Marriage in a Double Kayak

Disclaimer: This page may contain affiliate links. Please review our full Terms and Conditions for more information and our Privacy Policy. Note that any pricing, operating hours, or other such information provided below may have changed since initial publication.

Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Pete Heck

Being together constantly and working side-by-side in business is like marriage on speed – our 4 years of continuous travel must equal close to 20 years in regular marriage. For the most part, we work extremely well together.

However, that can quickly fall apart when we are put in a competitive environment, or in any situation where we are both focused on completing a specific task. (Ask any of our friends who have participated in board game marathons or on the same curling team with us – not a fun time for anyone.)

We soon discovered that the same happens when we’re trying to propel a boat.

Dalene and Pete

On the first day of our kayak expedition, when the group was divvying up who would be in single or double kayaks, Pete and I both immediately raised our hands for singles (at least we know ourselves well). But then, in the interest of fairness to everyone (who for the most part all wanted singles), we knew we would have to take our turn in a double. So we gave in on that first day for the short paddle to our first camp. We could handle that, right?



It took us no time at all to bicker about who was the cause of our zig-zagging pattern. First, it was the rudder’s fault (says Pete), and then it was my turn to be scolded for steering us all over the north Atlantic. Soon after, another in our group pointed out to Pete that he was holding his paddle upside down and I was vindicated for a brief moment.

But then we still couldn’t get it right. Our first outing on an 8 day trip wasn’t near as fun as it should have been.

Pete and Dalene in Double Kayak
Those are fake smiles.

The next morning however, with some grumbling, we clamoured back into that double kayak to begin our next leg. Despite our penchant to quibble in such situations, we had realized a very important aspect of working the double kayak together.

We could see so much more.

Look Over There

We could take turns paddling – one worked the kayak while the other took photos and video. We would find a strong rhythm and burst ahead of the group such that we could enjoy some solitude with just the two of us. And once we switched up positions and I sat in the back of the kayak with control of the rudder, our path became straighter.

It may have taken us a couple of days, but we soon hit a powerful stride, and spent the majority of our time jointly forging our way through the north Atlantic Ocean. It was still not without quarrel, mind you, but there’s nothing like being surrounded by breathtaking scenery to shut us up as well.

Berg Ahead
Kayak Front View

Our journey in Greenland was courtesy of Greenland Tours. All opinions (and marital spats) are our own. For a review of our entire trip with them, please click here.

Similar Posts


  1. I’m so glad you ended up making it into a good thing. The last time Nick & I were in a kayak it didn’t end that pretty. We have avoided kayaks ever since.
    The views from the kayaks are incredible by the way.

  2. Wow, that penultimate picture with the nose of your kayak peeking into it is really gorgeous! Definitely worth risking marital death by kayak to snap that one! 😉 Now we know why shows like The Amazing Race love putting teams into canoes and the like—it brings the drama!

      1. Me too, Steph has the best vocabulary of anyone I know 🙂 We have had our fair share of kayak-induced fights; Tyrhone once left me to paddle out to sea in Turkey after I screamed at him for trying to help me…Good times… Kinda. Stunning photos.

  3. Your caption of “fake smiles” made me laugh out loud! My husband and I recently went on a portage/camping trip and I swear we could not paddle in a straight line to save our lives. Granted, I was in the back steering so it was likely my fault, but considering it was my third time canoeing why was I made the steerer in the first place? Anyway, that’s great that you guys finally hit your rhythm and have stunning pictures to boot. Just beautiful! I’m loving these Greenland posts, keep em coming!

    1. Thanks Danielle! A kayak tour guide on twitter mentioned that not only does she consider herself a guide, but also a marriage counselor. Apparently we are not alone! 🙂

  4. Holy gorgeous photos!!! I feel like if you guys DIDN’T bicker in a 2 person kayak, that would be weird. I’ve never not got in a fight in a 2 person kayak haha. Amazing scenery to distract you though! Glad you got your rhythm in the end 🙂

  5. Ha ha, I know how you feel. Chris and I are currently working for the same NGO. My desk is in front of his desk. Not ideal, but at least I have got someone who can make me a cup of tea every now and then. 😉

  6. Beautiful photos – what a stunning environment up there. Funnily we’ve just been talking about renting a double instead of singles when we visit the Florida Keys next month. I think we can cope for a couple of hours! (??)

    1. Men. I almost wrote in the post (but knew that Pete would make me take it out), that once when we were curling together, Pete told me to “get my head out of my ass.” Yelling and cursing ain’t gonna help things, boys!

  7. Haha. I am so sending this to my friend. She and her husband kayaked with us in Patagonia and they fought the entire time. When they finally got out of their kayak she turned to me and said, “that was a low point of our marriage.” Haha.

  8. You guys always have amazing photos but these might be the most stunning yet! I’m wowed! Sounds like an adventurous trip by the way…. eight days in a kayak, amazing!

  9. Haha, this post reminds me of when we went kayaking with whales for our honeymoon. The guide called it the “divorce” kayak. We thought we wouldn’t be like the other couples bickering that he had seen, but we totally were. We solved our issues with me in the back as well :). Greenland looks like an incredible place to kayak.

  10. I love kayaking, but my fiancé has never been. We’ll be trying out first double kayak pretty soon when we visit the Maldives. Can’t wait to see how that goes for us!

    All of your photos of Greenland are absolutely beautiful though. I never really though about visiting, but now I may have to!

  11. Ha! My wife and I work terribly together in a kayak as well. Halong Bay in Vietnam comes to mind, me trying to take photos while my wife paddles us around in a circle and splashing me with water 😉

  12. It’s truly fabulous to read about how the two of you worked out sharing the tandem, but everything pales in comparison to your breathtaking photos of Greenland’s absolutely extraordinary landscape! I am thrilled that you took advantage of every opportunity to document the scenery!

  13. I’ve only been in a double kayak once, and it was with the guide from our Halong Bay cruise. My husband thought it would be best for all involved if he and I didn’t make the attempt 🙂

  14. I had to laugh out loud at your initial experience because I can totally see us doing the same. I think we would fare much better in single kayaks, as well.

  15. I’m glad it worked fine at the end, I guess me and Dale must stay away from Kayaks then, not sure if it would have the same ending for us 🙂

    Stunning photos as usual!

  16. First off, I love that you found some positives in this situation. Eric and I have failed miserably the two times we have been kayaking (Jamaica, on our honeymoon, and Halong Bay). So, we don’t do it anymore. I love that you guys found a way to make it work. We communicate well on so many things, and have a strong marriage. I am convinced a multi-day kayak excursion would most certainly lead to divorce!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *