How to paddle a tandem kayak

A tandem kayak is a great option to enjoy a day in the ocean. Tandems tend to be larger, longer, and more robust than single kayaks, which makes them the ideal choice for beginners to learn the proper technique with an instructor who is located close to them. When you’re both a partner are both experienced and are able to cover many miles of water quickly when you paddle in tandem. The biggest challenge that kayakers from all levels are to master the art of learning to paddle a tandem kayak and yet maintain an enlightened relationship with their paddling partner.

How to paddle a tandem kayak-site1

If you’re learning how to paddle tandem kayaks, select the kayak and place that are compatible with your capabilities. In general (but often) the most experienced paddler will be in the stern position in the kayak. A less skilled kayaker will paddle out in the bow. Effective paddling requires an initial paddler who sets the pace, and the rear paddler observes the speed while maintaining the kayak in the direction it is intended to go. In the end, the most important thing to having a great day is being able to communicate clearly and injecting the appropriate amount of jokes from dad to make the day upbeat.

How do you join the tandem kayak?

When you launch a kayak, allow the paddler in front to ride on the kayak first. The reason is that a rear paddler is more experienced in controlling the kayak. The front paddler will surely require assistance in getting into the kayak, so be at least patient enough to offer assistance and also be the last to get in.

Learning how paddling a tandem kayak will make the kayaking adventures of your family more enjoyable. It’s only just a few steps, and continued practice to get a smoother ride on waters with less exertion. Establishing the right rhythm is the initial step, along with proper contact with front paddlers. Since the front paddler functions in the capacity of captaining the vessel and the paddler in the rear must be the one that will determine the direction of the voyage. Did you find this useful? Tell us about it by commenting below!

Be aware of the precautions

You might be nervous about paddling through a huge body of water. Therefore, you are able to participate in a few events to build confidence. Keep in mind that it is a vessel for water and the possibility exists of it crashing. However, it is possible to avoid this. Here are the steps that you must take while kayaking in tandem.

Be aware of the precautions
  • Be sure to wear an emergency jacket, and keep an extra one in case of emergency.
  • If you’re both novices kayaking tandem You can begin training on the shores.
  • Make sure you have a first aid kit for first aid.
  • Make sure you are aware of weather conditions that surround you prior to going on a kayaking trip.
  • Make sure you have plenty of water and food.
  • If the boat capsizes and one person gets sucked out, make sure that you are at a different angle from where the other falls into.
  • Let the paddler in front jump into the water before the second paddler.

Do not hit the paddler in the front with the oar

Tandem kayaks usually are larger than solo kayaks so that the two paddlers have enough space to move about and switch their paddling. But, there’s the possibility that the paddler in the rear could strike the front passenger by dragging the oar. This is the norm for newbies but it could be avoided with training. Request the paddler in front to start slowly to allow you to try different techniques for gripping your paddle.

Select the Position you want to take (Front/Rear)

The most common issue with tandem kayaking lies in the absence of unison between the kayakers. The kayak will be in an unfocused tracking pattern that can create confusion among the two paddlers. To get this resolved allow the front paddler to determine the pace of paddling and the rhythm. The back paddlers should follow in order to not disrupt the paddling. When the back paddler wishes to accelerate, he should inform the front paddler first. The back paddler should follow what he is seeing in the front. Do not start a race in identical boats!

tandem kayak who sits first

Right or left? It’s a simple choice however, for tandem paddlers it can create confusion. Let the front paddler make the decision and coordinate the decision, add three to get an exact start. Perform the same movement between the sides as an example of how to paddle in tandem kayaks. Try not to paddle on opposite sides in hopes of solving the problem. A paddler may not have the same amount of strength as the other, which could make the kayak spin instead of following an even path. Make sure you paddle to the exact side to ensure that the movement is synchronized in a single. Splitting the sides can affect the stability of the vessel.

Let the less able passenger serve as the paddler in front

How is it that the less experienced paddler sets the pace? This way, the less experienced paddler won’t have a tough to catching up with the back. Allowing the weaker passenger to lead the kayak would make it easier for the other person because he’s more able to be able to adjust to various paddling intensities. This is basically how you paddle with a tandem kayak.

In the event that the passenger in the front is paddling at a slow pace, it should be the speed of the rear. Coordinating will make the track quicker as the front paddler isn’t exhausted easily. On long journeys, it is possible to change positions to see if something has could be improved.

How do you put it all together and paddle your kayak tandem

Paddle on the opposite side, with the same cadence

Tandem paddling is best when both paddlers are along the same side at the same speed. Your boat will move quicker and you’ll stay clear of the inevitable fight that happens when two paddlers are trying to paddle at different speeds.

If you’re kayaking on the exact side simultaneously the hull of the kayak will roll to the right and left. Although you cannot completely avoid this result, you can limit it.

Make short strokes

If both paddlers make short strokes then the yaw, as well as the fishing effect of paddling on the opposite side, will be lessened. For the stern paddler take a break from your forward stroke prior to when the blade of your paddle is at your hip.

Your paddle strokes should be more vertical

The advantage of vertical strokes on your paddle is that you reduce the yaw force that your kayak experiences. However, the vertical stroke can also be a more wet stroke. If you’re trying to improve its stability, then the cost you pay is a bit of the wet substance in your kayak and onto your skin. It is up to the paddlers in the bow and stern to decide on the right pace which minimizes the drip from their boats.

Your paddle strokes should be more vertical

If you feel you must reduce the amount of boat drip think about the use of paddle drip rings. They are rings that connect on the shafts of the paddle in order to prevent the water from flowing down the length of the shaft into the boat. Some drip rings are better than others. I have talked to paddlers who swear that they use drip rings. I’ve also met paddlers who avoid drip rings. Personally, I’ve not erected any flags in either of the camps.

Is paddling while wet a difficult issue for you? 

This article is on how to remain dry while paddling in this article. (Ironically one suggestion would be to choose a shorter paddle stroke. Everything is in context I would guess.)

Find out how to effectively communicate. Conversations that are civil. One of the major benefits of a tandem kayak is to be able to chat with your paddle-buddy. However, this is often not as straightforward as it seems.

Bow paddlers: Move your head toward the side to make a connection. 

The bow paddler faces the front. But the bow paddler also facing forward. Therefore, on days, with turbulent water, it might make it difficult for the paddler in the stern to understand what the bow paddlers say. Therefore, bow paddlers should tilt your head towards the side and talk to your companion.

The bow paddler: Your eyes will be the eye for the kayak

Because of your position at the forwarding end of the boat, you’re responsible for identifying obstacles the stern paddlers can’t discern and directing steering commands to the rear. What should you do to accomplish this? If you’re seriously considering asking yourself this question take a look at the previous article and carefully read the article.


Congrats! You’ve learned to paddle in tandem kayaks. It is important to remain in good standing with your companion throughout the entire process of paddling and finally reaching the bank or shore. Be aware of your partner’s unity as the single most crucial element in tandem kayaking. The rest is dependent on how you tackle the task and what kayak and paddle you purchase. Enjoy your kayaking!

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Last update on 2022-12-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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