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My primary reason for buying it in 1998 was to be able to stow it on the side deck of my 40' sailing ketch. It was perfect for that need.
My paddling experience has been varied, but mainly sea around Vancouver Island and mostly on the inside waters of Georgia Straight. Wind and wave conditions can vary from glasslike to howling gales. I have paddled this kayak in winds up to 25 knots in rough sea against tidal current.
At all times I have felt safe and stable in this delightful boat. At slightly more than moderate exertion I can keep up with my companions in their faster 17' - 18' kayaks. Into wind and wave I can easily stay the pace.
I consider the small extra effort required to maintain speed of the faster kayaks to be a plus; I feel I get a better workout and I have learned to improve my paddling technique.
As I frequently paddle in waves and current, I always use the rudder. The Pachena tracks well. I do notice when I paddle hard, that the kayak corkscrews, but watching others, they all seem to do the same when paddling hard.
The biggest plus for me is the storage capacity of the Pachena. I purchased an inflatable bow storage bag to replace the airbag. On a recent camping / kayaking trip, I found I had more storage capacity than my friends with their 17' kayaks. I took a tent, thermarest, bag of clothes, food, stove, pots and wine. It all fitted with room to spare.
There is plenty of room behind the seat to store a semi-inflated paddle float, 8 litres of water and a dry bag of clothes, sunscreen, camera etc..
I love my Pachena. The only thing I would like to add is a hammock or small watertight container under the deck up front to store the essential items like sunglasses and sunscreen.
Pachena's pluses: Great initial stability. You have to really try to turn it over. Great for playing in moderately big waves on a windy day at the lake. Great for photography. Carries a lot of gear for a 14 foot boat.
Negatives: Seat is a little uncomfortable on long paddles. Tends to weather-cock. Rudder is mandatory on windy days, and boat doesn't track well in windy conditions with lots of waves unless you engage the rudder.
A great boat for what it's designed to do. I've had it out on some big inland lakes and had no problem, but this boat is not for those who wish to paddle with other 16/17 foot sea kayaks. You won't be able to keep up unless you are in great shape and your companions are not.
My conclusion is, buy a Pachena-you'll love it, STRAP IT!!! And it will look better than mine does for a lot longer!!!
As you might expect from its short length (14'1") and wide beam (25 1/4"), it has a limited top speed, great stability and rather relaxed tracking. The real magic of the Pachena for me however is its delightful speed for a moderate effort. Its acceleration is surprising and it coasts forever. Moving the boat at a good clip requires nothing more than going through the motions and its ability to penetrate upwind at a solid rate with an easy effort is uncanny. If you are paddling, you are moving along just fine. Its stability is so robust that you can usually ignore the sea state and paddle finesse and just motor straight towards your destination; an excellent kayak for a tired paddler covering distance.
This efficiency was apparent at the 2005 Monterey Bay Paddlefest where their Pachena was popular with the smallest paddlers who, despite some complaints of clipping the high, fore cockpit coaming, were able to zip around at surprising speeds. It was clearly the fastest kayak for small paddlers and beginners, no doubt helped by the fact that the wide hull is completely indifferent to sloppy paddling and we beginners could throw our shoulders into the strokes and just fling the lightweight little kayak around. I found it to be much faster and more stable than any of the dozen or so designs I had tried and to have no trace of the false sense of tipsiness that comes from a shallow V hull, although the Pachena is listed as such. Top speed honors at that event incidentally have to go to a magnificent pair of wooden Actionfish kayaks that, with great dignity, effortlessly outran everything on the water, barely disturbing its surface as they glided by.
The versatility of the kayak does make for compromises. The cockpit of the Pachena for instance is huge, actually too big for a 5"9' paddler such as myself, with an enormous, plastic, tractor-like seat, molded without a drain and capable of holding gallons of water. It will fill quickly too, as an unskirted ride in a Pachena is a very wet affair from paddle drips, with the extended keyhole cockpit catching every last drop that might be missed by the wide coaming. I come back from two hour trips soaked, with an inch of water sloshing around in the bottom. I love it.
A nice set of thigh braces can be made for this and other kayaks by using Tupperware type containers bolted to the side of the kayak with 3/8" closed cell foam adhered to the lids. I use nylon hardware which is likely to shear before damaging the hull and mount small hooks inside for clipping valuables. This allows dry, accessible storage for suntan lotion, fig newtons and other vital equipment. I found the Sterilite "Ultra Seal" 2qt. cereal container to fit the deep sidewalls of the Pachena nicely and provide that "night and day" lower body fit. These are almost weightless and have nifty hinged lids that are perfect for the purpose.
