Two Youths Paddling In A Tandem Kayak

HOW TO PADDLE A TANDEM KAYAK

The beauty of a kayak is that it can be operated by just one person, but partner paddlers need not be discouraged. There are tandem kayaks that are perfect for two. And while it takes a little more effort and teamwork to paddle a tandem kayak, it can be very enjoyable and rewarding when done properly. Read on for my quick guide on how to manage these two-seater watercraft.

PADDLE IN UNISON

When you’re trying to paddle a tandem kayak, you can’t just flail about and do whatever you please. You and your partner must paddle in unison to get the kayak going. It takes a little practice to get it right and be in complete sync, but you’ll soon find that paddling in unison propels you forward faster. Try counting or calling your strokes out loudly. This will help you keep your rhythm, and, soon enough, you won’t need to say anything at all. Apart from being more efficient, paddling in unison also prevents your paddles from bumping into one another.

PADDLER POSITION

There are only two positions in a tandem kayak: the front and the back. The paddler seated in the front is typically the one who controls the overall rhythm. The front paddler must also be the one to guide the direction of the kayak since he/she is the person who can see everything. For this reason, the paddler seated in the back must follow the lead of the front.

If one of you is definitively stronger than the other, that person must take the back position. This is so he/she can match the pace of the front paddler. The back paddler can also paddle alone if the front paddler becomes too tired.

TURNING TAKES COORDINATION

There are tandem kayaks that come with a rudder. This helps you keep your watercraft running straight or make small corrections concerning your course. However, big turns require coordination from you and your paddling partner.

Making big turns aren’t as difficult as they seem. All you need to do is perform paddling actions simultaneously. To do this, the front paddler must do a forward stroke on one side. At the same time, the back paddler must do a backward stroke on the opposite side.

GETTING ALONG

Of course, all of this is for naught if you and your paddling partner don’t get along very well. Make sure you keep your cool if things go wrong. The last thing you need is to get upset and derail your kayaking trip.

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS

As with any other boating or paddling activities, there are some risks involved. For this reason, you must be prepared with safety items and a first-aid kit in case of emergencies. Tandem kayaks are normally wider than your typical one-person kayak, which means they’re more stable. However, that doesn’t completely eliminate the possibility of capsizing. To be safe, you and your paddling partner must also wear life jackets at all times. It also helps if you both know how to swim.

Kayaking by yourself certainly offers some advantages, but there’s also something to be said about tandem kayaking. The activity doesn’t only promote teamwork and coordination; it also gives you a chance to bond with your paddling partner. It’s a great way to build rapport and strengthen your connection with each other. Follow this quick guide on how to paddle a tandem kayak, and, before you know it, you’ll be having a great time.

 


 

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Jake Taylor
jake.taylor@dinga.com.au

Jake is a global traveller who has recently called Australia his home again. If he's not travelling, he is writing about it and his experience.