Yachts We Have Reviewed
Yacht Chartered: Touch Of Grey - Fountaine Pajot Bahia
Dates Reviewed: May 10th - 18th 2010
Charter Company: Horizon Yacht Charters, Fountaine Pajot, Bahia 46
Charter Location: Nanny Cay, Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Charter Size: 8 Adults, 3 Children
Yacht Type: Catamaran
Manufacturer: Fountain Pajot
Yacht Size: 46 Foot
Layout: 4 Cabin With 3 Single bunks
Pound for pound, Touch Of Grey is one of the best values we've seen to date. If you're looking for a lot of yacht for the money, we'd recommend you give this one a look.
Big, Sleek, Modern, Fast, and Affordable!
Touch Of Grey our Chartered Fountaine Pajot Bahia 46 was all those things. She absorbs a large group like a chamois in water. But not through sheer bulk. She had tapering curves. Her lines seemingly going on forever. Wrap-around saloon windows topped with a nifty curved "speedboat window" acting like a mini dodger for Captain and crew. Everything followed a flowing curving theme, down to the galley and saloon table.
She's not all looks though. Touch of Grey backs up that beauty with sleek hulls, a tall triple spreader mast, and a powerful yet easy to handle sail plan. When it was time to motor, her twin engines packed some real punch. What made all this even better was the value we found in this 2006 model.
A well-appointed affordable larger size cat in wonderful condition, that's fun and easy to sail. That's Touch of Grey in a nutshell.
Charter Advisors did our usual searches for new specials and made contact with each of the charter companies listed on the Charter Advisors site. Availability and time of the year came into play when booking for this review. May is a month when many charter companies are moving from high season rates to their "next season." Each charter company has their own timing for when rates change. Because of some of the "season" rate differences between companies, we had to naturally eliminate a few charter companies charging high season rates when we made our selections for this review. In most cases it was only a matter of a few days before all the charter companies were all back on similar season rates. It just so happened we got caught booking our trip in that seam in between seasons.
Our main criteria for this review: Find a well-kept charter yacht large enough to sleep 11 that's affordable for mortals. We found the right combo at Horizon Yacht Charters and their 2006 Fountain Pajot Bahia 46, Touch Of Grey. She did not disappoint.
Did It Live Up To Expectations?
Did she live up to our expectations? She does! And more. When we booked Touch of Grey we knew she had lots of space, but we didn't know how this translated into live-able space. We knew she had a nice chart plotter and upgraded sound system, but how do they work? We could see at the onset that this was a yacht packed with features, but how do they all work together to make the charter better?
After chartering this big Fountaine Pajot Bahia we can positively report that she is under touted. There is much more to this yacht than meets the eye. Her systems work together as seamlessly as her lines flow. True, not every option on this yacht is a "need." But the bigger the crew the more "needs" everyone has. Options are a good thing.
There is space a plenty.
The cockpit is wide, well protected and shaded.
Under sail there is plenty of room in the cockpit or on deck for the entire group.
Simple luxuries like the saltwater sink saved our fresh water and a many a trip down the stern steps at clean up time.
Individual cabin A/C controls made it easy for the crew to create a comfy environment for them.
The twin engines made maneuvering a bigger yacht an easy affair.
Powered winch and powerful sail plan made her easy to sail by as few as two.
Slick sums up Touch of Grey pretty well. She sails about as slick as she looks. At the dock, her smooth curves hint at how she slices though the water. Her wide beam gives away her stability, and her triple spreader mast tips her hat to the power her 774 square foot mainsail and 548 square feet of Genoa carry.
Out on the water the Fountaine Pajot Bahia proved she was as good as she looked at the dock. She's easy to handle under power in a tight marina or a packed mooring field and she sets her sails with a minimum of effort thanks to a powered winch. Not something easy to say about all larger charter catamarans. With the sails up, her motion is very tame, yet she darts though the water making 8 knots without trying. A muted stepping motion is about all we felt. It's a dry civilized ride. When we powered up the sails we saw speeds tick just over double digits, but the ride remained just as civil with only the occasional light spray coming off the leeward hull.
