Kayka type

Want to get a tamdom Kayak for my wife and I to use on Lake Wallenpaupack ,PA, what type is safer, the one you sit in or on, my wife does not swim? Thanks

If someone is not a swimmer, there is NO kayak they should be on or in. Or canoe etc. There is no such thing as a tip-proof kayak especially with tense people in it.

I would also mention that, should you talk her into this and you guys do flip, she will blame you for her bad experience. You may not like that.

I agree
If you can’t swim… stay away from the water.

Real Answer

– Last Updated: Sep-05-07 3:45 PM EST –


Don't listen to the other posters advise. I don't swim either and it doesn't matter if you can because you should always be wearing a flotation device (jacket). I don't get why people are saying not to buy a kayak because your wife can't swim.

Yes, the sit on tops are easier to keep top side up, BUT, there are all different types. The wider ones tend to be more stable, but then there is hull design too. I know it's late in the season, but see if anyone anywhere near you is having a symposium where they hold classes, give seminars and and let you try all types of kayaks out that are brought from various stores. You can just opt to demo the kayaks so you know what feels comfortable. If you can't find any, try to find a local outfitter for kayaks that let you demo them and do that. They may not and most likely won't have enough kayaks for you to try to find the right one, because they only have a certain amount and brands to try that are their rental kayaks, but that is your best bet.

Okay, next question, even though you did not ask it, is what if you do end up overboard? Carry a cellphone in a waterproof case and/or marine radio. Also, you and your wife should practice getting back into the kayak in shallow water, but high enough to see how much effort and skill it takes to do so which would be shown and discussed in a book on paddling if you did not opt to take a course in self rescue and paddling techniques.

On a side note, if you don'treally know how to paddle correctly, it will make it hard for the both of you, so go to a book store to read up on paddling techniques or get a library book on paddling so you know how to hold the paddle correctly and use it to get the most power from each stroke and use it to direct or correct the kayak to go where you want it to go.



What constitutes swimming…
I might be taking the non-swimmer too literally - as in someone who is likely to panic in the water. If that is the case, no change to my first post. My non-swimming women relatives have had to be lifted out of the water just before drowning in two and a half feet of water because they panicked. Short of a type V PFD they would have gone under without the help, and the reality is that hardly anyone wants to wear a PFD like that on a hot day.

If it means can’t do pretty strokes but are comfortable enough in the water wearing a PFD to practice self-rescue or towing the boat in water over your head, that’s fine for casual paddling and not what I’d call a non-swimmer.

Same second part though - if there is the slightest risk that the wife will feel uncomfortable and the husband takes the blame, best to go for swimming lessons first.

Kind Of Hard To Fathom
Most of the people who I have met that do not swim are not particularly comfortable with being in the water. This would not be good in a tense capsize situation. Perhaps you are different.


Within Reason…
I took my non-swimming brother-in-law out in our tandem over the weekend. After I cinched him into his PFD, his safety briefing was as follows “if you fall out of the boat, stand up”. I then made damn sure we stayed in the shallows.

I think it comes down to knowing your limits and using good judgment. Know that you are a fair weather paddler. Know that you will be staying close to shore. I would echo the sentiments about tipping out of your boat on purpose and trying to get back in (on a calm day, where you can stand up of course). It is a humbling experience that will teach you a lot about your abilities and your boat.

Maybe step one in this whole venture is to teach your wife how to swim. Before I got married, I taught my future wife how to swim. We would spend two or three nights a week at shallow end of the local pool. No special curriculum, mostly splashing around. While there were plenty of frustrated evenings, somewhere between 10 and 20 visits, she got it and became proficient at treading water and swimming full lengths of the pool. Since you are in PA, you have all winter to get your wife to the local pool and get her comfortable with the water.

To answer your questions about the kayaks… SOTs do not fill with water (don’t get swamped or lose boyancy), leave you a little more exposed to the elements, and a little higher off the water. SOTs are generally very stable boats, but I think you will find most recreational sit in kayaks equally stable.


Can’t swim either
Sorry if I’m repeating what has been said, but I’m scanning the post quickly. I can’t swim and have been Kayak fishing for years. I always wear a pfd, but I keep in mind what action I’ll take if I do get a closer look at the fish than what I intended. My suggestion is to take her to the lake/river, put a pfd on her and let her bob up and down in deep water. This will help her confidence and make life a little easier on you later. As for a Sink or SOT, my thoughts go with the SOT. If it does get dunked, then there isn’t a problem getting the water out.

