Helia 44 At Anchor

Final Selection of Factory Options


Last Updated on September 28, 2020 by Amy

Time keeps ticking away and we slowly get closer to when Starry Horizons will be in the water.  We hit a big milestone this past week as we submitted our final list of options we want from the factory.   The amount of time we’ve had since Annapolis has been both an exercise in patience and beneficial as it’s meant we’ve had lots of time to research different options, determine how (for the most part) we want to set up the boat, and where we want different systems to be installed.  I had put together some of our initial thoughts previously, but this seems like a good time for an update.

Factory Options

In general, we’re going to keep the boat pretty simple from the factory, only going with options that would be difficult to do later.  Here is what we’re planning on getting:

Oceanique Package: This package provides a good level of basic equipment on the boat, including an electric winch at the helm, lazy bag, electrical windlass, LED lighting, audio system, hot water deck shower and several other things.  One item in this package that I would have preferred to have done in Florida were the outdoor cushions as I think we could have gotten higher quality at a cheaper cost, but our dealer proved unable to get a credit from Fountaine Pajot.

Volvo D2-55 Engines: This is a good upgrade from the standard 40hp engines, giving us some extra power (55hp) for a good level of fuel consumption.  I’ve been told that we can do 7 knots using only one engine, which is pretty impressive.

Electric Heads and Holding Tanks: Having electric heads will make living aboard a bit easier.  However, I was disappointed that only 1 holding tank is included as part of the Oceanique Package, so we have to order additional ones for each head.  Plus, FP is unable to plumb the heads to use fresh water flushes so we’ll have to wait until we arrive in Florida to make that change.

Rigging Gear:  The bowsprit offered by Fountaine Pajot is high quality and I think looks better than aftermarket options.  Since we want to use a furling system for our screecher and spinnaker, the bow sprit is a requirement.  We’re also adding the automatic first reef for the main, triple clutch for reefs, and an upgraded Profurl genoa furler.

Electric Davit Winch: One of Amy’s concerns is raising the dinghy.  Having the electric winch eliminates that concern.

Windlass Controller/Counter at Helm:  The chain counter will make it much easier to determine how much chain we have out, and going with the controller will make anchoring that much easier.

Safety Equipment Without Life Raft:  This option will give us the basic safety equipment we need on the boat, such as life jackets, safety harnesses, flares, radar reflector, fire extinguishers, boat hook, fog horn as well as 230 feet (70 meters) of 1/2 inch (12mm) anchor chain.

12 Volt, 90L Freezer:  To be installed in the galley, we wanted some additional food storage capacity from the factory.

110 Volt Main System:  This will set up the boat on a US style power system, making it easier to source appliances from the US and likely easier to sell the boat once we complete our journeys.

There are a couple smaller additional options we’ve chosen from the factory, but these are all the main ones.

To Be Installed/Bought In France

There are a few big items missing from our factory option list that we want to have installed before we cross the Atlantic.  I’ve been working to find some agents in France who could help us, and have been fortunate to find a couple of good options.  This is what we’re planning on having done after the boat leaves the factory, but before we cross:

Electronics:  I do like the fact that Fountaine Pajot offers Raymarine in addition to the standard Garmin, but my dealer was unable to convince them to modify their standard Raymarine option packs.  Having the electronics installed after the factory will let us get a larger e125 plotter at the helm, the Vesper Watchmate Vision AIS that we want, the latest Raymarine autopilot (my dealer never could confirm which autopilot we’d get and the FP option sheet listed an old generation) and HD radar.  For the trip across we’re going to use handheld VHFs and will install the VHF model we want once we get to Florida.

Folding Props:  Folding props will be an easy upgrade to increase boat speed and I’ve heard good things about the Flexofold props.  While they’re a bit more expensive than the Volvo factory option, having the folding props sourced after the factory will let us hold on to the fixed props that come with the boat as spares if needed. Update: Read our review of Flexofold Folding Props.

Additional Winch:  With our larger headsails, having an additional winch and rigging installed on the starboard side of the cockpit will make sail handling much easier.  Our choice of the additional rigging option from the factory means we will already have a cockpit winch on the port side of the boat.

Dinghy:  We’re going to pay a bit more to buy the dinghy in France, but it would be very difficult to ship.  We already have our outboard, and we’re currently looking into how to ship that to France.

Liferaft:  Again, much easier to source in France rather than shipping ourselves.

12V Fans:  The factory only allowed for the installation of 6 fans, and of course you can’t choose the type of fan that would be installed.  Wiring these in should be fairly straightforward, and doing it after the factory means we can choose exactly how many fans we want, and where we want to install them.

To Be Done in Florida

We’re going to wait to do as many things in Florida as we can, taking advantage of the generally cheaper cost of equipment and labor.  I’ve been working with Pat Reischmann (http://www.hy-techmarine.com) of Manta Catamaran fame to come up with  list of projects to get the boat ready to sail around the world.  He has decades of experience in building and outfitting world cruising boats, but catamarans in particular so I’m quite confident that we will end up with one of the most custom Helias in the world.  This post is getting a bit long, and our Florida project list is still in flux, so I’ll touch on these things later.

Overall Thoughts

As I said at the top, this has been a frustrating, but rewarding experience.  It would have been great if my dealer was able to negotiate any changes to the standard options on our behalf, but I do understand the Fountaine Pajot model, which is to offer as standardized a boat as possible in order to reduce their costs.  We will eventually get the boat set up the way we want, it will just require a lot more effort on our behalf to find the right contractors and source the right equipment.


  1. David –

    Do you happen to know the specifications of your flexfold props? Size, pitch, etc? I am considering ordering some for my Helia and would like to see how their recommended size matches up with yours!

    1. Hi Geoff. We have the 18×13-3 L Flexofold props which are the ones they suggested for the Volvo D2-55 engines. I’d assume they would recommend the same ones to you if you have the same engines. So far we’ve been pleased with them, but make sure to read the instructions quite carefully on installation! There is a tab washer that needs to be bent twice. I think that step wasn’t followed when our prop fell off in the USVIs.

      Hope that helps!

  2. Thanks for the response David. I also emailed you and Amy and, if you don’t mind, I’d like to get your broker’s contact info especially if you feel positively about working with the person.

    p.s. I’m pretty sure I commented on one other post but cannot find it. Do you know if there’s a search tool or way to know when someone has replied to your comment? I had to dig (briefly) to find this post to see if you replied, and you had.


    1. Hey Garrett,

      I think Amy sent you an email response but I’ll send another one with a few more answers.


  3. Awesome post.

    Just got back from sailing a 55′ Outremer Light with 2 buddies from Hilo, HI to San Francisco (where I live). For nearly a decade I’ve researched buying a monohull or cat for myself and now think the Helia 44 is probably my best bet… thus, I stumbled upon your blog via YouTube and am loving all of the great info.

    One of my biggest requests at the moment is if you could add pricing to all items you haven’t provided links to; it would be very much appreciated. I’m trying to gauge what it would cost to do something very similar to what you’ve done… including going to France to pick it up!

    Thanks so much, please keep it coming!

    1. Hi Garrett,

      Glad you enjoyed the post! I suppose I should have known better than to put “final” in the title because we did end up changing things again before the boat came out of the factory. I’ve been hesitant to put pricing info on our blog because it can change very frequently, in fact I believe prices for the Helia and options have changed at least twice since we signed our contract!

      However, if you are interested, I can put you in contact with the broker (Frank McCarthy) who helped us throughout this process. He would be able to provide the latest prices from FP.



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