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Old 04-03-2012, 19:15   #16
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Re: Any Leopard 44 Owners Out There ...

I had the pleasure to charter Meow, a Leopard 44, out of Sailing Florida this past February. There was 6 of us and the layout fitted us quite well. With 20 knots off port beam we saw 7 knots - only using the jib.

The bridge deck clearance is low though. Before returning the boat, we motored into St. Pete municipal marina and went past a couple cats. In particular, the Lagoon 440. It had noticeably more clearance. The other
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Old 04-03-2012, 19:44   #17
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Re: Any Leopard 44 Owners Out There ...

Lots of pics here. Leopard 44 - LeopardCatamarans' Photos
Notice the low bridgedeck and that's without dinghy, motor and davits although the dighy might be hoisted from the ss bimini arch, can't tell. Or BBQ or people or their stuff. How low can we go?
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Old 04-03-2012, 20:58   #18
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Re: Any Leopard 44 Owners Out There ...

Sorry for the second post, I had to quickly shut down as the flight attendant gave me the look. Anyway, the other thing I noticed is that the Leopard's fit and finish appeared nice, but could tell that a few years of use and the interior finishes would be well worn.

One last thing, the starboard raised helm had limited visibility port side.

Overall we liked it, but if I were buying a new ~45' cat, I would have this lower on my list.
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Old 07-03-2012, 08:26   #19
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Re: Any Leopard 44 Owners Out There ...

Is the fact that it is balsa-cored construction a significant factor to weigh against other potential purchases or is it not really much of an issue?
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Old 07-03-2012, 09:28   #20
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Re: Any Leopard 44 Owners Out There ...

I really like the Leopards, particularly the M&M designs, but they are clearly built for the charter market with private ownership not given too much consideration. It seems to be a very good business plan for R&C so I certainly think it's a smart move on their part. The low bridgedeck, forward cockpit and balsa core all make for a great boat in charter. The Leopards seem to hold up well and sail slightly better than comparable Lagoons.

In talking to boatyard workers who have done lots of work on Leopards (not the 44 obviously) and worked on lots of Lagoons (Wickams Cay and Nanny Cay), I've repeatedly been told that the Leopards are better built, with simpler, more straight-forward systems and therefore generally easier to work on. R&C builds a somewhat more robust cat than Lagoon, but again it is all with the charter market in mind.

I have seen the balsa core issue debated back and forth. Everyone seems to have an experience and be an expert on the subject. Again, in talking to people who have actually worked on the boats, it seems balsa coring below the waterline in generally not an significant issue for the Leopards. The hulls are substantial, yet relatively easy to repair and water incursion just doesn't seem to be a problem, even when there is hull damage. It certainly adds significant weight, which is yet another debate.

With the Leopards I keep coming back to the same place, it's one of the best-built, best-sailing productions cats. Slightly ahead of Lagoon in those areas, but their ultimate design characterisitics are focused 95% toward the charter market. Lagoon, while still giving priority to the charter market in designing the 380, 400, 421 and 450 puts much more effort into producing a boat with private ownership in mind. Once you get into the 50' cats, there is still more emphasis on private ownership priorities.

My guess is there will be quite a few L44's cruising the world's oceans in the next 3-5 years and folks like us on these forums will still be debating all the same issues! Hopefully, there will be good information from owners and those who have chartered the L44 by that time so that there are a couple of answers to at least a few of our questions.
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Old 07-03-2012, 09:36   #21
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Re: Any Leopard 44 Owners Out There ...

So many builders use balsa below and above the waterline that it's hard to find one that doesn't. I'm guessing greater than 50%. Maybe much greater.
There was a thread about this.
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Old 07-03-2012, 12:48   #22
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Re: Any Leopard 44 Owners Out There ...

I must have passed you guys in Miami, because we were there looking at the Lagoons and Leopards. (And all of the other boats we could not afford)

My wife fell in love with the 44 when she saw it in a magazine. And loved it at the show. Personally, I am not as keen on the front cockpit. I thought the Lagoon 421 had a better overall interior layout.

Being able to walk back and forth between the Leopards and Lagoons at the show offered a great opportunity for comparison. Both brands had pros and cons.

Jim, I agree with your conclusions about the differences between the two brands (Lagoon and Leopard). And especially the comment on the hull steps.

I am going to keep an eye on this thread because I am interested in feedback on the Leopard 46. One of the boats coming out of the Moorings fleet might be in our price range. We have been on crewed charters on both the older 4700 and the recently on the 46.
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Old 08-03-2012, 22:09   #23
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Re: Any Leopard 44 Owners Out There ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Woodall View Post
I really like the Leopards, particularly the M&M designs, but they are clearly built for the charter market with private ownership not given too much consideration. It seems to be a very good business plan for R&C so I certainly think it's a smart move on their part. The low bridgedeck, forward cockpit and balsa core all make for a great boat in charter. The Leopards seem to hold up well and sail slightly better than comparable Lagoons.

