Pama 54

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Pama 54

Author : Barry Thompson

The Pama 54 is another exceptional example of just how good Chinese built boats are becoming, in both presentation and innovation.

A few years ago when I visited the Pama shipyard, situated on almost 5ha of prime beachfront land at Pama Bay, just 1½ hours northeast of Hong Kong by car, I was impressed with the professionalism and dedication to their craft by owner Philip Wang and his team of local artisans.

This third-generation boatbuilder is releasing some superb new designs and high quality pilothouse motor yachts that are now finding their way into local marinas.

Philip Wang moved the family business from Taiwan, where land and resources were scarce, to Southern China in 1992, and teamed up with renowned marine architect Howard Apollonio from the USA.

Utilising Howard’s Coast Guard proven hull forms they developed a series of spacious and very stylish pilothouse designs which now number nine models from 10.7m to 26m.

In 2007, Kiwi Don Salthouse and two experienced owners of pilothouse launches from New Zealand spent three weeks searching through 15 different boat yards in China and Taiwan for the best pilothouse motor yachts available that would suit the Australasian market and our demanding boating conditions. They decided that Pama offered everything they required and immediately placed an order for five boats.

The New Zealand team then worked closely with Philip Wang to further refine and enhance his motor yachts. His willingness to take on new ideas and continually improve his products resulted in a new 18.9m (62ft) Pilothouse delivered in time for the 2008 Sanctuary Cove boat show.

This was followed by a second 62 which was sold to a Kiwi client, with the first Pama 54 arriving in time for the 2009 Sydney International Boat Show.

“We had an amazing response to the debut of the Pama 54 and while we didn’t sell it at the show I am confident it will be gone before Christmas”, said Don.

He added, “We have two more 62s under construction at the moment for 2010 delivery, with one sold to another Kiwi client and the second is on spec”.

Mid-Sized Pilothouse

The Pama 54 is a mid-sized pilothouse with stylish lines and practical live-aboard features, offering three double cabins with two ensuites, a large saloon and a great wheelhouse complete with galley and dinette on the same level.

The feeling of enormous space is one of the first impressions you get when walking into the full-beam saloon. There is copious lighting both from the natural light that radiates through the large windows to the hidden lighting behind the pelmets. It is a showplace for the ribbon-grained timbers as well as the craftsmanship of the woodworkers. French-doored china cabinets are to port and a wine cooler is built in as standard under the counter.

The couch on the starboard side is built in and has sweeping curves, but the port side is left open for loose barrel chairs and a 42-inch flat screen TV that lifts up and down out of the cabinetry. The burr dining table lifts up and down electrically for both coffee table and dining table height, and there is capacious stowage under the sofa. Curved stainless steel doors at the rear of the saloon lead on to the spacious aft deck.

The pilothouse level is certain to be one of the favourite areas of the Pama 54. For the helmsman there is brilliant visibility from the elevated area through expansive windows. The curved madronna burr dash angles the electronics panels at the helm chair. For the guests a port side sofa with a dinette area provides a great area to relax and for casual dining.

The adjacent galley is on the same level and is equipped with a separate fridge/freezer, convection microwave oven and plenty of storage. It is finished with a granite bench top. The sole is cherry and holly to match the bulkheads and every locker is finished in either wood or mica. Excellent insulation makes the pilothouse an extremely quiet area when underway.

There is access to the foredeck area via the pantograph style door on the starboard side of the wheelhouse, which takes you on to wide side decks leading to the bow area. A Maxwell 2200 winch is situated below decks and covered by twin hatches, keeping the deck area free of clutter.

Exquisite Staterooms

The curved spiral staircase to the forward accommodation area beautifully demonstrates the quality of the woodwork in the Pama 54. The foyer between the accommodation areas is finished with burr maple panelling and inlays and has a washer/dryer combo behind a set of louvred doors.

The VIP stateroom has a large central island berth with a hinged base on gas struts for access to storage under, and there is a set of large drawers. A satin finished cherry wood is used and the attention to detail is obvious right through to the lined lockers and storage areas. There is vanity seating to port and a hanging locker to starboard, and steps either side assist in accessing the raised berth. Ports either side are concealed behind panelling, and the overhead access hatch is complete with blinds for absolute privacy.

