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Old 18-07-2014, 10:20   #1
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Location: Port St Joe, Fl
Boat: 2015 Leopard 40
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Leopard 39 quality?

Are Leopard 39's really so impeccably built that their owners simply have no complaints to make about the boat, or are Leopard gnomes just just that meticulous about scouring critical comments about L39's from the internet?

After months of research, including boat shows, cruising seminars, making the excruciating (for us) choice between a monohull and catamaran, sailing a number of different boats (including a L39), my wife and I are preparing to invest in a L39 - not because it has or doesn't have flaws, but because, on the whole, it seems to accommodate most suitably the bulk of our priorities (which do include an admittedly subjective aesthetics factor).

Common sense - and a bit of research - suggests that every brand/model/boat has some inherent and/or recurrent weaknesses (rudder posts, cone clutches, motor mounts, engine logic boards, sail drives, thru-hulls, etc) and we assume that will manifest itself in one way or another with any boat we buy. We would like, however, to know what there is to be known before we make a deal, rather than be blind-sided by a weakness that everybody who's anybody knew, except us.

We would be grateful for any help your personal experiences may have to offer in this regard. Please be kind. We try to be.

Thank you,

Jeff
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Old 18-07-2014, 10:44   #2
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Re: Leopard 39 quality?

Leopards 39s are nice boats. Just make sure you do not buy one with Yanmar SD40 or SD50 saildrive with the defective Cone clutches.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf YMTQTB13-022-Notice-of-replacement-SD60.pdf (334.6 KB, 154 views)
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Old 18-07-2014, 11:10   #3
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Re: Leopard 39 quality?

Cotemar,

I don't imagine I have to tell you how _very_ helpful and valuable your reply and attachment are. They are precisely the kind of feedback I was hoping for. Thank you for taking the time to help us. We are grateful.

Warm regards,

Jeff (and Paula)
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Old 18-07-2014, 11:20   #4
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Re: Leopard 39 quality?

L39 is a nice boat, I buddy boat with one frequently. Comparatively, it's slow going to wind, I would guess due to it's weight and smallish keels (5' shorter and 3' narrower than my boat, but weighs the same).

What you have to realize with factory boats, they are build by factory workers, not necessarily skilled in boat building, hence you'll find stupidness in the way a few things are put together even if the design is reasonably good. Hopefully you don't get a Friday or Monday boat.

I don't think you have to worry about the Yanmar SD40/50 saildrives, I don't believe you can even order the L39 with the 40hp engines. Besides, Leopard has been shipping the SD60 saildrive for several months on the 40hp engines.
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Old 18-07-2014, 16:04   #5
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Re: Leopard 39 quality?

I think the L39 is a very good choice. I chartered one only for two days, so my experience is limited. However, I was pretty impressed. Cabinetry was not fancy, but decent quality. The windows and portlights felt very solid.

I guess I had only three minor complaints related to quality issues:

1. The owner's head door was cut too short and so there was like a 2 inch gap between the bottom of the door and the doorway. The head is the one place you want a door that closes properly. It's a relatively easy fix, but it's something that should have been caught during the quality control process. But that's the only obvious issue I found.

2. What kind of warranty are they offering you? On our boat, warranty was only one year. AFAIK, that's less than most other major production boats.

3. The water pump to the port head stopped functioning, but this was a charter boat, so it could have been misused by former vacationers.

I hear nothing but good things from other Leopard owners though. I don't think it's a conspiracy. I think they really like their boats.
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Old 18-07-2014, 16:34   #6
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Re: Leopard 39 quality?

DotDun,

Thanks for taking the time to reply. It seems you've spent some real time around a L39, so I especially appreciate your first-hand reflections. Thank you. Sounds like you find yourself leaving your friend behind pretty quickly when sailing close-hauled. (Although 'close hauled' is probably a somewhat relative term when we're talking catamarans, eh?)

Aside: We have a dear friend who is a FP fanatic who lobbies us persistently about the relative virtues of the FP over the Leopard, accentuating things like the weight differential and hull composition. He is very persuasive in many ways and the FP (we were comparing the L44 with the Helia at the time) is a lovely boat, but apparently we just weren't sophisticated enuff to comprehend the 30% price differential. <smiling> ($540k vs $725k, new and out the door). Maybe a few years on the Leopard will refine our sensibilities! (Did I mention our friend also sells FP's?)

