Charter Review: Horizon Yacht Charters, Fountaine Pajot, Bahia 46
Dates Reviewed: May 10th - 18th 2010
Charter Location: Nanny Cay, Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Yacht Chartered: Fountaine Pajot Bahia 46 - Touch Of Grey
Locations: Tortola, British Virgin Islands (BVI), St. Martin, Grenadines, Antigua / Barbuda
Charter Advisors Recommendation
Big Cat, Big Crew, Big Value
We're getting to be regulars with Horizon! Here at Charter Advisors we're suckers for a deal. Horizon pulled it off again, right at the tail end of high season. We had a tall order too. A 46-foot, fully loaded catamaran, with enough room to sleep 11 at around 5k for the week. Our usual wide field of Charter Company options was slightly narrower this time of year. It's a cross over period when rates change from high season to whatever the next season over is for that charter company (mid season, low season, summer season, etc.) A few charter companies were still charging "high season" rates at the time of our search. Horizon's great customer service, overly helpful staff (thank you Bentley!), and incredible values have become the hallmarks of our experience with them. Add to that the new yachts they keep adding to their fleet and you have a charter company that you can stick with and never get bored.
This time around they suggested a 46-foot 2006 Fountaine Pajot, Bahia 46 and kept everything within our budget.
Charter Company Overview
We always enjoy the service and selection of yachts with Horizon Yacht Charters. This is our third visit to their fleet located in Nanny Cay. Their collection of Monohulls and Catamarans from 30 to 50 plus feet generally range in age from 2005 - 2010. They are most numerous in Lagoons, Bavarias, Jenneaus, and Fountaine Pajots. The mix of sizes and model years offered creates a wide variety of rates that met and exceeded our value measuring stick while fitting a large range of budgets and crew sizes. Our chartered Bahia is a good example of the kind of "larger yacht" value they offer.
What They Say About Themselves
As Published on their Website
With four stunning Caribbean charter destinations to choose from, we can offer you the very best sailing the region has to offer - Monohull or multihull, bareboat or crewed - whatever your requirements our experienced reservations staff will help customize your charter to suit your specific needs. We can assist with flight information, hotel accommodation, provisioning, water sports rentals and a host of other services to make your vacation complete. We can also help you fulfill any other unusual requests: want to get married on a deserted beach? Learn to dive? Go parasailing? We will tailor-make your vacation just for you. We are committed to ensuring that everything is perfect in every way.
Here's some perspective. The closest quote from another charter company was over $1000 more for something comparable and it was 2 feet shorter. There were a couple of "fine print" items that also added to the value of the Bahia: no prepayment for fuel, a complementary sleep aboard night, and a repeat customer discount. Not to shabby.
This time around we reviewed from a large group perspective. It's pretty common for a group of friends, a couple of families, or a couple of families with a group of friends to go chartering together. Groups like this have the added challenge of finding a yacht that fits their group without breaking the budget, 44, 46, and 50-foot catamarans basically. The age of the yacht comes into play to help keep the weekly charter cost in check. By choosing a 4 year-old, we effectively gave ourselves a 20% discount over a newer yacht. A 2006 model is not exactly "old" anyway. If we split the weekly cost of our charter between each of our 11 crew, the cost per person, per week would be right around 700 bucks! Cha-ching!
Recommended or Chosen Charter Yacht
Touch of Grey was recommended to us by Horizon Yacht Charters. We contacted our list of charter companies (see Charter Links page) prior to signing on with Horizon again. There were other companies offering similar values. Unfortunately they could not be considered due to availability. The closest competitor with availability was $1000 more at booking time.
We were slightly apprehensive to bring such a large group down to for a review. How much room could there be in a 46-foot catamaran anyway? Enough to sleep 11 people and still have elbowroom? Really? We were going off the word of Christalen (sales and booking at Horizon), and the layout shown on the Horizon Yacht Charters website. We weren't let down. Not only did we have elbowroom, we had full A/C, an electric winch for the main, chart plotter at the helm, 2 refrigerators, a flat screen TV, and two massive subwoofers (with a couple of equally massive amps driving them). Can you say party boat!?
