Friday, January 8, 2010

History of Panga Boats

Where did the name Panga Boat come from?
In the beginning of the fiberglass era over 40 years ago Yamaha designed a low cost skiff for island fisherman in Asia. The skiff was designed for village fisherman to get out to the fishing area over shallow water quickly and ride chop smoothly. These fisherman net common fish called Panga fish, species name Pangasius. The word Panga means machete and the Panga fish looks like a machete. The fishermen that used this low cost first generation fiberglass boat were called Panga fishermen and their boats called Panga boats for the fish they caught. The design developed also in South America made of timber. Both were made to be pulled up onto the beach and is why the front of the hull at the peak is flat about 2 inches so it can easilty be pulled over the sand. This 2 inch flat part tapers out to about 15 inches at the stern and protrudes from the hull about one inch.
Why is the bow so high?
The bow on a Panga boat is high because when the panga fishermen pull in their nets they stand on the bow to pull up the nets. The bow has to be high out of the water to compensate for pulling up the heavy nets. As a benefit it also makes for a dry ride. Although other boats with lower bows have a dry ride as well.
Panga Features:
The original Yamaha design from Japan was designed specifically to use the minimum horsepower in order to make the boat as light as possible and to be affordable to the village fisherman as well as being very light in order to travel in very shallow water.
.Another true feature of the original Panga is the rim of the gunwale. a true panga has structural foam around the rim cap of the boat. This is designed so in case the village fisherman found himself in rough water and capsized the boat would self right itself back upright... The unique ride is due to a pad that starts at the bow. the bow is not sharp, but two inches flat that tapers wider to 14 inches at the rear and protrudes down from the center of the semi V hull about one inch. It is this pad that the boat rides on and is one reason it needs very little horse power. Once the boat planes it rides on this pad and skips along the tops of the waves using minimum power and getting maximum speed riding on a rail.
How it has evolved in the west:
The transformation from the island fisherman netting Panga fish in shallow waters in their panga boats has brought the design to be appealing for fishermen all over the world. The unique design of the true Panga boat is made to skip along the top of choppy waves instead of plowing through like a V hull.
Over the past decade the Panga design has been westernized to were it has strayed from its roots. Some boats today call themselves a Panga but in reality they only share the profile of the Panga from the waterline up. A true way to determine if a boat is a real Panga design or a modernized westernized version is to see how it is powered. can it easily be dragged up onto the beach and other features that were originally designed for use by village fisherman far from the marinas and facilities we are used to.