Also, I believe your comments about factory built boats. (Do you know of any way to tell if it was built on a Monday or Friday?)

And thanks for your reassurance about the clutch cone thing. I read some conversation about it in ref to a L44, I think, on the Leopard owners group list serve, but I didn't know if it was relevant for other models. The attachment above was an amazing, complete and informative document addressing the matter and I was grateful to have seen it. :-)

Again, thanks for taking a moment to reply to my questions. :-)

Regards,

jsl


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Old 18-07-2014, 17:16   #7
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Re: Leopard 39 quality?

My comments about the SD40/50 vs. SD60 come from the fact another friend just took delivery of the L44 and it has the SD60.

There are a lot of aspects of Leopard that impress me, one of which, as you figured out, is price. Beyond that, the electric wiring is top notch and very easy to work on, lots of labels, good documentation. They do a good job on the engine installation, quality components, etc. Bulkheads fittings for the all the diesel plumbing, etc.

As far as issues, both boats I'm familiar with had some blisters on the decks and other minor stuff like sealant missing around a few deck fittings, etc. The L44 is actually getting the mast replaced, but it's not Leopard's fault, it's the rigger they hired to install it after it made it to the US.

I would watch for the bottom paint, it seems since Leopard started shipping their boats vs. sailing them over, the bottom paint is dead by the time it gets here. They use a hard paint, splash it in SA, then it dries out sitting on the deck of the freighter for 30-40 days.

Of course, the most impressive is the after sales service. They seem to fix any and every complaint waged by the owners. Something I never had a problem with, but others buying French boats seem to be complaining. Maybe that's why we don't see many Leopard owners on CF, they have nothing to complain about!

As far as FP vs Leopard, like your friend, I'm still a FP fan. Good thing is I'm not in the market so I don't have to commit to a choice!

Good luck with your boat, I'm sure you enjoy it!
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Old 20-07-2014, 10:27   #8
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Re: Leopard 39 quality?

Hi, Rohan.
Thanks for taking the time to offer me such a thoughtful reply to my question about the L39. I am grateful for that. It took me a while to reply to your response because you asked a pertinent question that I can't believe I did not know the answer to, so I had to do some research to find the answer. I'm embarrassed to say I forgot the warranty provisions. In fact there is a one year manufacturer's warranty, five years on the hull, then whatever the manufacturers offer for appliances and things like that. I also appreciated hearing your first-hand experience chartering the L39. It is meaningful to hear that it was generally a positive one for you. I had not noticed any joinery problems before, but I will be sure to look more closely in the future. For sure, the Leopard cabinetry is unassuming, but it has seemed generally clean, functional and sound without being fragile. And I made a mental note about your port pump experience. I also appreciated your comment about Leopard owners' satisfaction versus conspiracy. :-) So, anyway, thanks for your help. We are grateful. -jsl
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Old 12-08-2014, 13:10   #9
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Re: Leopard 39 quality?

From a dissatisfied former owner, a few comments. Yes, many production quality deficiencies. Examples: no backing plate under turning block for furler line at helm - tore right out of deck. No access panel under it either. Wiring connections reversed on battery monitors for two engines at control panel, hair filter missing in owners' shower sump, ill-fitting ports resulting in leaks, safety lines missing across stern deck, faulty windshield, deck shower head cracked and two replacements provided under warranty also cracked, anchor well cut-out too small for anchor provided resulting in jammed deployment, hull blisters, leaks at slider door to cabin due to faulty mounting. And more.

Design deficiencies: Line handling for sheets, halyards, traveler is a mess. One wonders if designers ever sailed. Windlass provided is under-sized, and mounted too low to be cranked by hand when necessary. Lewmar ports provided are difficult to operate and leak prone. Chainplate flexing leak prone after two years or less. Keys to lockset used on slider door are available only from England at ridiculous expense. Davit arrangement has inadequate provision for manual backup in event of failure. Open aft deck with few hand-holds or life-lines is unsafe.

Get the picture? Warranty? You'll have to provide pictures, documents, insistence, and perhaps beligerence, then be patient.

And, no it doesn't go to windward, but neither do gentlemen
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Old 12-08-2014, 16:21   #10
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Re: Leopard 39 quality?

Dave,

Quick note. Thanks so much for taking the time to reply. I value your first-hand experience greatly. Thank you.

I'm sending you a PM to follow up on what you've said here.

Again, thank you and warm regards,

Jeff (and Paula) Lindner
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