Skip to main content

Boat Review: Fountaine Pajot Samana 59


Imagine a sailboat under 60ft with private en suite accommodations for five couples plus professional crew. Add to that enough space to allow those same lucky guests their own private lounging areas outside. That’s a lot of room. That’s the Fountaine Pajot Samana 59.


The design emphasis of the Samana 59 is on easy maintenance, a welcome feature to any boat owner. The fiberglass hulls and structural bulkheads are molded with balsa cores and reinforced with carbon. The interior joinery is Alpi wood laminate, the countertops are made of synthetic resin, and the only visible solid wood in the entire boat is a few tabletops and doors. The primary structural member of this big vessel is a husky, welded aluminum truss that passes under the bridgedeck to the two hulls.

The systems of this boat are complex, in keeping with the demand to make guests comfortable, but user friendly. Big air conditioning units, oversized water capacity and a hefty distributed electrical system seem more than up to up to the task. A large touch-screen controller at the inside nav station oversees everything. It also displays the charts. If you want to spread out paper charts, there are plenty of tabletop surfaces available for that as well.

Two generators live in the lazarettes. One will normally service all the loads, with the second unit automatically kicking in as needed. The watermaker, hydraulic pumps and air conditioning equipment all share the same space as the main engines, but I was happy to find plenty of room to move around in for doing checks and routine maintenance. Our test boat was fitted with a pair of optional 150hp Volvo diesels, driving the props through a V-drive and shaft. This is a time-tested drive train and should be durable.

A number of sailhandling systems on our test boat were hydraulic, a logical choice for a vessel of this size, where electrical wiring would need to be very large to handle the loads.


The double-spreader rig has a square-top mainsail and double forestays that carry an overlapping jib and a big genoa. Hydraulic furlers handle the foretriangle chores. Electric winches on the flybridge serve to manage the halyards and sheets.

Many condos and apartments cannot match the living space on the Samana 59 with its 745ft2 of afterdeck and saloon on the bridgedeck level and another 320ft2 on the flybridge. If you want to entertain 10 guest and then break into small groups while still enjoying the surroundings, this is the boat to do it.

To ensure easy traffic flow through this sociable layout, the outdoor spaces join the saloon via two sets of big sliding doors. Open everything up, and you can easily walk from the afterdeck through the saloon and into the forward lounge. Comfortable seats are everywhere.

In lieu of traditional grabrails, the underside of the cabintop is grooved for use as a handhold, which will be welcome when seas are up on lively open-water passages.



We sailed the Maestro version of the Samana 59, which includes a cabin for the owner to starboard that is a bit larger than the other four, plus a compact crew cabin in the forepeak of the port hull. Each cabin has its own en suite head, and the two aft ones have private entrances from the aft decks, a pleasant layout for those aforementioned five chartering couples.

Alternate layouts are available, including one with the galley down in the port hull to provide an even larger saloon and another with crew quarters in both hulls to accommodate yet another deckhand.

The spacious, efficient galley has large sinks, a four-burner stove and four separate fridge/freezers. There are serving spaces aplenty, plus a huge table in the cockpit and a smaller one in the saloon. In rough conditions, the guests may wish for more grab points in the entertainment areas to complement the hand grips under the tabletops.


The Chesapeake Bay served up a perfect day for our test sail, with 8 to 10 knots of breeze, clear skies and smooth water. The sails aboard the Samana 59 are big, but the powerful furlers and winches in the hands of our crew managed them well.

After a try with both the genoa and inner jib, I realized the genoa would get more clear air and be more efficient by itself. Tacking through 90 degrees was satisfactory, and the big genny only needed a couple of tugs on the lazy sheet to help it slip through the slot between the two forestays. Speeds close-hauled were in the 5-knot range, slightly less than the wind velocity.

There is minimal feedback to the helm aboard the Samana 59, a product of the vessel’s size and hydraulic steering, so the boat’s response is stately, not lively. Without feedback, finding your best speed calls for careful interpretation of the jib telltales and electronic wind instruments.

Our Samana 59 seemed to ask for more wind as we reached back and forth off the Naval Academy grounds. It should be right at home in 20-knot Caribbean conditions.


Our test boat ran along smoothly, with 2,400 rpm on the tach yielding 9.5 knots and a sound level of 76 dBA in the saloon, which is fairly quiet. A high cruise setting of 2,900 rpm produced 10.5 knots. Stopping, turning and backing were all easy to control, as the twin engines and bow thruster together provide excellent maneuverability. For a boat this wide, that’s a big plus.


The Fountaine Pajot Samana 59 is a big, comfortable, luxurious vessel for crewed charters or a private owner with a professional captain. It will be outstanding in this service, providing its guests with excellent accommodations and good sailing. 


LOA 58ft 9in LWL 58ft 9in BEAM 31ft 0in DRAFT 5ft 5in DISPLACEMENT 59,524lb SAIL AREA 2,045ft2 (mainsail and genoa) FUEL/WATER (GAL) 317/277 SA/D Ratio 22 D/L Ratio 131 ENGINE 2 x 150hp Volvo DESIGNER Berret-Racoupeau BUILDER Fountaine Pajot, Aigrefeuille, France, PRICE NA

MHS Winter 2022



11th Hour Racing Team's Green Mission

“I’ll admit, it’s still hard to watch the boat leave the dock sometimes,” says former Volvo Ocean Race sailor Mark Towill. Since meeting during a Transpac campaign over 15 years ago, he and his teammate Charlie Enright have sailed thousands of miles together aboard two Volvo more


Boat Review: Dufour 61

Dufour, long one of France’s most well-respected builders, has been producing sailboats in La Rochelle since the dawn of fiberglass boatbuilding. Having recently merged with another La Rochelle-based builder, Fountaine Pajot, Dufour has now joined other European mass-production more


The Ocean Race to be “Climate Positive”

The 2023 Ocean Race intends to be one of the world’s first climate positive sporting events, offsetting more greenhouse gasses than are produced. The two-fold effort means cutting emissions by 75 percent and investing in ocean projects that sequester carbon and restore ocean more


Cruising Lake Superior

Almost anywhere a sailor drops the hook someone else has been there before. We are hardly ever the first. That remote Maine harbor without a soul in sight: there’s a lobster trap. The south coast of Newfoundland: the crumbling remains of a fisherman’s cabin lie hidden among the more


Fabricating a Tablet Holder

During the pandemic, I was stuck aboard Guiding Light, a Lagoon 410, in St. Lucia for over a month. During that time, as I worked on the boat, I started by doing a spring cleaning in my spares locker and finding some parts and material that I forgot I had. As soon as I saw them, more


A Catamaran for a New Era

Anacortes, Washington, is an unassuming sea-salty town near the San Juan Islands of Puget Sound, and the Betts Boats yard is easy for a passerby to miss. But within Betts’ facilities, the dawn of an era in Pacific Northwest production boatbuilding could be breaking with the more


Boat Review: Xquisite X5 Plus

The Xquisite X5 Plus is a major update of the boat that SAIL awarded Best Large Multihull and Best Systems titles in 2017. The changes were not just cosmetic, but genuine improvements to an already fine boat, making it lighter, faster and less dependent on fuel. The builder’s more


Cruising: Offshore Prep Talk

When I began preparing Minx, my 1987 Pearson 39-2, for extended Caribbean cruising, I had to balance my champagne wish list against my beer budget. Every buck spent on the boat before leaving would be one less frosty can of Carib down in the islands. On the other hand, I had to more