Microskiff are neither fast nor seaworthy, or at least this was the common perception of these small skiffs, until now.
But Wavewalk’s S4 has recently begun to show that it can push the microskiff’s performance envelope in terms of speed and seaworthiness.
The S4 features a twin hull (full fledged catamaran hull) and a personal watercraft (PWC) saddle-seat, so it is constrained neither by the mono-hull form, which is inherently unstable, nor by the ergonomics of small skiffs’ seats that limit the users’ ability to balance themselves effectively.
The S4 also lighter than other microskiffs (98 lbs without a motor), and this is a good thing when speed is concerned.
The following two movies were shot in Key Largo, in southern Florida. They feature the Wavewalk S4 outfitted with a 9.8 HP Tohatsu outboard, which is a powerful motor for this class of small watercraft. Interestingly, the S4 is officially designated as a kayak, so the fact that it clocked 17 mph makes it the world’s fastest motor kayak.
Captain Larry Jarboe drives the S4 at 17 mph on flat water:
High speed in the ocean chop, seated and standing:
Solo skiff means a skiff for one person, and this definition does not fit the S4, which can accommodate up to three adults anglers and their gear, in the microskiff configuration, that is powered by an outboard motor, such as see here –
Photos courtesy of Mike Silva, Massachusetts
Pushing the microskiff boundaries
The Wavewalk S4 has pushed the microskiff boundaries in all directions –
It showed that a microskiff can be effectively paddled, and that the slogan “Forget about paddling” belongs in the dustbin of history. After all, when it comes to skinny water, paddling can be key, and even critically important, and the same is true for weedy water.
The S4 also proved that a microskiff can be easily car-topped by one person, and its users can be freed from having to transport it on a trailer and launch it only at boat ramps.
And now, the S4 has pushed the microskiff envelope again, by displaying top performance in rough water, waves, offshore, and on flat water.
In sum, these are good times for anglers who are looking for a lightweight, portable boat that would effectively replace both a fishing kayak and a skiff, Jon boat, and dinghy, for flats fishing as well as offshore fishing.
Is a portable boat better, and how do micro skiffs rank in portability?
A fishing trip begins at home, and it ends there. Avid anglers strive to spend as much time on the water, fishing, and as little time as possible driving to the water, launching their boat, and driving it to the spots where they like to fish.
Driving to a boat ramp and waiting in line to launch your boat after you already arrived there is a frustrating experience, and so is waiting in your boat for others to take their boats out.
This frustration over wasted precious time is the result of the dependence on trailers for boat transportation, and it explains some of the popularity of kayaks and car-top boats, both of which are trailer free.
You want to be able to launch your boat anywhere that’s close enough to where you want to fish, and get there in as little time and effort as possible.
Ironically, few microskiffs can be transported on a pickup truck bed, and fewer can be car-topped. In this sense, although the common microskiff can be trailer-free, it doesn’t necessarily rank high in portability.
Wavewalk’s new Series 4 (S4) is a 13 ft long, 38″ wide, high performance micro skiff based on the company’s patented technology.
One person can easily car-top the S4 on any vehicle, from sedan to SUV. Uploading the S4 on pickup truck bed is even easier.
Since the S4 weighs just 98 lbs without the motor, carrying it from the car to the water and back is easy as well, and unless you need to go over pavement, you can do it without wheels or a trolley, in many cases.
These facts make the S4 the world’s most portable micro skiff.
Solo skiff, or skiff with room for your fishing buddy, family members, etc.?
You may want to fish alone, sometimes, and you might be forced to do so in other times, if your fishing buddies are prevented from going with you. But a skiff that can carry only you on board, with no ability to take at least one additional passenger, is simply a bad idea.
Even motorcycles have a passenger seat…
The S4 can take from 1 to 3 adult passengers, depending on their size, and it can accommodate in full comfort 2 large-size anglers with all their fishing gear and camping equipment.
Forget about paddling?
Human powered propulsion, namely paddling or poling, is a most important capability that every skiff must offer, simply because skiffs are designed to be used in shallow water, as well as in water where vegetation abounds, and these are factors that limit the use of motors. In addition, many good fisheries are legally limited to non-motorized boats.
Most skiffs are too broad and heavy to offer paddling as a realistic option, which leaves their users with poling as the only human-powered option for human powered propulsion, and this is not a good thing, because poling is difficult, and a most ineffective mode of propulsion.
Flats fishing can be greatly affected by tides, and being able to paddle your boat as the water gets too shallow for motorizing at low tide adds to your mobility.
Therefore, you can’t “forget about paddling”, and no sensible angler would want to forget about it.
Wavewalk’s S4 offers full paddling capabilities to any crew ranging from 1 to 3 paddlers, seated or standing. Its shallow draft offers unrivaled mobility in skinny water, and the ability to launch and beach anywhere, including rocky beaches, and beaches with abundant vegetation and underwater obstacles.
A seaworthy skiff?
Like Jon boats, typical skiffs feature flat-bottomed hulls, and the smaller ones offer little free board. This combination is designed to work well on flat water, but as soon as the wind picks up and waves appear, many anglers who fish out of these boats return to base, and in extreme cases they seek nearby shelter. On top of this, passengers in these small boats are exposed to big wakes that fast powerboats generate. A wake hitting a Jon boat or a micro skiff while an unprepared passenger is standing in or on it could cause that person to lose balance and fall overboard, and in case the skiff is small enough, overturn it.
Jon boats and micro skiffs are sometimes required to cross bays and estuaries, and go in fast moving water, where both waves and wakes are present. Any boat that’s not stable enough, or doesn’t offer enough free board cannot travel in these waters.
The Wavewalk S4 introduces a higher level of stability and seaworthiness to the small skiffs. This is the result of the successful combination of several design factors, which are –
The S4 is true twin-hull (catamaran), and none of its buoyancy is wasted along its center line, where it would be useless in stability terms. Each of the boat’s two hulls can support the weight of a heavy guy standing in it.
The driver and passenger sit and stand at a low point in the boat, with their feet below waterline.
The S4 features a personal-watercraft (PWC / jet-ski) saddle seat that its passengers ride. The riding posture is the most stable of all sitting postures, and it allows the passengers to balance themselves more easily and effectively, in a way that’s fully intuitive. The same principle is applied in other high-performance vehicles such as ATVs and snowmobiles, and for riding horses.
High Performance, Convenience, and Extreme Versatility in Videos:
Wavewalk is adding a new line of 13′ portable microskiff to its product offering.
The new line is called Series 4 (S4), and it’s named so since it’s the company’s fourth major boat line release since 2004.
The S4 will start shipping in April 2017.
This computer generated animated video shows the S4 portable skiff with and without a spray shield, and in the three colors in which it will be offered: White, Mud Brown, and Light Gray:
The S4 features a stand up casting platform at the bow, and it will be even more stable than the 700 series.
You’d have to get a large-size Jon boat if you wanted to be more stable than what this patented 38″ wide twin-hull (catamaran) can offer you.
Still, due to the slanted sides of its 8′ long cockpit, this skiff will deliver a better paddling experience than what wide canoes and fishing kayaks may deliver, and this is good news for flats fishermen and other anglers who like to fish in skinny water.
At 98 lbs, the S4 is definitely a car-topper, and a fully portable boat, namely one that frees its owner from the need to transport and store it on a trailer, and launch at boat ramps…
The S4 will take a payload of up to 680 lbs, which means that it will take on board two big and heavy anglers and their fishing and camping gear, plus an outboard motor.