After the Paris boat show, a Bali owner alerted me about a blog post by a Fountaine Pajot dealer criticizing the Bali 4.0. He was a little miffed and asked for our opinion. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t pay attention to these snipes, but the post was blatantly misleading and I felt compelled to respond. The dealer published predictably negative comments but in this case the dealer abandoned all reason and logic.
While the dealer's blog post should not at all reflect badly on the Lucia 40, it should be noted that these comments demonstrate that dealers are often biased and find it hard to be objective about products that they do not sell. It is important to be impartial when presenting any brand of catamaran to a potential buyer. I have taken some excerpts of his blog post and posted our rebuttals below each comment:
Dealer: “…A solid deck all the way forward. Other catamaran designers and delivery captains must be scratching their heads…”
Catamaran Guru: Trampolines on modern designs have become smaller and smaller because with modern lightweight design, netting is not required for weight reduction up front anymore. The Bali has a very unique construction which allows them to create this flat open platform without any obstructions throughout the boat including on the aft deck. They achieved this by using box sections within the bridge deck. This allowed for the removal of the rear bulkhead structure. This opened up the living space while the solid foredeck further contributed to the stiffness of the boat. The foredeck is not just a flat piece of decking, but is actually part of the bow with box sections, which makes it very buoyant. An integrated bowsprit further strengthens the front section.
Dealer: …”No one uses that approach on a serious, offshore sailing Cat--but maybe that's the intent? …Those are short range, powerboat features”.
Catamaran Guru: Another highly biased and uninformed comment. Every Bali that has been delivered to their destination, has been on their own bottom. This requires offshore capability as well as the ability to cross oceans. As discussed before, the solid foredeck is actually part of the boat. It is not just a flimsy “joint” between hull and deck sections. This allows for much more buoyancy forward than a conventional catamaran. The solid foredeck is also much stronger structurally as opposed to conventional catamarans with two bows joined by a crossbeam and netting.
Dealer: “An electric garage door to enclose the back with mechanisms exposed to salt and spray and no real cockpit beyond. I couldn't even get my garage door at home to work continuously and it lives in a much less hostile environment”.
Catamaran Guru: As I have explained before, the door is a very simple and effective system and is easy to operate. The door is attached with high-grade stainless steel fittings and has no fancy mechanisms that will easily break down and is not electric on the 4.0. When the door and the huge sliding windows on each side are opened, you effectively sit in an open cockpit.
Dealer: “…In fact, why would you move the lounging area of the cockpit where guests spend 90% of their time forward, where there's little or no sun protection, and you're right up where you get constant spray whenever the wind's over 10K or so?”…
Catamaran Guru: This is the comment of a completely uninformed person who does not understand the design properly. It is an “open” design and the cockpit and living areas are one uninterrupted space. Once the tilting door and side sliding windows are opened up, the space is effectively a huge open aft cockpit. The Nautitech Open 40 was voted “2015 Boat of the Year” which is a similar concept which goes to show, that people like the design. The forward cockpit on the Bali is an additional cockpit, extremely usable and comfortable when at anchor or underway. Additionally, when we did a sea-trial on the Bali 4.5 with choppy, confused seas, we found that the forward deck was exceptionally dry because there are no nets. The lounging cushions were dry, not to say that this will always be the case.
Dealer: …“A stand-up refrigerator. Really? If there's the slightest motion, when you open the door, stuff goes flying.”…
Catamaran Guru: A front opening fridge (most catamarans have them now), whether high or low, will act exactly the same in the same conditions. Watch this video of an Atlantic crossing on a Bali. The fridge is a big feature in the video. Judge for yourself.
*In the interests of full disclosure, Catamaran Guru, through its association with Dream Yacht and other organizations, sells both Fountaine Pajot and Bali products in the USA.