Boat Review: Fountaine Pajot Saona 47

Author:
Publish date:
A French-built waterborne

A French-built waterborne

Here’s a riddle: What is less than 50ft long, has two hulls, three big cabins and four decks? Answer: The Fountaine Pajot Saona 47. In fact, it may even be five levels if you count the large engine rooms. This boat is a “space craft” in every sense of the word.

DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION

The Fountaine Pajot Saona 47 maximizes living and entertaining space while retaining good speed by combining “multi-decking,” a minimum wetted surface and lots of flare at the chines. It’s tricky to put all that together, but the design staff at Berret Racoupeau have succeeded here, partly by extending the waterline to include integral stern platforms. The limitation will probably be loading—if the boat is carrying a lot of weight, the broader portions of the hulls will be submerged and performance is likely to suffer—but that’s each owner’s lookout.

Construction is typical of this builder, with a vinylester resin-infused, balsa-cored hull and deck. The interior is not fancy, but it’s functional, urban contemporary in design and quite attractive. The systems are neatly installed, and there’s good access to the bilges.

The engine compartments in the stern of either hull are large enough to keep any diesel mechanic happy. A bit of sound insulation here and a few other places in the hulls would improve the ride comfort, since the interior is primarily hard, sound-reflective surfaces.

ON DECK

The rig is typical of Fountaine Pajot, with a huge square-topped mainsail and an overlapping jib. This is efficient and simple, and the boom is reachable by an average-size person, although the mast steps are essential for attaching the main halyard.

The jib is easy to manage, but the mainsail is a beast to raise, as the long battens in the top and extreme roach on the leech all add weight. Even with a 2:1 purchase on the halyard, the electric winch worked hard to raise the sail to the peak. Underway, the forces on this huge sail will be formidable. However, the winches are sized to handle them.

The deck is easy to negotiate, although better grab points forward would be welcome. There are sunbathing lounges that abound all over the main and upper decks, while the traffic patterns in and out of the aft deck are excellent.

The big aft area is far too large to call a cockpit. In fact, this will be the social center of the boat, with seating, standing and reclining space for a multitude. A wide sliding door connects it to the saloon to produce an open, urban apartment-like space.

Space, space and more space: the saloon offers rooom for all...   

Space, space and more space: the saloon offers rooom for all...   

ACCOMMODATIONS

The standout interior feature of the Saona 47 is a master suite bigger than I’ve seen on any other cat under 55ft. This “owner’s version” dedicates the entire port hull to a big double bed aft, a vanity, extensive stowage space amidships and a forward compartment with a surprisingly long shower, big sink and an enclosed toilet. The starboard hull houses two nice-sized sleeping cabins, each with large double berths and en suite head.

There is also a charter version with crew’s quarters and en suite accommodations for three couples.

The saloon is expansive, modern and bright, with large windows that provide good visibility if you are fairly tall and standing, but not if you are short or seated. The overhead clearance will delight sailors over 6ft, but piloting from the inside nav station is inhibited by lack of visibility when the sails are up.

This big space could also use some better grab points. While it’s true that cats do not heel, they do sometimes have a quick motion underway, and you can feel awfully exposed in a bouncing living room with modern furniture all around. Simply rounding the countertop edges downward into a large lip underneath to make a handhold would go a long way toward safety. The overhead is too high to mount grabrails there.

UNDER SAIL

I sailed the Saona 47 in a shifty 6-10 knot breeze at Annapolis. The test boat had not been fully debugged and presented some rigging issues that made it difficult to set proper tensions on the mainsail. Even so, it tacked, reached and ran easily while delivering speeds of around 5-6 knots.

The elevated helm station is spacious and comfortable, but I was surprised to discover large blind spots. The port stern, for example, is blocked by the upper deck even under power, and the entire port hull and the masthead wind vane are invisible under sail.

There was a fair amount of wave noise inside while underway, and the motion was more active than I expected. This may settle down after some weight comes aboard from the usual cruising gear and provisions.

