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Submitted: 08-03-2012 by djo
Whenever I paddle with a very experienced friend he makes two comments about my Eddyline Fathom. First it is the prettiest kayak he has ever seen and second a Fathom saved his butt when he and his son (a professional kayaker) got caught in the wrong place and time in a bad tidal rip the San Juan Islands. I have been paddling a Fathom for four or five years now so it is about time to submit a review.
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.