Wavewalk® Standard Inflatable, Detachable Flotation Modules
When motorized, our Wavewalk® 500 kayak and Wavewalk® 700 car-top boat are heavier, and they go at high speed. This may require adding high capacity, multi-purpose flotation, which is what Wavewalk’s inflatable detachable flotation modules offer.
When attached to the kayak’s sides, the inflatable flotation tubes can make it less easy to paddle, which is why these accessories are mainly a solution for motorizing and not for paddling long distances, unless you attach them under the kayak’s saddle, where they won’t interfere with the movement of your paddle.
Wavewalk 700 outfitted with a pair of standard inflatable flotation tubes
Wavewalk’s multi-purpose, detachable, inflatable flotation tube (folded). Note the two inflation valves, and the carabiners on both ends, for easy and quick attachment.
Tech Specs – stated for 1 inflatable flotation tube:
Dimensions: Length: 60″ (152 cm) Diameter: 6.5″ (16.5 cm)
–Note: Fits exactly between the eyelets on the kayak’s sides in the XL and INF configurations. -Note: Each side of the Wavewalk TM kayak can fit up to 2 inflatable flotation modules (Maximum 4 modules for the kayak’s sides).
Weight: Each module weighs 1.5 lbs (0.7 kg)
Volume: The volume of a single inflatable module is 2,000 cubic inches (8.65 gallon / 32.5 liter). The volume of a pair is 4,000 cubic inches.
Material: PVC Color: Black
Thickness: 30 MIL (0.03″) or 0.763 mm (Heavy Duty)
Air valves: Each module is outfitted with 2 air valves – A 1″ wide easy-filling valve, and a small valve for quick pressure-release.
–Note: The wide air filling valve eliminates the need for an air pump.
–Note: Do not fill the flotation module completely – Always leave some room for the air inside to expand as the sun warms it. If you see the surface is too stretched, release some air through the small valve.
Attachment: Each module is outfitted with 2 heavy-duty rope eyes, and ships with 2 anodized aluminum carabiners
Repair: Each pair of inflatable flotation modules ships with a PVC repair kit
Country of Origin: Made in USA
Price: This accessory is sold in pairs. Each pair sells for $230.
Shipping: When ordered together with a W kayak, these accessories ship with no additional cost. When ordered separately, S&H is $30 to addresses in the continental US, and $40 for shipping to addresses in Canada and Alaska.
Inflatable flotation tubes – usage and advantages
Trimming at high speed: When the inflatable flotation tubes are attached on both sides on the kayak’s stern, the added buoyancy there helps in keeping the kayak level when motorizing at high speed, both in the front-back and left-right directions.
Outriggers (Stabilizers): When attached on the kayak’s sides, the flotation modules act as outriggers, namely increase its lateral stability. This is particularly useful in the motorized or sailing modes.
Capsize prevention: When attached to the kayak’s sides, the inflatable flotation modules help prevent it from flipping in case of an accident.
Recovery (flotation): In case an accident happened, the flotation helps the kayak stay afloat.
Recovery (flipping back): In case the kayak is overturned or laying in its side, the inflatable flotation tube can help the user flip the kayak back.
Personal flotation: When detached from the kayak, an inflatable tube can serve as personal flotation.
Just thought I’d send you a couple of photos of what I had done with the Styrofoam on my kayak. Since then, I have mounted/bolted foam on the sides, about 6 inches up and about 7 inches wide.
First – the front mounted motor:
At first I had front mounted motor, so I mounted the foam in the “front” of my kayak, because I was a little uncomfortable with how deep the nose would go as I was launching. Sometimes I felt as if the water was going to rise over the bow and come into inner part, (but it never did). I used 1/4 inch plywood and two, 2×2 inch strips with 3/8 inch bolts thru and fastened thru holes on the top of my pontoons.
I then drilled two more holes thru the center part of the plywood, between the pontoons, and bolted a length of foam to it. I shaped the foam, and it too is about 6 inches from the bottom of the surrounding pontoon bottoms.
Next, I screwed a small section of 2×4 to the rear strip of 2×2, and made a mount for my trolling motor.
From there, I took apart/removed the shaft and control unit from my trolling motor, and positioned the trolling motor mounting bracket on the 2×4 and fastened it in place.
