Paddling a Tandem Kayak

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Patrick and I went kayaking at Middle Bolton Lake yesterday. Previously, Patrick has squeezed into the cockpit of my Tsunami but that was clearly not a good long-term solution. Toward the end of the season last year we bought an inexpensive Pelican 140T tandem kayak to make it easier for the two of us to go out. This was our first time using it.

The trick with any tandem is weight distribution — even more important when the two paddler’s weights are so different! The front seat is located near the middle of the kayak, so that’s probably the best spot for the majority of the weight to go (me). However, I wanted to be able to keep an eye on Patrick (meaning I sit in the stern) but my concern was that my weight would cause the bow to sit high in the water (or even out of the water altogether). We had a 50 pound bag of sand I was able to use to help counterbalance the kayak: I pushed the bag of sand as far forward into the bow as I could, then slid the footpegs forward to hold the sand bag in place. On the water this worked very well.

A short review of the Pelican 140T kayak: it’s a cheap recreational kayak so my expectations were low. It is wide, so it’s very stable. I was able to get it moving faster than I expected: the GPS reported a top speed of 3.5 MPH (I typically hit 4.5-5 MPH in the Tsunami and can best that by a bit in the P&H Cetus HV). Without the skeg it tracks absolutely horribly; with the skeg down it’s manageable but not good. We had a pretty constant but light wind and with the skeg down I didn’t have much trouble controlling it. Of course, I’m sure it all handles much differently with two people working together who are of more similar size.

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