Yachts We Have Reviewed
Yacht Chartered: Windscape - Fountaine Pajot Orana 44
Dates Reviewed: Aug. 1 - Aug 8, 2010
Charter Company: Horizon Yacht Charters, Fountaine Pajot Orana 44 - Windscape
Charter Location: Nanny Cay, Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Charter Size: Two Families - Four Adults - Two Children
Yacht Type: Catamaran
Manufacturer: Fountaine Pajot
Make: Orana 44
Yacht Size: 42 Foot
Layout: Owners Version - Three Cabin - Three Head
This brand new Fountaine Pajot Orana from Horizon Yacht Charters is well suited for first timers and well salted charters alike. Windscape is a three-cabin owner's version, an especially good set up for two families. The entire yacht is clean, crisp, and easy to operate. Windscape is straight forward, spacious, and comfy. About as close as you can get to point, click, and go on a yacht. The only hard decision will be who gets the owner's suite!
Smooth, French, and Oh So Easy [to use, look at, and afford]!
Windscape is a brand new 2010 Fountaine Pajot Orana 44. All 42 feet of her. She carries on the forward looking design found in all Fountiane Pajots, with a slightly tamed down euro sleekness when compared to her older siblings. Take the 2006 Fountaine Pajot Bahia for example. You can see the resemblance clearly, but the new Orana flattens the hull curves a bit more, flattens out the bow and underside of the bridge deck, and leaves the oval stern sections out of the equation all together. In other words... she's a great example of refined, evolved design.
As the saying goes, looks are only skin deep. And that's true here too. Function and form must go hand in hand. In the case of Windscape, her beauty does carry through to all her systems and amenities. She is a study in simplified sailing technology with a "no amenity left behind" attitude all wrapped up in an attractive and slick Euro-design.
Last year, while reviewing another yacht, we caught a glimpse of a new looking Fountaine Pajot sitting on blocks on the hard. After talking with the folks at Horizon Yacht Charters, we learned this was a new yacht being introduced to their fleet. They were finishing up the final make-ready touches in the yard before launching her officially for charter. It was our first opportunity to get a look at the yet to be released 2010 Orana!
We were given a short tour of the 2010 Fountaine Pajot Orana 44 by Horizon Yacht Charters while their crew worked on the interior upgrades. The entire Charter Advisors crew unanimously agreed, this was a yacht we wanted to review. Horizon agreed, but we'd have to wait for the owners to take her out first. Guess they get first dibs? Shucks! We were very impressed with what we saw on our tour. But, soon the conversation turned to cost, wondering what this beauty would charter for. A quick search on the ol' iPhone turned up the answer. She charters for less than a similar size four year old catamaran! It's not often that we find a real value in a brand new yacht, especially one as nice as the Orana 44.
Did It Live Up To Expectations?
We walked into this review thinking Windscape would be similar to previous Fountaine Pajots we've chartered. We were wrong. The Orana looks like she's following new design and layout standards. We expect to see these new themes replicated throughout their line for years to come. The 2010 model line departs from some of the constant technology of the past 5 to 10 years, updating while refreshing its styling in true Fountaine Pajot form.
The new Orana's upgrades and amenities did take some getting used to. But every system did its job with ease and simplified effort. The biggest thing we had to get used to? No engine keys! Not exactly a deal breaker. < /p>
What's so different?
Charger and inverter are automatic. No inverter or charger panel. None needed.
Each cabin has its own A/C system, with its own compressor. No chiller needed.
Push button engine starting. No keys required.
Full cockpit-covering hard-top bimini. The most shade and the most protection from the elements we've ever seen on a charter yacht of this size.
Electric heads. No more pumping!
We were also glad to see a few of our personal favorite amenities on board. An electric winch for the mainsail for example. Did Horizon Yacht Charter's new Orana 44 meet our expectations? Nope. She created a whole new set.
We put all 110 sq meters in her sail plan to work in wide wind conditions. We began with 18 to 25 knots out of the east. By day two the wind was dropping to 10 to 15 knots. By day three the wind machine had turned off. Even in light air, we constantly managed at least half the wind speed, with "eyeball-trimmed" sails. It turned out that the 9 knot max speeds we made under sail on those early days would only serve to tease us as to her full sailing potential for the rest of the trip.
