A big thank you to Robbert and Luuke from Catamaran Eight for sharing this fantastic insight into their Fountaine Pajot Saona 47. They left Holland in August , 2018 and are now in the Carribbean with long term plans to head to New York. Follow them on their blog and on their instagram account.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your boat.
We are Robbert and Luuke Verboon. Both of us grew up with our parents in the tropics, so our Dutch roots are not very strong. We have been together for 35 years and love traveling around the world. Safari’s, Scuba diving, sightseeing, drinking wine…we all love it. We lived together in Dubai for 4 years, where our daughter Annieck was born.
When you get older and start losing friends it is time to think what you really want to do in life when you ‘grow up’ as we call it. Sailing around the world has been long on our wish list but there is always a reason to postpone. It never fits in with any other activity. Two years ago, I was fed up and decided to order a boat. Interesting how everything falls in place when you take such a decision.
We own one of the largest marine equipment distribution companies in the Netherlands. We are distributors for Harken, Wichard, Marlow, Plastimo, Blue Performance etc. and sell our goods to chandleries, boat yards, mast makers and sailmakers. Our warehouse is a candy shop for all sailors, so we are very fortunate that we have access to a lot of parts and a lot of knowledge. Our company is specialized in rigging and deck layouts from small dinghy’s to megayachts. I now have a general manager that runs the company and we have fun on our boat. Our house is rented out. Sometimes it is not more difficult than that.
Choosing a catamaran was a big thing for us. I (Robbert) am a mono hull racer, so cats capsize, they don’t sail to windward, they are ugly, small hulls…It is too long of a story to tell you how we still ended up buying a cat but we are very happy that we did. Choosing the right catamaran was quite difficult. We had no cat experience so did not know whether we wanted a fast cat with daggerboards or a comfortable cat with more space. When we realized that the boat is on anchor or on a mooring 90% of the time, when sailing around the world, the choice was easy: comfort.
Why did you choose the Saona 47?
We visited the Grande Motte boat show in 2016. In the end, our shortlist had a FP Lucia 40 (to us the prettiest boat but too small), the Nautitech 46 (fast but less comfortable) and the FP Helia (comfortable, but old fashioned). We really could not make up our mind, until FP came out with the Saona. That was exactly what we were looking for. Spacious, modern design and fast enough to cross oceans in a reasonable time. We still look at all other boats that come out but at this moment we would still opt for our Saona.
When was she launched?
She was launched 8-8-2017. It is our eighth boat and it is hull number eight, so we had to call her Eight…Eight is also a lucky number in many cultures and we like the ‘infinity’ of the number 8, and came up with a nice logo. We kept the boat in Holland for the first year to add many additional features. Its Robbert’s work and hobby so he is obliged to make it the best fitted out catamaran you can find.
What’s the best thing about her?
The boat is spacious and cosy. We have the owners version, so the port hull is one large space with a huge walk in shower. We like the modern look of the boat. We are starting to appreciate the boat more and more. Every little space is accessible. So far we have been able to pull endless amounts of additional wiring and fit extra hardware where ever we wanted it. One of the main features is that both peek area’s can be reached from inside. With some shelvings it is possible to create huge storage spaces there. On Port side we keep all the provisioning, on starboard side we have our workshop with spares and tools.
What would you change if anything?
We don’t like the anchoring system. The anchor does not run all the way to the bowsprit. Clearing debris and aligning the chain with the boat is awkward. We managed to solve this though. Please take a look at our website https://SY8.nl and go to tech stuff. You will find 50 posts about boat improvements. One of them is about the anchoring system. All Fountaine Pajot owners will love it.
What are the “Must Have” Options buying new in your opinion?
We ordered most of the options from the factory. If anyone can buy and install parts cheaply after delivery, it is us. But when the yard does it, it is so much more efficient, and in the end, it is a better installation. We should have ordered the heater. We did not, thinking that the reversible A/C’s would be ok. That works in the marina if it is not too cold but not on anchor, uness you run the genny all the time. The Med is cold in the winter though…A must is definitely electric winches. Line loads are high.
What are the “Nice to Have Options”?
Choosing options is very personal and depends of the use of the boat. Our boat is our home and we want to sail around the world, so we have most options. From the factory we have Wine cooler, freezer, larger engines, folding props, 12 volt / 60 ltr per hour watermaker, washing machine, dishwasher, underwater lighting, courtesy lights, 400 watt solar, spinnaker gear, electric winches, TV, HiFi Upgrade, inverter, genset, the plancha, A/C’s, bimini top, coushions, cockpit tent.
