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Anke and I live aboard WAYWARD, and wrote about it's design and construction at

Access to the net comes and goes, so I'll be writing in fits and spurts.Please feel free to browse the archives, leave comments where you will and write... I'll respond as I can.

Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
triloboats swirly gmail daughter com

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Duetude: Rowing in Tandem


The Owl and the Pussycat sailed to sea
in a beautiful, pea-green boat...

Image from the MirrorOnline

If you want to go fast, go alone. 
If you want to go far, go together.

-- African saying

Duetude: Rowing in Tandem

There are a few things in modern life, undertaken by couples, which require sustained, closely coordinated physical effort. Dancing, and folding large tarps come to mind.

And then there's rowing.

To row a boat together - each with a pair of oars - well... first there are the thousand or so strokes of bickering.

Our cockpit is on the small side, so we can bump if we're a little out of sync. You know. Scratch a nose. Adjust a cushion. Look at the birds.

Both of us are facing aft, and I'm usually at the aft, mid-ship oars (they're longer and I'm bigger). My job is to look over my shoulder as I begin to pull, matching Anke's stroke, and thereafter maintain a steady rhythm. Oh... and if a little bit of oar steering is needed, I favor the correct oar, and maybe even call out RIGHT OAR! or LEFT OAR! in a voice loud enough to hear.

You'd think that's simple enough. It is but it ain't. Takes a while to get each of those down, and a while longer to get 'em in combinations.

Anke, at the forward oars, is continuous power. Her job is to watch out for any quirks in my cadence and avoid collision with my shoulders. She too needs to be steady on the oars, to keep all four moving free. She's got to respond to steering commands promptly, and occasionally shout out some of her own if I've drifted off somewhere.

You'd think that sounds simple enough. It is but it ain't.

But the bickering dies down after a day or two, and the magic sets in...

The magic of moving our vessel... gliding across calm water or working our way into a headwind. The magic of passing through vast and wild land- and seascapes. The magic of our bodies working together in sync, muscles aglow and warm with the effort.

We pull together as one. Our hearts beat as one. We face the work and dangers as one. We savor the pleasures as one, not least those of our own company.


Happy Valentine's!


  1. My son and I tandem rowed for the first time ever at the Hobart Wooden Boat show last week. It was the closest I have ever got to getting an old clinker dinghy on the plane. I let the Mucho 16-year-old set the pace and I in the aft seat just kept up the stroke. It certainly was magic. Beats an outboard any day.

    1. Nothing beats a macho/a 16 year old! Cheaper than outboards and WAY more fun. 8)

      Sounds like a great time for the two of you... got any plans going forward? A cruise, maybe??

      Dave Z

  2. You keep this up and accusations of romanticism may ensue. Nice piece, Commander Dave. Tamaras idea of duetude was throwing me beers from the forward facing rear seat in our 16 dory. Cosmic duetude achieved.

    1. Well, if the shoe fits! 8) Hi from the both of us to the both of yas!

      Dave Z and Anke W

  3. Dave winter is nearly passed even up your way.

    Jonesing for a new article PLEASE.

    Now back to shoveling snow in NH.

    1. Hi Michael,

      Crocusses blooming, here... come on up t'the banana belt!

      Thanks for the interest! Jonesing, WOW!

      I'll see what I can do. Have been up to my eyeballs, but may have a break coming up.

      Dave Z

  4. How did you lay up Wayward during your journey?

    1. Hi,

      Without much ado, I'm afraid. We left it tied in the harbor with a friend keeping an eye on the waterline. Everything perishable et up and everything that needs airing propped up.

      WIth no one on board breathing and cooking, there isn't much moisture in the air, and the windows' greenhouse effect cooks a lot of that off. In some ways it does better without us!

      Things looked and smelled good to welcome us home!

      Dave Z

      PS. Another time we left her between dry and afloat in the tide, with small logs tied thwartships underneath to help preserve the copper. Shorelines at four corners with lots of chafe gear. That was only two months, but all looked good on return then, too.