We had jolly fun planning our first sea kayaking expedition. Many of our friends did too. For more than a year, enthusiastic supporters weighed in on the Single versus Double–Love Boat or Divorce Boat Great Debate. Should we buy a single sea kayak or double sea kayak (otherwise known as a tandem)? It seemed like a simple question but the answer wasn’t clear, at least for us it wasn’t. What was clear: we had homework to do.
The Great Debate
Discussions were passionate, definitive, and divided. Paddle in a double sea kayak: are you crazy? Divorce boat, foreboding voices predicted. We love our double sea kayak, others gushed. In short order, I could predict many responses just by considering the personalities involved and their interactions with others. For romantic partners, the answer was usually unanimous. Throughout, it seemed to me that a less emotional, more practical approach was in order.
8 Top Reasons to Paddle a Double Sea Kayak
After listing pros and cons, we settled on a very sexy Seaward Passat G3—a double sea kayak. Our choice exhilarated a few of our friends and mortified the rest. Before heading out, we bravely estimated the odds: 70% chance Love Boat and 30% chance Divorce Boat. Now with ten months of paddling behind us, I think it’s safe to share the top eight reasons that I think we made the right choice, at least the right one for us.
The Intangible Benefits of a Double Sea Kayak
Both of us are passionate about philosophizing. Lothar’s specialties are politics and world history and mine is natural history. Naturally, we try to make sense of humanity and the world we live in. When we’re snuggled into our cozy vessel, we travel, dream, teach, learn, and debate—all in the same day.
At the other end of the spectrum, synchronized motion sometimes lures us into long periods of silence. On the ocean, light plays on water with creative abandon. When the sea is awash with reflection, I slip into reflection too. Even with my man nearby, it’s easy to find solitude—to connect and explore within.
I just asked Lothar, “remind me how you describe it when we’re paddling as a team.“ He quipped, “a well-oiled machine. Magic. In sync. You know. It’s magic.” This is from a guy with a passion for solo expeditions. When two people work together as one, the connection runs deep—a soul enriching experience.
The Practical Benefits of a Double Sea Kayak
Any couple who paddles on the ocean is probably better off if they stand on equal ground, particularly on extended trips. Being a whitewater kayaker, Lothar has solid bracing skills to stay upright in unruly sea conditions. If those fail, he has a bomber roll to return an overturned single sea kayak back to upright. Sometimes, he can pull off a roll in the double sea kayak; that is, assuming that I do a good job of hugging the deck. I have many skills but combat paddling is not one of them. In a double, we can paddle in more challenging conditions than I would be keen to do on my own. This brings me to the next point.
Our double sea kayak is incredibly stable. We’ve paddled in seas much rougher than I was happy about, without feeling imminent instability; that is, once I got used to seeing a good portion of the bow periodically disappear under water when running with a brisk tailwind in choppy seas. The downside: if the sea is so nasty that we do go over, it is unlikely we’d be able to roll and, even though getting back into the boat in calm conditions is easy, getting back in would be challenging if even possible. I am acutely aware of these facts. My take on it: plan ahead, regularly assess the situation, and don’t make dumb decisions out there.
Usually, it takes us around three hours to execute 12-15 km crossings. Together, we can get there faster than we could on our own—for the same energy cost. Importantly (for me), we reduce our exposure to weather-related hazards.
7. Pee Breaks
When sea kayaking, us girls need to put more thought into bladder management than you guys. I have a dry suit with a zippered butt flap, a great option onshore but somewhat useless in a kayak. Many times I’ve been grateful to Lothar and for our double sea kayak because he can handle the boat in swell and wind waves while I scrambled onto any rock I can find to cling-on-to (crab-like). Planned dehydration helps too. Since I bought my dry suit, Kokatat has started making suits with a back zipper and front zipper; the latter positioned for using a funnel. Now girls can pee in a bottle too!
Team fishing is exciting. Our early technique: Lothar sets the rod for trolling or jigging. When something bites, he reels it in close to the boat, as I slowly paddle to shore. I scramble out: he passes the rod to me: I reel the fish onto shore. If it’s a keeper, we’ve got dinner; and sometimes breakfast, lunch, and dinner (again). Now we have a fish net so we can land the fish on the boat. So far we haven’t had to paddle to shore.
Paddling in a Double Sea Kayak: Stellar Results
We’ve mostly thrived and occasionally weathered the better part of a year in our Seaward Passat. I am happy (and relieved) to report that she is the Love Boat. Yes, Lothar and I have had our moments. When I’m mad, I can’t paddle away. I know. I’ve tried. The fact that we are stuck together forces us to work it out, which is a good thing. My take on it: wandering the coast of BC and Alaska in a double sea kayak is a glorious way to travel. Our first expedition far exceeded my expectations. And it just keeps getting better…
Check Out Our First Major Sea Kayaking Expedition
Smithers, BC to Glacier Bay, Alaska: http://ravenecological.com/?page_id=801
An Outstanding Product
We love our Seaward Passat G3: http://www.seawardkayaks.com/products_fibre_passatg3.php