Should A Couple Rent a Two-Person Canoe?

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when i asked my grandparents, who have been married 59 years, some of their secrets to a happy marriage, without hesitation they said “never rent a two-person kayak!” i was once in a double-person kayak when i was younger and because the other person and i weren’t communicating well, we flipped and i have been intimidated by self-powered boats ever since.

i am currently in panama city beach, florida where my in-laws now live (yes please family on the beach) and they took us on an adventure to echofina creek canoe. it’s a 7 mile trip down the river (there is a pretty good current so it’s not super intense paddling). heeding my grandparents advice, we opted for the two-person canoe (instead of a kayak) and crossed our fingers it wouldn’t end in us bitterly wishing the other would just jump out of it.

*remember to take of your wedding bands for any type of water activity because it’s not worth the risk of losing them…that will not help you surviving a two-person canoe trip.

echofina creek pcb ryan and chelsea avery

you need to see my cute in-laws too! they took the risk on a kayak and also survived!

echofina creek pcb inlaws

so should a couple rent a two-person canoe? the most important thing about a couple surviving a two-seater canoe trip is to start the trip off liking each other and not being in a fight. this was essential because if we would have been mad at each other or had some sort of passive aggressive thing going on, one of us probably would have blown the safety whistle and been ‘rescued’ by the company or smacked one another on the head with the paddle.

i sat in the front with my husband in back where he steered the boat using the paddle. it took us a while to get the groove down and even longer for me to stop being so strong headed and listen to his instructions of “paddle two left” or “three little ones right.”

PCB Us canoeing

sometimes i struggle with wanting everything to be so 50/50 in our marriage and it’s something i’m working on because that’s not what’s always best. i realized that he had a lot more experience navigating a canoe (4 years at camp) compared to my experience of being 8 years old in a canoe with my grandpa where i did absolutely nothing except eat cookies.

we were both adding to keeping our canoe upright by me scouting out hidden logs in the water and calling them out so he could steer us around them while i powered us through. i was also on massive spider watch so he wouldn’t guide us directly through their webs where they would inevitably lay eggs in my ear.

echofina creek pcb chelsea avery

the scenery was incredible and along the way were natural springs that fed to the river. they were so clear (and freezing) that we had no choice but to get out and explore. it was interesting to see where they intersected with the river.

echofina creek natural springmost of the river was a reddish-orange color and thankfully too cold for alligators but these springs were incredible! we saw schools of fish and even some baby snapping turtles! it was like we were walking through glass (or i guess really clear water).

echofina creek riverthe main point of contention on our canoe was when my husband suddenly turned all ‘mr. captain of the river’ and felt the need to stand up to navigate. he felt powerful and said it was fun to stand while i felt every movement of his body in the boat and eventually got annoyed. other than that, we got along pretty well for the whole 4.5 hours down the river.

we made sure to be complimentary of each other along the way. this consisted of me letting him know it was actually pretty sexy that he could so smoothly steer us between a fallen tree and submerged log (it was) and him saying i was a good scouter, paddler and snack-hander-outer.

renting a two-person canoe absolutely tested our communication skills of needing to be patient in the beginning as we learned the roles we’d be in for the day and also letting each other know what we needed. at one point we got stuck in a torrential downpour ( 1/2 inch of rain in our boat afterwards) so i had to let him know i needed his instructions of which side to paddle to be louder and clearer because i couldn’t hear them. he needed me to hold the paddle correctly so i could move us quicker. fair enough.

PCB canoe trip

part of me was very nervous that our adventure in a two-person boat wouldn’t go very well but i am happy to report that we made it and had a lot of fun along the way. i will say that if you are in fight or argument with your spouse or have a hard time communicating, it would be best to rent individual boats because it will only add to the turmoil and could result in pushing the other out into the river.

i still think my grandparents are right about this because it does take a while to adjust and work together but it can be possible if you are both committed to working together and neither of you get hangry!

PCB river canoe mom and sonhow do you think you and your spouse would do in a two-person boat?




  1. Elyse

    July 1, 2015 at 8:54 am

    I’m glad you survived your first canoe trip!

    I know the answer to this for my husband and I and it’s surprisingly well, considering we like to think we are “city folk”. I was surprised that we didn’t flip, and we made it home without any fighting(alright maybe a bit of a fighting :P)
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    • chelsea

      July 3, 2015 at 7:51 am

      haha thanks elyse! me too 🙂 and well done to you and husband for not flipping and it going well! i hear either it’s super great or super terrible!!!

  2. Ashley @ Saving Money in your Twenties

    July 1, 2015 at 11:27 am

    bhahaha, I love this. such good lessons from a canoe trip 🙂
    Ashley @ Saving Money in your Twenties recently posted…Saving Money on. . . Gas!

    • chelsea

      July 3, 2015 at 7:52 am

      ha! a bunch of people commented when i put the article on facebook that some referred to it as the ‘divorce boat’ because it can either be really great or really terrible!

