BOAT REVIEW Pachoud 24m Power Cat Samara

March 2017 Launch Reviews
Words by John Eichelsheim Photos supplied
MODEL Pachoud 24m Power Cat
DESIGNER Scott Jutson
BUILDER Pachoud Yachts NZ
CONSTRUCTION epoxy composite
LOA 24.2M
ENGINE 2 x 800hp MAN R-6 800
Maximum Speed 22 knots
Cruise Speed 12 knots
  • Helicopter deck
  • Super-efficient systems
  • PLC control
  • Spacious, individual interior
  • Expedition-ready
  • Engine rooms can become safe rooms
  • Cruises 10-18 knots
  • Huge range
  • 24-volt DC appliances

A Canadian electrical engineer and his botanist wife have taken delivery of Samara – their NZ-built, expedition ready motor yacht – ready to enjoy live-aboard cruising anywhere in the world.

The brief was fairly specific: the boat had to be practical, robust and offer the comfort and convenience of a luxury home, because they would be living aboard for extended periods. Oh, and they wanted to operate a helicopter from the vessel, refuel it and undertake routine aircraft maintenance.
With the owner’s background in electrical engineering, the new vessel would be packed with technology to provide a high degree of autonomy but remain simple to use. It would be fuel- and energy-efficient and incorporate almost military levels of equipment redundancy. Crew would be optional.
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It soon became clear a catamaran design with its spacious interior and large deck areas for its length, along with stability, efficient hydrodynamics and excellent sea-keeping qualities, was the best way to fulfil the brief.
The owners decided on composite construction for lightness, strength and easy maintenance, which rather narrowed the field of suitable builders, and the boat’s deck would have to be engineered for a helipad.
They settled on naval architect Scott Jutson and Pachoud Yachts New Zealand. Dave Pachoud’s Tauranga company has built a string of composite power catamarans, including Kukai, a Roger
Hill cat with a helicopter pad on its roof.
Samara is named after the winged seed of the sycamore tree which spins like a helicopter rotor when it falls from the tree. The sage green hull and lots of greens inside the boat also resonate with Samara’s botanically-minded owner.
At 24m long with a beam of 9.5m, Samara isn’t a small boat, but according to Dave Pachoud, a monohull would need to be 35m long to accommodate everything packed inside this power cat. She feels very spacious inside, with wonderful indoor-outdoor flow and great sight lines. Living areas meld together, but sliding doors and electric windows effortlessly separate inside and outside.
A gas fire heats the open plan saloon-galley, as well as Samara’s cosy snug, a favourite spot for movies, which has a privacy window that allows a clear view through the vessel from transom to bow. The window can be made opaque when the owners want privacy.
Samara has a hydronic heating system. A Glycol buffer tank collects waste heat from the engines and generators, supplemented by a diesel boiler. The heat is then used for space and water heating, including heating the hot tub on the foredeck.
The main living level can be divided into three zones: the massive aft deck, the saloon/galley, including snug and day head, and the owners’ suite forward.
The rear deck is covered by the flight deck and enclosed when required with heavy-duty clears on individual electric rollers. They’re easily stowed and are amazingly versatile.
This area – with its outdoor galley, large dining table, bar area and comfortable seating – is natural for entertaining. Huge, electrically-operated cavity windows and a glass sliding door connect it with the saloon.
Saloon and galley occupy Samara’s full beam at wing deck level. The large chef-style galley is well laid out with real stone work surfaces. Appliances are 24-volt DC, for energy-efficiency, and there’s a massive pantry/storage locker under the saloon sole.
Storage is a feature of this boat: display locations for art and books; cleverly concealed storage; visible storage – no space is wasted, above or below decks.

