Tag Archive: transportation

The smallest and greatest skiff

Skiff design, built, main advantages, and noteworthy shortcomings

Skiffs come in different sizes and configurations, and similarly to Jon boats, they are flat bottomed mono-hulls, a feature that reduces draft, which is advantageous for fishing in shallow water.
But this design feature also makes skiffs less seaworthy compared to other boats of similar size.
This is yet another example of specialization that enhances the product’s performance in one application while diminishing its performance in others.
Skiffs’ limited seaworthiness is the reason for their being unpopular as boats for offshore fishing, and opinions about their performance in bays and estuaries are mixed. The skiff design’s limited seaworthiness is one of the reasons why owners of big boats and yachts don’t use small skiffs dubbed microskiff as tenders.
Typically, skiffs’ hulls are molded from fiberglass, mainly because this material is more durable in saltwater than aluminum, which is the most common building material in Jon boats. However, fiberglass doesn’t perform well in terms of impact resistance, and it requires maintenance, while other polymer resins (plastics) such as Polyethylene don’t.
Fiberglass is also heavier than Polyethylene, too heavy to make a small skiff that’s lightweight enough to be transported on top of a vehicle’s roof, namely a portable skiff.
Skiffs are propelled by one or more outboard motors mounted at their stern.

Typical skiff features

Depending on a skiff’s size and level of outfitting, it may feature a center console, a casting platform at its front, and a tall structure at the stern, for a person to use for poling and/or for sighting fish for one or more anglers fishing from the deck.
Skiff are sometimes outfitted with an electric trolling motor, typically mounted at their bow.
The main advantages of a frontal casting platform are that it offers the angler a broader range of casting, be it with bait, lures, flies, or a fishing net, and it puts a bigger distance between them and other fishers working from the middle of the deck.
The main advantage of a center console is that it improves the driver’s comfort and stability, relatively to driving from the stern, and it allows them to drive standing.
Poling is both exhausting and rather ineffective as a mode of propulsion, and therefore increasingly unpopular among anglers who fish the flats and other shallow water. This leaves the poling platform to serve mainly as a watchtower, and possibly as an ornament.
Electric trolling motors are quiet, and they can be controlled remotely, which is one of the reasons that more skiff owners use them these days.

Microskiff – a class of very small small skiffs

Microskiff is a term that refers to compact skiffs, namely of small size, and typically of reduced features as well. The smaller size saves money on gas and maintenance, but the need to transport microskiffs on a trailer still presents a challenge in terms of launching and beaching, as well as storage.
At the lowest end of microskiffs both in terms of size and price, is a group of large size boards, some of which feature backward pointing extensions that provide extra support for the outboard motor’s weight, and some that don’t. These boards usually offer enough stability and load capacity for just one user (I.E. “solo” skiff), and they hardly offer any free board, which pretty much guarantees that this user will get soaked, whether they like it or not.
As far as comfort is concerned, these large size boards marketed as microskiffs or “solo” skiffs seem to be designed with no concern for ergonomics whatsoever, to a point where watching a video featuring such a skiff might give the viewer an uneasy feeling.
In terms of portability and transportation, their small size allows for an unusually strong person to transport one on a pickup truck bed, but car topping such a vessel is beyond reach for anyone who’s not a professional weight lifter.
Most of these board type skiffs are molded from fiberglass or other cold-molded resins, which reduces their impact resistance, durability, and therefore reliability.
The board skiff that’s made from Polyethylene weighs 150 lbs without the motor, which is still too heavy to rival the portability of most fishing kayaks and canoes, and let’s not forget that square-stern canoes can be outfitted with small outboard motors…
Despite their small size, including a beam (width) that’s narrower than the beam of conventional skiffs, board skiffs do not paddle well, a factor that reduces their appeal to anglers who fish skinny water and water where aquatic vegetation abounds.

