Author : Barry Tyler
Two things in life remain certain – death and taxes. The third realisation from a marine perspective could well be – the Chinese are coming. Year by year, model by model, this veritable minnow in boating terms continues to raise the bar; the new Pama 62 Pilothouse design a very typical example of where they’re currently at.
Chinese movers and shakers are proving to be very quick to learn from the rest of the world and while the Pama name is a relative newcomer to the luxury boat market, its owners most certainly are not. Company principal Phillip Wang was a third generation boatbuilder from Taiwan who when faced with ever-increasing labour costs in his own country, moved the entire family business over to China’s Pama Bay, just a 1½ hour car ride from Hong Kong.
That was in 1992 and he has slowly grown the company and improved the quality, to the point where he has recently engaged the services of overseas agents. One of the first he appointed was an Asia Pacific basin representative, Sydney-based Pacific Marine Imports (PMI). A consortium of businessmen headed by well-known marine identity Don Salthouse, PMI spent many weeks in both China and Taiwan, visiting upwards of 15 boat-manufacturing companies on its short-list. Every facet of each operation was investigated, from delivery potential to infrastructure, to funding and to the obvious one, quality of build. “It was an exhausting exercise,” Salthouse explained, “but we had to be sure the brand we marketed was not just another brand out of Asia. Our boats had to be different – attractively different! At the end of the exercise we as a group kept coming back to the Pama brand – Taiwanese expertise, but built in China. It’s interesting actually, for while the boat is probably not that much cheaper than other worldwide options, the cheaper labour (available in China) affords Pama Yachts the luxury of spec’ing the boat much higher than normal, while at the same time adding a whole lot more flair to the package. I guess that is where our influence has prevailed too, for we have definite ideas on how a boat should be presented, peculiar to this region. I am pleased to say Pama Yachts, in that respect, has been most accommodating the whole way through the build and specification process.”
Very much embracing the multi-level passagemaker ideal, this Pama from an aesthetic (profile) perspective certainly appeared ‘different’. The norm rather than the exception, most pilothouse configurations feature quite a harsh square-edged profile, whereas this particular example very much had the edges ‘rounded off’. From the moment one stepped aboard, very quickly one appreciated this boat was unique in its interior presentation also; the designers had certainly ‘dared to be different’.
Presentation both inside and outside was of superyacht standard, with the ideal typically punctuated by the entry feature. A sensibly-sized ‘low’ boarding platform provided good access aboard and of course good access to the aft-entry lazarette. Innovation point number one, this lazarette, whilst providing obvious storage potential for wet gear, conveniently was home to the often hard to access features such as air-conditioning units, the Northern Lights 20kVA Genset, the batteries, the inverter and three battery chargers, the hot-water cylinder and the exhausts.
A bulkhead door on the forward side of this lazarette, complete with inspection window (great idea), led you through into the engine room proper. The two 705hp in-line 6-cylinder Caterpillar C12 ACERT diesels understandably took up most of the room in here, but important in an extended stay vessel where you often do your maintenance at sea, there was plenty of room to access the various service points of the diesels. Helping balance the boat nicely, the 3785 litres of fuel was in tanks port and starboard of the two engines, and the 1400 litre water tank (the lazarette is plumbed and wired for a watermaker, should you require more) was roughly amidships, athwart the front bulkhead of this engine bay.
Sufficiently wide and flowing steps each side led you from this lower boarding platform up onto what was a very practical cockpit layout – an entertainers’ cockpit layout in fact. Nicely enveloped by the transom upright and side coamings and conveniently protected from the elements above by the overhead flybridge overhang, this area featured the traditional superyacht-style aft surround lounge and impressive dining table. It would have to be very inclement weather to keep me from spending most of my idle time in this area.
The other area that was of course naturally idyllic and definitely ‘sold the sizzle’ of lifestyle boating, was the flybridge level. There was something for everyone here. Accessed either from the internal staircase up from the bridge level or aft from the cockpit, there was a fully duplicated helm station, an L-shaped dining setting, a very comprehensive outdoor entertainment and galley module complete with electric BBQ, and aft of all this a Nick Jackson davit was ready to lift the tender of your choice into the water. Very ‘distracting’ for the skipper, if you get my drift, would be the raised sunbathing platform that was located forward and to starboard of the skipper’s helm position!