The owners’ suite is luxurious and private with direct access to the foredeck and hot tub. As elsewhere in the vessel, the large screen TV is invisible until it’s required, dropping from the ceiling above the bed. The audio-visual system throughout the vessel can be controlled using an iPhone or similar device. The main cabin is separated from a luxurious bathroom on the port side and a large walk-in dressing area to starboard by half-height partitions and stylish storage towers.
Guest cabins lie inside the hulls; two double cabins below on the starboard side and a double cabin for guests or the Captain, plus a bunk room (crew), in the port hull, each with its own bathroom. The laundry area in the starboard companionway features XOS American appliances.
Sylvia Bolton did Samara’s interior design. She worked closely with the owners and has succeeded in creating warm, luxurious and stylish spaces that will look great for years to come.
Climb the stairs to the bridge and you’re greeted with superb vision through Samara’s raked windscreens. The bridge has a comfortable sofa across the rear bulkhead, a table, book shelves, dedicated chart stowage and space galore. A large central window pane swings out for welcome ventilation in warmer climates, or for easier communication with crew on the foredeck.
The helm console is dominated by three 19-inch monitors displaying navigation and vessel statistics in any combination. It’s a Nobeltec MaxSea PC-based system with the computer housed in a Faraday cage to protect it from power surges. Samara even has inbuilt lightning protection.
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A pair of custom leather helm seats provide vantage points from which to conduct operations. A control panel on the helm seat’s armrest steers the boat and also controls the large-screen displays.
Everything can be monitored and controlled remotely from a mobile device, including steering and throttle controls, which allows the owners to operate the vessel from the best vantage point in any situation.
With their ambitious exploration plans, Samara’s owners take security seriously. Among other advantages, automation and remote control systems provide enhanced vessel security. As well as camera monitoring, the owners have installed deck pressure sensors to detect intruders, with horns and flashing lights to deter them.
The engine rooms, accessed via the aft guest cabins in each hull, can be secured from inside to become safe rooms. In a worst-case scenario – boarding by pirates or bandits – the owners can monitor the vessel, shut down all systems and communicate with the outside world via satellite link from a locked engine room while they wait for assistance.
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As an electrical engineer, Samara’s owner pushed hard to make the boat as automated and high-tech as possible, sourcing or specifying much of the technology himself. Some of the ancillary equipment, like generators and inverters, was modified by the suppliers to join Samara’s NMEA 2000 network. Virtually everything is on the network, even the vessel’s many fridges. Fridge temperatures can be monitored and controlled individually – no excuse for warm beer aboard Samara.
She’s equipped with a pair of 800hp MAN engines providing a useful cruising speed range of between
10 and 18 knots and a top speed of 22 knots. At 12 knots Samara burns just six litres per nautical mile, giving her a range of 2,500 nautical miles, a testament to her efficient catamaran hull form. She’s also supremely quiet underway.
Every system aboard this boat has been selected and tailored for efficiency. A 20kWh bank of lightweight, lithium-ion batteries provide 24-volt DC power, charged by an automated 11kVA
DC generator and topped up by roof-mounted solar panels. Large load items are powered by an automated 12kVA AC generator. The engines’ alternators take care of electrical needs when the vessel’s underway.
Her relatively small generators reflect the unusual efficiency of Samara’s electrical systems. At anchor she can maintain quiet ship mode for a couple of days.
The ability to carry, launch and refuel a helicopter was one of the main drivers of Samara’s design. A helicopter gives the couple the freedom to come and go as they please and allows them to explore places most cruisers will never see.
Accommodating a helicopter posed a number of design and engineering challenges, but Pachoud had been there before with Kukai. Samara’s helicopter pad is a marvel. The structure required to support the aircraft is extensive, but the design also had to incorporate tankage for 1,750 litres of aviation fuel, fuel delivery and monitoring systems, landing lights for night operations and strap-down points on the deck.
The flight deck works a charm. In landing mode, the helipad slides aft on tracks, the Radar arch slides forward and the deck railings fold flat to provide the helicopter with a clear approach. Spotlights switch on if required.
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The pilot can remotely activate landing mode from the aircraft on approach. When empty the flight deck doubles as a great party venue.
You are not restricted to the helicopter when you want to explore. The aft platform houses Samara’s customised, landing craft-inspired tender on a rotating, float-on, float-off cradle. The remote controlled hydraulic platform between the hulls lowers 300mm below the water’s surface, revealing a pair of deep transom lockers/garages, each designed to accommodate a five-metre Hobie Tri-yak sailing kayak. The tender cradle can be removed to leave the platform clear.
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On the port side, an under-deck locker holds a pair of motorcycles, which are craned in and out of the tender using a traversing derrick and then driven on and off the beached tender via a drop-down gate in the bows. The starboard underfloor locker holds bicycles.
Samara shows what can be achieved when owners, designers and builders work together to reach a goal, in this instance an elegant, efficient and technologically-advanced expedition yacht capable of travelling the globe.
Samara has already crossed the Tasman, and while her owners will spend the rest of this southern hemisphere summer cruising around New Zealand, they intend to eventually take the boat home to Canada. With a boat like Samara they’ll probably take their time, doing a bit of exploring along the way.
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