Comparing Catamarans around 40′

Fountaine-Pajot

What I wish

I wish we had a different way to compare boats than by length. A 40′ cat has nothing to do with a 40′ monohull, volume-wise. A 42′ cat doesn’t, necessarily, have more volume than a 40′ cat. Volume comes from a number of factors. In a Cat, it’s a combination of the actual, individual hull beam (not necessarily overall beam), and how space is used. Much more on this below. At the end, see the chart that compares monohulls and cats and relates cost based on overall length vs volume. I did come up with a rough volume calculation formula which is what these graphs are based on. See the summary note which talks about why there’s not usable volume greater than in a 40′.

If you’re seriously comparing boats, and open-minded–this article is an eye-opener!

FP40. Over 50 on order since introductory information released a few months ago. Perhaps the most successful introduction in history. Taking orders now.  Lucia 40

A good place to start

“Believe nothing no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your reason and common sense.” –Buddha

So, what do we know? Observations concerning the Lagoon compared to the Lucia 40 (F40) and Helia 44 (F44)

The boats just about need to be compared together. See the discussion of the specs, below.

Let’s start with indisputable facts. Information from the manufacturer’s web site and then observations that you can accept or see for yourself. All of this with a little grain of experience thrown in based on sailing these boats, but also on what our customers say…

So, what do the specs tell us?

  1. The Lucia 40 is inter-coastal friendly with a mast height of the water of under 65′. (65″ is the bridge clearance for the lowest bridge on the Inter-Coastal waterway.) The Lagoon and Helia is not. See our interesting blog on this subject here. A touchy matter…
  2. The Fountaine Pajot’s have a shallower draft opening up some of the popular, shoal cruising areas–like the Bahamas, Keys, etc.
  3. The Lagoon is heavy with less sail area. So look at the SA/Ton (This is like the Sail Horsepower). Much better for the Fountaine Pajot, as has generally been the case. Older designs in the past have had this excessive beam and it adds unnecessary weight and not, necessarily, to the volume in the boat. It’s the actual beam of the hull itself that determines the volume and you can see from the accommodations, that the Lucia 4o has about the same or better living volume as the Lagoon.
  4. Consistent with (2) the engine has to be bigger to accommodate this extra weight.

The other factor, a bit unknown for the Lagoon 42, is the load-carrying ability of the boats. The load-carrying ability is based on the designer’s calculation, but it only makes sense that if the boat itself is heavier, all else being equal, you have less capacity to carry the loads carried by typical cruisers.

Load-carrying is one of the most important considerations for cruisers. An overloaded boat is less safe, and goes much slower, especially in lighter winds. Catamarans with relatively narrower individual hulls (and having two of them) pick up wetted surface much more quickly than monohulls so are much more affected by loads. (This is why the experts are always talking about keeping the boat light–for safety and performance reasons.)

Load Carrying

So let’s look at this important aspect.

(I used the Lucia 40 in the example, right–but the weights of equipment, etc. are the same for most boats.)

Take the Fountaine Pajot 40 which has a generous load-carrying capacity of 6834#. Sounds good, but look how fast it gets used up.

Wow, the extra gets used up fast. Boats that are heavy and that are designed principally for charter fleets sailing in a 50-mile circle, don’t care. If you’re planning on serious cruising, this becomes much more important to you.

Now, just some observations and considerations

Both the Helia and Lucia 40 have the space for additional social space adjacent to the control cockpit, as well as room for an array of solar cells out from under the shade of the boom.

  • The cockpit of the 40 and 44 is larger with more and comfortable seating.  This is where you spend most of your time. We recently had 15 seated in the cockpit of the Lucia 40 at a recent champagne celebration… Everyone had a comfortable place to sit.
  • The Fountaine Pajot’s have room for the popular social area adjacent to the helm control station. They also both have forward lounge areas–much more social space than the Lagoon. (Helia 44 shown, left–Lucia also has an optional lounge for this space.)
  • Awkward access to the helm, and equally awkward to the deck–with no space for a sun lounge on the deck adjacent to the control station–a very popular place for socializing, especially when exploring new areas.
  • The Fountaine Pajot’s feature a large pass-through counter from the galley to cockpit facilitating entertaining–the Lagoon does not.
  • The Lagoon has a mast post in the middle of the accommodations. An already smaller sail plan with a high boom is already inefficient. A less vertical luff on the Jib is less efficient and a small main is also much less efficient with a substantial portion of the main lying in the turbulence of the mast. Moving the mast back to accommodate a self-tacking Jib is going in the wrong direction. Just not enough sail area. And why? A more traditional rig with an overlapping Genoa is proven to offer better performance. Want to tack? just hit the tack button on the remote autopilot control, and push the button on the electric sheet winch–No muss, no fuss. All taken together the Fountaine Pajot gets the nod for a huge performance advantage, better motion under sail, and an easier rig to handle in a variety of conditions.
  • Fountaine Pajot has a soft dodger that can be removed for storms (required by virtually all private management companies in the Caribbean). Lagoon has an un-removable, hardtop. This is very high with no ready access to the deck and forces the boom to be inordinately high. This makes if very difficult to tuck in the sail or untangle lines, and also results in a higher center of effort with more noticeable (and uncomfortable) motion.
  • The Lagoon has blunt, vertical windows. Many people comment on the lack of flowing lines.

