-- Last Updated: Mar-16-07 10:09 AM EST --

My wife seems interested in getting a tandem kayak for the kids and her to play in. She would paddle double with me occasionally, too, on quiet waters a couple hours at a time at the most. We have a line on some WS Pamlicos (135T, 145T) and I was wondering if a rudder is necessary to make these barges go in somewhat of a straight line or not. Have any of you paddled one of these boats?
Also, are they roomy enough for me to sit in the back (inseam of 32 inches)?
How do they handle solo with someone around 120 lbs.?
Thanks for any input.

rudders are a good idea…
First tandems tend to be hard to steer with out a rudder unless you have good communication and rhythm with your partner.

I would definitely get a rudder for a 120lbs person soloing a tandem.

You will fit in the back just fine… I have a 34" inseam and don’t have a problem.

I have a OT Loon Tandem
Barge is not an inaccurate term, but if it fits your need and gets you on the water, they are great. The secret to going in a straight line is to be properly trimmed. If the bow or stern is too heavy, the boat will weather cock, turn with the wind.

The boat should be easy to paddle by one person, mine is, but tandems tend to be a bit heavy, so loading and unloading could be an issue.

Make sure the kids have a paddle.

I have a 135T which I enjoy and a
rudder, in my opinion, is unnecessary. It tracks very well.

Rudder, in my opinion, is very necessary for a tandem or for keeping your marriage. You will find out why.

I respectfully disagree
If a couple paddles in sync on the same side of the boat and both have a decent forward stroke, a tandem can be much fun.

Strokes from two paddlers may have different forces. Right arms may be stronger than the left arms or vice versa. Strokes may be out of sync at times. Tandems are hard to lean. Wind or current could easily throw you off. For all the above reasons, rudder is a good thing to have - for a tandem. You might chose not to use it just for fun.

yooper, I was planning a tandem

– Last Updated: Mar-17-07 8:52 AM EST –

...consideration for purchase, also. I posted on here early winter about it and have gotten interesting replies. I even checked out two used tandems at Carl and John's Paddlin Shop in Madison this past weekend (thanks, Carl!).

Final decision for me, made this week: I am not going to buy a tandem. Ever.

A descent RM tandem is still about 105 lbs, real weight (not published 90 lbs weight which is wrong...have to step on a scale) with rudder, and it is a bear to move. Just look at one in real life and you will be instantly dissuaded. A smaller rec tandem, like a Loon T160, might be less intimidating, but if you want a rec tandem you might as well get a much lighter and utilitarian canoe. Less paddle slap in a canoe than a short rec tandem.

Anyhow, I looked at the Current Designs plastic tandem... what is it, a Crosswind or something. What a beast! If you have a local "hernia-repairs-r-us", then make sure you prepay for your gut surgery.

If you are like me, the heft and size of a sea worthy tandem will preclude frequent uses, thus I have decided not to get one. Sure, the f/g tandems are lighter, but not much (still talking 80 lbs), and sure the ultra-light $5000 tandems, such as Ruhine, are only 60 lbs. But who wants to spend that on a wife and kids paddling at the local park on Sundays for an hour. They won;t take it out for short paddles dure to size (18-22 feet), and it will languish and eventually be sold for 1/3-1/2 of what you paid for it, if you are lucky. At leats that is my take on it, after reading articles, posting here, and seeing them in person.

Here is one key fact I learned about tandems that no one everv posted to me on Pnet, and I had to figure this one out myself. One person cannot easily pick up a tandem (usually people using them with kids, so not likely to get too much help in a car top from a 4 foot tall, 65 lb youngun) not so much because of the gut busting weight, but rather because of the placement of the cockpit holes! There is no center hole in most that make them pick-up-able (is that a word?). You balance a kayak by the cockpit when we lift it, even if only lifting to knee high. Cannot do that with a tandem (unless it is an open design, like a Loon, but again, then might get a lighter and more ubiquitous canoe).

I have decided not to get a tandem, but instead to invest in a good tow line, as advocated by Wayne Horodowich in Sea Kayaker magazine 1997, and pull my kiddo when he tires. Good practice for me, and he loves his own boat.

Just my 0.02 cents (don;t you just get the willies everytime someone writes that 0.02 cents thing. Gosh. Really? I thought it was your three cents. Thanks for taking the time to waste a couple nanobits of cyberspace by writing a cliche that makes everyone puke).

Paddle hard, yoop.


– Last Updated: Mar-17-07 3:10 PM EST –

You won't appreciate what Cooldoc articulated about the weight until you cartop one of those a few times. But keep in mind we are talking about high end tandem seakayaks that go on Lake Michigan, Long Island Sound, or circumnavigation around Tasmania. They are universally longer than 17'. Take a look at the Featherdraft tandem - 85.8 lb, a beast to carry even for a foldable. Take a look at the fiber glass or kevlar tandems by Seaward, Necky, etc.. The boat makers seem to try their best to keep the weight above 80 lb by lengthening it. Prijon now has a kevlar tandem (Yukon KII)that weighs 63.8 lb for $4499 - a breakthrough in weight but not the price.

If you are talking about a rec boat, Pamlico 135T or the like weighs only about 55 lb. Not sure about your physical condition, but this is not heavy.

