The new Series 4 – Wavewalk’s newest portable boat

Wavewalk keeps coming up with small craft that offer high performance in a wider range of applications and markets.

The Series 4 (S4) is Wavewalk’s newest ultralight portable car-top boat that works well in a paddling mode, both as a tandem kayak and canoe.
Among other things this unique, patented twin-hull (catamaran) boat offers are: Unrivaled stability even compared to bigger boats, an extra-long personal watercraft saddle-seat that can accommodate between one and three adults, a large size cockpit with slanted sides that make paddling more effective, an integrated stand-up casting platform at the front, on-board storage that’s equivalent to what a good size Jon boat offers, great seaworthiness, and the ability to take an outboard motor up to 6 HP.

Basic info

Total length: 13′
Total width: 38″
Total height: 17″
Total weight without accessories: 98 lbs
Max payload: 680 lbs
The S4 is offered in three colors: White, Light Gray, and Mud Brown

More information »

The Wavewalk® 700 series

In late 2015, Wavewalk added a second line to its product offering – the 700 series.

W700-fishing-kayak-skiff-animated-gif-360The W700 is a lightweight, trailer-free, two-person fishing boat that one person can easily car top, paddle and motorize.

The 700 features a 7’8″ long, 31″ wide cockpit, which can comfortably accommodate two fishermen and their gear. With a load capacity of 580 lbs it can carry these passengers both in a paddling (tandem kayaking and canoeing) mode, and motorized with a powerful outboard motor. These extended benefits come with a remarkably small increase in weight compared to the 500 series – just 20 lbs more. The basic 700 model weighs just 80 lbs, which is the weight of a typical top-tier one-person SOT fishing kayak.
No more launching at boat ramps, no more trailers, and plenty more time for fishing!

 

 

 

 

As far as stability goes, the W700 is the world’s most stable fishing kayak by far. It’s even stabler than the W500, which is the most stable so far. This means that the W700 passengers will be able to paddling standing as well as fish standing.

 

Rock climbing with my W kayak

A few weeks ago I got the urge to do a bit of rock-climbing with my W boat. Not the kind where you’re inside the boat, like in the videos (viewable from the Wavewalk website), but the kind one does on a steep rip-rap bank, such as we have miles and miles of here along the Columbia, with the boat hanging from a rope, just to get from the car to the water and back.

This is a bank made mostly of boulders the size of washing machines, and too steep for safely carrying more than one hand can manage.

view from top_150035

Here’s the view from the top.

the way down_150210

Here’s my W on the way down, staying nicely upright, trying not to get hung up on the way, and doing a great job.

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All ready to launch

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back at the top

After a nice outing, exploring an area I’ve been meaning to check out for some time, the slide back up the bank was even easier than going down.

at the van

Like a hard working yellow lab – dripping wet, satisfied, and ready to go home.

Happy paddling, fishing, and rappelling,

 

First W fishing kayak on Mount Hood?

I love it when things just work, nice and smoothly, the way they’re supposed to, without leaving much to be desired. My latest W kayaking voyage was definitely one of those times. It wasn’t much of a voyage, or anything to brag about fishing-wise, yet overall, for what it was, it was close to perfect.

I’d been itching to fish a dry fly on some still, wild trout-containing water, which is something I hadn’t done in over a year. So a few days ago I just said NO to my usual afternoon routines in town, and headed for the hills, with some dusty fishing gear, and a gleaming yellow W-kayak strapped to the top of my van. My destination was Laurance Lake.

kayak fishing trip in Laurance lake, OR (2)

Since the “disappearance” of my beloved Northwestern Lake, just across the border in Washington (due to the removal of the Condit dam) the closest sizable lake to me is Laurance, in the northern foothills of Mount Hood. Laurance is actually a reservoir, but it lacks nothing in alpine charm, lying within a deep, old-growth forested glacial canyon, a fair distance from civilization. I’ve never seen it crowded, or heard any noise there, except for weather and birds, since motorized boats aren’t allowed. Additional pluses are that it’s being managed for the preservation of several species of wild trout, rather than just the harvest of hatchery “fryers”. I’d never boated on this lake before; it’s not an easy place to pull a trailer into, and the free-use area doesn’t offer convenient access for most types of boats. But this time I had my W-kayak, which changed everything.

kayak fishing trip in Laurance lake, OR (3)

The area had been getting hit with thunder showers, which are normally quite rare around here, so I knew before I committed to the drive that this wasn’t going to be an ideal day to fish, but I was long overdue for this excursion so I had to go for it.
Luckily, an hour after I arrived, the weather calmed down – no telling how long it would last – and the water started to look a lot more the way I wanted it to; smooth and calm. As I pushed off from shore, it occurred to me that this lake very likely had never before seen a boat quite like the one I was using.

kayak fishing trip in Laurance lake, OR

Afloat for the first time here, I couldn’t resist heading straight for the upper end of the lake, which had only been distant and mysterious on previous visits. This is exactly the kind of thing I had in mind when the W-kayak first got my attention; the freedom to move around on the water gracefully, stealthily, in comfort and with minimal effort, and to put myself in places not otherwise conveniently accessible.