After ensuring it was centered, I drilled a hole thru the plywood that was big enough for the shaft to fit thru. I then pushed the shaft thru the hole from the bottom, and cut/gouged out a hole in the bottom of the foam that would allow me to put the motor/propeller into its recess.
Once I had enough room for the motor/rudder to fit into the recess above the bottom of the pontoons, I soldered the wires back together, and reversed the handle on the control.
I attached a fairly large battery to the back portion of the saddle, and connected everything.
My first outing was out to the Chesapeake Bay! I launched from this place called the Mattapeake Fishing Pier. It is the first exit to the right, after you go across the Bay Bridge. There is a fairly calm/flat/shallow inner portion of water on the shore side of the pier, and I spent about 30 minutes getting comfortable with my new motor. It was at this time that I saw/met a new fellow kayaker. Anyway, fearless and confident, I launched out to the deeper, faster moving current of the bay, and continued out about 200-250 yards out from the pier. My buddy, with the “el cheapo” kayak went out with me for a while.
I threw my line out, and almost immediately caught two fair sized croakers! I was in heaven! Even though it was rather windy, and the waves were getting a little high/rough, I was dry. My kayak seemed to have a harder time going left, than it did going right, but the long shaft on the trolling motor allowed my to position it deeper, and it was quite manageable. No speed records broken, but a steady “pull” (like front wheel drive in new snow), and I got to where I needed to go.
I then noticed my new buddy had gone back in to the shallow portion, so I motored over to see why he went in. I went back in, and he said he was getting a little wet, and feared that he would get “swamped”. It was actually hard for me to believe such nonsense, since the only water I had in my kayak, was from when I reeled my fish in!
Long story short – I convinced him to come with me about a mile or two, to the Bay Bridge, where we could get some BIG ONES!!! Reluctantly, he agreed, and I pulled him behind me with a nylon rope. About half-way there, he got swamped, and even though the W500 was still pulling his kayak behind me, (now in the direction of the shore), my new, strong swimming, PFD clad buddy, started panicking, and tried to climb into the back of my kayak. I was concentrating on moving towards the shore, and was at the front end of the saddle, before I knew what was happening, it happened – a ton of water rushed over my transom end, and my back half, and all of my stuff (rods, reels, net, bait, lures, tools, etc.) either floated on the surface (or mostly) sank like the Titanic! My front end, with the trolling motor still running, stayed about 2 1/2 to three feet out of the water. That foam was worth every penny!
Now, while I tied my wrist around a rope I had fastened to the front my W500, to pull it out of water with, my new “buddy” decides to let my boat go, and swim towards shore to get some help! I had my PFD on, I can swim fairly good for a 58 year old (thanks USN), and I never thought that I was going to drown, but every 2 or 3 minutes, a great big wave would crash over my head. I never knew the bay water was so salty!
I had retrieved my tackle box, and was holding it in my left hand, and holding the rope attached to my kayak with my right hand.
Every now and then I would put out a blast with my signaling whistle, but no one seemed to hear.
After about 30 or 40 minutes, I saw a 30 footer heading in my direction, so after thanking God again, I sort of relaxed, and waited until they got near. As they reached down to pull me in, I handed them my beloved tackle box. It by now had become quite water laden, but I was happy I could put it into some safe and dry hands.
As I handed it to my rescuers, and they grabbed the handle, it broke, and the bottom part of my box went to the bottom of the bay…. Ok. I’m safe. I got pulled in safely, they lassoed a rope around the shaft of my trolling motor, and off we went back to the launching area.
Once back at home, I immediately started sketching another model of a mount and foam section for the REAR of my kayak. Its purpose was to be twofold – I wanted it to make my “transom” unable to sink, and I wanted to make a mount that would be able to carry a heavy gasoline powered motor on the rear. I made both and had them installed about 8 days later. The place that my motor will sit is about 6 inches from the rear of the pontoons.
Two weeks later, I spent a few days at our campsite, and my trolling motor’s controls had evidently become corroded from the earlier salt water dunking, so it quit on me about a half mile from where I had launched from. Once I paddled back in, I took it apart, and confirmed it had indeed become corroded and brittle, so I removed it and the battery completely, and paddled the last couple of days.
