Eddyline Fathom LV or Necky Eliza Poly?

I’ve had a beautiful Eddyline Fathom LV for almost 3 years now. I’m thinking it might be a little advanced for my skills, as I feel it is a bit tippy. Altho I was told that Time on the Water would remedy this, I still do not feel confident taking it out on my own. Each time, I have gone with my gal/pal that is an expert kayaker, so I don’t even worry. I haven’t taken it out nearly enough, but each time I feel wobbly and unsure when I step in. By the time I get out, I do feel much more confident.

I know this sounds incredible, but I am thinking of downgrading to a more stable boat. One that I am ok to venture short day trips solo. When I was initially shopping, I was looking for a Necky Eliza. I now have found one, Poly, not composite.

Does anyone have any input on the stability of the Eliza? I know it is a smidge smaller. Any suggestions as to commiting to the Fathom LVwith more short trips? or throw in the towel? Perhaps I am a more leisure kayaker than I initially thought. I don’t want to move like a sloth tho!

Thanks for any advice!

Is it the boat?

– Last Updated: Feb-28-16 5:58 PM EST –

Serious question. Do you expect a boat to sit flat without moving side to side in response to the water? Or do you expect it to wobble and understand that this doesn't mean it is going to imminently capsize?

If you have the first expectation, l doubt you will improve your situation by going to another sea kayak. They will always behave more like the second, it is what they are supposed to do.

I wonder if you would find things more comfortable if you practiced capsizing and doing an on water self rescue. I might be wrong, but what are describing is similar to the response that a lot of people have until they gain confidence that they can recover from a capsize. Ibterestingly, going thru that learning seems to significantly reduce the likelihood if accidental capsizes.

As you lack confidence going solo,
I wonder if you’ve practiced capsizing and re-entering your kayak? Knowing you can get back in your boat without anyone around to help is a big confidence booster.

You also might benefit by taking a few classes with an ACA certified kayak instructor who will help you with the initial stability issue.

Where do you paddle? Ocean? Lakes?

also be the seat…is there a pad on it? can you lower the seat? or remove it and sit on a piece of closed cell foam for awhile.

The best would be to get some instruction and learn to roll…it teaches boat control and improves your brace.

Best Wishes


Keel vs non-keel
Eddyline’s have a defined keel line. Just as how that keel makes it so that it won’t sit perfectly flat when on a flat surface, it doesn’t like to sit pefectly upright in the water. If instead of trying to keep the boat perfectly level, you let it fall off a few degrees to one sude or the other, it will feel more stable. When I taught and a student used an Eddyline, they either caught on to this not staying perfectly upright and all was good, or we got unintentional rescue practice earlier than planned in the class.

Switching to a boat with a flat bottom, like most Necky’s (and Daggers, Wilderness Systems, and other American plastic boats), will improve this feel.

Thank you so far for your responses. Indeed, I do need to practice my self-rescue. I have fallen out only once, but was with someone and managed pretty easily to get back in. I know Pt. Richmond has a kayak night, but I can’t make evenings. I kayak out at Tomales with a friend or Drakes Estero so far. I don’t imagine going out any more challenging than Tomales, possibly maybe Petaluma or Richardson Bay.

I guess the reason I bought my kayak in the first place was an overnight I did in a really old 17’ plastic boat w/rudder. I had such a good time and never once thought about the instability. The Fathom LV is a nice craft and I will be giving it another chance on Monday and reaccess. If I do keep it, I agree, I certainly need to start practicing more.

If I were you
I would consider going for an Eddyline Raven. Why? Well, I think it is Eddyline’s best boat.

The stability thing gets better and better with a lot more seat time. Learn to trust the boat and relax, but remember you have a paddle that will keep you upright and that takes some time too to trust it and yourself to react instinctively.

I’ve been paddling for many years in very rough conditions and have only capsized once while under way and that was when a big wave rolled me in about a foot of water. Even then it wasn’t the boat’s fault; I had to make a quick change of direction to avoid a log. Other than that, I have ended up in the water a couple of times when getting into, or out of the boat–due to sloppy technique.

Ah, you are in NorCal. Maybe even north Bay.

The Thursday night Plunge pool could work for practice. But if you have not yet, I’d sign up for an intro to sea kayaking lesson with a shop. And use your boat. They should be able to help you be comfortable in the current boat, along with teach you the rescue processes.

California Canoe and Kayak (the folks who run the pool sessions) has a lot of great instructors. Sea Trek also has good ones for their classes (full disclosure - I teach for them). If you are in Sonoma or other places further north of the Bay, Clavey in Petaluma should be good. Central Valley or other east places, Sunrise in Livermore or Headwaters in Lodi would both be good.

Keep in mind if you swap boats - you will be changing more than just how it sits on the water in the change. That is one design difference of many. A big change will be that you will be giving up the lighter weight (easier to carry) and stiffer material (slightly more efficient through water) of Thermoformed to get a heavier, but more rugged plastic. If the light weight and stiff are important to you, but that keel line definitely is an issue, then maybe consider the boats by Delta. I believe that Clavey carries some, and sometimes REI does also (but not sure either stocks).

Also, you may want to check out Bay Area Sea Kayakers (bask.org). Along with people to paddle with, they also have clinics and practices

Also like Eddyline Raven
Poly Eliza was a marketing dept driven de-tune of the composite Eliza which is a fantastic kayak for smaller ocean paddlers! It was thought that a wider poly version equipped with a rudder would be more marketable, which was probably true. I don’t know the numbers but recall both models being top sellers for JOI / Necky in their categories.

Years ago I did a film gig for Eddyline and paddled a Raven which I found to be a great all round kayak. So I agree with previous poster it’s a winner.

