Why did we buy a Fountaine Pajot Saona47!
A lot of people have asked us why we bought this boat. That is a long story as we did not want a catamaran to begin with. They are ugly, do not sail to windward, capsize, are expensive to dock, etc …..
We were actually about to order a 55 ft mono-hull at the Dusseldorf boat show in January 2016. But the boat we wanted was not on display, it was taken out of production and would be replaced by an updated model, but the yard could not tell us when or what the updates were…..
On the way towards the exit of the show, we passed the lagoon stand. The Dutch distributor is an old friend, so we chatted a bit about boats, what our plans were, etc. He suggested that the perfect boat for us would be a catamaran. I told him I did not want one. Have you ever been on one he replied? No, because I don’t want one. Anyway, he let us jump the cue to have a look, so we could not refuse. We first visited the L42. We were overwhelmed by the amount of space, at a price much lower than our 55 footer. Then we looked at the 450 which was even bigger at more or less the same price. We did not expect so much space and comfort.
At home we Googled everything there was to know about catamarans. Read all about cats capsizing (not), watched videos of cats crossing the Atlantic in 25 knots, while a glass remained upright on the table….What triggered me to look seriously at buying a cat was an article from Skip Novak. He indicated that a monohull may be a better sailboat but the cat was much more comfortable. Since you are at anchor 90% of the time when sailing around the world, the cat is the best choice in that case. I never realized that we would sail so little. In fact, with covid-19, we are stationary for more than 90%. When you follow the coconut route around the world, most sailing is downwind. The upwind performance is less important in that case. But I made an analysis anyway: a monohull can sail at angles of 45 degrees true wind angle. A catamaran does 60 degrees. The cat misses 30 degrees from the 270 degrees that a monohull can do or about 11%. As we are sailing just 10% of the time, this means on average that there are about four days per year, when we cannot go to where a monohull can. The wine fridge takes care of those four days.
We found out there was a ‘Salon de Multi-Coque’ in a French city called la Grande Motte in April. It sounds a bit funny in English, but it is a boat show for multihulls only. So we went to that show with a list of all 45’-ish cats. Our most favourite boat at the show was the FP Lucia 40 but too small (it is actually 38’) for what we wanted. The Helia 44 looked a bit too old-fashioned. We liked the modern look of the Nautitech 46 but it lacked the smart layout of the Helia. A month later we visited both yards, looked at the construction and build quality but that did not force a decision between the Helia and the Nautitec. We were still in doubt but leaning slightly towards the Nautitec. Then Bavaria bought Nautitec and wanted us to switch dealers. After working with the original dealer for several months that felt awkward. And then suddenly Fountaine Pajot came out with the Saona 47, at the beginning of June. Why did they not tell us to wait a few weeks before taking a decision when we visited in May? I would have been very angry if I had ordered the Nautitec just before the presentation of the Saona. Fortunately, the delay caused by Nautitec/Bavaria themselves gave us another option.
The Saona was exactly the boat we were looking for. A bit bigger than planned but it had the modern look with the smart and nice interior layout of the Helia Evolution. And it was even better. Two weeks later we ordered our boat. We had not seen her in real life but based on the presentation and yard visit we were comfortable enough to order the boat.
We have had the boat three years now and would not trade her for any other boat on the market today.
The things we like: the modern look. Cosy saloon with a beautifully fitted kitchen. Large cockpit. Spacious seating area on the upper deck. A sunbathing area at the front. Fantastic owner’s cabin with a huge walk-in shower. 2 Guest rooms with their own toilet and shower for optimal privacy. When sailing a good communication between kitchen and helm area. Sailing performance. Look at the polar diagrams and keep in mind that we are a heavy boat! Storage space is amazing. 5 storage boxes in the floor in the saloon and many more cupboards in the 3 cabins! Technical installation, in general, is very good.
Negative: Anchor system. We changed it however to make it work for us. Steering system. It has friction and there is no “feel”. A few more small things could have been better like the sink in the bathroom does not drain well.
There is one feature however that I would like to highlight because we appreciate it more and more. We can enter both the port and starboard forepeak from the inside. On the port side, we keep our foodstuff and wine. In the starboard peak, I created a workshop with plenty of storage for all my tools and spares. I have not seen any other boat that has this feature. On some other boats, you can reach the forepeak by crawling over a bed or enter it from the outside, but that is not the same. Follow the link to see how we adjusted both peaks to proper huge storages!