What Makes a Power Catamaran a Motor Yacht?

Fountaine-PajotLearning Center

Motor Yacht vs. Powered Yacht? It’s all about the planing speeds.

It starts with the design intent. If you want to have a true, planing motor yacht, like the Fountaine Pajot 37 and 44, it must be designed with a planing hull and matching appropriate engine installation.

In the case of the  Fountaine Pajot 44 Motor Yacht, which is a huge volume boat, it makes sense to go with IPS drives which are 50% more efficient than a conventional power train. That translates to longer range and higher speeds for a given engine and set of conditions. Now, let’s get a little technical.

Why are the Fountaine Pajot catamaran motor yachts superior to other catamaran power boats?

In the simplest terms, most other Power cats are nothing more than converted sailboats with rounded, non-planing hulls. While the problem with this design may not be immediately apparent, here is a real-life example of what can go wrong with this approach:

Years ago, I had a customer who had a fleet of racing cars and he decided that he wanted a sailing cat that would do 19K. He had his engineers do the calculations and we provided a 46′ sailing cat with 300HP engines. We created his vision and it achieved 19K, but barely. When it was pushed over 10K or so, the back end would start to sink as the speed increased. By the time it got up over 14K, it had dug a hole. It was pushing a wall of water and was very unstable, rolling from side to side in the hole in the water it had created. If it was approaching you, it looked like a Tsunami was coming your way.

See the problem?

The Fountaine Pajot was designed from the ground up to be, not a fast trawler, but rather a planing motor yacht. The back hull sections are wide and flat to promote planing, as any planing hull should be. The chines are flat and the hull narrow below them for efficiency and for a softer ride.

Watch the video of the MY 44 underway at 27 knots and you’ll see the difference. Similar design for the 37 with a top speed of 22K. Now you have a boat that can be throttled back for incredible range, for the great circle, intercoastal, or island cruising.

On the 44, you have the IPS drives. If you haven’t heard, all of the monohull motor yachts over 40′ are transitioning to this, including Jeanneau, Prestige, Sea Ray, Tiara, etc.

IPS Drive Pros:

  1. Efficient and economical cruising. Getting rid of the strut, shaft and rudders and putting the forward facing props in clear water, parallel to the direction of travel is simply about 50% more efficient.
  2.  Exceptional maneuverability with joystick control. In a catamaran that doesn’t carve a turn like a monohull, this is especially important as the pods themselves turn promoting a smooth, no fuss turn.

IPS Drive Cons:

  1. No protective structural skeg. However, the drive does have a skeg that protects the prop in the case of normal groundings. At high speed, the pods are designed to be a fuse – to simply break away with no water intrusion into the hull.

According to insurance representatives, pod claims averaged half the cost of claims with conventional drives. This is due, at least in part, to the fact that when you take out the drive system on a typical shaft drive system, you pull out the shaft and sink the boat. Wouldn’t you rather be sitting in an in-tack hull waiting for a tow rather than a life-raft?

We’ve also been told if you lost the drive (an unlikely event in any case), you can hit the man overboard button on your GPS and a salvage company can come back and get it. They are easily repaired, and in the more likely case of bending a prop, or even the shaft, these can easily be replaced – in the water!

This is a proven design now being used by most major higher end motor yacht builders. Our ACY and Waypoint Charter bases have huge demand for these motor yachts and we welcome them into our fleet. All of this is wrapped up in an attractive package by one of the largest, most successful catamaran builders in the world–building over 250 boats a year. And, by the way, Atlantic Cruising is FP’s largest, most successful dealer in the world.

We have commissioning locations in Annapolis, Ft. Lauderdale and France with service centers and management locations around the Atlantic basin.

I would welcome an opportunity to offer you complete pricing information and a quote. Just click here and I’ll get it right off to you. REQUEST A QUOTE AND DETAILED PRICING.


Eric  Smith, Senior Sales Consultant, Partner
410-703-5655
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