Welcome aboard our latest newsletter, So Catamaran!


Destinations | Advice | Experiences

Welcome aboard our latest newsletter, So Catamaran! Brimming with great discoveries, useful tips and sources of inspiration, this regular e-bulletin will immerse you in topics that are always catamaran-focused. We are thrilled to have you with us as we embark on a voyage that will blend the art and science of living aboard with practical navigation advice and new horizons. In this first edition, we’ll be talking about watermakers, how to pick up a mooring buoy and a destination where the catamaran is king! Thank you for your interest and enjoy the read!


Solar-powered desalination:

The watermaker, a virtuous solution

Cruising yachts often have watermakers aboard. And among surveys of those who participate in bluewater sailing, the watermaker is often cited as one of the best upgrades to the boat – despite the hefty price tag. Why? Well, it’s about autonomy, comfort and ultimately also about protecting the environment.
How does it works?

Watermakers draw in raw seawater and effectively squeeze it through a very fine mesh to remove the salt. This works because salt molecules are much larger than water molecules, but it does require a lot of pressure to achieve.

Quieter, faster, more efficient

The very first models required a powerful pump, which consumed a lot of power and could be a further expense and a source of noise and vibration.
However, that picture is changing rapidly due to progress on two fronts. Firstly, modern watermakers have become very much more efficient at operating on your boat’s 12v or 24v system, slashing the demande for electricity. And in parallel, renewable generation technology has taken huge strides forward – especially around hydro and solar generation. It means your boat can produce clean water without you needing to start the generator.
Almost all low voltage DC watermakers now include ‘energy recovery’ devices that can re-use some of the system’s high pressure. This reduces the watermaker’s energy consumption by more than half. For example, on a Fountaine Pajot catamaran, they offer a low-consumption watermaker option that produces 105 litres of water per day, enough to cover the daily on-board consumption of a crew of 6.
Catamarans are the ideal platform for solar panels:

The large surface area of a sailing catamaran’s coachroof makes it particularly suitable for fitting solar panels.

For instance, at Fountaine Pajot, the Aura 51 catamaran is the star performer, with 2,000 watts of panels integrated into the boat’s coachroof. Even on a cloudy day, the panels should produce more than enough energy to run the watermaker. And on a sunny day, the potential is huge, even on smaller catamarans where the solar panels reduce the impact of on-board consumption and therefore help maintain energy autonomy.

Then, if you add the potential of a hydro-generation system, the energy on board can be plentiful and renewable. Two hydro-generation systems being turned by the water, flowing past as the boat sails at even 5.5 knots can generate several kWh per day.

So you can see that the benefits are enormous, especially in parts of the world where you pay dearly for water. You’ll no longer need to search systematically for a tap near the pontoon or carry around plastic bottles. And you’ll be helping to make sailing more economical and responsible.

Experience - so catamaran


Picking up a mooring buoy

Let’s preserve the seagrass beds and make our anchroage safe

Moorings are more and more common in anchorages across the world, especially in Europe and parts of the Caribbean, because they spare seagrass and coral from damage by anchors. The basic principle is a float on the surface that is tethered to some kind of anchor or weight on the seabed. It provides a safe way to immobilise the boat for the night, or while you go ashore to explore.

There is a knack to picking up a mooring buoy successfully in any boat, but the good news is that its easier  to do if you stick to a few key pointers. Get it wrong, though, and you’ll have the whole anchorage watching you with interest, and in a busy spot, it can even be dangerous. If you’re unsure, find a quiet spot to practice away from the crowds.
You should always make your approach under power with the sails furled away. “It’s definitely better staying on the twin engines – that’ll give you maximum manoeuvrability” says a British dealer. “That way the catamaran can turn in its own length, and you’re almost not using the helm anymore, just applying forward or reverse on the engines for manoeuvring in port or an anchorage.”
Approach the mooring head to wind, except in those rare cases when the current is the stronger influence on the boat – in which you should approach instead from downstream. Like this you have full control over the speed of the boat and the heading, and the bows won’t get blown off course.

It’s hard to do the next bit alone, so post the first mate or a crew member to the bow with a very long boathook to fish the buoy out. They can also help direct you. “Visibility from the helm right up to the bow is not always obvious, so always have your mate pointing towards the pick-up buoy and giving you clear measurements of the distance left” says our expert.

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Slow down as you approach the mooring buoy, while maintaining a minimum of speed, in order to be readily manoeuvrable. Aim to meet at whichever bow your crewmate is standing at – just on the inside, between the two hulls. “The reason for that is that on the outside, you’ve generally got the guard rails coming up and just on the inside is the lowest point of your A-frame,” our expert explains.