Lots of people equals lots of food. Charter Advisors ran smack into a new problem. What do you do when the provisioning market you settled on only has 85% of what you need? If you think like we do, you provision from 2 markets. This time around we ordered the majority of our items from Rightway. The meat, specialty items, and anything else we couldn't find at Rightway came from Ample Hamper. All orders were placed and paid though their respective websites without any problems.
We flew directly into San Juan on American Airlines, jumped on an "Island Hopper" and were landing at Beef Island before we knew it. BVI Customs and Immigration lines always look long, but for some reason don't take long. Even on Island time. Each time though we're reminded how friendly this place is.
Our taxi was pre-arranged though Horizon. Michael was there waiting for us at the airport doors. He must have a good memory for faces, because he picked us out of the crowed right off. As before, Michael took our bags and led us to his awaiting taxi van. About 45 min. later (and a dozen or so large road humps), we were pulling into the friendly surroundings of Nanny Cay. Michael scoped out the location of our yacht and helped us get the bags onboard. We've never had a bad experience with any taxi drivers arranged though Horizon.
Arrival at Base
As we've written many times, we have an affection for Nanny Cay. It has everything we need for a charter right there. And we've come to discover that a few friends of ours who live in the BVIs are now basing out of Nanny Cay. All the more reason to keep coming back! But for now, we'll stay focused on the task at hand. Touch of Grey, our chartered Fountaine Pajot Bahia 46 was parked a short 30 second walk down one of the docks. She was a big boat, plugged into shore power, a few courtesy lights on inside the saloon and the A/C cranking. The A/C on this yacht is the best we've ever experienced. A control unit in every room! Nice.
Loading in was no problem with large sliding saloon doors and ample room for loading and unpacking bags in the cockpit, or down below. When all the unpacking is done, the last step in this process usually takes a bit of creative thinking. Where to stow the empty bags you just unpacked? We found out Touch of Grey doesn't need much creativity to figure this one out. After opening the first hallway hanging locker we saw that this one locker alone (think large coat closet) would hold all of our empties with space to spare. It was like this Bahia just magically gave us an extra 20 min. We were starting to like this yacht already and we hadn't even been onboard for 2 hours at this point.
Overnight or Sleep Aboard Night
We again chose the sleep aboard option offered though Horizon. Nanny Cay is a good spot for a sleep aboard. Quiet docks, still water, and a large catamaran with A/C mix nicely! The early arrival affords us the opportunity to do all the loading and unloading before the actual charter clock begins. We also use this time aboard to get to know the yacht, checking out the various systems in our own time.
With the A/C blowing icy cold, we packed away the last of the provisions, and turned in for a very restful night's sleep. With the extra sleep aboard time, we got to know the yacht, got organized, and well rested all BEFORE the charter even began. Technically speaking that is.
Provisions arrived from Rightway Market and the Ample Hamper. Both had the provisions delivered and onboard before we arrived. Both orders were complete and correct. Cold items were stowed in the fridge and freezer. Dry items were packed away in boxes, organized, and placed in the saloon. Drinks, water bottles, charcoal and the like were organized in boxes around the large covered cockpit.
Video - Tour The Fountaine Pajot Bahia, Touch Of Grey
Morning Of the Charter
Chart Briefing and Check-In
If you plan to sleep aboard as we tend to do, there is an unofficial process that leads up to check-in and briefing time in Nanny Cay. It begins when you can smell the coffee wafting across the water. Around 6 or 6:30 in the morning, cruisers and charters start heading to the Genniker Cafe. A small outdoor cafe at the foot of the steps leads to the Horizon Yacht Charters Office. After a cup of stout joe and a huge omelet, phase one of the check-in process is compete. The official portion is just about as enjoyable (but not quite as filling). The Horizon office opens at 8 a.m. Check-in was handled by Christalen. A few signatures later and with final payments made (insurance deposit, VISA, part permits, phone deposit), Christalen handed us our check-out checklist along with our receipts and local cell phone ($10 pre-paid for local calls).
