Charter Review: Horizon Yacht Charters, Fountaine Pajot Orana 44 - Windscape
Dates Reviewed: Aug. 1 - Aug 8, 2010
Charter Location: Nanny Cay, Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Yacht Chartered: British Virgin Islands (BVI), Antigua and Barbuda , St. Martin, and the Grenadines
Charter Advisors Recommendation
The brand new Fountaine Pajot Orana 44 is extraordinarily easy to handle and full of user-friendly amenities like minimal line handling, powered main winch, push button power and ignition. With twin engines capable of cruising easy at 8 knots this is a loaded yacht, prime for a first time charterer or salty sailor. If you don't want to deal with charger or inverter panels, or keys for the ignition, this could be the charter yacht for you. Spacious, easy to use and comfortable sum up Horizon Yacht Charters Fountaine Pajot Orana 44 Windscape well. She's a blast for the experienced sailor and easy to sail for those new to chartering.
Charter Company Overview
Horizon Yacht Charters has made several different types of yachts available to Charter Advisors over the past couple of years. We've attempted to bring you a cross section of the various types of yachts they offer and sample yachts that are also offered elsewhere. The Orana line from Fountaine Pajot is currently available though Horizon and TMM (at the time of publishing). As we've come to expect from Horizon, their customer service was top notch, and we just may be addicted to Nanny Cay Marina. Not every charter base benefits from such wonderful calm water and village like surroundings. Horizon Yacht Charters offers the full range of charter sailing yachts. Monohulls to Catamarans in the mid 30-foot range to 50 plus feet.
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.
We have to admit something here. We've had our eye on the new 2010 Orana for the last six months. It's one we just had to review. It's unique, redesigned, and full of innovation. The more different a yacht, the more we're drawn to it. This particular Fountaine Pajot is also an outstanding value. A similar catamaran of the same size can run a thousand dollars or more per week. New yacht, good weekly pricing, and a unique style in the mooring field make chartering this yacht an easy decision.
Recommended or Chosen Charter Yacht
Windscape was chosen by Charter Advisors. We had the opportunity to see this yacht being finished out at the end of last year. Seeing the thought and attention that went into the outfitting of this particular Orana 44 only added to our curiosity. When she finally came available for charter at the beginning of this year, we lined right up. Especially after we saw her weekly charter rate. Nothing like a brand spanking new charter yacht priced below other older Catamarans of her size (42-feet). It almost felt unfair!
Windscape is an owner's version. She has the usual two cabins to port and a huge owner's cabin taking up the entire starboard hull. Complete with full size shower, electric heads (push button flushing!), and an artful high-end head sink sitting on the counter top.
This time around provisioning was kept to a minimum. We ordered only heavy items (anything we didn't want to carry), staples we knew we would need and nice cuts of steaks we would have a hard time finding otherwise. Provisioning was provided by Ample Hamper and ordered though their website, AmpleHamper.com.
We were late! A full day late! From time to time, we all get a curve-ball heading out of town. That's how this review trip started. Flying directly to San Juan a day later than we had planned put us in a tough spot. We had another group flying out to meet us aboard, and they were on time! The tough part was that the "on-time" crew was new to chartering, joining us to share their first time chartering perspectives. In other words, they had a charter yacht all right, but no captain to take the helm.
Horizon Yacht Charter's customer service bailed us out. Thank goodness! Our cruising guests were picked up by Shampoo (the taxi driver, not the hair product) at the airport, guided to Windscape, where they settled in for their night aboard. Horizon also assigned one of their captains to our Orana 44 for the first day, took our guests on an island tour, and met the Charter Advisors crew in Trellis Bay, right next to the airport the following day. We only had to walk down a short path from the airport to Trellis Bay, where Windscape lay at anchor awaiting us. Now that's customer service! Talk about a short airport transfer!
Arrival at Base
Well... we didn't exactly arrive at the charter base this time around. Our guests sure did love their first look at Nanny Cay. Somewhat confirming we're not nuts for liking the place so much. We got our first look at Windscape when we arrived in Trellis Bay. Even before we boarded it was clear from the beach that the 2010 Fountaine Pajot, Orana 44 is a sleek, flowing yacht. Her lines are sleek and her hard top bimini flowed without interruption from hulls to the coach roof. The large cockpit, completely covered by a curving hardtop bimini, provided more than enough shade from the intense Caribbean sun, and kept everything dry when it rained.
Our guests picked us up with Windscape's 12 foot dinghy. We loaded in our bags in and we were off for a closer inspection.