In talking to boatyard workers who have done lots of work on Leopards (not the 44 obviously) and worked on lots of Lagoons (Wickams Cay and Nanny Cay), I've repeatedly been told that the Leopards are better built, with simpler, more straight-forward systems and therefore generally easier to work on. R&C builds a somewhat more robust cat than Lagoon, but again it is all with the charter market in mind.

I have seen the balsa core issue debated back and forth. Everyone seems to have an experience and be an expert on the subject. Again, in talking to people who have actually worked on the boats, it seems balsa coring below the waterline in generally not an significant issue for the Leopards. The hulls are substantial, yet relatively easy to repair and water incursion just doesn't seem to be a problem, even when there is hull damage. It certainly adds significant weight, which is yet another debate.

With the Leopards I keep coming back to the same place, it's one of the best-built, best-sailing productions cats. Slightly ahead of Lagoon in those areas, but their ultimate design characterisitics are focused 95% toward the charter market. Lagoon, while still giving priority to the charter market in designing the 380, 400, 421 and 450 puts much more effort into producing a boat with private ownership in mind. Once you get into the 50' cats, there is still more emphasis on private ownership priorities.

My guess is there will be quite a few L44's cruising the world's oceans in the next 3-5 years and folks like us on these forums will still be debating all the same issues! Hopefully, there will be good information from owners and those who have chartered the L44 by that time so that there are a couple of answers to at least a few of our questions.
Yup that pretty much sums it up. I have had experience on both boats including doing some work on them. The 44 is more like a Lagoon as far as build quality. Thinner fiber poor performance but supper fun layout for charter. Hard to beat the layout. Thus all the wives talking their husbands into buying one. Cracks in gel, and screws just screwed into fibre, and other deficiencies are easily overlooked. The 46 better built and could Bluewater sail safely. A second hand 46 would be the way to go as far as I see. Otherwise fork out more money or a monohull. I guess if you are clueless on what to buy choose a boat that will keep it's value the most, then if you hate it later you can pawn it off to someone else. Funny to see the lack of knowledge in most buyers.
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Old 12-03-2012, 12:40   #24
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Re: Any Leopard 44 Owners Out There ...

I am the owner of Meow, the Leopard 44 for charter in St. Pete with Sailing Florida. Overall we love the boat and have sailed her several times in heavy weather in which she has responded very well. While the bridgedeck is low, especially when compared with the Lagoon, this has not presented us any problems. She is very fast and even without the 120 Genoa, or square top main consistently makes 8 knots in Tampa bay. She can also point quite high in the wind for a cat. There are several modifications we have made to the boat including replacing the helm (VERY VERY Uncomfortable). We are in process of replacing the main rigging with a traveler (we call the factory set up a travesty). Beyond that we are very happy with the boat and would recommend her to anyone. Please take her out for a charter. If you have any specific questions please ask.
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Old 17-03-2012, 08:48   #25
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Re: Any Leopard 44 Owners Out There ...

Now that the L44 has been on the water and in charter for a few months, what are people's experiences with anchoring? I ask the question for this reason: I've heard of people making small modifications on catamarans like putting up awnings for extra shade and water catchment and those seemingly benign modifications creating just enough additional windage to cause their boats to drag anchor under conditions that had never presented problems before. I seems as though the forward cockpit and hardtop extension would catch lots of extra wind at anchor and perhaps cause problems. Maybe not, maybe a bigger anchor and/or more rode is the simple solution. Just curious about any problems people have encountered or the lack thereof.
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Old 17-03-2012, 17:33   #26
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Re: Any Leopard 44 Owners Out There ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Woodall View Post
Now that the L44 has been on the water and in charter for a few months, what are people's experiences with anchoring? I ask the question for this reason: I've heard of people making small modifications on catamarans like putting up awnings for extra shade and water catchment and those seemingly benign modifications creating just enough additional windage to cause their boats to drag anchor under conditions that had never presented problems before. I seems as though the forward cockpit and hardtop extension would catch lots of extra wind at anchor and perhaps cause problems. Maybe not, maybe a bigger anchor and/or more rode is the simple solution. Just curious about any problems people have encountered or the lack thereof.
Interesting worry, but would be my last concern. You could say that the overhang up front will give you more lift out of the water when sailing. Hahaha. Maybe in a Hurricane I would think about it a bit. But I am sure that thing is heavy enough to keep itself in the water.
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Old 18-03-2012, 09:09   #27
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Re: Any Leopard 44 Owners Out There ...

Is Leopard still doing the bolt on keels?
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Old 18-03-2012, 14:24   #28
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No, not on the 39 or 44. I do not know about the new boats that are scheduled for later this year.
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Old 19-03-2012, 00:52   #29
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Re: Any Leopard 44 Owners Out There ...

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)
- Bahia 46

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 roof.

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.
-- Generator 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.
-- Davits - 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.

Fair winds,

Rustin
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Old 19-03-2012, 03:46   #30
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Re: Any Leopard 44 Owners Out There ...

The Leopard 46 is the way to go. Much better than the 44. It will handle heavy seas well and has all those fine points you stated. Enjoy!
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