Pama 6400 Motor Yacht Review

Mystery of the Sea – Three months cruising the eastern seaboard… that’s a boat test drive!

If you’re considering upgrading your boat to a bigger vessel and are in the market for a serious powerboat, then take a look at this stunning new pilothouse motoryacht from Pama Motor Yachts Australia. The Enigma is the first Pama of its kind in Australia (16 have already gone to the US). Our comprehensive test was carried out during 10 weeks of cruising the eastern seaboard and Whitsundays at the end of 2006.

For me, first impressions count and my first impression was WOW! It turned out that this 64-footer was ‘wow’ all over. Luxurious saloon, fabulous pilothouse, exotic main stateroom (with king-size bed) and standing-headroom in the engine room and lazarette. What can I say? Wow!

Heading North
With everything ship shape for the long passage north, we left Sydney in August and powered through The Heads on a glassy sea. The twin Yanmar 720s purred at 1900rpm as the Enigma cruised quietly along at 15 knots. We made Port Stephens in an easy six hours.

Owner Greg Solomon from Sydney’s Royal Motor Yacht Club at Point Piper has owned many boats and before deciding on the Pama 64 considered many other vessels ranging from 55 to 65ft. “What attracted me to this vessel was just how much boat I was getting for my money,” Greg says. “I was originally looking at a 55-footer. I also looked at the European 65s, but in the end I wanted a semi-displacement boat that would give me performance, style, space and handling. I got the lot with this boat. And in survey, to boot. Enigma is a beautiful boat and I am thrilled to bits with her.”

The Pama’s stylish lines come from the drawing boards of Italian/American naval architect Opolonio. She was built at Dai Peng, in China and Greg personally oversaw the project ensuring everything lived up to his expectations.
After arriving at the D’Albora Marina in Nelson Bay, the guests and crew relaxed on the big aft deck lounge and watched the sun set over Port Stephens.

During the coming days we made good passage along the coast, with Enigma performing beyond expectation. Maintaining 1900rpm (15.5 knots), the new 720 Yanmars’ burn rate was only 162lt per hour. Which is pretty darn economical for a vessel weighing 40 tonnes. Conditions were almost perfect, so the true test of the Pama’s heavy weather capabilities still lay ahead.

At every marina we called into, Enigma drew plenty of attention, from the public and boat owners alike. But by far the most frequently asked question was, “Just how do they do it for the money?” (The landed cost of the Pama 6400 with everything included is A$2.2m).

Enigma is a lot of boat. From the moment you step onboard you get a feeling of space. She’s a big 64-footer. Stepping from the aft deck into the main saloon you’re surrounded by opulence. All finishes are of the highest quality and the excellent use of space in the main saloon makes her feel almost ‘hotel-like’. There is beige leather upholstery and high-gloss joinery and panelling, but the big plus in the saloon is the most unbelievable audio-visual surround sound system you could imagine. It’s got the lot, including a large flat NEC 42in plasma screen on a hydraulic lift, which transforms the main saloon into a theatre, you’d swear you were actually at the movies.

The fully optioned and spacious galley has everything you need to cook up a storm. And when you’re finished, throw the rubbish in the trash compactor and wash the dishes in the two-draw dishwasher. 

The pilothouse is equally as luxurious as the saloon, but for skippers it’s the ‘watch seat’ that gets the green light. It is every captain’s dream. I’ve run a lot of boats and this is one of the best. Everything is where you want it, within comfortable reach from this seat. There are two adjustable navigator’s seats that also offer a good view ahead and to the sides, although it’s a bit restricted astern. This is compensated with stern-view cameras that feed vision to the Raymarine E120 chartplotter. There are three control stations, the pilothouse, flybridge and starboard stern quarter station, the latter of which is optional.

The flybridge is well designed and virtually mimics the pilothouse with the same navigation aids and electronics as the main helm. It has two pilot seats, a big day lounge and dining table, refrigerator and icebox and the piece de resistance, a generous day bed in front of the helm. From here you can also launch the 50hp outboard/Gemini tender.

Below, the accommodation for six people has to be seen to be believed. The owner’s stateroom is huge and stretches the full 17ft beam of the Pama 6400 Pilot House. It’s grand compared to vessels of a similar size and features a king-size bed under a beautiful inlay deck head with luxurious fabric and wooden bed head.

The luxurious bathroom is behind the bed head, on the starboard side. It features a stunning tiled floor and large shower recess. On the portside there’s a big walk-in wardrobe made from natural timber with plenty of drawer and hanging space for two and a full mirror. There’s also a day seat, make-up station and a remote flat-screen television and video. The large guest cabin with en-suite is situated in the bow and features a queen-size bed and a remote television and video.

The plant room is an engineer’s dream. It’s roomy with standing headroom and is easy to work. Here are the seven-zone reverse cycle air conditioning, Wesmar stabilisers, six and 12kVa Northern Lights generators, water maker, inverter, Reverso fuel polishing and much, much more.

Southerly Buster
Enigma truly is a delightful little ship to skipper and she handles beautifully in both calm and heavy conditions. 
The best test of her rough weather capabilities came as we were heading south to Sydney in November. After leaving Bundaberg on the back of a fierce southerly, which had kept us in port for two days, we sailed to Hervey Bay and dropped the pick at Garry’s Anchorage, behind Fraser Island, for the night. That way we could make the Wide Bay Bar crossing the following morning on the slack tide.

The next morning the wind was still honking from Burnett Heads to Hervey Bay and the sea was short. Enigma handled these conditions beautifully, maintaining a comfortable 13 knots in the short slop. But the Wide Bay Bar would be a different story and the first true test of this new boat. 

As we approached the Bar it was clear that the previous two days had been pretty atrocious over this notorious piece of Australian coastline. The Bar was still averaging 2.5 to 3m and the sea was like a washing machine.
Throttling back to 9 knots (with the lead lights in-line astern) Enigma took this very confused bar crossing in her stride, easing herself over each aggressive crest and gently lowering her 40 tonnes effortlessly through the deep troughs to meet the next vicious towering break as it broke onto her bow. On a couple of occasions the sea reached almost 4m. Once clear of the Bar I set a course for Mooloolaba, three hours south.

The Pama 6400 Pilot House is a beautiful boat worth considering if you’re serious about buying a new 65 footer. What about me, the humble skipper ? Her $2.2 million price tag puts her a bit out of my tinnie price range, but the opportunity to put to sea on this boat was an experience I will never forget. This is the sort of dreamboat you want a pin-up of in your locker or above your desk.