Touch of Grey jibes easy, but does take a bit of boat speed for tacking (as is the case on most cats). She points surprisingly well upwind but is not a downwind running boat. At least she wasn't when we tried in 12 knots of breeze. She's at her best running sailing angles 20 degrees off the wind or better. And best on a reach. One day, time and distance dictated we take a more direct route. Wind be dammed. It was then we noticed she makes one heck of a good motor-sailor too. With the main up, we could motor sail at 6-7 knots at half throttle. Not too shabby.
It's under sail this Fountain Pajot Bahia fell into her relaxed cruising sweet spot. This is not always an easy thing for a larger yacht to do. Touch of Grey's systems brought the effort required to sail her down to size. She's roomy, but does not handle like a tug, and made us forget we had 46 plus feet of waterline running though the water. Add all the comfort amenities to the easy sailing days and you have a big yacht you can play with and live in comfort at the mooring.
Video - Touch Of Grey Underway
Touch of Grey is a sum of her parts. This is a yacht full of amenities and features all designed to make the time aboard as comfy and fun as possible. Maybe even too many! This Bahia was outfitted beyond what we're used to seeing on a charter yacht. It was apparent that Touch of Grey's owners took pride and had some fun in making this yacht "theirs."
Horizon Yacht Charters has done a great job keeping this Fountain Pajot in good condition. No stinky heads or worn in leather (yes, leather). Every system was in top working condition, as was the safety gear and maintenance equipment. The only item aboard in need of a bit of TLC was the TV. We never could get it out of black and white mode. But then again, that could just be us. Frankly, we're glad we didn't figure this one out. Who needs TV when you have the Caribbean? If we really need extra entertainment, we'll get set up on deck for the evening "Mooring Show." Check out the Mayday Crew section for more on this guilty pleasure!
Electric Winch and Mainsail
Charter Advisors always appreciates a good electric winch! Especially for a yacht over 42 feet in size. The mainsail on our 46-foot catamaran was a big one. Raising the full baton main stowed in a stack pack was simple with the assistance of the electric two-speed winch mounted at the helm. It just might be too easy. We managed to get one of the batons caught in the lazy jack line the first time up. A quick pull with the boat hook on the line and we were off and running again. It was good to know that if we did need to lower it all the way back down, we had our powered winch "friend" to help put it back up! The easier it is to set the mainsail, the easier it is to sail. Period.
The headsail (Genoa) does not require an electric winch. It's light work and simple to tighten up with a manual winch handle.
Plotter and Gauges
Touch of Grey has ALL the equipment anyone would need for an ocean crossing (with the exception of radar and AIS). So, she has chartering "needs" covered in spades. One of the touches we love to see is an actual plotter at the helm station. True, sailing in the Virgin Islands is line of sight navigation. But, with the plotter handy, we can check our sailing angles, get instant measurements for distance and time to our next waypoint or destination and GPS speed readings. We also like to use the chart plotter in cooperation with out autopilot. Checking our "auto" heading against where the chart plotter says we're heading. We like to see how a small change in "auto" heading affects our line over the water. A change of a couple of degrees on the autopilot can mean miles of difference by the time you get to your destination. The chart plotter showed us how our small navigational adjustments effected our route instantly. We like plotters at the helm!
Touch of Grey is not lacking in the gauges department either. In addition to the large full color plotter and auto pilot she also carries, wind speed, wind direction (true and apparent), depth, speed with velocity made good (VMG), and dual tachometers. She is loaded!
Chilly in the Caribbean. That's how we felt when we first stepped aboard! Touch of Grey's A/C system like most other onboard systems is a bit more over the top. Fine by us! She's outfitted with a chiller style A/C systems with separate controls in each of the cabins and saloon. After running the chiller for the prerequisite 5 min., we'd switch on the A/C in the saloon. Working in 5 min. intervals, we switched on each of the cabin A/C units one by one. Spacing each 5 min. apart keeps the system from loading up.
Note: The 5 min. rule applies to most any yacht with a generator. Turning on systems in 5 min. intervals will keep the generator from loading up and popping a breaker.
