (eyelets) on each side of the boat (total of 8 extra eyelets) enabling  attaching the side flotation modules to it, as well as attaching an extra pair of flotation modules for extreme conditions.
  5. A preparation for cockpit cover that also enables attaching the spray shield to the front of the cockpit.
  6. A pair of clamp mounted Tite-Lok fishing rod holders.
  7. A saddle bracket – standard. Starting from 2014 all W models feature a saddle bracket – standard.

 

Technical Specifications

  • Total length: 11’4″ (136″) 345 cm
  • Width: 29″ (73 cm) without the inflatable flotation modules
  • Weight: 60 lbs (27 kg) without accessories
  • Total width outfitted with 2 inflatable flotation modules: 29″ / front, 41″ / rear
  • Total weight when outfitted with accessories and no motor: 67 to 70 lbs, depending on motor mount model
  • Hull material: Rotationally molded High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
  • Inflatable floats material: Heavy Duty PVC, 30 MIL (0.03″, 0.763 mm)
  • Spray shield material: 0.1″ (2.5 mm) thick Acrylite ®
  • Motor mount material: For the TMM 20-15 – Medium Density Overlay (MDO)
  • Minimum weight when outfitted with an outboard gas motor: 98 lbs with 2 HP Honda air-cooled outboard and articulated (U-jointed) tiller extension

 

More information

W500 overpowered with a 6 hp Tohatsu outboard motor (movie)  »

Ergonomic Handle For Fishing Kayak Outboard Motor Tiller Extension


For those who wish to motorize their W fishing kayak, we recommend the 2 hp 20″ long shaft Honda outboard motor.
The user controls the power in this motor through rotating its tiller with their wrist.
The tiller is attached to a spring, which loads as the user rotates the tiller to power the engine.
If the user stops rotating the handle, the spring-loaded tiller will automatically rotate back, and get the motor to idle.
Holding the tiller extension in the ‘maximum power’ position might prove to be difficult over a long period of time, because of the wrist’s continuous effort in resisting the counter-rotation force from the tiller itself.

This is why we outfitted our tiller extension with a handle that’s almost vertical when you hold it in the ‘maximum power’ position. In this position, the feeling is similar to that of holding a joystick.
The additional handle gives the wrist added leverage for rotating the tiller, which reduces the wrist’s effort.

This is not a commercial product that we offer, but merely a suggestion for an ergonomic improvement.
The images below show the tiller extension outfitted with a canoe handle, and a snow shovel handle. We prefer the second one, because it offers more leverage.
Other types of handles could work equally well, if not better. For example shovel handles, large-size tape dispenser handles, and last but not least, DIY handles made from PVC tubing, wood, etc.

Handle for Articulated tiller extension for motorized kayak

Handle for articulated tiller extension for motorized kayak

More about motorizing your fishing kayak >

Driving The W Motorized Kayak Seated With Tiller Extension

Here’s a short video showing what it’s like to drive the W500 kayak motorized with a 2HP outboard gas engine, and steer it with a long, articulated tiller extension:

The long tiller extension offers the driver to sit more forward, and make the boat more level, although at high peed the bow still goes up.
The articulation in the tiller extension makes it easy to steer, as it enables both pushing and pulling, as well as rotating the handle in order to increase and decrease power.

Read more about motorizing your fishing kayak >>