  3. Audrey

    July 1, 2015 at 11:32 am

    This is hilarious! “They would inevitably lay eggs in my ear.” SO TRUE.

    Also, I can’t believe you stood in water where alligators sometimes live! Ahh! That’d freak me out!

    A few years ago I went canoeing with Kyle and some friends. We never received advice like that so we got a canoe together…. We STILL fight about the others lack of skills and direction-taking abilities to this day! Haha!
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    • chelsea

      July 3, 2015 at 7:55 am

      i am glad you concur about the spider eggs NO THANK YOU! i was hypersensitive to logs in the water peeking out like they were gators, i got freaked out multiple times.

      haha hopefully you can laugh a little about the lack of skills and direction taking from your past canoe trip audrey! i’m telling you…if we wouldn’t have been so relaxed from being on the beach or one of us got moody…it would have ended horribly.

  4. Rachel G

    July 1, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    My grandparents love to tell the story of the day they almost got divorced because of a canoe trip–and imagine, they were in two separate canoes! 🙂 They told the story at their 40th anniversary party, of course.
    Angel and I actually always get a tandem kayak, and we love kayaking, it’s never the least bit stressful for us. I may be a modern woman, brilliant and highly skilled in many ways…but I am never tricked into believing that my husband and I have to be equally skilled in every area of life. Because he has 50 lbs. on me and because he’s naturally muscular and athletic while I’m naturally extremely nerdy…our kayak method is that he paddles while I sit back and relax and order my kayak chauffeur around and take pictures and enjoy the beautiful scenery. If I want to paddle for a bit then I do but I usually find that concentrating on paddling takes away from concentrating on seeing exciting things like fish and birds and turtles and cool rocks, so I usually just watch and tell Angel to look at all the exciting stuff I see. I have my own skills, I can let him have his skills, and be impressed that he can paddle our boat around for hours and need no help at all. 🙂
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    • chelsea

      July 3, 2015 at 7:56 am

      whew seems like our grandparents are on to something rachel! sounds like you and angel have it down for your kayak trips! the role of picture taker with a kayak chauffeur totally sounds like the way to go! agreed about appreciating the other person’s skills. these were skills i didn’t even know my husband had so it was fun to witness!

  5. Cassie

    July 2, 2015 at 8:41 am

    HAHA we would have absolutely killed each other

    • chelsea

      July 3, 2015 at 7:57 am

      haha! it appears there are only extreme cases of ‘oh it was great’ or ‘oh that was terrrrrible!’ when it comes to this!

  6. Nina

    July 2, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    This made me giggle. Congratulations on your accomplishment, I don’t think I could have the patience to do that. I also want everything to be 50-50 in my relationship, unless it’s dishes. Then I want it to be 20-80 on him. Just kidding. Kinda.

    • chelsea

      July 3, 2015 at 8:01 am

      haha thanks nina for the congratulations! i was nervous when we first got in and for the 20 minutes it wasn’t my favorite but then we found our groove. in our relationships i’m like give me alllll the dishes if you cook! i know what you mean though…it can be tricky!

  7. Shawna

    July 2, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    This is amazing because my husband and I were talking about buying a kayak…no make that TWO kayaks. We have been on a kayak trip before and it was 50/50 on the bickering side. Sometimes we were in sync and other times nope. That’s just marriage. Being on the same page about everything in life isn’t really possible. We decided if we do wind up getting a kayak it would be best to get two so I can kayak on my own even if doesn’t want to and vice versa. I mean some of those tandem ones are HEAVY!

    • chelsea

      July 3, 2015 at 8:04 am

      haha glad you’ve talking about buying TWO kayaks, shawna! right you are about marriage and you being on the same page sometimes while other times you just aren’t! good call on just logistics too…those tandem ones are heavy and plus the single ones give you freedom!!

  8. Rebecca

    July 5, 2015 at 11:27 am

    How funny… my husband and I did a 12 mile kayak trip on the Buffalo River in Arkansas a few weekends ago. We have pretty different communication styles. I am glad we had the foresight to opt for separate kayaks. The river was moving pretty fast. Not only did we not sacrifice each other to the river but we took turns leading each other through “rapids” and fast turns. Guiding each other out of tough situations removed ourselves from the equation so we could focus solely on the other person when they needed it most.

    • chelsea

      July 8, 2015 at 2:15 pm

      wow 12 miles is impressive, rebecca! it sounds like separate kayaks was the right choice for sure! that’s so cool that you guided each other through different situations, i absolutely love that!

  9. Kait

    July 13, 2015 at 11:49 am

    I feel like this whole post just needs a #thestruggleisreal.

    Also this: “sometimes i struggle with wanting everything to be so 50/50 in our marriage and it’s something i’m working on because that’s not what’s always best. i realized that he had a lot more experience navigating a canoe (4 years at camp) compared to my experience of being 8 years old in a canoe with my grandpa where i did absolutely nothing except eat cookies.” <– this is why we get along so well. Except I probably would have been like, "FINE YOU DO IT THEN" because sometimes I'm still that 8 year old eating cookies. 😉
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