Sonar in a Kayak (Redux)

In 2012 I installed a transducer in my W500 using the excellent method suggested by John Fabina, of Brew City Kayaks, a Wavewalk dealer in Wisconsin.

The system has worked very well but I didn’t like the way it looked.

The materials are very simple; some plastic foam (I used a slice of a large pool noodle), a section from a plastic food container and the ever-reliable duct seal. Note that you must use duct seal and not plumber’s putty.

For an even nicer look I will probably replace the ring from the yoghurt container with something like a slice of PVC pipe. The ring is the perfect moat to hold the 2 tablespoons of water needed to “see” through the hull.

The pictures tell the story.

Transducer Mount Redux433 Transducer Mount Redux434 Transducer Mount Redux435 Transducer Mount Redux436 Transducer Mount Redux437 Transducer Mount Redux438 Transducer Mount Redux439 Transducer Mount Redux440 Transducer Mount Redux441 Transducer Mount Redux442 Transducer Mount Redux443 Transducer Mount Redux444 Transducer Mount Redux445

 

Use Your Noodle(s)

Among the Wavewalk modifications I considered over this extended Northeast winter was an alternative way to install floatation in my W500 kayak. This article explains a new approach that I think many of you may want to implement.

Foam “pool noodles” have proven themselves to be a very good solution in many ways. They are extremely buoyant, virtually rot-proof and highly flexible. And available in a wide variety of colors! Attaching 2 is standard on all W500s and more can be added as an option, either by a dealer, factory direct or by Wavewalk owners themselves.

Installation is typically done in one of two ways, both using bungee cord threaded through the center of the noodle. First is to attach them on the outside of the kayak running along the and just below the gunnel. The other approach is to bungee them to the “ceiling” of the kayak’s underside which is, in fact, the underside of the saddle. This is the method I have used (with 4 noodles) until now.

It is important to remember that the purpose of the floatation is to aid in recovery of a swamped boat and not to increase the load-capacity. As a result, where they are attached is a matter of personal preference, as long as the connections are secure.

As you can see in the pictures, this new approach is remarkably simple. Each noodle is positioned inside the kayak, under the gunnel. The noodles are barely wider than the flared edge of the gunnel so they protrude into the passenger compartment by only about 1/2 inch. 4 noodles (2 per side) will fit easily as the hulls are over 11 feet long and the noodles are each about 5 feet. Fixing them in to the kayak is even easier than the traditional way. For each noodle you simply make 2 holes along the gunnel, each hole just wide enough to accommodate the zip-ties.

The noodles will droop slightly at the unsupported ends which extend into the hulls, but really has no negative effect other than cosmetic. If you want the noodles to stay straight and tight to the top of the hull, just insert a narrow wooden dowel into the noodle prior to installation.

If you want even more floatation you can take 4 additional noodles, cut each into 3 pieces and bundle them together with waterproof twine. Then you extend the dowel so it is halfway in the zip-tied noodle and halfway inside one piece of your noodle bundle. No additional attachment points are needed.

Top view of noodle installation
Top view of noodle installation

 

Side view
Side view
Detail of noodle extended into hull with slight droop
Detail of noodle extended into hull with slight droop. Note that it fits even with flush-mount rod holders (and saddle brackets)
"Bundled" noodle attached, supported by a dowel and hidden in hull
“Bundled” noodle attached, supported by a dowel and hidden in hull. Dark object is connector for Motor Mount.

 

Previous installation of 4 noodles underneath and between the hulls.
Previous installation of 4 noodles underneath and between the hulls.

I believe this approach offers a number of benefits:

  • The noodles are out of the way and almost invisible (a slight exaggeration).
  • They are completely protected from water damage as they are shielded from the rain and in the case of under-saddle installation, from splashing.
  • Any water that may reach them will quickly drip away.
  • They are protected from the wind and rain during transport so there is no stress on the mounting system.
  • Wind resistance while car-topping is reduced because they are inside the kayak.
  • Up to 8 noodles can be installed with almost no impact on internal storage.
  • You now have a comfortable, cushioned handhold whenever you grab the gunnel to lift, load, unload or move the boat.

I was concerned that they might interfere with draining the W500 but, it is not an issue. When the boat is flipped over to empty any water that may have gotten in (rain has been the only time for me) the noodles leave the gunnel channels unobstructed so the water can flow to the 3 drainage holes at each end of the kayak.

Please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.