There is separate access to the ensuite that is also utilised by other guests. The second cabin has twin upper/lower single berths and like the VIP cabin is well dressed with cherry timber, soft vinyl headlining, carpeted sole and adequate storage space and hanging lockers.

The head/shower area is roomy and continues the traditional timber theme throughout. Granite surfaces add a touch of elegance and the Pama 54 is fitted with high quality faucets and bathroom fittings that further emphasise the upmarket presentation of the vessel.

A stunning feature of the Pama 54 is the master stateroom amidships, with a curved door that fits perfectly into the curving forward bulkhead, giving the cabin extra walk-around space.

The detailing of the timberwork is exquisite. There is a 32-inch flat-screen TV and on-demand entertainment system. This has to be one of the largest staterooms I have seen on a boat of this size. The huge walk-in closet, in addition to two hanging lockers, is a great feature as is the oversized head with a fibreglass shower. Teak and holly have been used on the sole and granite for the vanity surface. Ventilation and lighting in both the ensuite and master stateroom is as good as it gets.

Outside Comfort

The alfresco dining area in the cockpit comfortably seats 5-6 around the teak and burl elm table. The upholstery is all Sunbrella waterproof fabric and a large fibreglass overhang gives you shelter from the sun and the wind. The cockpit flooring is all hand laid teak and there is a stainless and teak stairway to the flybridge, with twin doors down on to the full-width boarding platform.

Another great example of Pama’s ingenuity is the design of the swim ladder that is hidden beneath the teak laid swim platform when not required.

The flybridge of the Pama 54 is a fantastic area for entertaining with an alfresco dinette with its own table, a large fascia complete with all the necessary electronics and controls and a couple of Stidd helm chairs for driving comfort. There is a full hardtop with clears and good access to the pilothouse and galley area, making it easy for serving up food. On the starboard side is an entertainer’s bar, with fridge, servery and space for a large cooker. Aft is a davit crane and plenty of room for a decent tender.

Easily Manoeuvrable

Manoeuvrability is very important in a boat of this size, so to make things as easy as possible, all Pama’s vessels are set up with a remote control unit, which includes operation of the bow and stern thrusters, engine throttles, gears and engine emergency stop.

Standard power for the Pama 54 is a pair of C9 Caterpillars @ 567hp each, but there are other engine options available with greater or lesser horsepower. The Cats give a top speed of 25 knots @ 2550rpm, with a pair of 660hp Cummins QSM-11s good for 27 knots.

The Cat C9 engines use around 13.0L/h per engine @ 1300 rpm with a displacement speed of 10 knots, so with the standard 2274 litre fuel tankage you have a fairly impressive range if you are planning an extended cruise.

Access to the engine room is via the lazarette, through watertight doors. The lazarette area is finished in white high gloss GRP for ease of cleaning. A 13kVA Northern Lights genset is part of the standard equipment on the Pama 54.

To make the Pama 54 as quiet as possible, not only is the engine room fully insulated but also the boat is equipped with water-lock mufflers and underwater exhaust silencers. The result is a very quiet boat when cruising.

Underneath, Howard Apollonio’s hull form uses conventional robust shaft drives, with a long keel for propeller protection. The underwater construction is solid fibreglass, while the topsides and superstructure use balsa cores and also Nidacore honeycomb to achieve the required stiffness and to reduce weight.

When Barry Tyler reviewed the Pama 62 (PMY, July-Aug 2008) he raved about the boat’s technical innovations and overall presentation, saying that stepping aboard, it was easy to see that the Chinese had brought the art of boatbuilding to a new level. In the Pama 54 they have certainly continued that tradition.


  • Design Name: Pama 54
  • Year Launched: 2009
  • Designer: Howard Apollonio
  • Interior Designer: Amy Keenan
  • Builder: Pama Yachts
  • LOA: 17m
  • Beam: 4.6m
  • Draft: 1.37m
  • Displacement: 22,226kg
  • Max Speed: 25 knots
  • Cruise Speed: 10-21 knots
  • Construction: GRP
  • Fuel Cap: 2274 litres
  • Water Cap: 1000 litres
  • Engines Make: 2 x Caterpillar C9 567hp

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