Paddling your kayak solo is easy – left, right, left, right. Coordinating 2-person paddling takes a bit of cooperation. Here’s how one Washington couple worked it out.
“My wife, Kathy, and I have been married 47 years this month. We are blessed to live in Washington State; an area of beautiful mountains, forests, lakes and rivers. Kayaking the rivers and lakes is a great way to enjoy all that God has created. This is really the great fun of kayaking — seeing the wildlife up close and personal.
We’ve always enjoyed camping. We’ve done it all, tent camped, back packed, RV camped, motorcycle camped, and now we camp with our ‘pop up’ tent trailer. Now when we go camping we look for campgrounds near lakes and rivers that we can explore from our Sea Eagle 370 Sport Kayak.
Paddling Practice for Two
In our first kayaking season, we had trouble coordinating our paddling. The problem was I kept knocking her in the head! We obviously needed to work on our paddling coordination.
I went online and found videos that showed and explained the important aspects of paddling in tandem: position of hands; paddling on the same side; the stronger paddler sitting in the rear. But the most significant point that is that the rear paddler must watch and match the front paddler. I found that when Kathy and I were paddling, I was watching the scenery, and not really paying attention to her strokes. I would paddle on the same side all right, but often with a stronger stroke that could cause us to veer off course. By not watching her strokes, my timing would be off. To correct this I began to focus on her hands and found that most of the time I could see small “pre-movements” which helped me be ready to match her stroke.
Secondly, I asked her to be consistent in how she paddled. Sometimes she would appear to starting a right-side paddle but would switch at the last second and paddle on the left side, throwing my stroke off. And, finally, I had to watch the strength of my stroke. If I needed to make a quick course correction to avoid a hazard or point our bow into a large boat wake then a strong stroke is okay, but keeping our stokes matched in timing and strength helped greatly.
Oh, and communicating is very important. If either of us wants to go in a different direction, we need to first tell each other. Now that we understand what it takes to paddle our 370 we’re perfecting our paddling and really enjoying kayaking!
The convenience of being able to deflate and fold up the Sea Eagle is a plus. We have a small SUV and pull a small tent trailer when we go camping. Our 370 folds up into a two-foot by three-foot package. Everything fits easily in the trailer — the boat, paddles, seats, life jackets. That leaves the SUV available for the rest of our gear and I don’t have to put things on the top of the vehicle.
We have some friends who have two hard-sided kayaks. They encouraged us to get some kayaks so we could go kayaking with them. They paid over $700 for each kayak and I couldn’t justify spending that kind of money for something that I wasn’t sure I would like.
We chose to go with a tandem kayak because we had tandem-kayaked in Hawaii, Alaska, and in the San Juan Islands here in Washington. I Googled ‘inflatable kayaks’ and several brands came up. Then I researched and compared the different brands and found Sea Eagle had good reviews and very affordable prices. We decided on the 370 because it was a tandem and came completely equipped with everything we needed to start kayaking. It’s rated for up to Class III whitewater and though I don’t plan on kayaking in rapids, it’s good to know that it will hold up.
They Live in God’s Country
We live in North Central Washington near the town of Leavenworth. The Wenatchee River flows down from the Cascade Mountains to the Columbia River. Our first paddle was down a section of the Wenatchee that flows through Leavenworth. (pix IMG 820 was taken at the end of our first trip down the Wenatchee)
We like lake kayaking the most. We look for kayak-friendly lakes or lakes that have “no wake” areas. Our favorite so far has been Osoyoos Lake in northern Washington. It’s a very large lake that crosses the border of Washington and Canada and is known for its mythical Ogopogo monster. The lake is also the headwaters of the Okanogan River. The headwater is a flatwater section of the river that has many shallow inlets containing hundreds of lily pads. We were able to paddle through them and watch nesting ducks and ducklings. Our dog Maisy, who goes with us in the 370, was fascinated with them. I was really surprised at how easily Maisy took to riding in our 370.
While were camping at Osoyoos Lake we discovered another lake called Wannacut Lake. There is a really cute 50’s era resort right on the lake, which is a ‘no wake lake’ and we plan on going there next summer!
— Rick and Kathy Leal
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