I got out of work in Billerica MA at 12:30 on Friday and shot down to Newton MA to meet with the inventor of the Wavewalk Kayak and take it out on the Charles River for a test paddle.
The inventor and owner of Wavewalk, Yoav Rosen gave me a lot of detail on what to expect and then demonstrated the entry and exit of launching a Wavewalk - basically you just walk right in between the 2 hulls and sit down! not even getting your feet a little wet. The demonstration showed it could be paddled in a "riding" position with your legs bent and leaning a little forward, a regular sitting position and then STANDING! He showed the stability by jumping up and down and leaning side to side even when standing. Paddling while standing was possible using a 10 foot modified kayak paddle. Turning was even more impressive as he could carve a turn sharply by leaning a hull into the turn. Beaching the craft was accomplished by paddling straight for shore sitting far back in the saddle lifting the bows of the hulls then leaning hard back as it beached. Exiting was as easy as standing up and stepping out between the 2 hulls. He made it all look SO EASY .
Now it was my turn. I am 5' 10" and weigh in at about 245 so I had to widen out the PFD quite a bit before getting started. OK - he has been talking all this time mainly about how the W takes a little getting used to and that I will not feel comfortable at all when I first start. He actually stated I might feel very uncomfortable - possibly one of the worst feelings I could imagine. If he was trying to comfort me that was not working but how bad could it be - he made it all look so simple
Heck, the videos on the W website show his 10 year old surfing the W in ocean waves
So anyway I get in wiggle in the saddle a bit till I think I am in the "riding position" and try to lurch forward the way I saw him enter. At this point Yoav tells me I do not have permission to launch and that we are going to do this slowly, that we have all day. Well I do not really have all day - I wanted to get home to Long Island for dinner after being away on business all week and it was starting to rain again. Well at this point he lets me move forward a foot so the main part of the hulls are floating but the stern is still on the boat ramp and I am instructed to shift my weight side to side to see how it feels. OK - not so scary, then he moves me out another foot, still at the boat ramp in less than one foot of water and again - shift my weight side to side. Now this is quite a responsive little craft and I do not have to shift much at all to really make it lean and reverse sides. This does not feel comfortable at all but I trust this guy really knows what he is doing and follow the instructions to the letter.
The next step is to move out a few feet and just float there. We were BS'ing all the time but mainly again he was telling me that it is OK - that I will get used to it quickly and will be paddling in no time. 3 minutes of just floating go by - felt like 10. OK - I can float. During this time he said not to touch the cockpit combing but I don't know why and forgot to ask. So I sat there with the paddle about chest high and then got ready to take a few strokes. A few feet out from the ramp then back. After an other 2 minutes he tells me to give it a try.
So I start taking a few strokes and it feels pretty good but each stroke causes me to get off balance and you can really feel how all of your control in in your legs. I would think this boat might not be great for someone with bad knees. Anyway - I paddled in circles off the end of the dock first to the right, then to the left. He told me NOT to lean into the turns, I was leaning all over as I paddled but not on purpose.
After a few circles he tells me to try figure 8's. and I started feeling a lot more secure. Then without even trying I noticed I was leaning into the turns and carving them out a bit. not much but it was a controlled lean for me in the one direction of the turn. I forgot how many 8's I did when Yoav tells me to go over to the other side of the river - take it easy turn and come back. I left the relative safety of the end of the boat ramp dock and proceeded to cross the Charles. IT was easy to take long strokes by pulling in the top of this long paddle and using my lower arm to guide with. The W behaved quite well in the wind and current.
By now it was really raining and I felt bad for him standing on the dock giving me all this guidance. I did not really care that it was raining - I was really having fun now. But since it was going to be a long ride home I figured it was time to wrap up and get on the road. I beached the W just as easy as he did and stepped out on to dray land, well relatively dry seeing it was really raining hard now but I did not step in to the river as I exited. I did not try to stand up during this trial run. All told, I was on the water for 18 minutes.
The base model weighs about 50 pounds and he estimates another 3 lbs for the extra flotation foam they add. Not too heavy and he hoisted up on the roof of his blazer with no problem. It sat on the roof rack upside down that was covered with foam. I asked about how the plastic would fair in the heat and he indicated that it will soften to some degree and care should be taken not to leave it out on the roof of a dark colored vehicle in the sun too long. But other than that there would be no problem.
Bottom line is that this is a very stable craft that does have a learning curve not unlike that of learning to ride a bike. But he assures me once I get a few hours under my belt that standing will come easily. It was very comfortable once I got over the initial tension in my legs. There is a lot of room in the hulls for storage and it can be outfitted with 2, 4 or 6 rod holders.
I am seriously considering getting 2 of these to be able to go out not only fishing but with my kids as well. Now if I can only convince "the boss!"
Take a look a the website and see what other people have done to set them up to fish - depth finders, trolling motors, storage, anchors etc. Any questions give Yoav a call or an e-mail, he is a very friendly guy.