Paddling a Tandem Solo

Took the WS Pamlico 135T out solo yesterday because the 40s was too cold for the Mrs.

I did not paddle well. This is a great yak if you are paddling solo while someone is sitting in the front seat.

I moved the front seat closer to the middle to where the seat did not lock into the center bar. The foot rests would not go back far enough to enable me to paddle from the middle. I had to paddle 1/3 of the way from the stern and the tracking was awful (probably the wind [although mild] blowing the lighter back of the boat).

Switched to my usual back seat and the front of the boat was in the air. I could not figure out if the back seat would move forward. If so, could other 135T owners advise me how to do this?

Anyway, came to the conclusion (at least in my situation)that a great tandem is very ineffecient as a solo.

Is this a general condition or is there anything I could have done to mitigate my issues (besides purchasing a solo which I will do in the next few months)?

solo paddle pamlico
We have the 160 tandem, when solo I chose the back seat. I must admit I haven’t tried this in hard weather, but with the weight of this puppy it isn’t used solo often. Anybody want a nice tandem with integrated electric trolling motor? It’s pretty cool, but my wife wants the freedom of her own boat. So do I. But, it did get her hooked on yaks…


If it weren’t for the tandem purchase, my wife and kids would never have gotten out on the water. They all really enjoy paddling now.

However, after a whole one season of paddling (but many hours on the water) we will get solos also. As indicated in the post, I struggled with the tandem as a solo and I could not figure out how to move the back seat forward which would have been much better than paddling near the stern or near the bow.

Same here
It seems to be a natural evolution. My first purchase was an ocean kayaks cabo (tandem). I sat in the middle and put 1 child in front, the other in the rear. I paddled it alone when they weren’t interested. My wife has no interest “in having my a** that close to the water”. Sooo, 500 miles later i bot a solo and now I’m looking to upgrade that. The good news is I that I’m a paddler for life. And I still have the o/k Cabo if anyone ever wants to join me.

Tandems make lousy singles
They’re designed to have weight in both ends and are seriously out of trim with a single paddler in them. You definitely don’t want to get caught in high winds in one, as they can be impossible to control. I suppose you could lash ballast in the front seat, but you’re best bet is to get another boat, a single.

That’s what I wantd to hear
Bnystrom. Thanks. I felt so inadequate this weekend paddling the tandem solo. I needed to hear others had this issue.

I paddle a tandem solo much of the time
Wanted to get into paddling and two singles were not in the budget. One year later, I am very happy with my tandem kayak, especially with the amount of camping gear I can take along!

I have an Old Town Canoe Loon 160T that I often paddle solo. Have taken mutiple trips with it, the two longest being 65 and 95 mile, 3 and 4 day trips down rivers and dam backwaters.

I usually sit in the rear seat, which I slide forward about 2 feet. With the Loon, I can slide the footpegs back far enough to use from this position. I usually have no trouble with this set-up, empty or loaded like a barge.

These trips also required open-water crossings of the backwaters of several dams. These “ponds” approached 6 miles long by 2 miles wide. In calm conditions, no trim adjustments were necessary.

In wind and waves is another story. With the wind coming off the bow, I might have to move weight forward to avoid “weather vaning” the boat around. This sometimes means moving to the forward seat. Conversely, with the wind and waves astern, I need to shift the weight aft. Sometimes a small adjustment in trim [weight shift]can make a huge difference in handling.

Give it a try.

Hope you have better luck next time!

