The original panga design was created over three decades ago, as a project financed by the World Bank. The purpose of the project was to provide an economical, seaworthy craft for commercial fishermen in Third World countries. Molds were built and distributed throughout Latin America and other areas of the world. Local builders began creating their own pangas - which of course evolved according to the skills of the builders and the needs of each particular locale. At one point, Yamaha began forming partnerships with the local boat builders to build pangas, no doubt to provide platforms to sell their motors. Today, there are a number of panga manufacturers throughout all of Mexico, Central, and South America. These boats are used almost exclusively by Latin guides of all varieties - sport fishermen, commercial fishermen, sight-seeing, and diving.
These guides have some basic and common requirements. Their boats are prized possessions and cannot be easily replaced, so the boats must be rugged and durable. Fuel is scarce and expensive, so their boats must be efficiently powered by comparatively smaller engines. Their customers insist on safety and comfort, so their boats must also be seaworthy and dry. If you’ve ever gone fishing in Mexico or Central America, you have probably been on a panga, or have at least seen them, long and skinny with a high bow and a wide collar around the gunwales.
Over recent years, this distinctive style of boat has piqued the interest of fishermen worldwide. In 2001, Panga Marine was established to supply the American demand for such a craft, and began importing boats built by Mexico's largest boat builder. Though the construction of the hulls was acceptable, it was soon apparent this builder could not get a handle on the refinements and demands of the American market. No wood construction, self bailing cockpit, integral fuel tanks - to name a few. Realizing this problem, Panga Marine began building boats in Guadalajara, Mexico. The idea initially worked out well, however, in developing their own boats, two facts became clear: One - the design and development work needed to be done in this country because the design technology was simply not available in Mexico; Secondly, - the financial savings associated with building boats in Guadalajara, i.e. labor costs, was offset by the expense of shipping.
The next chapter in the Panga Marine story leads us to today, where the company is now building boats solely in the United States. The Guadalajara phase is over, and they had their molds shipped to a new Sarasota facility. They made this decision based on the desire to have the ability to make changes, small and large, and to have complete control over the quality of construction. They want to be able to offer customers the luxury of customizing their boats down to the smallest detail.
The original panga, though quite primitive, was designed around a need for an extremely fuel efficient boat. The simple shape of the panga, with the V-shape in the bow, and flat aft – allow the boats to efficiently slice through the water, using little fuel and a comparatively smaller horsepower engine. The beam of a panga is very narrow – roughly 6 ½- to 7-ft. This narrow beam is an important element of the overall design. Stability is not a problem – pangas have very little dead rise, typically 11 degrees. In other words, the aft 6- to 8-ft. of the hull is virtually flat with a minor concave tunnel running down the center section of the hull – which lends to the stability of the vessel. So what you end up with is a very sharp entry and a flatter aft section for efficiency. What this means to you is a boat that keeps you dry and doesn’t drain you at the pumps!
To prove the point about fuel efficiency, Panga Marine put one of their boats to the test using a Navman Fuel Flow meter to gauge the rate of fuel consumption. The test was conducted on a Marquesas 22 with a full fuel tank and two adults on board. The boat was powered with a Suzuki 115 HP four-stroke. The wind was light and the chop moderate. The most efficient speed proved to be at 4000 rpm. Running at 26.4 mph, the boat saw an impressive rating of 5.81 miles to the gallon.
Panga Marine is also proud of the fact that all of their boats are unsinkable. They are built of 100% composite construction, which is then filled with foam. To make sure this foam filled construction would really hold up– they again put the boat to the test. Renovators Yacht in St. Petersburg and Panga Marine, set out to sink a panga. It was the company’s belief that their 22 would be able to maintain positive flotation under the worst possible conditions. They loaded the boat with 380 pounds of granite slab to simulate the weight of an outboard engine. They lowered the boat in the water, and pulled the plug. The water rose to a few inches above the deck and didn’t go any higher. Then they added four guys weighing roughly 750 pounds – the boat maintained positive flotation. Still not satisfied that they had put their panga to the ultimate test – they proceeded to force water into the boat with a large salvage pump. Still loaded down with the granite and the four guys, the boat was filled with water over the transom and aft gunwales. The 22 stayed afloat after being completely flooded.
The company has now gone on to introduce the Boca Grande – their most well appointed panga to date. The design team has combined a proven, traditional hull design with a completely re-engineered topside mold offering quite literally, the most refined panga style boat you’ll find on the market. The new topside features a ten inch wide walk-around gunwale for maximum fishability. Add a fully integrated forward casting platform with ample storage, upgraded stainless steel through-bolted hardware, molded diamond-skid throughout, a 49-gallon fuel tank, and you have an efficient boat that is ruggedly functional with excellent range and a superior finish.
By now I’m sure you’ve realized that over the years, Panga Marine has gone to considerable effort to bring this technology to the American marketplace, and is constantly improving the design and construction of the traditional panga. They are extremely proud of their company and of their boats, which is exactly why they welcome you to tour their Sarasota facility at any time.
Sea trial a 22 ft Boca Grande today, and see for yourself how a legendary design, coupled with modern day technology, have combined to produce a panga like you’ve never seen before!
Boca Grande Specs:
Length 22 ft. 10 in.
Beam 7 ft.
Draft 8 in.
Hull 1825 lbs.
Max. HP 150
Transom Height 2 ft. 3 in.
Fuel Capacity 49 gallons
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