I am looking for a tandem kayak for my husband and I. We would also like to take our 4 yr old. We live on a bay here in Maine and are not sure what kind to purchase. Should I really have a true sea kayak with 2 bulkheads or is 1 bulkhead acceptable. Any advise would be appreciated, Thanks.
buy a kayak with two bulkheads—it is easier to get back into if you flip it because it has double the floatation and if you decide you want to do overnights you can haul more stuff
Depends on Conditions
Many of the recreational tandems (Pamlico, Acadia II) have an added feature of a third seat for a child. A result of this design is a huge open cockpit. It makes getting into and out of the boat easy, but increases the likelihood of swamping in rough weather. We have never had a problem with waves or wakes, but we also won’t go out if there are white caps.
A two cockpit kayak with bulkheads (and skirts) can handle rougher conditions, but has no room for your child. If you imagine yourself putting in serious miles or leaning toward overnight camping this might be the way to go.
One last thought. If you do end up with a wide open tandem that does not have bulkheads, you can use polyurethane marine foam to fill in the ends. It will reduce your storage capacity, but it ensures positive floatation in the unlikely even that you are swamped or capsize.
For Nice Days…
...virtually anything that floats will do the job, providing you just keep the kayak upright. Most doubles have a high degree of initial stability, making them difficult to tip accidently.
When it breezes up, you then have to deal with waves and possibly swell, and I'd want skirts and double bulkheads to increase the safety margin. It also depends very largely on how sheltered your waters are - 20 kms. per hour alongshore in an enclosed area with little fetch can be quite safe, while the same onshore wind creates dangerous conditions for an open kayak in the middle of a large bay facing the open ocean.
When our daughters were young, we spent our time in canoes, and found them ideal for that time in our lives. Load up the two little dears (and an occasional friend) with their miniature paddles, PFDs, the dog, the picnic cooler, tent, sleeping bags, and what have you, and off we'd go. We'd occasionally venture unto the salt water (on really nice days and very close alongshore), but spent most all our time on small lakes and flatwater rivers. Both girls have grown up to love the outdoors and the water, so we must have done something right.
Whatever vessel you choose, take things slow and easy at first, and be safe. Try to get some experienced paddlers to show you the tricks of the trade, or consider doing introductory lessons. We've found it a lot easier to learn that way than thru the school of hard knocks, nasty frights and unplanned wettings :->))
Tandem kayaks. I heard them called…
divorce boats and after paddling one with my wife years ago I understood why. The idea is appealing, the reality, less so. If you REALLY want one, get one used so you can sell it to some other idealist. Use the classified ads on this website to look for one or even to advertise for one. If you don’t find one here, check out the classifieds on other paddling boards such as Connyak or North Shore Paddlers Network. Maybe you’ll find a tandem works for you but I think you might want to explore buying 3 singles. There is even a decent kids kayak by Wilderness Systems called the Piccolo. Again, look to buy used because as beginners you may decide you want something better/different fairly quickly. You’ll be able to swap out without costing you much, if any, additional money by using those same classified pages. If you decide to go for singles, ask the people on this board for some suggestions as to what will fit your height, weight and skill level. Then of course you’ll need paddles, PFD’s, spray skirts, etc. And so the adventure begins…----Rich
That Largely Depends…
…on the couple in the kayak.
If you’ve got a screaming marionette in the aft cockpit who’s too dense to manage to match the front paddler’s stroke rate or else correct things in a civil manner, the ‘divorce boat’ description might fit. If both are mature people willing to work as a team and learn how it’s done, a double is a perfectly useable boat. And there are doubles out there with the cockpits far enough apart to eliminate paddle clashes…
Where in Maine?
You may be near some good advice locally - where in Maine are you?
IMO two bulkheads in any boat best, absolutely required in one carrying multiple people. Or at least a really secure way to put in float bags. Personally, I wouldn't want to be the one in the part that didn't have floatation and was likely to flood and point to the bottom of the lake.
Also - just rechecked this thread and noticed the "also take your 4 yr old" part. In the cockpit with one of you? That just has high risk written all over it - I'd think about a way to make sure that in the case of a capsize the youngster and one of you couldn't get entangled and stop each other from exiting the boat. A sit on top may be a much safer idea for a party of three.
There are tandems that have a large enough center storage area that can be used for a child seat. The Current Designs Libra XT comes to mind. Tandem kayaks in Maine are hard to find. You can check on craigslist for a used one, new ones will mostly likely have to be a special order. Check the end-of-year sales from the touring outfits too.
The more bulkheads the better if the kayak were to flip (hopefully not!), then your gear will stay dry & only the cockpits will have water in them.
I agree with the comment that if you're taking a 4 year-old, a sit-on-top is probably the best solution. In Maine, sit-on-tops are probably only good in summer weather, but then you wouldn't want to be taking a 4 year-old out in anything but pleasant conditions anyway.
With a sit-on-top, no worries about anyone getting tangled up in the boat, no worries about the boat sinking, etc. Just fall off, and the boat will serve as a raft or a big float.
If you find you like the sport, then you can start looking around for something more capable and complicated.
FeelFree Kayaks has a boat made for you, the Tri-Yak:
(I have no connection with this company other than owning one of their boats, which I enjoy. I have a Nomad.)
The Tri-Yak is built for two adults and a child, but it can be paddled by two adults or even one.
Its biggest drawback is that it's very heavy. You'll want to keep this close to the water if you can.