Overnight or Sleep Aboard Night
The half of our crew that made it for the sleep aboard night became immediately impressed with the size, space, and overall design of the Fountaine Pajot Orana 44. They settled into the two large cabins in the port hull. Plugged into shore power, the saloon and cabins were well chilled by individual "room" A/C systems. Every surface was clean enough to eat off of (we didn't exactly test that one). Our "new to chartering" guests were nearly overwhelmed by the Orana 44's size and interior space. Having never been aboard a charter catamaran, to them, she was a giant. The fact that Windscape was "theirs" for the next week only added to their excitement. A new yacht and new experience combined with the calm, quiet dock in Nanny Cay made for a very exciting and restful first night aboard.
Provisions were ordered online though Ample Hamper (www.amplehamper.com). Our crew arrived thirty minutes after the provisions were delivered. Because they missed the delivery folks, no provisions were delivered. It appeared they were more on island time than the folks from Ample Hamper. Our provisions arrived the following morning. The crew was annoyed at the lack of provisions that evening. To avoid these situations, verify your charter company has contacted your provisioning market. Ask if you need to be present when the provisions are delivered. If you do, schedule delivery for at least 30 min. later than you expect to arrive. Minimum. We regularly arrive at 11 p.m. the night before the charter. When we do, we arrive to a boat filled with provisions waiting for us, stowed nicely. Because we were arriving in the early evening, we didn't expect there to be any delivery issues. We should have followed our normal plan and checked before hand.
Morning Of the Charter
Chart Briefing and Check In
Our chart briefing and check-in had to be handled a bit differently this time. As we mentioned, the bulk of the review crew arrived a day into the charter. We were wondering ourselves how Horizon Yacht Charters would handle this. We weren't worried... more curious. Horizon took it all in stride. When we arrived on board the following morning, Kris, the skipper assigned by Horizon for the day was there. He was prepared with all the paperwork and took us though our chart briefing, right there on board. Now that's flexibility! This is definitely not the normal routine. Horizon Yacht Charters showed us a new side of customer service we hope to never need again. But it is great to know, if we ever get into an "airline time-crunch" again, our charter holiday is safe. The best part was the focus on the customer. Our guests had no time aboard sailing yachts (power, yes, sailing, no), Horizon's solution kept them from "losing" a charter day, and got them on the water on schedule (even though we were not... yet).
Yacht Check-out Checklist
Our guests had the honor of covering the check-out checklist this time. And boy did they have fun with it. Really... they had a blast! They located each and every item onboard before Kris was ready to set out. During the checklist walk around, they identified a couple of scratches here and there, and discovered one standard piece of equipment missing, the boat hook, and a couple of extra items we ordered extra. Two single kayaks. It took a whopping five minutes for the boat hook and kayaks to appear on deck after Horizon was notified.
The following day, the Charter Advisors crew went though the same checklist with Kris, located all items they had gone though the previous day. Except for one. The emergency tiller. With a little help we found both the emergency tiller and the connection point (inside the port engine room).
For more on how the Fountaine Pajot Orana 44, Windscape specifically performed during our review, please see Yacht Review #5.
Video - Tour The Fountaine Pajot Orana, Windscape
Click to see Windscape - Fountaine Pajot Orana 44's yacht review.
Yacht, Mechanical, and Safety Briefings
Our guests received a safety briefing the morning of the charter. Locating all safety items, life jackets, etc. They were also briefed on mechanical basic including bilge pumps, engines, generator, location of the filler caps (fuel and water), and checking fuel and water levels. The majority of the mechanical briefing was given when the full crew arrived the second day. Kris did a fine job getting us up to speed with the particulars of the new Orana 44 and her custom features. We had just previously chartered a Fountaine Pajot Bahia 46. This was passed on to Kris by the Horizon Yacht Charters team. He tailored our briefing to our knowledge level and double-checked any items that he felt were different or new from our previous charter yacht. Special attention was paid to the push button starting engines (no keys!), generator, breakers, instruments, and the proper use of the sail plan (Reef number one, 18 knots apparent wind). Kris also demonstrated a great use of the anchor box cleat. Running a length of dock line from the cleat over the bow roller, creating a centerline mooring set up for a catamaran. Very nice. In addition to keeping the swing factor to a minimum, it let us use our usual bow cleats for a safety line (without having to double lines up on the cleat). We love these simple solutions. Glad Kris took extra time with us, sharing a few of his tricks! Nicely done! Learn something new every time.
Leaving the Docks
Back on day one. The day we ALL were supposed to be there... Kris from Horizon Yacht Charters took command of Windscape of our chartered Fountaine Pajot Orana 44. He slipped the lines and took our guests on an island tour. Sailing back and forth across the Sir Francis Drake Channel, demonstrating, hands-on, how Windscape can be, and should be sailed. Our guests got a first hand look and what a slippery, light catamaran can do. After an overnight at Cooper Island, we all finally met up in Trellis Bay the next morning.
