Tandem Techniques

My wife and I ordered our first kayak one week ago; a recreational tandem (I know- a divorce boat).

Today I read two books on kayaking techniques which were very informative:

“Kayaking- Paddling Basics” by Cecil Kuhne.


“The Kayak Companion” by Joe Glickman.

Neither book mentioned any special techniques for tandem kayaking. Are there any? Any suggested resources would be much appreciated.

Sit facing away from each other.

Submission unto the captain
is the only technique that will work.

Good luck.


The Complete Folding Kayaker
by Ralph Diaz has a short chapter on paddling doubles. Easily applied to rec tandems.

It is the rear paddlers…
…job to stay in sync. with the front paddler.

If the rear paddler wants to go faster, he/she informs the front paddler to pick up the pace.

I assume you have a rudder, but if you want to turn quicker, in conjunction with the rudder, the rear paddler informs the rear paddler to just paddle on the right for turning left, etc.

It is the rear paddlers responsibility to maintain the harmony!



Cool moves
Working together you can do some really cool things with your tandem. Depending on the model of boat you should try to play with edging, bow paddler doing a forward/bow rudder with an opposite stern sweep, double low brace turns, side slips. Most of these can be gleaned from good singles manuals and programs. It’s going to depend a bit on the hull shape but my wife and I have found that figuring out how to make a tandem dance on the water is a lot of fun.

See you on the water,



Darn , this is about paddling.

You can try paddling, bondage, other
tandem operations in a tandem CANOE.

tandem advantages
I own a tandem and really enjoy it for longer paddle trips. My cockpits are spaced far enough apart so I don’t have any issues with paddling in sync. Tandems allow for some serious mileage and speed. Personally, I think if many of the more experienced single paddlers out there got a tandem for long trips they would see the advantages right away. Practice is the key. I was out near Tofina, BC last summer and spent a fair amount of time in the surf. The doubles can handle just fine and you can cover more ground in a day compared to a single. I would like to learn how to roll the tandem - that’s a big chore but would be a really neat skill to have for larger seas. I plan to use my tandem boat this coming July for a coastal trip from Neah Bay to Kalaloch on the Washington coast.

Thank you Tsunamichuck. I found the Ralph Diaz book at the library and it was very valuable for novice tandem paddlers.

Front Paddler
One thing Ralph Diaz recommends in tandem paddling is to put the more powerful paddler in front for greater clearance for a powerful forward stroke.

This is different than anything that I have been told. Would this mainly apply to folding kayaks or rigid kayaks as well?