BOAT REVIEW – Fountaine Pajot Summerland 40 LR – Gone Cruising

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Versatile Summerland 40 ideal for coastal cruising, passage making and entertaining

Being from an era when most of the pleasure boats sold in New Zealand were also built here, it would be easy to bemoan the current lack of an indigenous big-boat building industry. However, the more time I spend on boats like the new Summerland 40 LR, the less I feel we have much to be sad about. While those “good ole days” were a buoyant time for the local industry, they were also, in some ways, pretty boring. Virtually every vessel of 12 metres or more looked and performed much the same. They were almost always mono-hulled, flybridge cruisers powered by twin diesel engines through shaft drives.

While there is nothing wrong with that style of boat, there is also a great deal to admire about the new breed of power multihulls.

The latest version of the Summerland 40 LR is a good example. At a touch under 12 metres, it is relatively compact yet boasts four distinct entertaining and relaxation areas. It also has three double cabins, separate spaces for those who want to fish and the ability to cruise both quickly and for long distances.

Manufactured in France by multihull specialists, Fountaine Pajot Motor Yachts (the world’s largest production power catamaran manufacturers), the Summerland range has much to commend it to New Zealand and Australian owners. For a start, although they are production boats, a quite substantial level of customisation is possible, both by the importers, Multihull Solutions, and by owners. Secondly, these latest Summerland models are a particularly practical blend of a luxury cruiser and comfortable passagemaker.

Take the subject of this review: Lady Luv. Initially outfitted in Whangarei, she spent time in and around Auckland and, by the time you read this, will have travelled (on her own bottom) to her new home in Waikawa (at the top of the South Island). In the future, her owner plans to cruise her extensively around the South Island, return to the Hauraki Gulf and, almost certainly, spend time in the Bay of Islands and beyond.

Nor is Lady Luv unusual in this. As Multihull Solutions’ Conrad Gair explains, the company first started marketing the Summerland range in 2010. Since then, they have sold seven of the Summerland 40 power cats and all have proved popular as passagemakers: up and down the east coast of Australia, on the Western Australia coast, in south-east Asia and now in New Zealand.

Economical Cruising

It is this ability to range far and wide, and to do so economically, that is one of the Summerland’s biggest selling points. With twin 700-litre fuel tanks as standard (larger ones are optional), the Summerland 40 can cover between 1000 and 1200 nautical miles (depending on conditions) at a respectable 8 knots. Even when cruising considerably faster, the range is still impressive (for example 600 nautical miles at 17 knots).

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Standard engines on the Summerland 40 LR are twin Volvo D3 diesels with a choice of horsepower ranging from150 220 per side. Lady Luv’s owner, however, has up spec’d still further, fitting a pair of D4 260hp Volvo. While that has added around 500kgs to the overall weight, it has made very little difference to the vessel’s overall performance. Thanks largely due to the catamaran’s semi-displacement hull design, the now 3-tonne displacement vessel still boasts a top speed of 24 knots at 3600rpm and a comfortable, economical cruising speed of 16-17 knots at 2800rpm.

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Since the Summerland 40 first made an appearance in this part of the world, Fountaine Pajot has, as a result of feedback from distributors and clients, made a number of changes to the design. Those familiar with the earlier models will immediately notice the larger side windows in the saloon, galley and master cabin and, the more open, more contemporary layout. According to Conrad, many of the changes have been driven by the realisation that the boats are being used more for coastal rather than blue water cruising.

“There is now more of an elegant feel,” he says. “The layout is open and welcoming, the galley is bigger, there is more bench space and slightly less stowage and there are twin sinks and a double drawer fridge.” The interior design is also more square edge modern (rather than traditional rounded), the interior helm station has been lowered to create even better visibility, the ceiling design is more modern and there is now LED lighting and Fusion music systems in both the saloon and on the bridge.

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In the master cabin, the bed has been lowered and is now a walk-around, a hanging locker and stowage has been added forward and there is easier access through the en suite to the utility room.

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“Fountaine Pajot has also added a 90-litre freezer, put magnetic switches on all the drawers and lockers and created a cleaner look for the lower station.” In addition, Multihull Solutions also have tweaked things for their South Pacific clients. They have continued the duckboard up and over the gap in the hulls (to make this area better for fishing) and extended the hardtop (to create more space for the tender and to provide better protection to the cockpit below). They have also totally enclosed the flybridge area with Strata clears, fitted an ADC crane for the AB 3.5m tender and its 20hp, 4-stroke Yamaha outboard and changed the bridge’s seating.

