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Old 31-08-2009, 05:18   #1
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Voyage 430/440 vs Leopard 4300/4500

My list has been whittled down and short of a dark horse from the back of the pack (always a possibility), I am down to a Voyage 430/440 or Leopard 4300/4500.

I'm looking for any firsthand experience with either of these cats and hopefully someone who has experience with both.

I am aware of their mechanical differences (i.e. Saildrives vs Shaft) and statistical (i.e. beam vs windage vs bridgedeck clearance).

I realize that I would be best served by taking an extended trip on each and making the comparison myself but I'm open to all your opinions. Feel free to pipe up with your feelings on maker differences (i.e. Leopard 4300 vs 4500).

I guess, what I am looking for is gut impressions, livability, and handling.

If it helps, we will be a family of 4 (two adults + 2 children).


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Old 31-08-2009, 09:58   #2
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They are both essentially good boats, both have good systems and access to them. I think I prefer the Leopard(as we work on them more), the layout is a bit motre spacious and I prefer the wood and headliner trim, the Voyage is functional but feels that way too.
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Old 31-08-2009, 14:56   #3
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Thanks that is the kind of comment I'm looking for (i.e. system access good). I totally agree with you on the interior. The Voyage is "wipe down" clean --- great for getting rid of mold. The Leopard has more finish trim.

What about line handling? I've read a few comments on the annoyance of the winch position on the Leopard 4300 -- you have to move well out of the cockpit to manage it.

And any comments on those engine "hatches" on the Voyage?
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Old 31-08-2009, 20:39   #4
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We are very happy with our V430. I don't have much basis to compare to the Leopard. Both designed by Alex Simonis

They are both charter boats and really aren't laid out for living aboard, but it suits us fine because sometimes we have a large crew (lot of kids)

We like the easy to clean surfaces. That Voyage operates these boats in their charter fleet brings any equipment issues to the attention of the factory very quickly,to the benefit of all owners.

Not sure what question you have regarding engine hatch.

How do you like your Edel ? We moved up from an Edel 35, which we liked very well.
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Old 01-09-2009, 09:04   #5
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Thanks ggray. Can you expand on what you mean by it not really being laid out for living aboard? Is it a layout issue --- i.e. 4 cabin/4 head? Is there something else.

The Voyage engine hatch just seems small to me. I can understand how it is nice and secure (not likely to get water ingress) but compared to the Leopard hatch it seemed small.

We love our Edel, inexpensive to maintain and operate. Best of all -- just 4 pieces of teak to varnish! As much as I like the look of exterior wood, I have no interest in keeping it up : ) Ours is a "leaner" produced by the now defunct Edel-Canada operation. I still think the company is very inovative and the features found in Edel products surpass many other manufactures. Edel (and the French in general) are not afraid to take some design chances.
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Old 01-09-2009, 10:33   #6
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I own a Voyage 440 and had a boat in the Moorings Charter fleet and sailed the 4300 and 4500 often. The first thing that needs to be mentioned is that the 4300 and 4500 are completely different boats. The 4500 is substantially larger and became the 4700 when the suger scoops were were made flatter and two feet longer. The 4300 went through the same change from the 4200 with the addition of the hardtop bimini.
In the Voyage line there have also been several changes made. The 430 is quite a bit different from the 440 and the 440 built with the hardtop are different again and are actually 45 feet long. The are sometimes called 440 pluses or 450's. The extra foot was added to the bows giving the boat a better entry and a touch more sail area. They point higher then the older boats.
From a systems standpoint the Voyage boats are night and day better then the Moorings boats. The Moorings specs the boats as cheaply as possible. On the 4300 there is a very small house battery bank with around 350 amp hours. The Voyage boats have a 800 amp hour house bank tied to a 2500 watt inverter and link 2000 battery management system. Both boats normally have 40 HP yanmars. The Moorings boats use the stock 60 amp alternators. They Voyage boats have the stock amps wired to the engine start batteries and then add 2 balcor 120 amp alternators to charge the house bank. You can gang the house bank to the starter bank if ever needed by a switch at the helm. There are lots of other differences in specs. Feel free to email me at sailvi767@aol.com and I will be glad to set up a phone call. I also know where a 2001 Voyage 440 can be picked up cheap.