We had plenty of time during the windless afternoons later in our trip to reflect on the wonderful sailing we had in our first couple of days. We recalled how easy it was to set the Orana 44's full baton main and roller furling genoa. How the main went up in mere seconds with the powered winch and how the brand new roller furler let out the genoa like it was gliding on ice.
Standing at the helm its apparent that Windscape is set up to be sailed shorthanded or by a couple. Everything we needed to set sail, tack, jibe, trim, or navigate was right in front of us. Chart plotter was on the left and the engine panel directly below. Otto (auto helm) is on the right, with the wheel in the middle (where else?). Main and Genoa winches are right where they need to be and all within reach of the Captain while at the wheel.
She tacks well, but at her best when each sail is handled one by one (rather than having your crew working both sails at the same time). If she had a cruising jib instead of a genoa, we'd encourage back-winding. But even without the extra push a back-winded jib would provide though the irons (heading the wind), she came around each time smoothly and predictably.
Windscape sails best between 25 and 35 degrees apparent, upwind. We have sailed cats closer to the wind than this, but in significantly higher winds. From what we experienced, the Fountaine Pajot Orana is on par with her charter catamaran peers. Her light weight gave us a good turn of speed and made sailing in lighter winds possible. To be blunt, not a yacht under sail could pass Windscape!
We found the Orana most comfy reaching (upwind) or broad reaching (downwind). In a fresher breeze we're sure Windscape has more than a few tricks up her sleeve.
It can be just as gratifying sailing her by hand or by auto helm. We found our groove easily. When we were ready to tack, all we had to do was "click" auto-tack on the auto helm and Windscape would tack herself putting us on the reciprocal tack. The only thing we had to do was change over the genoa, and trim the main. If this isn't push button sailing, we don't know what is!
The gentle and level ride afforded by the updated hull design on the new Orana was very much appreciated by our guests, namely a family of three who had never sailed on the ocean before. The true test of comfort and motion? Take guests new to sailing AND new to the ocean, then see how THEY feel when they get out there. Ok... maybe less of a test and more of an experiment. In short, Windscape made them feel like sailors!
Video - Windscape Underway
Windscape is a wonderful yacht with many unique touches. From the artistic "bowl" style orange sink in the owners head to the "piano" opening fridge in the galley to the push button ease on deck. Everything that can be simplified or made easier has been. Hey, even the heads are push button!
As we expected, Horizon Yacht Charters has kept their 2010 Orana 44 in new shape. She has definitely been cared for from the very beginning. Windscape's striking at the dock, simple and fun to sail (and sail well!), and had more than enough room for the four adults and two kids on this review trip.
Even after sailing on various different types of catamarans, it's still amazing how these things swallow people. When we wanted time to ourselves, we could we could find a quiet spot. And, we had the pick of more than one place aboard.
One night while cleaning up, our Captain looked into the lit saloon from the cockpit, everything was dark all around, except in the saloon. It seemed to magnify the fact that the it was empty. Not a soul to be seen. Not on deck and no one on the trampoline. It was just him, seemingly alone. Everyone had gone below into their cabins, leaving nearly the entire yacht to our Captain to do whatever it is he does when he has a yacht "all to himself." Dare we ask? That's not just catamaran space, that's the space we were afforded on this new Fountaine Pajot Orana 44. The design, space, and specs make her a Fountaine Pajot, but the way they are all put together is what makes her Windscape.
Directly in front of the helm station sits a cluster of winches. The most important of these is the powered winch. All are within reach of the helm and the starboard side-deck. A tailing bag is situated just right to catch and manage your lines when setting, dousing, or trimming sail. The main is easily set by the powered winch and the jib sets nearly as easy with the manual winches. But, we noticed something interesting about the arrangement of the winches. They were in perfect position to act as fairleads for one another. If we wanted to use the powered winch for the jib, we could by using one of the manual winches as a fairlead (not that it was needed). It appears that Windscapes owner thought things through well.
A Chart Plotter And Push Button Helm
A waterproof paper map tucked under the helm seat cushion and a chart plotter in the helm. That's how we sailed Windscape. Both did their respective jobs perfectly. The charter plotter gave accurate and easy to read zoom-able maps, GPS based speed over the ground measurements heading, direction, and location information. The unit at the helm is positioned so that others on board can also take a look without getting in the Captain's way. We showed the crew how to operate the unit on our first day together. Throughout the trip our guests checked the plotter, identified islands, and became quite proficient at E.T.A.'s for our next waypoint, or mooring field.
