The interiors on Fountaine Pajot cats are increasingly refined every year. The joinery on the Lipari 41 is especially attractive, with a light cherry wood finish instead of the previous sycamore veneer. It also sports some nifty laminated woodwork, including a curved door leading into the starboard hull. I have sailed most of the new boats from this builder and consider this the prettiest one yet.
There’s a vast expanse of glass at eye level in the saloon, so you will be happy to stay inside in inclement weather, steering by autopilot on passage or enjoying views of the harbor at anchor. The nav station carries an authoritative air of command, while the galley and dining area are spacious, pleasant and efficient. The sleeping cabins are quiet, calm spaces. The functions of these disparate spaces fit well into a unified whole.
I sailed the Owner’s version, with double forward and aft cabins in the port hull and a master suite occupying the entire starboard hull. The four-cabin charter version has starboard hull accommodations that mirror those to port. There’s a minimalist, lightweight look to the cabin areas, with simple vinyl ceilings and open bins for stowage, and the master head compartment is so simple it seems almost stark.
The Chesapeake was in a no-blow mood for over a week, but we finally found about 5 knots of breeze with irregular 30-degree shifts in Annapolis one day, so out we went. Thanks to a badly cut sail, the mainsail head was hitting the backstay, so our test boat did not deliver optimum performance.
Mainsails on F-P boats are large and heavily roached and they carry full battens to support the leech, which sometimes makes them a chore to hoist and trim. The Lipari 41’s redesigned, easy-to-handle sheet system is a big improvement over those on the company’s earlier boats, but the main halyard still calls for windlass power. I like the way the sail controls on this model lead handily to the helm. It is easy to singlehand, once the sails are up.
The unique helm seat, molded into the hard targa top, is wonderful. It seats two, is up high for perfect visibility, has no “noggin knockers” overhead, and is very comfortable. The sheets fall to hand at a proper-size winch for easy trimming. This is the best catamaran helm I’ve seen…but you need to wear sunscreen and a hat to stay up here for long.
The boat sailed at 3 to 4 knots both to windward and reaching, and tacked reliably through 90 degrees. This is not bad, considering the flat conditions and misshapen mainsail. I’m sure a decent breeze will take it up to its 8 knot displacement speed quickly.
The wheel on the Lipari 41 is pleasant to handle, with a light touch and quick response. No big cruising cat gives the same tactile feedback as a good monohull, but this one is closer to that ideal than most.
Setting the throttles at 2,500 rpm, we accelerated quickly to a bit over 8 knots. At low speed with both engines in forward gear, the Lipari 41 turns in 11/2 boatlengths and pirouettes in its own space with one engine in reverse. This big boat easily fits into a tight space.
Saildrives are typically quiet so the sound level in the saloon during our cruise was a very reasonable 72 dBA, though little effort has been made to insulate the engine compartments. One attraction of a boat like the Lipari 41 is that it will quietly outrun a similar-size trawler under power, yet can also sail and has more deck space.
The Lipari 41 is a fine example of a cruising catamaran that offers good speed, nice accommodations and lots of space. It could easily be a sailor’s Ultimate Boat for living aboard or cruising into retirement.