How to Tandem Paddle a Kayak

How to Tandem Paddle a Kayak
For those that enjoy kayaking but prefers to have someone else along, the tandem kayak is an excellent option. A tandem kayak seats two people, one in the front and one in the back. It is very easy to paddle a tandem kayak, and simply involves working rhythmically as a team. Although it is difficult to talk with the other person, as paddlers are facing the same direction, it is still a great way for two paddlers to enjoy a kayaking trip together.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Step 1
Decide who will be sitting where in the kayak. Two factors will help with your decision: size and experience. Typically, the smaller paddler should sit up front, as most tandem kayaks are unable to handle a large weight at the bow. In addition, paddlers should consider who has the most experience. The most experienced paddler will typically sit in the back, as that paddler will be the one steering the kayak.
Step 2
Launch your kayak. When launching your kayak, have the front paddler jump in first while the back paddler pushes the kayak on its way. While the front paddler begins to paddle forward, the back paddler will then jump in.
Step 3
Synchronize your paddling; this is one of the most important things to do when tandem paddling. This means that the back paddler will be matching the strokes of the front paddler. When the front paddler does a stroke on the right side of the kayak, the back paddler will do the same, at the same time. In addition to getting the timing right, you will also need to match the strength of your strokes so that you don't end up moving off course.
Step 4
Steer the kayak. When it comes time to turn the kayak, the front paddler will continue to paddle forward like usual, while the back paddler paddles backwards to turn the kayak in the direction they want it to go in. If the paddler reverse paddles on the right side, the kayak will begin to turn to the right; reverse paddling on the left side turns the kayak to the left.

Tips & Warnings

If one of you ends up in the water and is attempting to get back in, make sure that the paddler still in the kayak leans over on the opposite side to where the other paddler is trying to climb in so that the kayak won't tip over.

Article Written By Shiromi Nassreen

Shiromi Nassreen has been writing professionally since 2005. She specializes in travel and outdoor topics, and her articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including "DISfunkshion Magazine" and Matador Travel. Nassreen holds a Bachelor of Arts in theatre studies from Rose Bruford College of Speech & Drama.

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