Kayak motors can be HEAPS of fun! If you’ve ever wondered about getting one on your yak, read on!
Let’s get straight to the point and tell you what you need to know.
What do I need to do?
Whether you have a plastic sit-on kayak, or a fiberglass sit-in kayak, it’s not that hard to attach a motor. You need a bracket, a battery, and, of course, a motor. Of course if you don’t have a kayak yet, you need to get one! Try these guys for great deals on an awesome range of fishing and recreational kayaks.
Bracket: If you’re lucky your kayak will have a custom groove and your kayak shop will be able to sell you a custom bracket, like these guys do. If not the very easiest and cheapest way is to get a 5mm thick aluminium length with an L-profile (called ‘angles’) like this, and bolt it on behind your seat. Cut it so it hangs over the edge of the kayak about 20cm on whichever side you want the motor. The motor will attach on the side of the overhang. Some people like them on the side of their best hand, others like them on the opposite side, so their best hand is free to wield its magic on the rod! Drill holes in it for the bolts or tap screws that connect it to the kayak. The transom-mount motor will grip onto the aluminium angle, or you can improve the grip by resting a small block of 1 by 2 inch pine in the L-shape angle for the transom mount to grip onto. If you prefer to get someone else to make it, you can either take your yak to your local metal fabricator or find a friend with a welder and some skills. In any case use aluminium. It’s cheap and it lasts even in salt water.
If you want the bracket to be detachable, you can either buy a kayak with ready-built inserts to bolt into, like this one, or you might like to look into threaded inserts like this. Ask your local metal fabricator if she can put two or four into your yak for you. They are awesome but very hard to find people to do them outside of major cities.
Battery: You want to get a deep cycle gel battery like this one. The key thing here is weight. If the load capacity of your kayak is heaps bigger than your own body weight, then you generally have more freedom to choose a big battery, but if you are getting close to your kayak’s load capacity you have less room to play with, and you will have to get a smaller battery. Personally I don’t like to haul around a 25kg battery so a 30Ah battery does me fine. They weigh around 11kg. Of course it all depends on what you are using your motor for. If you just want an hour or two of motor time up your sleeve, 30Ah will be fine, but if you plan to hoon around for hours on end you might need a car battery (80-140Ah). They’re ridiculously heavy, but if that’s what you want, just get a kayak with a big load capacity. The Dream Catcher 4 is a 3m kayak with a 160kg load capacity. Check it out here. Leaves plenty of room for big batteries!
Motor: Make sure it’s a saltwater motor if you ever plan to, well…, take it in saltwater! If you’re on a budget go for a Watersnake like this. If you’ve been saving up for this go for a Minn Kota Endura like this. It’s got to be a short-shaft motor, or it will give you endless head-aches. 24-lb thrust is my favourite but you can go up to 34 or more if you really want to. I weigh 100kg and I find a 24-lb thrust motor pushes me along about as fast as my fastest paddle on a 22kg fishing kayak. I don’t want to go any faster than this, for fear of landing myself and all my gear in the slosh.