With controls in each cabin we could turn on the "rooms" we wanted cool and not waste the cold air on an empty cabin or saloon. It's also nice to have flexibility. On a few occasions we ran the A/C for crew that "just had to have it," while the rest of us opened our hatches and enjoyed the fresh Caribbean breeze. A rare opulence aboard.
The A/C worked just as well off the generator or plugged into the quay (shore power).
Cabins and Bunks
Horizon Yacht Charters makes the cabins up so nice on arrival we almost hate to mess them up. Bunks made just so... with our towels folded into fancy origami shapes. We really hate to mess up our "towel art" especially. Touch of Grey's cabins are all in great shape and have been obviously well cared for.
Privacy is hard to come by on a charter yacht. It's a bit easier to come by on a catamaran with its two hulls and multiple separate cabins. Touch of Grey followed this theme with four cabins, each with a queen size bed, its own head, hanging locker, A/C controls, overhead hatch and side opening ports, 120v outlets, dual fans, and reading lights.
The forward port cabin has an extra access door in the forward bulkhead leading to the single forepeak bunk, with it's own overhead hatch, opening port, and fan. Hallways in each hull sport a bench seat that converts to a single birth. No fan or hatch for these. They have a low overhead, so you kind of slide sideways into them. Great for kids but long enough for a 6-foot adult. The space is smaller but the bunk is just as comfy as any on the yacht.
Here is one of those little things that make a big difference. And to date, we've not seen this listed as a feature on any charter company website. In our opinion, it really should be. Why? Because it's a simple luxury. Cleaning up the dinner dishes is a great way to burn though fresh water. We're either rinsing dishes off the back of the yacht or we're burning through our fresh water supplies. The saltwater sink brings the ocean water to the sink instead of us going to the ocean. It's an odd experience rinsing dishes with the water running full blast the whole time. A chartering luxury indeed! This little gem saved us trips back and forth rinsing dishes and it helped conserve our fresh water reserves. You might think we're nuts reading this, but once you've had one aboard, you just might miss it. Now... The Charter Advisors doesn't NEED these little luxuries... but we know what we like. Especially when we have a big group aboard dirtying a lot of dishes.
This 4-cabin Fountain Pajot Bahia has a private head in every cabin. None has to be shared as a "day-head" and all are pretty equal in size and. Each has an overhead hatch and a side opening port. They all passed the Captain's "sit-test" with knee room to spare. The sink faucets double as showerheads by extending up and clipping on the shower / head wall. The head is waterproof, so feel free and spray that shower. There's a wood shelf on the back wall, but for some reason, nothing on this shelf ever got wet. Not a drop. We're still scratching our collective heads on that one. Right next to the sink is the manual shower pump button. As is the norm with most all modern charter yachts, with a press of this button, all the water accumulated from the shower goes quickly down the drain. The actual marine head is a pump type with a seacock (lever). Everything functioned as it should with no lavatory smell. Thank goodness!
How do we describe something that defies description? How do we say bold yet soft yet edgy all at the same time? You might think we're talking about art if you didn't know we were talking about a galley. But maybe "art" or "artful" is the right way to put it. Curving triangular serving top above the sink, a large horseshoe shaped counter top with built in fridge / deep-freeze all leading your eye to the gas cook-top. A wide oval-shaped light wood "pillar" serves to house the oven and second refrigerator. All of it arranged in the shape of a "U", facing the saloon table and the forward and starboard saloon windows. During our mechanical briefing we were shown a very thoughtful and well-placed ventilation hatch right next to and slightly above the cook-top. We really appreciated this half sized hatch every time we lit the stove. It was like having a vent-a-hood.
Describing Touch of Grey's galley is a tough one... but what it provides is easy. Space for more than one cook, plenty of cold storage and countertop space, lots of dry storage, ease of clean up, and best of all, no heatstroke when you have the cook-top lit!
