Well Today We did It! Great Sunny day and calm inland water with no wind. Me an intermediate experienced paddler. It was her first time ever. So what’s the hitch? We were able to sync stroke rather easily. BUT . . . I could not steer a straight course . . . no matter what! First thought, too much weight in the bow [I don’t know how much she actuallt weighs}. But I had someone on shore sight our trim line under way. The report was slightly lower in the stern. Now my thought is that we are close to the boat’s total weight limit and are sitting too low in the water. H-E-L-P Please.

online instruction? nope.

you need a coaching session. with an instructor.

if you ‘seriously’ can’t make the thing go straight and you’re sitting trim (stern down a touch)

sorry. this is what I do.


I submit that it is your fault.
Since you are the better paddler, then the second you feel that you are going off course you need to put a little more power into the stroke on the side you are aiming toward to keep you on track.

Analyze what you can do to keep the boat straight.

If it is going radically to the left tell her just to paddle on the left and you do the same, until you are back straight. Vice versa if it keeps wanting to go to the right.

Take it slow and experiment until you get it correct.

Keep us posted.



Tandems are harder to handle
than two singles. If both of you could paddle a straight lin in an funky old used Whitewater boat, you’d be styling.

Lessons are a help; practice is vital.

Added question
We, too, paddle a tandem. There were times we couldn’t keep a straight course. We blamed the current. I had to constantly compensate by rudder. Question: What is the right way to sync the strokes? Front goes left stroke and back goes right stroke?

I can paddle straight and get a full glide in my other single boat.

I hope you are kidding !
Can you say paddle banging?

Sync = same side each.

In a tandem canoe you are right on. In a temdem kayak you both need to be on the same side at the same time.



If front and back paddle the opposite sides the same time, wouldn’t that keep the boat straight easier than the “sync” way? Intuitively, that sounds right.

By the way,
no paddle banging, impossible to do at least in our Prijon Excursion. So, if it works for a canoe why doesn’t it apply to a kayak?

If your seats are far enough apart
then it would work, but any tandem I have ever been in or seen the seats are so close that you would bang paddles.

If yours are that far apart than no problem.



try this
me and my gf owned a divorceboat for a season and generally hated paddling together. it was some prehistoric recreational 16 footer,from late 70s i’m thinking. it must’ve been built for very light people because it looks overloaded in the water with my parents in it, who probably weight 300 lbs combined. But anyways. the normal way is to have the rear person steer, but, after trial and error we found the only way to have decent directional control of that particular boat was to have the front person steer. and yes we had the trim right. try it.

I must try bow steering.

A Couple of Ideas

– Last Updated: Jun-11-06 10:02 PM EST –

My wife and I are happy tandem paddlers. So these suggestions come from my own experience.

Are you paddling too fast? If you slow down a little, it will be easier to make paddling adjustments. This is really important.

Is your wife a paddler, or is she only going through the motions? The rear paddler really has the steering job. However, the front paddler can really screw things up. Try this...politely ask your wife to sight something in the distance and paddle to it. As soon as you begin to drift say "harder left" or "harder right" or whatever works for you.

An easy way to make little adjustments is to momentarily drag your paddle, for a split second, before lifting it from the water. This works wonders when done several times in a row. Lets say you're drifting to the right. Every time you paddle on the left, hold the paddle in the water for an extra fraction of a second. You may find yourself drifting to the left. This suggestion is for the rear paddler only.

For a more drastic course adjustment, use your paddle like a rudder. Extend it toward the back of the boat, not on the side. For extra turning force, rotate your blade 180 degrees so it faces the "wrong way". This again, is for the rear paddler.

If you have more weight aft, the boat will not track as well, but it might respond better to course adjustments. If you have more weight forward, it might track better but be less responsive to course adjustments.

If your boat comes with a rudder, maybe it might be worth it for you.

When I first bought my Loon 160T tandem, I thought I made a big mistake by not buying the rudder. After a year of paddling, my wife and I were getting more proficient at paddling. Now, I wouldn't waste my money on a rudder. So, hang in there! It gets better. If not, get a rudder.

My wife really enjoys paddling with me. Several times I have offered to buy her a boat of her own. She doesn't want one. She likes to paddle in front and have the option to relax.

Good luck.

And, if the tandem thing doesn't work out, then chalk it up to experience and cut your losses. Don't let your tandem get in the way of your paddling enjoyment.

THANX for The Encouragement
We will keep on keeping on. It’s way too early in the adventure to quit!

Steering a tandem
The first time we went out on a lake, we went around in circles. It was an embarassing sight. After practicing for just a few more rounds, we were able to go straight or turn any directions. We had 190+ lb in bow and 160+ lb in stearn. Will try the reverse next time. No matter what they say about the rudder, it is a nice thing to have. Your turn will be sharper and quicker with the rudder. No matter what they say about the tandems, I wouldn’t buy two solos to replace it - more expensive and just one more hassel to deal with.