Kayak paddlers and anglers prefer to keep their feet and all other body parts as dry as possible. Some wear rubber booties, wet suits and dry suits for this purpose. If you launch, paddle or beach a W kayak, you can stay drier than in any other kayak because the W offers you more protection, and you don’t necessarily have to step in water when entering or exiting the cockpit, since you can access it from the rear or the front.
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.
My W700 arrived on last Monday. My son wanted to head out to the nearest pond straight away but the rain put a stop to that. The weather was much improved on Wednesday afternoon so we headed out for our first trip! We carried the boat out of the house (happy wife 🙂 ) and easily loaded it on top of our SUV. I ran nylon tie-down straps through the pad eyes and secured the boat to the rack. We arrived at the pond, removed the straps and had the W700 in the water in 5 minutes. My son and I stepped in and pushed off from the shore. Good call on recommending the 9′ paddle. Paddling was easy. So easy that my 13 year old volunteered to take over. There was a fair amount of wind but it didn’t seem to cause us any problems. We spent a very comfortable (no back ache) hour on the pond, stepped out (dry of course) and loaded the boat back on our SUV in no time. My son decided he was cold so he headed in to the house as soon as we got back home leaving me to remove the boat from the SUV. No problem! It is so easy to handle. I took it down and slid it across my yard to the storage area at the back of my house. We’ve been out three times so far and I already caught my first fish of the season! Looking forward to many more fishing trips in my W!
This article examines the problems stemming from prolonged exposure to wet clothing, which is sometime viewed as inseparable from all forms of kayaking and kayak fishing, and all types of kayaks. It exposes possible dangers and inconveniences associated with direct exposure to water, excessive humidity and cold in various circumstances, and describes solutions based on the new, patented technology applied in Wavewalk’s Kayaks, which offers the users a drier way to paddle and fish.
What’s the problem?
The problem, often called “wet ride” can be described as a kayaker’s experience of paddling and/or fishing while being wet. It can be caused by many things, including stepping in water while launching, being splashed by spray and waves, water getting into the cockpit through the scupper holes in sit-on-top kayaks, condensation under the spray skirt in sit-in kayaks, and more. A most common and unpleasant sensation associated with wetness is being seated in a wet area, but a being wet can also be hazardous – The combination of cold water with cold wind can cause hypothermia, even if the kayaker did not go overboard. Hypothermia is a condition that significantly reduces the paddler’s physical and mental ability to navigate and arrive safely to his/her destination.
In warm waters, exposure to water can cause exposure to jellyfish larvae (‘sea lice’) in sea water, parasites and bacteria in both fresh and salt water etc., and result in unpleasant and sometime severe skin and allergic reactions.
Snails infected with certain microscopic parasites found in some birds and mammals release those parasites into both fresh and salt water. Swimmer’s itch (cercarial dermatitis), which appears as a skin rash is caused by an allergic reaction to those parasites burrowing in the person’s skin. The presence of certain chemicals in the water is known to cause unwanted physical reactions as well.
Contact with sea water can cause a highly pruritic eruption known as Seabather’s eruption (SE).
Contact with warm, stagnant waters such as found in swamps can in some extreme cases lead to serious bacterial infections. Vibrio bacteria are usually found in warm waters. Coming in contact with those flesh eating bacteria can cause severe infections leading to limb loss and even death. Vibriosis is a risk for swimmers, boaters and fishermen.
Giardiasis– an infectious diarrhoeal disease usually transmitted through oralfaecal contact and by contaminated water was diagnosed in 14% of US paddlers, compared to a background level of 4%, according to one study.
Another infection called Leptospirosis and its more severe form, Weil’s disease, are considered to be typical paddling hazards. These infections are often transmitted by infected rats’ urine in the water. The diseases are characterized by jaundice, fever, headaches, muscle aches, rashes and enlargement of the liver and spleen. They can be treated with antibiotics in most cases but sometime they lead to septicemia, organ damage and even death.
Kayakers risk infections of enterovirus and coliform as well. And obviously, everybody knows that wearing wet clothes can cause skin rash, especially during and after a prolonged physical effort. This doesn’t necessarily mean that getting wet while kayaking is either unpleasant or hazardous, but it certainly points to the need to provide kayakers with means of protection in case they don’t want to get wet or come in contact with the water.
