Catamarans have so many things going for them that they are no longer the novelty they once were, especially among the once devoted mono-hull crowds. Their sheer volume of interior space is probably the main attraction, and they not only attract buyers trading up from smaller boats, but down from larger ones. But here at BoatTEST, we’re drivers first and foremost, so we also tend to favor the handling characteristics that no other design can touch. Look at every high-speed offshore ferry and there’s a good reason they’re all cats. So with this one-two punch in mind, we couldn’t wait to get aboard the Fountaine Pajot MY44 and we weren’t disappointed.
- 3 cabins and 3 heads
- The room of a 50′ monohull in 44′
- Flybridge with available hardtop and enclosure
- Aft facing galley to serve cockpit and bridge
- Hydraulic swim/dinghy platform
- Large, open main salon with wrap-around views
- Owner’s cabin with storage, large island bed, and vanity
- Three outside social areas: Foredeck, bridge, and cockpit
|Length Overall||44' / 13.40 m|
Acceleration Times & Conditions
|Time to Plane||5.3 sec.|
|0 to 30||9.4 sec. (0to20)|
|Load||7 persons, 1/4 fuel, no water, 50 lbs. of gear|
|Climate||86 deg., 79 humid.; wind: 10-15 mph; seas: 1|
2 x 435-hp Volvo Penta IPS600
2 x 260-hp Volvo Penta IPS350
2 x Volvo Penta IPS400
2 x 435-hp Volvo Penta IPS600
As is always the case with catamarans, once aboard it’s the sheer volume of space that impresses like no mono-hull quite can. The design just lends itself to an open atmosphere. However, they always seem to share one common trait that Fountaine Pajot departs from… and that is the mirrored layouts from one hull to the next. Instead, the MY 44 has its owners suite in the port hull, while two guest cabins are to the starboard side. A fourth cabin is on the main deck and Fountaine Pajot is quick to point out that this space lends itself to customization… cabin, laundry, pantry, sitting room… it’s all up to the owner.
Another area that separates Fountaine Pajot from the rest is that it targets the owner/operator where other’s focus on the charter fleet. Because of their volume and kindly sea handling, cats are huge in the charter industry. And all it takes is a glance to see one is made for the rigors of that task. Much like a fishing boat, it seems like you could just take a hose to the entire boat, change out the sheets and pillowcases and welcome the next group aboard.
At Fountaine Pajot, the owner/operator focus allows for a more formal layout with regards to fit-and-finish. There’s quality where it needs to be while still saving costs and weight in areas like the composite materials in the overhead. It all works and it’s all pleasing to the eye.
Most will board the MY44 from her swim platform but from a fixed pier there are non-skid steps to the caprails at the aft deck and steps right to the deck. As for the platform, there’s a fixed section at 12” (30.5 cm) and then a hydraulic lift section that comes out an additional 4’6” (1.37 m) that can easily accommodate a tender or pair of PWCs. When the platform lowers, stairs to the starboard side are automatically deployed allowing for the popular use as a private beach while still being able to get back and forth to the main stairs to the aft deck.
There’s a built-in safety feature to this hydraulic platform. It needs to be raised up before lowering. It doesn’t really move, but it does release the safety mechanisms underneath the platform, and in this manner, one of the kids can’t come along and lower the platform while against the dock, or worse… while underway.
To both sides of the platform are stairs to the aft deck. The stairs to port have a shore cord on the inside bulwarks and we couldn’t think of a better place than this location. Bulwarks to starboard house the transom shower.
The aft deck is roomy and spacious with overhead clearance starting at 6’8" (2.03 m) and increases to 7’1” (2.16 m) as we move aft. Bench seating is across the stern and storage is underneath the seats. There’s plenty of room for adding a table and deck chairs, and having these be removable has its advantages over a fixed table and chairs. We can add room to the deck as desired. Decking is teak and the area received protection from an electrically actuated drop-down shade behind the bench seating.
