Why the Saona
We’ve owned offshore boats for more than 40 years. Our “ideal” boat has changed as we have. As a young professional we had limited time and limited budget. Racing was our thing. Our first boat was supposed to be Pearson’s answer to racing. It was a dog. I switched to a cruising boat with perhaps the most active racing fleet in the country. I don’t think we ever spent a night on the boat. We had cruising boats and a spectacularly beautiful 38 foot day sailor. We got our first real taste of offshore cruising on our own boat with our Jeanneau 42ds. We loved that so much we decided on a bigger boat, the Beneteau Sense 50. We liked it because it had the biggest cockpit of any monohull we could find as well as only three steps down to the saloon. It was a hit. Fast offshore downwind and comfortable at anchor. As we approach 70 we asked ourselves – one more boat?
We had never considered a catamaran. Ugly, fast if without room in the hulls, or slow if a cruising cat. We learned that a properly equipped, properly sailed catamaran was as good as the equivalent monohull off the wind. We motor to weather. We landed on the cat because of the huge cockpit and single level living. We realized, that while we sail a lot offshore we spend most of our time at anchor. We also enjoy cruising with friends. A catamaran, between 45 and 50 feet would allow comfortable accommodations for us, but also our guests.
We didn’t actually look at a lot of brands. We didn’t want custom – too expensive. The performance cats tended to be expensive with narrow hulls. We wanted comfortable staterooms. A couple were just a bit too ugly for us. We narrowed our search down to three: the Fountaine Pajot, the Leopard and the Lagoon – three of the largest manufactures. We looked at boats between 42 and 50 feet, with the extremes a touch to large or too small. Our first choice, the Leopard 50, was just too big. The Lagoon 42 a bit too small. The Saona 47 was just right. We liked its looks. I liked the helm, slightly raised above the sheet tailing area, with better than average site lines. I liked that the davits didn’t raise the dinghy high enough to block the site lines aft. I liked that all three staterooms had ensuite heads and walk around beds.
A real smart person once told me to buy the boat I wanted and could afford for the type of sailing I was currently doing. For most people, there is no such thing as a “forever” boat. We want to explore the southeast US and Bahama waters. I want to do a Panama Canal crossing and more Latin American cruising. We figure it will take at least 13 months wall clock and 7 months on the boat to cover about 5,000 miles or 700 miles per month. More time at anchor than underway. Toys, more comfort at anchorage, and a lovely layout are what we want today.