bow wave

Is that a sign of good thing? Bad thing? Or a sign of nothing important?

The reason I ask is I tested paddled a few boats back to back and notice one throw up noticably more bow waves than the others.

All of them have “similar” (though not identical) bow shape. The one had the most bow wave is the narrowest of them all.

So, just curious…

my boat gives off a bit of a meow wave…

I am just guessing, but I would think…
the more wake that it is putting up from the bow, the more the boat is plowing which would translate to going slower.

Back a few years ago we demoed a West Side Boat shop’s Bullitt, and Doug the owner came along in one of his newest and fastest racing kayaks.(don’t recall it’s name)

We were going at 6.5 and 7 MPH, and he was beside us looking like he was lilly dipping, and he told us to take a look at his bow. There was absolutely no bow wake what at all.



Bow wake
Two boats with the same bow shape can vary in bow wake due to rocker. A straight shape will glide through the water smoother than a curved one.

Generally a bow wake is the enemy of efficiency but there are some nice hulls in kayaking that are friendly that throw a little additional bow wake.

If you’re a racing type of paddler, you will tend to favor the boats with very little bow wake whereas, a lot of high rockered play boats are forced to produce a pretty good bow wake if they are pushed. That trade is worth it to many paddlers.

I was paddling the Avocet and Avocet LV. The LV throw out a significant bow wake compare to the regular.

I’m supposed to be in the middle of the weight range for the LV and near the bottom end of the Avocet regular.

So naturally, I sat lower in water in the LV. They’re supposed to be the same hull “shape”. In reality, the Avocet is narrower so I would imagine it’s NOT identical hull. (I would have expect the LV to have LESS bow wake inbstead of more)

I actually like the way the LV FEEL. I’m supposed to be perfect weight for it. But the bow wave is alarming.

I’m not a strong paddler by any measure.

check speeds
In the end, both boats would displace basically the same water, but the LV may cause you to be a bit lower in the water. Depending on which method is more efficient for your weight says which is better for you (speed wise). The solution may be to bring a GPS and see if you can compare speeds (cruising speed, may speed, etc. - trying to recreate effort levels) and see if one is faster.

So, you’re thinkin’ it was
a bow wow wave???

The boats I have seen produce
noticeable bow waves were the ones I was too heavy for.

Chatham 16
now that’s a bow wave

speed test

– Last Updated: Jul-14-09 12:59 PM EST –

No GPS. But I did a round trip "course compare", of ~10 min worth of steady paddling. The speed difference turned out to be relatively insignificant. a.k.a. within 10%, according to my "watch mathod" of rough measurement.

I actually feel the LV is easier to get up speed and easier to control. Though it's possible it doesn't glide as well, judging from the bow wave...

Since I'm really at the bottom end of the "optimal weight range" for the Avocet regular, it's understandable there's little bow wave at all. So it's hard for me to tell if the amount of bow wave in the LV is really jsut "normal"?

Bow wow wave
only if your kayak’s a dog…

chatham wake
Really? How does that wake compare to a Chatham 17? That’s what I paddle and I realize I’m putting out more of a wave than other sea kayaks next to me…

More wave, more water
The more wave the more water you are displacing over a set time.

A racing boat will enter the water quickly and move the water as little distance and as slowly as possible at working speed.

This boat displaces the same amount of water but only moves it say 10 inches to the side and an inch or so down. The bow line enters the water quickly and the stern trails until there is no more boat.

The water is moved as little as possible.

It will create a wave but its ideal speed is much faster than say my NDK Explorer.

Turning it, balancing it and general comfort are toast but you have a fast boat.

Most of us paddle boats that we can go rock hopping with, turn to see seals and the like.

Racing and speed are only part of it, Weight is often dropped to keep as much of the boat out of the water as possible reducing displacement.

It’s all a game.

Fiona Stirling went to some bother to explain the dynamics a year or two ago on one of these groups.

She lost the theory, dumped the calculations and gave a simple explanation. I can’t find that now or I would put a link in here.

more tugboat like
with a curling bow wave, if you were a surfing gerbil it would be a great ride.

Well said alex
The funny thing to me with discussions like this is the “focus” on one variable, and not the whole picture. The comment about rough water sea play boats being like stretched WW kayaks is valid. A bow designed to work in BIG seas, surf, etc will have more volume, flare etc to aid it in these conditions.

Like someone else accurately said, there’s a reason we see “play” type boats exhibit more bow wake in flat water paddling…

What’s amusing are the folk who paddle boats inappropriate for their use, and criticize the “boat”.

Marketing also has culpability here, as they mis-represent product often.

For some on this site I suspect a boat designed for flatter to moderate seas and straight vector touring would be far more appropriate. A 230+ lb. guy in a CH 16 on flat seas is a recipe for frustration! I would never recommend that boat to anyone but a legit coastal rough water boater. In it’s designed element it is awesome, and that wake throwing bow makes sense and does it’s job admirably.

Another point is that touring kayaks can look similar but behave very differently.

Buy the right kayak for your needs and then “focus” on how well it performs against those overall!

Good day.

going off the tangent with the theory
While I was curious about the theory behind the bow wave, I had the “perfect” experiement:

Two boats of supposedly “same” hull SHAPE, intended for the same usage, only targeted for different paddler weight.

So, none of those “play boat vs racing boat” arguement need to apply.

More over, if the arguement holds that smaller bow wave == faster speed, it would seem (in this case) to indicate getting into a higher volume boat would be faster as evident by the lack of bow wave!

And before people attack me as a “heavy” paddlers in “LV” boats. I’m still 20 lb shy of the “designed” ( or should I say “marketed”) weight range of the LV model!

NOT the same hull

– Last Updated: Jul-17-09 1:46 PM EST –

One is an inch narrower for the same length. So, not the same shape. I think the explanation you got about the LV riding deeper in the water applies to your case. And no, I'm not saying you are overweight for the boat or in general. Just that this boat will ride lower with you in it than the regular Avocet.

You still displace exatly the same amount of water in the two boats (assuming their weight is the same). So any difference in wake would be due to hull shape or a difference in your actual speed, since you had no GPS with a heart rate monitor to measure precisely your speed vs. effort.

That said, I have no idea which one is a better match for you...

My short sea kayak throws a significant bow wave at anything faster than 4.5 mph and by 6.5 it is climbing up a very steep one and can't go that fast or faster in it for more than a few seconds. However, that same boat is incredibly fast surfing down ovean surf - it planes easy due to flat hull and most of the bow is actually out of the water when it gets up to planning speed. And it makes no bow wave to speak of any more - just a jetski-like white foam trace "V" behind it; very fun to look back and watch...

thanks for the explanation
Sorry my tone was a bit harsh up there.

I wasn’t being “attacked” about my weight. It’s just a lot of the discussion didn’t really apply to the issue at hand. It’s a hull that mean for the same purpose.

You’re right, it’s not the same hull (I put the “same” in quote). And I know I sit lower in the LV. I’m actually less worried about which one is a better fit (I think it’s the LV) I’m just trying to understand what the effect of the bow wave. My intuitive reaction is it’ll make the boat slower. But it doesn’t seem to have any noticeable effect.

Entirely a curiosity thing…