The Wavewalk S4 – the smallest and greatest skiff

In physical terms, the Wavewalk S4 is smaller and much lighter than any skiff, microskiff, and board skiff, and it its Polyethylene hull makes it more resistant to impact. It is the only skiff that anyone can car top without help from a second person.
The S4 can carry up to three adult fishermen on board, which is comparable to the crew size of good size skiffs, and it enables these anglers to fish at the same time and standing up, which is something that only full fledged medium sized and bigger skiffs may offer.
The S4 is a much seaworthy skiff that can be driven through ocean waves and other choppy waters without problems, both in a solo mode and with a second passenger on board. The patented combination of its twin-hull (catamaran) and saddle seat is extremely stable as well as easy for the users to balance, even more than a personal watercraft (PWC).
In fact, driving an S4 in the ocean and in choppy water is pure fun.
The S4 offers plenty of free board, which is good news for passengers who are looking to stay dry, and it is the only skiff that can serve as a tender for a big boat or a yacht.
The S4 offers its passengers to use the entire internal space of its twin hulls for on board storage, and this makes its storage capacity rival with full fledged and good size skiffs.
Like a full fledged skiff, the S4 can be easily outfitted with a front mounted electric trolling motor.
And unlike any other skiff, including the smallest board-type microskiffs, or kayak skiffs, the S4 works really well as a paddle craft, namely kayak or canoe, to a point that some owners use it as a fishing kayak, without even motorizing it.
Typically, the S4 is used with outboard motors in the 3.5 HP to 6 HP range, but it can be powered by bigger motors.

In sum, the S4 is a craft that’s so advanced in performance and versatility that it deserves a class of its own.

 

 

 

Read more about the Wavewalk® Series 4 (S4) »

 

Very comfortable for a good long day on the lake

By Jim Gifford

Michigan

I am enjoying the boat very much. I am very happy with it.
I modified a cart to fit his boat and easily take the boat from the garage to my trailer then to the lakes pretty easily. I am experimenting with a trolling motor mount that will allow me to place the trolling motor to the side. I registered the boat to keep the state happy.

The grand kids have been out with me a few times, but don’t want to stay out as long as I wish. This should improve as they age and want to fish as much as play. It has proven to be a great boat to use on my own as well. I have lots of room for what I use to fish. Very comfortable for a good long day on the lake.

In all I enjoy using the boat very much and also the planning of ways to make it my own.

The motor mount is not fully tested. The cart is just 1inch pvc 31 inches long with 7 inches of a pool noodle at each end. This is tie strapped to a kayak cart I had already.

 

Wavewalk 700 with DIY motor mount

 

 

Wavewalk 700 attached to wheel cart

 

W700 on wheel cart

 

S4 wheel cart to carry on board

Wavewalk’s motto Launch, Go, Fish and Beach Anywhere is a reality for many Wavewalk owners.

Carrying a Wavewalk 500 or 700 just by dragging it on the ground anywhere is easy, and it’s feasible even with a 6 HP outboard motor attached to the kayak, as we demonstrated in this movie »

However, the S4 being heavier than the W500 and W700, we thought it would be nice to have a wheel cart for it, for when we have the 59 lbs 6 HP outboard motor attached to it, and we want to launch and beach in difficult spots, namely beaches that require carrying the boat over asphalt or on difficult terrain, especially steep and rocky slopes. The heavier the fishing, diving or camping gear carried on board the S4 skiff kayak, the more justified is the use of a wheel cart to carry it.

While most 38″ wide canoe trolleys would have fit this requirement, we wanted a wheel cart that we could store on board, inside one of the hulls, so we designed one –

 

Wheel cart stored on board the S4, in the bow

 

We outfitted the wheel cart with a folding leg that assures that the cart will be in the right angle to receive the boat.

 

The wheel cart is positioned to receive the S4

 

S4 wheel cart with its leg deployed, ready to have the kayak loaded onto it

 

Underside of the wheel cart, with the positioning leg folded in

 

Loading the boat is done simply by pulling it onto the wheel cart. The user can decide where they prefer to have the wheel cart located relatively to the boat. A boat with a heavy motor attached to it would require the wheel cart to be located further towards the stern.

It’s possible to upload the boat on this wheel cart from the bow or from the stern, depending on circumstances. Uploading from the stern makes it easier to place the close to the stern, which puts the boat in a good position for mounting the motor on it, as well as for carrying it with the motor attached to it.

 

S4 kayak loaded on the wheel cart and secured with two straps

 

When stored on board, this wheel cart protrudes into the front part of the cockpit, and this could restrict the space available for a second passenger. In such case, this wheel cart can be attached on top of the front deck, and stored under it if one of the passengers wants to stand on the deck and use it as a casting platform.

This wheel cart is not a product that we offer for sale

 

Some tech specs –

The 38″ long and 6″ wide horizontal main board is made from 3/4″ plywood, and so is the narrow reinforcement beam under it.
All wooden parts are coated with urethane.
We covered with Goop all the screws in the L brackets that could come in contact with the underside of the hulls.
The vertical side boards are made from 1/2″ plywood.
The wheels are 7″ in diameter.
The axles are made from a standard 3 ft long 1/2″ diameter steel tube cut in two.

 


Modifications

1.   Front lower corners cut away to enable better performance over rugged terrain, such as rocks, roots, etc.