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Very playful and maneuverable with the skeg up....tracks nicely with the skeg down. This is a much less tippy boat than the Elaho. Very nice cockpit access/size. Can sit in with legs out and pull them in quite easily. Thigh braces are perfectly located for my size. It has the speed of the Necky and the stability of the Wilderness.
I could not be more pleased. Great boat in every respect. I'm looking forward to spending a lot of time in it this winter. For the first time in my kayak "career", I don't feel like I need another boat... that makes my wife very happy.
I'm 6' even and 210 pounds. This boat isn't only large enough for me but would probably fit me better if I put on 30 pounds. There is plenty of leg room. I've got a 32" inseam and there is about 6 more inches of adjustment left in the foot pegs. This is definitely a boat for large and tall paddlers. I'm thinking about putting some padding on the sides of the seat to make the fit a little more snug.
My fear about such a long boat being difficult to maneuver was unfounded. Now that I've learned to edge, turning isn't at all difficult. The Nighthawk doesn't track as easily as my 15 foot sit on top but I just drop the skeg and it holds a straight line with no effort at all. On calm water I don't use the skeg but it does come in handy paddling upstream or in windy conditions.
The primary and secondary stability are both excellent. I've actually put it up on edge far enough to get water in the cockpit without tipping over and I'm not an advanced paddler. The Nighthawk is not a racing boat. It doesn't accelerate as fast as sleeker kayaks but once I get moving I have no problem keeping up with other boats. I glides along really well.
My Nighthawk is a 2006 model with a hard plastic seat and backrest (not a back band). The first couple of times I took the boat out the backrest irritated me but now it doesn't bother me even after 5 hours in the boat. I'm completely satisfied with the backrest and have no plans to change it. The seat is another matter. My butt, specifically in the tailbone area, gets sore after about 3 hours of paddling. After 5 the pain becomes pretty intense. I just bought a gel filled seat pad to help with this. I know someone that has a Nighthawk 17.5 and like me, the hard seat is his only complaint. The gel pad worked for him.
The new Nighthawks come with an integrated seat pad. I might very well rate that a 10 of 10 but I give my 2006 hard seat model a 9.
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.
I received the boat in May of 2004 and was off paddling the waters of southeast Wisconsin, mainly on Lake Michigan, soon after delivery. The boat performed very well for me and brought a lot of compliments from other paddlers.
Sometime in July, the boat developed a ‘wrinkle’ on the lower hull on the starboard side, beneath the cockpit area. This progressed somewhat over the next month or so where the area affected was approximately 12 inches long by about 8 inches wide just kind of a ‘wavy’ area in the Kevlar/Carbonlite structure. It didn’t affect the performance of the boat in anyway that I could detect, but was not cosmetically pleasing. I let the problem rest over the winter months.
In early spring, I took a couple of digital pictures of the wrinkle and e-mailed them to Eddyline. I received a reply back from Joe at Eddyline soon after. He explained that they had a small number of hulls that exhibited this effect due to the interaction of the Vectran, carbon fiber, and Carbonlite materials. They had changed the layup mix and remedied the problem. Very matter of factly he said (I am paraphrasing here) ‘Well, we’ll just build you a new boat. We are moving into a new facility but should be able to take care of you in about 4-6 weeks.’ Well, the skeptic in me said ‘this was too easy’. But, I continued to use the boat and waited to hear back from Eddyline.
And hear back I did. I received the new boat in exchange for the old in early June. Yes, I already had memories attached to the first boat such as my first unceremonious broach, capsize, and subsequent wet exit in 3+ foot waves last August. But I am already attached to the new boat. Eddyline had also made some small production changes, for example, the new bulkheads are transparent.
My point for writing this story is to record this as an excellent example of superior customer service. Eddyline should be applauded for standing behind their product. And it is not just that they did that. I did not need to make repeat calls or e-mails. I was not referred to a dealer, or passed around a labyrinth of customer service persons. They listened to me and took care of my problem.
