After stepping aboard the Vision 444 catamaran at the fall 2023 Annapolis Sailboat Show, it was immediately apparent that this was a cat of a different sort compared with the several other midsize production models on display. Let’s start with the handy fold-down boarding doors located on the aft quarter of each hull that allow you to take a simple, convenient step into the cockpit. It was an innovation introduced on an earlier model that was designed around the needs of a handicapped sailor and then adopted because, well, it was a good idea.
Then right inside the salon, to starboard, there sat a full-fledged forward-facing nav station. Does any other cat builder bother with a dedicated piloting space these days? Can’t think of one, but at sea, it’s mighty handy to have a place to settle in and update the log, work the computer, or check the charts—all while keeping an eye on instruments, systems, and the sea ahead.
At its yard in Knysna, South Africa, Vision Yachts produces one model, the 444, and each boat, so far at least, seems to evolve with the technology and gear available. Buyers’ ideas are also considered and put to good use when they make sense, said David Stein, the owner of Jubilee, Hull No. 8.
Stein picked up Jubilee at the yard in Knysna, sailed to Mozambique for a shakedown cruise, then crossed the Atlantic, via St. Helena, to Grenada. After a season in the Caribbean, he sailed the boat north (the rig is Intracoastal Waterway-friendly, he reports), arriving in Chesapeake Bay in time for the show. After 14,000 miles at sea, he said he was looking forward to sailing many more.
During a walk-through, he was meticulous about detailing innovations developed before his boat was built, and what’s available on models that can be ordered now. The evolving design means each new boat carries the latest equipment, such as the lithium power system on Stein’s boat.
Vision’s hulls, deck, and house are vacuum-infused using vinylester resin and foam coring. The hulls, which sport mini keels, are fabricated with a matrix of watertight boxes beneath the soles. Composite water and fuel tanks are also built into the hulls.
Jubilee is powered by a pair of 40 hp Yanmar diesels (38 hp Nanni diesels are standard on current models), and the engines are located under the aft berth in each hull. The beds lift up, providing good all-round access to the motors, and maintenance can be done out of the elements. Despite their interior location, under power, the Vision was a relatively quiet boat with sound levels ranging from 60 to 68 decibels, depending on engine speed. (The Nanni’s are approximately 30 percent quieter.)
On Jubilee, the owner’s cabin is located aft in the starboard hull, and includes a spacious head and shower. Far forward, in place of a guest cabin, there’s a handy tool shop/man cave, complete with workbench and vice for making repairs underway. In the port hull, there’s an athwartships berth forward, with a head and shower in the forepeak; a double berth aft, also with head and shower, is located aft.
Large storage lockers sit amidships in each hull. Inside them, electrical circuits, systems and plumbing are easily accessed; every wire and hose is clearly labeled.
Jubilee was well-mannered under sail. The rack-and-pinion steering is silky smooth and responsive. In 10 to 12 knots of wind, our speeds were consistently in the mid 7s to over 8 knots in the puffs.
Seated at the raised helm station, with sail-control lines within easy reach and with good visibility all around, the boat loped comfortably along. With its practical layout, plenty of solar power and lithium batteries for living off the grid, and a well-thought-out sail plan, clearly the 444 is a boat built for sailors with visions of going places.
For more information about the 444, visit https://visionyachts.com/