tandem tripping canoe

I have been paddling mostly solo for the past few years. Am lucky to have found a girlfriend who wants to canoe with me. We’re not experts, although we’ve both been on rivers in canoes and kayaks a dozen or more times.

So, what are some of the best tandem canoes to handle a 400 lbs. load for day trips which may include some fishing and photography with an occasional weekend camping trip (where the load may increase to 500 lbs.)? Most of the rivers I frequent are Class I and II rapids with an occasional class III section. Expect I’ll need Royalex or similar rock resistant material.

I often see used Old Town Discovery’s for $500. Are these better than spending $1000 on Mad River Explorers or $1500 on Swift Dumoines? All suggestions appreciated.

I have a Disco
I was able to get a 158 Discovery as a second for 500 and have been very pleased with it, its a real workhorse and handles everything i throw at it. I’ve done lots of “mini tripping” with it and leave next week for a 5 nite tandem trip. The Disco is a great boat and quite capable for what you described. it is a little heavy though, at 83 lbs its not the most fun thing to load on a roof rack by yourself but not too bad. hope my two cents helps!


– Last Updated: May-09-07 10:46 AM EST –

The OT Discoveries have the reputation of being rugged but very heavy for their size. If you can deal with the weight they're a decent paddling canoe for the money. You'll want to check used ones to make sure ther's no obvious warping from improper storage.

As to asking if a more expensive canoe is worth it -- that's something only you can answer.

other alternatives
Paddling tandem can be a very rewarding experience.

I’d look beyond your list. My favorite canoe for Class II or III is an old Bluehole Starburst. An Old Town Appalachian or a Dagger Legend would be more nimble in the rapids.

Are U the lucky one
I would take both coach. Canoe and the girl. If there is no fighting (loud discussions) and one of you not dominate of control. Otherwise I would just get another solo canoe. That way you could paddle in your own way without conflict. I would think she would want to be a master of her own boat as you would and walk around a spot your not ready for. I have seen men be so dominate that women will not paddle the next time or the rest of her life one bad time and this sport is not for pressure on another. I find this in scuba instruction also. Women want to be more of a master of their paddle strokes. I will share this. A female instructor had a class of advanced solo C1’s. The men had been heard saying what what she was going to get. In the first class she told the men to meet her in the river behind an island 100’ off shore then the class would start. After lunch the men arrived to the starting point. They could not make the proper paddle moves to reach her so the point was made and the men ate out of her hand the rest of the weekend. The river was a class 2 and the spot was a 2/3 but swift water and an eddy turn was required.:slight_smile:

Tandem paddling
To me, effectively paddling as a tandem pair is very rewarding. It reminds me of dancing, each partner reading and reacting, each has their move to make, and when it all works, it’s a lovely thing. OTOH, it can be disaster.

At least one paddling school (MKC) starts pupils off in tandem boats and graduates them into solo boats. Personally, I think that is backwards, because in the solo boat, you get immediate feedback from your paddle strokes and moves. I think it is difficult to learn to lean the boat when learning as a tandem. The two paddlers can contradict each others lean, and it is sort of natural to do so. When you feel the boat starting to lean, it is a natural tendency to counter by leaning the opposite direction. If you learn solo, then both paddlers will tend to lean the same way, and the act of leaning is a form of communicating where you are trying to put the boat.

A common mistake among pairs is the assumption that the stern paddler should be the stronger, and should be in command. If I take a newbie in ww, I put them in the stern. That way, I can see and pick the route, and I figure getting the bow to go where it needs to go is over half the battle, and if I can get the bow to go, the stern will follow. As you and the woman learn, I recommend changing ends of the boat on a regular basis. In the stern, your partner can watch your strokes, which will help the learning process.

With a competent partner, unless there is a lot of wind that dictates how the boat needs to be trimmed, my practice is to swap bow and stern positions every time we stop. The exception I mentioned is the wind. When windy, arrange yourselves in the boat so that the heavier end of the boat (without gear, that means the heavier paddler) points into the wind. This is another reason to learn to paddle from both the stern and bow. When you need to switch because you want to trim for the wind, both paddlers will be able to competently do so.

Good luck, start easy, and keep in mind an expression I once heard on the street. “No yelling in the boat! (unless it’s in ecstacy)!”

~~Chip Walsh, Gambrills, MD

Nice, but in what way were they a class
of “advanced” solo c-1s? Being able to do such things is part of being advanced.

If there’s any chance that your weekend trips will involve portaging, skip the Disco. It’s simply too darn heavy. There are lots of options in Royalex canoes, many weighing under 70lbs. If you don’t care if its a Mad River, Bell, Swift, We-no-nah, Mohawk, or Old Town, you should be able to find a used hull in excellent condition for under $800. Most, if not all, of these hulls will also offer better performance.

Some good advice
I’m leaning towards getting a tandem boat for now. One reason is, I think there are some tandem boats that can paddled quite nicely solo. So by buying a tandem, I would retain the option for bot of us to go Solo or Tandem. I know the Swift Dumoine has an option for a kneeling thwart, so it has the two seats and a thwart for solo. I’ve heard mixed reviews of tandem boats paddled backwards from the front seat.

So with that in mind, guess I’ll keep an eye out for decent used tandem boats that could be paddled effectively solo.