Kyle Thomas 12/08/2019 | Posted in Creeking, Dynamic Duo, Whitewater, WW Disciplines
Once upon a time, a paddling dudette and a paddling dude decided to take their relationship to new heights. Get married? No, they already tied the knot. Get a dog? Nah, you probably already read about Oliver the Adventure Corgi in the Jackson Kayak Karma RG. They decided to purchase a Jackson Kayak Dynamic Duo. A big step, I know.
When the Dynamic Duo arrived, we were filled with excitement, especially with it being in the super cool Starburst color scheme (I’m a big fan of pink kayaks). Since my early days of paddling, I have loved tandem kayaking. Whether it be sea kayaking or whitewater kayaking, I just think a shared adventure is very special. Yes, I’m also a fan of multi-player video games and that’s probably the origin of all of this.
I love the teamwork associated with tandem kayaking. Where in solo paddling you’re in full control (as much as nature allows) of your vessel, tandem kayaking requires embracing each other’s strengths. I’ve found the person in the bow (front) seat to be effective at scouting obstacles and routes ahead and building up speed. I’m able to see a good bit from the stern seat, but some obstacles are blocked by a person being directly in front of you. The person in the stern (back) seat can do a lot of the steering and fine tuning through rapids. This becomes a great lesson in power dynamics. Yes, it’s possible to paddle the Duo with a novice paddler, but I also really enjoy it with an experienced paddler (my wife).
As soon as we could, we brought the Dynamic Duo to Lake Washington to practice paddling together and rolling the kayak. As some of you have probably experienced, the Dynamic Duo (or any whitewater boat) does not track well on a very windy lake. There are other Jackson Kayaks good for that. The good news is that we figured out quickly how easily the Dynamic Duo turned, which would be quite beneficial on the river. Then, we tried out the roll. Since my early days of tandem kayaking, I have found an effective system for rolling with two experienced paddlers. I have the person in the bow seat roll first and then the person in the stern seat roll second. This system has worked really well for me during combat rolls, but maybe you’ve found a better system for you. If not, try out the 2-roll technique. While on the lake, we also unintentionally practiced “carping” a first roll and using a second roll to get up. Worked like a charm! It’s amazing how easily this boat rolls.
Our next challenge was to take the Dynamic Duo to the river. Which river? We decided to have our test run on new stretch of river for us, the Suiattle River. For those familiar with the PNW, it merges with the Sauk River near Darrington, Washington. Our first test was hiking with the kayak. The Dynamic Duo is a little heavy, but we appreciate having a sturdy boat on whitewater. Honestly, the weight wasn’t too bad when split by two people. We tried carrying it by the grab handles, but found that we could effectively carry it on our shoulders like we would a solo kayak. Pro tip: Don’t forget to swap shoulders every now and then to keep those shoulders balanced.
The outfitting was very easy to adjust and we had plenty of storage to carry our safety equipment, a breakdown paddle, water bottles, and snacks. For a little extra luxury, we may even add in a set of Sweet Cheeks in the future. At 6’0’’ and 185 lbs, I’m able to paddle in boat seats of the Dynamic Duo. It’s a little snug for me in the front, but I’m quite used to that while play boating.
Once on the Suiattle River, the Dynamic Duo paddled like a dream. It ferried well, it surfed well, it maneuvered easily, and was SUPER comfortable. We quickly found ourselves paddling at the front of our group. While navigating rapids, it’s important to remember that paddling a Dynamic Duo is like paddling a long boat or a raft. You have to plan your moves ahead of time but can definitely make adjustments on the fly. We were able to easily catch eddies, do rock splats, dial in some sweet boofs, and maneuver some tight lines. I was blown away by the Dynamic Duo’s ability to pivot on a dime with minimal effort. And boy oh boy was it FAST!!!!
It is important to know which strokes are most beneficial in the bow seat (e.g. bow draw, bow rudder, front sweep) and which are most beneficial in the stern seat (e.g. stern draw, stern rudder, reverse sweep). It’s a great reminder in being efficient with your paddling strokes and teamwork. Honestly, I geeked out on this a bit while paddling. I provided me with a new way to experience the river and a new challenge to figure out how to effectively and efficiently navigate whitewater.
In conclusion, I absolutely adore the Jackson Kayak Dynamic Duo. I love paddling with my wife and I look forward to introducing my nephews, niece, parents, other family members, and Oliver the Adventure Corgi to whitewater or kayaking in general. The Dynamic Duo makes me a better paddler, will help me to introduce new people to the sport, and works on my ability to communicate and work with others to achieve goals. I look forward to learning how to roll it by myself with someone else in the kayak, trying it out with hand paddles, and competing in the tandem kayak division in races.