Bill Mason’s solo was a tandem
I’m just getting into canoeing, so I am no expert. But, I do know that Bill Mason’s Chestnut Prospector canoe was a tandem and He used it for solo. And, I spend a lot more time solo in my tandem caone than with a partner (unless you count the dog). Generally speaking I understand that symetrical canoes can be paddled solo by turning them around and sitting in the bow seat (or kneeling). Asymictrical canoes can be paddled solo by healing them over and kneeling in them. That’s the way I paddle my asymetrical canoe. And, I have added a kneeling thwart to my canoe to make kneeling in it more comfortable. I have been out in high winds and have had some trouble controling my canoe-that is in part due to my lack of skill and in part due to my canoe presenting a farily big surface to the wind. However, as I learn more about my canoe I find that I can use the wind to an advantage (unless it is too strong). My paddling style (my attempted style :wink: is to incorporate some correction into my forward stroke; called a pitch stroke or sometimes I use a J stroke. By changing my angle on the wind I can sometimes use a full forward stroke and no correction.

-I would recommend you try kneeling in your canoe. It lowers your center of gravity and you can find the spot where you have the best control. It may not work with your boat but its worth a try. Just a piece of foam to put down for your knees. If I forget mine, I will sometimes just use a floor mat from my car which is not great-but works. Also, check out the Canadian Canoe Routes website forums.


I would agree
Michigansnorkeler that the trip would have been much better padding from the back seat. However, I couldn’t move my back seat forward and the front of the yak was way up in the air.

Canoes and kayaks are very different…
…in regards to the utility of paddling a double as a single. Canoes allow you to move around and adjust the trim. Some recreational tandem kayaks with large open cockpits allow this, too. However, most tandem kayaks have discreet cockpits that don’t work well as singles.

right… I thought I was replying to a canoe thread.


Natural Evolution…
I had a pamlico. Was fine when starting out and getting out on the water with the family). Since I like paddling more, I moved to a solo pretty quickly and got rid of the tandem.

I really couldn’t do much with the tandem alone, especially if there was wind. I am too light and the boat was really not meant for anything much beyond flat water and benign conditions.

When you get your solo kayak, you notice a marked difference.


Have a 145T … works fine solo…
… Perhaps you’re too big (tall) for the smaller boat? I’m 5’10".

I use the front seat when solo. On the 145, the front seat slides back and locks just in front of the rear seat. That was what the dealer recommended for solo paddeling. The foot braces came with extender straps (I have a rudder). Works great with my 5 year old sitting in the back seat.

IMO, the 145 paddled solo handles fine for what it is: a somewhat heavy (75+ ppounds w\rudder) kayak intended for fairly calm conditions.

I still have mine, but recently bought a Tempest. I was surprised with how well the 145 handeled in 2’ + waves, but it’s easy to fill up a large open cockpit tandem boat when the waves are breaking. I’s also much easier to lift and carry a 60 pound solo kayak.

I may keep the 145 … sometimes the kids want to go paddling. My 10 year old wants her own boat, however. May have to sell it to funds that…

I use a pamlico pro solo

– Last Updated: Nov-28-04 10:19 AM EST –

frequently, I use the center seat position. So you lose the footbraces? You can put in new rails and another set. Using neoprene and metal washers if needed for clearance. If wearing sneakers you can also get some purchase on deck and hull

I don't sweat the footbraces anyway; it's a 29 inch rec boat. If I want performance I get one of my other boats out of the shed.

I will not take the pamlico out if the winds are gusting 30 knots, not even on a pond. I'd hate to think about paddling from the rear in 25 knot winds. I'd be wearing serious immersion gear for that stunt, and ready to swim home.

Can you explain to me how you lock the front seat into the center bar? I think my used Pamlico 135T is missing a piece.

Put a full 5gal water jug in the front seat.

I have two tandem canoes with an extra center seat that puts you in the right spot for solo. They still give up efficiency to solo boats. I think Bill Mason would kneel right behind the center yoke so that put him in the ideal spot plus the extra volume of a tandem is good for going down fast rivers (but bad for going upstream like I often do). In your 135 it sounds like your trim is way off so as overstreet said one solution is to add weight up front and a big water container is a good approach since you can fill it to use it and empty it when done so you don’t have to carry the weight. I’m sure you won’t regret your decision to get solo boats.