There are always two sides to any boat, the visual exterior features, and the all-important living area. While the typically flowing style of the pilothouse concept ensures a modicum of inherent ‘warmth’ anyway, below decks Pama has taken the ambience phenomenon to a new level – with the generous use of cherrywood timber curves and rounded edges. The actual woodwork presentation was superb to say the least, with the workmanship being up there with the best I have seen. It is very, very labour intensive and significantly more expensive to use solid timber rather than laminates. The curved and flowing woodwork was intermingled with impressive and certainly most practical innovation. Adjectives flow like a vintage Grand Crux but the reality is this was a boat that invited you in and instantaneously made you feel at home.
The cockpit-level saloon was certainly the more formal part of the vessel. With a deceptively large floor area, part cherry timber and part carpeted, this room featured a full-length servery (incorporating a pop-up widescreen television with forward of that again a bar and wine cooler) to port and to starboard the wrap-around settee that enveloped the rise and fall table. Add the two chairs to the ‘room’ side of the table and you would seat six around the table nicely. Strip lighting at floor level and overhead lighting on dimmers sets the mood nicely, and drawing the curtains will give the whole downstairs area an aura of intimacy.
Two steps forward led you up onto the bridge level, and here you really began to appreciate the innovation factor, with very practical use of all available space. To port is the showcase staircase up to the flybridge level, and opposite this the appropriately spec’d galley with its separate fridge and freezer, dishwasher, oven, 4-burner hob, and the world’s first drawer-style pull-out microwave convection oven. Bench and sink space was generous, as was the overhead and under-bench cupboard and drawer storage space.
For’ard of the galley feature was the bench-top servery and forward of this again was a settee that ensured guests could remain within close proximity of the skipper at the downstairs helm station – without being in his/her face so to speak. I have never seen this before, but what a revelation it was – a wonderful feature!
The helm station, as expected, was in keeping with what I had discovered thus far; well spec’d with the latest Raymarine G series 3D twin-screen electronics package, the Caterpillar instrumentation and remotes, and the entirely appropriate helm wheel. You would truly feel like the proverbial ocean liner skipper.
More surprises were in store as I alighted the portside stairwell down into the accommodation area. Breathtaking was a word that sprung to mind as I stepped onto the atrium or foyer level. The curves of the cherrywood stairs, the ceiling feature, the effort that had gone into this area alone, was just sublime.
From this level you proceeded forward to the guest accommodation, and to the twin bed accommodation to starboard and house bathroom to port. Both bedrooms, very tastefully decorated in contrasting wood and vinyl panels, offered plenty of storage space, television and stereo, air-conditioning, mood and overhead lighting and good ventilation through large Manship stainless steel port-holes.
The feeling of awe prevailed as I entered the lower level aft master stateroom – a genuine stateroom in every sense. The only hint of domesticity came in the form of the laundry dryer and washer that were both secreted into the wall at the entrance to the room; otherwise it was pure unadulterated luxury.
The separate walk-in wardrobe (it would have made an ideal study also), the ensuite, the settee, the vanity area, the mood lighting throughout, the huge king-size berth, the privatised window alcoves and the large port-holes – would all surely satisfy the most discerning of skippers.
Words fail me, or have I used too many. Every now and again a boat comes along that is truly special, truly value for money – this boat was one such example. Innovation abounded, the workmanship was superb, and the level of specification more than ‘appropriate’. The design is by world-renowned American engineer and naval architect, Howard Apollonia, whose work for the US Coast Guard ensures that the Pama 62 Pilothouse enjoys handling prowess to match the looks and presentation. A well balanced, efficient hull, it was just at home at its top speed of 25 knots (for 2x705hp, that’s good), as it was whiling away the miles at the more ‘economical’ cruising speed of 20 knots. I looked long and hard and the only fault I could find in the whole package was a couple of the galley cupboards that were not quite level – and that is surely very easily fixed with a bit of adjustment.
- Boat Design Name: Pama 62 Pilothouse
- Year Launched: 2008
- Designer: Howard Apollonia / Amy Keenan Interiors
- Builder: Pama Yachts
- LOA: 19.06m
- Beam: 5.33m
- Draft: 1.73m
- Displacement: 30,000kg
- Max Speed: 25 knots
- Cruise Speed: 20 knots
- Construction: Hand laid GRP/balsa core topsides
- Fuel Capacity: 3785 litres
- Water Capacity: 1400 litres
- Engines: 2 x 705hp Caterpillar C12 diesels
- Gearboxes: ZF 325-1A 2.417:1
- Base Price: From A$1,950,000