To help shuttle our larger group from ship to shore we added an extra dinghy to this charter. It's easy to add a second dingy anytime the yacht is outfitted with a davit. One on the lift and the other in tow. Horizon Yacht Charters only charges an extra $250 per week for a second dinghy. This is well worth it when you have 11 folks onboard. Besides, Murphy's Law says they will all want to go to shore at different times anyway. Picking up a second dinghy was very handy. Especially when one of them lost all of the air in the bow section. We were just glad it was the one up on the lift! Horizon took care of the semi-flat dingy within 30 min. of reporting it to them. Their quick response kept us on track to our planned destination that day. This proved to us that these folks really do understand what's important to their chartering customers. To know the charter company is there, and that they understand we cherish our time under sail is hugely important. We're there to enjoy our time aboard, not spend a day waiting for someone to pick up a dinghy.
Horizon, as they have for previous charters, made sure we had nighttime navigation lights for both dinghies. It's pretty clear these guys want their guests to have a safe, fun, stress free experience aboard. For the Charter Advisors, seeing how a charter company responds to the unexpected is the ultimate look into customer service. Horizon Yacht Charters continues to exceed our customer service expectations.
A European Flat
Modern, smooth, and not a right angle to be found. Fountaine Pajot has a knack for creating modern flowing interiors. It's hard to do the space justice in photos. It's something that needs to be seen to be appreciated. Spacious, plenty of storage, and made for entertaining.
We've compared yachts to hotel suits, condos, etc. In the case of Touch of Grey she's much more of a modern European flat. She's ergonomic, highly styled, warm woods, curvy, and creative. Seeing this level of thought put into the "feel" of the space can ruin preconceptions. And that's a good thing!
The Chamois Effect
Meaning, she absorbs crew! We packed every bunk on Touch of Grey. It sure didn't seem like it though. Its two hulls, separating the crew, large saloon, its expansive cockpit, and forward deck translates into lots of elbowroom and dare we say... privacy! Everyone aboard was able to spread out. Not once did we feel crammed or packed in. In fact there were times we had to go looking for people! This thing really does "absorb" well. At dinnertime, we had plenty of space around the saloon table and cockpit table. True, we did use both of them each time we all sat down to dinner together, but with the sliding glass door open, it's like the cockpit and saloon turn into one big dining room. Her layout also helped "absorb" folks when "cruiser midnight" arrived (9:00 pm). The kids onboard turned in earlier than the rest of the crew and the space afforded by this big Bahia gave the adults room to do their thing into the evening while the kiddos slept in peace.
Generator Plugs and other Creature Comforts
We recently reviewed a Monohull that was the complete opposite (technology wise) and we loved NOT having all the "Gee Whiz" tech stuff. The great thing about chartering a yacht that's "tech'd" out is that you can use the technology you want and leave the rest turned off. And in our case, we came to discover we might actually like a few of tech goodies aboard Touch of Grey on future charters. Here's what we mean. The flat-screen TV. We left it off. It was set on black and white anyway. But... we had 11 people aboard. If one of them just had to have a TV or a distraction for a while, it was there for them. Just knowing it was there was enough to calm the more tech needy aboard.
On the other end of the spectrum is the sound system. Two huge amplifiers driving two ten inch subwoofers. It's all linked though an equalizer to the iPod / iPhone / iPad friendly CD player. One word describes this set up. "BOOM!" Charter Advisors would never advocate chartering a yacht solely on sound system, but if you want to go sailing with a "system," Touch of Grey just might be the "bumping-est" charter yacht on the water. You won't be disappointed. We sure would not have even thought of putting a big "system" like this aboard a yacht. But we sure are glad someone else did! It's just plain and simple fun! At least until we started to annoy people.
With all the tech gadgetry a good size generator is awfully handy. The one installed in our Fountain Pajot Bahia was definitely up to the challenge. A remote control is installed in the saloon right next to all the common breakers. With the press of a button, the generator fires up and reports its status on the control screen. The inverter and charger control is located on the opposite side of the saloon and can be switched on after the generator has been running for at least 5 min. Our "Iron Genny" charged the batteries in about 2 hours after a day of sailing. It fired up and ran reliably every time.
Every room and cabin has its own 12v and 120v outlets. Feel free to bring your laptops, cell phone chargers, etc.