With all the paperwork out of the way Christalen pulled out the chart and reminded us of the no go zones and asked if we had any questions. We did.
Is the north swell up?
Wind and Weather?
Is Foxy's Tamarind open?
Any new snorkeling spot suggestions?
Any regattas or parties we should know about (or avoid)?
We breeze through the briefing process for a reason. Because it's what actually happened. But it's not like this the first time though. We've been chartering these waters for more than a decade. And we're still learning. We encourage our readers to come ready with questions. Pick up a Cruising Guide (www.cruisingguides.com). Find places and things that look interesting or that you may be curious about. Ask your chart briefer about these things. Best times to get there. Good overnight spots. Routes. They know these waters and they are there to keep all of us safe and while having a great time! And, as the Professor likes to remind us, "Cap, it's always better to have more than one set of ears for any briefing."
Chart briefing sessions early on in our chartering career would last 45 min to an hour. The info we've learned in these briefings, we still use to this day.
Yacht Check-out Checklist
We've covered this checklist more than a couple of times now. Check out Review #3 if you'd like to know more about what the charter check-out checklist is all about.
During our checklist review we identified the location of every listed item with ease. The Bahia 46 is a big yacht with lots of space to stow everything (except the charcoal briquettes, don't know why, but we never could find a good spot for these). It also made it easy to find everything on our checklist. We did note a few scratches and dings on the hulls here and there. The easiest thing to see missing was the only thing not on the checklist, but part of our inventory for this charter. A pair of sea kayaks. Hard to miss those. After calling up to the office on the provided local phone, our kayaks were onboard in less than 15 min.
For more on how the yacht specifically performed during our review, please see Touch Of Grey's Yacht Review, Review #4.
Yacht, Mechanical, and Safety Briefings
Now we know one more charter mechanic we hope we get again: Bentley. Bentley was thorough but not slow. He kept things moving but didn't miss a beat. Even though we've gone though a yacht briefing umpteen times, we learn something new each time. We always listen like it's our first briefing. Each time Bentley showed us one of the systems, we repeated it back to him so he knew we understood. He was also full of great tips for operating Touch of Grey specifically. He gave us tricks that made things easier or safer (and faster!). It seemed that he had had quite a bit of experience on Bahias or at least this one. We don't know if he does or not, but everything he passed along sure did work just as he said it would. We like Bentley. Together we inspected and discussed the use and operation of every operating system of the yacht (down to the stove top). From anchor to engine rooms, he covered it all. In total, the mechanical briefing took just over an hour to complete
Leaving the Docks
After the briefings are done it's time to hit the big blue watery road! About 30 min. after our briefings, Bentley jumped back on board to escort us out of the marina. We started our engines and slipped the dock lines free. Bentley motored us carefully out of a tight slip and headed for the fuel dock area. He backed the yacht all the way, stern-to, the fuel dock where he stepped off. One of the girls on board was not quite done talking with Bentley about his boy in school in Texas. This gave our Charter Advisors Captain a chance to show off his close quarters handling skills, planting that big Fountaine Pajot in one spot, no dock lines needed. He later confessed the yacht, its duel engines, and quick throttle response helped him extend our crewmate's yacht to dock conversation. In another yacht, the conversation probably would have been cut a bit shorter. Leaving the fuel dock and turning 90 degrees to port just past the breakwater had us in the middle of the channel markers, and heading into the Sir Francis Drake Channel.
