Tapping into the growing power cat market, Fountaine Pajot’s new MY44 is destined to become a serious contender.
Powercats have vast areas of living space and storage while offering economical cruising – just some of the reasons for the strong market growth. Couple this with widely-separated props that promote easy handling and you can see why first-time buyers are shelling out for them.
Living space is perhaps the major feature, especially on triple-level boats such as this new MY44. Available with up to five spacious cabins, it suits both owners and charterers – and it presents with double-digit cruising speeds.
As the world’s third-largest recreational catamaran builder, the French company has produced an impressive list of sailing and power catamarans dating back to 1976. It currently sells the MY37, the MY55 and for 2017, the MY44. The latter is aimed at the blue water cruising market with a vast range of about 2,000nm in displacement mode at eight knots – ideal for that Pacific voyage or casual weekends to quieter parts of the coast.
Using the beam
Aesthetics is an emotive subject, so the box-like shape of the tall MY44 was fairly confronting to me. Unlike the MY37, the MY44 extends the flybridge aft to cover the cockpit below, which from a practical point of view is good but creates a rather top-heavy shape.
But stepping aboard using the teak swim platform clearly shows the benefits of the overhang – the sheltered aft cockpit. Here, the transom bench and spacious deck are ideal for placing a table, with the adjoining galley just through the door in the saloon.
The open plan and uncluttered saloon layout uses the MY44’s wide beam to create plenty of usable floor space down the middle while locating all the furnishings on each side: the starboard U-shaped galley, the elevated lounge forward and the main steering console also to starboard.
A well-equipped galley contains a four-burner gas hob, separate oven and double sinks. The only thing lacking for me was fiddles, as catamarans may not roll but they certainly jump around in a seaway. Cupboard space was plentiful and the lacquered overhead ones were a stylish touch, as was the vertical wine rack.
Thanks to the tall hulls and a deep nacelle, there are four underfloor cupboards which further enhance the bluewater cruising credentials of the MY44. Another plus for the tropical owner is the enormous Samsung fridge/freezer. Stepping up to the lounge gives expansive views all round from either of the comfy couches, thanks to the tall windows that create an airy feel on the MY44.
For dining the standard coffee table can be optioned to an elevating table for eight guests. At the main helm the double seat allows a co-pilot. The uncluttered layout has the two Garmin screens in prime position, angled sufficiently for easy viewing, while off to starboard are the throttles and Volvo IPS joystick.
The MY44 is available in a three and a four-cabin layout plus the optional conversion of the nacelle locker to become a cabin. The three-cabin owner’s layout on the review boat had two double cabins on starboard and suite for the owner to port.
Walking down into the port hull revealed the large owner’s suite, with corridor storage containing the washing machine and main switchboard, then the main suite with king-size bed and ablutions forward. A 65-foot monohull would struggle to have these features, so the MY44’s attraction is obvious.
Moving forward, the moulded bathroom has a toilet/vanity with separate shower cubicle and storage lockers. Over on starboard, the hull has two guest cabins with a fairly large central bathroom and the aft one is VIP standard thanks to its own ensuite and queen-size athwartships island bed. The more conventional forward cabin opts for a beam-wide bed only but remains airy.
Finally, the nacelle locker can be accessed from beside the main console to become the fifth cabin – ideal for teenagers, with small side windows and a large, opening skylight. Alternatively, this would be the storage or perhaps a workshop for the bluewater cruiser.
With fore-and-aft cockpits, wide side-decks in between and then the large flybridge, ‘party-boat’ sprang to mind – and this is where the bang for your buck really kicks in. The flybridge could easily hold a separate party group under the hard-top bimini and be self-contained if you added the optional wetbar-grill bench, then seal the area off with clears.
Looking aft up top is the L-shaped lounge with bench storage beneath and at the business end, the flybridge steering console nestles behind a tall sprayhood while overhead the fibreglass bimini shades the skipper; unless he opens the sunroof. The starboard helm station has similar screens and controls to the main console below so you lack nothing, including clear views all round from your elevated position.
Designed specifically around the IPS propulsion system, manoeuvring the 14.9-tonne MY44 is simple. Easing her off the dock is done with a sideways twist of the IPS joystick and, seated in the flybridge bucket seat, the drive was smooth and precise.
The MY44 can be spun on its axis with judicious use of the throttles alone. A surprisingly positive response came from the 300hp Volvos when I put the throttles down, smoothly accelerating to planing speed and beyond to cruise at 17 knots.
Most of the breeze was deflected over the spray guard so my hat remained in place and the shaded instruments showed a burn rate of 85 litres per hour (lph) at 3,200rpm.
Alongside me a prospective buyer enjoyed the ride and we talked easily as the MY44 made its way through the harbour before I put the throttles fully down, smoothly taking us up to the maximum speed of 20.1 knots in the calm waters, showing a fuel burn of 111lph at 3,500rpm. Returning to displacement mode and eight knots (and 8lph) should give you an impressive 2,000 miles range.
Another option worth considering for the coastal cruising family is trim tabs to smooth the ride between 9-17 knots and slightly improve fuel economy.
Thanks to the open-plan saloon, a glance over my shoulder warned of an approaching jetboat while the clear view forward assured me as well. The MY44’s shallow draft would take me close to the beaches for quick dinghy runs ashore.
Back at the flybridge wheel, I clicked on the IPS joystick to ease us near the quay then turned and went astern towards it. I then invited our guest to do the same – someone with no boating experience – and he completed a similar manoeuvre, so intuitive is this Volvo system. The only problem with the MY44 is that it’s so liveable that you may not choose to even leave the docks.