We have recently received emails from 3 separate Saba 50 owners, who are currently having their boats built by Fountaine Pajot in France. Each of them asked very similar questions - what factory add-on options do we already have fitted on "Lady Roslyn", what items do we consider essential, what would we still like to have fitted to the boat and what would we change if we could?
I replied directly to the first two emails, but, as this website is about sharing the lessons we learn on our journey, I thought to write this blog post for Russell, who emailed me today and for any other owners who may have similar questions. Even though it details the changes made to our Saba 50, we believe that many of the issues would be similar for other models from Fountaine Pajot and for catamarans from other boat builders. It has become a very long post so anyone who is not that interested in knowing what boat owners dream about at night, can be excused for stopping reading right now.
We did not buy "Lady Roslyn" new but she was in such immaculate condition when we bought her from her previous owner, Ty, that she could well have been. After leaving the factory and being displayed at the Cannes Boat Show "Lady Roslyn" spent 6 months in Canet, France at a company called Canet Boat Plaisance, being fitted out with every possible addition you can imagine. Ty and his girlfriend, Georgina, then sailed her across the Mediterranean and when, after 6 months of sailing "Lady Roslyn" Ty had to return to Australia to manage his booming manufacturing business, we were fortunate to buy her almost new and perfectly snagged.
While I cannot say with certainty what was fitted by the factory and what was after-fitted by Canet Boat Plaisance, here is a master list of add-on's which were originally fitted, those which we have added, as well as the items which we are about to fit to "Lady Roslyn" and which we think are essential. It's a totally subjective list so please take from it what you find useful and ignore the rest.
Extras which were already fitted when we bought "Lady Roslyn"
1. Electrical sockets. Lots of electrical sockets. They are expensive to fit at the factory but they are essential. The more you can afford to fit the better and will avoid you having to use ugly extention leads later.
We have electrical sockets:
- in the galley x3. We have a blender and a Nespresso coffee machine and a socket spare.
- in the cupboard above the oven. We have a microwave in there. Even if you don't immediately fit a microwave,
you may want one there later.
- on the starboard side side-board next to the stairs x2. Guests store their phones and cameras in containers there during the day and charge them.
- at the nav station x3 + cigarette lighter socket charger + USB charger. Charging area for iPad, phone, torches,
Dyson cordless vacuum cleaner and hand held VHF, plus all other gadgets that seem to end up here. If we could add another 2 plug points here from the factory, we would as we have an extention lead which sits behind the nav station to take extra chargers.
- in all the cabins.
- in the master cabin. On either side of the bed, at dressing table, under bathroom basin mirror (for a hairdryer).
2. Combination washing machine / tumble dryer. On a boat of this size and if you intend having guests, this appliance is essential. We have an Indesit model which condenses the dryer water into a container rather than needing outside drainage. We were concerned as to its water usage which lists 52 litres per wash cycle. However, I have just searched on the internet for models available from LG, Samsung, Whirlpool and Bosch and none come in under the 52 litres. So while that seems like a lot of water, we are satisfied that the one we have uses the least possible of all washer dryers that we can find.
3. Microwave. Some people love them, some people don't. We find it a very useful appliance for when you don't want to switch on the gas and just need something quickly heated. The microwave location in the cupboard above the oven does compromise some of the kitchen storage space but we feel it's worth the trade off.
4. Air-conditioning. One word. VITAL.
5. Curtains in the saloon. Ours are very cleverly fitted to run with rings along stainless steel rods at the bottom of the curtains. That way they hang parallel to the windows, which are angled, rather than hanging vertically and therefore they don't take up as much space in the saloon. They keep the boat much cooler when we are not there and they cut out the afternoon sun when it gets too bright and hot. They give us a feeling of privacy when in a marina and a sense of comfort when at anchor and its howling with wind outside.
6. Carpeting in the cabins. Loose laid so that we can access the floor hatches, the carpeting transforms the boat from feeling like a charter boat into one that feels like home. It absorbs the sound so that the creaking which is always there when you walk across the floorboards, is muffled. It also eliminates the feeling of getting into bed with slightly sticky and sandy feet.