“We replaced the helm bench seat with twin marine suede helm chairs, fitted a fridge drawer underneath and exchanged a day bed for more seating so that the area is better suited to entertaining,” says Conrad.Lady Luv’s owner has also upgraded to teak flooring in the cockpit and on the bridge, and fitted solar panels to provide power while on the swing mooring in Waikawa.

Of course, all of those modifications come at a cost. Whereas the standard Summerland 40 LR is available in New Zealand for $880,000 (or can be picked up in Europe for just $650,000), the addition of the enclosed, extended flybridge hardtop, tender and crane; the larger engines, the teak flooring, solar panels and the rest means Lady Luv is worth approximately $1.2m.

Stylish appointments

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Visibility from upper helm station is superb and there are numerous panels in the clears that can be opened on hot, windless days. There is also a brace of opening hatches above the station. This upper station is a stylish affair with an asymmetric dash and black fascia combining to create a very modern look (the black also reduces glare on bright days). There is more than enough space for all the instrumentation and controls needed for extended cruising. These include a Garmin MFD (with radar, sonar, chart plotting, and audio inputs), gauges for the twin Volvo diesels and a BEP DC panel. There are also control panels for the Jabsco searchlight, Raymarine T400 thermal camera and the Quick windlass. A well-placed teak footrest ensures the twin helm seats are comfortable for everyone, regardless of height.

The station is offset to starboard and, over on port, there is wraparound seating for at least eight and a drop-down table (created by the Norsand Boatyard in Whangarei) that can only be described as a beautiful piece of furniture (it is also interchangeable with the dinette table below). The spacious saloon has the galley aft to starboard, the dinette with its fold-out table opposite, the twin Isotherm fridge drawers, stowage and the TV in the middle and the centrally-positioned helm station forward.

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While the latter cannot claim quite the same magnificent visibility as the one above, it is certainly more than adequate. It is served by just the single pedestal helm chair and has a large Garmin MFD screen. A Fusion MS AV700 stereo and a GHS101 VHF are close at hand. With twin sinks, fresh and filtered water, a 4-burner Elba gas hob and Eno oven and plenty of practical bench space, Lady Luv’s galley is ideal for this size of vessel. There is also plenty of places to stow provisions within easy reach and handy 240v outlets virtually everywhere. These are fed from the Cummins Onan generator and Victron Phoenix inverter in the utility room.

The Summerland 40’s designers have made full use of the catamaran’s twin hulls to provide privacy for both owners and guests. On the starboard side, the main cabin with its large walk-around berth is forward of the short companionway from the saloon. There is lots of handy, practical stowage and a flat screen TV that can be easily viewed from the bed. The ensuite is on the other side of the companionway and features a separate shower stall and access to that utility room (which is also home to the ship’s laundry). Over on starboard, a second head/shower area separates the two guest cabins. Although not huge, both feature large, comfortable double berths and a surprising amount of stowage.

While both the saloon and the cabins are more than comfortable, I imagine little time will be spent in either. The attractive living and entertaining areas on this cat are on the bridge and in the cockpit. Almost completely protected by the flybridge overhang, this latter is a great place to relax. Along transom seat, complete with moulded backrest, sits between the two stainless steel gates that open onto the large duckboard and is served by a lovely polished timber table. There is also an icemaker close at hand and it is easy to imagine relaxing here on a hot day, protected from the sun, watching the anglers catching dinner just below.

The boarding platforms are at just the right height for getting into and out of the tender and, for those who like to swim, a swing-down ladder lives neatly in its own compact locker under a teak hatch to starboard.

Summary

It is easy to see why the Summerland range is finding such favour in this part of the world. While Conrad and his team believe it is the vessels’ suitability for both coastal and blue water cruising, I cannot but wonder if it is something even more attractive.

Looking at that spacious flybridge, the large flat foredeck and the uncluttered cockpit, I am reminded of those delightful American pontoon picnic boats, designed solely for entertaining and partying. The Summerland 40 offers all that, too, and puts it together with a proper galley, three double cabins and the ability to economically cruise virtually anywhere that takes one’s fancy. No wonder it is proving so popular.

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