Buttons, buttons everywhere. The plotter is covered in push buttons, the winch has a button, and the engine controls have buttons. On this new Fountaine Pajot Orana you get one more push button in place of an often "overlooked" cockpit "relic." The engine key. No need to worry about losing that old school forged, etched piece of metal. Not on Windscape. She has no keys. Instead, all we had to do was keep the symbols on the engine panel buttons straight. Power, start, stop, glow. Bare in mind that the symbols are in "French," so to speak. All in all, it was a slick set up and worked well.
Comfort at the helm is a big deal, especially on a cat. On a Monohull, you're moving around, trimming things, sitting outboard, etc. But on a cat, the helmsman or Captain is pretty much staying put. A good helm seat is not just nice to have, it's essential to keeping the one at the wheel happy. Our chartered Orana 44 had a helm seat wide enough to sit three close friends or two "full-sized dudes." But what we liked best was the thickly padded seat and full backrest (not a bar with a roll pad). There is a bit of room for improvement though. Namely some kind of small storage space at the helm. There's no place to put a map, no cubby for binoculars, and no drink holder. We don't usually find all three of these at the helm of any given yacht, but we can normally find at least one. Windscape does not have any of the above. Rather surprising actually. Our solution? Suction cup cozies (available though Horizon Yacht Charters and online vendors for purchase, we love these things!), a map under the seat cushion and "bino's" sharing the seat.
The helm is covered by a small soft bimini with a roll-away roof. We nicknamed it the "tank commander" position. This position gives a clear view of the sails and lets in a great breeze. When the sun goes astern, a roll-down curtain and be lowered behind the helm seat to provide a bit of extra shade. We found this to be quite useful on long run from the North Sound of Virgin Gorda to Norman Island. It's not often you can lower the "shade" while driving a 42-foot catamaran!
The owner's cabin on this Fountaine Pajot is a thing of beauty. It's welcoming and very, very comfy! The starboard companionway leads to a sliding wood privacy door. Stepping down and to the right (facing aft) is the expansive sleeping quarters. An elevated walk-around bed, dedicated A/C controls, round overhead hatches, and even a writing desk. There's a row of hanging lockers amidships along with cabinets for safety gear and spare parts. The owner's suite ends at the bow in the spacious head, outfitted with custom touches and enough room for more people than you'd want in there at one time.
The woodwork flows from one end to the other in a very modern, directional fashion. The woodwork and joinery is neat all around. Tight work like this strengthens the bulkheads and keeps the squeaks at bay. It's most apparent underway and when walking below decks. Not a single creak from the floorboards. Nice. Squeaky cabin floors are one of our personal pet peeves.
The portside guest cabins are set up in the same style as the sleeping quarters in the owner's suite, just sized into a single cabin. The aft cabin's queen size birth stretches across the hull and is accessible from one side. The only real difference in the forward cabin is the bed arrangement. It runs forward to aft. Both guest cabins are equally outfitted with hanging lockers, cabinets and cubbies. The smooth, linear theme continues as does the light colored, (not blond, just lighter), and tightly fitted woodwork. Our guests also commented on how much they liked having private heads. Especially the electric flushing and stand up showers. They didn't really know what to expect, but they didn't expect the luxuries of home.
Artistic Electric Heads
Artistic? Let us explain. A head is a head is a head. But when we stepped into the head in the owner's suite on this particular Orana 44 we were immediately struck by a bright orange bowl sitting atop the sink. A fancy "artsy" orange bowl at that. Turned out that piece of art sitting on the sink, was the sink. It was a first for us! Never seen one of these "art-bowl-sink-things" aboard a charter sailing catamaran before. This little splash of orange broke up the normally stark white surroundings and was complemented by a custom wood cabinet for all our toiletries. Across from the "art" sat a nice piece of technology: an electric, automatically flushing head. Form and function! We were happy to see these being adopted on sub 50-foot charter yachts and even happier that they worked so well! Every head aboard shared in the electric flushing goodness, but only the owner's suite got the "touch of orange." At the very front of it all is a full size, stand-up shower with frosted swinging doors. Surprisingly, we didn't burn though the water reserves like we expected with this extra luxury. No we didn't fully indulge and leave it running like at home. But we did get wonderful showers each night, even if we did turn the water on and off as we needed it. Personal water conservation aside, showering in a space with room for two (maybe even three), aboard a 42-foot yacht is a good example of this Orana 44 defines luxury. Crew comfort has obviously been a factor from the beginning.