Now for the boat itself. The sheer line is very reminiscent of the Aleutian Island baidarkas with a long graceful bow. The boat looks great and often elicits favorable comments. The 24 inch beam gives great initial stability but the soft v shaped hull still allows waves and wakes to pass under smoothly. The secondary stability is very reassuring; you can edge the boat till water is over the sprayskirt and still feel solid. For a boat of this length and beam it is still very maneuverable. A good edge and the boat will turn, lean her over on her side and she will turn sharply. The weathercocking has a nice balance. Skeg up the boat will weathercock; skeg down the boat will tend to leecock. With various skeg trims she will track very stiff even with beam winds and or seas. I have been in boats which either tracked better or turned easier, but none with as nice a balance between the two. Beam currents seem to have the most effect on the boat, but a little edge, paddle stroke or skeg seems to handle it. Speed is reasonable, she isn’t the fastest boat, but she is no slouch either. In rough water the overall performance of the boat is very reassuring. Twice I have been in ocean inlets with opposing wind and currents and the boat did wonderfully. We had to paddle a few miles into standing waves probably 2 to 3 feet high than across close to a mile with these waves on the beam and crossed without incident. Only once have I found any water inside the rear bulkhead but that was after 6 hours of rescue practice with my paddling partner, only 2 sponges full.
In conclusion it is a well mannered boat for the larger paddler. It will carry you and all your camping gear easily. Eddyline is a great family owned business. Every Eddyline owner I know would buy another Eddyline product if they are in the market for a new boat. If I lose some more weight I will buy a modulus Falcon.
I own a Necky Looksha IV HV and have about four years of experience coupled with a lot of lessons from the best. But because of my large shoulders and top weight, I can say that I don't like boats that feel like they are about to roll and require a brace with every stroke yet I appreciate a twicky boat that has great secondary stability. Enough caveats and qualifications.
Of all the kayaks I paddled during the symposium, I kept coming back to the Night Hawk 17.5. I ended up paddling it 5 times in relatively flat water with a stiff breeze on occassion.
The cockpit is large and for me incredibly comfortable. The opening was one of the largest I have been in and it took my sprayskirt to the limit. But it was a good fit and the plastic braces were fine.
The boat was one of the most stable I have every paddled. There is something interesting about the stability almost like it wanted to right itself allowing me to keep pressure on the lean with total ease. By the 5th paddle, I could lean the boat over until the waterline was over my sprayskirt without feeling like the boat would heel. On such a lean, this kayak turns very quickly and smoothly. I was impressed.
The boat accelerated nicely and reached its probable optimal speed quickly. This boat is moderately fast, but not FAST-FAST in my hands.
In a stiff breeze, there was noticable weathercocking which could be overcome with a lean. I never deployed the skeg and did not feel a need too. On the other hand, I did not take the kayak for a 10 mile trip to really get a sense for its performance or to tire because of any under appreciated deficency. But of all the boats at the show, this one in particular, the Nimbus Telkwa, the the CD Solstice GTXL made the cut list as far as overall comfort, manueverability, and stability. Unfortunately, NW Kayaks chose to leave their XLs at home...I liked their Discovery but it was an uncomfortable fit.
I would be interested in hearing from anyone with experience with the Eddyline Nighthawk 17.5. At my exposure level, I do not share the opinion of the 5 of 10 reviewer although his experience may be much more extensive than mine.
This boat has a blunt bow keel, it’s about as sharp as my wrist and it does not slice through the water the way many other boats do. Instead it pushes its way through the water similar to a tug boat (you provide the push). As a result the tracking is very poor. With the skeg up its similar to paddling a raft, all water disturbances will affect your direction (boat wakes, waves) constant corrections are necessary to stay on course. Skeg down is mandatory but don't paddle down wind with skeg down. This boat weathercocks badly and doesn't respond well to weight shifts.
This boat comes complete with deck lines, spare paddle holder, compass mount and two cavernous storage compartments. The front bungie lines form a huge X. This X is so large that it only holds the largest items in place. Smaller items such as water bottles, maps, paddle float and pump aren’t secured. It is impossible to get more than one bungie cord across these items.
The foot pedals in the Night Hawk are flexible plastic. They flex under the pressure of the foot. Secure foot, knee, and hip contact are impossible. The track the foot pedal is mounted in is also plastic and there is always movement in these components.
