The divorce boat: Learning to kayak, tandem style

Paddles clanking against each other and on the sides of the boat. Our words clanged against each other as well the first couple times we took our new tandem out. I can see why the tandem kayak is called “the divorce boat” AND I can see why kayaking is a popular sport.

Manitou II is a beautiful blue with splashes of black. It’s about 15 feet with the rudder and the best impulse purchase we’ve ever made. If you’re interested in specs here it is on the Necky site.

We live by a lake so getting out to practice was easy, it was the practicing itself that was hard, if we wanted to actually get around the lake in a semi straight line.

If you’ve ever been kayaking you know you can lean and stroke and move a kayak fairly easily, even if you don’t know proper form. In a tandem you have to stroke in rhythm together, to keep your paddles from hitting each other. You have to lean together to add enough emphasis to not struggle against the water (if you lean at all, which we certainly didn’t at first!). Oh yeah, and then there’s the back seat driver thing.

If I’m backseat driving in a car all I can do is yell and push on my pretend peddle. In a kayak I can actually turn the boat, and then he can turn it back in his direction.

To move past the backseat driving we found a system that works for us. I, the one who tends to ask for rest breaks more frequently, get to set the pace. My husband gets to order our paddling direction, since he works the rudder in the back. We get to provide (mostly polite) input to each other but we each get the final say in our respective roles.

That system still works for us, almost two years of paddling later, without divorce papers in site. After all, how do you split a tandem 50/50 and still stay afloat?

14 thoughts on “The divorce boat: Learning to kayak, tandem style

  1. Tandem kayaks are the best. My ex and I (boating had nothing to do with the divorce) loved the couple of longer trips we did in a tandem. Twice the power, each can take breaks, and, my favorite – one can take photos while the other keeps the boat stable.

    I was bummed when a while back a friend & I did a guided day trip near Port Angeles and she refused to do a tandem. I couldn’t sell her on the value of it. Neither ended up with good pictures.


    1. I was thinking you might get better pics of the other person in the water, but hadn’t thought about the stabilizing part. That’s so true!
      I conveniently have the camera and snacks so I’m the one that ends up taking more breaks 🙂


      1. Too often in a solo kayak, you see a photo opportunity, get the camera ready, and in that 15 seconds you’ve drifted 20 feet. Frustrating…


      2. That makes sense. I just got a go pro (because even in a tandem you float from that perfect picture! And video will be fun) but then there’s the battery life which will probably still mean I won’t have it on when the perfect pic comes up. Ah well, just have to enjoy the moment.


  2. I love this post! the one we are getting is a sit on top, we live in miami and most of everything ends on a beach. I can’t wait to read more about your adventures!


    1. Ooh the weather must be amazing, kayaking in Miami! 🙂 my only experience with a tandem sit on top was in Maui (also amazing weather and lots of beaches). Hopefully you’ll post more about your kayaking experiences too!


  3. Love your outdoor adventures, I wish I could do that more often.
    My husband and I kayaked once, years ago, first married,lol. We’ve been married 8 yrs next month! We actually were comPaddable together. We lived the 10 mile trip with the rest of the youth. I love hiking to find new pics to take of the wild life and water falls, whatever I can get my camera on!


    1. That’s awesome, you’re comPaddable :D:D Glad your marriage made it through the kayaking, and happy early anniversary (ours is also next month, thanks for the reminder!).
      What area do you live in? Is it hard to get to those hikes?

      Liked by 1 person

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