G'day Hairy, you are echoing my sentiments mate, (or more likely, I'm echoing yours).
I have a Malibu 2 by Ocean Kayak for using with my son & I which is good in that it has 3 seating positions & being a sit on top, I feel a bit safer when there are other boats around or a bit of swell because at least if water comes in it will drain back out.
The only problem is that it is so slow because it's so wide & short. The new Viking looks a little better but personally I'd like a bit more length & a bit less width. That way, it doesn't have to weigh much more than a single but can be useable as a single or double.
The Australis Cuttlefish looks a bit better again in that regard being 4.3m long & the same width as the new Viking. It is rated as being heavier, being listed at 33Kg, (might not really be that heavy) & there isn't a middle seat. If I ever test this one out, I'll post a review to let people know how it goes.
A bit longer still is the Ocean Kayak Cabo at 4.97m long & 76.5cm wide but starting to get very heavy for one person to handle at 36Kgs. I've seen it done but the poor guy didn't have to be asked twice if he'd like a hand getting it to the water, (& again, no middle seating position).
I was desperately looking for a good family boat that I could use as a single & there was nothing that was appropriate. It was either too wide & slow, too heavy, or no middle seating position. There was always something wrong. When it came to a single, I could find something good straight off.
If there was a nice fibreglass sit on top double, especially with a middle seating position around along the same lines as the Kaskazi boats, that would be my pick. That would be an excellent boat, the speed of glass, safety of a sit on top & the versatility of seating.
We've still had a bit of fun on the Malibu 2 but it's already seeing less use in favour of me in my Scupper & my little 5 year old in his little Kea. I have rope attaching him to me so that I can haul him in if I ever think he's in danger & we actually move quicker with me towing him in the Scupper than we do in the Malibu.
I always cringe a bit inside when I see someone asking about an all rounder boat but hopefully one day there'll be something out there purposefully designed with your "typical" family in mind, ie dad wants to use it alot, the kids are keen but it's not always practical or safe for them to come out & the mum may not always be keen but you definately want to be able to accomodate her when she does.
To meet these requirements, I reckon it has to be able to be handled by one person, go fast enough so that you don't get absolutely left for dead by singles & have the 3 seating positions with the middle one being practical for use when paddling solo when required.
You look at something like the Natureline Kite which you showed me, with a length of 4.6m & width of 69cm & it just begs the question - why do the sit on top tandems have to be so short & fat. If there was a sit on top version of this I reckon I would have bought it in a flash even with only 2 seating positions.
There you go, I've had my rant. Were you perhaps baiting me with this one Hairy? :lol:
I'm sorry to everyone for this but I really love kayaking & fishing with my son & was really crestfallen when I couldn't find anything that was a really good all round boat.
Rigging up a seat in the tankwell in my Scupper performed WAY better than any double I tried & was very stable but my boy was just sitting in more & more water as he got bigger because all of our weight was towards the rear which is why I relented & bought a 2nd hand fatty slowey off the internet.