Hi "Confused after Miami",
With regard to the Lagoon 440 vs. Leopard 46 debate, I might be able to offer a few insights. I have owned and captained a Leopard 45
charter cat in the BVI for three years, and see a lot of your two favorite models. In the end, a lot of it is your personal feel for a boat, and don't overlook that gut feeling.
On a more objective level, virtually ALL the delivery
skippers that bring either of these boats across the Pond dislike the flybridges, whereas the charterers love them. I would say the delivery
guys like the 46 flybridge even less than the 440, as they say they feel isolated and a bit insecure, and getting up on the 46 requires going around the transom which has a huge space without lifelines
. Most of them tie lines there before they do significant passages, and I would, too. You might even want to do so when you are sailing in a big ebb out the Golden Gate, for example.
You cannot see the aft corners from the 46 flybridge....not sure about the 440...so backing into a slip is very tough. Additionally, although both Leopard and Lagoon tout their boats as being easy to singlehand, such is not the case when it comes to docking
. In fact, with the helm up top, not only are they impossible to dock
singlehandedly, but the helmsperson can't easily help to pass lines ashore, a big negative in my opinion. On boats that lack rubrails, which is the case with both, eliminating one person from helping with lines and fenders makes docking
against piles even more problematic than usual. That is not an issue with the floating docks that are ubiquitous in the SF Bay
area, but it matters in some other areas.
The huge windows on the sides of the hulls of both boats present some problems for positioning fenders, which are not supposed to bear on the windows. The huge salon
windows of the Leopard require covers in the hot tropical sun, and the curtains on the Lagoon usually need to be drawn for the same reason. If you are going to stay in the Bay Area, that might not be a problem. Big windows like the Leopard has are often chronic leakers, and that certainly could be a problem in those California
Almost all the 46's here in the BVI have had problems with their saildrives which require haulouts to correct (probably the same thing with the 440, but I don't know that for a fact), their davits
(Robertson and Caine has tried a redesign which may work), and a cockpit
sole that does not drain well, and in fact creates all sorts of water
pooling. The air cooled refrigeration
may not do as well in the tropics as is hoped, either. Many of the 46's have had serious stress cracks appear on their delivery trips from South Africa
and quite a few other niggling design issues. I honestly don't know if the 440's have had the same issues, but I do know that friends who have run a 500 in charter have been very happy with their boat.
On the other hand, I believe that the 46 is a much better sailor, and that is certainly worth something. I would almost call the 440 a motorsailor, in fact, but charterers do like them. And I think you will find the 46 to be better set up for ongoing maintenance
, no small thing.
I should point out that we love our Leopard 45
, and have had a good bit of experience skippering the 47's, as well. As devoted Leopard fans, it is thus hard to have to criticize the 46, but it seems as if this new Morelli design is not nearly as robust or as well thought out as the older Simonis designs, sorry to say. Likewise, I am not sure that the newer Lagoons are an improvement, although the 440 is so much bigger than the 410 or much older 42 that a direct comparison is not possible.
All this said, I suspect that either the Lagoon or the Leopard will hold up better than the comparable Fountaine Pajots, at least this has been the case in the past. Historically, the Leopard has been almost indestructible, but we are talking about the older designs. One thing about the boats built for charter....you get to see many more of them and you get a much more accurate idea of how they will perform and hold up. It is like a continuous boat show
When I read my comments, they seem pretty negative about both boats, and I guess that is how I feel. If you are committed to a new boat, have you considered the slightly smaller Leopard 43? It 's mast
will handle the ICW
, by the way. Then again, you might find something used that you like more than any of the above. At least, when you visit the BVI, you will have the opportunity to look at lots of cats, new and old. I would take complete advantage of this and not be indelibly entranced with the two models you are currently smitten by....drop me a line when you are in this area, if you like.