With all her features and amenities, here's the experience she provided us.
Day 1. The first day, a lively sail across the Sir Francis Drake Channel. Visiting the Indians and Copper Island for the evening.
Day 2. A short sail to Trellis Bay, lunch and a quick dip. Discovered lots of Starfish all over the seafloor in the mooring field. Charter Advisor's crew arrived today. We dropped off Kris from Horizon Yacht Charters and made a quick lunch onboard. From Trellis bay, we headed out though the Cameo pass into the lee of Guana Island. Passing Monkey point to starboard, we pointed the bow at Jost Van Dyke. We picked up a mooring at a very special place between big and little Jost Van Dyke, A.K.A. Diamond Cay. Heaven on earth.
The crew was off Windscape within 20 min's and on the secrete path to the "Garden of Eden" (The Bubbly pool). Calm seas equal no bubbles. We all spent the remainder of the afternoon floating in crystal clear, water, looking up the towering rock-faces surrounding us. Alone in the universe, in paradise, with our loved ones and great friends. Then the No-See-Um's came out to play. Time to hike back. Grilling on the mooring (try the new Match Light charcoal, it really is one match stuff), and a sunset that can't be described in words.
Day 3. Pancake breakfast in the cool A/C of the saloon (even with the stove top on) and it was off to Marina Cay via Monkey Point. Trellis Bay and Marina Cay are both situated right smack in the middle of the island chain making them awesome jumping off points for anywhere in the BVIs. We had 4 to 6 knot breeze and falling, Sails down, motor on, and we were at Monkey Point before lunch. Snorkeling, kayaking, and swimming. Lunch on the mooring was followed by more swimming and snorkeling. Monkey point is a must on any British Virgin Islands charter. That's our advice anyway! We took extra time at Monkey point, knowing we'd have a quick motor to our evening mooring at Marina Cay.
Engines on and off to Marina cay in flat seas. The wind gauge was reading between 1 and -4 knots. Not too sure about that "minus," but needless to say, there was no wind. Marina Cay is another cruising "must" with the "best" Pussers on the planet, and a friendly atmosphere. We picked up a few chartering necessities, food and snacks mostly (but they also have fuel, water, ice, etc.). Marina Cay is under new ownership. We met with the owners today. They gave us a bit of an exclusive. Marina Cay is undergoing a complete refresh during the 2010 off-season. Yes, planned even before Hurricane Earl.
The evening was spent on the beach sipping sundowners and munching on huge baskets of french fries with the kids, followed by a oversized, mouthwatering dinner at Pussers. A pure chartering BVIs day. The resort folks have no idea what they are missing!
Day 4. Jumping off early from Marina Cay, we headed to the Baths to baptize our new to the BVIs guests. Wandering through the massive boulders and clear pools of water is magical, even after many trips here. It never loses its mystical nature.
The crew spent the day hiking and snorkeling though the giant boulders, playing in the powdery soft sands, and cooling off in the shaded waters of the Baths. When everyone was done, we enjoyed a "down-home, yacht cooked" lunch on the "ball." After we headed out to the North Sound on Virgin Gorda in the calmest seas we've ever seen. Ever. Pond flat with zero wind. We effortlessly motored at 8+ knots. Easy motoring. Windscape seemed to have no motion while underway. If we didn't look ashore or at our wake, it was hard to tell we were moving. It was surreal.
We arrived at the Bitter End Yacht Club in record time, and moored up in a light shower lingering over the mountaintop. Being that there was no wind, the light shower sat right over us for an hour or so. It was AWESOME! Cool misty rain on a hot day! We all enjoyed a fresh water rinse. As did Windscape. We were all treated to a show by a couple of sting rays who took turns jumping into the air a few feet off our starboard bow. Too cool. We had no qualms picking up the ol' scrub brush and giving our charter Fountaine Pajot Orana 44 a once over. Anything to spend more time in that wonderful rain! When the rain moved out, we spent the rest of the day sipping sundowners at Bitter End's picturesque beach before heading back for burgers on Windscape's grill. Another awesome day.
