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The Fathom is one of the best general purpose touring kayaks available. It may not be best at any one thing but provides a great compromise at doing everything very well. At 16'6" it is a big enough boat to handle most conditions yet is a bit lighter and easier to maneuver both on and off the water than you might expect. It has a modest rocker that provides a compromise between tracking and turning with an effective skeg should it be needed. Hard chined, it has good primary and very solid secondary stability and edges well.
The bow appears to be a bit narrower than some equivalent sea kayaks and 4 foot waves will often result in water breaking over the front hatch. This is not an issue but compared to the Valley boats that are favored my many of our group it does seem to cut a bit deeper into oncoming waves. That being said I have yet to find any water I feel threatened by when paddling this boat. It has a lot of storage and has served me well on 7 day trips even when I had had to carry all my water. I am not a racer but some of my racer friends have borrowed the Fathom and speak very well of its speed.
I am a real fan of the Eddyline Carbonlite 2000 thermoform plastic technology. At less than 50 lbs. the boat compares well with fiberglass. It has the clean lines of a composite boat but banging it on rocks, running over oyster beds, and landing on cement ramps does no more damage than to a rotomold. Yes you can crack TF boats. A couple years ago I lost a Fathom off the roof of my car at 70 mph in 10 degree weather when one of the towers of my Yakima rack failed. If you hit TF plastic hard enough under extreme cold it will break and I punched a big section out of the bow. That being said, I replaced it with another Fathom.
Is the boat perfect? Of course not, there is no such thing. The original Fathom has a very high front deck. At 6'3" and 190 lbs, I like that a lot. The high deck lets me get my size 11s with 35" inseams inside without bending my knees backwards. But even I bump the deck occasionally when I paddle if I clip a water bottle there. I sit fairly deep in the boat which for my size works fine, but I need some padding to optimize boat control. There is a low volume (LV) model that might be a bit better for folks that are less longitudinally endowed.
I personally have had problems with the new adjustable seat that Eddyline put into production in that it seemed impossible for my legs to not fall asleep in 15 minutes. I have never met anyone else with this problem. My boat has a custom seat from Redfish Kayak that is perfect for me (and probably cuts 5 pounds off the weight).
I have over the years owned a bunch of kayaks and am in the process these days of scuttling part of the armada. If I ever get back to a single sea kayak, it would be the Fathom.
The biggest test came when I Paddled to Horn Island in the Mississippi Gulf. On the trip out to the Island, fully loaded with camping gear, I had to deal with 20 knot gusty winds and seas 4 to 5 feet coming across the beam. On the way back, conditions were the same except with a head wind. The Fathom performed exceedingly well. I had to hold back to keep from leaving my partner. There was no, none, zero water in the fore or aft compartments after the trip. The seat is comfortable and adjustable...and once again, the boat is beautiful. The kayak is relatively expensive but worth every penny.
I was always comfortable in the demo Fathom at Alki Kayak Tours, so when we ordered ours I asked for the back band like the one they have. Ours arrived with the fore-and-aft adjustable secretary-chair-style seat that has become popular. Though Eddyline still claims to offer both I was unable to exchange mine, and though it's okay it's never felt quite as good. Their clever seat-mounted paddle float might take care of this but I haven't sprung for that yet. Make sure you know what you're getting.
Comfort was indeed the big issue for us -- we're no longer young and we're both fairly tall, and the Fathom's seating position permits us to accommodate some physical problems. The high foredeck allows knees to be bent and kept relatively close together. There's plenty of room for feet and even some footgear. It may just be my imagination, but this "campfire" posture feels different to me when edging -- make sure you like it. I am a lower-angle paddler than I used to be and I find that I have to keep the foredeck clear to avoid conflicts. Eddyline is thought to have some whitewater in their DNA.