Noteworthy While Underway
We found ourselves motoring about a third of the time. Wind and weather were the prime culprits in this fate. But, it gave us ample time to get to know our engines! We always practice the basics. It's the little things that get ya and it's the simple solutions that save ya. It's just how it is. We begin each morning with our engine checks. Belts, fluid levels, and a visual inspection for any changes from the previous morning.
On the 4th day we noticed the oil in our port engine could use an extra eighth of a quart. True, this is a tiny amount of oil. But, if this were our boat, we'd top it off, even if it's only a splash of oil down the funnel. At least we know when we head out, we're in as good a shape as we can possibly be.
Both engines ran smoothly, charged the batteries for an entire evening with only a couple of hours motoring, and had plenty of power in reserve. At three quarter throttle, 2500 RPM, she managed 6-7 knots upwind and 7-8 down (average, not including a surf here or there). Full throttle drove the yacht to her hull speed (about 9 knots) with no problems. We used full throttle only for the purposes of this test. We never cruise over three quarters throttle. It's a great way to waste fuel for an extra knot of boat speed.
Maneuvering with two engines is a joy! And this cat is no exception. Spin, slide, back, turn, whatever the direction, you can put a mooring ball in your sights and slip on in with ease. The more practice you have with twin throttles the more you can appreciate what the Bahia 46 can do. Fear NOT the tight mooring field! In most cats, you'll have an easier time than a similarly sized monohull.
More than a Feeling? Security
Feeling safe and secure on the water is paramount especially when you have a good number of folks to keep an eye on. The 46-foot Bahia gave us quite a bit of added margin for on deck security with high lifelines, wide decks with good traction, handholds where you need them, and a broad foredeck with lots of trampoline space. The crew never needed any acrobatics to move around the deck. Nor did the crew have to climb over someone to get to another spot on the yacht. Touch of Grey makes it easy to keep one hand for yourself and one for the boat.
When the wind and our speed piped up, she was just as stable as she was at slower cruising speeds. The added feeling of crew safety let everyone settle in quickly and kept our Captain relaxed and focused on his job.
Chartering in the spring in the BVIs means a better chance for extended rain showers and an occasional squall. A shower here or there is the norm in the Caribbean. But springtime showers can last much longer than the typical afternoon pop up rain typical in the summer or fall seasons. Also they come more frequently.
We monitored the weather daily and adjusted our plans (intentions) accordingly. We had plenty of opportunity for sailing. There were a couple of days we motored to shorten the distance or time to hit weather windows. One evening we had a shower that turned into a squall that lasted all night and into the next morning. It was the first time we've ever filled the dinghy with rainwater in a single rain. Most nights were calm and cool with the occasional 10-second shower. The kind that sprinkle just enough though the hatch to wake you up and last just long enough for you to close the hatch, only to open it back up a few seconds later.
The temps this time of year are not as hot or humid as summer, but the water is every bit as warm! The evenings are very pleasant for open air sleeping and can even get chilly at times.
The Charter Advisors being the crew they are took full advantage of the warm Caribbean rain. With biodegradable soap and washcloths in hand, the trampoline and foredeck became a outdoor shower powered by nature. It was getting to be so routine that one evening our captain walked out, shower utilities at the ready, only to find that on this evening we had nothing more than a slight mist falling. He stood on the forward starboard hull and shook his washcloth at the sky, but that didn't work. After he got cleaned up down below the more traditional way, the heavens opened. Our outdoor evening shower was fun and became routine. So much so that we ended up saving a ton of our fresh water. We finished a weeklong charter with one third of the water we started with in the tanks.
Mike The Iguana
From time to time we run into this old friend. Mike the Iguana has been a staple around Virgin Gorda for quite some time now. But he doesn't always come out to play. This trip, he was in rare form.
