This article first appeared on the PAINLESS KAYAK FISHING blog.
I am 61, 280lbs, retired, 100% disabled, veteran Navy Officer. I have a very bad back resulting from damage done while I was on active duty. My back has 4 bad disks in the lower end, three bad disks in the neck, and pinched nerves going to my legs. Added to this I suffer from Fibromyalgia. My meds for the most part keep the pain at a semi-manageable level, but the hurt never goes completely away. If I can help some other Vet or civilian with frequent orthopedic pain be able to enjoy kayaking it’s good enough for me.
I think it is important to clarify why I am passionate about the WaveWalk W500 Kayak.
I used to be an accredited Canoe instructor, and have taught lots of Boy Scouts how to make a canoe go straight. For me a regular kayak makes “Pain Management” impossible. I have tried conventional kayaks and NONE OF THEM give me the freedom to stretch and move that I require in order to keep my back from cramping up and making fishing pure hell. The W500 was my last hope for a personal watercraft. If it weren’t for the W500, I couldn’t be a kayak owner – my back will not allow me to sit in a regular kayak for more than about 20 minutes.
The W500 allows me to move into positions that relieve the pain from where it is hurting the most and have it hurt somewhere else for a while. I found the ONLY KAYAK AVAILABLE that allows me complete freedom of movement – something none of SITS or SOTS can claim. I will match my W500 up against anything the SITS or SOTS have shown me, especially since I can use the W500 and I CAN’T use the others. It does bother some other yakkers though that I always have easy answers for the problems they are trying to solve…
I think that eventually I will manage to give HOPE to disabled people that Kayaking is not something beyond their capabilities.
Before I found the W500, kayaking was beyond my capability. You couldn’t have gotten me in a kayak for a days fishing on a bet. I would have passed on an all-expenses paid fishing trip with a guide who was fishing out of kayaks. I COULD NOT HAVE STOOD THE PAIN. Hurting just isn’t worth it.
In late January through early April the white bass will be running in the rivers near me. Kayakers have a field day getting into water that others can’t get to. I plan on showing the W500 off to many of those guys and will offer free rides. They will be bundled up in their waders and still be getting wet. I plan to entice them with a DRY RIDE.
I promote your product on the net for FUN. Its something I believe in and would like others who have the same problems as I do to have the freedom to participate in kayaking without hurting themselves more.
The biggest problem I have faced with my W500 is the comments from non-believers. Some of the things they say can be painful if you don’t have a thick hide. They make their comments UNTIL they get on the water with me. I then do things like reversing direction in the kayak and watch their faces. I also make a big deal about stretching and twisting, standing up to show that I am completely free to move as I desire.
I needed a stable kayak, that kept me dry (I mean 100% dry except for sweat) and after almost a year’s search finally decided that a WaveWalk W500 was the ticket. You are welcome to come to my home and try mine out on our neighborhood private lake. I offer this, because I had to buy mine sight unseen, untried, acting only on faith of others testimonials and several phone calls to a preacher in Corpus who owns one. The W500 is stable enough to not only stand in, but to paddle standing up. If you get wet in one its your own fault or because you decided to go wading. It has so much storage space that is so accessible that a crate isn’t needed. Unlike conventional kayaks I have a seat that is 6 feet long that I can sit anywhere on. I can stand, bend, twist, do anything I desire and stay in the kayak. Without doubt I feel I made the right choice, and I am however, a completely satisfied customer.
I read the Texas kayak fishing boards (texaskayakfishing.com and the kayak section of www.Texasfishingforum.com) and just laugh. “Regular” kayak owners complain about lack of stability, lack of storage space, wet butts and wet feet, etc. An owner of a W500 has NONE of these problems. Take launching for instance – in a regular kayak you wade out half the length of the kayak and then get in – WET already. In a W500 I walk down between the hulls for 2 1/2 feet and step into the cockpit pushing off with the last foot on dry land and have launched completely dry. Landing I do essentially the same. To land I merely slide back in the seat, thus raising the “bow” and paddle or push quite far up onto the beach. I then slide up to the front pinning the hull tips to the beach and walk out between the hull tips – DRY.
Don’t believe the hype you will hear from folks who have other kayaks, and criticize the W500, because they have no idea what they are talking about (99.9% of whom have never even seen a W500 much less paddled one) that the W500 won’t turn, is hard to paddle, won’t track. Phooey on them. I can turn a W500 literally in place using 2 methods they don’t have in their arsenal. IF I need to change direction immediately I just turn around in the kayak (don’t try this in a regular kayak) and paddle the opposite direction OR I slide to the back of the seat lifting the front tips and do a couple of back paddles on the same side of the W500 and pivot in place. Regular turning is no problem either. Anchoring is another problem solved in a W500. A regular kayak MUST have an anchor trolley to be able to keep the anchor in the proper position to keep the kayak from going broadside to waves. The anchor trolley moves the anchor from place to place. In a W500, I can move from the back to the front of the kayak and I can move the anchor with me. I do have an anchor trolley on my W500, but its for MY CONVENIENCE mostly with Drift Socks so I can move the socks in small increments to keep me in position on a drift Quickly so as not to interfere with my fishing.
The WaveWalk kayak will keep you completely dry (no scuppers for water to enter to soak your butt) both on using the kayak and upon getting in and out of the kayak. The W500 has more storage than I can effectively use (14 cubic feet). I use a crate, not because I have to, but because it allows me to have a convenient place to fly my 360 light and flag from, and a place to keep my anchor and drift sock where it is instantly available should I need it. I use an anchor trolley because it makes the adjustment of where an anchor is located, not because I have to. Unlike those who use a conventional kayak and are largely confined to one place, I have a 6 foot long cockpit seat that allows me free access to the kayak tips on both the bow and stern which are interchangeable since the kayak can be paddled equally well either direction as they are exactly the same. You talk about turning – I can turn on a dime by sliding back to the rear of the seat and giving a couple of back paddles and the W500 will swivel in place. I can reverse direction simply by turning around in the cockpit and paddling the other direction. I don’t need to add flotation as that comes standard in the kayak tips and no it does not use up some of my storage space. Can anyone who has a regular kayak even approximate these features?? The features are as they are, and I will be posting about the merits of the W500 because I believe for the big guy and more importantly for the person who has disabilities that the W500 is the best kayak going.
It is so much easier to throw a cast net when you don’t have to do it from the sitting L position, and it’s so much easier it is to get things from your crate and from the 14 cubic feet of storage in the hull tips, if you can turn completely around like in the cockpit of a W500.
I did a lot of research before I finally settled on the WaveWalk W500, and I am glad that I can continually point out the things that are HARD OR IMPOSSIBLE from a regular Kayak that are so easy from a WaveWalk. It is most important to me for DISABLED KAYAKERS to know about the only kayak that I can own and actually use. As I have said before, my legs and back will not let me sit in a regular kayak for more than about 30 minutes before I have to get out. The having to get out is true for both paddling or sitting one place fishing.
The other fun and easy stuff like having max storage space, having max stability, ability to throw cast nets, are just gravy, because if you can’t get comfortable in the kayak, then you won’t use it and the subject is moot. IF I had a fishing kayak with the pedal drive I could not use it, and would not use it, because my disabilities keep me from using it. That said, after having a WaveWalk W500, I would still not use a pedal drive kayak even if I could. There are just too many other advantages to the WaveWalk that I would want to take advantage of. Why would I use a kayak with reduced capability and comfort???”
Give me a call or better yet come and paddle my W500,
Gary Johnson, Texas