The rear hatch leaked a bit when we first got the boat, but apparently the skeg bolt hadn't been tightened properly and that took care of it. All our hatches have been dry since. The covers require strength and precision to close but the seal is very positive. As with many other things, getting them hot and wet helps a lot. The day hatch is difficult to open and especially to close under way, and it is not easy to tell whether it is completely sealed. Its volume seems just right to me though. The other hatches are best suited for long, narrow items; we make up for this by having another boat with big hatches!
The Fathom has a more mechanical sort of ambiance to it than our other boat. The skeg is operated by a stiff cable that pushes and pulls through a full-length housing, giving it a very positive action. The fore and aft toggles are located some distance from the ends of the boat, and bungee-tightened to keep them from flopping around; very clever, but not so useful if you need to swim your boat. Our other boat has a similar footpeg system, but does not need big round screw-heads on the outside of the hull near the waterline.
One thing about ABS as a deck material, it seems not to want to have big flat or simply-curved expanses. Our other kayak has what looks like drainage channels molded into its decks, probably to stiffen them. The Fathom instead has a kind of embossed pattern, echoing the brightwork you might find on a cabin cruiser; that is, it's an "outie" rather than an "innie."
Functionally, though, there's not a thing wrong with this boat. We got ours in white (one of the first things that attracted me about the pictures) but they now offer a sort of metalflake blue, possibly to compete with Delta. We did in fact get a Delta 16 too, for a little variety. But not before we were sure it worked as well as the Fathom.
Iíve been sea kayaking since 1992 when I moved to the northern Puget Sound region... couldnít imagine living in such a beautiful area surrounded by water without a kayak! Until I picked up the Fathom, I had been "driving" a glass Eddyline Wind DancerÖor "The Barge" as I fondly refer to her. Her many attributes includes a very stable platform for photography, fishing, and the volume necessary to accommodate extended trips to the outback. But with all that comfort and convenience she weighs a bit much. So, when I began the quest for my last kayak, I wanted a boat with attributes similar to those of the Wind Dancer but in a more agile, scaled down, less weighty design. And I found them in the Fathom.
First Glance. The finish, lines, deck-rigging placement, hatches and craftsmanship of the Fathom pop out at you. One knows immediately this is one seriously designed sea kayak. The Carbonlite material appears identical to a fiberglass/Kevlar-finished boat. My kayaking cohorts asked, "We thought you were going to pick up a plastic boat." I simply replied, "I did." Then I started explaining what Carbonlite was and its advantages... tough stuff and lighter.
Fit. At 6í2" and nudging 200 lbs, I initially thought the keyhole cockpit was going to be too much of a tight fit. It isnít. Using the paddle to stabilize the kayak, I simply sit on the rear combing, swing my legs into the cockpit then slide into the seat. The fit feels good, reliable and secure with enough wiggle room for comfort and to stretch those legs while on the water. I opted for the backrest seat vs the back band and it is very comfortable... with height adjustment. The substantial thigh brace pads under the deck are placed perfectly and add to the overall feeling of security. Of all the kayaks Iíve tried, the Fathom fit epitomizes the kayaking adage, "Be one with your boat."
Performance. Simply put, a joy. The initial stability (static) is rated "medium" and secondary (underway) "high." I found it initially a bit "lively" compared to my Wind Dancer (24.5" vs 22" beam), but I expected that, especially with the single hard-chined, deeper V hull of the Fathom. After one outing didnít even notice. Iíve continued my photography and caught some nice bows for the camp grill... and my cohortsí stomachs. She really shines when it comes to her secondary stability! Itís what makes the Fathom such a joy to paddle. Leaning, carved turns are a breeze and one can spin her on a quarter with the moderately rockered hull. She tracks beautifully with very good speed and in contrary winds dipping the skeg keeps her tracking on line. The four-point bungees behind the cockpit work well in securing a paddle float outrigger for reentry, and rolling is virtually effortless... and even fun in the Fathom.
Tripping. I had no problem packing the Fathom for a comfortable seven-day camping/fishing excursion to the upland 25-mile long Ross Lake. I downsized my gear somewhat and was more frugal compared to what I used to pack in the Wind Dancer. And the deck didnít look like the "garage sale" I thought it would! The skeg housing does take up a little space but packing smart made it a non-issue. Even with a heavy load the Fathom performed wonderfully and responded extremely well.
