We just closed on a Leopard 46
. At the risk of stealing/drifting the thread ... below are some of the reasons we chose what we did.
Our list of boats in consideration were:
- Lagoon 44
- Lagoon 42
- Leopard 47
- Leopard 46 (obviously)
- Leopard 44 (note: did not sail but will mention why we crossed it off the list below)
We decided on the 46 for a couple of reasons over the others.
- Sailing - the Leopard 46 was the fastest of the bunch (the admiral had little interest in this but my male-ness loved it). The speed in light wind was noticeably better. Plus the two 55horse engines got us up to 8+ knots in moderate seas at 2200rpm while the Lagoons labored to get to 5knots (the Lagoon 42 was the slowest of the bunch). The hull chine leaves nice below water lines and allows her to cut through steep swell and waves with little to no slamming. The chine also greatly minimized spray on deck
Compared with the others, we enjoyed her sailing characteristics more. To be fair, the rigging
layout is not nearly as nice as on some of the other boats. I liked the Lagoon helms with the 3 winches at the helm (the Leopard 46 has the halyard winch
on mast) and all the Lagoons have an electric winch
which def helps the Admiral get the main up. The Leopard 44 has electric
winches and a very nice rigging layout. I did not notice the traveler layout on the Leopard 44 but on the newer 46's it is nice.
While we did not sail the Leopard 44 I did notice that the forward cockpit overhang is designed to let wind bleed off and I expect that while there might be some increased windage it would be no more than a Lagoon boat with all the vertical windows. Again, just a guess looking at the design and the way the forward cockpit roof cut back where it joins the salon
Our first love had been the Lagoon 44 and while island hoping on charter the up helm is great, but it took one rough day between St. Vincent and Grenada
for me to realize the remoteness of the up helm of the Lagoon 44 as I was completely separated from everyone and going up and down was a chore in the rough seas. The obvious plus of the up helm is unrivaled visibility of all four corners of the boat. The newer Leopard 46's have stairs (more like a ladder) up from the cockpit to the helm while the older ones require you to go out the back of the cockpit and then up to the helm. The safety
and ease of getting to the helm is definitely a plus on the newer Leopard 46's. The Leopard 44's have fiberglass
steps that curve around up to the helm from the cockpit and are very nice.
- Living and Layout - This was the real issue that swayed our decision (we found we are anchored 80% of the time and sail 20% so livability was key). We are a family
of 5 and the layout of the Salon
and cockpit were far better suited for our needs. You can sit 10 comfortably around the cockpit table and still have elbow
room to eat (and drink of course). The Salon is the most spacious of the bunch and again we sat 8 comfortably around the Salon table and two can sit at the chart table.
The admiral appreciated the galley
of the Leopard 46 over the others (The Bahia
got scratched from this list because of this). The storage
in the galley
is great and having the "U" shaped counter space allowed multiple people to help prepare meals
where on the Lagoons it felt like we were stepping on each other constantly. The Leopards (46 for sure and I think the 44) have a special drying area to put dishes that have been washed and now need to dry that is a recessed "sink" with a removable counter cover. Small feature but nice for after meal cleanup. The Leopard 44's galley storage
is much less than the Leopard 46 with the 44 having under foot storage (large panels
that are raised where canned goods etc would be stored).
The cabins are all similar but we liked having the V birth accessible from the forward port cabin
of the Leopard 46. I think the 44 has this same layout although the V birth is not as airy or large. We have a 2 year old so this became his cabin
and it gives us comfort that he will have to step on us to get out and get topside. The cabins also breath better than any boat we have ever been on (again I think the Leopard 44 shares this feature). With only the top hatch
open in each cabin a strong draft
is always present even in very light wind. My theory on this is that the layout consists of a "landing" that then sends you another two steps down into the cabins. Under the bottom step (which is in the cabin) the step has slots that allow air to flow through the cabin even with the door closed. We noticed improved sleeping comfort because of this draft
. The lockers in the Leopards are big and their is huge under berth storage (some accessible by doors under the berth and a huge space under each matress ... On the Lagoons this space was used for tankage).