As we continue forward we have a spacious and inviting gathering area at the bow that consists of two sun pads. They can be adjusted into chaise lounge position. There’s storage in between the two lounges and additional storage just ahead is extremely deep and lends itself to containing the lines and fenders.
As for the ground tackle, the anchor and windlass are, of course, center mounted and on the elevated platform just ahead of the center storage compartment between the two lounges. Access to the all-chain rode is at the forward section of this storage compartment. The anchor is suspended from a stainless steel davit. A cleat is alongside to take the strain off the windlass. Additional cleats for securing the dock lines are to the sides.
The flying bridge is the last of the exterior gathering area and it’s an inviting place to entertain guests whether the MY 44 is dockside or underway. Just alongside the hatchway to the curving stairs, there is L-shaped seating wrapping around a solid wood table on a pair of fixed pedestals.
Opposite and ahead of the stairs there is a refreshment center with a sink that includes a pull-out sprayer, open counter space and a trash receptacle. Below is a refrigerated drawer and storage.
Ahead is a doublewide sun lounge and the forward pads convert to seatbacks for forward facing seating. All of this is under the protection of the extended overhead with a manually opening fabric sunroof.
Sliding glass doors allow access into the main deck interior spaces. With both doors open, we measured the entryway at 4’8” (1.42 m) wide and they can both be slid to one side that further opens the entry to 7’6" (2.29 m).
The interior is amazingly spacious, a characteristic of the cat genre, and this is further enhanced by the glass completely surrounding the area and the overhead 6’6" (1.98 m) off the deck. Upon entering the area, the galley comes first keeping it between the two main gathering area of the main deck.
The main portion of the galley is to starboard and consists of U-shaped, solid-surface counters with plenty of serving area. All high end appliances are used throughout. But what is most impressive is the sheer amount of storage that utilized every bit of available space…. Even in the deck where there’s an insulated cooler. One way Fountaine Pajot accomplished this was by moving the refrigeration to the opposite side of the galley. Without the need to accommodate the refrigerator, or in most cases refrigerator drawers, more space is available for storage. Plus we can now have a full sized, side-by-side refrigerator. All storage drawers open fully allowing complete access to the interior, and they also are all soft-close.
The salon is just ahead of the galley and up an 8” (20.32 cm) step. As we step up, the overhead increases accordingly so we maintain our headroom. Windows surrounding the room allow natural light to pour in and opening windows to both sides allow for flow-through ventilation. There is opposing seating consisting of an L-shaped sofa to port and a two-person loveseat to starboard. A table is also to port and not only is it on a high low set of pedestals, it expands from cocktail to dining mode by rotating and opening the two separate top sections. Storage is underneath.
With the cabin just below, there was no space for the usual TV on an electric lift that we usually see. But who says the TV has to lift? Certainly not Fountaine Pajot. Here the TV is still on an electrically actuated mount, but instead of lifting from below, it moves sideways from inside one of the bulkheads at the galley. This is the first we’ve seen of this sort of innovation and it makes us wonder why we don’t see it more often. It’s such an obvious solution to a simple problem.
There are several more storage compartments in the salon deck, and by pressing a suction cup onto the hatch and simply lifting it up accesses these. This has its pros and cons. We have to go fetch the suction cup being the only con we can come up with. For pros, there’s no latch that we break a nail on… that stays up when dirt gets underneath it and we stub a toe… and we don’t have it turned the wrong way so it’s not latched when we think it is.
As mentioned previously, we very much like how the accommodations aren’t simply mirror images of one another in each hull. It’s a concept that’s so easy to do and frankly, it’s been done to death. If you see one, you’ve seen the other.
Fountaine Pajot chose to break from that mold and create a master suite to the port side, and a pair of guest staterooms to starboard, complete with one ensuite head and the other with a shared day head. It’s a combination that works and other builders may just want to sit up and take notice.
Of course, Fountaine Pajot would rather they not.