The Fountaine Pajot Bahia is a big 46-foot Catamaran. But just because it's big or just because it's a catamaran does not necessarily mean a lot of storage space. It DOES on the Bahia, Touch of Grey. One hallway hanging locker was enough to store every empty bag the crew brought with them. She has two of these hallway lockers for general storage in addition to the hanging lockers and under bunk storage in each of the four cabins. Additional storage also can be found under the saloon settee cushions and the cockpit seats. We were not lacking space to put anything, except the charcoal for the grill. The only dry outdoor storage that had space was right next to the gas tank under the cockpit seats. Putting a bag of match light charcoal right next to the diesel tank just didn't seem right. We ended up sealing it up inside a plastic bag and putting it under the saloon settee instead. Other than the charcoal, we easily found a place for everything.
Touch of Grey is a chartering technology lover's dream! We touched on this a bit earlier. She is outfitted to the teeth with the exception of radar and AIS. Not too shabby.
Here are the highlights...
Full A/C with controls in every cabin
Upgraded sound system with iPod-compatible CD player, twin amps, and two 10
Large full color chart plotter in the helm
Wind speed / direction (true and apparent)
Autopilot with magnetic and true headings
VHF radio in the nav station
Electric main winch
Fire suppression equipment
Life jackets with strobes
Life raft stowed in aft "garage"
Inverter / charger
Oversized anchor windless
Blender (ok, not high tech, but worth mentioning)
Water Tanks and Refills
Touch of Grey carries 226 gallons of fresh water between 2 tanks. There is one fill port for both tanks and no need to change tanks when one goes dry. The Bahia self-switches the tanks for you when one gets low. We can attest to the fact that she CAN carry enough water for 11 people for an entire week. We almost stopped for water on day 5, just to be safe, but we carried on without and were glad we didn't bother. We put into port with just over a quarter tank left.
Two 56 hp diesels matched to a 105-gallon tank gave us more than enough fuel for the duration of our charter, and then some. We even had two ways to burn though fuel: the generator and the twin engines. By the end of the trip we managed to eat up just under two thirds of our fuel stores (closer to a half tank). We figure we would have gone though more if we ran the A/C and generator more. By our calculations even if we ran the generator (1 liter per hour) and A/C though the night, every night, we'd still have fuel to spare.
Knowing we have more than enough is always very restful for the Captain's mind! Darn those fuel consumption formulas!
Like a Fine Bottle of French Wine
Just because Touch of Grey is a 2006 model does not mean she is "old." On the contrary, she has only just begun her voyaging life. Our chartered Fountaine Pajot Bahia seems to only have gotten better with age. Unlike the French wine, she becomes a better value, as she ages, not more expensive. All her systems and features are totally modern and up to or above the standards we expected. Electric main winch, chart plotter in the helm, autopilot, the full suite of gauges (wind direction, wind speed, VMG, depth, etc.). If you expect something to be there, it most likely will be.
Her sailing systems are easy to operate and when you head inside you'll see the interior is just as thoughtfully laid out as her sailing systems. Dual refrigerators, a massive freezer (that really does freeze), large galley, spacious saloon table, flat-screen TV, a thumping sound system (really thumping), and A/C controls in every room and cabin. We don't often find these features on a 2010 let alone a 2006 model. It just goes to show... don't let the model year flavor your selections. It's all about the "sum" of the yacht and how it fits the needs of the charter or chartering group. The value in a yacht a few years old can be sizeable.
The Group Effect
Chartering with a larger group changes things a bit. Destinations can change, everyone has their own comfort levels and abilities, and we needed a lot more of everything. Food, water, towels, flippers, swim-noodles, and a few items we don't normally require for our reviews like a hammock. Our review crew's needs plus that of our expanded crew had to be considered. Some of the "expanded crew" wanted to be part of the sailing experience, while others were content reading on the trampoline all day long. The lesson we learned here is that the size of the yacht isn't just to "absorb" the crew. It's equally as important to have space to let everyone do his or her own "thing," down to the three kids onboard ranging in age from 4 to 9 years old. Touch of Grey accommodated the needs of our diverse group with margin to spare.
