Tandem Kayak - Advice needed!

Alright, I’ve been going crazy trying to decide which tandem kayak is best for us. My family has been out on kayaks a couple of times in past years, and this year we’re buying our own. We want a boat that will be for me (6’2") and my 5 year old son. We’d also like to occasionally take the dog out with us (golden retriever), and once we feel comfortable, our 6mo old son. My wife and 9yr old daughter have singles.

The primary contenders for me seem to be the Pamlico 135t and the Necky Manitou II.

I’ve demo’d the Pamlico, and it rode Great as a single, but once I was in the back with my son up front, the front was higher and it didn’t plane out. That made for a much more difficult, but manageable ride. Plus, it’s got a wide open cockpit, so dog and gear and possibly even baby carseat would fit pretty well I think.

I’ve never seen the Necky in person - just online - so I don’t know how it will ride and how well we’ll all fit. But, it’s more than a foot longer and both seats adjust, so I could move the rear seat forward a bit to help balance it out weight-wise. The disadvantage (or possibly advantage?) is that it has individual cockpits, so possibly the dog and carseat wouldn’t fit as well.

Anyone with thoughts or experience with tandems or even just an opinion is welcome to comment! I’m kinda at a standstill with this one and I need to make a decision soon!

Thanks :slight_smile:

If you get a chance,
Take a look at The Current Designs -Double Vision. We have friends that have one, and my wife and I test drove it, and loved it.

We ourselvs have a big expedition tandem, but a new one will not only break the bank, but the weight will break your back. You could fit the whole family in it !

Jack L

Thanks for the link
Thanks, I hadn’t looked at that one before. It is longer, and it has a great weight capacity, but it’s not set up too carry my entire family :wink: In fact, I’d have a hard time getting more than me and the 5yr old in it. I do appreciate the extra option though!

tandem kayaks
I was facing the same dilema as you not too long ago. In the end I came to the conclusion I would be paddling most of the time by myself and decided to go with a single seat touring kayak. I owned a tandem before and most of the time it was solo paddling. I figure its cheaper to rent a canoe or tandem kayak when I want to go out with the kids and/or wife.

But to help you out, here are some links to two options I was considering. The Mad River canoe got good reviews and can be paddled like a kayak. I’m still tempted to buy it as a second boat. As I said, I’ve learned the hard way that not many people share my devotion and passion for being out on the water so why cater to their needs instead of mine?



Hope this helps…by the way the Necky Manitoo 2 is not bad as there are two cockpits and a surf rudder.

Pygmy Osprey Triple
If it were me, I would build an Osprey Triple. The dog could ride in the middle cockpit: http://www.pygmyboats.com/mall/OSP3SPEC.asp

The kits are not that hard to build, although they do take a bit of time.

another possibility if you like open

– Last Updated: May-18-11 1:30 PM EST –

I'v been eyeing it for possible use with daughter and grandkid.
(Has front and rear bulkheads for safety even though open cockpit -- though I suppose you could could add a float bag to front on the pamlico.)

Ok, another edit: i'm surprised nobody has said yet to just get a canoe if you really want to carry up to 4 beings.

That’s a cool option!
That kit is actually pretty reasonable for building a wood and fiberglass boat - and it’s the only one I’ve seen with three cockpits, which is pretty much perfect for my situation. Thanks for the lead! I’ll really have to consider this one.

Maybe I should consider it.
That’s a good looking boat, but over twice as much as the other options (each in the neighborhood of $1,000).

Philip did mention a canoe, but I haven’t been in one in years, and my wife pretty much hates them (says they’re really tipsy). I’ve kayaked and really enjoyed the experience, but maybe a canoe is the better “minivan” option.

I think I’ve looked at the prodigy
I think I’ve looked at the prodigy, but didn’t like how high the seats sat in the boat. I like the kayaks where you’re basically sitting on the floor of the boat - feels more comfortable.

I hadn’t considered a canoe for basically the same reason - and my wife says they’re quite tipsy compared to a sit-in kayak. Maybe I should take a rental out and see what it’s like.

A canoe is probably a better minivan, as you say.

