A New Look At Motorized Fishing Kayaks and Portable Boats

Elderly fishermen welcomed the kayak fishing trend that became popular about a decade ago, mainly because they felt jaded with having to deal with big motorboats and cumbersome canoes, and they welcomed the promise for physical exercise that came with paddling kayaks.

Nowadays, many senior anglers perceive the reality beyond the hype, and they are not as enthusiastic about kayak fishing as before. The reasons for this are primarily ergonomic, namely the discomfort and fatigue associated with staying seated in a kayak for long hours, and the risk of developing sciatica and other back injuries as a result.

Pedal driven kayaks have failed to provide solace to senior anglers, and in fact they proved to be harsher on the operator’s back and legs than regular, paddle propelled kayaks.

Electric trolling motors proved to be a good solution for ponds, small lakes and slow moving rivers, as far as shorter fishing trips are concerned. Whether trough assisted paddling or as an alternative to paddling, electric motors have become quite popular with older anglers who can tolerate being seated in the L position, or similar uncomfortable postures.

Wavewalk is a manufacturer of patented kayaks that solved the back pain problem in this field, as well as a host of other physical problems that plague kayaking and kayak fishing. Wavewalk also solved the motorizing conundrum, namely the insufficiency of electric trolling motors as means of propulsion for long fishing trips and for traveling in fast currents and in choppy water – something that only outboard motors can do.

Wavewalk offers three products lines of different sizes, all of which can be easily and effectively paddled and motorized with either electric motors or outboard gas motors.

The Wavewalk 500 is a lightweight (60 lbs) super stable and back pain free twin-hull (catamaran) kayak that anyone can car-top, launch paddle and beach anywhere, including people in the late seventies and even early eighties, as well as people with serious disabilities.

The Wavewalk 700 series is a lightweight (80 lbs), super stable and back pain free twin-hull tandem kayak and portable skiff. Anyone can car top a W700 on their own, as well as carry it and launch it. It can take powerful portable outboard motors, and it’s fun to drive, even in choppy water.

 


 
The same skiff serves as a fishing kayak in places that can be accessed only by the smallest and most nimble paddle craft:

 

 

Wavewalk is now offering a third line of small craft named Series 4 (S4). This portable (car-top) skiff can take on board two big and heavy anglers, a strong outboard motor, and plenty of fishing gear. It can also serve as a paddle craft (canoe, tandem kayak) when its crew needs to go in extremely shallow water, or in no-motor zones (NMZ). Being more stable than bigger boats makes it an ideal solution for elderly anglers who fish in a variety of waters, and do it either solo or together with a fishing buddy.
 

How Does Pedaling a Fishing Kayak Affect Your Back, Legs, Feet, etc.

This article first appeared on the PAINLESS KAYAK FISHING blog.

A new, recently published article offers a remarkable insight on pedal driven fishing kayaks.It discusses practically every issue related to pedal drives, from every angle, including Ergonomics, Mechanics, Hydrodynamics and Real Life Performance.
This blog is interested in the ergonomic and bio-mechanical aspects of kayak fishing, and here are the findings on these subjects (quote):

Pedaling Kayaks’ Ergonomics – How Does It Feel To Operate a Pedal Driven Kayak?
The first and main argument in favor of pedaling kayaks instead of paddling them, is that our legs are far more powerful than our arms are, and therefore it makes more sense to use our legs for difficult tasks such as propulsion, rather than using our arms.
While being generally true, this argument is not necessarily applicable to the propulsion of kayaks. This is because although our legs have the biggest and most powerful muscles in our body, and are best fit for hard, long lasting efforts, using them for propelling any vehicle must be done under certain conditions, which are dictated by our own built, and ability to endure certain types of effort –
Limbs that have bigger muscles are comparable to engines with bigger cylinders – They can burn more fuel, and thus generate more power. The legs of a kayaker pedaling their pedal driven kayak generate considerable force, and this force is transmitted from their body to their kayak through three points:
1. The kayaker’s two feet, which the kayaker’s legs push forward, against the pedals, and –
2. The kayaker’s lumbar spine and lower back, that the legs push backward, compressing them against the backrest of the kayak’s seat, so as to provide support for the legs’ pushing effort in the opposite direction.
The force each leg applies on a pedal when pushing it is equal to the force the leg applies on the kayaker’s lower back. With two legs pushing two pedals, the force the kayaker’s legs apply the the kayaker’s lumbar spine is double the force needed to move each pedal, and here lies a big ergonomic problem.
Pedaling in the L position (recumbent) is essentially different from pedaling in the upright position (e.g. biking). The difference being that in biking, our legs push against our own body weight, and its that weight which supports the legs’ downward push against the pedals, and allows them to move. Recumbent bicycles have been known to exist since the 19th century, but upright (riding) bicycles outnumber them at a ratio of more than a thousand to one, simply because recumbent bikes are harder to use, meaning that they present serious ergonomic issues that upright bikes don’t.
Pedaling common kayaks is done in the L position, which is similar to the recumbent position. The L position is kayaks is known to cause a variety of back problems starting from premature fatigue, acute pain known as yak-back, and other problems including one known as yak-ass, circulation problems in the legs. In extreme cases it may even lead to a painful, chronic condition called sciatica, caused by the vertebrae in our spine compressing the sciatic nerve, which is the largest group of nerves in our body.
These problems are accentuated by the fact that the driver of a pedal propelled kayak cannot switch positions. This means that the above mentioned symptoms tend to occur shortly after the kayaker starts pedaling, and their severity can increase rapidly.
That is to say that if paddling a kayak in the L position is highly problematic from an ergonomic standpoint, pedaling a kayak in that position is notably worse.

Faux Comfort in Fishing Kayaks

This article first appeared on the PAINLESS KAYAK FISHING blog.

Whether you’re paddling or pedaling a kayak, any combination of footrests with a backrest would eventually cause you discomfort of some kind since you’re sitting in the infamous L position, and eventually that could lead to a condition called ‘yakback’ or yak-back, with different variations including leg pain, leg numbness, butt pain (a.k.a. ‘yakass’) and so on.
Whether you paddle or pedal your kayak, or fish from it, the constant pressure your legs exert on your lumbar spine is an unhealthy thing that should be avoided.
But it can’t be avoided in any kayak that’s either a sit-in or sit-on-top kayak, so what do manufacturers of such kayaks do? – They can’t ignore the problem, obviously, since doing could hurt their sales. So they advertise their faulty products as being comfortable, ergonomic etc., and they assume that even if you took one of those kayaks for a 15-20 minute test ride, you’d be unlikely to notice the problem, as it usually takes longer than that for the passenger to start perceiving it.

They’ll advertise faux-features such as ‘new ergonomic design’, ‘improved lumbar support’ and any other combination of words that could convey a false sense of comfort, and get people to believe their problem is solved.
Some kayak manufacturers would even go further, and tell the world that their kayak is as comfortable as a real fishing boat, hoping that maybe some people would fall for this illusion of comfort.
But since kayaking and kayak fishing trips take longer than average test rides, sooner or later you’re likely to find that faux-comfort is not real comfort, and you’re having ergonomic problems, as you feared you would. In such cases you’ll probably end giving up kayak fishing, as many have done before, and for similar reasons, or switch to a W kayak, as a growing number of kayak anglers do.