Picture in your mind a sailboat with all the interior space and amenities that’ll impress your non-sailing friends and family, a cockpit that is big enough to entertain at the resort marinas and a large open walkthrough transom and freeboard that promotes pleasing lines, a pleasure to the eye no matter how salty the gaze. Now, set that image aside and picture a sailboat with a well-designed cockpit layout and enough space for each crew member to do their job without being on top of each other, a retractable sprit for the A sail, below deck roller furling, quality and properly sized Harken deck hardware with every control line and purchase you need to properly adjust your sails. Now, set that aside and picture a third boat, one with easy visibility from inside the cockpit at her twin wheels, build quality that will give you the confidence to handle any passage, interior design that is comfortable and safe both inshore and offshore, a stainless grid system built into the hull integrating the mast, keel and shrouds into a platform that’s as strong as you can imagine and a sailplan that is easily handled by a shorthanded crew. Now imagine all three boats above blended into one and you have the Salona 41.
Truly a pleasure to sail and at 41 feet the Salona is big enough to do anything you want at any time of year. The 41’s low freeboard aft keeps you in contact with the water and conditions yet as you move forward the deck rises towards the bow keeping those waves that splash up on the deck to the foredeck – where they should be. She carries her roller furling belowdeck, not only keeping the foredeck clear but allowing you to run various deck sweeping racing sails in PHRF or IRC configuration without making any changes to the furler. Her retractable carbon sprit, again helps keep the foredeck clear but also brings the performance cruiser into the modern world and allows the sailor to enjoy cruising under spinnaker without the hassle of gybing a symmetrical spinnaker.
And that hits on the heart of the subject, the crux of the performance cruising genre – creating a boat that is a pleasure to sail, one that can perform on the race course and one that is so easy to sail that you can have similar performance when cruising shorthanded as you can with a full a crew. The Salona 41 is that boat and more and at a price point that will make you look twice.
Below decks you will find the dichotomy of the above deck performance – she has an interior! Not one that can be described as functional, as in many purpose built boats, but one that can be described as spacious, modern, comfortable, even luxurious. There are different configurations you can order but the boat we sailed on was a 2 cabin one head layout – 2 fully enclosed cabins and each with enough space to close the door to the cabin and still have room to move around, change and get into the lockers without feeling cramped or the need to sit on the bunk. With the head aft to starboard she leaves space behind the head for a large storage locker often skipped over on many modern designs.
Her galley has everything you’d expect and the space to actually use it to feed your family or crew. The galley also has those small design features that help keep you safe while cooking underway. An L-shaped design but with a small leg outboard, almost a U-shape, giving you something to wedge yourself into while underway to keep you at the galley and not flying across the boat to the nav area. Which brings us to the spot the real navigators out there are always looking for – a forward facing nav area with enough counter space to spread out that paper chart they still love to use but also having the wall space to install all the electronic features the modern navigator has begun to rely upon. The Salon has a drop leaf table on centerline, an L shaped Settee to Port and straight bench to starboard and enough space to simply walk through with the starboard table leaf down, no need to slip by the table sideways to get forward.
But how does she really sail and motor? We were blessed with 17 to 22 knots of breeze and 70 degree temps for our demo sail and with the “best boat” judges aboard we found she was easily handled under main and jib by drivers and sailors at every level of ability and while under motor pleasantly learned that the sound level of the auxiliary below decks actually got quieter as the motor reached cruising rpms and beyond. Once the judges disembarked we rigged the chute and prepared to push her through the paces. Unique to the Salona is that the retractable pole is to port placing the lines opposite to what I am used to but that was easily overcome and with the rather large A2 pulling us along at 10 knots I turned the boat up to the point I felt we were pushing the lee bow and were about to round up. Without blowing any sails I turned the helm hard to leeward and instead of the rudder losing contact with the water and rounding the boat up she dove down, leveled out and the bow lifted up over the bow wave and we shot forward. Exactly what she should do, but unexpected on a boat carrying along all that interior. With a bit more breeze and an A3 this boat should really get moving.
To weather we pulled down a reef in the main and sheeted in the non-overlapping jib and with puffs pushing over 20 knots and the rail down she charged to weather at speeds over 7 knots and had the proper amount of weather helm to help work to weather but no so much that the rudder was fighting the energy of the boat. This is when we learned about not only the ease of adjusting and tacking the boat with the non-overlapping jib but that the German main sheeting system led to winches on both sides of the cockpit had one winch that was electric and controlled from buttons at the helm, both in and out – I laughed and felt spoiled! Easily within reach of the helm the winches can be used manually almost as easily as with the electric motor. She cut through the waves rather bouncing over them and when there was a following wave from a passing powerboat she steered easily along her course as the stern lifted to the wave.
The negative, to me, was getting used to the twin wheels. I’m a tiller fan and am used to a very large single wheel on a boat of this size so the twin wheels brought a new challenge when tacking as you switch wheels but also getting used to the feel of the smaller diameter wheel. Maybe not giving you the fingertip control of the huge wheel but easily the same feel as the tiller would. Overall with 20 knot puffs, 4 people aboard and a reef in the main she was a pleasure to sail to weather and when we had the chance we paced her next to a 46’er and easily held it, often pushing ahead if I gave up on point and footed out a bit.
Performance Cruisers, a genre that was very popular in the 80’s and 90’s, have fell to the backburner in today’s world of purpose built boats, both racing and cruising. Yes, there are some builders that have stuck with the performance cruiser design model but they are few and far between and most are at a price point that is simply unattainable for the average sailor out there. Salona Yachts fits into the market perfectly with a design philosophy that produces an extremely well built boat that is as accommodating below as she is capable through the water. Base price delivered to the east coast of the USA and sailing away from the dock can be as little as $245,000
Solana Yachts offers models from 33’ to 44’ and a boatyard that is willing to make changes to the boats in order to fit your specific needs. Would you rather have a symmetrical setup than the retractable pole? No problem. How about a sprit instead – they can do that too. I overheard one rather tall customer ask the U.S. Salona distributor if he could have more head room in the Salon. The answer – “No Problem, I can have the factory lower the floorboards up to 2 inches.” Salona is open to your ideas and willing to look into your personal modifications.
The boats are built at the Salona Factory in Split, Croatia and part of your purchase package can include picking the boat up at the factory, cruising the Dalmatians and then dropping the boat off at the ship for delivery to the East Coast of the United States. A truly accommodating company with an exceptional product.