The seatback is adjustable up and down, which is nice but is constructed from very thin plastic as is the seat bottom. The seat bottom could be a bit thicker as it flexed under my weight. Both seat back and bottom of the rental had small cracks in them. Something that would be a major concern in the future.
I spent several hours in this boat to see if this was the boat for me. It is a very accommodating, poorly designed boat. I give this boat a Rating of 5
other boats I have tried that perform better:
Prijon Kodiak : Tight in foot area
Current Design Storm : Soft Plastic
Seaward Navigator : Great fit
Necky Eskia : Tight in foot area
Nigel Foster Shadow : Good Fit
Nigel Dennis Explorer HV: Fast Boat
This boat has a blunt bow keel, its about as sharp as my wrist and it does not slice through the water the way many other boats do. Instead it pushes its way through the water similar to a tug boat (you provide the push). As a result the tracking is very poor. With the skeg up its similar to paddling a raft, all water disturbances will affect your direction (boat wakes, waves) constant corrections are necessary to stay on course. Skeg down is mandatory but don't paddle down wind with skeg down. This boat weathercocks badly and doesn't respond to weight shifts.
This boat comes complete with deck lines, spare paddle holder, compass mount and two cavernous storage compartments. The front bungie lines form a huge X. This X is so large that it only holds the largest items in place. Water bottles, maps, paddle float and pump will be retrieved from the water many times during your outing.
I rented this boat several times and spent several hours in it each time in different conditions to see if this was the boat for me. It is very accommodating and that's about it. I give this boat a Rating of 5.
Other boats I have tried that perform better:
Handling; this boat has a 24" beam which on paper had me hesitant. Out on the water however, this boat handles really nicely. It's plenty lively, edges very well and knee dragging will easily cover for any wind. Because of the beam it has excellent primary stability and with the soft V hull design beam currents and waves still pass nicely under the boat.
The secondary stability is also quite high on this boat. After a few outings with it I can essentially just drop it onto its sides, it's very reassuring and this makes for much more relaxed leaned turns and maneuvers. I would guess I have only about 60 miles on the boat so far so all of this is initial impression.
Cockpit comfort; the cockpit volume in this boat is massive. I have a 36" inseam and fairly large built legs. I can still cross my legs easily at the knee inside the boat. On the last peg my legs are in a just barely bent and fully relaxed position.
Finally a boat with enough reach to the pegs I can actually make use of a few positions. The cockpit opening is very large and is a bit tricky to find a skirt for as most outfitters don't have this boat listed yet. Snapdragon's XL deck size fits it perfectly, I have the Ocean Tour neo skirt and it works very well. The NRS "Monster" is several inches too small just to save people some time. The '9' is because the stock hard plastic seatback isn't all that great over long trips. I replaced it with a backband and it now feels like a Barcalounger. I've done two trips each in the area of 5hrs without any comfort issues at all. With a 40" waist and large legs I still could use some minicell for thigh hooks and hip pads. I would be willing to bet this boat would handle someone up to 350lbs no problem.
Manners in the water; I haven't had it out in truly advanced conditions but I have had it out in 2' and larger chop with 15+ knot winds and it was just fine...I could sit with my arms folded without any trouble. I've had waves breaking over the bow and wind stiff enough to blast spray back up and the boat just keeps on tracking. The skeg works very well, it's great to have for longer crossings to keep you on course in winds or currents.
Storage volume: Huge, I think I could ice down two cases of beer in the back hatch, the hatches are watertight, similar to if not Kajak Sport but without the added bungees in the ring channel. I'll be adding those myself. If you like to camp, this boat will haul it all.
This is a great confidence inspiring boat for the big paddler. It is plenty fast enough to keep up with Perception Eclipse or CD Storms and numerous Valley boats that I've been out with, yet it's also stable enough that you can enjoy the ride when things get whipped up.
My only wants would be a deck pump option, this boat isn't cheap and I'd bet the audience for it would appreciate this option...this sucker has a lot of water to pump out when the cockpit is full. The other want would be for a better backrest, the hard plastic is a bit rough over several hours and there is plenty of room to suspend a nice backband.
I'd buy it again, if I hit the lottery I might even spring for the Kevlar reinforced "Modulus" layup next time.
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