And so... I would highly recommend anyone looking for a performance-oriented kayak to take the Fathom for a spin. Iím confident youíll be as pleased as Iíve become. I selected the Fathom as my last kayak for many reasons. It meets my requirements for what I like to do while Iím on the water, whether it be taking pictures, fishing or in conjunction with multiple day tripping. With its true tracking, speed and agility itís also a fantastic workout boat. Always nice to take her out on my local waters and run some sprints just to work up a sweat... exercise made fun. Another fundamental reason... the Eddyline reputation for innovation, quality, reliability and service. They sure did real good when they designed and built the Fathom.
We decided that boats in the 45-55 pound range were what we were looking for, which immediately lead us to Hurricane Kayaks and their Tracer, after looking at a few of them and reading the reviews here at Paddling.net we both agreed that although they met most of the parameters, we read the customer service wasn't that great and getting replacement parts was difficult, and also that their lightweight boats were fairly fragile.
We decided that it would be best to take a trip outside our town to look at other dealers that carried brands we did not have here locally, this lead us to both the Perception Eclipse 17 Airalite and the Eddyline Fathom and the Eddyline Fathom LV.
The Perception compared to the Hurricane was much more robust and it appeared VERY durable, but sitting in it felt like I was sitting in decent fishing boat, the thing was HUGE. I also was not very impressed with the neoprene deck covers, too complicated with too much to go wrong. The other downside with the perception was the foam bulkheads, I had the foam in my last Perception and I am not that big of a fan.
This lead us to the Fathoms, gorgeous boats the fit and finish were great, they had the hard chined hull instead of the soft chine that the other two had, and also both had a model that would fit both of us (the Fathom for me, and the Fathom LV for her). The weight was on par with 50 pounds for the Fathom and 47 for the LV and the lengths of 16.5 and 15.5 didnít make me feel like I was paddling a barge.
We spent a good deal of time talking to a guy named Josh at The Outfitter of Harbor Springs and he gave us the rundown of the company as it compared to others, and how Eddyline had lead the industry in thermoforming . I mentioned that we had compared the three boats and he said that the Eddylines were far more durable and the customer service was 100 times better. He mentioned that if we lost a hatch cover he could have a replacement here in a day.
Although both of the boats were significantly over our budget we both felt we were getting a better product for the money and felt confident with our purchase.
Coming from my backpacking background, obviously I have had some run ins with companies whoís products had failed and their customer service departments had made all the difference. Companies like Mountain Hardwear, I snapped a pole on one of their tents and needed a replacement for another trip less than a week away, so MH overnighted me a whole new set of poles free of charge. Companies like that are the companies that I feel confident doing business with.
Upon getting the boats home, we logged onto Eddylineís website to register our boats. About an hour later we got an E-mail from Lisa Derrer (The Derrers founded and own Eddyline) welcoming us to the family. Later in the week a mysterious package came in the mail from Eddyline, It was two free hats and a postcard that was hand signed by every individual person that had built each boat.
Its not often that you get contact from the owner of the company, and even more rare to see a company take the steps reach out to the customer when there is nothing wrong. Like I said before, I havenít even had the chance to paddle the boat yet (water is all frozen in at the moment) and I am already thoroughly impressed with Eddyline as a company.
I'm now looking to move up from my WS Tsunami 145 -- a nice, stable transitional touring boat -- to a full-on touring sea kayak. I spent an afternoon this weekend running though a series of demos. Of all of them, the Fathom struck me as the true standout.
Pictures of this new craft don't do it justice... especially regarding that unusual deckline just fore of the cockpit. In reality, it's just a tad higher than most... but has a very nice arc that is conducive to high paddle stroke technique. Well designed and thought out -- especially for the performance-oriented paddler.
