I am extremely impressed with this boat. I was expecting a barge this feels like a kayak, but with some comforts of a canoe. Compared to an old Klepper double or sit-on-top, this doesn't feel like a big boat, they've done some magic to make this 33" wide hull feel narrow. Even unloaded It rides low to hide from the wind and so it would be a wet ride in chop without the skirt. Maybe the low deck is what makes the paddle stroke feel more like paddling a decent solo kayak than I expected for a boat this size.
The rudder is critical for us in even light breeze (I'm 165 she's 125) as without cargo we weathercock badly. On a trip we could trim with cargo. Note that the huge open cockpit means compromised seaworthiness compared to a single or double w/ 2 hatches. It required some jerry-rigging of float bags etc to the hull before I felt comfortable out of comfortable swim distance to shore. I can just barely load it solo on my low roof rack, in high wind I'd struggle.
It's hull design is based somewhat on a greenland style, so it's initial stability is good, but not great. It's secondary stability however, is bombproof. I have taken it out solo on the Columbia river in 20 knot winds, and it behaves pretty well. It's also pretty fast in solo mode. I average 4.5 to 5 miles an hour (GPS) in calm water. You definitely need the rudder in any wind or current condition, but it is very maneuverable with the rudder up if you happen to be in a weedy area.
With two people in the boat, you need to adjust the front seat for proper trim or it doesn't behave too well. Once in trim though, it works extremely well for it's intended purpose. This is a big boat intended for calm water day use, but it does work well for solo camping trips as long as you sit in back and load your goodies in the front passenger area to get proper trim. You could load front and back, but the rear seat is pretty much a fixed in place affair so it makes stowing gear in the stern a problem, and there is not much room in the front.
The big problem with this boat is weight. I can move it around and car top it solo, but it is a pain to do so. Especially after having done 10 miles on the river or around a lake. I do use this boat beyond it's intended purpose, and it does a decent job. For it's intended purpose, it's the best open cockpit tandem out there. If you buy this as a recreational boat for family use on calm water, it will do it's job admirably. Stable enough to fish out of, and fast enough to keep up with everyone else. I will be making a skin on frame sea kayak for solo use later this year (24 lbs is much easier to move around than 90lbs!) but I will be keeping the Pamlico for family use. It really is, other than the weight, a great boat.
The reason that I knocked three stars off the Pamlico is that it's the wettest ride I've ever had in a kayak. Bow and quartering waves soak the front seat passenger, and occasionally the back seat passenger as well, on larger lakes or when motorboats pass close by. If it's a cool day, this can be quite uncomfortable. It's bad enough that my friend who owns the boat wants me to make a wave deflector for the bow.
The seats are comfy but cannot be adjusted while in the boat. My husband is 6'6'' and complained about the plastic sides on the seats rubbing his thighs. Cloth sides or no sides would have been better. The long hull on each end is difficult to access. NO one has arms that long. If you get this boat you will need a lot of accessories to make it work. May not be worth it when you add everything up.
1st and foremost this thing is a barge. It's huge. And if you’re not a diehard kayaker you'd probably be happier with a canoe. But if you’re a kayaker this thing is the waterborne equivalent of the Ford Excursion. The SUV of kayaks.
You need the rudder. You simply will not be able to make it go straight without it. Yes I meant to say it like that.
My wife and I can maintain a speed of 4 knots for endurance and sprint up to 7 with it. (GPS) The seats are top notch. And with the extra length between us keeping perfectly in unison with our paddling is not necessary, but only barely. If it was 2" shorter our paddles would collide. Pay the extra over the 145.
She weighs a lot, 85lbs. is underestimating. You'll be quite the hombre' if you can heft this up on a roof rack by yourself. 2 words....Hully Rollers....enough said.
Storage is adequate for 2 people camping for a weekend. But you'll always be able to carry more in 2 hulls than in one. The advantage is speed and cost. And in our case, roof rack and real estate. We needed to carry enough hull area for 4 people so the extra length of a tandem made sense over buying, storing and transporting 2 more kayaks.
Misses in my opinion. A rear hatch and bulkhead. The bow is taken up by the front paddlers legs but there's good space behind. Easily 3 large drybags. And the center between paddlers fits a good size igloo if you’re so persuaded. Maybe one med drybag in the bow but then you’re sacrificing the front paddler's wiggle room. Also I wouldn’t want to flip her and try to bail it out. The good news is initial stability is very good. Never once have I felt she was on the edge. Even with both of us looking over the same side at the river bottom going by.
For style.....it's just not there. It doesn’t have that "sexy" flair of Capehorn or Tsunami. But it's a no nonsense hauler. Out of the available tandems of this size this one is the best.