A bit of preparation beforehand goes a long way at this moment. The crew should have cleated off a mooring line in the anchor locker and passed the rope out over the bow roller that lies between the two bows. The working end of this line should be brought back over the top of the A-frame, where it is easily to hand for threading through the eye of the mooring buoy. Then, thread it through the buoy and make it fast to the anchor locker cleat, again passing over the roller. You’re done! 

Some of you may be past masters at this maneuver, but for this first newsletter, we just wanted to remind you of some of the basics.

Full screen aura 51
Fountaine-Pajot owners are fortunate because their catamarans will always be delivered with a bridle ready installed. Once the boat is made fast using the initial mooring line, you will want to fit the bridle to the buoy to take the strain instead, slacking off the first mooring line, so that the boat remains stable and head-to-wind. And now, you’re all set to enjoy the anchorage. To leave again, you just repeat the process in reverse. Haul in on the back-up mooring line to de-tension the bridle, which you can simply unclip and refasten in the anchor locker. Then slip the other rope and reverse gently away, being careful not to motor over any other moorings which could foul the propeller. Job done!
Tips for picking up a mooring buoy


1. Approach the buoy head to wind
2. Have a crew member indicating the range and direction of the buoy
3. Fish the buoy inside the bow
4. Fasten it to a back-up mooring line fatened in the anchor locker
5. Always let the bridle take the strain
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Heading for Tortola

B.V.I | Sailing paradise

Among the many varied and beautiful cruising grounds in the Caribbean, the British Virgin Islands have a special allure. A well-developed sailing infrastructure combines with extensive, sheltered waters and a colourful riot of different island characters to make this one of the most popular charter destinations in the region. But it is also a treasured stop-over for long-term cruisers as well.
Tortola is the main island in the archipelago, and its principal anchorage, Road Harbour, is the clearing-in point for new arrivals by sea. This is a broad bight, open to the south and southeast, but which nevertheless provides excellent shelter at the head of the bay. Marinas bristle on every side, but there is still plenty of anchoring room in water 3-5m deep. Road Town is not the main attraction. Once cleared in, raise sail quickly for a circumnavigation of the island, which will take you past beautiful steep-sided shores and some envy-inspiring homes. Soper’s Hole, on the western tip of the island, offers a sheltered anchorage and an attractive Creole-style buildings, with dining and drinking options.

The US Virgin Islands lie less than 1nautic miles southwest of Tortola, and a visit to St John can be fun.

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Head for Jost Van Dyke, the Island of Reggae


Don’t miss Jost van Dyke to the north – another one of the British islands, named after the Dutch privateer of the same name. It is famed for its white coral sand beaches and for the Soggy Dollar Bar – a ramshackle beach bar reputed to be home to the Painkiller cocktail. It has become quite an institution since the days when sailors swam ashore in search of refreshment. Bubbly Pool is a naturally-occurring ‘hot-tub’ on the northeast coast, and the island is home to a melting pot of different cuisines.


Head for Virgin Gorda, an unmissable stopover!
Virgin Gorda is the other main island of the chain – guarding the eastern approaches and absorbing the Atlantic swell. Gorda Sound is a chic anchorage, and home to the famous Bitter End Yacht Club. Superyacht activities here are a little curtailed since the devastating Hurricane Irma, which wrecked the new Yacht Club Costa Smeralda complex in 2017, but everything has been rebuilt with top-of-the-range facilities and a host of activities.

Anegada, an island well-worth visiting


In this tightly-packed archipelago, the coral island of Anegada is something of an outlier to the northeast. It has a single, tricky anchorage which offers scant protection from the wind. Ashore, there are very few shops and few activities. But its main attraction is underwater. A massive encircling coral reef offers incredible diving and snorkeling, with lots of wrecks. And it’s here that we can enjoy some delicious lobsters, as soon as we set foot on the welcoming dock…


Thatch Island Cut
Thatch Island Cut canal is narrow but deep and allows you to reach the north side of the island, which has numerous bays for anchoring and going ashore to explore. Though there are plenty of reefs to discover with a snorkel and mask, it does not impinge much on navigation – another secret to the island’s popularity. But there are some narrow passes between Guana and Camanoe islands to the northeast.


thatch island cut
Sailing is really  in the lifeblood of these islands, and there is a program of regattas year-round. The best known is the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival, which draws crews and boats from around the world at the end of March. Catamaran owners’ meetings are also regularly held here. The latest is the Fountaine Pajot Owners’ Event. There are dozens of smaller islands in the BVIs, including Norman Island, which inspired Robert-Louis Stevenson’s famous book, Richard Branson’s private Necker Island and Prickly Pear, a national park and home to the Boat-up bar and grill.

Mix it all together (add ice at this point if you have it) in a cocktail shaker or closed container – a plastic bottle also works!

Serve in a highball glass.

Immerse yourself in the world of catamarans