UNDER POWER

The Saona 47 handles well under power, with the usual catamaran agility in close spaces and good speed in open water. At a comfortable cruise setting of 2,400 rpm in calm water, the boat produced 8.5 knots, while wide open throttle at 2,800 rpm yielded 9.2 knots.

The turning circle was about two boatlengths at idle speed, but the boat executed a pirouette maneuver neatly, twisting in its own length with props turning in opposite directions. Getting in and out of a very tight slip space was quite manageable with only three of us aboard.

CONCLUSION

Fountaine Pajot’s boats never make radical jumps. Rather, they evolve from one design to the next. While not what I’d consider a “Mom and Pop” boat for an older couple, the Saona 47 is a spacious, fast cat that should be perfect for an active cruising family with teenagers, or charter groups who wish to entertain in style. 

424

Specifications

LOA 45ft 8in

LWL 45ft

BEAM 25ft 3in

DRAFT 4ft 4in

DISPLACEMENT 30,424lb

SAIL AREA 1,367ft (main and jib)

FUEL/WATER (GAL) 248/148

ENGINE 2 x 55hp Yanmar

SA/D Ratio 22

D/L Ratio 173

What do these ratios mean? Visit sailmagazine.com/ratios

DESIGNER Berret Racoupeau

BUILDER Fountaine Pajot, Aigrefeuille, France, fountaine-pajot.com

PRICE $680,000 (sailaway) at time of publication

April 2018

Related

210115-AC36

Prada Cup: Brits Take First Two Races

Who saw that coming? After getting skunked in December, INEOS Team UK has swept the first two races in the Prada Cup elimination series of the 36th America’s Cup  Racing took place on racecourse “C,” sheltered between Auckland’s North Head and Bastion Point to take advantage of ...read more

ac-2048x

Hutchinson: 36th America’s Cup will be a Close On

On the eve of the Prada Cup challenger series, the official start of the 36th America’s Cup, New York Yacht Club American Magic skipper Terry Hutchinson says it’s anyone’s game. "As we've seen in the last week, everyone's gotten faster," said Hutchinson said at the event’s ...read more

Episode1_Thumbnail4_00000_00000_00000_00000

Sailing Docuseries Released Online

Endless Media's Reaching Reality is the story of three friends, a 24-foot sailboat and 1,200 miles. With candor and humor, this series proves that you don't need to be an expert or a millionaire to cast off on the journey of a lifetime. Produced by Emmy-award winner Barry ...read more

01-LEAD-nder-sail-3

Prepping for a Transatlantic

Growing up on the coast of northern England, I dreamed about crossing oceans on my own boat. Like most of us, though, education, a family and a career took precedence, and before I knew it, we had mortgages, young children and endless work obligations. We also became landlocked, ...read more

210111-Vendee

Vendée Update: Josche Forced to Abandon

A week ago, the canting keel on Isabelle Jocshe's IMOCA 60, MACSF, failed. She managed a jury rig with a replacement ram, which held the keel centerline and allowed her to keep sailing, but with a major hit to her speed potential. Jocshe had been in 8th at the time and remained ...read more

rudder

Vendee Update: Emergency Rudder Replacement

A devastated Hare talks about the breakage Pip Hare (Medallia) is back in the game after an emergency rudder repair deep in the Southern Ocean. “Every part of my body aches. I have bloody knuckles on every finger, bruises all down my legs and muscles I didn't know I had that ...read more

Oracle-RBYACFEVD3_2870

PRADA Cup Pairings Announced

The schedule for the PRADA Cup has been revealed as a multitiered extravaganza featuring over a month of racing, stretching from January 15 through February 22. First, the three teams—American Magic, INEOS Team UK and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli—will face off in a 12-race, six-day ...read more

01-LEAD-Opener-ETNZ1_-106_silo

The 36th America's Cup

A Superbowl is a Superbowl, and a World Series is a World Series. Sure, the names of the players and the teams change from year-to-year, but otherwise, the game pretty much remains the same. Not so the America’s Cup. Still, in many ways a hot mess left over from the days of Queen ...read more