George
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Old 01-09-2009, 13:07   #7
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We are currently having a Voyage 500 built for us in South Africa. We choose a Voyage for many reasons, one being that we looked at Voyage cats that had been in charter service for several years and they had held up very well. Better than any of the other charter cats we looked at. Perhaps a testament to the level of maintenance at the Voyage charter base as well as the quality of their cats.
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Old 03-09-2009, 21:22   #8
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Well, they can be used for extended cruising, but I'd say there will be "wasted" space or berths. We see it as berths that are there if you need them, but if you don't need them, the boat is bigger than it needs to be.

These "charterboats" are set up for maximum berths which reduces the locker space available for storage for long term voyaging. The 4 head boats are really made for charter, and result in tiny heads. We have just 2, and that is more than adequate.

I haven't seen any need for a bigger engine hatch; it's big enough for the engine to be removed.

There are a lot of similarities between the Edel and Voyage; I think that is what attracted us to the Voyage.
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Old 04-09-2009, 09:59   #9
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I would agree on the heads. I wanted the boat with two large heads however they were insistant that the charter market demands 4 heads. That results in tiny heads. It would however be easy to cut out the wall between the two heads to form a large head on the Voyage 440's in charter. The owners version however would be best with two heads and 3 cabins.
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Old 04-09-2009, 23:22   #10
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+1 on the two head set up. I understand the reason for the charter market.

I really like the 3 head setup in the Leopard 43 Owners or the Lagoon 420 Owners. But the nice big 2 head setup in the older Lagoon 410's and Leopard 40's is just fine. Who really wants to maintain 4 toilets?
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Old 05-09-2009, 00:21   #11
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Who wants to maintain 4 toilets indeed...thanks, but no thanks.

Talus, we're curious what vessels your short list eliminated? Some possible candidates (to suit 2 adults and 2 children) might've included FP's Orana 44 (or even the Lavezzi 40 and now the new Lipari '41) or several Lagoons or what about another South African with the Admiral 40 or the luxury-fitted Aussie Perry 43...and others of course. So which did you emilinate and, if you don't mind commenting, why?

sailvi767, we emailled you about that "cheap" Voyage 440 you mentioned.
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Old 05-09-2009, 03:30   #12
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Ok, I'll give it try (and hopefully not start a war). These are just my feelings people. Yours WILL be different. I have spent time on each of these (with the exception of the Leopard 4700 - which is a 4500 with extensions - so it's the same I'm told).

First-off, all boats are a compromise. There is no single "Pro" that makes any boat a hands down winner and no one "Con" that is a show stopper. That is where the compromise has to happen.

Second, we are a family of 4 looking for a long term (5 year +) live-aboard. The kids will not be sharing bunks unless we have temporary guests.

Third, I'm 6'2" and my wife is 5'10" tall.

Fourth, I want the boat to come in under $300K USD if at all possible. That may be unrealistic and we may need to push that to $350 but I really don't want to and I think there is lots of good product on the market for that kind of money. As well, this market is not going to recover soon so there is more every day. Of course every dollar saved can be used for refit/toys.


Manta 40/42:


Pro
  • American Built (no import tax of 9.5% for us Canadians)
  • Very nice large secure cockpit with good visibility from the helm
  • Best dingy davit system I have seen yet (you could hang a car off it)
  • Great galley - one of the best
  • Solid glass below the waterline
Con
  • Not a fan of the boom jib (no reefing, it's up or it's down)
  • Narrow hulls
  • Poor visibility from the salon
  • Don't like the walk through head (I can already see my older one locking his sister in her forward berth)
  • Engines under berths. And they are Volvo's
  • Carpet on walls - or whatever that fur stuff is that they glue on the hull. Enjoy that at 90% humidity
  • It is more of a 38' boat with a 42' price tag

Lagoon 38 Owners:

Pro
  • Great salon space
  • Engines exterior to living spaces
  • Nice flat exterior decks
  • Anchor and chain readily accessible
Con
  • Where is the galley??
  • Cockpit is a bit small (after you see a Lagoon 410)
  • Props behind rudders

Lagoon 410 Owners:

Pro
  • I pretty much like everything about this boat
  • Cockpit large
  • Decks wide and flat
  • Salon a good size
  • Hulls have great space
  • Decent storage
  • Yanmar engines
Con
  • Could use a bit more galley prep space
  • Feels a bit lightly built (all the ones I have seen have cracks around the cabin roof where the mast comes through to the interior)
  • Interior engines
  • Traveler down (i.e. no targa bar) - not a huge issue since it doesn't seem to interfere with any access except maybe the dingy
  • Weak dingy davits (everything is weak compared to the Manta)

Leopard 40 Owners:

Pro
  • A manageable size galley with counter space
  • Hard top
  • Great access through and around cockpit
  • Engines exterior to living spaces
Con
  • A wee bit small-ish inside
  • Volvo engines
  • Dingy davits made of ???
  • Appears to be not as strongly built as the 4200/4300/4500/4700?

