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Kayaking Fundamentals: Paddle a Tandem Kayak

The tandem or double kayak, whether a sit-on-top or sit-inside hardshell boat or an inflatable kayak, can be a great choice for your paddling adventures. The tandem offers some significant advantages over a single kayak. First of all, it lets two people get out on the water while enjoying time together.

Also, it lets you safely take someone out who has less skill or strength, or even someone who doesn’t want to paddle, who just wants to be a passenger. It’s a great vessel for introducing a new person to the great sport of kayaking. Here expert kayaking instructor Ken Whiting talks about the tandem advantage and gives great tips on how to make paddling the tandem easy and fun.

Recreational tandems tend to be wider, offering more stability for the beginner. Touring tandems can also be wider, and they’re also longer. A longer kayak tends to be more streamlined, so it will be faster through the water. A longer boat also tends to track straighter, plus many touring kayaks have rudders or skegs for improved tracking.

In addition to having more room for people, tandem boats give more storage for gear. And these boats make great multiday craft for a single paddler. All that additional room lets you pack the extra goodies that make for luxurious camping.

Place the more skilled and stronger paddler in the back. There they can better control the direction of the boat and coordinate their strokes with the person in front. It takes some time and patience for two paddlers to get synched for efficient travel; there’s a reason the tandem is sometimes called “the divorce boat.”

That patience pays off; two paddlers working together can go faster, with less effort, than a solo boater. When they coordinate strokes, they can turn the boat on a dime, much quicker that a solo paddler.