The Fountaine Pajot Orana 44 has a galley that well exceed our expectations. It's not that its amenities blew us away or anything like that, it's the size and how the space for the galley has been used. Somehow Fountaine Pajot has found a way to create a galley that's larger than on their 46 footer. There's room for two to work side by side without bumping elbows. There is plenty of counter space with the counter running across two thirds of the back saloon wall and partially down the starboard side to the companionway. A double sink, four-burner LPG stove and oven, microwave, and the all important blender are all provided. As are the requisite plates, flatware, and utensils. Speaking of utensils, we always bring a good multi-tool that has more than the standard flat head and Phillips heads screwdrivers. There are more reasons then we can write here. But one of the places we use it most often is in the galley. This time around we discovered Windscape's can opener had seen better days. It just wouldn't hold on to the can or cut the thing. It was multi-tool time! A situation that could have become frustrating was nothing more than a normal night out chartering.
Another unique touch aboard Windscape was how the refrigerators were relocated. The main galley fridge is a "piano" door refrigerator, built-in forward of the starboard companionway. It blends into the light wood countertop nearly seamlessly. A fridge placed outside the proper confines of the galley usually looks out of place. This one is definitely outside the "proper" galley, but in order for something to look out of place, one has to actually be able to see it. Its space efficient and visually pleasing placement has opened up the galley and shown that the Fountaine Pajot can and does "think outside the galley."
An additional front opening refrigerator is located on the port side of the saloon all the way aft, by the sliding glass doors. It was another odd location for a fridge, but we soon learned why it was here. It's within reach of the outdoor cockpit area. Put it this way, we had no need for a cooler when we had a fridge with ice cold drinks an arm's reach away!
A small knob at the base of the galley faucet was the giveaway. We thought we spotted it in the pictures online, but it wasn't till we got onboard that we were sure. We turned on the fresh water, flipped the saltwater knob and water stopped running. Huh? We flipped it back, the water was back on. Hmmm... had we been mistaken? Was there no saltwater faucet after all? We looked over the main breaker switches and noticed one labeled "Salwater Pump"... it was off. We pushed the switch, green light on, we went back to the galley sink. We turned the "salt" knob and turned on the water. This time water came out, and it was salty! We had our saltwater sink again! Well not sink... faucet. Either way... the salty dish rinsing water was coming to us, instead of us going to it!
Full Yacht Air Conditioning
Every room aboard Windscape has its own A/C control and its own compressor. This combo has a really nice extra benefit aside from having A/C. The fact that you don't have to shut every hatch and every door to run a single A/C unit is a major plus. This is only possible with the individual compressors. Put it this way, those that want open air breezes can have them and those that want their cabin below zero can do that too. We previously reviewed a yacht that has a chiller based A/C system. These work very well, but require that all outside hatches and doors are shut, even with individual in cabin controls. If the yacht is not closed up, a chiller based system can "freeze" from the tropical humidity down in the British Virgin Islands.
A/C was run freely. Anytime we started to feel "sticky" we cranked up the generator and cooled things right down in a hurry. We basically we ran the system every morning, afternoon, evening, and overnight. Anytime we "put up" for the day, the A/C was keeping us sinfully chilled.
The main A/C breakers are located directly under the navigation table. One breaker for each zone. Four in total. When turning the system on it's important to wait for the generator to warm up for at least five min., and then turn on each breaker using the same five minute interval. It's the usual routine, letting each load placed on the generator settle in so to speak, before adding the next load.
We had no trouble cooling down those windless days, evenings and nights with Windscape's outstanding A/C system. Our reward in the end? A totally stress free and somewhat guilty existence.