Mike is a 5-foot long (maybe longer), Caribbean Iguana. We've gone back and forth on whether or not he is one of the endangered Anagada Iguanas, but needless to say, he's a survivor. We first encountered Mike over 10 years ago at the Bitter End Yacht Club and he is still around and going strong. Best we can tell, he's figured out the secret to long life around humans. Act like a dog! If you should find yourself on Virgin Gorda and discovered your being followed by something that looks like a dragon, don't worry. It's just Mike doing his best impression of a puppy by tagging along, begging for some table scraps. He's a sucker for Bing cherries. Grab a cup full and hand feed him. He'll be your best buddy! Making friends with a island Iguana is a high point of every trip. Especially for those who've never had a chance to "play" with the wildlife. The phrase "I never thought I'd be doing this when I woke up today (feeding an Iguana under the lunch table)" was uttered more than once. We hope to see Mike for many more years to come!
Video - Mike Comes Out To Play
An odd perk showed up on Touch Of Grey in the sound system. Boom'n System was the phrase used most often by the younger crew. CD player, DVD player, equalize, twin billon watt amps (whatever they were, they were big!), two ten-inch subwoofers, upgraded mid range and cockpit speakers. She was loaded with audio goodies. There was also a flat-screen TV on a pivoting mount (so it could be viewed from the cockpit or saloon), but for some reason all we could get was a black and white image, no color. We're no A/V gurus, so we left the TV off (as it rightly should be) and cranked up the stereo!
Sailing with tunes bumping away is a lot more fun than we imagined! At least for a little while. But, as we found out quickly, its best to turn it down before we enter the mooring field.
We did get to have a little fun with our "Twin-Subs"... One evening a rather loud group of folks moored on a catamaran directly in front of us must have misplaced their glasses, because they sure acted like we weren't there. They partied well into the night and just when we thought it was winding down, they cranked up the music! Loud. It was 2 a.m. and our crew was wide awake and feeling slightly less than neighborly. But luckily their good humor was still intact!
"So... they want music now... do they?"
With the click of a few buttons and a turn of a few knobs the sub-woofers were humming and ready to go. One of the guys aboard popped in some mind thumping CD that bounced sound waves off the cliffs around us. Our "music" played for about 10 seconds or so, but it was a long 10 seconds. After it was turned back to a more normal volume, we could over hear someone say on the offending yacht say... "I think we should keep it down. Boy, does sound travel out here!" We clicked off our mega amps and enjoyed a quiet night under the stars seemingly alone in the universe again. Frankly, we wouldn't normally bother... but 2 a.m. is 2 a.m.
Fountaine Pajot's sail like they look. Slick. Especially Touch of Grey, all 46 feet of her in Bahia trim. She looks like she's designed to punch straight though the waves. Sharp, smooth, sleek, and ooh la la... French! Our sailing fun was equally balanced with comfort and presence on the mooring. We were usually one of the bigger boats in the field, but the way Fountiane Pajot draws the lines of the Bahia it tricks the eye. As you approach her on a dingy, it's hard to say how big she is. Until you come astern of her (not along side). For some reason the stern gives her size away.
The wrap-around saloon windows look like a pair of high fashion European sunglasses that add to the sleekness. The coach roof and topsides are lower than that of a Lagoon but higher than a Voyage Catamaran. Call her medium tall. These proportions fooled many of our assumptions of size and room below decks before we arrived. We were amazed that something this sleek can be so roomy. The rest of the yacht follows this "sleek, wrap-around," theme. Don't expect to find a lot of right angles. Even the topside of the deck has a slight upward curve to it.
There used to be fewer Fountaine Pajot's of this size chartering around the BVIs. Early in 2009 we started to see this trend change. More and more charter companies are offering the Fountaine Pajot brand than ever before. And with good reason. These sporty modern yachts are awesome values. The value of there 38, 42, and 44-footers are hard to beat for a weeks charter. We would definitely put Touch of Grey into the high value category, even though she's a bit bigger.
Underway, Live-ability, Comfort, and Fun!