I’m curious what you hope to do with the infant? I think that’s the biggest question here, and one I’m surprised hasn’t been raised already. A dog, a 5 yo and an infant is more than one paddler can safely manage, in my opinion. What if the dog flips the boat? What if the infant needs some attention?

Also, in my experience, PFDs are horribly uncomfortable for infants until they’re about 1. All the ones we tried with our kids were too bulky for the really young kids, and made them fussy. (We opted to harness the kids to the boat, but that was on a much larger boat. Tethering isn’t an option on a canoe/kayak.)

I think you’d be better off getting a canoe for Wife, You, Dog and Infant. That way one of you can attend to the baby if necessary. The 5 year-old is almost old enough to paddle on his own, or he can ride in the “minivan” if you get a big enough canoe. In a year, when the baby is self-entertaining, mom can return to her kayak, leaving you with the dog and toddler (and maybe the 6 year-old).

Any way you dice it, you’ve got a lot of dependents to paddle with, so there will be some compromises. Just make sure the infant’s safety isn’t the thing you’re compromising on.

I should clarify
I don’t think there will be a time when the 5yr old, dog, and infant will all be the boat at the same time. I’m more thinking that we’ll start with the 5yr old and me, then when we get comfortable we’ll add in either the dog or the baby - but not both at once. In fact, I’m not sure how much the baby will be out with us at all this year.

I think you misunderstood me
Our tandem is Necky Nootka plus (AKA BGD kayak) at 23 feet long and 100 pounds with three hatches.

I thought you might like the double vision for you and the little one.

Jack L

not a parent
so others are probably better qualified to weigh in on this, but even you with a 5-year old and a bay sounds dicey. You say “when we get comfortable” – maybe if you get really comfortable doing capsize drills with your 5 year old and a doll as baby stand in? (Maybe if you have experience with water rescue? maybe if the water is calm and warm and you’re close to shore?) Maybe I’m being too careful? Parents chime in.

open deck
As you noticed - trim in a double when one person is really light is tricky. Open deck boats, 135t I believe, make it possible, with a bit of DIY ingenuity, to adjust the trim by moving the seat back and forth.

The seats are molded affairs that bolt to the sides of boat. If the factory seat can’t be moved easily, there are aftermarket options.

The hole in the deck cockpit tandems are a little harder to trim - usually addition of extra weight works well.

Paddle safe - get everyone involved a pfd, float bags for your boat, practice a self, or assisted rescue before going out with your family

Pamlico 135T

– Last Updated: May-18-11 6:59 PM EST –

I just took delivery of our Pamlico 135T last week. My wife sits in the front and our weight differential is about 60 lbs and we haven't notice any plane/trim issues for our situation. I'm 165 lbs and she's 105 lbs.

The price was right for us on the 135T. It's a wide rec boat with good primary stability but we stick to the calmer quiet waters so it all works well for us.

The new outfitting on the 2011 model is little nicer than previous years, everything rides on side rails up off the floor, nice seat adjustable on-the-fly (similar to prodigy II). Boat has a sealed rear bulkhead and a foam block in front to assist with floatation.

your weight?
the Manitou II paddles very efficiently and you can balance the load by sliding the rear seat and adding some weight forward.

Pamlico 145T is a very nice low volume tandem good for you and 5yr old (not paddling)

It matters whether you weight 175 or 250 whether some boats will work or not.

my vote…
…personally , I think your nuts if u plan to put a 2 kids and a large dog in a Pam135T …I have a 135 …it’s not big enough for that load…try the 16 footer for your purposes.

Sorry for the misunderstanding. Yeah, that sounds like a lot more boat, but my better half reminded me that we mostly kayak on rivers, where more boat could equal more trouble. Though maybe one day…

Mostly rivers
Most of what we’ll be on is slower- moving rivers. I don’t see us taking the infant along when we paddle far from shore or in big lakes. The wife and I are both former lifeguards, so we feel fairly comfortable on easy water. We just have to learn our boats well choose when to take him along and when to send him to grandma’s house :wink:

Thanks everyone for the concern. It’s good to know others are watching out for kids’ well-being. We will definitely use our brains and a healthy amount of good judgement when introducing our kids to this wonderful, family friendly, and active sport.

For the good analysis and great safety advice!