Note on generator guilt: as a courtesy to our chartering neighbors, we took mooring balls away from the main group of yachts, knowing we'd be running the generator though the night. We didn't want to be un-neighborly and make them listen to our mechanical bliss all night long. Not that we had to, but because we've been the yacht right next to the "generator set" idling all night long. Do unto others and all that good stuff?
Centerline Mooring on a Cat
We learned something new on this trip. Well... we learned more than just one thing, but this one is neat. Maybe we're behind the times or missed the obvious here, regardless, check this out...
Everyone who picks up a mooring ball on a catamaran uses some kind of bridle, linking a line from one bow to the other. The "V" shape in the bridle is great for reducing swing and is pretty easy to rig up and cast off. But, we may have found an even better way! On the good advice of Kris at Horizon Yacht Charters we tried a new method: Centerline Mooring. Our Orana had a bow roller set up nearly centerline between the two hulls. Rather than using a bridle, we tied the longest dock line we had to the anchor snubber cleat inside the anchor box. We then ran this line over the centerline bow roller. When we pulled up to a mooring ball, we looped the line though the pennant as normal and ran the line straight back to the cleat in the anchor box. Not only did we eliminate swing, we simplified the whole process even further and gave ourselves two free bow cleats for tying off a safety line. If your charter yacht has one of these that are not being use by the anchor, you can try this too.
Note on mooring safety: No matter the mooring configuration, Charter Advisors ALLWAYS recommends using a safety line. At minimum this should be an additional line tied from the bow cleat to the mooring ball itself, not the pennant. The safety line should not be bearing the weight of the boat (there should be a bit of slack in the line) and should not interfere with your main mooring line. We've never had to use our safety lines, but we sleep soundly at night knowing it's there.
A little Kick in the Prop
Translated from French, directly under the wheel a warning sticker reads: "Attend the wheel sternly when backing" (or something to that effect).
It's always a good idea to keep a firm grip on the wheel when backing under power on any boat. It's easy for the rudder to spin the wheel as you back though the water. On Windscape the prop is situated behind the rudder, not in front. We're used to a bit of prop wash when we're going forward, but in the case of the Orana 44, it hit us in reverse. And boy does it! Nothing too crazy, but we did realize that the "Sternly Attend The Wheel" is actually pretty accurate!. We'd say it this way, "grip it and rip it!" Note the grip part comes first. The arrangement of the prop behind the rudder and the close proximity of the prop to the rudder are sure not to help the rudder kick effect. We've heard stories of steering linkages breaking when wheels on cats with this prop / rudder setup are not attended when backing. It's a different configuration for us for sure. We got used to it pretty quick, after we backed her up the first time.
Storage is plentiful below decks, but slightly more challenged in the cockpit. During our load-in it was apparent that the cabins were swallowing clothes, gear, and our empty semi-rigid bags (rolling soft duffels with a hard backer-board). The Orana 44 is definitely built for live aboard storage needs. The owner's "hallway" linking the bedroom with the head has a bulkhead wall full of cabinets and closets. Some were big enough for a "sailboat sized" washer / dryer.
Above decks out in the cockpit it's a slightly different story. The vast majority of the cockpit storage is relocated to a space under a centerline bench seat just outside the sliding glass doors, next to the helm steps. It's a deep voluminous space that swallowed all our gear. So everything did "fit." But, maybe we're spoiled. We're just used to more than one cockpit storage spot. It's nice to separate the flop-flops from the snorkels... ya know?
Technically, there was no shortage of space for all of our "stuff," but an extra spot to put stuff in the cockpit or a spot to put a map or some binoculars in the helm would one of the few ways to make this great yacht even better.
Sometimes You Just Have To Choke The Dinghy
All Horizon Yacht Charters yachts come with a 15 hp outboard attached to either a 10 or 12 foot dinghy. All come with night time navigation lights for an added measure of safety. They are some of the speedier dinghies out there. But sometimes these bigger engines need a little choke in the morning while they warm up. Luckily they only take a min. to warm up. One morning while heading to shore our Captain took off a bit too quick in our dinghy. Not fast, just quick. The engine started easy, he untied and pushed off. Cracked the throttle and the engine stalled. Five, six, seven pulls later he was about to pull out the oars. Just for "grins" he pulled the choke, pulled the cord, and the engine roared to life. Pushing the choke back in, the engine ran just fine the rest of the way. When we asked him what made him think of choking the engine, all he said was... "I was going to try everything before I grabbed a damn paddle." So, sometimes all it takes is an aversion to paddling and a bit of light choking to get your dinghy going in the morning.