I ordered some more foam when I got home, and after roughly shaping it to go alongside about 70% of the W, I bolted/attached it to the sides of the hulls. Two weeks later, I rigged my motor up so that it was all ON (full power), or OFF. I put the motor in the rear, and mounted the battery in the front, and with just a cheap on and off toggle switch I bought from a parts store, off I went to this place that is known for being the burial ground/water for many rusted and long abandoned Navy ships.
A lot of folks catch big stripers and snakeheads in this area, but I was not so lucky. Everything seemed to work fairly well, so after church, the next day, off I went to Solomons Island, Md. I caught about 12 decent sized croakers, spots, and white perch for a while, but then all I started catching was some ugly toadfish! After about 6 hours out, I decided to come in, and I haven’t been back in yet. The wires weren’t the right gauges on my jerry-rigged trolling motor, so the switch burnt out, and the lighter gauged wires melted. I have picked up the right size/gauge wiring, and a new heavy duty switch, but I haven’t decided if I am going to mess with it again, or get another trolling motor.
The trolling motor and battery, got me to where I wanted to go, so I figure that I will mount the new one up front with the battery this time, to balance my outboard out in the rear.
The kayak did NOT go down more than an inch (if that much), with me and the motor sitting in the rear, so I’m going to push the envelope and try to use a 5 or 6 hp, 58-60 pound outboard motor (with an alternator on it), with a hydrofoil attached for good measure.
If all goes (as I expect it), remote steering with lights will be next… I’ll keep you informed, and thanks again for creating such an incredible platform for me to work my dreams upon.
Flotation is a category of products and technical solutions that keep your kayak or boat floating in case an accident happened, such as capsize, a punctured hull wall, etc.
What flotation solutions and products have in common is their ability to trap air and attach it to the hull, and by that keep the hull afloat so it could be more easily recovered.
This is to say that typically, flotation provides means for recovery, and it usually adds neither to the boat or kayak’s stability nor to its load capacity.
Why is flotation necessary?
The US Coast Guard (USCG) mandates incorporating flotation In boats bigger than kayaks. Although flotation is not mandatory in kayaks, we think it is necessary as means to preserve our clients’ investment in their W kayak. Many other kayak manufacturers, including those who offer sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks outfit them with some flotation, because they know that SOT kayaks are sinkable.
Types of flotation
Integrated flotation. Some kayaks feature built-in flotation. For example, inflatable kayaks that feature air chambers serving as hull walls, and kayaks that feature urethane foam cast in their hull tips and secured by hardware. For years, Wavewalk kayaks used to feature such flotation cast in their hull tips, until we decided to switch to something better.
Added floatation. Other kayaks are equipped with added foam blocks or noodles stuffed into their hulls. Typically, the material used for this purpose is Polyethylene foam, and these elements are sometimes attached to the hull with hardware. Many sit-in and SOT kayaks come with such flotation, and many anglers who use such kayaks for fishing add more floatation to them, since they don’t trust the factory supplied floatation to suffice in case of an accident.
Detachable flotation. Typically, detachable floatation consists of inflatable bladders stuffed into the kayak’s hull tips, and attached to the hull by straps. Currently, Wavewalk’s kayaks are the only ones that feature detachable flotation modules made from Polyethylene foam. These modules can be attached to the kayak’s sides or between its hulls, under the saddle, where they’re still above the surface.
Inflatable bladders vs. Polyethylene foam
Inflatable bladders are lightweight, sealed plastic bags, and as such they’re effective as internal floatation for kayaks. But since anglers carry on board their kayaks sharp objects such as fishhooks and knives, they don’t like the idea of having inflatable plastic bags inside the boat, and most of them would scoff at the idea of having such objects attached to the deck or to the sides of their kayak, where they would be exposed to various sharp objects that could puncture them.
In contrast, polyethylene foam modules are tolerant to sharp objects, and they can keep serving their intended purpose even after having come many times in close contact with fishhooks and knife blades. As far as maintenance is concerned, unlike inflatable bladders, Polyethylene foam modules require neither checking for pressure nor being re-inflated.