Build quality is absolutely first rate. The fit, finish, and outfitting are truly the best of the bunch I looked at on Sunday...by a long shot. The Carbonlite material seems like a great technical advance; it's somewhat thinner than conventional glass layups, which gave me a little pause at first. But I got an indication of its strength and resilience by the way the dock manager and I were tossing the boat around on land. (He did it on purpose to prove the point...because I asked.) He noted that a lot of people had used that particular boat...and then asked me to look at the condition of the hull. Barely any wear at all. The finish still looked brand new. I, for one, really like the idea of a relatively carefree material with the ruggedness of poly (but without the "fuzz" factor that sets in on plastics) and the lightness and looks of composite. Seems like Eddyline has gotten that combination down right. Very impressive.
On the water, the Fathom seemed graceful, responsive, and certainly fast enough for me. (OK...compared to the Tsunami 145, nearly any real touring kayak would seem fast...but this was a dramatic difference.) I was especially impressed by how well it tracked with or without the skeg...and then how well it turned when put on edge. Let's hear it for moderate rocker and hard-chines; there's some classic Greenland character in the Fathom, and thats another major point for performance-oriented paddlers.
The stability of the Fathom really surprised me. Coming from the Tsunami's 24.5 inch beam to the 22 inch beam of the Fathom, I expected to put on quite a ridiculous show on the water. Nothing of the sort happened -- the Fathom proved to have comfortable primary stability that just let me smoothly roll it on edge with very reliable secondary stability. I didn't test it fully because I never found the limit, but I was impressed.
My one concern: that distinctive high foredeck sure seems like it would catch the wind. However, it drops steeply away toward the bow...while the aft deck is nice and low. I don't think that weathercocking would be much of an issue with the Fathom.
I'm rating the Fathom a "9" out of 10 because I really haven't put it though its full paces. However, when I compare it to all the other kayaks I've tried in its class, I'm pretty confident that this would eventually be a "10" for me.
Give this kayak a try. I think you'll be impressed too.
For the price and features, Iíve found the Fathom to be a good value. When I decided to upgrade I was paddling a soft chine Perception Eclipse. I was looking for a boat with hard chines, a skeg, mid to high volume, 16-17 ft in length, something lighter than my 66-68 lb tug and something that could perform like a composite boat, but still take some abuse. The Eclipse is a good, fast, long distance hauler for a ton of gear, but Iíve found my needs donít require hauling that much gear and the weight of the boat was wearing on me, especially during races. After researching thermoform boats and looking at the Perception, Hurricane and Eddyline boats, I narrowed the search to Eddyline after reading about the company and seeing the Fathom. The boat seemed to have everything I wanted in an upgrade, it had the hull features and skeg I was looking for, it weights between 50-52 lbs, is 16í6Ē in length, a 22Ē beam, has a day hatch and nice features like the retractable grab handles and a flat compass perch molded into the hull. Youíll pay more than a roto-molded boat, but not as much as a composite boat. The carbonlite material will put you closer in price to composite boats, but I believe you get similar performance capability without having to worry about your gel coat every time you land on the beach or near a rocky shoreline.
The review in Sea Kayaker Magazine featured smaller paddlers and a paddler that resembles my dimensions 6í2Ē, 210 lbs and the specs from Eddyline say that it's designed for both larger and smaller paddlers. Iíd encourage anyone to demo it, but in my opinion the boat will feel large on anyone under 5í9Ē, and that is basically because of the high volume front deck. The rest of the boat fits the specs of a mid-volume boat except the area right in front of the cockpit. The low windage rear deck is clean and low to the water. My wife paddled it as well and she's 5'9" and considerably lighter than I and she looked like she was sitting in a pot-hole up to her chest. The high arch deck is designed well for a paddler with a vertical paddle stroke, smaller kayakers and paddlers with a horizontal stoke may have trouble with the deck height. The width for me is perfect at 22" and is a touch narrower than my Eclipse and is basically an inch narrower than similar length boats in its class. My current boat (perception eclipse) has a 14" depth to the front deck. The specs on the Fathom say 13.5" deck height. In my opinion there is a weird optical illusion between the Fathom and my Eclipse. The Fathom front deck appears higher and I think it's because of slightly shorter length than the Eclipse. On the Eclipse the front deck is stretched out a bit. I think Eddyline did a good job angling the deck so it shouldn't interfere with your stroke. The inside knee bracing is well padded and you feel locked in. The food pegs, back band and seat padding are comfortable and easily adjustable. My current boat pegs are attached to a rudder and can be squishy when I bear down or brace hard.
