Need Tandem Advice

Just picked up a used tandem mainly for my boys, but I plan to take my six year old daughter out with me as well. She used to ride with me in my single from the time she was about 3 until this year, but she has just gotten too big to be comfortable in the single cockpit.

So the question is, I’m assuming as the bigger of the two I should be in the back for better stability, and manueverability, or does it really matter? On one hand, I’d like her to be up front where I can see her, but on the other hand there are times I might like her to be behind me so she can better see how I paddle to start learning her own paddling stroke.

Any advice at all on kayaking in a tandem with a child not capable of much help, and teaching them over time proper paddling manuevers would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!!!


Definately up front. If the bow is too
high, add some weight to trim(level) the boat.

Put her in the front
and you can see any mistakes that she is making and correct them.

Remember, since you are behind her, it is your job to stay in sync with her.

If she tires and slows down her cadence, you do the same.



Her up front.
Total agreement. Just for fun you could put her in the back once, maybe in some wind, and then likely never question it again. I’m sure there are many reasons involved, but it simply makes a big difference in boat control.

Does your tandem have a rudder?
then you would have to be in the back—assuming that you don’t want your six year old in the drivers seat.

Thanks all, that’s what I was thinking, that I needed to be in the back, but it would have been nice if she could occasionally sit in the back just to observe the paddling rythm up close and personal.

Being that this kayak can also be used as a single kayak by moving the rear seat forward, and I’m not very tall to begin with (meaning don’t need much leg room), would there be any benefit to adjusting the rear seat forward somewhat to better equalize the weight between myself and my six year old?

Absolutely. You want the boat as level
as possible.

speaking from experience
a child really won’t learn paddling until they’re in their own boat. Doubles are very wide and their strength/weight is a very small part of the package.

It’s hard for a child to tell what their input does when it’s a small part of the boats movement.

That said I’d get the lightest and smallest paddles possible,or even a small canoe paddle. If you put an inexpensive long 3lb paddle in the hands of a child it’s like putting a 10lb paddle in a grownups arms.

If the double is deep and the childs shoulders are low to the gunnel of the kayak I’d suggest raising their butt off the seat by 1"-2" with minicell or an orange cushion.

Like String says: "yes"
the trimmer you can get the boat, the easier it is to control.

It would be better to be a tad bow light then bow heavy.



No, no canoe paddle !
they will never learn how to paddle correctly.

Over the weekend we had some of the grandchildren out in the front yard paddling on our little river.

Seth who is seven years old and started paddling at age five, was using one of our big old heavy paddles that we bought years ago and could flip that yak in and around the boulders like a pro and could also paddle up stream against the current.

Ingrid who is ten using the same type paddle and eight year old Emma could almost do as well.

The five year old twins didn’t make it, but believe it or not, they can paddle with the same big old heavy paddle.

On another note: It was awesome to see Ingrid paddling a nine foot rec kayak with Seth sitting straddling the bow and Emma sitting straddling the stern. - Nice memories for dear old “grouchy” grandpa !