Video - Dinghy Ashore to the Bitter End yacht Club
Day 5 and 6. Watersports days! Still no wind anyway. Each day, we gathered the crew for a big breakfast in our chilly saloon and agreed on our day's plans. First we headed off by dinghy to Prickly Pear Island. Our hidden beach awaited! Beaching the 12-foot dinghy provided by Horizon Yacht Charters was simple. After gliding in with the motor tilted up, we ran the anchor up to a tree ashore. We spent the afternoon exploring, swimming, and snorkeling. We found some very large shells including a whole bunch of live conch. we could have a conch meal fit for kings if anyone of us knew how to cook these things. Lucky, lucky conch! Catch and release was the order of the day. After returning to Windscape and cleaned up, we headed to Saba Rock for an early dinner. We highly recommend the fish tacos and the ranch burger. Awesome stuff. Love walking though the gift shop. Gold, sliver, and antiques from wrecked ships line the store. Some on display, others for sale! Back onboard, we made the most of the trampoline and watched the sunset behind Mosquito Island (Sir. Richard Branson's latest addition to his fleet of landmasses). The following day was a day for the two youngsters on board. We all headed ashore and enjoyed the beaches of the Bitter End Yacht club (and maybe a few frozen adult beverages too). Aboard our Orana 44 we grilled up some of the meanest burgers we've had in a long time.
Day 7. We bid farewell to the North Sound as we exited the channel. Prickly pair on our Starboard and Mosquito to Port. The wind was teasing us a bit more today, but not enough. Sails up, 1 knot SOG (Speed Over Ground) registered on the GPS. The motors were revved up once again. We motored the rest of the way to Norman Island and Willy T's for lunch. Willy T's is one of those stops that just has to be "checked" off any one's BVIs list. Our new guests thought it was a pretty cool way to stop off and get lunch. A post lunch swim and snorkel in the aquarium known as the caves and it was time to set off for Nanny Cay and the Horizon Yacht Charter's base. With flights leaving early the following day, we pulled in, filled our tanks, and spent the last night at the dock, plugged into shore power, and eating takeout pizza! Oh yes, you can order pizza to your yacht. Oh yes!
Day 8. A clean yacht and packed bags mean only one thing. Time to head back to reality. "Shampoo" (the taxi driver, not the hair product) picked us up, and had us to the airport in 30 min. or so. From there, the real world set in as American Airlines searched for new excuses for the same old issues. They should make a movie called, "Dude, where's my plane." Once we leave the "civilized world" and set sail, coming back is the hardest part.
Noteworthy While Underway
The weather was gorgeous when we arrived! Beautiful skies, warm water, and a nice 12 to 18-knot breeze. At least that's how things started out. By day three, the beautiful weather was still with us, but the wind was done. Watching the weather, we were expecting a slight drop in wind. What we got was less than a zephyr. We arrived just after a tropical low passed through, leaving high pressure in place over the Virgin Islands. High pressure means nice, rain free weather. In our case it also meant very little wind. At least four days of our trip were spent motoring (at least). There was just no other option. We wished for more sailing time, but when the wind gods turn off the breeze, there's not much you can do about it except know that it's all part of the adventure! The sea was settled and took on the appearance of a reflecting pool. The Sir Francis Drake Channel was glassy smooth. It was such a smooth ride that it gave our Charter Advisors Captain the creeps. No, nothing was wrong. There were just no sails to trim, no rolling waves to watch, and no wind dictating our path. It was just one of those... "it's calm... too calm..." moments. This is a good point for a quick Charter Advisors note: Captains are constantly occupied with something, when there is little to watch, they can go slightly crazy... just an FYI. Our Charter Advisors Captain got over the smooth ride, relaxed, and enjoyed the rare opportunity for all it was worth! (A future Mayday Crew story for sure!) Gliding along with the twin engines churning away, we kicked back, set the auto pilot and relaxed in the quiet comfort of the trampoline, and enjoyed smooth sailing (err, motoring). Our reward for embracing the calm sea? A pod of dolphins. We looked down and there they were swimming right under us. In the Sir Francis Drake Channel no less. A first for us in the channel. When we do get a visit from these playful little guys it's on the Atlantic side of Tortola. We've got to give our thanks to the wind gods! Had we been working lines, trimming sails, bashing to windward, we might have never seen them.
Space, Lots of Space
They sure do create a lot of space in 44 feet of catamaran. Windscape is one of Fountaine Pajot's Owners versions. It's been customized by the owner and is definitely a notch up from most charter yachts of the same brand, type and size. Her finish out is tasteful and generally exceeds what we've come to expect for charter catamarans of the same size and price range.
Interior. Our chartered Orana has an owner's cabin taking up the entire starboard hull, complete with ensuite head, custom sink, and full stand up shower. Windscape has an added bonus, all heads are electric! Say goodbye to pumping! The port hull has an aft and forward cabin finished out with equal care. Both hulls have a forepeak berth for a bit of extra space for the kiddos or storage. Every bed (except the peaks of course) is queen sized and lean to the firm side. Comfy, but firm.
Saloon. The saloon is light and spacious and outfitted with everything anyone might need. There is no lack of space here either. The settee and saloon table can seat six around the bench seat and two more can be seated in facing folding chairs (nice folding chairs). The saloon shares space with the long "L" shaped galley, but neither intruded on the space of the other when the galley was in use.