Swimming lessons

I didn’t mention swimming lessons, because I don’t think people who can’t swim will bother to learn, although it’s a great idea. I really wish I was taught to swim as a child. It opens kids and teens and adults to so much more in terms of adventure and fun outdoor activities. Also, I bet most people who can’t swim would take a paddling/self-rescue course before they take swimming lessons (just a guess).

I very much agree to know your limitations. People in WA who can swim, but swim too far and start to drown always seem to take the person that goes in to save them down w/them.

I have read it’s best for the stronger person to self rescue, then “try” and help the other person in the other kayak if you both end up in the drink.

About being scared, I’m adventerous, but not stupid. I have a good fear of what mother nature can do to you and stay w/in my limits, but do more adventerous things than people I know. I can’t swim, but am not scare of the water since I am always prepared, and then I cross my fingers, lol:)

Bye, Capri

There’s swimming and then there’s
swimming. Keeping you head out of the water and paddling around is not swimming.

Several years ago I could not swim far enough or fast enough to pass the SCUBA instructors exam. I went to an adult swimming instructor told him I could swim and need a few pointers. He watched me for a minute and informed me what I was doing was NOT swimming and that I had to start with the beginners. After two sessions I was doing the distance and speed I wanted and it was so easy I couldn’t believe it.

If you can get your wife PRO lessons she will easily acquire a great new skill for life and be safe around the water.

people can’t fly
and they board airplanes all the time. With reason and the proper equipment, one need not be a swimmer to enjoy the water

and many another sailed around the world alone and could not swim a stroke. One of the rules of boats is to stay in or on them.

I can’t swim
I have taken leasons twice and I still cannot swim but I do wear my PFD all the time and I enjoy kayaking. I know my limitations and also know that the PFD will keep me afloat should I take a swim. To tell someone not to kayak just because they cannot swim is just wrong.

Do what you want but…
you might investigate why they call they DIVORCE boats.

Happy paddling and good luck.


Thanks for all the info.

A recomendation,
I(we) own an Old Town Loon 160T, it’s a tandem sit in side kayak. It is very stable, but heavy. Putting it on top of the car take some effort, two people make it easier. Also carrying it to the water can also be a chore. On the water, it is very stable, but it needs to be trimmed well, that is sitting more or less level in the water, or it will weathercock in the wind, that will lower the fun factor. You also must be able to NOT argue when you can’t paddle together, but that is up to you, and you’ll both get better with practice. It also paddles well with one person, just move the seat to the center, for when you need to get away.

It is also big enough to fit a third small person, like a child, or hold a fairly large cooler. I(we) like the boat and would recommend it for someone looking for a large stable kayak.


Wear your PFD at all times, NO exceptions.

practice floating in your PFD, start shallow, then move to deeper water, as said above, panic will kill you.


One last thing, the last time my wife and I went out, we used separate kayaks instead of the tandem. She wasn’t to thrilled about the idea at first, by the end of the night, she said, “I think I like this way better”.

Your mileage may vary.

I would
not recommend starting out kayaking for the first time on Lake Wallenpaupack. Especially not with someone who can’t swim, or is not a skilled swimmer, and may be uncomfortable in the water.

That is a huge lake, allowing unlimited horsepower craft, with gigantic boat wakes, and wind generated swells. It would be very easy to wind up further out in the water then you intend to or would be safe, and very easy to be swamped by big water.

Start out in a smaller and easier to paddle body of water such as Promised Land or Tobyhana or Gouldsboro. And make her jump out of the boat, in her PFD, and see how well she does, just stay close to dry land when doing it.

I agree with Schultz 100%

Promised land, Pecks, Shahola,White deer anything is better than wallenpaupac with the wake and a rookie.

as far as non swimmer no big deal.My pop is 72 did 100 yards on his back for the U.S.Navy in 1955 and thats the only swimming he ever did.

It never stopped him from canoeing in any depth of water.

two rec yaks will probably cost you less than a double sink.

Good Luck


I don’t swim either
But I do own 6 kayaks. 2 SoT and 4 SinK.

I use them according to my desires. If I want t obe cool ,I use the SoT, if I want t obe warm, I use the SinK. If I am on the ocean, SoT. you get the idea.

BUT, here is one thought.

My daughter and I started out in a single canoe. We quickly discovered that a) we didn’t like each other enough to be in the same boat and b) We both wanted to explore different places at different speeds.

So we bnought 2 kayaks and found that even though we paddled together, we had more fun in different boats.

There is a reason Tandems are called “divorce boats”.

Non swimmer’s craft
If I were in that situation (non-swimming spouse) I’d arrange for swimming lessons before I even considered a kayak. As to those who have posted their extremely dangerous advocacy for paddling without knowledge of basic swimming skills… I can only cross my fingers and wish them luck while they play the aquatic equivalent of Russian roulette.