Then we added many options ourselves:
– Dive compressor 300 bar 00 litres/minute
– Built in air pump to inflate fenders and SUP’s
– All our winches are electric rewind winches now, so you can ease and pull lines by pushing a button. We have button sets to control all winches from the helm, from the nav station inside and from the winches itself. We added foot buttons, so that we can tail all lines with two hands when operating the winches. This way you feel when something goes wrong.
– Additional batteries, a total of 900Ah
– Watt and Sea hydro generator 600 watts
– 480 watts extra solar
– 190 liter per hour 230 volt water maker (yes we have two watermakers)
– Second charger. On our website under tech Stuff / balancing energy I explain why I have this set up.
– A diesel driven hot water maker so we always can take a warm shower
– A spinnaker pole, to have a bit of a mono hull feeling
– A decent pot guard
– Additional footblocks and jammers
– Rope cutters on propellers
– Extra socket plugs in cabins
– Extra ventilators in cabins
– Iridium Go
– Sailrite sewing machine
– Electric scooters
Which options are not worth bothering with?
A big discussion was the platform. We had a few objections: It sticks out aft of the hulls so vulnerable, heavy, more equipment that can go bad, in waves difficult to dock the tender, the outboard engine must be tilted before lifting the tender. We definitely wanted the life raft and Watt and Sea on the cockpit transom which interferes with the platform. And it was a lot of money. On the other hand, it looks great, easy for scuba diving and another living space when on anchor.
How are the electrics, plumbing etc.
Fountaine Pajot does an excellent job to stay away from electronics where possible. That does not look as fancy, but it works and problems are easy to solve. For instance our shore power/generator switching is done by a relais, fully automatic. Not through an electronic control panel. Layout of the electrical installation is also very nice. The 12 volts system in the port engine room, the 230 volt in the starboard engine room. Plenty of space on all buss bars to add additional equipment. The water system is straight forward with plastic tubing. The water pump is a bit noisy. There are many empty ducts in the boat to add additional stuff.
Is she easy to maintain? Servicing engines, standing rigging etc.
Maintenance is very easy as there is a lot of space around the engines and the large hatches make access easy. You can move upright around the engines. Impeller and filters are easy to reach. Of course, the more equipment, the more maintenance.
Is she easy to sail short-handed? To shorten sail? Easy to reach the boom?
Our boat is better laid out than most. I can easily sail the boat singe handed, reef from the winch pit etc..I only need to go on deck to set spinnakers. I even furl the code zero electrically from the winch pit. But that is not the standard layout. The standard boat has basic deck hardware, which requires one to go to the mast for reef 2 and 3.Because of the low helm station position, the boom is low enough to reach. I don’t have to climb onto the boom to close the lazy bag.
What’s she like in heavy weather / a blow / big seas.
So far she has been handling well. Max wind we had was 50 knots. Just with a little bit of jib we sailed down the waves. The autopilot has more difficulties when the waves are from the quarter. Trick is to put a reef in the main to have less pressure on the rudder, even if it is earlier than the manual of the boat suggests. Keep an eye on rudder angles. The boat will go faster then too. During our Atlantic crossing I played with autopilot settings. To get it perfect, one needs to adjust the rudder gain and counter gain for the current conditions. Easy to do, once you know where to find it.
How is the helm position.
Helm positions is a big debate on any cat. So far for us, we are very happy with the helm station half way the upper deck. We have a good view. It is big enough to sit four (one on the steps) and it is dry and comfortable. In two years, we have not had any foul weather gear on. Normally I will try and more the boat with the helm station side to the dock. In most cases this is no problem. I am getting better at moring to the other side too.
How does she sail in light winds?
The Saona comes standard with a genoa, which is a more efficient set up than a self tacking jib. So the boat goes quite well. It is not the lightest of boats so everything is relative. We do need a bit of wind though. As of 7 knots she will start moving nicely. We did add a Code zero for more light wind speed.
How does she sail close hauled?
Just like any cat I suppose. Max VMG is around 60 degrees TWA on flat water. When there are waves, the best angle is 30 TWA degrees with a mainsail and a volvo ‘sail’. The boat has quite some drift because there are no dagger boards. If we would have stayed in Europe, we might have selected a boat with dagger boards. But our goal is to follow the coconut route around the world, so our set up is fine.
How about on a reach, heading down wind?
Reaching is a lot of fun. We have a Screecher and Gennaker. The gennaker is the faster sail but we use it to 20 knots true. It is actually an asymmetrical A2 Spinnaker in a sock. Above 20 knots we prefer the Screacher because Iit can furl away. Typically we will be doing 10-11 knots in stronger winds. When the boat was new and light, we were doing more like 12-13 knots. We also have a Symmetrical spinnaker. We cannot get used to using a Spinnaker without a mainsail, so we fly it on a spinnaker pole. Too much racing blood in our veins, I guess.