INTERIOR CONSIDERATIONS

  • The main saloon has a wide-open layout with no mast pole intrusion. Transition into the cockpit with no step or tripping ledges. A huge pass-through from the main cabin to cockpit for serving.
  • Lagoon: Owner’s wing much-wasted space with couch. No separation of head/vanity, like with the FP 40 and 44, so one person at a time head compared to FP 40 and 44 which is zoned, (see illustration below) and the owner’s cabin has much more storage. Lagoon Appears very beamy at water-line as evidenced with no step at all to aft berth—The extra wetted surface from wide waterlines, less sail area/displacement ratio, and under-powered main (going totally against the trend) will make her an extremely under-performing boat-especially in more moderate conditions.

Summary

The Lagoon is a little neither here nor there. Without significantly more volume than the Lucia 40, and no-where near the volume of the Helia 44. At least a part of the explanation lies in the construction details for the Lagoon. The company generally constructs the furniture modularly and drops these furniture modules into the hull where they are tabbed in. This type of construction leaves wasted space between the furniture and the hull. Do the math. a 2″ gap on both sides of the hull, counting two hulls leaves approximately a lost volume calculation of .75′(space wasted) X40′ (length) X 6.5′(typical height)=195 sq ft. So the method of construction accounts for almost taking 2′ out of the length of the boat 95 Cu ft. or so out of each side! Of course, this is an in-exact calculation, but it gives the idea and you begin to see why the volume in the Lagoon is not significantly different, especially in the prioritized aft living areas (cockpit and primary sleeping cabins) as compared to the Lucia and nowhere near the volume of the Helia 44.

The Lagoon 42 Appears to be all about marketing geared towards entry-level participants who are getting a total compromise with performance — for volume and accommodations that look good at boat shows or the dock but don’t work so well when actually sailing. The FP 40 seems to offer a better balance overall, as evidenced by over 50 orders in the first few months of its introduction.

Every boat is a compromise. The Fountaine Pajot responded to the most requested features. FP opted to devote more room to the aft end of the boat in order to have the largest possible cockpit, two Island Beds aft, and multiple lounging areas.

FP also opted to eliminate the couch in the owner’s wing to make more room for storage and other features. (A much-requested change.). There is increased privacy and storage for the owner’s wing incorporating the popular features of the Saba 50 (Now also incorporated in the new Helia 44 “Evolution” as well). This includes A separation of toilet space (in private compartment) with a well-separated vanity and enclosed shower which eliminates splash. Also, incorporated is a dedicated space for a washer-dryer forward (much requested) and, of course, the walk-around island bed. Both aft cabins offer exceptional light and ventilation. Many people at the Miami show commented on the superior fit and finish of the Fountaine Pajot compared to the Lagoon.

In overview, it would seem that the Fountaine Pajot is designed more for the way serious voyagers want to live, and is overall lighter, stronger and faster with the biggest cockpit in her class– compared to the competition in her class. She is proving to be a winner as evidenced by the full order book. While there are always compromises, hers seem to be in the right direction, offering what serious sailors are looking for as she offers many of the same advantages of her popular sister, the Helia 44–but at a very affordable price. She’s well worth a serious look.

Pricing and volume calculations

When you price out a monohull based on cost per foot, it’s much less. But when you compare cost per cubic ft, they’re surprisingly close, considering the catamaran has the extra cost and advantages of redundant systems (engines, rudders, etc.). One could do a similar comparison for the volume of one length of cat vs another. The volume in the individual hulls has much more to do with usable and storage volume than the overall length of the boat, or overall beam of the boat. Perhaps a subject of a future blog–see the hull volume calculation affected by modular furniture.

The incredibly experienced, good looking and performing, popular FP 40. Built by the most successful Catamaran builder in the world, now celebrating 40 years of success!

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Eric Smith

Senior Sales Consultant, Partner
410-703-5655
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