Like all Catamarans this 2005 Bahia is flat and stable. There was a little stepping action over the bigger waves, but no hobby-horsing or spraying water. This is a calm sailing boat. Her predictability makes it easier for new sailors to get their sea legs. At the mooring she's almost as solid as a house. No rocking around or bouncing on passing wakes.
As we noted above, about half the crew aboard for this review was either new to sailing or new to the ocean. They dove right into the experience. A few were even a bit apprehensive about sailing for fear of getting seasick. Lucky for them the Fountaine Pajot Bahia is as easy on the senses as it is on the eyes. Not a single landlubber got seasick, though one child aboard did feel queasy for all of 2 hours. Turned out it was something he ate! Whew... dodged a bullet there! If you or your crew has any concerns about seasickness or if there is a weak stomach among them, a Catamaran (with some ginger on the side) is the way to go!
Touch of Grey upped the ante over the other yachts we've reviewed in the A/C department. This Bahia was outfitted nicely. The A/C system worked very, very well. Each room has its own control panel. If you're in the saloon or in one of the cabins, you can pick your own level of comfort. When not plugged into shore power, the generator steps in and provides plenty of oomph to cool things down quickly. Another plus to this set up is if you have a portion of your crew that just can't live without A/C, they can run it to their heart's content in their own cabin while the rest of the yacht is open air. The more options and flexibility the more you can make things "just as you'd like them."
Did we "need" A/C to be comfy? No. A/C was not needed. We used it at the dock and during a hot afternoon rainstorm on charter. Other than that, we let the breeze blow though! With "Breeze Booster" wind scoops in place over the cabin hatches, we had all the cool evening air we could handle. We sure can see how handy this A/C system would be during the hotter months of the year though.
A small but major item! The galley onboard Touch of Grey is well appointed. One of the extra touches that made a big difference was the saltwater sink. Yes, the sink has fresh water too, but sports a separate faucet for saltwater. Why is this such a big deal? Water conservation! A good way to burn though water reserves is rinsing and doing dishes. To get around wasting water rinsing dishes, we normally rinse dishes off the back of the yacht in the ocean. This way we only use the fresh water for the actual cleaning part. No ocean rinse needed on Touch of Grey. She brings the ocean right to the sink! Run the salt-water faucet as much as you like. Rinse to your heart's content! You won't be touching your "precious" water supplies. It's funny how these little things make such a noticeable difference aboard. We'll be adding this to our list of "desired" items from here on out!
Cabins, Beds and Bunks
A 46-foot Fountaine Pajot outfitted for chartering has no shortage of space! Four main cabins with queen size beds at each end of each hull, plus single bunks in each hallway, plus a forepeak bunk (accessed though small door at the front of the port bow cabin or overhead hatch). The single bunks are long enough for a 6-footer. One of the Charter Advisors review crew actually wanted to take the forepeak bunk, but lost out to a 6 year-old! Why would he want that smaller bunk room? Privacy, it was comfy, and with a large overhead hatch, side opening port, and a fan, it's a breeze factory!
Each of the four main cabins have identical features (though bow and aft cabins have a slightly different layout). Each has its own private head, hanging locker, cabin and reading lights, overhead hatches, side opening ports, 120v outlets, cabin A/C controls, a queen size bed, and leather hatch covers to really block out the light!
A bit more floor space has been created in the cabins by flushing the beds up against the bulkheads (walls), rather than being a walk-around type.
Our larger review group was the prime reason for needing the size yacht we did. The experiences aboard helped to put a spotlight the level of service, comfort and security Horizon Yacht Charters Bahia provides. No seasickness, no bumped heads, and few nerves. Every one of our greenhorns on board had a great time and a few even got some salt in their veins by the end of the trip.
Another reason we brought such a large group was to push the outer limits for crew size. We intentionally filled every cabin to its max capacity and packed the yacht.
Yachts change when they get loaded down.
They can become cramped inside, below decks, above on deck, in the cockpit lounge, and most especially in the galley.
