I have written frequently and favorably on this site regarding many different aspects of the Leopard 45
, with some comparisons to the 47 and others. I have owned our Leopard 45
, Jet Stream, for four and a half years. During the last three years we have operated her in the crewed charter yacht trade
. We live aboard full time. In my case, I have lived aboard for 18 of the 22 years preceding moving aboard Jet Stream. We have also sailed Jet Stream from the Caribbean
to the Chesapeake and back, and down to Grenada
and back. My comments are based on our experiences and upon the experiences of our friends who are in the same business.
The Leopard 45 may be destined to become the classic R&C design. This is almost a universal opinion of those in the charter business. It is strongly built, easy to maintain, user friendly and performs well. With its oversized engines (like the 38), it can cruise
at 7 knots on one engine, or about 8.2 on both. In our case, we have feathering Max Props, which give us a speed advantage, good sails
, and, of course we have lots of experience sailing the 45. That said, in the three years we have been here, we have yet to be outsailed by any other charter/cruising cat design 50 feet or less. Maybe, at some point, we will get nailed by one of the more recent designs, but it hasn't happened yet. Admittedly, many of the bareboaters are not that familiar with sailing a catamaran
, but there are other professional crews, too.
As the 38 is also a Simonis design, and was built in the same R&C era as the 45 and 47, I would expect it to have similar advantages (other than the advantages of size). A good and knowledgeable friend of mine has just bought one on the East Coast
, and I look forward to his thoughts. I really like the layout, and often envy the 38 for that bathtub/shower/wet locker. It looks to me like either hull
could be made into a good owner's "lair".
Why not see if the Moorings/Footloose will let you charter a 38 for 3/4 days, and then a 45/47 for an equal period? That way you would get to see which fits you best. If you do this in the BVI, you could then look at some of the boats available. This is really important. Notwithstanding the brokers' assertion that after "phase-out", all boats are equal, this is just not so. Phase-out is not done consistently from charter company to charter company, nor even within the same company. And, believe me, one of the most important parts
a used charter boat is the phase out. You can get a real bargain, or a real nightmare. So treat the phase-out and the differences between different boats very seriously.
In our case, we bought Jet Stream as it came out of the Moorins Crewed Yacht fleet, when it was a bit under five years old. We did our homework and got a great boat. You can do the same...or not. Get a really good survey
, of course, as well.
You basically get what you pay for. I often chuckle at posts (often right here) where someone states that it is possible to buy a "such and such" for a certain price
as advertised on the web, and that its sister ship is therefore over-priced, when that person has never seen either. We actually do see them. I often look over boats for friends that have asked me to evaluate them. I try to see what can be repaired or replaced easily, and what cannot, and arrive at a true comparison. You usually pay more now, or you pay more later. If you are handy, and enjoy a project
, the lowball boat where you pay later may be an excellent option. If you are not handy......
Earlier this year, a friend and I looked at lots of 45/47's, priced at anywhere from $260k to 365k. After weighing all the issues, equipment
, age and condition, I thought the one priced at $345k was actually the best buy! And just recently, a very well kept and equipped 45 sold for $325, to someone who had access to all the recent bareboats.
So, do your homework, keep your eyes open, and enjoy your Leopard 38, 45, or 47.