There are some people who refer to tandem (two person) kayaks as “divorce boats”. Mainly because of the arguments that can occur when the front paddler and the rear paddler aren’t in sync as to their destination, direction or paddling stroke.
YES, It does take a bit of cooperation to paddle a kayak with someone else. But, personally, I think that most of us can get the hang of it without starting a war! My wife and I enjoy our two seater and there’s no reason you shouldn’t enjoy yours, too. (Read more .. below the two videos).
The most important thing about paddling a tandem kayak is the synchronization of paddling strokes. If you are both paddling in unison, you’ll go faster and straighter. Two paddlers also reduce the work load so you can paddle for a longer time without getting fatigued. I also think that it’s more fun to have someone to talk to while enjoying the scenery.
Here are two videos that point out and demonstrate some of the useful techniques and the pitfalls of tandem paddling. Look them over before you try tandem paddling and you’ll avoid any of the problems that resulted in that “divorce boat” misnomer.
Tandem Kayaks Can Be More Fun
Despite the tandem kayak / divorce boat reputation, I enjoy kayaking with my wife in our two person inflatable kayak. Except for the few times when we get off ‘rhythm’ and our paddles hit together or when one of us is trying to veer right and the other is trying to veer left, it’s always a positive experience.
The best part of paddling together in one kayak is being able to talk in a normal voice and communicate where we want to go next without having to paddle an individual/solo kayak near enough so as not to have to yell. It’s also great being able to point out the things each of us notice, sharing and experiencing the natural wonders. As we all know, sometimes those memorable glimpses of wildlife can last only a few seconds.
Speaking of nature, my wife is a photo “nut” and I’m sure she likes being able to have me steer us into position while she concentrates on framing the perfect shot of a Blue Heron perched on a log or a scenic reflection of our surroundings in a cool clear lake.
Paddling a tandem kayak is also great when we use our WindPaddle portable sail. Even though the WindPaddle can easily be used by one person while paddling, we prefer to have her operate the sail while I use the paddle as a rudder and make course corrections.
As tandem kayaks go, we probably would like a little more leg room, since our Sea Eagle 370 inflatable kayak is only 12 and a half feet long and I have to cross my legs a bit while paddling. Maybe someday we’ll upgrade to a roomier kayak. There’s several on the market up to 16 feet long, but for now we’re quite satisfied with the one we have.
If you haven’t tried a tandem, you should give it a shot sometime. Every time we go out for a paddle in our tandem kayak we always have a great time. And though I can’t speak for my wife on this, somehow the experience makes the bond between us stronger. After all … we are still married!