Recent research indicates that water in popular subtropical beaches contains staph and MRSA bacteria that may infect open wounds in your skin.
‘Kayaking and kayak fishing are water sports’
Some ‘Pro Staff’ kayakers and kayak fishermen associated with SIK and SOT kayak brands use the term ‘water sport’ to define kayaking and kayak fishing, and by that they mean to say that getting wet is an inseparable part of any kayaking activity, as it is of water skiing, surfing etc. It’s their way to justify the fact that this problem is unsolved for people who use the kayaks produced by their sponsors. This approach also implies that the kayaker or kayak fisherman should not expect to be comfortable in his/her kayak, and that getting wet is inevitable. This argument is fallacious for a number of reasons: 1. Originally, the native people of the arctic who invented and developed kayaking tried as much as possible to avoid getting wet, and for good reasons. 2. Like kayaking, canoeing is another group of traditional, popular paddle sports and activities, but unless practiced in whitewater it does not involve getting wet, since most canoes offer a better protection to their passengers than kayaks do. 3. Fishing from other small boats (e.g. dinghies, pirogues etc.) does not involve getting wet as much as kayak fishing does. 4. Considering the efforts different groups of kayakers from sea kayakers to kayak fishermen put into avoiding and minimizing wetness, it is obviously a very real problem.
What causes wetness kayaks?
The general cause is insufficient protection but specific causes vary depending on kayak type and application: Traditional, or sit-in kayaks (SIKs) have little free board, so that even paddling in eddies and small waves can result in some water getting inside the kayak through the open cockpit. As for sea kayaks, these are normally equipped with a spray skirt, which doesn’t necessarily make them watertight in surf and waves conditions. Sit-on-top kayaks (SOTs) offer even less protection than SIKs do in terms of free board, and typically let water into the cockpit through holes called ‘scupper holes’. This is why SOT kayaks have become popular only in warm waters.
The dry storage problem
Another unwanted effect of water getting into your kayak is the difficulty to keep your gear dry. Some seasoned sea kayakers say that before they go on a kayak expedition they simply take into consideration that eventually all their gear will get wet, even if it’s stored below deck. The solution to that is using watertight bags, which similarly to sea kayaks are not absolutely watertight…Most fishing kayaks come with storage compartments called ‘hatches’, which are notorious for letting water in.
The solution to these problems
Since the wetness is challenging many kayakers’ well being it must be addressed by kayak designers and manufacturers. Wet suits are uncomfortable, and dry suits aren’t that comfortable either. The solution offered by the patented Wavewalk™ Kayak concept is simple, and basically consists of more free board protecting the passengers inside the cockpit. W kayakers can also sit change positions on their boat’s longitudinal saddle and sit, ride or stand in the back of the cockpit. By doing so they raise the bow and avoid much of the splashing and spraying that other kayakers are forced to put up with when launching in the surf or paddling in choppy water. Another good news for kayakers is the fact that even if some water gets into the W Kayak’s cockpit it just gets drained to the bottom of the hulls and away from the passengers’ sitting area on top of the saddle. This eliminates the unpleasant sensation of sitting in a puddle that many people who use ordinary kayaks (SOT and SIK) have to put up with. Since it’s possible to enter the W Kayak’s from behind and exit it from the front it is no longer necessary for a W Kayakers to step in water when putting their boats in and taking them out. Some say that keeping your feet dry is priceless… And finally, since W Kayaks have a big, internal dry storage space it is no longer necessary for the equipment carried on board to get wet.
Let us define Offshore Fishing as fishing in the ocean or in the Great Lakes, away from shore, beyond the breakers. Such fisheries are characterized by currents and wind that are hard to overcome without adequate propulsion, and therefore hazardous to fishers who venture in them in small, human powered vessels such as canoes and kayaks.
Typically, people who fish offshore from kayaks tend to do it in more protected areas such as bays, or stay within a short distance from shore. While these fisheries are relatively safer in comparison to distant and deeper ocean fishing grounds, they still present considerable challenges to kayak anglers, as well as to those who fish from other small, light, non-motorized craft such as canoes and dinghies.
