Tag Archives: tandem

How to Paddle in a Tandem Canoe

Tandem Canoeing.

Though solo canoeing is always an option, nothing moves a canoe better than a well-matched tandem team. The trick is good communication and knowing your job. Here are a few tips to get you started.

The bow is for power.

If you’re sitting in the front you provide forward momentum and correction strokes when the boat wanders. You set the stroke cadence with a steady rhythm and are the lookout, identifying obstacles and making course corrections. The draw is a bow paddler’s key correction stroke. Instead of using the paddle to push the canoe forward, you’re using it to pull—or draw—the bow toward the paddle, thereby changing the boat’s direction. It’s great for avoiding rocks.

The trick is to reach well out of the boat, plant the blade firmly, and then pull the paddle shaft toward the canoe. To practice the cross-bow draw, simply swing your torso to plant the paddle on the “off” side, without switching hand positions (one on the top of the handle, one halfway up the shaft), and draw the canoe in the opposite direction.

The stern is for control.

If you’re sitting in the stern, or the rear, paddle in sync with your bow partner with your paddle on the opposite side of the canoe. Identify and steer the general course, sighting on a distant point or open downriver channel. You also complement the corrections made in the bow. Paddling a tandem canoe is like dancing. Talk to each other. Forgive each other.

Again, the draw is a key correction stroke, but since the stern paddler can’t efficiently draw on the “off” side, you’ll want to use the pry instead. Trail the paddle behind your hip, turning the blade parallel to the hull (like a rudder). Lever the blade emphatically away from the canoe to change the boat’s direction. Finally, because the canoe seats are set asymmetrically, the stern paddler overpowers the bow and has to correct every few strokes with a brief rudder, or J-stroke. After roughly every third forward stroke, pivot the paddle into rudder position and give a short flick (not as dramatic as the pry).

Stay stable.

In waves or white-water, drop from a seated position directly to your knees if things feel dicey. This lowers your centre of gravity and puts you in the most secure stance. Second, take a stroke, any stroke. Get that paddle in the water. It will act as an outrigger or brace.

Paddle smarter, not harder.

“Ramming speed” is the default strategy of neophytes. More often than not, paddling harder only makes bad things happen faster and more dramatically. Instead, back-paddle gently through standing waves to keep from swamping, and to slow the action as you read your way through moving water.

When in doubt, stop and scout.

The canoe world is full of scary and embarrassing stories about rapids not scouted. When you see something coming up that looks iffy—a funny break in the river horizon line, a downed tree, an unclear route—overcome the aversion to stopping. It’s always worth taking a look and staying safe.


Original article by Alan Kesselheim


28 Reasons to go Canoeing: 14: Romancing the Water

Canoe trips like in Moonrise Kingdom

Running away together in the style of ‘Moonrise Kingdom’.

Romancing the Water

Canoeing in tandem is a great way to travel on a romantic holiday. Everyone knows that when you go hiking together one of you is always striding off and the other is struggling to catch up whilst the former is getting exasperated by waiting.

It cannot happen in a shared boat. Of course you have to get past the bickering stage where you each blame the other for why the canoe is turning in circles or unaccountably running into each bank in turn.

After several hours of this kind of nonsense you’ll discover that one person can take control whilst the other gets on with important things like taking photographs, pointing out the wildlife or preparing the cocktails or some such.

And when you’ve paddled into some deep green secluded spot where the river runs crystal clear besides a hidden silver beach who knows how the situation may resolve itself.



Details of our Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips and our brochures.

28 Reasons to go Canoeing: 8: Kids love it

Kids love to go canoeing

Kids love to go canoeing

Kids love it

That’s the thing, kids love messing about in water and in boats. As long as they can swim about 25 yards and you insist on wearing the life-jackets – for them and for you – then taking children on rivers can be a lot of fun.

Choose the kind of water appropriately and choose the day and weather and everyone will have a great time. They’ll soon get the hang of paddling, probably a lot quicker than an adult going for the first time.

It wont be long before two kids in a tandem will be proficient enough to paddle by themselves. With your boat close by to keep an eye on them though.


Details of our Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips and our brochures.