The Malibu Two XL, developed by Ocean Kayak, New Zealand, is the larger version of the Malibu Two, with the bonus of being able to add a large, oval central hatch. Suitable for use in estuary and coastal waters, the Malibu Two XL features three moulded seats, making it an ideal boat for the family.
The XL has seating that caters for the solo paddler, two paddlers or even three. If you are paddling by yourself, the middle seat provides a balanced position, even in windy conditions. If your partner or one of the kids decides to join you simply move the Comfort Seats (the XL comes standard with two seats) to the two outside seat positions and away you go.
If you have two kids fighting over who gets to go fishing with Mum or Dad, then claim the middle or rear seat for yourself and throw both of them in to the other two seats. The versatility of the seating arrangement is great.
We added a few extras to the standard XL to create a better fishing platform. These included three rod holders so that everyone had access to at least one rod, a large oval rubber hatch fitted midships and a Humminbird sounder. The XL has one of the scupper holes converted to accommodate the Humminbird transducer, allowing fairly simple fitting of a fish finder.
The finish on the hull is testament to Ocean Kayak putting a great deal of work into the moulds of this new model. As with all OKs, all the fittings screw into brass inserts moulded into the plastic. The XL also comes standard with carry handles, side carry handles and deck bungy for stowing larger items to the bow and stern.
As the name suggests, the Comfort Seats standard on the XL were – comfortable! This is a big-volume kayak that provides a dry ride for all three paddlers.
I’ve paddled other double kayaks that have the extra seat position in the middle. Most allow room for a small child to sit between two adults but the XL has enough room for three adults to sit comfortably. In fact, you could consider buying a third seat and fit all three at the same time allowing comfort for everybody.
The oval centre hatch gives heaps of storage space for dry bags, tackle boxes and fish. The only uncomfortable part of the XL is lifting it on and off the car. None of these double kayaks are light.
As you would expect, a kayak of this size is extremely stable and it tracked a reasonably straight line in the 15-knot winds blowing during the test. Heading into the wind and paddling downwind were fine but any more wind abeam and the craft would have a bit of a handful.
The XL was easily manoeuvred from the middle and stern seat positions. When paddling a double kayak, remember that the person at the stern is in the best position to steer. As the boat moves forward the bow is pinned in place by the bow wave created as the kayak cuts through the water while the stern is free to wander. This explains why the rear paddler steers and is also the theory behind why kayaks ‘weathercock’ (spin) when abeam of the wind.
The XL is no speedster but does get along fine with one or two paddlers. As long as you are not in a hurry, this ’yak will take you and/or your family anywhere you care to paddle.
For a recreational kayak it also goes pretty well in the surf. The huge volume in the nose lifts the bow up over the waves on the way out and reduces burying and broaching when coming in through the surf. The forward paddler in a double kayak always gets pretty wet even if you don’t fall out.
In bigger surf a double kayak can be a little scary – like being in a really big front-loading washing machine with two bodies, two paddles and 30kg of kayak rolling around on top of you.
This is a great family kayak with lots of seating options. If you have other family or friends keen to come out fishing with you, this is a pretty nice fishing platform. For all you boat owners, just think: No fuel, no maintenance, no boat or trailer registration, a little exercise and heaps of fun!
The standard Malibu Two XL retails at $1299. The three rod holders and centre oval hatch costs $195 and about $400 for a base model Humminbird fitted. For more information contact BLA on 07 3907 5500 or visit www.bla.com.au
Craig McSween of Splash Safaris Sea Kayaking is a sea kayak instructor with Australian Canoeing. For feedback call 07 5571 2929 or --e-mail address hidden-- .