Side flotation vs. internal flotation
The W kayak is the only one offering its users to attach flotation on its sides. This in itself is not a complete novelty, as some high-end fishing and hunting canoes have been featuring static (non-detachable) side flotation for decades. The advantage of attaching the flotation modules on the kayak’s side is that doing so can prevent to kayak from flipping in case on an accident. The downside of having flotation modules on the kayaks side are that they can be in the paddle’s way when the passengers are paddling, and fishhooks can get caught in them. Some W kayakers feel that foam noodles attached to their kayak’s sides are unsightly, so they attach their flotation modules between the kayak’s hulls, under the saddle but above waterline, where they’re almost entirely hidden from sight.
Internal flotation is hidden from sight, which is an aesthetic advantage for those who care about such things, and about paddling comfort and problems with fishhooks etc. But having bulky blocks of foam or inflatable bags stuffed inside your kayak’s hull tips takes away from the storage space it offers, and that could mean less stuff that you can carry on board.
Polyethylene foam vs. Urethane foam
Urethane foam can be cast into a cavity in a boat’s hull, or in a kayak’s hull tips, but casting it is not easy, and once the cast foam is in its place it can be easily displaced, and become moldy if moisture finds its way between the foam and the hull’s wall. Furthermore, urethane foam can deteriorate over time, so that eventually it may require replacement.
Polyethylene foam cannot be cast at will, but it is more durable and therefore more reliable as kayak flotation.
Flotation for motorized kayaks
Outfitting a W kayak with a motor mount and outboard motor can increase its weight by more than 50%, and all this added weight is located in one place, which increases the likelihood of an accident, especially at high speed. This means that adding flotation is much needed, which is why Wavewalk recommends using large-size Polyethylene foam noodles instead of standard ones, and offers two models that come with XL flotation modules.
Flotation in Moving water
Paddling and fishing in moving water such as fast streams or the ocean increases the probability of accidents, and therefore the need for flotation. Wavewalk offers all its kayak models with detachable flotation modules, and clients can order extra flotation. Alternatively, inexpensive hollow Polyethylene foam noodles are easy to find in department stores, and outfitting them with a bungee cord and a pair of hooks isn’t hard.
Flotation in shallow water
Some W kayakers and anglers who fish in very shallow water feel their W kayak is so stable that they would never capsize it, and even if they did, they would have no problem recovering it even if it’s not outfitted with flotation. We think these clients should be more prudent since accidents have a tendency to happen in conditions that aren’t predictable, and stuff happens is the rule out there, on the water. We understand that a pair of flotation modules attached under the kayak’s saddle adds a little weight to it, but we think it’s worth it.
An outrigger is defined as a framework supporting a float extended outboard from the side of a boat for increasing stability. In kayaks, outriggers usually come in a pair mounted at the rear, so as to interfere as little as possible with the kayaker’s paddling and fishing activities.
Why are fishing kayaks required to be so stable?
A fishing kayak is required to be stabler than other kayaks for a number of reasons –
The first reason is because the kayak’s operator is often busy fishing, which means they cannot pay much attention to balancing their kayak as they scout for fish, operate their fishing gear, and handle a fish they just caught.
The second reason is that people who paddle sit-in, SOT or hybrid kayaks do it while being seated in the L position, with their legs stretched in front of them in a way that prevents them from being effective for balancing. This is the reason why the paddle is the principal means such paddlers have for stabilizing these kayaks, and this means that it’s easier for them to keep their balance while they’re holding their paddle and preferably using it for paddling.
The third reason is that people who pedal a kayak find it even harder to balance it, as their legs activate the pedal drive from the kayak’s center line, with their feet l moving high over the deck. In this awkward position the legs are prevented from contributing even the little help in balancing that they could have contributed in a paddling mode. This makes the notion of a hands free pedal fishing kayak part of the realm of fantasy (a.k.a. hype).
The fourth reason is that some people who believe sit-in and SOT manufacturers’ hype try to fish standing in or on their kayak, only to find out that in reality they don’t feel stable enough, and balancing their kayak comes at a price of a continuous effort, both in physical and mental terms, i.e. micro-adjustments and focus.
The fifth reason is that some people have balancing problems resulting from a deficient sense of balance, a neurological condition such as multiple sclerosis (MS), artificial knees or hips, or simply because of old age or just because they’re big and tall.
The sixth reason why people look to outfit their fishing kayak with outriggers is because when they outfit it with a powerful motor the higher speed increases the chance of accidents, which calls for improved stability.
