Paddling with spouses

Hi all

I am looking for your thoughts on how to improve kayaking with my spouse. Let me tell you about us, our kayaks, and our dilemma. I am 5’9, just under 200 lbs, and have an 18 ft kevlar sea kayak. I have paddled longer than she has, but am pretty limited to lakes and rivers with ocean paddling on occasion. She is 5’4, 150, and has a plastic Carolina 14.5. She has only kayaked a few times on lakes and rivers, with a couple of ocean experiences as well. So there is our background. Our paddling is pretty much day trips on local lakes and rivers.

Our problem is that our boats are pretty different in terms of their capabilities. Mine is much faster (and probably too much boat for our needs) while hers is slower, more stable, and more maneuverable. We are looking for the best solution in terms of equalizing our paddling capabilities and experiences. Any suggestions on this- does she need to move to a longer boat more similar to mine?? or do I need to find a smaller, more maneuverable boat? How have other couples solved this problem (other than just buying similar boats at the start). Any and all thoughts are welcome!



When you paddle with your wife
switch boats. Ny wife is not a strong paddler so we have a double and she just rides when she is tired.

My take is you have two options

– Last Updated: Feb-15-06 9:40 PM EST –

Option #1: She gets a longer boat then you so she gains the advantage, this means she gets a new boat and you need to get a new boat that would be shorter

Option #2: You both get new boats of the same size and maybe you just paddle with a bit slower cadence

My wife and I thought about this a lot before we bought our boats. We decided 16' boats would be the best approach. We got her an elite lay-up (lighter) 16' boat than mine. Also I have 100 lbs. on her so the combination of her lighter boat and lighter body weight means we can both paddle at the same cadence and keep up with each other.

We also decided that for the most part we would be taking day trips with an occasional overnight. The volume in the 16' boats would handle a couple of overnights.


– Last Updated: Feb-15-06 10:19 PM EST –

I mean seriously. do you like to paddle her boat? could you feature having a short, playful boat? maneuvering around, looking for current, waves, maybe... (OMG)... surf?

Does she like your boat? can she feature getting a sleek, fast boat that's 'her' size? she may have mixed feeling paddling your boat as it's long length is an advantage to a BIG, strong paddler, she may want something a bit shorter. definitely get her a pretty, ultra-light boat that she can paddle up with you.

when we design boats we try and keep very similar characteristics within the 'family'. speed/stability/tracking/maneuverability/etc. in different sizes.

so....ask your wife and self and see if you can agree on similar genre or 'family'in either camp and you're G2G (good to go)

or best option get both.



Gonna really try and be nice here…
You are probably 4 times stronger than your wife.

Long boats are only better for those with the muscle to utilize that potential speed. For those that do not, there’s no speed advantage, and a lot of disadvantage when the wind and water build. Smaller women have for years been given bad advice. Fact is, she’ll probably never be able to paddle as fast as you no matter what she’s in. Her engine’s gonna limit her to probably a 3 knot cruise with 4 knot top end. SO, put her in an efficient composite boat no longer than 16 ft. Keep the windage low. Romany LV, Impex Mystic, Foster’s Rumour etc. She’ll be way happier and she’ll be matched to a craft that will maximize her performance without being too much boat. What I’m saying is congruent with drag data and hydrodynamic principals…at least on this planet. I’ve guided and instructed for many years and what I’m telling you is accurate…please listen, your wife will thank you. Good day.

Shoulda mentioned T165
That would be another good boat… I paddled one recently and liked it.

I must admit it isn’t so much the speed… I don’t mind paddling slower in order to have good company… it just kills me she is so much more manuevrable in her boat! ha ha ha. thanks for your advice all!


mention a Tempest?




then it’s EZ
you NEED a boat that’s a much FUN as hers.

she can’t argue.

you get to pick out/ buy a new boat.

SHE has a better paddling buddy!



There you go…

This may come as a surprize …
This may come as a surprize to all you kayakers, but paddling does not need to be a solitary activity.

We canoers usually put our spouses in the bow seat and yell at them.

And no matter how much, how little, or how loud we yell, they still manage to keep up!

Wish I had your trouble . . .
My spouse won’t go near the water!