Lots of gear stowage. Don't worry about packing too much. You?ll have a harder time getting the bags on the plane than on the boat.
Creative Stowage. Our chartered Orana 44 had gobs of space for gear, clothes, and the like. But we had to get a bit creative with our provision stowage. Either we bought too much or there is a disproportionate amount of stowage space in the galley (not counting the twin fridges, they were awesome!). We also noticed a lack of under-seat and "compartment" stowage out in the cockpit area.
On Deck. There is outdoor seating a plenty. The cockpit is easily accessed from the transom steps without having to step over or on the seats thanks to a small walkway running along the aft deck. Put it this way... Six adults can kick back around the table, with two more on the bench, and two more lounging on the sun-beds at "Sundowner-thirty" with elbowroom to spare. And that's not including the helm seat "built for two." The helm seat (with a full backrest no less), can seat two (or one adult and two kids!). Like most cats, there is no lack of space on the foredeck. A wide uninterrupted trampoline, bow seats, and lots of room to lounge on deck. We also discovered, at anchor the hard bimini top becomes the ultimate sun deck!
Maybe it was the time of year. Maybe the odd, calm weather, maybe we just looked at the right times in the right places. This trip we got an up close look at a wide array of sea life. We saw things we hadn't seen in a decade of BVIs sailing. Just goes to prove, it's never the same experience twice.
First it was a mammoth size starfish. Finding a big bright red starfish may not be all that unique, but it's where we found it that surprised us. Trellis Bay of all places. Right at on the bottom, directly under our swim ladder. An unexpected find just off shore from the Last Resort.
Then there was the amora. A fish that looks a whole heck of a lot like a shark. We've seen these things trip after trip, but never really knew what the heck they were. Luckily for us, one of our guests knew. An amora is a kind of suckerfish. They attach to other larger fish, sharks, and whales. To us, they look like a smallish oddball sharks with gills on top of their heads. That was the give away apparently. The "gills" are actually suckers. They must suck on to some big fish! The entire top of their heads are covered with these "suckers." The amora we saw ranged in size from 3 to 8 feet. And they do look like sharks. We run into our "sharky friends" (name given by a 4 year old member of our crew), every time we moor up at Jost Van Dyke near the Bubbly Pool. Four, five, six at a time. They love bread, but prefer macaroni and cheese. If you find yourself over there, moored up, toss some bread in the water off the stern... see what happens next!
The next visit from the depths came in the form of a single dolphin. We've had the good fortune to have dolphins playing in our bow wave on the Atlantic side of Tortola before. Usually they're a good distance off shore. This time we were in the Sir Francis Drake Channel, motoring though the calmest waters we'd ever seen. Though gin clear water, we saw a single dolphin swim up under the trampoline, take a good look at the crew, and give them a wave before he swam off. Probably in search of a more speedy vessel! Was it the flat water that brought them out looking for fun or was it a good omen of good days to come? We had no idea. But one things is for sure... it's a good day when the dolphins (or dolphin in our case) come out to play!
Then there was Bitter End. Bitter End Yacht Club that is. We had just moored up in a misting rain. As soon as all the lines and boat hook were stowed, the rain cleared. Standing on deck we could see two stingrays playing between our boat and a neighboring Lagoon 440 from The Catamaran Company. Suddenly, one of the stingrays jumped 12 to 15 feet into the air! Flapping its "wings" and everything. We were looking right at it when it jumped too! None of us had ever seen anything like that before (except maybe on You Tube). As we watched the pair play, and standing back from the rail a little further, one of them jumped again! This time all the surrounding boats caught a good look at it. It sounded like the Fourth of July! JUMP!... "Oooo!" SPLASH!... "Ahhhhhh!"
Later that night, well past bedtime we found ourselves doing a bit of clean up. Rinsing our sandy hands in the water off the stern of the yacht, bioluminescent light, created a glowing white-green trail of light off our fingers. It was way brighter than we'd ever seen it. Perhaps the calm water had something to do with it.
We grabbed an ore out of the dingy, stuck it in deep behind Windscapes starboard hull, and pulled it though the water. It lit up like a "light-Saber," dragging a long thick ribbon of bioluminescent light in its wake. We had soo much fun lighting up the water, we nearly rowed the yacht in a circle around the mooring ball. It was time to paddle the other way! The next time you moor up in the Virgin Islands, head out just after cruiser midnight (9:30 p.m.) Check the water with a quick swish. You might get lucky and get a light show of your own.