How do outriggers work to increase a kayak’s stability?
An outrigger’s float is a buoyant object who’s much lighter than water. As such, an outrigger can resist downward pressure that’s pushing it into the water. Being attached at a considerable distance from the kayak’s longitudinal center line gives the outrigger’s float a mechanical advantage over whatever that pushes the kayak’s main hull downward on the same side, such as the kayaker’s own weight. This mechanical advantage enhances the outrigger’s effectiveness in stability terms.
I other words, the bigger the outrigger’s floats are and the further away they’re attached from the kayak’s center line, the stabler that kayak is likely to be.
In contrast, small outriggers that are attached close to the kayak’s hull, or outriggers that are part of the kayak’s hull and are deployed sideways by a lever system have a small effect on the kayak’s overall stability.
How effective are outriggers in terms of increased stability?
Small outriggers offer some initial (primary) stability, so they can have a psychological effect of diminishing the paddler’s fears and boosting their confidence. But when push comes to shove, that is in case of an accident or even a common case of lost balance, small outriggers offer too little secondary stability to prevent the kayak from seriously tilting, which is enough to dump its passengers overboard. This is especially true if the kayaker happens to be standing up or elderly, big and tall, suffering from balance disabilities etc. – In other words, people who have a better reason to use outriggers in the first place are also more likely to lose balance and fall overboard because the outriggers they use are not big and buoyant enough. This is to say that between using small outriggers and using none, the latter option has some advantages…
Folding outriggers that are integrated into the rear end of the kayak’s hull and deployed outward by means of a lever have the same effect as small outriggers. Such kayak offers little stability when its folding outriggers are not deployed outward, and when its outriggers are in the open position the overall stability it offers is comparable to the overall stability offered by a regular wide SOT kayak with no outriggers. This means that if you have no intention of fishing standing on the deck of a big regular fishing kayak, you shouldn’t even consider a kayak that features outriggers that are integrated into its main hull, even if the manufacturer of such kayaks is seen stating in a promotional video that their product offers (quote): “the buoyancy equivalence of an 8 ft wide boat” (end quote)… BTW, the beauty of such a statement is that because it’s so obviously and ridiculously false, it probably fails to mislead anyone.
Light rigs – Outriggers built from thin, small-diameter aluminum tubes might bend or snap when exposed to strong pressure. This is especially true if the floats are big and located at a big distance from the kayak itself.
Outriggers made from thin steel rods can bend, and outriggers made from thin wooden beams can break.
Outriggers poorly attached to the kayak could get torn out of their place in case of an accident.
Can outriggers create problems in paddling and fishing?
Indeed they do, and these problems are worth consideration:
1. Extra drag
Typical outriggers are several times shorter than the kayak’s hull itself. This means that as the kayak moves, the outriggers move at speeds that are many times higher than their own hull speed (Froude number). This generates a disproportionately large amount of Residual resistance (Rr) as well as extra Frictional resistance (Fr), and the kayaker feels their combined effect as extra drag on the kayak, which makes it slower and much harder to paddle.
But this is not the end of the drag story, since the outriggers also generate their own wakes, which interact with the wake generated by the kayak’s main hull in a manner that increases turbulence and works to further increase drag. This additional unwanted effect is especially strong in outriggers that are mounted close to the kayak’s hull.
And if this wasn’t enough, outriggers also increase the kayak’s exposure to the wind, and this tends to reduce the kayak’s directional stability. In other words, it’s almost impossible to paddle a kayak outfitted with outriggers if you don’t outfit it with a rudder as well. But since rudders reduce the kayak’s speed by 10% in average, it’s possible to say that a kayak outfitted with outriggers is not one you’d like to paddle simply because paddling it would prove to be to hard for you, unless you’re out for a short trip on flat water.
2. Extra weight – problems with transporting and carrying
Let’s face it – fishing kayaks are the heaviest kayaks out there. Many fishing kayaks weigh over 70 lbs, and the most barge-like of them weigh up to 120 lbs. Such size already makes it impossible for many anglers to car top their kayak, and forces them to transport it on a trailer, which clearly defies the purpose of kayak fishing in yet another way.