Master Stateroom Entry
The master stateroom is accessed from a companionway across from the galley, and against the aft sliding glass doors. At the bottom of the stairs there’s a small alcove with a door just beyond. We expected to see the door right at the bottom of the stairs but a few seconds was all it took to realize the thinking here.
A cabinet alongside the stairs houses the washer/dryer making this area a small, but nonetheless functional, laundry room. By having the door to the master just beyond, we can have the laundry area separated while still keeping the master private, and more importantly, quiet.
The owners get a beautiful suite that runs the full length of the port hull. Claustrophobic the area is not with 6’6" (1.98 m) of overhead clearance and plenty of natural light from hull side windows.
The sleeping area comes first and consists of a queen sized berth mounted athwartships to take full advantage of the space. The berth faces hull side windows so we wake to waterfront views, particularly the cruising set that takes good advantage of anchorages. It’s also immediately noticeable that the berth is only 1’8” (.51m) off the deck so we don’t have to climb into bed, and we can even sit on the bed and have our feet still on the deck. The deck at the foot of the berth has a small incline that follows the hull form, and while Fountaine Pajot could have raised the deck slightly to avoid this, it is a small tradeoff to having the improved overhead clearance. Besides, once the foot hits it once, you’re aware of it being there and it becomes inconsequential.
Storage, Storage, and More Storage
Just as was the case with the main deck, here storage is everywhere and it rivals much larger yachts that can barely keep up. At the entry there are storage drawers that close on soft close sliders. Alongside is open storage along with nightstands to both sides of the berth. Between the stateroom and the head are two large closets and because they’re squared off we can actually hang items in them, as opposed to the problems with the tapered one we typically see. And in the deck, there are seven more storage compartments running deep into the hull.
The head is fully forward and features natural light from both an overhead hatch and hull side window. Three mirrored cabinet doors provide storage above the sink. Additional storage is below. The toilet is electric flush. The walk-in shower is further forward and while small, it still has room for Fountaine Pajot to add a shelf for toiletries. Water comes out from both a rain shower faucet and a hand-held shower wand.
Moving to the guest staterooms, the entrance is just abaft the hull and as we’ve come to expect, storage is alongside the companionway.
There are two staterooms here. Aft is an ensuite with a private head. Forward is a smaller stateroom that shares the day head at the bottom of the companionway. Like the master, there are in-deck storage compartments, all run deep into the hull, and here we have six instead of the seven in the master.
The aft stateroom, being the larger of the two, has another athwartships mounted queen-sized berth facing a hullside window with an opening portlight. The head is just beyond and includes a walk-in shower, but sadly, no shelf to place soaps or shampoo.
Directly adjacent to the helm there’s another space that can be completely customizable according to the owners desires. Some use it as an additional cabin, some as laundry, still others have gone with a utility room, and even an office space.
On our test boat it was a cabin that the owner chose and it was comfortable and roomy. We do have to take issue with the interior lighting however. Fountaine Pajot simply added a quickie light bar instead of dedicated lighting with a switch at the entry. The door is solid wood and slides into the bulkhead behind the salon seat when opened.
Inside is a roomy berth with plenty of storage, and even shelf space. Overhead is a hatch that allows for ventilation and natural light. If this is roughing it on the MY44, then we’ll take it. The only drawback is the day head isn’t right alongside like the other guest cabin.
The lower helm is a study in the glass dash concept keeping a panel uncluttered. Here, there’s a single 17” (43.2 cm) Raymarine display, providing the selectable information needed to not only navigate properly, but also to keep an eye on the boat’s systems. However, as functional as the Raymarine system is, Fountaine Pajot typically goes with a Garmin system that is even more functional (the owner specifically requested the Raymarine panel for this boat). With Garmin, there’s the added controllability of the boat’s systems (air conditioning, lights, pumps…etc.) that we just don’t have with Raymarine. Also, Garmin makes a compatible watch so we also have a portable control system. And of course the watch links to our smartphones so we can read texts, view alerts… and I guess tell the time.