Leopard 43 Owners:

Pro
  • Again, I pretty much like everything about this boat and if there were more on the market I would be hard pressed not to go with it
  • Shaft drive Yanmars
  • Nice size galley
  • Hard top
  • Great access through and around cockpit
  • Engines exterior to living spaces
  • Great hull space and cabins
  • 3 heads means everyone gets their own (adults can share)
Con
  • Rare and therefore a bit pricey and quickly sold
  • The charter version would be fine but the 4 heads will be a PIA.
  • I could use a touch more headroom in the galley - but hey, it will be my excuse for not being able to do dishes

Leopard 4500/4700:


Pro
  • Shaft drive Yanmars
  • Nice size galley
  • Great access through and around cockpit
  • Engines exterior to living spaces
  • Great hull space and cabins
  • Huge salon
Con
  • Most are former charter boat and as such have been ridden pretty hard. I would seriously consider one that someone had picked up put some love into it. If the price was right I will put some love into it.
  • Headroom in the galley
  • And you know what bugs me about all Leopards -- those stupid little bars around the hatches. I'm going to trip on them, or step on them, or they are going to leak.

PDQ 42' (Only comes in Owners):

I have to say that overall this boat really impressed me from a live-aboard and finishing point of view. I just wish there were more available.

Pro
  • Canadian built so that saves me some duty if we bring it home
  • I like the galley down
  • Yacht worthy finish in the interior
  • HUGE salon
  • Hard top
Con
  • Pricey (in fact out of my range for the most part)
  • Rare to the market
  • The one I saw had an electric stove and I don't even like them in my house, let alone having to run the generator to make soup.
  • There are a lot of little steps in the cockpit. Definite toe jammer.
  • This thing has some serious freeboard - all that interior space comes at some expense
  • Westerbeke's. Why?


FP Belize 43' Owners:

Let me first say that if pictures sold boats, I would own an FP. I swear it, FP takes the best photo's ever. I must have drooled over them for months before I got on the boat. The shocker came when I actually saw one. I really, really wanted to like this boat but I couldn't do it.

Pro
  • Those cool escape hatches in the hulls
  • Funky modern design
  • Fat, fat, fat hulls. Great living space down there

Con (where do I begin)
  • Traveler hindering access to the cockpit
  • Cockpit hard to access due to high lips
  • Relatively small bimini with lack of shade compared to competion
  • Sloped decks everywhere, we both noticed it right off
  • Round hatches (good luck after you break one)
  • Those cool escape hatches in the hulls I mention. Yup, they are going to leak.
  • Galley is small and I had real headroom issues
  • There is a little lip as you step into the salon table. I smashed my toes on it, you will too.
  • Nav table is, well, it's kind of dumb. Imagine yourself installing some electronics in it. Not going to be pretty.
  • The full width tramp up front with no hard runner for the anchor chain. That is going to turn into a mess.
  • That single wide tramp really sags too. No matter how tight it is.
  • In the boat we saw much of the interior paneling was hanging loose. It had been re-attached a couple of times. Not sure it this was a maintenance issue or a build issue.
  • The boat "felt" lightly build. I never notices stress fractures but the decks just felt bouncy rather than firm. I also saw a 46' Bahia on the hard with some major hull blister issue - maybe it was a on off.

FP Belize 40' Lavezzi:

Most of my comments from the Belize apply. This is a really, really, small boat. If I was shopping in this size I would have to give serious consideration to the Lagoon 38 becuase it feels about twice the size.

Pro
  • Funky modern design
Con
  • Where is the galley counter??

Others:


I have not been on a Voyage but after seeing so many Simonis designed Leopards I'm sure it will be a contender. I like the Voyage owners 440 with two heads and the pilot berths. The Yanmar saildrives should be very reliable. The wipedown interior should be super low maintenance. I like how the dingy sits on the aft deck (very solid there) and the cockpit and salon are both huge. Here is a little .

