Tag Archives: paddling with disabilities

The kayak for tall and heavy (“big”) people

When kayaks are concerned, tall people are more challenged than short and average height people, and so are heavy people. Tall and heavy people, a.k.a. “big” are particularly challenged, especially if they are elderly too.

What’s the problem?

Tall people-

Being tall means that your center of gravity (CG) is higher than that of a shorter person. This is especially true for men, whose center of gravity is higher than that of women.  A high center of gravity can be a serious problem if you’re using a narrow and tippy kayak, and it can be a mere source of constant concern when you’re using a wider and stabler kayak. Being tall means that you won’t be able to paddle standing in most fishing kayaks out there, and you won’t be able to fish standing either. This is too bad, since paddling standing if fun, and it works better for sight fishing. As for fishing standing, it is a basic right of anyone who fishes from a boat, and a good fishing kayak should offer it to anyone – no ifs and buts.

Another problem that tall people experience when paddling common (sit-in and SOT) kayaks and fishing from them is discomfort, beacuse their legs are longer, and therefore their feet, which serve as forward points of contact with the kayak itself, have less leverage on the boat, due the longer distance from the person’s core and torso, where balancing takes place. In other words, a tall kayaker’s legs are required to work harder to maintain the seated posture, and to balance both the kayaker and their kayak. This continuous effort is unpleasant and often results in discomfort, back pain, and fatigue.

Heavy people –

Heavy people who sit in a regular kayak, be it a sit-in or a sit-on-top (SOT), experience discomfort from several factors: The first is the fact that when their legs are stretched forward, in front of them, their abdomen is compressed between their torso and their lap. This pressure is both unnatural and uncomfortable.

The second factor is their upper body that weighs on their buttocks and coccyx without their legs supporting any of this weight, as they otherwise would when the person is seated on a chair, or a bench. This problem occurs because the heavy kayaker’s legs are stretched in front of them, in the L posture that as become the hallmark of kayaking discomfort.

A compressed abdomen makes it harder to breath, and with a compressed behind and lower spine come an exacerbation of the typical kayaking back pain symptoms.

And let’s not forget that if a person is really heavy, they might be challenged when it comes to balancing their kayak.

Tall and heavy, i.e. “Big” people –

People who are big, that is both tall and heavy, aren’t that rare in the general U.S. population, but you’d hardly find them in kayaks, because kayaking and kayak fishing are too much of a challenge for them.  An additional hardship that such people experience with kayaks is getting into the kayak and out of it. This is especially true with traditional sit-in designs, but it’s also true for SOT kayaks.

The old age factor

The above said is particularly problematic for tall, heavy and big people who are elderly. Being older often means that one’s sense of balance could be impaired, and older people are usually less supple and agile than younger folks are. On top of this, many elderly people suffer from various conditions involving back pain, joint pain, arthritis, and various disabilities and sensitivities that further prevent them from using regular kayaks, especially for fishing, which typically requires staying in the kayak for longer periods of time.

The kayak for tall, heavy, big and elderly people

Wavewalk’s new 700 series solves all the above problems. Kayaks from this series can easily accommodate very tall people, who comfortably ride the kayak’s 15″ high saddle, without being forced into the L posture. These people can stretch their legs anytime they feel like, stand up easily, as well as paddle and fish standing up. Going back to the seated position is not a problem either – It’s done intuitively and effortlessly.

There is no kayak out there that’s more stable than the W700, not even the world’s most stable kayak until today, the W500.
The W700 is so stable that a 200 lbs, 6′ tall middle-aged guy can stand with both feet in one of its hulls, and paddle on both sides of the kayak, as shown in this video:

But this absolute stability isn’t the only advantage that big and tall users get from this kayak: Both getting into the cockpit and out of it is a breeze, even for this 300 lbs, 6’3″ tall, 65 year old fisherman, who simply walks into this kayak, and immediately starts paddling standing in it:

Read the review contributed by this big and tall kayak angler »

More information about the kayak for big, tall and elderly people »

Kayak Design: The Difference Between Addressing a Problem, or Tackling It, and Solving It

Design isn’t just about aesthetics. It’s first and foremost about solving problems.
Yes, this is not a mistake – I wrote SOLVING problems, and not addressing problems, or ‘tackling’ problems, which are expressions that are commonly found in marketing hype for all kayak types, including fishing kayaks.

And that makes a fundamental difference, because when you tackle, or address a problem, it’s still there after you’re done – You may have created a design that emphasizes stability a little more, but its users will have to pay a price in reduced speed and worse tracking, and still not paddle a kayak that’s sufficiently stable…
But when you solve a problem, it’s gone: It’s no more a problem.
Similarly, you may ‘tackle’ the problem of kayak back pain (a.k.a. ‘Yak Back’), or ‘address’ this problem by various means ranging from stuffing more foam in the kayak’s seat, or gel, or replacing the stuffed seat by a beach seat, or stadium seat adapted to kayaks, and yet, the problem of poor ergonomics will still be there, and this is bound to make the kayaker’s life miserable.

These examples illustrate the issue called the ‘envelope’ of a boat concept. In this case, it’s the broad boat concept called ‘mono-hull kayak’, or ‘single hull kayak’, and the families of solutions found within its envelope are generally described as Sit-In Kayak (SIK), Sit-On-Top Kayak, and Hybrid Kayak.

Being an extreme concept by nature (small size, narrow beam for paddling, light weight for carrying, etc.) this concept is most restrictive, which is why the serious problems it presents can be addressed and tackled, but no solved.

Does it mean such major cannot be solved? Not necessarily, but in order to solve them, the designer has to work within another paradigm, or boat concept, and explore a range of solutions available within its envelope. In the case of kayaks, such alternative concept exists, and it is known as W Kayak.
If you’re interested to know more more about how the major problems of fishing kayaks got solved, and not just addressed, or tackled, learn about W Fishing Kayaks >>

Designing Better Fishing Kayaks

We see a lot in common between small boats and beach cats, canoes, kayaks and other personal water crafts and toys including jet skis, surf boards and sailing boards. It is not just their small size, but also the fact that their passengers’ physical attributes (E.G. size, athletic skills, disabilities, etc.) and behavior determine their performance.
We call this field of design ‘Micronautics’, which is part Naval Design but has much to do with Ergonomics, Bio Mechanics, and to some extent even with Behavioral Sciences.

To understand the difficulty that micronautical designers fac,e it’s enough to realize that while a supertanker can cross the Pacific Ocean on autopilot, there is no computerized system that can successfully control a kayak in the surf.

Traditional catamarans of all sizes are wider, stabler and faster than mono-hull boats of comparable size.  The W invention and concept is applicable to small, personal boats of various types and uses, and it offers to increase their stability without decreasing their speed or increasing their width.
In essence, the W invention offers increased stability by width, without paying a price in speed terms.

The W invention also offers to eliminate back pain, leg pain, leg numbness and all other unwanted sensations and injuries related to the L position that’s typical to all kayaks belonging to the sit-in, sit-on-top, and hybrid (hybrid canoe-kayak) types.

There are far more possibilities offered by the W boat concept than shown in this website. Some of these possibilities are presented on the W fishing kayaks website

The W technology is proprietary, and protected by U.S. utility patent number 6,871,608 ‘Twin Hull Personal Watercraft’, which the US Patent and Trademark Office website makes available online.