The heads are typical marine
heads but unlike the Lagoon 44 the Leopard 46 has a shower
door which is nice that you don't have to put everything away when showering so it stays dry. On the Lagoon 44 4 cabin versions, the heads don't have a separated shower
area while the Owners version has a terrific full sized head
in the forward starboard quarter. Yes there are 2 too many heads ... we are going to modify one to be a wet locker and another to be a dry locker, work bench area (tools etc).
- Here are some small things that pushed us over the edge for the Leopard 46 (its all about compromises)
-- On the Lagoons the electrical
panel is halfway down the stairs to the port cabins. This is a pain to get to check batteries and manage the boat. On the Leopards the electrical
panel is up at eye level and out of the way.
-- Here is a really small one but was a huge plus: the trash is in the galley but is is the center corner of the cabinetry and is accessible from the galley proper AND from the cockpit door area. On the Lagoon 44's we ended up having a bag of trash sitting in the sink area that is in the cockpit because it was so much easier to access and we never used the cockpit sink.
-- designed place for a cooler on the Leopards. Both the Leopard 44 and 46 have a place to actually put a cooler that is out of the way but easily accessible. Sounds small but having a cooler under foot on the Lagoons (or on the cockpit bench or over the generator) was tedious. I am all about easy access to my refreshments.
location - the Leopards have the generator
forward and while anchored and running the Genset the sound and vibration is much nicer than on the Lagoons that have it in the cockpit.
-- a place to put smelly, wet foot wear. Sounds dumb, but on the Lagoons the shoes ended up under the cockpit table and just got riper and riper over the trip. On the Leopards there is space under the helm bench that is out of the way, gets air and allows for the shoes/keens/flops to dry and not be under foot. The admiral noticed this immediately and since her sense of smell is far superior to mine told me this was one great feature.
-- banging of head
- I am 6'2" so not overly tall but on the Lagoon's it always took me 3 or 4 days for my body (and brain) to remember where all the head knocking spots were. I haven't banged my head yet on the Leopard 46 ... again small but speaks to the layout and the thought put to it. The Leopard 44 shared this design consideration.
- some people greatly dislike (hate?) the davits on the Leopard 46. They are definitely substantial but they are easy to access and the winches are easy to work. I prefer the davits on the Lagoon 44 but on the Leopard 44 the davits swing down from the cockpit roof supports (that is why you can't see them in the pictures ... they are there). While they do have the benefit of an electric winch to get the dingy up ... the davits looked undersized and I question what would happen with cross seas when the dinghy
load starts swinging.
-Forward cockpit - We thought we would really like the forward cockpit of the Leopard 44 for the living space but what it takes away outweighed (in our opinion) it's benefits. The usable space of the Salon gets much smaller because the door requires a walkway. So you are taking 3ft-ish of space out of the Salon table and usable space. For us, the Salon of the Leopard 44 was a big negative. Also, we do want to do blue water sailing
and the risk/threat of shipping
green water was too much for me (I have no data or evidence that this is a problem ... but the risk of filling the boat with thousands of gallons of water was enough to spook me. I kept thinking how am I going to make sure the kids
keep the door dogged so that a rogue wave
doesn't soak the interior). As a side note, the last time we were in the BVI we only saw other folks using their forward cockpit a handful of times. It also greatly shrinks the trampoline space and this is where our kids
spend most of their time when we are underway. As for shade up front, the forward cockpit overhang is nice but we found you can almost always find shade in the gib shadow anyway. Our decision was that we just wouldn't use the forward cockpit enough to outweigh the negatives it created for us. To note, the Leopard 46's "steps" in the front are VERY comfortable seats and give VERY easy access to the salon top and allow easy access to the mast
. On the Leopard 44 it is a bit of a climb and not the easiest spot int he world to get to.
The bottom line is I haven't found a perfect boat (that I can afford) yet. It is all about compromise and for us the Leopard 46 fit the bill. My overall opinion of the Leopard boats is they are well thought out from a sailing AND living perspective and the Leopard 44 was a close second in our final list of boats with the Lagoons trailing.
They are all great fun and we are all blessed to enjoy being able to compare such great boats.