7. Hand grab rails running down both port and starboard stairwells to the cabins. We think they are essential additions so that you have something to grab onto when using the stairs while the boat is underway.
8. Dishwasher. It's a Siemens 45cm wide integrated model which is located on the left hand side as you exit the saloon. Up to this point we have not used it a lot and it does take up valuable galley cupboard storage space. However, we believe that it will get well used this season and are happy to have it on board.
1. Canvas and PVC window sides to the covered cockpit and helm area. Some people find they detract from the beautiful lines of the boat. We prefer to look past that and focus on the practicalities of having the sides - they completely enclose the cockpit area when we are not on the boat so we can leave cushions, SUP's and surfboards there. They block the low afternoon sun after a hot day. They help to keep the cockpit dining area much warmer in the evenings and very importantly for whoever is helming, they keep the spray out of the helm / winch area when its rough and windy.
2. Factory fitted teak deck in the cockpit area and on the stairs. We love having the teak fitted. It is much easier to keep clean than the plain white fibreglass deck and it looks beautiful. That said, when the factory fitted the teak they did so with a gap of around 2cm between the edge of the teak and the radius of the curves of the vertical sides of seats / lockers all around the cockpit area. What happens is that water and dirt gets trapped in that gap which is both hard to clean and it always seems to be wet and look dirty. We are about to have teak strips fitted which will cover over the gap so that water and dirt can no longer get trapped there, but if we were having the teak fitted by the factory from new, we would insist that they a) make the gap much smaller and then b) fill the remaining small gap with white Sika up to the level of the teak so that water and dirt cannot get trapped there.
3. Two Harken electric winches at the helm / winch area. Sailing a boat of this size shorthanded as a couple makes this addition vital to us.
4. Code 0 sail. Furls off the bowsprit. We call ours "The Beast" and we love it.
5. Watermaker. We have a French made Aqua-Base 105 litre per hour model. When we bought "Lady Roslyn" she had a 65 litre per hour Aqua-Base fitted. We had issues with it last July while sailing in Croatia and when we sent it back to the factory under warranty, it was upgraded it to the higher capacity model before being returned to us. If you are interested please read our blog post "It's all about the BASE, bout the base" which gives details about the watermaker and how the repair was managed. We can't speak highly enough about the excellent after sales service by Aqua-Base in France.
6. Fresh water connection point on the foredeck was fitted by the factory and we have fitted one at the starboard stern area next to the outside shower point. The fresh water wash off points use water from the on board water tanks and are great to have when you want to wash the boat down at the end of a day of sailing and the topsides are all salty. We have a salt water connection point on the foredeck as well, but have yet to use it.
7. Solar. Besides the factory fitted glass panels which are installed behind the mainsail traveller, we have 3 flexible panels fitted - one behind the helm seat and two on the port side of the top deck. All three panels have de-laminated and completely failed after 18 months. We would really recommend doing your research when choosing flexible panels as many of them don't seem to stand up to the test of time. Ours were fitted by Canet Boat Plaisance, who were excellent in honouring the warranty claim by replacing them, but we have yet to fit the new ones and are considering upgrading to all glass panels.
8. Stainless steel plates mounted on the top of both port and starboard engines for stepping on. I can't count the number of times I have been in and out of the engine bays. I am not sure if these are standard on the Volvo D75's but if not, consider their addition essential. Without them you will not be able to get into the engine bay if the engines have been running for any length of time. It gets boiling in there.
9. Very bright LED lights on the mast, both spreaders and stern coach-roof both port and starboard. We have used these on a number of occasions when arriving late at an unknown anchorage and we are very happy to have them in the event of any security issues.
10. A ladder at the base of the mast. Essential.
11. B-B-Q - an Australian made Sovereign Bravo stainless steel model. It is mounted on the starboard stern and works really well. Catherine loves it when she can hand over the cooking and who doesn't love the flavour of food cooked on a B-B-Q?