Everything onboard was sized appropriate to the needs of a larger crew. Extra fridge and freezer space. Lots of dry goods storage. Enough plates and flatware for everyone. The right "bed-count" is one thing, having the ability to carry enough food and support gear for 11 people for an entire week (fresh water tanks included) is something else all together. The end result? We never needed to pull in for more food or provisions. Nor did we need to dock up to take on more fresh water. We stocked up from the beginning and had ample room to store everything we needed along with a few things we didn't (hammock).
A note for the Captain.... a larger crew also means different comfort levels under sail. It was our Captain's job to sail the yacht in a way that keeps everyone happy underway, including the most apprehensive. Again, the Fountaine Pajot had this covered too. It would be difficult to sail this yacht in a less than "comfy" way. This muted motion kept our entire crew loving life under sail, and our Captain could stay focused on the more important things, like where the heck the wind went.
Shoal Draft Let Us Get In Closer
Catamarans in general are shoal draft boats. They have long keels under each hull, but they only extend a few feet below the hull. Touch of Grey, the Fountaine Pajot Bahia had a draft right around 5 feet including the hull. The depth sounder is set up to read water depth under the keel, not total water depth. And that's a good thing. With this set up you always know how much water is under your keel. Not that you have to worry about water depth much on a cat like this. She'll float in 6 feet of water (1 foot reading on the depth sounder), not that we suggest you tempt fate with a close encounter with the bottom.
There are a few spots we like to go to play where the water gets thin. Not too thin mind you, but in a similarly sized Monohull, we'd be watching our course and depth sounder in these places. Touch of Grey's slight draft comes in real handy for close in anchoring. Sandy Cay is a good example. This is the BVIs version of "Gilligan's Island." It has no mooring balls, but a wonderful sandy bottom. Depth near shore is around 12 feet and gets shallow quickly as you approach the shoreline. Likewise, the depth increases quickly just off shore. In the Fountain Pajot Bahia we could creep in closer to shore dropping our hook in shallower water. There have been times when we've done this in a Monohull. But, as soon as we see 12-foot depth on the sounder, we drop the hook. And more than once, we've drifted too far astern as we lowered the anchor, ultimately setting the hook in 45 feet of water an extra 20 yards off shore from where we originally began dropping the hook. With this cat, we could get closer in, where the wind has less effect. Dropping in 6 to 10 feet of water put us right over the 12-foot deep water we ultimately target. And sometimes we actually manage to get the hook set in the shallower water! Putting us nice and close to one very cool, very deserted "Gilligan's Island!" Our catamaran's shallow draft paid off in these situations and kept our Captain from getting frayed nerves around the more coral studded locals (Anagada!)
We're having a hard time describing this Fountaine Pajot. Like we said about the galley, she's a combination of a whole bunch of words that seemingly fight each other. Like, sleek and big or refined and speedy. Maybe it's better if we approach it this way...
Touch of Grey is a 2006 46-foot Fountain Pajot Bahia. Each model offered by Fountain Pajot carries a specific name to indicate its size. We'd list them here except for one thing. The 2006 model year has different names than their stable of yachts for 2010. It would only serve to confuse everyone.
Touch of Grey is not a blocky boat. Her lines have been shaved and shaped, smoothing out every angle. She looks "organic." Like she grew naturally into her shape rather than being pieced together part by part. Every piece seems to be a continuation of the same line, creating a flowing look that carry's from the bows all the way though the interior. Her looks make her a unique stand out that hides the fact that her forward-looking design is really a post-modern exercise in space and sailing efficiency.
Touch of Grey is one of the best values we've seen in a long time, especially for larger groups. If you ever wanted to charter with a few friends or a couple of families, this is one worth a good hard look. Seasonal rates do change, but when compared with other similar type / size charter yachts, this Bahia will be hard to beat. We recommend Touch of Grey for groups of 6 or more. Her value, size, set up, and features really shine with the more you put aboard.
For more information about the charter experience aboard Touch Of Grey, check out Charter Review #4.
- Charter Review: The Moorings 5800 Ocean Suite by Captain Kev
- Charter Review: VOYAGE Charters, VOYAGE 520 Silver Lining by Capt. Kev
Address: Charter Advisors
381 Casa Linda Plaza #367
Dallas, TX 75218
Toll Free: 800.GOCHRTR (4624787)