Feelfree gemini or malibu 2 xl?


I’m planning to get a SOT 2 seater, which I’ll also use solo. I’ll paddle it in eastern Mediterranean (near the shore) and an open lake.

Currently trying to choose between Feelfree Gemini and Malibu 2 XL. Which one will be faster, easier to paddle solo, more seaworthy?

both similar, but…
Both look like they would be pretty similar in all the areas you asked, but the Malibu would be better in one spot - solo paddling. The FeelFree doesn’t seem to have a center seat position, so if you paddled it solo you’d have to sit in front or back, which is pretty unbalanced (I could be wrong about this - just looking at the photos). The Malibu 2 XL can be set up with a center seat, 2 seats, or even 3 seats (for small people) with appropriate foot stops to place your feet. Because of this flexibility, we only use Malibu 2 XLs as the basic SOT boats for a tour company I work for.

tried today
Today We have tried paddling in an exposed beach during force 3 wind and 1 meter waves. Rented some SOT 2 seater (not Malibu, was a really flat one). Couldn’t make it through the surf zone (got capsized over the back). After having the kayak hit my head underwater I decided to call it a day.

Is such thing easier to do in a long, thin sea kayak?

easier with education
Surf launches and landing really require education, no matter what boat you use. Not something that comes naturally to anyone. Someone will probably pipe in and say they figured it out on their own, but I don’t know anyone.

That said, a SOT can be easier in one aspect - much easier to get on and off the boat. SINKs are slower in this aspect, as you have to get seated in and skirted up (and all the way out with skirt off when exiting).

But SINKs can be better in that you are attached to the boat, so you can roll back up (if you know how) or better stay attached to the boat when you do a bongo slide (wave pushes you sideways towards shore).

Like he said
Newbie paddlers are unlikely to know how to handle surf successfully. I have been on beaches doing training in surf and watched people basically practice swimming for half a day (down the beach from us) trying to figure it out for themselves.

You need to start by launching somewhere you aren’t going into waves. If you can’t avoid them, skip the boat for right now and get some training on how to handle your environment.

I do have an option of launching from Haifa harbour, where I used to sail with a Laser dinghy. So in general avoiding the surf line for a time being is not a problem.

However in my country it’s not too easy to get proper training, and sooner or later I will have to face the surf.

What country?


Good thing is that during most of the year we rarely have waves over 1m, the water is 25-28C and the weather is easily predictable. Therefore I think solo paddling near the shore in a SOT will be quite safe

Optimist Symposium
I have heard about, but not taken part in, a symposium called the Optimist Symposium. Here is a blog post from one of the instructors:


You could check that out, but even if you don’t take part in it, maybe connect with some of the other local attendees and find out about where they learned. Maybe there are schools/instructors in Israel, or maybe they have a way of mentoring each other in their club.

a video
Here is a video that just popped up showing a pretty bad surf launch, which I thought I’d post as an example of why lessons are important for surf launches/landings: http://youtu.be/fpWr1rLO5WY

A couple of times you will see the kayak wash right into the paddler and knock him over (time stamp 1:00, 2:38, etc.). This is very dangerous, as the boat being pushed by the wave has a lot of mass and can literally break bones. In his case, he got lucky and got either knocked under or over the boat, which though not fun, is much better than bearing the brunt.