Submitted: 10-27-2007 by BH
I am 6'3" 255lbs and at a low intermediate skill level.
I have owned three roto boats: the Old Town Adventure 160 XL and two Mad River Synergy 14's. I looked for four or five months to find a Sea Kayak that would meet my needs and "FIT" me. I narrowed the search down to the Eddyline Nighthawk 17.5, the Wilderness Systems Tsunami 175, the P&H Capella 173. My waist is 42" with a 31 inch inseam and a size 13 foot. I am 47 years old and have spinal issues.
The Tsunami is a nice boat, but I did not feel it offered enough of an improvement over the Adventure XL to buy another big roto boat. So the final test was between the Capella 173 and the Nighthawk 17.5. I sat in the P&H Quest and Cetus and did not feel that the seats/beam would be comfortable enough for me at the time. I also paddled the Eddyline Fathom and was not convinced that the loss of stability and room were worth the performance advantage at the time of my purchase.
When I paddled the Capella 173, I found the boat to edge better and was more responsive to turning, in all other categories it fell behind the Nighthawk 17.5.
The Eddyline felt faster and more stable for me. The Eddyline really grew on me the more I used it, and I definitely like being able to be less careful when moving it or hitting the beach. The fit and finish is excellent and the hatches stay very dry. I have now put over 150 miles on the boat and am very happy with my decision. It needs 50% skeg in in strong quartering winds and it tends to pound the bow in chop rather than cut the wave as I expect the Capella would. The hardback Eddyline seat on my demo caused me some pain so I ordered mine with the back band. The back band is mounted too low for my needed low back support so I moved the mounting points up onto the lower coaming and a little forward for more adjust-ability. The seat is now very comfortable, but I would rate the Eddyline seats in general as their weakest feature.
I paddle mostly with guys who use British or Canadian composite boats or who build their own skin overs and strip boats. They all seem to be impressed with the Eddyline, both in its speed and ability to comfortably handle most conditions. The Nighthawk 17.5 seems to actually like the following seas, it will round up in big waves if you try to race it down, but for the most part it is very predictable. I plan on buying a Fathom for my wife, fortunately she so far does not realize who it is actually for. I laughed at the notion of paying decent money for a "plastic" boat. I am not laughing anymore; Eddyline makes a very impressive product and the people I have met from Eddyline thus far have really sold me on the company.
For a bigger person like me who is looking for speed, quality, comfort, and stability, I strongly suggest you consider the Nighthawk 17.5 when you are looking for a boat. I am looking forward to advancing my skills and paddling through the winter. The Fathom will be a good compliment to our current boats.