Windscape's dinghy was reliable, quick, and well inflated. That one time stalled engine was our Captain's fault. Beyond trips from the boat to the dinghy dock, it took us from Jost Van Dyke to Sandy Cay (why not?) and from the north sound to many different stops all along Prickly Pear Island. The added power from the 15 hp outboard and larger gas tank turns a dinghy fit for little more than a dinghy dock into one of Jacques Cousteau's "exploration crafts."
To say the ride was smooth would be an understatement. It's a bit hard to give the full credit to the Fountain Pajot design team. The weather was as calm and flat as we'd ever seen it. Luckily we had a couple of days early on with 12-25 knot breezes. In this wind, crisscrossing the Sir Francis Drake channel, we felt a sure-footed catamaran that knows how to accelerate in the puffs while keeping her manners. Tacking to windward around 30 degrees, the new Orana 44 had a well-behaved motion with little hobby horsing. On a beam reach she dug in her leeward hull and put the power down. During our sailing days, we saw top speeds around 8-9 knots and average speeds around 6 knots. The fine bow entry on this new Orana virtually eliminates spray while slicing though the water. Downwind with the wind just off the stern quarter we made 3-4 knots in 8-10 knots of breeze. Without a downwind sail, sailing dead downwind on most cruising cats is generally slow going. We saw 2 knots. Angling away slightly, the quartering breeze doubled our speed (from 2 to 4 knots).
Why is it that the least important briefing info is what gets remembered? In the case of our Charter Advisors Captain, it was reefing instructions (remember we had no wind). During our briefing we were told that this new Orana should get her first reef at 18 knots apparent wind (second at 23 knots). Irony most likely! We obviously we had no need to reef the sails in the absence of wind. We needed every square inch of sail we had! Windscape's light-weight is easily propelled and never felt overpowered (we're talking about the early days with wind). In normal trade-wind conditions, you'd find us putting a reef in her main before we set out. 18 knots apparent wind is a pretty easy achievement in the BVIs. It usually blows 20+ knots true.
With the wind machine in idle, it was unusually calm. We were able to adapt easily thanks to the Orana 44's amenities. Adjusting our cruising plans for calm seas, blue skies, and warm water isn't that big of a chore. Those out "sailing" with small engines and no A/C found themselves putting along during the day and sleeping up on deck at night. One day the seas smoothed out so much, it felt like we were standing still. It was almost if the islands were sliding by us as we stayed in place. If not for the wake churning up the glassy water streaming astern the illusion would've been complete. Calm and smooth definitely describes the weather and ride aboard this wonderfully outfitted Orana 44. Or is it the other way around?
Video - Very Smooth Sailing... Er.. Motoring
Shoal is as Shoal Does
Shoal draft has two meanings to us: A shallow keel that allows you to safely navigate shallower water or a shallow keel that allows you to get stuck in water too shallow for anyone else to reach you for a tow out. We prefer the first one. Windscape draws next to no water with a total draft of three feet nine inches (3' 9"). It's definitely the right yacht for any of the BVIs shallower spots and coral ringed waters.
Going our way or Leeway?
We couldn't fully test leeway under sail with our lack of wind, but we did get a taste early in our trip. When the wind was up, our Horizon Yacht Charters Orana 44 dug in her heels well under full sail. In gusts over 23 knots we could see that the reefing set up on Windscape also applies to leeway. Too much sail with wind on the beam (90 degrees to the wind) and leeway is noticeable. It's not dramatic, but it's another good reason to always sail a yacht as it's intended to be (How your briefer tells you to). There may be more reasons and benefits than you realize. All sailboats have some measure of leeway. Catamarans tend to have slightly more with their shallow, shoal keels. Beyond the ability to sail in shallower waters and pull in closer than everyone else, Windscape's shallow keel breeds confidence. Some would say this is counter intuitive. Deeper keels are most often associated with confidence under sail. While this might be true for a Monohull, a Catamaran does not need a small compact car connected to the bottom of a six foot keel for righting moments. Their hulls ensure stability. With stability handled by the hulls, the short keels are only there to help with tracking. The confidence comes in knowing that there is no appendage hanging many, many feet under your boat. Knowing there is next to no possibility to bump anything just about anywhere you go is definitely confidence building!
