How Reliable Are Fountaine Pajot Catamarans? (Explained)

Fountaine Pajot is a French company building cruising catamarans since 1976.

The company was founded by a bunch of professional sailors whose mission was to develop a unique team to produce innovative, high-performance, seaworthy and comfortable cruising catamarans. Sailing catamarans for sailors, designed by sailors.

Today, Fountaine Pajot is one of the world leaders in catamaran builders for both power and sail, building between 150 – 180 boats a year.

How reliable are Fountaine Pajot catamarans? Let’s take a closer look:

Here’s How Reliable Fountaine Pajot Catamarans Are:

Fountaine Pajot catamarans are well put-together, fun to sail, comfortable, reliable, innovative, and perform well. Plus, a Fountaine Pajot catamaran will turn heads in any marina. Simply put, this is a super reliable brand with both its longevity and its fans.

Fountaine Pajot, A Brief History

Fountaine Pajot was launched in 1976 close to La Rochelle, the sailing capital of France.

The founders were Jean-François Fountaine, Yves Pajot, Daniel Givon, and Rémi Tristan, who all shared a passion for sailing and racing and a dream of starting their boatbuilding yard.

The company began by building racing monohulls, but the four friends soon found their passion was designing and manufacturing high-performance catamarans. Their first catamarans were built to International Offshore Racing (IOR) standards, and the prototypes began turning heads by winning some of the top offshore races of this time.

Their first production catamaran, the Louisiane 37, was launched in 1983.

Designed in collaboration with marine architects Michel Joubert and Bernard Nivelt, the boat tapped into a relatively new and underperforming sector of the leisure boating market and was an immediate commercial success.

Following this success was the launch of several different models, which included the Corneel 26. This innovative pocket catamaran was designed for speed and fun. It was awarded the title of Boat of the Year in 1986 by the boating magazine Bateaux, one of the top French boating magazines.

With over 40 years of boatbuilding history, Fountaine Pajot has gone on to manufacture more than 40 different models of catamarans and has launched more than 2,200 boats.

Today the company offers both sailing catamarans and motor yachts ranging in size from 40 to 80 feet.

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How Long Do Fountaine Pajot Catamarans Last?

A well-built catamaran such as a Fountaine Pajot should last anywhere between 15 to 25 years.

However, how long a Fountaine Pajot will last depends on various factors, such as how well it has been maintained, how much it is sailed, and the conditions it is sailed in.

While the average lifespan is 15 – 25 years, if a Fountaine Pajot catamaran has been well maintained, it will only last for a while. A quick search for Fountaine Pajot catamarans for sale on the internet turned up one of their first models, the Louisiane 37, built in 1984 – which makes it nearly 40 years old!

Are Fountaine Pajot Catamarans More Reliable Than Similar Brands?

Fountaine Pajot is one of the top builders of catamarans in the world. Similar brands include Catana, Lagoon, Leopard, and Nautitech. These brands are regularly recognized in ‘top 10 catamarans’ lists or have won awards for their design and style.

Furthermore, these brands claim to use only the best materials, the latest technology, and modern building techniques. So what sets Fountaine Pajot catamarans apart from these other brands?

Firstly, Fountaine Pajot is one of the older catamaran manufacturers, so their boats have evolved with time and experience. Their main focus is now catamarans that can safely cross oceans.

This continuous improvement means that Fountaine Pajot builds well-thought-out catamarans that are extremely reliable and safe boats.

In addition, Fountaine Pajot was the first French shipbuilder to obtain the ISO 9001 standard certification for the entire manufacturing process of its boats. This certification is an internationally recognized standard that aims to increase customer satisfaction by providing quality and reliable products or services.

However, you can have all the certifications in the world, but whether a Fountaine Pajot catamaran is more reliable than similar brands will come down to how well each boat is maintained.

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How Much Maintenance Are There On Fountaine Pajot Catamarans?

There is no such thing as a maintenance-free boat. The bigger the boat, the more maintenance is required. Plus, a catamaran has double the hulls and engines to maintain.

