Featuring Reviews for: Malibu II XL - Prowler 13,
15 - Peekaboo - Scrambler 11
I tried several of Ocean Kayaks newer models this spring on a fresh water lake in New Hampshire. Here are my observations:
Ocean Kayak Peekaboo
The Peekaboo is a wide solo kayak with a second seat for riding a small child, much like the Sidekick. The obvious plus to this innovative kayak is the large glass window in the hull.
This kayak will be great fun for families, not only in introducing the little ones to the water, but I can see larger kids using this kayak on their own (when old enough) because the window will keep their interest. It will enhance fishing, swimming, snorkeling and exploration.
The window is an exciting feature to me too, as I could see it as way to scout snorkeling locations. I imagine my self with fins on and mask at the ready, paddling along and when I spot a good reef it would be nice to jump overboard with a 20 foot tow line to explore. I might have to try that out.
Is that window really practical for adults and their pursuits? Ocean kayak went to the extra effort to make the Peekaboo "transducer friendly" with a special scupper mount. I feel that while the window may be attractive to diver and fisher folk the hull design may not really meet their needs.
The Peekaboo is super stable; you can even stand up on it. It is also easy to get off into the water and more importantly to get back on to it, out of the water. I found the side handles very helpful in my deep-water re-entry.
The same flat bottom hull that makes for such a stable kayak does make it a bit slow on the water. This kayak is not fast. It does maneuver well and it tracks well enough for me, at least I did not experience any tracking problems.
Some folks may be wondering about that window. First off it will not leak or make the boat sink if the window should crack or break. The kayak is molded like a donut, or an inner tube, so even if you removed the window the kayak would float and paddle just fine.
The scratch resistant polycarbonate window is not immune from scratches, and the demo model I paddled had a few. The scratches are not a problem when the window is wet, you can see the underwater world just fine. Replacement windows are available and simply bolt onto the bottom with screws.
There are two things that can reduce your visibility (other than murky water of course) and that is glare from the sun and standing water in the window well. A kayaker's sponge is ideal for cleaning and mopping up water on the Ocean Kayak Peekaboo. Sun light is not that much of problem. It depends on the time of day and the shade you may cast, you can point the kayak in a different direction, but better yet is to wear a wide brim hat, the bigger the better and lean in close.
If you are looking for family fun then the Peekaboo should be high on your list. If you are looking for a real cool gizmo on your kayak to keep your interest in the water this could be it. The Peekaboo is not an ocean touring kayak of course, but it will paddle protected waters and fair weather ocean conditions, the kind of waters you would take your kids on, just fine and as well as many other recreational kayaks.
Ocean Kayak Scrambler 11
The Scrambler 11 is fast for a small recreational kayak and tracks very well. It can feel tippy on a lean, so I would recommend the use of knee straps with this kayak. When placed in the water the kayak lists to one side, but once the paddler put their weight in the kayak the trim is perfect.
The Scrambler 11 is comfortable enough, but the foot support may not be adequate for all paddlers. This kayak is outfitted with a six inch cam-lock hatch, with internal bucket, located very conveniently in easy reach of the paddler. The "bucket" is molded right into the cockpit, so even if you left the hatch cover off it cannot leak. The bow can have an optional Cross Lock hatch. I might caution kayak surfers and rough water paddlers against installing in this location. I have not put this theory to the test, nor tried the new Cross Lock hatch, but it would appear that in rough ocean conditions the bow deck might have standing water on it form time to time. Casual paddlers need not be concerned.
I found the Scrambler 11 to be easy to re-board from deep water, as plus for divers and surfers. The side handles really help when pulling oneself aboard. I did not find the side mount paddle holder to be easy to use due to it's location. That is not a problem for me as I would be using a paddle leash anyway, so I really have not need for a paddle holder.
Those kayakers who wish to surf, snorkel, maybe light diving and for any one who is looking for a fast recreational sit-on-top should certainly consider the Scrambler 11.
Ocean Kayak Prowler 13
The Prowler 13 is a high and dry mid size kayak. It is fast for wide stable kayak and tracks well too. While this kayak may be geared to the fishing crowd, I see good potential for casual day use and short distance touring. It is a very comfortable kayak that I would not mind spending many hours upon. The optional rudder would allow this kayak to venture out into larger waters.
The Prowler 13 kayak is outfitted with a six-inch cam-lock hatch, with internal bucket, located very conveniently in easy reach of the paddler. The "bucket" is molded right into the cockpit, so even if you left the hatch cover off it cannot leak. The bow has a large cargo hatch suitable for a picnic lunch, snorkel gear (maybe scuba gear) and overnight camping trips.
There is lots of room for fishing stuff. The Prowler 13 is set up with a transducer mount in a scupper drain too. I would caution fishermen from getting a full-blown angler version with factory installed fish gear. The demo model I tried had open gaps under the sonar screen mount and the rod holders that could leak into the bilge quite rough seas and in surf zone (flat water would be fine). This can be solved with end caps and some silicone sealant. I would suggest that fishermen "build" their own angler boats anyway.
I found this kayak to be easy to get back onto from deep water too. Once gain, with the aid of the side handles. So the Prowler will make for a decent dive boat. The ample room and cargo capacity will certainly accommodate the needs of scuba divers.
If you are looking for a mid size kayak suitable for fishing, day touring, and scuba than test paddle a Prowler 13.
Ocean Kayak Prowler 15 Trident
The Prowler 15 Trident is a large fishing machine, very stable and well outfitted for the angler. Fishing barge? Yes, but fast enough to feel like a touring kayak. It is easy on and off because of the side handles. A plus for the blue water hunter, skin diver/angler.
It is bristling with angler goodies. The "rod pod" has a nice tray in side this long and large hatch opening in the cockpit. I might say that the rod pod could be vulnerable to leaking if not sealed well, or taken care of. It would be wise for a Trident owner to carry a bilge pump on board. Other than that I see the rod pad as a very useful feature for fishing equipment storage needs. The sonar shield will protect and shade your fish finder; it can easily be open or closed with your paddle if you find it too far forward to reach. The Trident has a rudder option that would probably be wise for open water paddlers. I found that the foot peg was at my instep, so there may be some comfort issues or custom foot peg needs, depending on your foot size. The large bow hatch and tankwell will certainly provide ample storage space for this 500-pound capacity kayak.
If you are big on kayak fishing or a true blue water hunter, both on top of the water and below, then the Prowler 15 Trident may be the kayak for you. Give it a test paddle.
Ocean Kayak Malibu II XL
The Malibu II XL is Ocean Kayak's best selling kayak, and quite possibly one of the best selling tandem kayaks of all time, if you consider all the variations for the Malibu.
I found the Malibu II XL to be quite like the original Malibu; stable, fast enough for a short tandem, solo and double seating (with room for kids) and comfortable.
I very much like the optional Cross Lock cargo hatch, located in the center of the kayak. The bow and stern seats each offer the possibility of an 8 inch Gaspachi hatch.
The Malibu will cruise a decent speed, provided two adult paddlers are working at it. A solo adult will find the Malibu to be a bit of a barge, so if you are planning as using the Malibu mostly as a solo kayak, with only the occasional second adult rider, think again. If it were to used as a solo kayak only one in while it will be ok, and certainly for short outing with kids.
As far as the seating goes I would always plan to load the Malibu II XL heavy to the stern, so that would mean the largest of the two adults should sit in back, regardless of who is "captain", and if riding kids, place the oldest to the back and the youngest to the front. The two best configurations would be: Two adults, one in front the other in the back. & One adult, seated in the center, with one child front, the other in back.
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