What I found was more interesting and enchanting than I’d imagined: a surreal scene of old black stumps, of large trees that had been cut years ago when the lake was formed. Under threatening clouds and occasional sunbeams, these stumps stood against a background of lush green, which is the valley leading up toward the mountain. Through the quiet, I listened to ospreys conversing from a half-mile apart. This was the shallow end of the lake, and not the best place to be looking for fish on a day like this, but dammit, I was here to fish a dry fly, whether any fish noticed it or not, and I liked it just fine where I was, so I stayed put and picked up the fly rod.

At first, my casting coordination with this poor, neglected little five-weight rig was pretty crappy (I was glad no one seemed to be around to see me) but the W kayak made it very easy to stand up and concentrate on my timing, and on tightening up the loop, and landing the line and fly gently on the water. Before long, it was all working very smoothly, which was extremely satisfying and relaxing; my leader was turning over as straight as ever, the stiff-hackled black-and-gray “whatchamacallit” stood high and dry above the surface (much like I was doing) and I could see everything just fine. Honestly, it was pretty much everything I could hope for, except, perhaps, for the direct participation of a fish or two. I did see a few nice-sized risers within easy casting distance, but they definitely weren’t taking anything that was visible above the surface, including the tiny bundle of fuzz and feather I was offering. I got a couple of strong tugs on the fly when it happened to be a few inches below the surface, but that simply wasn’t the way I felt like fishing at the moment. Besides, this particular dry fly was floating exceptionally well most of the time, so who was I to deliberately sink it, or take it out of service and replace it with a humble soft-hackle?

kayak fishing trip in Laurance lake, OR (4)

Yes, it’s slightly embarrassing to admit to striking-out that day, as far as the “catching fish” thing is concerned. However, I still consider the outing a great success, overall. I wasn’t there to fish blind, or by feel, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it simply wasn’t part of my mission at the moment. I like flinging spinners as much as anyone, but sometimes I just want to keep things light and up on top, where I can see everything. I had come specifically to fish a dry fly on the surface, for wild trout, on a mountain lake, from my favorite boat, whether I caught anything or not. And that’s exactly what I did, in style.

Even though I had only a couple of hours on the water, I had a wonderful time, and my W kayak deserves a lot of the credit. I didn’t capture any fish, but I did capture two hours worth of the kind of moments I mostly only daydream about. This boat took me exactly where I wanted to be, in exactly the way I wanted, and once I was there it enabled me to fish in exactly the way I felt like doing it, in optimal comfort. It allowed me to relax and concentrate on my surroundings, and on fishing, by staying out of my way and doing exactly what I needed it to do. Standing and casting from it, it felt like I was on my own little floating dock. At times I had the feeling I was standing on a little island! I was simply having a lot of fun, and getting more relaxed by the minute, thanks to the fact that everything was working together (almost) perfectly.

In my experience, most things don’t go completely smoothly, most of the time, and that includes fishing trips. However, I’m finding that my W kayak is the magic new ingredient that makes every moment on the water better, and helps make those elusive perfect moments happen more easily. Unfortunately I can’t just drop everything and go fishing wherever I want to, whenever I feel like it, but it’s sure nice to have such a well-designed, well-suited tool, that gives me a huge advantage in pursuing those moments. It really helps make the most of a very limited recreation/relaxation budget.

Happy fishing,

 

beached kayak - fly fishing trip in Laurance lake, OR

Happy new Wavewalk kayaker

Limerick Kayaking

Recently, one of our little yellow beauties found a happy home at Lake Limerick in Washington, with a great guy named Rich, who has generously provided the story of his experience so far. Thanks a lot Rich, this really made my day!
Here’s Rich’s story:

“I first became interested in a W kayak when I saw some amazing videos of owners doing amazing feats in it. Then I read about the other benefits…walk in, sit down, stand up, turn around, lay down…any position you want. I even saw one guy paddling while standing on the saddle!

