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

QuarterdeckBuildingWatercolor

Bitter End Yacht Club 2.0

Amid the widespread devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria when they swept across the northern Caribbean in September 2017, the destruction of the iconic Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands was particularly keenly felt by sailors. The ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com The back door Satisfied with your headsails? So was I, until one day I took a long, hard look up the luff of my genoa, making sure I inspected the leeward side as well. The sail had plenty of life ...read more

02-Lydia12-01

Losing Sight of Shore

I arrived on the docks of Beaufort, North Carolina, in late April with two backpacks filled with new gear—everything I’d need for my first offshore passage. Though I’d been sailing for 16 years, graduating from dinghies to keelboats to a J/122, I’d spent my time racing and, in ...read more

Squall

The Face of a Squall

They are the worst of times, they are the best of times There’s a fabulous line from an old Paul Simon song that I often sing to myself while sailing: I can gather all the news I need from the weather report. It is part of the magic of sailing, this ancient process by which we ...read more

ntcktshtrstk

Cruising Southern New England Waters

One of the most wonderful childhood vacations I can remember was back in 1971 when my best friend invited me to his family’s summer home on Nantucket Island. For a 10-year-old kid, this was a thrilling trip for many reasons, not the least of which was the fact it was also my ...read more

IMG_8287GR16Mykonos

Cultural Charters: Mykonos

In last month’s column, I covered the amazing mix of cultures that have called the Dalmatian Coast home over the centuries. Croatia cruising is like a smorgasbord of intertwined centuries, and the islands are a movie set. A little farther south, though, you’ve also got Greece, ...read more

cookinglead

Cruising: No Oven? No Worries

Many cruising boats, especially smaller ones, don’t have a conventional oven. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t have all the baked foods you want, from bread to brownies to breakfast rolls to casseroles and even a roast chicken. All it takes is the right bit of gear and a ...read more