Tandem Kayaks


As a curiosity for myself and info for the poster, Steve, who wants a stable tandem for him and his wife, what are benefits for getting a tandem and not so good things.

Also, I can introduce myself now saying I have a Heritage Redfish 14 sit on top. Just got it a few weeks ago. Also, I live in WA state, not D.C.

Okay, so my thing was I want to pilot my own craft. When my husband wanted to ride motorcyles, I learned and got my own, didn’t want to be riding on the seat behind him which is commonly termed as the “b!tch” seat, lol and I wanted to learn the skill etc.

With kayaking, I want to go where I want, closer to shore, go slower, maybe faster, so I’d rather be on my own in my own kayak. Also, I thought my husband, not a kayak may be tippy, so I preferred to kayak alone:)

I find it much nicer to go explore near him, but not be attached to him if I want to look into the shallow water for “life” (crabs, fish, starfish etc) or closer to shore for a better look at herons, plovers, osprey etc. w/o having to confer w/him and say let’s go here or there. That would drive me nuts.



benefits for getting a tandem?
1) Someone can take a break… If you have a smaller paddler (child, partner, dog) with you, they may not like to paddle the whole time.

2) One is cheaper than two… It gets you out on the water with less of a financial commitment.

3) Good for guests… Put it in the fleet for when guests come to visit.

4) Faster? At olympic levels they perform the same(?) but for the average paddlers, I am guessing a tandem is going to move faster.

get both
Get both.

My wife and I are solo paddlers.

We bought a tandem necky amaruk to train for the Yukon river quest. (we rented a seward passat g3 for the race.) I had previously done the yukon race as a solo paddler.

The biggest benifit we have had with the tandem, is we could both paddle our butts off and at the end of the day we were only three feet apart.

It was nice during the course of the day to not have to stop and wait for someone else to catch up.

My wife is a strong paddler and ‘chicks’ most guys in races, but she can’t keep my pace when we are in solo boats. Even when we are both in the same solo hulls, same paddles, etc.

Training wise it was good for her, because when we are in solo boats she works too close to her upper limits, while trying to match my pace. She spent the winter training more aerobically in the tandem than she would have in the solo boat. Now she has great endurance. She just completed the colorado river 100 race here in texas (solo boat). First place, Female, Adventure Class.

we swing both ways
My husband bought himself a sea kayak about 20 years ago. I bought myself a touring kayak about 3 years ago. I love my solo kayak. I bought it while recovering from ankle surgery (couldn’t hike) and paddled my first six weeks with one leg in a cast!!

This year, we decided to get a tandem, to get the kids paddling in kayaks (previously they were only passengers in the canoe). I’ve been surprised at how much I enjoy paddling with my husband in the tandem. It’s become our first choice, honestly. I don’t have to try to keep up with him. The boat is very stable, rock solid in rougher water, goes much faster than I go by myself. I find we cover more miles than we do in singles.

I should say that the tandem we bought was a Necky Manitou II, 14.5 feet long. Two cockpits, but no bulkhead between the cockpits (this makes it possible for a kid to sit between the paddlers). It weighs in at about 65 pounds. Heavy, but not impossible. We got a rudder - it seemed like a no-brainer on a tandem.

So, there’s our experience. Hope it helps.

Tandem kayak
We have 2 tandem kayaks. A Necky Nootka+ (carbon composite layup) and a Current Designs Crosswind (poly). The Nootka+ is about 22+’ long, very sleek & fast, but more tippy (especially initial stability). The Crosswind is about 18’ long, very stable, slower than the Nootka+. The Nootka+ has a center storage compartment, the Crosswind doesn’t, but has enough room between the cockpits that our paddles don’t hit.

Tandems may not be for everyone, but we enjoy our tandem kayaks & bikes. We only kayak in the ocean and it lets us stay together (he doesn’t have to worry that I’m not keeping up, drifting off, etc.). I am not as strong a paddler or biker as my husband is, yet with a tandem we can work together & enjoy our trip.

tandem kayaks vs. solo

– Last Updated: Sep-07-07 3:47 PM EST –


Great answers and very diverse. Seems like everyone went w/what worked best and enjoyed best, always good choices.

I just got my new & first kayak being a sit on top Heritage Redfish 14; my husband has his Big Game Ocean Prowler (12.9 or 13) for a few months now. We took our first trip together and I looked back to see him in the distance like a small green pea. He stopped for a second to take pics, but then could not catch up or keep up, so I'm happy the different kayaks have made us somewhat even since it's harder for him to paddle and he is much bigger and stronger than me.

Unfortunately, not liking to be left behind although I will try to paddle slower, but it's hard, like taking a walk w/an old aunt, he wants one like mine. He originally bought his for stability as he places crab traps out on the Puget Sound in WA State.

William, that's fantastic that your wife set that record for herself. Not being too competitive, I just set my own goals, but that win for her sounds very rewarding and lots of fun! You must be very proud of her.

Bye, Capri


– Last Updated: Sep-07-07 10:16 PM EST –

If you're mismatched in strength and endurance, tandems are the ultimate equalizer. But every time I've paddled a tandem the term "divorce-maker" kept on coming up (not from my partner).

But honestly, it is pretty easy to synch strokes if the front man paddles steadily only for power... the back man is then responsible to match the front man's cadence and handle all steering responsibilities.

Lazy front person
The last time my wife and I paddled a tandom, I ended up paddling all the time, she took constant breaks which got on my nerves. We were with a group so I had to paddle hard to keep up. That is why we got solo kayaks. Now she paddles as much as I do and enjoys her solo time.

follow up
I posted earlier about my tandem woes with my husband. I decided to give it another try, and persuaded him to sit in front. It worked a lot better, and although he yelled at me a few times, we went on a straight course and everything was much improved. I am now not totally against going on a tandem kayak with him, although I still prefer to go solo. So, sometimes even a change of seating can make the difference between a divorce boat and a love boat (well almost a love boat).

tandem kayak
I have a Santee 140T (Hurricane Kayaks). I went with a tandem so my dog could come along on my paddling excursions. I chose the santee 140T because it’s weight. Only 52 lbs! And I always have an extra seat if a friend wants to come along. Though I do want to get a solo kayak at some point too.