We also looked at a Privilege 395 with much the same comments as the FP, except the Privilege was a sauna with those overhead winds and no visibility from the salon at all.

I was on a 50' Admiral that had all it's bulkhead tabs broken. Maybe it was a rough transit, I don't know. And while the windows look neat they were much like the Privilege for sauna effect.

The Leopard 420 was AWESOME. Just a very nice boat all around. If I could afford it I would, although I would stay away from the electric ones. The sales staff didn't even want to talk about it.

The Leopard 440 is stupid from a family point of view. And good luck getting to the boom.

The Leopard 46 was nice but way to much money for me. I also get the feeling that the older Leopards my be a bit more strongly built.

If you like power cats (I do), the Lagoon 44 is great. The Lagoon 43 is pretty cool also (and you can get a bit of deal on them especially if they have the smaller engines). I could see myself living on either one of those - at least until fuel prices or the desire to go somewhere long distance got the best of me. The FP Maryland 37 is decent but too small for a family. The Leopard 46 Power was too much money.

The new Lagoon 400 looks like it could be great compromise boat for us. Unfortunately it's going to be too expensive to buy new.

I think I would like the Seawind 1200 and 1160's as well. I haven't seen them and they are fairly rare and pricey.


What would my perfect boat be? In no particular order...

  1. Strength and pricing of the Leopards (can't deny they are proven)
  2. Yanmar engines with shaft drives external to living space. Sail drives would be fine also.
  3. Manta dingy davits
  4. Lagoon flat decks and salon headroom
  5. Voyage wipe down interior with a touch more wood for warmth
  6. Solid glass below the waterline
  7. Hard top
  8. 3 Cabin with 2 or 3 head
  9. A little FP style for the soul
  10. PDQ galley down with gas stove


So there you have it. Fire away.
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Old 05-09-2009, 04:04   #13
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Bravo talus! Well done...and thank you!!!!!!!!

We appreciate the sort of flack that can follow a hi-profile exposition like that one, but it was (in our opinion anyway) SO straight...and so so appreciated too.

To add a bit from 'down under', the Seawind 1200 doesn't have that great a sailing performance reputation -- I admit I've never sailed on one though -- and the 1160 seems to be catching a bit of the same 'drift'; the latter includes our first hand observations (albeit over short, several-hours only sails) as well as comments by some 1160 owners. The 1160 is nicely finished with some very clever ideas inside, but perhaps not a good passage boat unless you like your engines running.

Not specific to any vessel, we also find the sloping saloon windows a negative for the heat they (and direct overhead sun) can produce inside the saloon. Perhaps not a deal-breaker negative as you so correctly note the compromise(s) in every vessel, but a negative nonetheless. So we see plenty of vessels with various forms of shades rigged over their windows and ask...why can't they design that problem away, as do the Lagoons, FP, Leopards and perhaps others as well of course.

Isn't your posted video a Voyager?

Thanks again mate!
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Old 05-09-2009, 04:16   #14
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You have cetainly given this a lot of study. I'll only speak to one point.

You mentioned it only once, and it is a personal preference, but I'm not much in favor of the traveler arches. Change that to strongly opposed.

Yes, they make access around the cockpit easier, but you can't trim the main as well, especially as the mainsheet is eased. Boom then goes up so you have a much greater need for a vang. ( I rarely need the vang because the traveller is so long). The traveler can't be as long, and the system can't be inspected as well. The arch is a lot of extra weight, and expense. Windage as well.

Unfortunately, most of these boats are evolving to traveler arches.
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Old 05-09-2009, 06:48   #15
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Surprised not to see the St. Francis 44 mentioned. A good friend sailed one around the world and swears by them. I've sailed on a Voyage 440 in the BVI's and it's absolutely one of my favorite cats. The Voyage 50 is the next step up. Regarding Volvo's engines on any boat as a negative (?), I purchased a Wildcat 350 with twin Volvo MD2020's and was a bit nervous at first, since I was a huge Yanmar 3 GM30F fan, but those Volvo's ran so smooth without any problems (including the sail drives). The new owners have recently taken her down to Grenada (from Central Florida took 3 months) which included lots of motoring into windward (thornless path) then more sailing down the Leeward Islands all the way to Grenada - and the engines still pur. Just had to replace one fuel line along the way. So many nice cats out there and like you said, not one is 100% perfect. Hope this economy turns around soon so I can get back onto a Catamaran. Only good thing about the sour economy is that there's some great deals out there.
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