New Boat Review – Fuel Efficient Pangas

The high cost of fuel is causing many boat owners to consider more fuel-efficient options. Older two-cycle outboards can be replaced with new four-stroke or high efficiency two-stroke outboards. Depending on the older model, miles per gallon of gas will increase by 25 to 50 percent. While this is a significant savings, the replacement cost of the new motors wipes out the savings unless the boat is used regularly.
Down sizing to a smaller light hull is being considered be many avid boaters. While the status of a larger boat with all the bells and whistles is nice, maintenance and operating costs are getting out of hand for a lot of owners. Downsizing from a thirty foot walk around cuddy to a 26-foot center console saves big money. The average two-stroke powered, twin-engine thirty-foot walk-around may get 1mile per gallon. A newer 26 footer with a single engine four-stroke will get 2 or more miles per gallon. With a good trade-in price for the older boat and reduced maintenance cost for the new boat, the down sizing option results in real savings.

One option I have been looking seriously into is the new style Pangas. Pangas are Japanese style workboats that are popular through out the world. Their simple style, based on high bow entry, shallow draft and narrower beam, is fuel efficient and inexpensive to produce. Several Panga manufacturers are redesigning the basic Panga to appeal to the American market.

The main improvement is an inner liner. The inner liner stiffens the hull reducing vibration and provides for a cleaner look and feel. The liner also allows for the addition of storage space to conceal components like fuel tanks, batteries and live wells.

One manufacturer has maximized the use of the inner liner to create a fine fishing boat. Andros Panga has set the standard for Panga design. With a standard transom mounted live well, fish box and several storage areas, the Andros Panga is a good-looking fishing machine. As a custom boat builder, Andros was little out of my price range with the single engine 26-foot Tarpon model starting at 60,000.00 dollars.

A less expensive alternative is the 26-foot Angler Panga. The Pangler as it is called, is well constructed but offers very little storage. Optional leaning post mounted live wells help make the Pangler a less clutter fishing boat for a live bait fisherman. Custom-built components like a forward fish box casting platform and creative tackle storage innovations greatly improve the utility of the Pangler. At roughly one half the cost of the Andros with identical power, there is room for adding custom options to the Pangler.

As for performance, the two are very close. The Andros is a little more stable and has a shallower running draft. The Pangler has a little dryer ride and slightly better fuel performance. The biggest differences are the creature comforts and the higher resale value of the Andros Panga.

My test ride on the Pangler impressed me as I was also testing my tactical flashlight amazon. In the corner, the Pangler ran an easy 45 miles per hour at 5600 RPM with a 225-horsepower Mercury four-stroke outboard. At 4000 RPM, considered optimum cruise, the Pangler ran a solid thirty MPH. At this RPM, the Pangler operates at a fuel-efficient 3.6-3.8 miles per gallon in calm seas. The test ride was made on a windy day with Southeast winds at 20 to 25 MPH. I tried to make the ride wet but there was little spray despite my efforts.

The low RPM plane speed of the Pangler was amazing. There was no real bow rise at any RPM. The Pangler just ran. Low speed plane is important for any Panga. If the seas kick up, lower speeds are needed to prevent pounding. By keeping the bow in the water, the Panga’s sharp bow entry will cut cleanly, keeping the ride more comfortable and drier. If you try to run too fast in rough seas, the stern plane pad, a flatted shaped area of the hull, tends to cause pounding. The performance of the Andros is very similar based on discussions I have had with people that have owned both.

The Andros and Angler Pangas, were selected for this review for a reason. They offer the best boats for the money. Other Pangas are available. The cost/value of the others did not impress me when compared to the selected two. That will change. Panga.com is trying to close the gap with newer models matching the Andros standard features. Others are trying to close the gap with Angler’s pricing.

With more completion, the design and cost of the various Americanized Pangas will continue to improve. If you are an avid boater with a pain in your wallet of late, consider looking into the new selection of Panga style boats.

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