Salty is right on
My wife has a 16’4"x22.4" boat that is too big for her. She is 5’2"x120 lbs. Her new boat will be just under 16’x20". More her size. The problem is the mfgs try to build generic boats that are one size fits all. There are a few mfgs out there that understand smaller people need smaller boats that are not short and wide. Reduce a 17’x22" boat by 6% and you get 16’x20". You also need to reduce the height and therfore the volume. You now have a boat for a smaller paddler. It wont be any less stable for the smaller paddler than the bigger boat is for the bigger paddler. The Vela and the Sparrow Hawk are prime examples of this. The Tideline Mermaid will soon be added to this list.

Do what most others do
I know its probably not what you want to hear but theres a reason why many on here have multiple boats. We’ve got two canoes and three yaks to use between two people. All for different occasions.

We paddle rivers and lakes, usually along the shore because thats where its interesting. If we arent matched because of craft or conditions, one of us usually keeps busy exploring or just goofing off while the other paddles on. I do the same with someone who hasnt paddled before.

Badjer — solution:
You hand paddle tractor tire inner tube, wife carbon fiber paddles the 18 foot kevlar jobbie. You get the maneuverability you desire, she gets to open a can of whoop ass on you speed-wise.

Man, that was easy. Anyone with a tough problem?

Tempest 165

– Last Updated: Feb-16-06 2:34 AM EST –

My wife has used the WS Tempest 165 several times, and paddles circles around me. She just has better balance and grasp of the proper stroke. She referred to the 2 foot ocean swells as fun. We're begineers, but she used it three times, once in the great Pacific Ocean, and really enjoyed the T165. The T165 was mentioned above as a boat for smaller paddlers, and listed as so on WS's web site. My wife is 5-7 and 125 for your comparison.
Me, I think of the ocean swells as good practice getting out underwater and assisted reentry, and also bracing.
My solution was to put her in the front of our Loon 160T with the 2 year old on her lap. Teach her to paddle circles around me I will.

Agree with Tsunamichuck
My wife and I have a great time in a tandem. I am a much stronger paddler than her but we can make the boat fly when we paddle together with a good rhythm. If either one of us pauses, the other can paddle.

Pretty boat??
I’ll resist a comment about pretty boats, sounds kinda girly, though I do think my boats are quite nice looking…

Seriously, spouse speaking here, I will probably never end up paddling quite as fast as equally good guys with more reach (hence a slightly longer stroke) no matter how much I improve my stroke. And I tend to prefer a more deliberative steady stroke speed anyway, not uncommon among women I’ve spoken with.

Some of the things mentioned above have worked for us. My day boat is a Vela, my husband’s is a Romany. The Vela is faster off the mark and accelerates much more quickly, so we even out when we are in those boats until we are somewhere above 4 knots where the Vela sets up a bow wake.

For the long boats, I have an Explorer LV and Jim an Aquanaut. So until we are in conditions, he ends up paddling a litle slower. (In conditions I agree with something I’ve heard form others, that the Explorer ends up being no slower than the Aquanaut.)

The problem with the 18 ft boat for a woman of the size mentioned, that relates to speed, is the height. If the boat is too tall around her for her to get a good stroke, she won’t be able to get any advantage from the waterline. That’s before you get to issues of fit etc.

A look around at used boats may be in order, so that you two can get equalized fairly economically. From the sizes of each, switching boats doesn’t seem to be a great plan.

good fit

– Last Updated: Feb-16-06 10:15 AM EST –

My 5'0", 120-lb wife became a faster, more comfortable, and happier paddler when she moved from an Avocet RM to a shorter WS Tchaika. It is lighter, narrower, and lower than her old boat, and is the first boat she's paddled that looks like it fits her properly. Given her "motor", it's more efficient at touring speeds than a longer, "faster" boat would be. Having a boat that she can carry by herself is also a big win.

At 5' 4", 150, I'm guessing that your wife has a "low center of gravity" and a fairly short torso. A narrower boat with a low foredeck will make the paddling strokes more comfortable for her, and stability shouldn't be a big problem.

Don't forget the paddle! A light paddle with smaller blades and a shorter or smaller-diameter shaft might also make paddling more comfortable for her.

Yin and Yang
My husband and I have dealt with this problem. At 5’1" and 125, there are not a lot of boats out there that I can wear. The largest issue is what kind of paddler is your wife?–is she aggressive, strong, and does she want to go fast? Or does she want to be comfortable, not challenged by conditions, etc? The answers to those questions will determine whether she should have a long sleek fast boat, or whether you should accommodate. There is nothing wrong with each having a fast boat and a maneuverable play-type boat, and paddles of various weights and designs to accommodate the day. Above all, enjoy paddling together; it’s priceless.