Submitted: 07-07-2010 by ScottM
Once we figured out that we wanted an ABS boat (fairly light, scratch-resistant, not so expensive, holds up to UV) this was the first one that we paddled, so it's our benchmark. We bought ours in Seattle, but it's lived near Loreto, Baja California Sur, for eight months now and has seen some medium-sized chop and some daunting wind. I guess mostly I'll just second the remarks that other people have made, but I do have a couple of observations of my own.
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.