My hunch is any number of kayaks will work for you and it’s just a matter of trying several. Dimensions are just a guideline and your sense of stability may even seem greater in a narrower kayak, so keep an open mind.

Small paddlers with limited power will NOT be faster in longer hulls as discussed repeatedly on many threads over the years. It’s an efficiency game of balancing the paddler to the craft. Longer boats can be a handful in wind and seas and at cruising speeds typical of average paddlers offer no advantage in efficiency.

People will advocate for whatever brand they paddle typically but a good shop will allow you to try many options. One will likely speak to your senses and that’s the one to buy and enjoy, at least as a start.

Safe paddling.

OK, with more info…

– Last Updated: Feb-28-16 6:18 PM EST –

This is a guess but I think it is a good one. Given that you are right-sized for a Fathom LV or a Samba, the 17 ft boat you rented was probably scaled to an average sized guy both taller and considerably heavier than you. The "average sized paddler" bar got set some years ago for a average size male, and that hasn't really changed.

So that boat you rented was way too big for you, and did not give you the feeling of a properly fitted sea kayak because, for you, it wasn't. The fact of it being oversized basically ate up a lot of the water response you get in a better sized boat. That all sounds good to a new paddler until you have to handle the boat in wind, where all that oversized quality makes it very hard to handle. To a point of being unsafe at times.

So the first thing you likely have to understand is that the rental boat did not represent how a boat should feel on the water for you. The Fathom seeming more active does not mean it is going to imminently tip, it means it is behaving properly in handling the water surface. You just have to relax and let it do its work.

Now... there is a world of discussion you can get into about what hull shape feels more secure - V-hulls, hard chines, soft chines etc. And perhaps you are someone who is long term better off with a different hull shape. But I don't think you can judge that well until you better understand how the boat you have handles the water and get comfortable with it. One thing that you need to acquire for boat handle is the ability to drop an edge to make a turn, and it doesn't sound like you feel that would be safe right now. You are going to be compromised in your ability to handle things like a surprise increase in wind until you are willing to let a boat lay off center.

And I mean that even with a ruddered boat. My first sea kayak was ruddered and, while the rudder was somewhat helpful in tracking straight with a quartering wind, when things got more gnarly I still was not going to get her around without dropping some edge. I and my husband had some moments out on the water where we came home more into the weather than we had planned, and I had to turn on the top of swells to get around because the boat was stiff. The rudder was out of the water for most of that and of no use whatsoever.

Eddyline Journey
try that as it is 24" wide and a lot more stable than Necky only an inch wider. Moves decent my GF paddles one and I have tried it goes decent.

Journey likely too big for OPer
2 inches wider and 4 inches longer cockpit, and 75 pounds more weight capacity than either the Samba or the Fathom LV. The person who fits the Fathom LV or the Samba will be swimming in the Journey. No good paddling a boat that is too big to control, especially as the OPer is in the Bay area with some big water around her.

How much do you weigh/height?
There is nothing wrong getting a more stable kayak but if you’ve only practiced a rescue a few times in three years I’m guessing you are shortchanging yourself in developing basic skills to feel comfortable. The fact you feel comfortable at the end of a paddle and not the beginning says to me there’s a hurdle in skills development that you haven’t gone over yet. A more stable kayak might or might not address the problem .

I did a fair amount of solo paddling out there but really didn’t practice assisted rescues very much so that when I went paddling with other folks in BASK and someone capsized I was embarrassingly useless.

I had paddled for 5 yrs, learned how to roll but never PRACTICED assisted rescues beyond what I took in courses. What I discovered a few years later was something so obvious, you get good at what you do a lot and " a lot" might only take four weekends.

If you’re like me I didn’t learn how to brace effectively until I learned how to roll. A lot of my paddling started with a stable kayak, Necky Swallow, I learned to roll in it but never got into breaking waves where rolling is a basic skill, so I could paddle in 3’ waves and be fine butt balancing. Once I took out fast skinny kayaks I was flipping over in 1’ waves paddling down wave, I rolled up each time but by the third time it was obvious I had to change how I paddled because upside down doesn’t work.

The Eliza will be more stable but the abominable sliding push/pull footbrace rudder controls should be taken out and replaced with SeaDawg rudder footbraces, it’ll be about $150 in parts. Getting a kayak with sliding footbraces is a huge step backwards from what you’ve got. For some bizarre reason Necky/Johnson still haven’t figured that out making $4000 carbon Elizas with sliding rudder controls. That’s like buying a new Mercedes and its outfitted with truck tires.

If they don’t feel secure in a kayak after 3 years I doubt big water is in their future. Width makes stability. They seem to be a casual paddle.

a dumb suggestion

– Last Updated: Mar-04-16 12:55 PM EST –

I agree with celia here, if you want to paddle in the ocean you need to get your legs under you, not get a wider boat. This means learning to capsize, get out, get back in, learn some braces and hopefully a roll. Now the big talkers here will tell you they never needed any of that stuff to paddle in the ocean, but you seem to be talking about conditions and not flat estuaries.

I think back to when I got my first sea kayak and tipping it over because I tried to do something I could have gotten away with in my rec kayak. Fast forward to present time, and that same sea kayak seems as stable or moreso in conditions than my rec boat ever did. Except the only thing that changed was me.

This might require getting out of your comfort zone, but trust me, it's not hard and it's worth it.

The OP subsequently
posted her acknowledgment that she needs to practice self-rescue. She had also paddled again and felt much more confident.

WaterBird had posted a comment, then deleted her post which took out several others - including the OP’s update.

ah my bad
I was thinking when I capsized that first time in my sea kayak, “I think I got the right boat”.

At least it wasn’t a year old thread

OPer is aware of it
As above. There has been some back and forth that included OPer’s comments, suggestions about skills work and comments on boats and hull shapes. That subthread is gone.