12. Outside fridge below the helm seat. Absolutely. Where else to store beers?
13. Ice maker. This is last on the list but by no means least. It was voted the MOST essential luxury item on board, by all the family and guests who sailed with us in Croatia last summer, making ice in the morning for breakfast smoothies, ice in the midday for iced coffees and ice in the evening for sundowners. This little baby worked overtime popping out pure crystal see through ice cubes non-stop.
Changes that we have made:
1. We have fitted Flexiteek to the floors in all heads and to all shower floors. As well as looking great, the Flexiteek has eliminated brown wet feet marks which always showed up on the white fibreglass floors and shower bases.
2. We have trimmed and rebound the carpet in the master cabin basin / shower area to run straight and parallel with the passage rather than going into the basin / shower area. Not only was the carpet constantly wet from the shower, but it always lifted up when the shower door was opened. Now we have a removable non slip mat in front of the shower which does not catch on the shower door and which can be hung out to dry.
1. The rope bag which is in front of the winches and, as supplied by the factory, hangs to the deck. We modified it for two reasons:
a) the ropes stored there always lay at the bottom of the bag on the deck, so they remained constantly wet and also became dirty from water run off into that area.
b) so that we could mount 4 foot operated switches for the 2 powered winches. The 4 hand pressed buttons in front of the winches are OK for fine tuning when trimming the genoa, but with lots of rope coming at you fast off the powered winch when raising the main or furling the genoa, the foot switches make life much easier as they free up both of your hands to control and manage the sheet as it comes off the winch.
We did this by modification by raising the rope bag to create a space which is around 15cm high to the base of the rope bag, so that water can easily drain out and keep the ropes dry in the bag, as well as allow sufficient room for your foot to step into the space to press the foot switches.
Given a choice, and if the factory would do this, we would only fit foot switches.
2. We have fitted Flexiteek (which matches the colour of the actual teak perfectly) to the helm floor area and the top suntanning deck. We found that we were constantly cleaning those areas which have a lot of traffic and which showed up marks and food crumbs against the white fibreglass deck.
The picture below shows the Flexiteek fitted to helm and winch area. This image is interesting in that it also shows where we have loosened the base of the rope bag ready for the installation of the winch foot switches as detailed in point 1 above. It also shows one of the flexible solar panels, just behind the helm seat, which is de-laminating as described in one of my points above.
3. We swapped the 25kg Lewmar Delta galvanised anchor for a 35kg Bugel stainless steel anchor, which is almost identical in design to the Rocna. We have been very happy with the way it sets and feel very secure when at anchor.
4. We have changed the topping lift, reefing lines and main halyard to Dyneema. It's expensive but it is incredibly strong and we have been able to go to a smaller diameter rope which is much easier and lighter to handle.
Changes that we are about to make and things we wish could have been fitted at the factory:
1. We have bought loose fans for the cabins but if we could do it over, we would install fans in all cabins with wiring completely hidden behind the headlining. We bought 2 Caframo Taku hatch fans last year. While they don't fit the Saba hatches, we have mounted one in the master cabin between the cabin window and bulkhead which leads to the dressing area. The other we have left unmounted and we use it to blast air out of the saloon on hot days. The Taku is a large and incredibly powerful fan. We have just ordered 4 smaller Caframo Maestro fans for the other cabins and will be installing them next month. We like the fact that the Maestro comes with a wired remote switch and that it has a red LED light in the centre which can be left on at night and which will assist in keeping our eyes adjusted to the dark if needing to go into the cabins on night passages. I'm not sure how we are going to hide all the wires, but if anyone is interested, please contact us and we'll send you pictures once they are installed.
2. We will be changing the heads from salt to fresh water and would recommend this as a factory fit. Anyone who has sailed for any length of time will know that a sea water heads system smells bad. It just does, and we haven't found a way to stop that.