I decided this W500 kayak would be perfect for me.I looked at the dealer list on wavewalk.com (excellent site) and found the closest one was Oregon Fishing Kayaks in Hood River, Oregon. Living on a Lake and somewhat away from things, I am used to driving an hour or so to get some of the things I need, but the drive to Hood River was about three hours. I called Perry Platt the proprietor of Oregon Fishing Kayaks. He is a very friendly guy. With the help of Perry giving directions on the phone, I was ready to go to get my W500.

If you have never taken the trip down the Columbia River Gorge along I-84 from Portland,

it is worth the trip. My wife and I decided to make a day of it. The scenery is gorgeous; with lush greenery and rocky crags on one side, and the mighty Columbia on the other. If you have never seen the Columbia River, it is so wide it looks more like a bay. The wind always blows there, and today the wind was blowing against the river current, dotting the river with small chop and whitecaps (more on that wind later).

Well, because a trucker hit a dog on I-5 (I swear to God, that was the explanation)

traffic was backed-up for miles, so we arrived very late at the demo site. I think Perry thought we were a no show. We called him and he arrived very quickly. Perry, is even a nicer guy in person than he is on the phone. He had two W500s loaded on his nifty double-decker hand cart with bicycle wheels and easily wheeled them across the parking lot to the demo area.

Now, more on that wind; Waterfront Park in Hood River is a favorite place for kite surfers and wind surfers. When I looked out at the river, there were probably 25 – 30 surfers out there, cutting tracks with their boards and holding on for dear life to their kites in 15-20 mph wind. Perry took us to a “protected” area where a small jetty protected us the worst winds and where the wind surfers launch their boards. We looked completely out of place and got some funny looks from the crowd.Perry took the sturdy W500s off his cart and we dragged them down to the water. He gave us some instruction and threw the life jackets in the kayaks.Just like in the videos I had seen on the websites, we stepped in from the back, sat down, scooted forward, and we were off.

Now, in this “protected” area the chop was still about 8 inches and the winds 8 – 12 mph. I sat in the riding position in the center of the boat. The chop and the wind were doing their part in rocking the W500, but I did a little rocking myself. I couldn’t tip this kayak over if I tried. Ok, great conditions to demo a new kayak. I paddled against the wind to get back to the launch site. The W500 cut an impressive wake and didn’t even notice the chop.We loaded the W500 back on that nifty double–decker cart and pushed back to Perry’s shop.The demo ride sold me. We loaded a W kayak on the little trailer I had hooked up to my trusty Ford van. It fit the W like it was built for it. We strapped it down, (paid Perry) and off we went for Lake Limerick, WA. If you want a Wavewalk kayak in the Northwest (and why wouldn’t you?) call Perry at Oregon Fishing Kayaks.”

-Rich Brown

 

Checking out the competition

 

 

I happened to be in a ‘regular’ kayak store recently, to get a couple of those ultra-compact, fanny-pack style pfd’s that are ubiquitous among the stand-up-paddle crowd, and I couldn’t resist checking out the inventory. To my surprise, considering the seemingly overwhelming popularity of stubby whitewater kayaks here in the Northwest, the only ‘fishing kayak’ in the store seemed to occupy the place of honor, smack in the middle of the showroom. It was even raised well up off the floor so everyone could check it out nice and closely. And what a sight it was to behold, with its bulging mid-section, its multiple tiny storage compartments, and all its little attachments and appendages, and other valiant attempts to adapt itself to the task of fishing.

Of course, as with every other kayak I know of besides the “W”, it had a seat positioned way down low, very near water level, in which you’re supposed to sit, with your legs sticking out in front as though you’re doing sit-ups, in the dreaded ‘L-position’.  Apparently, you’re supposed to be able to fish and paddle in this awkward position, at least for a while, at least until back pain and/or cramps and/or numbness and tingling set in.

With my W-kayak, if I ever get the urge to assume the dreaded L-position – or do sit-ups out on the water – I can simply put my feet up in front of me, on the six foot long saddle, and commence with the workout. So far however, I haven’t felt that urge. I prefer having my feet down below my center of gravity, whether I’m fishing or just sitting, and especially when I’m on the water paddling. It’s much more comfortable, I can put my whole body into paddling and controlling the boat, and I can instantly and effortlessly stand up or sit back down at any moment, even with my hands full of gear.

I’m not sure which aspect of that expensive mono-hull fishing kayak in the showroom struck me as more unfortunate: its uncomfortable seating position, or its prodigious width in the beam – which appeared to be well over forty inches!  With respect to its well-intentioned designers, I’m wondering, how different could paddling that boat be from paddling a four-by-eight-foot sheet of one-inch plywood? I guess that’s the price of stability – at least when you’ve only got one hull to work with.

