Paddling communication.

I’m wondering if there is an accepted standard for the “direction” communicated between two tandem paddlers, or if this is worked out for each partnership? Example would be if the lead/stern paddler says “sweep left.” Does this mean sweep the bow to the left, or sweep on the left side (turning boat to the right)?

River right and river left is the way.

I thought it was " Your other left,
idiot." Maybe that’s why I seldom paddle tandem.

My jargon
switches your word order. One might say “Left sweep” not “Sweep left” Or “Right bow draw” not “Bow Draw right”. Or be like my father when he’s in the stern seat and just shout “Back paddle you jerk” at the appropriate moment.

R/L Draw vs. Sweep
A draw stroke isn’t a problem–drawing ON the right side will draw TO the right side. In a sweep stroke, however, a bow sweep ON the right will be a bow sweep TO the left. A person could use the words “to” or “on,” but there is already some potential for confusion, noise, etc.

I watch my son.
He’ll say “right” or “left”, but I get the sense of importance by how quickly he’s paddling, and on what side. If he says “RIGHT” or “LEFT” a second time, I sense we’re in for a GOOD TIME real quick. We agree every time on paths to take, almost eerie how synchronized we are, most of the time.Right or left is canoe direction for us, how we’re getting in that direction may vary.

For me it does not matter if left is called, left, port or wine. Just agree on what you will use before you go out.

Right or left is canoe direction for us
I agree. How it is acheived is up to the bow paddler.

I paddle stern and call the huts…
with my wife in the bow.

If there is an upcoming turn (say to the left) that is sharp, I will make sure she is paddling on the left. If necessary I will call a hut so she will be there and I will be on the right.

She usually will recognize when to draw, but if she doesn’t I will call draw.

If it is a gradual turn (say to the left) and I am paddling on the right, I will say “hut you” to get her on the same side as me and then we will both paddle on that side and if necessary do sweeps.

On the other hand if she is on the side to make the turn and needs a little help I will call: “hut Me” just so she knows I am coming on her side

Needless to say after 40 miles of switchback turns in the Lumber River race yeaterday we both slept good last night.



Baldpaddler & I like variety
We’re always changing the paddling commands to keep it interesting. In most cases the direction you want to go is obvious. So when he says, “Give me a post” or “Give me some sweeps”, I know on what side of the boat to stick the paddle in. If we’re approaching an obstruction in the middle of the river and we could go either way, we’ll usually say “Let’s pass it to our left or to the right”. The important thing is to let your partner know which way you want to go, then they can use the appropriate strokes to get there.

Yea and I am guessing…
that there is a few times where one or the other of you will tell the other where to go!