While the left side of the panel is for the MFD (Multi-Function Display), the right is more focused on the native Volvo Penta features. The EVC display provides the engine information and it’s full of various selectable screens to dial in exactly what you’re looking to see. Below are the digital ignitions. Just touch the smart key to this panel to activate. A sub-panel to the operators right side is populated with the digital engine controls with lots of available options (cruise mode, single lever… etc.). And just behind is the IPS joystick.
We’re also happy with Fountaine Pajot’s attention to ergonomics as far as placement of these controls go. They’re right within reach, and with the joystick we can face backwards and comfortably manipulate the stick while backing into a slip, and we have good visibility of the whole stern while doing so.
Being IPS powered, an unusual feature in any catamaran, the engines are located well aft in the hulls. Accessed from large, insulated hatches in the cockpit deck both compartments are naturally mirror images of one another with two notable exceptions. To starboard is the generator and the chiller for the air conditioning system, to port are the house batteries.
Both feature the 435-hp IPS 600s from Volvo Penta and the pods are directly connected right behind. The installations are roomy with everything easily accessed.
We got our first look at the MY 44 at the Ft. Lauderdale boat show, and when it came time to get underway, it gave us our first impression of how well this beamy yacht handles tight confines, and frankly, with her IPS drives there were no surprises. We had a strong cross-current that we were able to tame, even when we had the occasional pop-up hold position here and there. It had plenty of authority to keep us in one spot. Once moving, a simple transition to the throttles returned us to traditional controllability with the steering wheel. Frankly, with this sort of traffic, it’s comforting to have the good control authority that this yacht presents.
Both helms were comfortable to operate from, and when standing, the wheel falls right to my fingertips… that’s a trait that is lost on some builders. Ergonomics.
The Fontaine Pajot MY44 has a LOA of 44’ (13.4 m), a beam of 21’7” (6.61 m), and a draft of 4’3” (1.3 m). With an empty weight of 44,100 lbs. (20,003 kg), one-quarter fuel and seven people onboard, we had an estimated test weight of 46,237 lbs. (20,973 kg).
With a pair of 435-hp Volvo Penta IPS600s turning at 3600 rpm, we reached our top speed of 23.8 knots. Her narrow cat hulls and level acceleration attitude combined to produce a linear performance curve so there’s no real “best cruise” per se. It’s more appropriate to let the current conditions and comfort set the speed. For example, in our tests in 1’ (.31 m) light chop, we found ourselves putting the throttle at around 16 knots or 2750 rpm. At that setting, the 20 gph fuel burn translated into a range of just over 380 nautical miles, all while still holding back a 10% reserve of the boat’s 528-gallon (2,000 L) total fuel capacity.
Again, because of her level acceleration, we reached planning speed, or the speed where the hull created a rooster tail, in 5.3 seconds and continued on through 20 mph in 9.4 seconds.
Always with cats there’s the question of turns… does it lean or not. So here, the MY 44 does not. She’ll stay flat in the turns and thanks to the turning characteristics of any pod drive, the turn is slow and docile. There’s no feel of being pushed to the outside of the turn and in fact, those who are unfamiliar with boats will feel more comfortable with this. Cars don’t lean into the turns either, so guests will feel right at home… or on the road so to speak.
Now while we had calm conditions, the steady stream of large yachts gave us some decent wakes to test out her handling. Taking the waves on the beam showed us taking just a slight roll, as expected, and tracking remained arrow straight. With a following sea, she slices right through the back of the forward wave with her narrow entry and again, remains dead straight. And with the waves just off the bow, we transitioned cleanly through with no spray, and yet again, no change of heading. With the waves coming head on we did have the sneeze effect where the air pressure between the hulls pushed a mist up and over the bow. Just take the wave slightly off of the head and it’s gone.
When it came time to return to the dock, her handing characteristics were predictable and well dialed in to the joystick. Precision maneuvering is actually quite easy and that bodes well for those transitioning up from a smaller boat.