Yesterday, I launched the W700 with both motors installed to go to a secluded creek far into the mangroves.
This run included a trip through creeks, over the ocean, and across extremely shallow flats.
In past years, I could catch my recreational limit of six here in my secret spot, or at least dinner.
After using multiple power options including paddle pushing across shallow bottom with grass on the surface and powering with both engines in the ocean, I arrived and started putting on my gear. Then, I realized I forgot to put my lobster gloves in the Wavewalk. Aargh!!!
I had purchased a special camera holding mask for this event. Maybe, some GoPro footage might save the day?
Following entry into the creek and spotting quite a few undersized lobsters, but no real obvious legals, I did not feel so bad about leaving those gloves behind. While filming, I realized that the GoPro camera was going out of the water slapping the surface. That’s why there are light flashes in the video.
So, I set the angle down which definitely does not give a real view of the snorkeler’s perspective but the camera stayed submerged.
In 63 years on this planet, I never grabbed a lobster in its hole without gloves. Imagine trying to pull up a rose bush without hand protection. But, there is a first time for everything…
I only wish the video footage was better.
Today, I bought a GoPro camera extension arm to fix that angle issue.
When you paddle your Wavewalk in waves without covering the front end of its cockpit, some spray may get inside, especially if you paddle through big surf. The water is drained to the bottom of the hulls, and it flows backwards to the rear part of the hull tips. Altogether, this is rather insignificant.
When you drive a motorized Wavewalk in the ocean for a long time, at high speed and through waves, your boat generates more spray, and breaking waves can result in more water getting into the cockpit. A Spray Shield works to minimize intake from the front, but not from the sides. Some water may accumulate on the bottom of the hulls, at the rear end of the boat. A few gallons of water would be unnoticed, but having effective means to remove any amount of water at any time is highly recommended, simply because stuff happens, and you’d better be well prepared for any case.
Comparing different solutions
1. One-way valves
Many motorboats and sailing boats feature one-way valves at the rear end of their hulls. When the boat moves in the water at high speed, the low pressure behind its stern causes the valve to open, and pulls out the water that accumulated at the bottom of the hull, namely the bilge.
A hull outfitted with such a valve is called ‘self bailing’.
Needless to say that SOT kayaks described by their manufacturers as “self bailing” are not, and the misuse of this term is misleading.
After much consideration, we decided not to outfit the hulls of the Wavewalk with such valves, for two reasons, which are:
Unlike big motorboats, a Wavewalk can be dragged on the ground and over rocks, and this might damage the valves.
One-way valves can get jammed, and since the Wavewalk often goes in shallow water that’s mixed with sand and mud, and where vegetation can be abundant, the possibility of such malfunction cannot be disregarded.
2. Electric bilge pump
Battery recharged on board –
Some small outboard gas motors (e.g. Tohatsu, starting at 4 HP) offer the option to add an alternator (electric current generator) and an AC to DC converter. Thus, the motor continuously produces an electric current that can charge a battery that would power an electric bilge pump and/or an electric trolling motor.
This solution sounds perfect – just press or turn an electric switch, and bail the water out. And if you get an automatic pump, you don’t even have to remember to activate it.
But a closer look at the details of this solution revels some problems:
Cost – The combined cost of an alternator and converter is around $450. The cost of a battery and an electric bilge pump would bring the total cost of this solution to over $500. It may not be a prohibitive price, but it’s still a considerable sum in the context of a Wavewalk boat.
Vulnerability – Keeping a battery and electric pump somewhere in your Wavewalk may not be enough, and you’d need to secure both, so that in case of an accident they would remain inside the cockpit and be fully operational when needed the most. This could prove to be somehow hard to achieve.
Battery not rechargeable on board-
An electric bilge pump powered by a battery that isn’t being continuously charged makes sense, because unlike propelling the boat, pumping a few gallons of water out of its hulls require little power.
The downside of this simple solution is having to remember to charge the battery before each motorized trip offshore, and the possibility that in case of an accident the system could stop working.
3. Hand bucket
Simply a square bucket with a handle (or without one) that fits into a Wavewalk hull, and used as a bilge bucket.
It works, but only in case there is a lot of water in the hull, namely that the water is deep enough, and the user faces the water. But such a scenario is extremely unlikely, and in a typical case only a small quantity of water may accumulate at the bottom of the rear end of the hulls, that is far behind the driver.
This said, it wouldn’t hurt to have a bucket on board, as an addition to the solution that we recommend, which is:
4. Hand pump
A 36″ long, lightweight hand pump costs $29 at Lowe’s.
It allows to pump water from the rear end of the hulls while the user sits facing forward. This is a major advantage, ergonomically speaking, and in simple terms of convenience.
The pump provides a sturdy, simple, and easy to operate solution that you can count on. The piston is lubricated by the water itself, and this makes pumping easy. Capacity wise, four strokes bail out one gallon, and since it’s hard to imagine having to bail out more than a few gallons at a time, the effort required is almost negligible.
The pump features a simple filter at its end, and this prevents it from getting jammed.
If there is a perfect solution, we think this is it.
I’m working my way up to a longer trip so the only pics I have right now are random photos around the bay in front of my house. The salmon are running (spawning) right now so my focus is to fill the freezer for winter.
This pic is from a rainy fishing day. The W500 pointing toward Grewingk Glacier and the Harding Ice Field.
BTW, the 500 is helping my MS by allowing me to stay even more fit than if I use my bicycle only. This boat is great!
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.
First Leg of The Trip
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 🙁
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 big waves from 7 o’clock, which made it harder to drive. Comfort wise, it was perfect.
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 I even stood up, which felt great.
Spray getting into the boat was no longer a matter for any concern as this stage.
Beaching in the rock garden was a piece of cake, but I have to admit that this time, due to the shallowness of the water I wasn’t able to drive the boat high enough to step on dry land.
Dragging the boat up the beach and back to the car wasn’t easy at first… 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 wet towels and squeezed the water out of them. That made it easier to pull it up to the parking lot.
Other than getting my face and knees sunburned, I felt no physical impact whatsoever. No muscle tension in my legs, and not even the slightest sign of back pain.