I have been reading through this thread with much interest as we went through the same process last year so I will let you have our findings and decisions.
We looked at the French Cats, Lagoon and FP, Broadblue
385 and 42 (now435) and Leopard. We are also heading off Blue Water cruising so had much the same considerations.
Both the French Cats seemed too lightly built for long term liveaboard
use, eg Lagoon forward deck hatch
lids deflect noticeably when walked on - even my wife noticed this and she less than 10st. Lots of interior
mouldings and lots of exposed white inside. Generally good use of the available space in all models. Also the Lagoons do not appear to have enough sail area and have a reputation for being slowish boats. FP's are better in this area.
We were not impressed with the Leopards - build quality did not seem to be top notch and some quirky features that would become a right pain for full time life. Also small galley
areas and galley stowage / fridges not big enough.
are impressive boats and seem to be very solidly built. The 385 is built in Poland
and the 435 in the UK. I have heard that the quality from Poland
is not quite as good as the UK but not too significant. The 385 has plenty of saloon
/ galley space but cabin
space is not very generous. There is only one cockpit
locker on the 385 and this does not provide enough space for all the things you need to keep handy. Walk through heads to rear stbd cabin
did not impress me or Sue. Sail area seemed to be on the small side but performance seems OK in spite of this.
BB42 provides lots more space in all areas, particularly aft cabins and cockpit
. Quality of interior woodwork is excellent with hardly any exposed mouldings visible. Cockpit stowage is excellent with one locker in cockpit and three on aft deck
, also foredeck lockers are huge. Plenty of sail area especially with optional gennaker
and decent turn of speed though could not be described as "fast" because they are solid relatively heavy boats. Good load carrying ability - best of all the boats we looked at I think.
So what did we buy ?
We put a deposit on a new BB385 before the first one was built because we felt it was the best compromise in our price range. When we finally got to see her and have a test sail we were pretty impressed overall, one major downside was cockpit locker space - or lack of. Also headroom
over bunks was very poor although this has been improved now.
At the same time as we saw the 385 we looked at a 2 yr old BB42 and after much consideration we decided to go with the 42. We decided we were getting a lot more space, load carrying ability, comfort and performance. The 2yr old 42 probably cost about the same as a fully specified new 385 but we get a lot more boat for the money
We have had the 42 for about 8 months now and are very impressed in general. Plenty of storage
/ locker space inside and out. Good sailing performance and easy to handle sail plan, the gennaker
is brilliant. Not had her out in any really rough stuff yet but she is very comfortable in the conditions we have experienced and gives the impression of being able to cope with anything. She is a big boat especially in a marina, the high bows make her look even bigger and are a problem when berthing in a crosswind - the bows get blown off quite easily even when using the engines to try and keep her straight. We are not too worried by this because we intend to spend most of our time anchored - std anchor
and chain are too light so we have upped the spec considerably in this area.
One other thing to consider is the cabin layout. We would probably have favoured the owners layout if we had a choice but we have got the four cabin / two heads layout. Having lived with this for some time now I think it is the better option - the owners layout uses all one hull for the owners suite and I think this wastes a huge amount of space, also you only sleep and shower
in this area especially when in the tropics etc. I am converting the forward cabin on our side into a workshop since I believe this is essential for long distance cruising, so we will end up with three cabins and a workshop. If we had bought an owners version we would still have needed a workshop area so we would have ended up with only two cabins!!!. Personally I am happy that we will make the best use of the space with the layout we have.
Hope this helps anybody else making the same decisions.