Motoring and Covering a lot of water
Our calm weather combined with two potent engines let us stretch our daily runs a bit further than we might normally under sail. With no wind to speak of and 8 knots of boat speed at three quarter throttle, one day we headed from the North Sound of Virgin Gorda to Norman Island, for lunch! The kicker is that we arrived early! Ol' Willy T's hadn't even opened yet. That's the stuff of powerboats. We're not normally making beelines in effortless water or trying to cover great distances in such a short amount of time. But the calms that settled in over us this trip let us really test the motoring abilities of a modern Catamaran. Even if it wasn't the plan!
Being that we were having to constantly motor a sailboat we seized the opportunity to do a "max gas" test. From day two on, we went for broke. How much could we burn through if we ran the engine more than might be considered normal (which was easy to do with our wind situation) at cruising speeds? How about if we ran the generator as often as we could? As soon as we pulled in to our mooring, we shut the engines down, cranked up the genset and started blasting the A/C. We ran it all night every night and most days when we were "parked."
We used every amenity to its fullest. The end result? We were left with a quarter tank of fuel at the end of a week of serious fossil fuel burning. If you've ever wondered if your going to run out of fuel during a weeks charter, wonder no more.
Fun On The Water
The Fountaine Pajot Orana 44 is one of those "just right" sized charter boats. Size and space definitely play into the "fun factor." It's no fun tripping over people or squeezing past sweaty relatives. Fun is elbowroom, space to stretch out, room to find your own space and forget the world around. Likewise, the Fountaine Pajot Orana 44 is not over-sized and bloated either. Windscape has elbowroom space while keeping her overall size very manageable for the Captain and crew.
Once to the mooring, Windscape became our "mother ship." She's an ideal platform for launching the dinghy, kayaks, and eager snorkelers. Beyond the dinghy dock, our dinghy saw action on the beaches of Prickly Pear Island, Sandy Cay, the caves, and other various short hops near the mooring fields. A dinghy is soo much more than a boat to dock ferry.
The two single kayaks were trip add-ons, but well worth them. Anytime we wanted to go ashore where they don't allow dinghies on the beach, we take a kayak. We to explored the caves at Monkey Point. And transported little ones to the baths in them. Handy little buggers those kayaks were.
The Catamaran by itself is a perfect swim platform. Steps at the stern lead you directly to the cooling water, the trampoline begs to be jumped off of, the "tunnel" is like having shade over the water you can take with you (yes, we even hang out under the boat). Windscape seems to have been designed not to just get you to where you want to go, but also enhance the experience underway and when you arrive.
Families sailing together are a common sight. We put the family sailing concept though its paces on this review with two families and two kids ages 4-6. What we noticed right away was a high level of safety aboard for the kiddos. The cockpit with its high seat-back kept the kids corralled. Handholds are all where adults and kids can reach them, and the motion of the Orana was so smooth that the kids hardly noticed when we were underway (ok, the calm seas helped with that one too). Being on generator as much as we were afforded kiddos extra comfort in air-conditioned bliss. And some extra parental bliss. Comfy kids go to sleep quickly and early. The genset also came in very handy for charging all those electronic games and i-gadget things that trail most children starting at 2 these days. Ok... and maybe even a few of us in our late 30's and early 40's.
When families come together in smaller spaces, worry can set in. Will the kids get along? How will the little guy do on the ocean the first time? Will they get bored? Don't let these worries creep in. The world afloat is so different from what kids are used to at home, they are infinitely occupied. Nearly every experience you share with them is one they will learn from. These are lessons that can't be learned anywhere else. Kids adapt to the sea much more easily than adults. Only once have we seen a seasick kid. And we suspect he may have boarded that way! Your family trip will go far more smoothly than you might expect. Especially if the people you're sailing with are like-minded. The kids on this review kept each other plenty occupied for a good majority of the trip. But when they needed their own space, Windscape had plenty of room for them to spread out and do their own thing.
One last note about family sailing. One of the little things that our Charter Advisors Captain and his daughter really enjoyed... the large, full backed helm seat. It was big enough for them to sit at the wheel together, sharing the experience, first hand.
More times than not, by mid trip the little ones are lending their hands, tidying lines, swabbing the deck, taking turns with the adults at the helm, and practicing knots. We saw a 4 year-old sit down with a chart and attempt to plot a route, while fidgeting with a figure eight tied in a bowline. Kids get into this stuff. And when the kids are happy, everyone's happy!
Galley... and Yes! A Saltwater Faucet!