A pair of outriggers can weigh over 20 lbs, which transforms even a kayak of reasonable weight into a barge in terms of transportation and carrying it to the beach and from it back you one’s vehicle.
3. Mobility problems
Kayaks equipped with outriggers simply don’t move as well as other kayaks do. This is true for shallow water with obstacles, seaweed or grass, for rocky beaches (‘rock gardens’), and for moving water where the outriggers make the kayak harder to steer and control.
4. Fishing problems
When you fish out of any boat including a kayak, you strive to get out of your way any object that could interfere with your fishing lines, whether when you cast, reel in a fish or land it. Outriggers are large size and intricate structures that are located close to the kayak, and as such present a constant threat to your lines – In fact, people who fish out of kayaks with outriggers are always careful to cast as far as possible from their kayak’s rear end, and since most kayaks already present typical restrictions on anglers, any additional limitations are not welcome, by definition.
What is the best type of outriggers for my fishing kayak?
Ideally, you’d want your kayak outriggers to be as long as possible, so they generate as little drag as possible when the kayak moves in the water. After all, you want to go places, which is why you got a kayak in the first place.
You also want the outriggers to be as big as possible so they have more buoyancy, and thus work better to provide the required additional lateral stability. As far as you’re concerned, outriggers are mission critical!
You want the outriggers to be attached to the middle section of the kayak, so they work to provide stability on its sides and not just in its rear, where you don’t necessarily need it – As they say: Location, location, location!
You want the outriggers to be as small as possible, so they don’t weigh too much. Kayaks are supposed to be lightweight, remember?
You want the outriggers to be attached to the kayak’s rear end, at a good distance from you, so they won’t interfere with your fishing activities… After all, fishing is what got you to buy the kayak in the first place, right?
Bottom line:There’s no such thing as ideal outriggers, which is why you need to carefully weigh the whole idea before you go forward with it.
Are outriggers even necessary with a W500 kayak?
We recommend outriggers for a W kayak being sailed, and by this we mean real sailing with a large size, powerful upwind rig (i.e. not merely a ‘kayak sail’). This is because of the considerable destabilizing lateral forces produced while sailing such a big rig in strong wind, and because we think that most recreational sailors lack the experience and skills needed to sail a W kayak under such circumstances. Furthermore, we recommend that such outriggers be sturdy and of large size so they may provide enough support to compensate for the sailor’s lack of agility, experience, etc…
Otherwise, people who suffer from a severe balance deficiency that prevents them from sensing the kayak or reacting effectively (e.g. multiple sclerosis) should consider the benefit of adding a pair of outriggers to their W kayak.
Anglers who want to stand on top of a poling platform stretching over the cockpit of their W kayak may gain stability by adding outriggers to their setup, but they would gain more stability, convenience and safety by standing inside the cockpit, on the bottom of the kayak’s twin hulls, with their feet located below waterline – like all other stand up W kayak anglers do. The W design works better than anything else as far as stability is concerned.
When it comes to motorizing (i.e. outfitting the kayak with a powerful outboard motor), outriggers might complicate steering because of the high speed involved, meaning that an outrigger hitting a wave at 8 mph would affect both the kayak’s directional stability and its lateral stability (balance). This in itself is an unwanted effect that could have safety implications. As for outriggers that stay out of the water, their effect is limited to begin with, since they are rather ineffective for adding initial (primary) stability, and by the time they come in contact with the water and start preventing the kayak from further tilting (i.e. provide secondary stability), the kayaker may have already lost their balance and gone overboard. Attaching large size flotation modules to the kayak’s sides seems to be a preferable solution.
Outriggers are impractical for paddling a W kayak in tandem, because the presence of the outrigger near the stern would restrict the motion of the rear paddler’s paddle.
I’ve been meaning to mention another advantage of the W that I’m not sure you’ve addressed on your website –
I occasionally launch my W on steep concrete boat ramps. These ramps usually are covered with slippery algae beneath the water surface making it dangerous to enter a SOT or Sit-in kayak from the middle while standing on the slippery surface.
A friend of mine trying to enter his SOT a few weeks ago fell flat on his rear (luckily he was not hurt, just wet). With the W, you simply push it in the water so that it nearly floats and the area between the entry hulls is dry, then jump on the seat from between the hulls while pushing off, thereby managing a perfect launch.