Can You Tow WaterLily Behind a Canoe or Kayak?

June 21, 2019

One of the most common questions we get asked at WaterLily is: Can you tow it behind a boat? This week the team took to the water to do some testing to determine the best ways to do just that!

To assist with our testing we enlisted the help of T.A. Loeffler, a local outdoor educator and adventurer who recently embarked on a 3500km canoe trip in northern Canada, and who is planning an expedition to northern Labrador this summer. After checking our gear, we launched both canoes and kayaks to try a few different float ideas and to test the amount of power WaterLily could generate while being towed behind a human powered watercraft.

First, we used a 1L water bottle to float WaterLily. This worked fairly well, but there was a little bit of noticeable drag from the bottle. We also tried two 1L bottles and found that created much less drag and adequately floated the turbine. Last, we inflated the WaterLily dry bag accessory and used that to float the turbine. This provided the best results with the most flotation and least amount of drag. Each method allowed the turbine to be towed with ease, keeping it high in the water and allowing it to produce power.

Setting up the WaterLily to be towed was a breeze. Simply tie onto the flotation device at the base of the steel lanyard (see below) and secure the rope and charging cord to the boat. This will keep the WaterLily from sinking when you are stopped, but more importantly, the float being just off center will prevent the turbine from rotating in the water. Even with a couple of minor adjustments, the whole process was very quick, and we were on our way within a few minutes. Stopping and starting, turning and scraping on the bottom in shallow water were not issues at all.

The output from WaterLily while being towed, while less than the maximum, was still fairly good considering it was only moving at 1-3 mph. It was easily able to generate 1-2 Watts which would be quite noticeable when trickle charging a battery over the length of a day of paddling.

In conclusion, towing WaterLily behind a canoe or kayak IS a feasible way to keep your batteries and devices charged while on the go as long as you use adequate flotation. Then when you’re at camp for the night setup in a river and keep charging. Stay tuned for a WaterLily float accessory in the near future!

Copyright Seaformatics Systems Inc. 2021