Once my family rented individual solo kayaks in Keywest. I had to get down in the water to drag my wife's boat to shore because the current was against us. If your partner is unable to take care of himself or herself on the water, a tandem is a necessity not a choice.

My wife cannot carry anything becasue of her shoulder injury. Therefore, I am not buying anything that I cannot cartop by myself without a struggle. My CLC double, a 21' condor, weighs only 65 lb, just about right for me. With Thule's Hullavator (not a must), I can cartop my tandem with ease.

Pluses for tandems: having a conversation with your partner without shouting, passing sandwiches or binoculars without getting them wet, and being cheaper than two solos.

Two solos with a tow line is not a bad idea, but not the same.

Phoenix Vagabond weighs 46 lbs.

cooldoc nails it but
still it would be nice every now and then to have one…its a great way to introduce paddling to a complete neophyte and it can be fun if there is mutual understanding prior to the endeavor…after much study if i were to add one it would be the cd kestrel 170T, at 65 pounds it is doable with two people carrying…

Good alternative

– Last Updated: Mar-18-07 9:51 AM EST –

with a decent length. But poor tracking, you said?

You might consider a SOT,
as your first concern seems to be to have some fun.

If you are going to do Lake Superior, the big water usually includes some winds, and the low and angled profile of the SOT will work good for you and the family there and anywhere. There are a few tandem SOT models out there, so research the posts and the internet for reviews.

Your chances of success are good with a SOT.

You can always “move up” into grandeur later.

Good luck, and Happy Paddling!

WS 145T for the wife and me

– Last Updated: Mar-18-07 9:46 AM EST –

We Bought a 145T two years ago,have many miles on it together and solo. The front seat slides and locks into the middle making it a solo kayak. I fish from it in this position. Lots of room. I will be buying float bags for it due to the postings on this site. Good Insurance. I can lift it myself, but I did but a RollerLoader to get it on top of my trailblazer. No problems loading or unlodaing. Get the rudder...best thing for kayaking with the wife. When she gets tired I can get us home with no problem. The yak paddles well and glides forever. 10/10 for us

All good points made here regarding weight, ease (or lack thereof) of cartopping, etc. As far as tandems go, I see them not so much as being a replacement for a solo kayaking experience, but as a slightly different facet. Both my wife and daughter have their own boats, but I’ll take the tandem when we’re heading out into more challenging conditions than a calm lake-this way I can keep my daughter close when negotiating busy marina crossings, or more open waters out to islands. We’ve done the tow rope thing also, which works well, but I do worry sometimes that the large powerboat wake I’ve just negotiated will capsize her. My wife’s on her own-smile. It’s great on vacation also, with plenty of cargo storage for daily excursions and the benefit of fitting and loading two vs. three boats up on the roof.

My Tango is rather big-boned at 95 lbs., not an easy lift or carry solo. I have found on mine though, that by standing in the middle by the center hatch grasping the rear of the front cockpit and front of the back cockpit coaming, it’s not too bad to move it from place to place-it balances easily. Not all tandems may have the configuration that allows this. Loading it on the roof rack requires propping and sliding it on the saddles. Now have a roller that wedges in to the swing gate door on my CR-V (Thanks Scott, you da’ man!), thus avoiding the ‘I get one shot’ Olympic clean and jerk required to heave it solo up on a high roofline.

As to tandems in general, we also have a front suspended tandem mountain bike. Took a friend for a ride on this one up on some cinder carriage trails up in Lake Minnewaska, NY. Carving down the mountain switchbacks, I could hear her yelling into the wind behind me; “I LOVE THIS!” Pretty much sums it up for me.

Good write up
You wrote, “… by standing in the middle by the center hatch grasping the rear of the front cockpit and front of the back cockpit coaming, it’s not too bad to move it from place to place-it balances easily.”

You are stronger than me. I’ve been doing the same with my 87-lb Excursion, holding my breath with veins popped up. I finally upgraded or shall I say downgraded to a lighter one. I will definitely keep the Excursion for rough, unknown terrains.

Another possibiity…Eric Schade Tandem?
Have you thought about building a tandem? Eric Schade has a beautiful design, 18.5 feet and about 60 lbs when completed. You can build it as an open or closed deck:


Eric is a fantastic guy who sells precision kits and provides excellent phone support.

Building your own boat is a tremendous experience…especially for a family…


Breathe, man. Breathe! :wink:

Trust me, I wish the boat was lighter as well. Really heavy is when those cavernous hatches contain a picnic lunch, beach bag, buckets of shells, airfoil kites, bilge pump, throw bag, camera, flares, first aid kit, etc., etc. Repeat mantra: “Lift with the legs…” Your 65 lb. CLC makes me envious…

Nick’s tandem is a thing of beauty, as are his other boats. Everytime I see that Mystery I want it, badly. Saw the tandem raced at the Blackburn that wasn’t last year. I’ve been lusting after the Westside Bullitt tandem also, but it’s not exactly touring inspired (“Sorry sweetheart, we need to go fast, so we’re eating Powerbars and energy gels today.” That ought to go over really well.

It’s only money
Here we have a winner - a 17’, 42-lb tandem.


Two Lites looks sweet. n/m