The rudder works well, serving not only to help with directionality, but also stabilizing it in roll, and helping neutral tracking by adding a little drag far aft and extending the keel. It reduces the overall liveliness of the hull. It's fun to surf along the crest of the leading edge of waves, using the rudder to keep it on the face.
Construction deserves comment. The worst aspect of my Pachena is the gelcoat. It seems thin, brittle and chips and scratches easily. It has broken through in two small holes at the aftmost point of the hull where it was unadhered to the mesh. Mine came with an unrepaired bad area with the underlayer showing. The "smoke" color of the hull may be hard to match for repairs; white is not available. All of this is unfortunate as it seems to be largely a materials issue and degrades a well made kayak (and my rating to a 9). The interior layup, bulkhead fitting and most other important details are superb. The hatches are works of art.
So, if you are looking for a kayak to keep forever as you expand your uses for it rather than change equipment, the Pachena is pretty ideal. As a fishing boat, or five day campout boat, or one to take to the big family picnic at the lake where it will be fun and safe for everyone, the Pachena is a great choice. Or, if you are like me who prefers birding to bracing and enjoys ignoring 18" broadside waves while sitting with both feet hanging in the water, and then being able to streak back to the shore at sundown, the Pachena is perfect. It always seems to be 10% more than I expect while so many others were 10% less. It is not inexpensive, but it is the cheapest Kevlar to be found and a top notch product. Besides, It looks fabulous in a living room.
I recently purchased a GPS, so I can give the speed characteristics for this boat. On flat water with no wind or current, I can indefinitely maintain a speed of around 4.5 mph. 5 mph is full speed ahead – in good conditions and with short water breaks I have sustained this for well over an hour. 5.5 mph is flank – you can get there and stay there, but only with maximum effort. Flank III for this boat is 6 mph – you can get there, but you can’t stay there very long. This is where you “hit the wall” with this hull shape. I recently tried some “fast” boats and found that cruising speed for them is around 5.5 mph. So basically, you give up around 1 mph with the Pachena with similar paddling effort as compared to full size 17-18’ touring boats. More importantly to me is how the Pachena performs in adverse paddling conditions. I have found that even in the most severe wind/sea conditions I have experienced, I was able to maintain at least a 3mph speed of advance with some effort. I’m talking about conditions where you get that spooky “I’m not getting anywhere!” feeling. If I didn’t have a GPS, I wouldn’t have believed that I was maintaining 3mph. In these situations, I have really appreciated the Pachena’s endurance and stability. It’s nice to know you can still make decent headway even when you go out and get bushwhacked by a sudden weather front.
Taking advantage of the Pachena’s extra stability I have purchased a Spirit Sail down-wind sail rig (full size). I highly recommend getting one for this boat simply because it’s a blast. I’m sure the purists would be appalled, but I like the idea of making the wind work for me occasionally instead of always against me. With a gentle 10-12mph wind I can go 4.5 mph without paddling. I can easily maintain 5.5 with paddling. I’ve even been caught in a passing weather front with my sail up and been propelled up to 8.5 mph! You definitely need a rudder for this type of kayaking, however. The Pachena’s rudder system is first rate and I also recommend it for this boat to help out in adverse conditions. Comparing kayaks is a lot like comparing apples and oranges, but I give this boat a 10 of 10 because it is very well made, does what I expect a boat of this type should do, and provides me a level of comfort I couldn’t find in other boats. I’m 5’11” and 200lbs and for me, comfort = endurance. What I like best is that the Pachena is a very versatile, all-around kayak. It will take you almost anywhere.
I find the boat hard to paddle in a straight course for any length of time. This is probably a compromise to the turning ability. Maybe a little too much rocker.
The fiberglass work, in my opinion, has some defects. I have found several dimples in the deck of my boat. Two of these were right at the location of the company's logo decal, obviously noticed during manufacture, and two where a rudder control might be. These should have been fixed at the factory. If they are drill points for accessories I can understand, but I don't agree with the practice.
This company has a fine line of kayaks. I would buy another boat from them. Overall, a good boat for my intended purpose.
Positives: Light, around 45 pounds with the rudder. The Relatively short length (14'-1") a real plus when storing and loading. The boat has good Manuverability but only so-so tracking.
Great finish and top quality fittings. A truly beautiful boat to look at. The fiberglass, however is easily scratched. Perfect for fishing (the reason I bought the boat) - very stable! The rear hatch and bulkhead is very well constructed.
Negatives: The boat is really affected by the wind and tends to weathercock - definitely requires the rudder! Tracking could be better. Seat is well constructed but back rest is uncomfortable. The Boat should be designed with a forward drain plug - difficult to flush out cockpit.
Bottom line - If I had to do it all over again I would look for a boat with a little more speed and better tracking. In all fairness, however, I think I would be hard pressed to find the "perfect" combination of speed and stability in a boat under 15'
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