Sunday, May 19, 2013

Maybe a Fountaine Pajot is the Answer?

So, while I was in Ft. Lauderdale I looked at a Fountaine Pajot Athena 38.  It was a nice boat.  But 4 berths and 2 heads seemed like a bit more than we really need.  While they say that all boats are a compromise, when we add in the fact that the heads are smaller than the coat closet in our house, I'm just not sure that the Athena is the best choice for us as a permanent live aboard.

Fortunately, Fountaine Pajot makes a number of boats of various sizes.  So, having seen the appeal of the maker, we decided to take a look at other models.  Back at the Annapolis Sailboat Show, we got to see the Mahe 36 Evolution.  Of the catamaran models at the show, this was one of our favorites (not that we had any idea what we were looking for at that time...or even that we were going to go with a catamaran).  The only negatives I recall were the berths seemed to lack a bit of shoulder space due to their position down in the hulls and the helm seat was molded into the bimini top (out in the weather).  Of course the Mahe is a newer model, in current production, and is a bit out of our price range.

The predecessor of the Mahe is the Tobago 35.  Just like the Mahe 36 they come in a 2 berth, two head version as well as the 3 berth, single head model.
From what I can tell, this boat has a good amount of space in the cockpit and good access above deck.  They seem to typically have a soft-top bimini, but it does cover the helm station which is a plus.  Inside the salon and galley up design that is typical of FP makes for a decent size table and the usual small galley. Down in the hulls you find the berths and heads.
The interesting thing I see is that one of the berths is turned sideways and is up on the bridge deck.  I'm hoping this would make this berth a bit wider than those down "in the hulls".  The floor plan show that it might be angled (or is that just a cut-away view), and if so, I wonder how much. The head (or heads if the 2&2 version) appear to be larger than those on the Athena, which I think would help make this a more livable configuration for us.  The Fountaine Pajot's are known for being more performance oriented than the Lagoon and, with just over a foot less draft, it should be able to get us into more interesting locations as well.  The big question here is if the berth and galley is enough space for us.  This one definitely has potential.

During my research on the boat I ran across a blog of a couple and their two dogs cruising on a Fountaine Pajot Tobago.  Could it be a sign that this is the right boat for us? Unfortunately there are only a few of these boats currently for  sale, and based on comparable sales numbers, they are overpriced.  Here's another one of those cases where it really sucks to be 1000 miles from an ocean.  It will be another trip just to see one, if it doesn't sell before we get there.  Guess we need to figure out how to go see one of these sometime soon.


  1. They are very well built boats. I have a good friend that was the first North American distributer for Foutaine Pajot. He has been to the factory probably a dozen times and swears they are one of the best built boats. For the 1980s through mid 1990s he sailed on every model made, including many delivery trips from the Northeast to the Caribbean.

    The owners versions (2-3 cabins) are typically far more desirable as a live aboard than the charter versions(4 cabins). Like you noted, they offer a larger head and more storage space. But this is typical of all catamarans. However, the charter versions are usually more prevalent in the market.

    Good luck on your search.


    1. Hey Jesse,

      Glad to hear they are well built, after all that is very important. I just wish we could easily see one in person. Right now to see one would be a trip to one of 4 or 5 locations with the sole purpose of seeing one just to determine if it would fit the bill. Doing this from Colorado is definitely a challenge.

      The charter configurations are definitely the most prevalent in the market, but in the case of the Tobago I think I actually like the 3 berth, 1 head more than the 2 berth, 2 head version. Two heads for two people seems a bit much. It would be nice when we had guests, but I'd rather have extra storage than a second head.

      And I could use a bit of luck, so thanks! Having *almost* bought a boat I'm finding I'm getting a bit more impatient to get this chapter of my life started. :-)


      P.S. Can't wait to hear more about your thoughts on Navionics and/or other chart solutions.