Ok... this is where we're coming from. Many times when were looking at a four cabin catamaran and we read "sleeps up to 10." We know this usually means 2 per cabin and 2 on the settees.
Touch of Grey actually had a bunk for everyone in our large group. No Settee sleeping required.
Same story for the galley. A couple of cooks in the kitchen is no big deal.
This "space" theme was apparent everywhere onboard. Where you'd expect some cramped quarters or a lack of elbow room you have more than enough (maybe even enough room for an extra person to boot). Not once did we feel cramped or feel that we had a packed boat. Nor did we feel we were always around everyone. Somehow, this Bahia allowed the crew to spread out. There were times we had to go looking for people! She was designed for a good size crew and it showed.
The design and layout work Fountaine Pajot put into these Bahia?s is modern, creative. Merci! Merci!
Getting in and out of the water from the "back steps" is as simple as it gets. And because you have two hulls, there are two ways to get to the water. This is a nice extra with a bigger group. While one couple is sitting on the bottom steps of one hull getting their flippers situated, someone else can head down the other set of steps on the next hull over. No stepping over. No waiting. It's also nice to be able to tie the dingy off on one side, knowing it's out of they way for swimmers on the other. When it's time to get back onboard, a fresh water shower located in the port transom gets the salt off. A large in cockpit floor locker swallows all the wet gear. And we do mean ALL.
Touch of Grey is just as at home entertaining the crew as it is keeping them safe under sail. Beyond the entertainment system, she also comes standard with two sea kayaks. Weather you're a swimmer, snorkeler, diver, kayaker, sailor, or electronics nut, this yacht has all the bases covered. Never a dull moment. You'd really have to work hard to get bored on board!
Fuel and water
Wow. That's what we said when we checked water at the end of day three. And again at the end of day six. And at the end of the charter! Why? We were in shock at how much water we had left. We had a very full boat. Even then, we never needed to stop to take on fresh water. When we returned back to the charter base at the end of the trip, we had used a quarter of our fuel and two thirds of our water. That's it! How the heck did that happen? It's still a bit of a mystery to us. But, if we had to guess at it, the combination of crew conservation, the salt water sink, and large, self switching water tanks, seemed to be the winning combos.
Our Chartered Fountaine Pajot Bahia handled like a dream. However, one of our dinghies didn't make the return trip.
We started our charter with two dinghies to help shuttle our larger group from yacht to shore. We ended the trip with one. During an afternoon sail from Nanny Cay to the North Sound of Virgin Gorda, we discovered the dinghy on the davit lift (we also had one in tow) had suddenly sprung a leak. The bow section quickly deflated. The crew radioed the Horizon base to fill them in. Literally, within minutes we pulled into Spanish Town on Virgin Gorda and were met by a mechanic sent by Horizon. He towed our limp dinghy away and we got back underway with the one left in tow. You know what we appreciated most? How quick they responded. It's very reassuring to know that no matter where we are, our charter company has got our back.
For more on this yacht, please check out Yacht Review four to see more on this Bahia 46. For Specs (water, fuel, etc), on this yacht, please check out the spec sheet.
Catamarans in general are speedy, fun, and relaxing all at the same time. An odd combo for sure.
Our Bahia had this combo down pat.
Fun because it is quick, points well, not frustrating, and lets everyone on the crew find a spot that works for them. Trampoline, cockpit, saloon, everyone found a spot that suited them and their level of "ocean going comfort." Relaxing because this Fountaine Pajot 46 footer is set up to do all the fun stuff with the least amount of effort possible. You know, things like an electric winch for cranking up a sizeable mainsail. Tacking and jibing without any of that "heeling business." If you want to go faster, go! Power up the sails and enjoy the ride! Want to tame it down and go for a leisurely cruise? It does that well too. The odd thing about this yacht was that it could do all this at equal levels of comfort.
