I recently had a look around the Fountaine Pajot Elba 45, which is the smaller boat to the Saona – she borrows many of the features of its older sister, the Saona 47. How does the bigger boat stack up? She’s snapping at the heels of larger boats like the Leopard 50 and the Lagoon 50.
Fountaine Pajot like to develop their designs iteratively, using continuous customer feedback to loop back into the process. They share successful features around the fleet, and this philosophy has produced some very nice catamarans that are market leaders in their segments. For another angle, read our Saona 46 owner´s review from Catamaran Eight – this has to be one of the most detailed descriptions out there – a fantastic source of information for anyone that is interested in these boats.
The Fountaine Pajot Saona 47 is all about maximising living and entertaining space with an eye on performance achieved through flare at the chines (an old Catana trick). This model was designed by the team at Berret Racoupeau who have successfully created a nippy boat with bags of space. Don’t overload her though!
She is built with a vinylester resin-infused, balsa-cored hull and deck- a tried and tested method by this manufacturer.
The rig is pure Fountaine Pajot, with a big square-topped mainsail and an overlapping jib. The boom is accessible, although you might need mast steps for sorting any main halyard problems out.
The solent is easy to handle, but that big mainsail is best raised with an electric winch. The battens make for a heavy package.
Decks are nice and wide, and like any Fountaine Pajot a lot of thought has gone into making sure that the flow around the boat works. All lines come back to the helm, and if you are looking for different zones for hanging out in, the 47 has them in spades with sunbathing lounges on the main and upper decks. The helm is connected to the cockpit and the coachroof which makes for easy communication and handling. The signature Fountaine Pajot “Semi Fly-Bridge” works really well on this size of boat. I prefer it to a full flybridge personally. You still get that great view up top at anchor, but you can see what’s going on around the boat when you are under way.
This frees up the huge aft area as the social platform for the boat, with sofas, sunbeds, benches and dining areas in abundance. Slide open the doors and you enlarge it even more into the saloon for an apartment with a terraza feel.
Well, we thought the cabins were huge on the Elba 45, but these are ridiculous. The owner’s suite is about as big as you are going to get on a boat under 50′. The whole port hull is taken up with a big double bed, a vanity/office space, lots of stowage amidships and a forward bathroom with shower, big sink and an enclosed head. The starboard hull has a couple of sleeping cabins for guests, each with large double beds and en suite head.
Or you go for the 4 cabin version.
Climb up the steps to the saloon, and you are in a bright, comfortable room with big windows for visibility. To starboard is a big ‘L’ shaped sofa leading onto a nav station to port. Elongated windows in the roof give you visibility of the sails and the galley is aft facing with an optional island. There is plenty of storage space on both sides
While you won’t be beating any performance daggerboard catamarans to the mark, the Saona 47 certainly holds her own against other cruising catamarans. You can expect to be sailing in the low teens in a fresh and she should comfortably cruise at 7-9 knots with the right sail plan.
The Saona 47 is pushed along nicely under power, and she’s easy to manouevre with those twin engines in close quarters once you get the feel of her. At 2,400 rpm in a flat sea you should see 8 knots and over. Use one engine and you will cruise at 6 knots.
The Fountaine Pajot 47 is one of their best selling boats, and I can see why. This is a nippy boat with oodles of space that will suit big families or 2 families cruising together on a charter. Your other option is to go faster with a performance catamaran – read our Outremer 51 review for example. The trade off is the living space.