Submitted: 06-28-2005 by BayouBill
I have owned a rotomolded (plastic) Pamlico 145T since Christmas of 2003. Until now I haven't felt the need to submit a review, since the ones already posted cover the pluses and minuses of this boat well. But last weekend, during a paddling course, I learned a couple of things that I'd like to pass on.
Prior to last weekend, I had done all my paddling, both tandem and solo, on flat water - slow moving south Louisiana bayous, and in marsh ponds - where the boat (with rudder) works extremely well. But last weekend's course was on a nearby river with a variety of water conditions, from wide, slow stretches to areas full of fast moving water around hazards (fallen/sunken/floating trees and large rock formations), and even an area of small class I rapids.
The first thing I learned was that the rudder is pretty useless when navigating a narrow, winding, quick course, or when trying to back- or forward ferry from side to side across the current. You're better off pulling the rudder up and using just your paddle and leaning into the turns.
The second, and most important, thing I learned is to use _two_ flotation bags, one in the bow and one in the stern, if you are on fast moving and/or hazardous water. The first day out (trying to avoid the instructor, who was bravely - or stupidly - standing on the edge of a narrow right-angle cut we were supposed to navigate), I got caught in a strainer, and the cockpit _instantly_ filled with water. The hull (but, fortunately, not I) was totally submerged and wedged between a fallen tree and a boulder broadside to fast moving water, and it took four grown men to pull it out. I was using just the one standard flotation bag in the stern, and it was not enough to keep the hull afloat when the water rushed in. (The good news is that this is one tough boat. After we pulled it out, nothing was broken, and, other than a small scratch on the hull, you couldn't tell that anything had happened.)
The next day, I put a second flotation bag in the bow. My first time over the rapids, I flipped the boat (my fault, not the boat's), and the bow dived under the water, just as it had done the day before at the strainer. But because of the added flotation, the bow popped right back up. There was still a lot of water in the cockpit, though not as much as before, since the front float bag reduced the cockpit's volume, and the combination of the additional flotation and reduced cockpit volume kept the boat afloat.
So...Enjoy this great, versatile boat, but don't think the rudder is a substitute for paddling skill, and carry extra flotation when it's called for.