So, while Fountaine Pajot catamarans use modern composites and materials, each boat will need regular cleaning and maintenance, as suggested in the owner’s manual for each new boat.

In addition, Fountaine Pajot offers a 5-year structural warranty covering the gel coat. However, this 5-year warranty only applies if regular maintenance is carried out without using techniques, tools, or cleaning products that may damage the boat.

Typical routine boat maintenance includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • regularly cleaning and polishing your boats’ hull and decks;
  • maintaining and servicing your boats’ engine(s);
  • cleaning and maintaining your batteries;
  • checking the rigging for any signs of wear and tear;
  • regularly inspecting your sails.

What Are The First Things That Break On These Boats?

Fountaine Pajot has a history of building boats that stretches back more than 40 years. With all this experience, finding a common first thing that breaks on these boats would be surprising.

In addition, Fountaine Pajot catamarans are designed and built robust enough to cross oceans safely. Most of the new boats built are sailed to their new owners’ destinations which can be as far afield as the Caribbean or even a remote island in the Pacific.

After checking the various Fountaine Pajot owner’s forums and boat reviews, we were still looking for a common thread regarding what breaks first on these boats.

But that doesn’t mean that Fountaine Pajot catamarans are fine – read on to find out more.

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What Are The Most Common Problems With Fountaine Pajot Catamarans?

As expected with a brand of this caliber, there are only a few common problems found on the different boating and multi-hull forums.

However, no brand is perfect, so there are a few things to look out for:

Gel Coat Blisters & Reports Of Osmosis

Some reports of gel coat blisters occurring on Fountaine Pajot catamarans built after 2000. This coincides with when the company changed from hand lay-up to infusion-built hulls.

We found a report that says all Fountaine Pajot catamarans built between 2002 and 2009 with the new infusion system should be concerned with gel coat blisters and osmosis. However, only some boats built during this time were affected.

After this time, the factory did change its lay-up techniques and made improvements to the composites they use, so there are no more reported problems with this issue on newer boats.

This coincides with what various owners are reporting. The good news is that Fountaine Pajot acknowledges the problem, and repairs were mostly carried out under warranty.

Plus, the factory repairs seem to work, as all owners who reported this problem say there were no more gel coat issues after this work had been done.

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Water Tank Fill Hose Failures

Some owners have reported losing all their fresh water into the bilge due to failing water tank fill hoses.

One person reported that their hose had burst, while another commented that theirs had chafed through by rubbing up against a bulkhead.

Whatever the cause of the water tank hose failures, the problem is easily remedied by replacing the flexible hose installed by Fountaine Pajot with a stronger heavy-duty hose of the same diameter.

This is best done as a preventative measure as no one wants to lose all their freshwater while a few days out at sea!

Escape Hatches Leaking Or Even Failing

On the rare occasion a catamaran flips over, it cannot self-right like a monohull (if it retains its keel).

So, as a safety precaution, catamarans are fitted with escape hatches so that the passengers and crew can still exit the upturned boat and not get trapped inside.

Unfortunately, there are reports that the hatches used on Fountaine Pajot catamarans are prone to leak or, even occasionally, fail altogether.

The problem is that the lens or plexiglass used comes unstuck from the frame, which can pose a serious safety threat or cause you to lose your boat!

The hatch that Fountaine Pajot install is a Gioit escape hatch. The hatch’s aluminum frame is screwed to the hull with 22 screws, so there are no problems. The plexiglass pane is only glued into the frame with silicone or some adhesive.

This escape hatch can come under enormous pressure when sailing, which can cause the silicone to leak in some places or completely fail, as has been reported on three occasions.

Fortunately, two of the boats were able to effect repairs.

However, one boat was lost at sea off the African coast while the crew was fortunately rescued. As an owner of a Fountaine Pajot fitted with these types of escape hatches, it’s recommended to keep a good check for any leaks.

In addition, and as a suggestion to owners of the boats that have this same hatch, make sure you have a clear plan on what you are going to do if the plexiglass pane leaks or, worst-case scenario, comes out of the frame altogether and you start taking on water.


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