For the full under sail scoop, please see Yacht Review #4 on Touch Of Grey, Fountaine Pajot Bahia 46.
We spent the last night on the water at Norman Island. Norman is a great place for your first and / or last night on the water. It's a close reach, 45 min. to an hour and a half depending on your sailing style and wind. We tend to like to reach further on day one, but like the close proximity of Norman for the last night. It gives us a wider margin for our last day. We don't need to rush out at dawn to make it back to base on time (11:30 a.m). If we have weather in the area, we have time to wait on a nice window and avoid sailing and taking a shower at the same time. If we're ahead of schedule, we can play in the channel, sailing to our heart's content before we have to head back.
We used one of our Charter Advisors tricks for our "actual" final charter day. Rather than pulling in on the very last day, where we would have to be back by 11:30, grab a taxi, and head straight to the airport, we pulled in around 3:30 the previous evening. We spent our final evening at the dock plugged into shore power, A/C blasting away.
We do this when we have an early flight out on the final day of the charter or if we have a large group like we did this time. It gives everyone time to grab a hot shower at Nanny Cay, stretch their legs (not to mention getting their land legs back), and get things packed up for an easy departure the next day. An evening at the dock at Nanny Cay isn't a compromise. At least not for us. We enjoy the area, the beach, the shops (ice cream!), and the shore side bathhouse (very nice)! No rushing, no worries, just a relaxing way to end a wonderful trip.
When we were ready to bring Touch of Grey back to base, we called in on our Horizon cell phone when we were 15 min. out. We were met by Milton on a dinghy, just inside the breakwater. He hopped aboard and squeezed her into the fuel dock like a pro. Docking at the fuel dock does not take an expert. Choosing to bring the yacht to dock yourself or requesting Horizon bring it in is up to you. There are plenty of places we dock charter yachts during our reviews. But when it comes to tight marinas and large catamarans, it's a lot more fun for us to watch someone who's done it hundreds of times before, than squeeze her in ourselves. Docking these big boats is not a difficult thing to do. But if this is one of those things you'd rather not deal with, know you don't have to if you don't want to!
We enjoyed our time on Touch of Grey and appreciated the opportunity to review a charter company multiple times. Just like an experiment, it's always better to try to replicate the results. In our case, we've not only seen the same great sailing each time we review Horizon Yacht Charters, but we see the same value, service and quality. The other thing we learned was that a yacht with a few miles under her keel is nothing to shy away from. On the contrary. From what we experienced on this Fountaine Pajot Bahia, she was in good shape and had a value that would be hard to beat.
By The Numbers
Duration: 8 days
Deal Booked: mid-season rate at the tail end of high season and a repeat customer discount. We originally booked for 7 days but made an error on our return flight date. We set our return flight for a day after the charter ended. Horizon saw our error when we signed in and gave us an extra day at no additional cost. That's customer service! It made an already good deal great!
Budget SummaryCrew: 11
Yacht Charter: $5,596
Fees: $808.75 (Hull damage insurance, permits, etc.)
Total Yacht Costs: $6,404.75
Cost / Fee BreakdownYacht: $5,596
BVI Cruising Permit Tax: $57.75
National Parks Permits: $55.00
Hull Damage Waiver Insurance: $350.00
Security Deposit: $1000.00
Virgin Islands Search and Rescue: $11.00
Cell phone rental: $20.00
Note: There was no up front fuel payment
Extra Trip Fees / CostsMooring fees: $25 per night
Trash disposal: $20
Cell phone rental: $20.00
8 Swim Noodles: $40.00
Extra Dinghy: $250.00 (Refunded)
8 Sets of Fins (Blue Water Divers): $108
Note: Minor fees and deposits such as permits and insurance deposit, are not listed. The above totals are not to be used as exact costs as these costs change often. This budget summary is intended for planning purposes only and to give a good idea for the average costs involved. The costs listed above are as per what we were charged at the time of charter.
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