The galley on the Orana 44 is situated on the starboard side of the saloon, facing aft, looking over the cockpit area. It's an L shaped set up spreading everything out, getting the most out of the space. A built in front-opening fridge is just forward of the starboard companionway, and it's wood covered to blend in with the decor. If you didn't know there was a fridge there all you'd see is a chrome handle. Moving just aft of the companionway, the "proper" galley area begins. Four-burner stovetop / oven with an overhead stowage cabinet. The next leg of the "L" is taken up by a counter-top with double sink and more stowage under. To add to the galley goodness, we found our favorite galley item... a saltwater faucet! We last encountered one of these on Touch Of Grey, another Fountaine Pajot Catamaran.
We happily turned the knob at the base of the faucet, changing from fresh water to saltwater and nothing happened. We wondered if this little knob was actually a working item (or worse, what if it was something other than the saltwater facet!). A quick look around the breaker control panel and we had our answer. The saltwater pump wasn't turned on. A press of one switch and our saltwater faucet came to life! These little things make life aboard just that much more simple. No rinsing dishes off the stern. No wasting fresh water on dirty dishes. We had free flowing saltwater for all our clean up needs! Something as small as a faucet you can leave running is a real luxury aboard a sailboat. Try it... you'll like it!
Cabins, Beds and Bunks
Our 44-foot Orana, Windscape, is set up for ultimate comfort. Each cabin has its own A/C control, 110 volt outlet, a queen size bed and tons of stowage space in hanging lockers, shelves, cubbies, and drawers. Overhead cabin lighting and halogen and reading lamps are also provided.
A quick note about any halogen reading lamps: keep halogens within reach of children turned off. Halogen bulbs get hot. One of the youngsters onboard got a nasty little burn on her arm after bumping into one of the reading lights that had been left on for a period of time.
The cabins are bright and airy. Lots of headroom and space to move around. The two cabins to Port are equally outfitted with private ensuite heads and showers. The Starboard cabin takes over the entire starboard hull. The bed is situated aft with steps leading up to the elevated bed. A desk and bedside shelves shares the space aft. A long hallway leads from the bedroom to the head all the way forward. The hallway is flanked on one side by hanging lockers and a sliding privacy door covering the companionway on the other. Continuing forward, the owner's head has an artistic, above the counter "bowl style" sink at the vanity. There are design touches throughout that make it feel as if IKEA had a hand in the interior design. A full size stand up shower with frosted double folding doors and electric head round out the owner's suite.
Both hulls have forepeak crew bunks. These spaces have a single bunk and are not finished out like the rest of the yacht. We used the forepeaks for stowage this time, but we've had pre-teens aboard in the past (see charter Review; Bahia 46, Touch of Grey for more on this). We definitely recommend these spaces for the pre-teen to teen set (9 -15 or so). In our experience, these kids loved having their own "Cave!"
Access to the Port forepeak is though the deck hatch or though a bulkhead door at the front of the forward cabin. The Starboard forepeak is also deck hatch accessible, but the interior door is inside the owners cabin shower stall, about 3 feet above the shower floor. This side would be a bit more difficult to access from the inside.
The three-cabin layout works very well on Windscape. Every cabin shares the same basic amenities, though the owner's cabin spreads these out over a bit more real estate. The crew enjoyed the cabin amenities to their fullest and slept in complete comfort, ready for the next day.
Electric heads in every head. Now that's luxury! No pumping 20 times. No flipping the seacock back and forth (it's a valve lever, don't worry). Just push to fill, push to empty. That's it. Regular manual heads are what they are. They work. It's awfully nice though, trading in the pump handle for an electric push-button. If it we're are choice, they'd all have electric heads! Ok, we've gotten a bit too excited over a "toilette" here. No, we won't shy away from a charter yacht with a manual head. It's not THAT important... but who would have thought that "luxury" could include a marine head? With the wonders of the electric marine head in each and every head, the Captain can take something off his departure checklist. No more asking, "Seacock's Closed?" No need. No seacocks to close, no worries about new guests leaving the "floodgate" open. A touch of luxury and some added security. All from an electric head. Who'd have guessed?
A totally modern yacht. That's Windscape. And that includes the A/C system. Nary a chiller in site. Instead each cabin the saloon has It's own A/C compressor. The sizeable generator makes short work of the A/C power needs. We never once tripped a breaker or over worked the generator. We used our usual, "be polite" to the generator routine. Warm up the generator for 5 min. Then flip on each A/C breaker at 5 min. intervals. We're pretty confident Windcape's beefy generator could have taken much shorter intervals (like 2 min. apart), but as is usual with our Charter Advisors Captain, he likes to stick with wider than necessary margins. It keeps things running smoothly on just about any yacht we review or charter.
The Fountaine Pajot Orana 44 is a light boat. True, by car standards she's a tank, but by ocean standards, she's a lightweight. Combine light weight with high windage and you have yacht that can make some good time over the water, but can also be blown around a bit more when it comes time to moor or dock. Knowing where your wind is and using your engines is key to close quarters work on Windscape. We noticed this most when pulling back into Nanny Cay. Holding our position to let another yacht pass, we felt the wind give us a push to port. The dual engines gave us more than enough power to keep her where we wanted though. But you do have to drive her, even to stay still.