At a sleek-yet-stable 30 inches wide, overall, the twin-hulled Wavewalk 500 is in a different universe. The full width of the boat runs nearly its full length – rather than bulging out in the middle where you’re trying to paddle – providing excellent stability while allowing your paddle to enter the water much closer to vertical, and much closer to your center of gravity and the centerline of the boat, helping it to track nice and and straight on the stroke. The ever-present column of water between the hulls helps too, and those vertical inner-hull surfaces, running the length of the boat, mean you never need a fin or keel, or have to worry about such things hanging up while you’re launching or beaching, or scooting it over rocks or logs in the water, or dragging the boat along the ground.

Straddling the central saddle, with IMG_20130626_171334each foot firmly planted at the bottom of one of the two side-by-side, fourteen-inch-deep hulls, just below the waterline, I have so much control over the yaw angle, and of the water displacement of one hull section or the other, that I can effortlessly lean the boat way over to aid in making tight turns, and I’m always free to shift my weight instantly from side to side to maintain balance, using my legs like I would on skis, enabling me to fish and paddle in full confidence, even while standing.

If you haven’t already, please check out some of the great videos at  http://www.wavewalk.com

to see exactly what I’m talking about (for instance, the one where someone is comfortably paddling in breaking surf while standing). And if you still can’t quite believe your eyes, come to Hood River and find out for yourself how the Wavewalk 500 actually feels and handles on the water. You can even take one home, for less than the price of that fancy, deluxe, extra-wide “fishing kayak” I saw the other day in the showroom.

 

 

Is it sturdy?

After watching all the videos, it was readily apparent to me how the W-kayak would behave in the water;  that one could achieve cruising speed in just a few easy strokes of the paddle;  that it glided easily through the water, and tracked nice and straight – especially considering its relatively short length;  that it would be stable enough to allow for confident standing, even while paddling, even in bouncy water, etc.

However, even after seeing the video of a W being abusively hopped and crawled up and crammed through a narrow gap between two refrigerator-sized, rough-surfaced rocks, under the full weight of one pretty darn big guy, one nagging question lingered, as I awaited delivery of my first W-kayak:  How sturdy are these things, really?  After all, how often is it that an unfamiliar item ordered at a distance turns out to be constructed to the level of quality one had hoped for?

I was not disappointed in the least. The feel of the boat was rigid, and substantial. The high-density polyethylene, of which the boat is seamlessly molded in one piece, appeared to be about an eighth of an inch thick  –  thick and stiff enough to allow the various deck-rigging handles and loops to be riveted to the hull with no compromise to its integrity – and sturdy enough to feel practically indestructible.

As an experienced “amateur ballistics-tester,” I would guess that if you fired a .22LR at the hull of this thing from any distance farther  than a stone’s throw, at an angle any shallower than 45º,  the bullet would probably graze off without puncturing.

Of course, every material has limits. In the case of the W hull, the flexibility of the material comes into play when the central saddle is loaded, against the force of the water that the twin hulls are displacing. Under enough load, the hulls want to spread apart somewhat, cleverly distributing the load along both sides of the six-foot long saddle – which is integrally reenforced by design to act as a row of very strong trusses. Although the boat is rated to carry up to 360 lbs, Wavewalk recommends that an operator weighing 240 lbs or more outfit the boat with one of its optional saddle brackets. At somewhere around 170 lbs,  I’m not capable of causing any noticeable flexing, even when jumping up and down in the boat (yes, this is a ‘kayak’ you can jump up and down in on the water!).  Other than that, the only place on the boat I find any noticeable deflection is in the middle/side of the outer rim of the cockpit, which is by far the least supported portion of the entire hull – but this is only while lifting the full weight of the boat off the ground from this rim.

All in all, this boat seems to me to be constructed in the most elegant way possible, from the ideal material, and the ideal amount of it.  I wouldn’t want it to be any heavier, and the nature of the HDPE is to be extremely resistant to fracture – and great for sliding over rocks. Furthermore, if you ever did have an unwanted hole in this material, it can be welded closed, using readily available filler rods.  (If only our own frail, temporal bodies were constructed of such durable material!)

I can’t resist including a personal anecdote on this subject: I was chatting on the phone the other day with W-kayak designer, Yoav Rosen,  when I mentioned the trailer I planned to weld up for transporting my demo boats across the large asphalt parking lot between my workshop (where I keep the boats) and the water. At one point, Yoav suggested, “don’t be afraid to just drag your demo boat across the parking lot right on the pavement – it wont hurt the boat”.  Personally, dragging valuable items across rough asphalt goes pretty strongly against my grain, but I have to admit, I’m sure he was right.