Offshore kayak anglers know that traveling out there in a human powered vessel doesn’t grant them that they’d be able to go where they want or even get back to shore. For this reason, some anglers venture on long distance fishing trips with a mother ship, I.E. a large size motorboat that carries their kayaks into the ocean, and enables the members of such expeditions to return safely to shore. Typically, the kayaks used for such trips are sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks.
Comfort and safety factors
Those who fish offshore from a kayak can be exposed to wind and waves from the moment they launch. Sitting in the L posture isn’t easy to begin with, but having to deal with the waves’ rocking motion and the constant wetness and makes it even harder, especially for anglers who fish in colder regions, where low water and air temperatures can be a critical factor.
Some kayak anglers outfit their ride with an electric trolling motor, and while this certainly adds an element of safety and increases their range of travel, it still doesn’t offer them the freedom to go on long fishing trips, or overcome fast currents. Outboard gas motors are more suitable for this purpose. However, there are no kayaks out there except Wavewalk’s that can be outfitted and used with this type of powerful and reliable propulsion in a way that makes sense to the user. The problem isn’t just the poor stability of the mono-hull kayak design and the lack of effective means for its users to stabilize it, but also the fact that outboard motors are rather heavy and they work best when they’re attached at the stern, which is too far behind the area in which the kayak’s user is seated – Anglers who try to outfit their sit-on-top, hybrid or sit-in kayaks with an outboard motor soon discover that they can’t easily reach its controls, and they can steer neither safely nor conveniently, even when they use a long and articulated (U-jointed) tiller extension.
Unlike kayaks, small fishing motorboats (e.g. Jon boat, dinghy, small microskiff) are designed for motorizing, and their users can drive them without experiencing the safety and ergonomics problems that occur in motorized kayaks. The users of such small fishing boats sit either facing forward on benches stretching across their deck, or facing sideways on benches located along their sides, or on a raised seat or swivel seat. The problem with those small craft is that they feature flat bottomed hulls that work well on flat water, but offer neither good stability in waves nor much comfort to their users in the constant rocking motion created by the waves. The same is true for the three above mentioned seating solutions – Sitting on a bench is fine as long as you can stand up from time to time and stretch, but it’s uncomfortable when you’re constantly struggling to balance yourself, and you’re prevented from standing up in confidence. As for raised seats, they are great for comfort as long as you can stand up whenever you wish to do so, and as long as you don’t have to balance yourself while sitting in them. However, this is not the case when your boat is being rocked by waves, and in such cases you’d be likely to experience discomfort.
Most small fishing motorboats are not designed for car topping, or are just too hard for one person to car top. Therefore, they require transportation by trailer, which means launching and beaching in boat ramps, with the time loss and aggravation that entail…
For all these reasons, small flat-bottomed motorboats offer limited offshore fishability.
As for ergonomics, the W570 offers its users to travel facing forward while riding a saddle similar in size and shape to the saddles commonly found in personal watercraft (PWC – jet-ski). The riding position is unmatched as far as the power, control, comfort and balancing capabilities it provides, which is why it is so well suited for small, high performance, personal, offshore motorboats. No wonder that other high performance personal motor vehicles such as all terrain vehicles (ATV), dirt bikes, and snowmobiles all feature similar saddles.
The new W570 series
A few weeks have passed since Wavewalk announced its new W570 series of kayaks that are ready for motorized offshore fishing. During this period we’ve obtained substantial input about this new concept from W clients, fans and dealers who fish in different parts of the world. It’s possible to classify their reactions to the W570 series into three categories – negative, mixed and positive. Those who reacted negatively argued that there’s no real need for a spray shield and large-size inflatable flotation tubes, and consequently, these new accessories might reflect poorly on the W product and brand. Those who had mixed reactions said that although personally they don’t see the point in either using or offering these new accessories, there may be a demand for a such a car-top boat among fishers who are looking to fish out of a small motorboat in the ocean or in large size bodies of water such as the Great Lakes, big and fast rivers, and other challenging fisheries. Those who reacted entirely favorably to the new W570 series are mainly people who already fish offshore or in bays and large estuaries, and are familiar with the challenges that anglers face in such fisheries. Incidentally, there’s a higher percentage of motorized W kayak anglers in this third group compared to the general population of W angers.