Typically, what’s your average speed on passage?
The MED (Motoring Every Day) has been terrible. Either there is 25 knots on the nose or 5 knots from behind. Both are useless winds. In the ARC, our daily average was about 180-190 miles. We were the first cat over the line in group 4b.
What’s she like under power? Speed, manouevrability?
With two engines, the boat is easy to manouvre, It took me a few weeks to get used to it but now I am very comfortable with the boat. I normally dock in reverse, thinking that I just have a mono hull (starboard side). I use the port engine as an imaginary bow thruster to control direction. This has worked very well for me. We normally use just one engine under power. With the 60 HP Volvo we get about 6 knots @ 2000 RPM. With both engines on, we get 7 knots @ 2000 rpm. In strong head winds we do have to use two engines, mostly to keep the boat on track.
Is she easy to dock, what’s the visibility like
Port hull is visible if standing forward of the engine controls. Some one calling out the distance to a boat or dock on the port side is a great help. Some have installed a camera. So far I have not missed the camera. Docking with the starboard side to, is very easy. We always connect starboard aft mooring line first, and then engage the engines in forward drive, which brings the bow to the dock. Both Volvo props are left handed, so in reverse, it pulls the stern to starboard, which helps docking along the starboard side.
What is she like at anchor?
With a filled wine fridge, and a lobster on the plancha it is perfect. Nice thing about a cat is that they don’t roll. You need a long bridle to stabilize the boat. My Bridle is 2 x 9 mtrs. We have 100 meters of chain. Standard is 60 meters. We have a Rocna anchor of 33 kg.
Is she comfortable down below? Cabins/saloon/galley/heads.
We have an owners version. The port side hull is the owners cabin. It is very large and has an Italian walk in shower. This really is an eye catcher and sells the boat. The two cabins in the starboard hull have their own toilet, separate shower and sink. None of our guests have complained 😉The forward berth is athwardships, so the guests there, wake up with a beautiful view over the water.
Where’s your favourite spot on the boat?
If weather permits the upper deck is fantastic. You feel like a king up there. But most of our time we spend behind the steering wheel. The tent keeps us dry, nice view, cosy. From there you stay in contact with the crew in the cockpit and saloon. That is why we like the half high steering position. When sitting there alone, the seat is like a small bed with a slanted backrest.
How is the finish of the interior? Does she creak under sail?
As our company deals with the Dutch Megayacht builders, we have seen the best in the world. We have to be frank though, this is a production boat. They build one a week….. Everything looks nice, but with a detailed eye there are enough improvements to find. If I compare it with other production catamarans, I am quite pleased with the finish. Yes there are some squeeks. Most of them are from the ceiling panels, which rub against the bulkheads.
Is she good for hosting guests?
Yes, very much. We can accommodate two couples (which is how we crossed the Atlantic). There is plenty of storage space as long as they come on board with soft bags. The salon, cockpit, upperdeck and foredeck are huge, so some one can always find a quiet place to relax.
What kind of modifications have you done and why?
We added a decent pot guard. Standard the boat comes with just two clamps at the back to hold pots in pace. That works fine for two small round pots. Everything else slides off under way. Se we installed a nice pot guard. It is actually from a Lagoon 52. Nice to have friends in the boating industry….
Any plans for further customisation?
Can’t think of anything else to add.
If you were to swap her for another boat, what would that be? Or maybe you wouldn’t swap her?
With the same budget, we would not swap. If we win the lottery, a gunboat maybe. Our boat is easy to sail with just the two of us. We have plenty space. A bigger boat won’t give us much more satisfaction. Of course we all want a few knots extra speed, but at anchor we are just as fast as the Gunboat…
How is the after sales service from Fountaine Pajot?
Actually that is a wrong question. Like many industries (cars) and other boat builders, the after sales service should be taken care of by the dealer. That is the one who you buy the boat from. We had a ‘technical‘ dealer, who could solve the fit and finish things himself very quickly, so we have no complaints. There are also dealers who just sell boats and do not have their own technical staff. For them, it is much harder to solve issues. They first want confirmation from the yard before spending money on third parties to fix things. Of course, Fountaine Pajot should back them up. They do, but it is a slow process. Dealers tend to blame the yards, but actually it is their obligation to solve any issue immediately, and then deal with it with the yard afterwards. They cannot blame the yard for their own poor service to the customer. So select your dealer wisely.
Anything else you would add to help people thinking of buying a Sanoa 47?
Just step onto one, and enjoy the feeling. If it feels right, buy the boat.