Here's our definition. Power Lounge: To intensely relax with the assistance of powered amenities.
We truly practiced power lounging and loved it. With minimal wind during our seven days aboard we got to test the extent to which you can push the fuel reserves. Our twin 40 HP Volvo diesels gave us plenty of get up and go, while sipping fuel. We motored though zephyrs for more than a few days and ran our generator though the night, every night. We even found a way to incorporate "power lounging" into hanging out on the trampoline! Just imagine... laying out reading on the tramp after lunch. When the sun got the better of us we'd normally jump right in the water for a cool dip. Not when we're power lounging. We just slid the sliding glass door to one side, stepped into the saloon, and literally chilled out in ice cold A/C. Why not. We're power lounging! We couldn't even hear the generator was running hanging out up front!
Space For More Than One Family
The Horizon Yacht Charters Orana 44 is a smartly organized yacht. She appears slightly smaller when sitting next to a comparably sized Lagoon. But once you spend any amount of time onboard it becomes clear how big this 42-footer really is. She has space to spare in the saloon and cabins, while keeping her exterior profile sleek. Fountaine Pajot is known for its quality yachts and its forward thinking interior design work. The 2010 Orana keeps this tradition going, but with a twist. All the quality you'd expect is there, the twist comes in the interior design work. Rather than using their famed creativity for curvy interior islands and ceiling drop half-wall bulkheads, it's been focused on some really slick interior concepts. Take the arrangement of the owner's cabin for example. Or their unique piano style refrigerator that disappears into the counter top. Or the way the lines flow from interior to exterior, terminating at the end of the downward curving hard-top bimini. It's all very modern and yet somehow organic at the same time. But most importantly it's a practice in function over form. That curvy hard-top bimini is the most functional charter bimini we've come across to date. That may sound over dramatic, but when it rained, the cockpit and outdoor seating stayed nearly completely dry.
Every yacht has its own personality and certainly its own technology set up. Windscape is a bit of a category "bender." When we look at the technology aboard a charter yacht, it falls into one of three "Charter Advisors" tech categories.
No generator, hatch generated breezes, and a inverter top out the minimalist tech offerings.
Cruiser With Options
Add a generator, additional battery charger (lets you charge the batteries from the generator) and maybe A/C (or partial A/C) and you have a Cruiser With Options set up.
Now add everything else you can think of. Power winches, full A/C, salt water sinks, underwater lights, etc. and you've got the Full Boat.
Windscape definitely fits into the Full Boat category, but in a simplified manner. Charter yachts with various systems are not as complicated as some might think. Each system has a panel with an ON and OFF switch. It's basically that straight forward. Want to charge the batteries on mooring? Turn on the generator and click the charger panel to ON or "charge" (depending on the panel). Want to turn on the 110v outlets? Click the ON button (or Invert) inverter panel. The plugs light up with no generator. We call this the "PC" (Personal Computer) way. Owners of a PC can tweak and adjust as needed. Sailing a "PC style" yacht is similar. You can do each action on its own, when you want to do it (for the most part). It's also what we're most used to. Windscape on the other hand is a Mac.
The Orana 44 is a Mac
Stay with us here...
Being that this Orana 44 is a Mac, take everything we just described above and throw it away. There is no inverter panel. No charger panel. And the gauges that are present are greatly simplified. Windscape is one of the most automated charter yachts we've reviewed to date. Like a Mac there is little to adjust, everything is intuitive (if not right away, soon thereafter), and things just seem to do what they need to do when you want them to do it. No clicking on anything and no pushing of buttons. The inverter is built in and turns on automatically anytime the engine or generator is running. As does the battery charger. But also like a Mac, sometimes you want it to do something it won't. Or there is no "button" to click to do whatever it is you want it to do. Case in point is the inverter. It works great. But without a way to turn on the inverter manually, there is no way to light the 110v plugs on the batteries alone, the generator must be on. And there is no way to manually turn off the battery charger. It switches on and off as needed automatically (which has plenty of it's own merits). And finally... like a Mac, the ease of use and simplicity of operation greatly outweigh the nit-picky things we might have been used to in our "pre-Mac" sailing experience.