Quick Note: every yacht has a degree of windage. Windscape's windage was fairly average compared to other cats her size.
Fuel and water
Fuel. Ok... we've already established we were out on a power cruise. When we weren't motoring through a zephyr, we were running our generator and A/C. We fully expected to need a refuel before our week was up. Truth be told, we did refuel. But we didn't HAVE to. On day 5, we had run our fuel down to a 1/3 tank remaining. We had plenty. Why did we bother then? We were refilling water, might as well top everything up.
Water. As we mentioned earlier, we took on water on day five. We were down to a quarter tank and had two more days left onboard. If there were fewer people on board, we wouldn't have bothered topping off at all. But with four adults and two children, we opted to top off and let the water flow for the next couple of days. We do practice a bit of water conservation on board, just to make it go a little farther, but we're not uber tight on water use. Even with a big full size stand up shower on board, we were impressed at how freely we could use our water stores and still have it last as long as it did.
As with any charter trip, it's nearly impossible to achieve 100% perfection. Boats are boats, even if they're yachts. Besides, how boring would perfection be? It's all in the eye of the beholder anyway. Wind, weather, yacht, crew, and the unexpected all contribute to the chartering adventure. Charter perfection to us means adventure, fun, and new experiences.
Wind. We had very little. We got in what we could. For a good few days, we were a motor yacht with a mast.
Weather. The weather in general was gorgeous. In the calm air we were glad we were outfitted with A/C. The lack of wind surly took its toll on our sailing brethren with the slack breeze boosters.
Yacht. The Fountaine Pajot adapted to the calm conditions well. The days we did have wind she sailed like a champ. On the first day of the charter, the wind was up and Windscape was in her element. One of her baton cars cracked during all the fun. The cracked car was removed from the mast-side of the track (easy to do, it was cracked). Kris at Horizon let us know that we could still sail her with no problem. He also agreed to replace it quickly if we decided to go that route. After hoisting the main, sans one baton car, we could see what makes ocean going yachts so tough. They have more redundant features than you could imagine. It was like that car didn't even need to be there. We used a little bit of extra luff tension just to make sure we kept a good sail shape, but even that wasn't really "required."
The Fountaine Pajot Orana 44 is a great light wind boat. She doesn't need much to get her going! And when Windscape gets wound up, she plants her windward hull and slices though the waves. And with her shallow draft you can explore nature's little secrets without looking after a deep keel. To read more about the Windscape handling under sail (and motor!), please see the Fountain Pajot Orana 44 Yacht Review.
Video - Orana 44 - Windscape Underway
Check out the Fountaine Pajot Orana 44 Yacht Review for the full scoop on how this yacht performed.
Our return to base was as simple as ever. We spent the afternoon of our last day on the water playing at Norman Island which is a short reach across the channel from Nanny Cay. With early flights the next morning, we opted to bring the yacht in the evening before our last charter day and spend the night plugged into shore power at the dock. It really simplifies things, especially when you have an early departure the next day like we did.
On our way back to the base, we called in to the Horizon Yacht Charters when we hard our Orana 44 within sight of the Nanny Cay channel markers. Milton came out to meet us and piloted the yacht into the fuel dock and slip for the evening. After filling our tanks, Milton did his usual slick job, sliding Windscape though the marina, into a slip just big enough to fit this wide Fountaine Pajot and her dinghy tied alongside.
Our Chartered Fountaine Pajot Orana 44, Windscape was a very comfy yacht. Her amenities work together to keep things simple and easy. She has been outfitted very well. We found a great value in this particular Orana 44. Her owners cabin layout affords quite a bit of space and a great amount of privacy (hard to find on yachts as a general rule). She's set up well for a first time charter and her performance under sail will keep the seasoned salts very happy. Horizon Yacht Charter's Fountaine Pajot Orana 44, Windscape has amenities a plenty, power to spare, and is very comfy under sail and at the mooring. Plus she's a great value.
By The Numbers
Duration: 7 days
Horizon Yacht Charters has consistently provided great deals and wonderful customer service. This time we paid just over $4,400 for a seven-day charter, plus the sleep aboard night (thrown in for free).
Budget SummaryCrew: 6
Yacht Charter: $4,450
Fees: $493.53 (Hull damage insurance, permits, etc.)
Total Yacht Costs: $4943.53
Cost / Fee BreakdownYacht: $4,450
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: $2
Cell phone rental: $20.00
4 Swim Noodles: $20.00
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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