For the past 5 months I've researched hundreds of boats, compared specs and pricing and have eventually come to the conclusion for my weight and height, the height of the front and back decks are only off by an inch or less across every make and model of boat out there. I'm a bigger/taller guy so my weight and cargo puts me into higher volume boats. The fit of the cockpit is almost identical to that of my Eclipse, so that comparison put both boats neck and neck but everything I mentioned in this review puts the Fathom heads and tails above my current boat. I get my current fit and feel, but I pick up a ton of the features I'm looking for. At first it was weird for me because the cockpit feels like my old boat, but in the long run I gain everything else I want in a boat. The final tipping point for me comes down to two things: hull material and price point. For the price, I think you get a lot of boat from Eddyline. You get the performance characteristics of composite but the durability of plastic with their carbonlite material. Engineers reading this will probably disagree and pull out their slide rules and try to show that carbonlite flexes more than composite, but if you want to measure the results in microns, go ahead. For me the performance characteristics are almost non-distinguishable. The curve between roto-molded and the carbonlite is much greater than carbonlite to composite. The price for me comes in below composite and I don't have to worry too much about destroying the gel coat on rocks or beaches. The specs say this is a very maneuverable boat, but at my first demo, we weren't in conditions to really try this feature with 50 degree water on the Detroit River. At my second demo, I was really able to play with the maneuverability and was pleased with the results.
As I narrowed my search, I wanted to compare the Nighthawk and Fathom before I made my final decision and ultimately went with the Fathom. With the new release of the Fathom the word of the day at the second demo was from people wanting to compare the Fathom to the Nighthawk. Ultimately, the Fathom had the few extra bells and whistles people were looking for. Even though I'm on the lower end of the weight scale for the boat, I loved the control the hard chineís offered. The Fathom tracked straight and fast, and I felt I could knock off a 90 degree turn if needed by edging the boat. My current boat has soft chines like the Nighthawk and after spending a second lengthy demo in both the Nighthawk and the Fathom, I enjoyed the performance handling of the Fathom. I was on a moving river with some ripples and I could put the Fathom on edge and without a stroke, knife across the current to another eddy. With the Nighthawk, I really had to work the paddle, like my current boat to keep it on edge and work my way across the river. I ended up making my way up river fairly easy to a low head dam/waterfall in the Fathom, I tried to do the same in the Nighthawk and I really had to work to get close to the same spot. For my size, the Nighthawk was snug but not uncomfortable. Several other demo participants similar to my size found the same thing and liked the extra volume of the Fathom. I still think I'll look into getting a Nighthawk for my second ďbuddy,Ē exercise and racing boat, but the Fathom will serve me well as my daily hauler / excursion boat. In comparison, the Nighthawk is a fast boat, but I felt the Fathom accelerated faster, easier and held its speed well. It might be the extra 6 inches in length and the hull configuration, but I would be curious to see how they would compare at race distances or a long-day haul. Any corrective strokes I made with the Fathom were instantly recognized by the boat (chines), where the Nighthawk needed some extra hip action and an occasional corrective stroke to keep me in line. These extra strokes and hip corrections can add up to a lot of extra effort over a long day. I'm more interested in saving my energy and putting it to good use going forward when racing or on excursions.
Iím curious to hear what others are saying and for now, Iím looking forward to growing with my new purchase. I wish we didnít have to rate the boats when we post reviews, because almost everyone posts a 9 or 10. Each boat needs to fit the paddler in needs, fit and capability, for now Iíll give the Fathom an 8 with the hopes that in time it will be a 10 for me.
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