Multihulls Magazine September - October 2009 edition

La Rochelle, France to Turkey on a Fontaine Pajot Salina 48 Maestro.

By Captain Ian Engelbrecht

Operating Worldwide Yacht Deliveries, South Africa for 12 years we have had various opportunities in delivering French built vessels, and we have actually enjoyed them all. Therefore we were happy to accept the delivery of a brand new current generation Fontaine Pajot catamaran ex-factory. At our first meeting about 4 months prior to launch, we were informed of the day the vessel would be ready for handover. We have been down this road before and were nervous when we were told to go ahead and arrange our air tickets. On flying in months later we were concerned and interested as how we were going to accommodate ourselves if the vessel was not available to ourselves, but as stated, she was ready not only on the day mentioned, but actually on the hour. This immediately gave the impression that this was an organized factory – mind boggling actually.

On presentation of the vessel prior to our usual in house survey, it was very apparent even at this premature stage that build integrity was in place. On the “friendliness" front we found all at the factory extremely amicable and in fact La Rochelle as a whole in general was very pleasant with the French being super nice. I am sure that the small town tourist environment has a lot to do with this. We have previously for example found Paris far less friendly as would be the norm for any big city globally.

On completion of our own vessel investigation we drafted up a snag list which was the shortest in our history of literally less than 10 items. This was relayed to the factory and was tended to readily and speedily. All in all the whole process was extremely professional. In due course we executed two sea trails with the factory both running well. The performance of the Salina was very evident with us attaining 13 knots easily on a beam reach with 18 knots of wind. Unlike other vessels the Fontaine Pajot appears to defy the laws of physics and starts sailing at five knots rather than from the normal zero. No matter what the wind or sails we hoisted, every time we looked at the log it read 5 increasing. I know all sounds too favourable but at this early stage of handover we were impressed.

The vessel itself was sound and luxurious with this vessel having advanced systems, bearing in mind that this is a high production vessel and not custom built. Being more used to Raymarine and Navman the new generation Furuno felt a bit cumbersome at first as we endeavoured to understand the thinking behind the systems. This soon came to pass and the systems grew more and more on us as we familiarized ourselves. The quality of Furuno which is renown was also evident, so we settled down with the components and enjoyed the vast amounts of configurations we could perform to suit our needs. It is apparent that this is a new Furuno system as we did uncover some bugs, but I'm sure in time Furuno will tend to these as always happens in a new software environment.

We were afforded the opportunity to tour two Fontaine Pajot factories. Being a vessel surveyor I scrutinized as much as I could and came to the opinion that the systems and production line was well in hand with build consistency and controls being present.

After having to wait a bit for a low pressure to pass we had to turn our back on the French hospitality, wine and cheese and we headed off across the Bay of Biscay towards the Straights of Gibraltar. We chose our weather window well and so for the first six days had good sailing angles - what can I say, we are the best. A low pressure coming in over such a long period was inevitable though and this happened through the Straights with about 25 knots on our nose for 12 hours whereafter we berthed in Sotegrande, Spain. 25 knots was not extreme but it gave us time to evaluate the bow buoyancy and slamming properties of the vessel. Slamming throughout our whole trip was uncommon and tame and bow buoyancy admirable, so I was still impressed at this stage.

After such a good report up until now it is probably time to talk of the negatives of which there always are. What we didn't enjoy too much were not serious issues and were as follows :

  • We found the helming responsive but a bit "spongy" to to a section of bolt rope being used in place of the normal cable.

  • The steering had no lock mechanism installed and this made manoeuvring the vessel using differential power cumbersome.

  • The heads black water tanks had dump pipes going through one reduction and two elbows being only a gravity feed. This will surely be a blockage potential at some stage.

  • The water maker had no means of reverse flushing from the fresh water tank, which meant a bucket of fresh water had to be taken to it to perform this procedure.

  • Although two fresh water tanks were installed they shared only one isolator.

  • The 220 volt panel was unaccessable in the one motor compartment.

  • Rather than trip switches, 12 volt fuses were utilized also not easily accessable.

  • Areas of flooring design were unsealed leaving ridges harbouring dust that could only be cleared using a vacuum cleaner on steroids.

Nonetheless, the Salina 48 was still impressive and we consider this one of the better vessels we have delivered of which we have done countless.

We left Spain after about three days and sailing with the owner slowly wound our way to Turkey stopping off at multiple destinations for the owner to view. In general the Mediterranean was superb with superb cultures and real down to earth people. The fact that we were a very beamy boat didn't appear to perturb the harbour authorities along the way and in general we found them and many many onlookers in awe of such a largish catamaran. The weather again was admirable besides one bout of another low with rain of which we endured 24 hours through. The Maestro gave me a feeling of confidence and although bouncing around in the extreme weather, I noted to the crew that we were not in any form of danger, just discomfort and cold and wet with the bad visibility not helping my spirit, especially due to the large traffic areas in the Med. The AIS on board proved to be my best friend and performed a stunning watch duty. We were also equipped with radar and all the good stuff so we were generally in good order. We completed the delivery voyage of 3000 nautical miles successfully and were thankful to have the experience of the Fontaine Pajot on our resume and enjoyed the many out of the way stopovers that are uncommon for us, as we are usually on a tight schedule.

Final last words - Fontaine Pajot Salina 48 Maestro an admirable, impressive vessel of good sailing performance. We hope to be able to support the factory again on deliveries in the future. All items on board were of a quality nature and we had basically no failures during the entire voyage.

Captain Ian Engelbrecht

Worldwide Yacht Deliveries


Multihulls Magazine September - October 2009 edition