Easy on/off generator
Automatic battery charger
Independent A/C in every cabin
Premium sound system with iPod / iPad / iPhone / MP3 plug in
Push button engine starting/stopping
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
Life jackets with strobes
Blender (ok, not high tech, but worth mentioning)
Note: EPERB's are no longer required aboard charter yachts in the BVIs due to the close proximity charters sail to land and VISAR.
Water Tanks and Refills
Under pretty normal "cruiser" usage (let's face it, we all use water differently aboard then we do at home) the 72-gallon fresh water tanks took care of our needs, never running dry. We topped off the water on the second to last day just so we could we could treat ourselves to some extra long showers. That's luxury! A large owner's suite with a large stand up shower, and free flowing hot water.... Ahh... A true rarity!
One night our captain awoke in a panic. We'd been running the engines and generator so often that he dreamed we ran out of fuel in the middle of the night. Thank goodness he has no ESP or psychic powers whatsoever. The twin 46 gallon fuel tanks carry more than enough in reserve. And like everything else on Windscape, the tanks switch automatically. By the second to last day of our weeklong charter, we had managed to burn though nearly three quarters of our fuel with no conservation. We had plenty to last our final couple of days. We did stop to refuel while taking on water in Leverick Bay though. We suspect the topping off was more for our Captain and his recurring nightmare then it was for our fuel friendly Orana.
Ah... The possibilities
With nearly 43-feet of length (42' 9") and just over 24-feet of beam (24' 1"), the Fountaine Pajot Orana 44 is a sizable platform, loaded with goodies to make time on the water safe, simple, enjoyable, and FUN! The fun begins when you step aboard and are greeted with something unique, inside and out. The fun continues under-sail, whooping along or just cruising the trades. When we pull into a mooring, it's fun to be the unique yacht in the field. It's also a launching pad for more fun. Kayaks, snorkeling, swimming, or just hanging out in the water, it's all easy with the twin hulls and twin boarding steps. Fun is different for different people. Windscape is full of possibilities to make your own fun.
Video - The Orana 44 As Seen From The Dinghy
We've pretty well established how calm the wind and seas were on this review. At first, it wasn't much fun realizing we weren't going to be doing much actual sailing. But after it sunk in, we started thinking how lucky we are to get to sail as often as we do, most often in picture perfect Caribbean conditions. Our mistake? We "planned" to sail. We should have just "intended" to sail. Amateur mistake. We can't exactly order up the wind now can we? It was lemons to lemonade time. Rather than sulk for the wind we had wished for, we did what we should have done from the beginning: embrace what nature has to offer and adjust. When we did we found a whole new "sweet-spot."
The calms showed us another side of chartering. Powering though flat seas instead of sailing though the waves. Generator cooled comfort instead of Caribbean trades blowing though our hatches. We were all pushed outside of our normal chartering routines and we all learned something new.
We spent most days powering along happily at 8-9 knots without trying. We had near zero motion underway. The apparent wind was more than enough to keep everyone cool as they lounged in the trampoline. We relaxed like we've never relaxed before. A normal bumpy and sometimes wet upwind run from Norman Island to the North Sound of Virgin Gorda was made with effort from only the twin engines and the auto-helm (a.k.a Otto). We love pure sailing, but motoring along we sure did enjoy the pure simplicity of calm seas while lounging on deck aboard one quick and comfy cat.
The 2010 Fountain Pajot Orana 44 Owners version carries on the Fountaine Pajot design tradition. She's a great example of Fountaine Pajot's evolution. The Orana maintains the European "look" with its darkly tinted wrap-around saloon windows, round hatches, and flowing curves. The slightly curvier decks of previous models have been smoothed out as have the stern sections. The Orana 44 is a great example of Fountiane Pajot's refined style and forward looking innovation.
Windscape is yet another good value coming out of Horizon Yacht Charters. A brand new 40-foot 2010 at a reasonable price without adding in a special discount is always worth noting. She was an ideal fit for our crew of four adults and two kids under six years old. Maximum "comfort" crew size is 6 adults (two per cabin). Windscape performed well and more than met our expectations under sail and power, underway and at anchor. She'd be an ideal choice for a family charter or a group of chartering friends.
- 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)