tandem sea kayak
24 inches wide, 9 inches deep, 20 feet
long, custom everything.
I like doubles, a lot of people don't. While it's true that
a double removes some of the freedom and spryness of traveling in
singles, it also adds efficiency for straight line travel and can
be a great way to even out the difference between paddlers of different
strength and skill levels. I appreciate the camraderie of being
in the same boat. What I don't like about doubles is that
they usually weigh over a hundred pounds, cost a small fortune, and
generally tend to be built a bit wide for my stroke preference.
In early June my friend Leann and I got the idea that we should go on a
trip in a double, with the small concern that first I had to
design one. We sat down with a pen and some scratch paper
one afternoon and drew up a reasonable looking boat. The idea
was to stick with the basic geometry and ergonomics of the F1 with a
similar misson as well, a quick lightweight manuverble kayak
intended for maximum fun with minimal effort, on day trips and tours up
to one week long.
Three days later we had the frame built, tweaking every aspect to
fit our bodies while leaving enough wiggle room for other paddlers to
check it out as well. I skinned it during a class and spent a
day bolting on sails and hardware. It was a lot of
fun customizing the kayak to meet our specific needs and in the end I
think that with all the expensive hardware I might have violated the
simple ethic of skin-on-frame just a bit. I think the soul
of this boat wants to be a stripped down lightweight version,
45lbs and perfect for throwing on the car for a weekend paddle,
but just like any boat, there is little limit to the amount of stuff
you can add to it.
The bow swoop on the F2 is anything but cosmetic. With the weight
of two paddlers spaced apart, even the broad bouyant bow of the
F1 needs a little help to rise through a breaking wave. The
goal here is to split the water and break the surface tension to keep
green water from pinning down the bow when breaking through the surf.
With the back of the bow coaming raised, I needed to re-steam the
entire cockpit into a taco shape to drop the sides for a little extra
comfort for the paddler in the bow.
The cockpits are spaced just far enough apart to allow for aggressive
paddling without clacking paddles, but close enough together to let
paddlers pass things back and forth. The heavily reinforced
and nearly flat deck in the middle makes and excellent work surface for
stowing crab traps, filleting fish, reading charts, stacking gear, or
whatever. As always, deck lines are hard oil tanned latigo,
strong enough to lift the loaded kayak by, and won't let items
fly off in the surf like a criss cross of bungees does.
Back support is the same as in the F1, these Snap Dragon bands
are tough, comfortable, and simple.
Also the same as the F1 are the wilderness systems slidelock
footbraces, easy to adjust on the fly, which makes a big
difference in comfort when you are on the water for hours on end.
For the rear cockpit I chose Sea Dog pedals instead. These burly
pedals allow for hard bracing while still offering fine rudder control
and are light years better than a sliding track system, and much
more robust than the seal line toe pedals. They also adjust
without making cable adjusments.
I bought this Feathercraft rudder and bracket from Chesapeke Light
Where low tech meets high tech. Instead of a double cleat and
bungee system for the rudder deployment, I found that a simple
rope tied in a loop around a deck line was much easier to use.
The weight of the rudder kept it in place up or down, and it kicked up
I added this sail from Flat Earth Kayak Sails for a bit of extra push
on downwind or reaching courses.
All the strings and hardware can seem a bit intimidating, but in
practice the stays did not get in the way or foul, and the system
worked flawlessly despite it's complex appearance.
The white rope is the halyard and the black one the sheet. A
small bungee collects the sail and mast neatly when stowed on
deck. There are many kayak sail systems including an
ingenious one now in production in Tasmania that actually provides
windward performance but requires a rudder. You could go
either way on a double but for a rudderless single this system is good
choice. As always sails increase the risk of capsize so
extra attentiveness and a cautious approach is advised.
A very smart feature for a hard working double is this 1/2 x 1/8 inch
solid brass strip that I used to protect the entire length of the
keel. I'm not sure I'd bother for a day tripper or
occasional camper, but when intended to drag up and down rocky
beaches with a heavy load, this strip can, and did, take a lot of
Often times I'll build over a dozen prototypes before becoming
disgusted with a design and finally giving up, so it is a real pleasure
to build something that turned out so well on the first
try. It's no coincidence that the heart of this boat,
or rather, the bow and stern are taken almost stock from the
F1. In fact, this is nothing more than an F1 with six feet
added in the center. It retains many of the F1's handling
characteristics, even without the rudder.
We took it out through the surf once and had a riotously good time
surfing it in! and I'm sure that given my proclivity for such
activities there will be more surf photos appearing here
soon! For the real maiden voyage Leann and I took a four day trip down
Northwest Washington's wild Ozette coast which was one of the best
sea kayaking trips I've taken! I'm looking forward to
future adventures in the F2 and using it to troll for salmon
It would be fun to build them in classes as well but I'm not quite sure
how to price things. The double is nearly twice the
expense and twice the effort of two singles when you consider the
neccessary customizations. I imagine we'll work out the cost on a
case by case basis until a few more get built.
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