All three points of view are legitimate and interesting – Those who argue against the new accessories stress that as far as motorizing goes, Wavewalk has already shown in a most convincing way that its W500 series was perfectly suitable for driving while outfitted with an outboard motor at speeds that are similar to and even higher than the typical speed for other small motorized fishing craft such as Jon Boats, motorized square-stern canoes, dinghies and various flat-bottom watercraft classified as small-size microskiff. Therefore, adding large size inflatable tubes and a spray shield to a W kayak is overkill. This argument is correct, obviously, but only so in the context of traditional fisheries where these other small motorboats are commonly used, which are inland, flats, small and medium size lakes, slow moving rivers, and generally speaking, in areas that are not particularly challenging in the sense that anglers who fish in them are unlikely to overcome either powerful and fast currents or waves while launching, driving and beaching their fishing boat. It goes without saying that these relatively protected fisheries correspond to areas where the majority of fishing kayaks and canoes are used, as well as most other small, flat-bottomed boats. This fact puts the new W570 series at the edge of the current market, for better and for worse, in the sense that while the current market for it doesn’t seem to be big today, there could be a substantial yet unfulfilled demand for such innovative, high-performance personal boat, whose offshore performance surpasses that of mono-hull fishing kayaks as well as traditional small motorboats when comfort, stability, ease of transportation, and launching & beaching are taken into consideration.
Keeping the cockpit dry
W kayaks offer several effective means to keep their cockpit dry on offshore fishing trips –
Typically, launching and beaching are the events that produce more spray, and are likely to get some water in if you don’t take any precautionary measure to keep the cockpit dry, which is easy since all W570 models come outfitted with a spray shield that blocks water from getting in from the front. In addition, you can launch while riding the saddle aft of the middle part of the cockpit. Doing so would raise the kayak’s bow and further decrease the likelihood of spray getting into the cockpit. And last but not least, all models from the W570 series feature a preparation for cockpit cover, which allows you to attach a small-size tarp over the front and middle parts of the cockpit, and thus prevent any spray from getting in. Once you’ve passed the surf zone and you’re out in blue water, you can easily detach the cockpit cover within seconds, and store it in one of the hull tips behind you.
These three defensive measures work effectively, and in addition, if any spray got in, dealing with it is very easy – All you need to do is take a couple large-size towels on board and drop them on the bottom of the hulls behind you, near the hull tips. If any spray gets in, it will be drained to the bottom of the hulls, and the water would normally flow backwards, since the kayak’s stern is usually a bit lower than the bow. The towels would soak the water, and if you see that a towel has reached its soaking capacity, all you need to do is grab it and squeeze the water outside the cockpit, which takes just a few seconds. This method is commonly used by canoeists and sit-it kayakers who travel in moving water. If you’re into gadgets, who can replace the towels by an inexpensive hand-activated bilge pump. These pumps are popular among sit-in kayakers, canoeists and other small boat users. Their disadvantage over towels is that they become effective only in case a considerable amount of water has accumulated at the bottom of a hull, which isn’t likely to happen. Another simple and effective accessory that kayak, canoe and small boat anglers use for bailing water out of their craft is a small-size bilge bucket. While this accessory is highly effective for this purpose, it’s not as easy to use as towels and bilge pumps are.
I had to get out and fish. So I did. What better place for quick trip than Chokoloskee island park? There was no early thunder, the wind was blowing between 5 and 10 mph and the mosquitos were sparse. I got to hit my usual close oyster beds and islands with no fear of electrocution. I paddled the W 500 which allowed me to stand up and even stretch out and take a short nap under some mangrove shade. I awoke to no-see-ums feasting on my face. I should know better by now but the chance to snooze a bit was irresistible.
I caught a nice Trout that was well over twenty right off the bat but he jumped ship on me as I fumbled to de hook him in the darkness. I bagged lots of small Snook and two Redfish. One was an over achiever and one was around 22 inches. I used the same T & A Weedless Jig and Monster 3 X Shrimp that’s been tied on for the last three trips. My Monster Shrimp finally gave up the ghost on the last Redfish. I’m surprised that it lasted this long after bagging all those over slot Reds with it at Flamingo.
Anyway this was my day to relax and fish. I left before noon as the clouds started to look especially fluffy. I used the floating dock to land back.
What a pleasure not being soaked all day. Sitting high and dry is really cool.
Road sign “ENTERING PANTHER HABITAT” on the way to Chokoloskee park