New member.

I don’t own a kayak nor have I ever been in one. I have a ton of questions but will start out with a few.

I’d like to buy a kayak but not us what to do. My first thought is a tandem kayak for my kids and I. Probably would only go out with one at a time. I have a 7 yr old son and 5 yr old daughter. How hard is a tandem kayak to operate alone (I doubt they would be of much help now)? Would it be better to just buy myself a single person one and get a small one for them and then tie them on to me?

Any specific recommendations would be greatly appreciated. I would need to get either. Pretty cheap one or maybe find one on Craigslist. I don’t want to spend much on one.

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maybe a canoe?
If you could add some information about the region you live in and what sort of waters you have access to it would help in giving you some advice on options.

If you took a look at the link the first answerer provided you will have seen that there are technique and safety concerns you need to be familiar with to safely paddle a kayak. If you plan on taking your kids out these things have to be automatic and you need to be comfortable with them.

The truth is that in most conditions, family paddling is much easier with a canoe. It provides more freedom for kids to move around, for one thing. You are also unlikely to find a tandem kayak for as low a price as an equal sized canoe, even on the used market. Tandem kayaks are quite heavy and can be difficult for a solo paddler to handle, especially a novice. In a capsize they can be very tough for a single paddler to right and drain – while trying to rescue a child in the water with you it could really be a problem. With a canoe you could take 2 adults and both kids if you wanted, while they are small. I think it would be worthwhile to keep an open mind on this alternative.

Thanks for the quick replies.

There are a few local places but the one I would definitely start out on would be a canl… I’ve mountain biked along side of the canal for years so I do know that it really calm and no tricky parts in it.

Oh, and I also would not take one of my kids out on my first run. I would try and go out by myself a couple of times to get a feel for things. I also would always wear a life jacket. I’ll look over the link provided.

Sit On Top Kayaks,
can be very forgiving, track well are very stable but not light, I had the same thoughts as you, buy something my daughter and I could learn with. It has served that purpose well, three yesrs later we have somewhat outgrown that craft and looking for single sit ins for more adventurous waters. Research is going to bring forth all kind of pros and cons, everybody has different opinions. Training with ours I found it easy to right and you would have no problem taking both children once they are ready… I have a OceanKayak Malibu 2 XL sits 3 600lb max load - It weighs 62 pounds - I have no problem loading, porting ect… I am no strong man either.

As with anything learn how to use your equipment properly and safely…and have fun!

Useful information
Knowing your target paddling area is canals is helpful. I am even more convinced that a canoe could be a good choice.

We mostly kayak but sometimes canoe – when we were in the Everglades on vacation last winter we stayed at a place that rented both but we chose a sort of unusual canoe for exploring the coastal inlets and narrow canals leading into the Glades. It was a Mad River Adventure 16, a molded plastic canoe with sort of kayak like features. The gunwales (sides) are somewhat low and curl over to form a kind of coaming around the perimeter. It has two main seats for the paddlers with back rests and one extra middle seat. We liked that it was both stable but narrow enough to use 240 cm kayak paddles instead of canoe paddles.

Another nice feature is that the stern is designed to accept a small gas or electric trolling motor, which might be something useful to you in paddling canals (or getting home quickly with a cranky kid.) We liked it so much we are considering buying one. The 14 foot model would probably be best for you and the kid (or kids). It runs around $500 to $600 new (Dicks Sports sells a version Mad River makes for them called the Passage 14 and 16 – the outfitting is a little cheaper). The 16’ would be better if you were going to paddle with another adult most of the time. It runs $600 to $700. I have seen used ones advertised for $400 or so (none near enough to us yet to buy one.)

I think you might want to consider looking at one, anyway. They are commonly in stock at places like Dicks and Gander Mountain.

Rent one first
And if you can find a half day kayaking lesson, that would be a good place to start. Renting different kayaks is good, too. That’s what I’ve been doing since taking a class last summer. I just ordered my first kayak. Yeah, it took me that long to figure out what I wanted.

Good luck and have fun!

Where are you
and what kind of paddling will you be doing?

If you’re near a lake and will just be paddling around on flat water, the kids could stay on the beach and you could stay near. But that’s not too fun. At some point you’ll want to paddle farther away. Tandems are heavy, and that still leaves one kid behind. Maybe you could get a canoe instead of a kayak, and take them with you.

If I were a new paddler, I wouldn’t take kids out onto anything but flat water. And the idea about towing them strikes me as dangerous. You always need to think in terms of “what if” – what if they capsize? It goes without saying, I hope, that they’ll be in life vests. But even with that, it’s not easy to right a capsized boat out on the water, especially with two kids.

I would seriously consider a canoe or inflatable kayak. Or and sit-on-top kayak. But those are heavier.

Maybe best of all would be to just get yourself a kayak, and work out a deal with a friend to take your kids–she takes yours, and you paddle; you take hers, and she goes out to a film! :wink: