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The basics of tandem Kayaking

There is nothing more fun than tandem Kayaking. You can be in the water with your partner or your friends, paddle away in synchronized fashion or even choose to paddle away separately if you have a large two person canoe.

In all fairness, the term ‘divorce boat’ is an insult to this fun craft.

But if you are just starting off and find that you hit each other’s paddles on more occasions than not, then let me tell you that it is completely normal. It will take some time, practice and an understanding of the basics of tandem kayaking and you should be ready to take on the world.

Here goes.

  1. Let the stronger and more experienced Kayaker sit on the back. The Kayak will be controlled and propelled largely from the rear side and you want the stronger Kayaker to take that position at all times. If both are beginner Kayakers, then it is ideal if the heavier person takes the rear position.
  2. Launching the kayak is an important but overlooked part of the kayaking process. As you push the Kayak into the water, the front passenger will get into the kayak first and begin paddling normally. The back passenger, who is the stronger and more experienced one will continue to push the kayak until it is in the water and then jump in.
  3. If both the kayakers are beginners, then take time and practice the basic paddling motion one at a time. Do not attempt to paddle in tandem. Take your time to understand how the sweeping motion works and how fast you are able to control the Kayak. Once you have enough practice, you are ready to graduate on to tandem paddling.
  4. Decide on the side that you want to start rowing from. Start at the count of three and try to paddle in a synchronized fashion on each side. Once again, the onus is on the Kayaker sitting on the back to match his movements with the Kayaker on the front. This is where you are most likely to hit each other’s paddles. Ignore this and continue paddling.
  5. Turning the Kayak is a slightly tricky movement for beginner tandem kayakers. To execute a turn, the front kayaker will paddle forward and make a forward paddling movement on one side of the Kayak while the back passenger will paddle backwards on the other side. Ensure that this is communicated before you begin and you have an understanding of when you wish to execute a turn.
  6. Communicate with each other. Tandem Kayaking is all about talking to your partner while enjoying the outdoors. The front passenger may find that it is hard to hear the person sitting on the rear. But all that they need to do is turn their head to the side while communicating.

These are the basics of tandem kayaking. You will learn and discover a lot more about it once you and your partner hit the water with the boat. Have fun!

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