The Electric Kayak Revolution is about to Begin E-mail
Thursday, 22 October 2009 18:24

The Electric Kayak Revolution is about to Begin

I really wanted to get deep into the Everglades Back Country. I knew to get to and from my planned destination was going to take a lot of physical effort in combination with properly utilizing the tides. I checked the tide tables and set the date aside. When the day arrived, the weather was good, so I left the marina at 8AM and made my way to the Turner River. Once there the incoming tide was going to be my ally into the deepest parts of Hell’s Half Acre. I was hoping to make a big circuit as there was a creek that linked the area. If I could find and make it through I wouldn’t have to cover about half of the terrain twice and I’d cut about 5 miles off the trip. It took quite some time to get to where I finally found fish. It was way up the creek after a series of lakes. I found large snook and baby tarpon. Unfortunately I could only stay an hour or so as I had to catch the tide back home. That’s because the creek was impenetrable even though I was less than a mile from Hell’s Half Acre Lake. So I had to retrace my path and repeat over 6 miles of my sojourn. I returned to the marina at 7PM, just a bit in front of sunset. I never did repeat that trip.

It’s excursions like this that have me thinking about adding an electrified kayak (EK) to my fleet. There are a lot of applications I can think of where a motorized kayak will allow me to fish places that challenge or exceed my physical abilities. In around the NY Metro area there are some spots that have excellent fishing but there are strong currents to contend with. A motor mitigates these obstacles. It also increases one’s range. Oftentimes launch points aren’t close enough to prime fishing areas. Again a motor diminishes range. There are still limitations, obviously, but cruising in excess of 5 mph will allow you to cover some territory. Chasing blitzing albacore is another place I see an EK as a great asset.

Native multi propel

Fishermen have been attaching electric trolling motors to kayaks for a while now. Viking kayaks over in Australia have been selling a complete unit for years. As I type this, the only major company offering a system is Legacy Paddlesports. They have their Native Volt. The motor drops into the center slot of their pedal kayak. I’ve seen all sorts of setups. The simplest utilize a board or mount for attaching a motor. Cobra has had a motor mount for the Fish in Dive for as long as I can remember. Malibu also offers one. These are the simplest way of adding a motor. On the opposite end of the spectrum are integrated custom installations. The motor is heavily modified and integrated with the kayak. Essentially it is used for its parts and retrofitted to the kayak. The end result is an electric kayak. The best designs harvest the prop and shaft to replace the rudder. Regular rudder controls are used to steer, raise and lower the propeller. The control is removed from the top of the motor head and mounted somewhere convenient in the cockpit of the kayak. Add a battery and you have a serious fishing machine.

Does this picture really need an explanation?

This is going to be big. The market is potentially is huge. There are essentially going to be two groups of fishermen who are going to be interested. There will be those folks like myself who will look upon these kayaks as another tool in the repertoire. I still like the exercise I get from kayaking but I’m in this to catch fish. An EK simply expands my fishing and fills a gap. There are going to be a lot of people like me. Then there’s the person who isn’t interested in the healthy exercise a kayak provides. They’re going to look upon an EK as a small electric boat with a twist. The twist being the environments the kayak is capable of reaching. A kayak is so much more versatile than a small boat with an electric motor. It can safely fish some very diverse water. A kayak will allow you to easily fish the open ocean or a local creek or river. There’s very little in the way of limitations and the cost is very reasonable. You can have a fully rigged EK with rod holders and electronics for less than $2,000.

Bassyaks conversion on a SIK

As to your power choice it depends on the space and weight capacity available within the kayak. A motor will turn an inefficient, hard to paddle kayak, into a fishing machine. Attributes that make it harder to human power a kayak are irrelevant to a motor. Sure a sleek efficient hull is going to be a bit more economical in battery usage and top speed, but you can always put in a bigger battery. The kayaks I’ve affectionately called barges make great platforms for electrifying. They tend to have more room and greater carrying capacity. So putting a larger battery in a barge isn’t much of an issue. That’s the route I originally looked at because I own a monster deep cycle battery. I have an Odyssey 2150 in my camper. It doesn’t get a lot of use presently but when I bought it I wanted a battery with a lot of capacity and one that would hold a full charge for long periods of time. Odysseys are what the military uses because they’re tough. The military needs to have a vehicle sit unused for years and when needed it’ll fire right up. That’s why I bought it. It’s 100 AH, which will allow me to run full throttle for several hours. This is terrific but the downside is the battery weighs a hefty 78.9 pounds! That’s a lot of weight to throw in a kayak. There are only a few models that are going to handle this. I weigh 200 pounds, figure 80 for the battery and we’re already up to 280 without gear. So only a barge is going to do.

From what I can tell there are two conversion systems available. There’s a company out of Germany offering a kit called the Torqueedo. It’s a state of the art system designed specifically for kayaks. Everything including the battery weighs a meager 15 pounds! The weight savings is due to a state of the art lithium- manganese battery. However this technology comes with a MSRP of $1799. That doesn’t include the kayak but it’s so light. I would imagine the battery is a major part of the cost but it eliminates the achilles heel of EKs - battery power to weight. I’ve only seen the unit in magazine ads but it sounds interesting and I hope to get a hold of a unit to spend some time with. For the same money you can get a fully rigged conventional electric kayak from an interesting company called BassYaks. Steve Komarinetz is the Dr. Frankenstein of the operation. He is doing some terrific installations in quite an array of kayaks. He also sells complete kits for the do it yourselfer. So you’ve got a few options when it comes to motorizing a kayak from BassYaks. Buy a fully motorized kayak; have your kayak done by them or purchase a kit and install it yourself. Whichever way you go you can have a motorized kayak. Joey has a Malibu X-13 and I just had BassYaks set up an OK Trident 13. The reason I chose the Trident is because OK is going to release a fully integrated kayak called the Torque in July. It has a motor that will drop in the tank well and utilize the rudder system of the kayak for steering. It’s going to be 33#s of thrust with a variable speed control. The Torque is basically a modified Trident 13 so that’s why I chose it for my BassYak. Steve set up my Trident with the same thrust and the variable speed. Speaking of Steve he’s real busy but I managed to get him on the phone for some questions.

 

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