More and more Multihull Solutions clients are opting to take delivery of their new Fountaine Pajot in France. Saving money? The adventure? Caroline Strainig follows a Sydney couple through the process.
For Martin and Sonia Beamish, taking delivery of their new Lucia 40 at La Rochelle in France where builder Fountaine Pajot is based was about having the experience of a lifetime, and saving money was just a bonus.
Retired IT consultants from Pittwater, they had cruised the east coast of Australia extensively in their previous boat, a Fountaine Pajot Mahe 36, and an overseas cruising adventure was next on their wish-list.
“We had done four trips of about four months each up as far as the Bowen area, and it was a case of whether we would cruise the Pacific or Europe next,” Sonia said.
“We wanted a bigger boat for ocean cruising and when we saw the option of a factory pick-up, decided that picking up in France and experiencing the cultures and life in the Med would be a wonderful experience. We will pass through the Pacific on the way back anyway.
“The goal was to experience the Med and the passage home, and saving money on import costs was not the objective. However, deferring VAT/GST certainly helped.”
They chose a Lucia 40 because it ticked all their must-have boxes.
“We liked the design and it fitted our budget. It also performs well and is particularly good in terms of space,” Martin said.
“I believe 40 is optimum size for a couple short-handed sailing and the Fountaine Pajot boats are well set-up for this, although as is always the case with any boat you buy, you need a few personal tweaks.
“Past experiences with Fountaine Pajot and Multihull Solutions have also been excellent.”
The couple picked up their catamaran, which they named Reflexion, in La Rochelle in June of 2016, and since then have been visiting a mouth-watering list of destinations.
Next year they plan to cruise back westward and then cross the Atlantic at the end November, possibly with a rally.
“After that is unclear,” Martin said. “We may spend time in the Caribbean or just make our way home via Panama, or, if Sonia has her way, we may spend a couple more years here in the Med before heading home. There is so much to experience here.”
They would recommend the ex-factory pick-up option to others, although say taking delivery in a foreign country does have some challenges.
They suggest others contemplating doing this allow plenty of time for the commissioning and hand-over before heading off on an ambitious cruise.
“Take a short cruise up to Brittany/Normandy so you can iron out wrinkles, and find those issues that only pop up after you have left,” Martin said.
“Then stop in La Rochelle on the way back to have them fixed.
“And the old cruising saying – never have a fixed schedule!”
They also advise those not travelling on EU passports to think about how they will handle the maximum stay of 90 days in 180 days requirement.
Another tip is shipping over any gear you still have from your old boat.
“That’s much better than buying locally,” Martin said. “I would still bring some new electronics though, especially personal safety gear.”
Despite the extra work involved in commissioning a boat in a foreign country, they wouldn’t swap the experience for anything.
“We have discovered that the Europeans really know how to live an uncomplicated life,” Sonia said.
“Visiting the smaller places by boat, exploring the towns and villages and shopping in the local markets brings home how the real Europeans live.
“Food and drinks are way cheaper here than at home and we’re living like royalty.
“We have also met some really lovely people also enjoying the cruising life and collected tips and advice in abundance.”