The best option for extended solo paddling is to remove the yoke and install an extra wide seat in the optimal solo position, a little behind center, which means the canoe is well trimmed. The downside is needing to use a clamp-on tandem yoke for portaging. Short carries are possible with the seat balanced on the base of the neck, but be prepared for a well bruised C7 vertebrae. This center seat option works well on narrow tandems, especially those with shouldered flare, because the paddler doesn’t need to reach as far. An additional seat also reduces available space for gear.


Another option is a kneeling thwart. It replaces the stern thwart, so it takes no additional space and adds little weight. This paddling position is a compromise, neither in the center, nor a long way from center. Many people find a kneeling thwart works great for a few hours but is uncomfortable for all day paddles.

In canoes longer than 18 feet an extra wide seat can be placed between the stern seat and yoke. This option places the paddler a bit closer to the center than the kneeling thwart does. Like center seat option above, this also reduces gear space.

A classic way to paddle a tandem canoe solo is from the bow seat facing backward. Most Northstar tandems are built with a bow thwart behind the bow seat, which maximizes the stiffness of the canoe and minimizes weight. Though, on our shortest tandems, the B 16 and Northwind 16, we’ve eliminated the bow thwart to allow solo paddling from the bow seat by adding extra reinforcements to the lamination. These two models along with the Polaris outfitted with a center seat are the most common tandems paddled solo.

Whichever of these options you choose will depend on how much you’ll paddle solo and what sacrifices you are willing to make.