3. We haven't finally decided on a solution to getting more ventilation into the master cabin heads. The Saba comes fitted with a small Lewmar hatch above the basin in this area. This sits midway between the shower stall and the heads cabin which is completely enclosed behind a door and which has no ventilation at all. We believe that a better fit at the factory would have been to have one hatch in the shower cubicle, where most of the steam is generated, and another one in the heads cabin where most of the bad odour is generated. We are left deciding whether to cut a new small Lewmar hatch into the heads cabin or fitting a small extractor fan which will extract to to hatch above the basin.
1. We have ordered from Fountaine Pajot the new Karver automatic square top mainsail hook. The current system uses a hook and plate system which is engaged using two Dyneema ropes with round plastic toggles at the end. When raising or lowering the mainsail, a crewmember must go to the mast to either pull one toggle to engage the head of the main sail against the top car when raising, or pull the other toggle to disengage the head of the main to allow it to fold neatly into the stackpack when lowering. In reality this rope and toggle system is frustrating to use and it has got caught in the lazy lines on more than one occasion. We are really looking forward to replacing it and would certainly want this new system if we were ordering a new Saba now.
2. We are converting the 2nd and 3rd reef lines to single line reefing and bringing the sheets back to the winch area. From the factory, the 1st reef is single line and can be managed entirely from the winch area. The 2nd and 3rd reefs require a crew member to go to the mast and thread a nylon strap through the reefing eye and then tension the main halyard and reefing line. If you are thinking of doing this, it would be ideal for it to be decided as an addition while the Saba is still under construction. Why? Because the neatest solution is to run the 2nd and 3rd reefing lines down the mast to two Lewmar 72 blocks. Then flat on the deck to two Lewmar 72 deck blocks which could be stacked on top of the standard two Lewmar 72 deck blocks supplied by the factory. What you cannot do afterwards is access the underside of the two factory fitted deck blocks to add another two on top because the factory uses Sika adhesive to fix the headlining in the saloon and removing it to get to the nuts holding the deck blocks in place is guaranteed to destroy it. So we are left with having to run the lines across the roof of the cabin from blocks mounted on the mast rail which sits about 1 metre above the deck. Its a usable work around but could be so much neater if the deck blocks could be accessed now, or if this had been done while the boat was under construction.
We feel that both of the above two items are vital for Catherine and me to manage "Lady Roslyn" safely as a couple.
3. We have bought and will be fitting a winch on the starboard side stern cabin roof to match the winch on the port side stern cabin roof. Why? Two reasons:
a) so that we can trim the Code 0 simply and easily from both stern winches. The factory standard has the port side sheet running through one block to the winch and the starboard side sheet through two blocks to the main winch area. Currently, the Code 0 sheet prevents easy access to the foredeck on the starboard side when the Code 0 is flying on the starboard side. Once the starboard stern winch has been installed, there will be easy and direct access to the foredeck from the helm / winch area.
b) We will be buying a Wingaker Parasail shortly (see our blog post "Wishing for a Wingaker") and trimming it from two stern winches is ideal.
As with the reefing deck blocks in my reefing point above, removing the headlining in the starboard stern cabin to fit the winch is tricky and would be best done during the build at the factory.
4. We will be fitting extra Spinlock XCS rope clutches to the winch area for the new reefing lines. To access the underside so that we can drill and fit a stainless steel mounting plate is very difficult. I have removed the panel behind the TV in the saloon to see if we can access it from there, but think we will have to remove one or both of the electric winches so that we can drill and mount the Spinlock rope clutches. That way we can reach through the winch holes to hold the mounting plates and nuts in place while we tighten them. This would be so much easier if it were done at the factory during construction.
5. We are about to swap the 70 metres of factory supplied 12mm galvanized chain to 100 metres of 10mm high strength stainless steel calibrated chain from Ketten Walder in Germany. The galvanised chain piles up in the anchor locker and jams the windlass when raising the anchor and means that one of us has to climb into the anchor locker to redistribute the mound of chain. If you can afford it, go for stainless steel chain from new.
That's the list. Phew. Hopefully, if you have read down this far, you have found some of these points interesting. All that's left for me to say is "happy changes and sorry if we have just added to your build cost".