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After dinner we head back up to the room and turn on the weather channel,
hoping to hear that we are going get a moderate amount of wind. Certainly the
Chesapeake Bay is know for it's windy conditions which is why the largest sailboat show in the USA is held here.
What we hear is calm conditions with winds gusting up to 5 knots. 5 knots you have got to be kidding me.
It appears that 2008 Demo day is going to be a non event just like 2007 when we
could barely get anything sailing. In fact in 2007 we motor-sailed, not the best
conditions to test a yacht, particularly a Catamaran.
Tuesday morning comes along and it is gray and there is no wind at all at the hotel, the trees are limp and a light fog
has settled in. There isn't enough wind to even blow that away. Well we head off
to the marina to check in for our demo sails on the Lagoon 380, then the Leopard
40 and lastly the Lagoon 420. When we arrive we find that the Lagoon 420 is
sitting there and waiting for wind, the Leopard 40 and the Lagoon 380 are out
doing demos. The forecasters were correct 5 knots of wind.
The Lagoon 380 comes in and we take another long hard look at her, she is
really solid and well designed, just not big enough and just not enough
storage for our needs, but a beautiful yacht all the same. We board and
start motoring out into the bay, turn her bow into the breeze and hoist the
main and the jib, all the time with the motors running and in gear. She
is heavy and really hard to get moving in this light wind, but with that
being said, she was not designed for these light winds, she is a blue water
boat and really starts to perform in 15 knots and up. The wind is so light
that it is not possible to tack without the assistance of the motors. We
struggle for about an hour and half looking for wind but not finding any, so
the sail is a bust, well not totally, we do know that the Lagoon 380 is just
no good in light wind but all of that extra weight will come in handy in big
seas and heavier winds.
We head for the dock, thank the captain and head for the Leopard 40. We board and start looking around the yacht
opening closets, and basically going through as much as we can. We talk to the
skipper and tell him what we just experienced on the Lagoon, and we get a "Well
just wait until you are out there and I will show you something" Hmm, I think
We motor out of the marina into into the bay, point the nose into the
same 5 knot breeze hoist the main and jib and go looking for wind. So far
nothing different, we hoisted the sails under power and sailed off at about
half of the apparent wind.
Immediately I could feel the difference, this yacht is faster and
lighter, better, maybe and maybe not, but it is so hard to tell in such
light conditions. The Leopard 40 was essentially built for the Caribbean
charter market so she is geared towards the tourist, as a result she has
tons of storage and the aft deck area and saloon are designed around sunset
dinners on the deck with family and friends. There is little or no
separation between the the saloon and aft section of the boat. It is however
designed with the aft deck closed off with a walkway that can be closed off
to stop the toddlers wondering off. Well to a point, young ones have a way
of getting over, under or around things, but we don't have any but this was
still pointed out to us. Anyway about half way into the sail the skipper
says to me to furl the jib, center the traveler and tack through the wind.
So we furl the jib and so on and tack through the wind on the main in 5
knots of wind and I will be damned if the yacht deals with this without a
problem at all. Really easy, and no motors, now I am impressed. We
sail along and sail past the Lagoon 420 which tacks away and we have a royal
time in 5 knots or less of wind. Still not great conditions for sailing
but the yacht handled the conditions better than the Lagoon did. Why, well
as mentioned she is lighter, and has less beam than the Lagoon 380 and thus
does not need all that additional weight. I ask well how does she handle big
seas and heavy winds, and the skipper says that he sailed her over from
South Africa dodging Hurricanes, Gustav, Hannah and Ike. Great story but I
wasn't there so I have to believe him. We thank him for his time and head
over to the Lagoon 420.
After doing 2 demo sails the day is about done, and the last demo on the Lagoon 420 is to start at 4pm, still with little or no wind.
We board the 420 and she is just gorgeous, tons of space, open, modern and tons
and tons of storage. This is just one fantastic yacht.
Lagoon has made a few minor changes on the 2008 / 2009 model. They have
added about 18" to the mast and they found that for her weight she was under
sheeted. They also recessed all the hatch openings so that you now have
clean access from the stern to the bow on both the port and starboard sides.
No more stubbing your toes into the dark if you have to move to the bow in
the dark. They have added seating on the bow in front of the trampoline; a
feature that was seen on the 440 last year. She is beamy and heavy, in fact
she has just about the same beam as the 440 and is 2 feet shorter. You can
see why she needs extra sails. Anyway we introduce ourselves to the captain
and he motor out to the bay, by now we are expecting the same benign
conditions, but we have a little evening breeze of about 10 knots, not great
conditions but better than we have had all day. Again we turn the bow to the
wind and raise the main and unfurl the jib. She handles this without any
trouble and seems to do better in the light conditions than her little
sister. She is bigger and has 2 foot more waterline and weighs about the
same same the 380, as a result she can handle the lighter conditions
better without compromising her heavy weather pedigree. I must say
that I really enjoyed sailing this yacht and she was everything I expected,
she tacked through the wind graciously, sailed at at about half the speed of
the apparent wind and was everything and more that I had expected of this
yacht. We sailed her for about 90 minutes tacking, jibing and just generally
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This particular yacht had been prepared and built to a customers
specifications and had some really nice extras, stuff like remote steering
which at first I thought was a little gimmicky; but I found that I was able
to steer her from the saloon and would be able to do so in bad conditions.
There is no need to be up on deck during a lightening storm when you can be
inside. She was also fitted with a genset which was so quiet that if you did
not know that it was running you would not hear it. I one item that I did
not like was the hardtop, though absolutely essential, it obscured your view
of the sails and the tell tales. I found myself walking to port and looking
around the port side to see what was going on with the sail trim, and I
could not tell where the traveler was as it was on top of the hardtop. You
would have to tie a ball or something onto the back of the traveler and hand
it over the back of the hardtop so that you can see where it is. Something
that I could probably live with. Back at the dock we thanked the
skipper and all that were involved with organizing and coordinating our demo
sails and LEs and I sat down and took stock of where we were and which of
the 3 we were going to buy.
Buying a yacht is a series of compromises, is bigger better, price is a factor.
Do you want a genset, do you want a heavier yacht with more beam. How much
effort, time and energy will be needed to keep it clean and ship-shape. Can
you single hand her, which of the sailing characteristics do you prefer and
which features can you live without. Is there room for a dive compressor,
and so and so forth. We mulled this through our minds and crunched the
numbers ad decided that the Lagoon 380 was just not big enough for us, and
in light of the fact that Lagoon is introducing the new Lagoon 400 next year
we believe that the 380 will be no more, as a result this yacht was ruled
This left the Leopard 40 and the Lagoon 420, which was my preference. Both
could be single handed, but in fairness to all concerned I did not believe
that Lesley would be able to handle such a large yacht on her own, it is
simply too big for her. Besides I am getting older and I want to clean less
not more, and lastly we did not have nearly $600,00 for a fitted Lagoon 420.
This left us with the Leopard 40, Lesley's choice all along, and $250,000
The decision became a no brainer, we settled on the Leopard 40. Delivery to
be made after the Annapolis Boat show of 2009, which right now cannot come
fast enough for me. As a friend of mine said that is longer than
childbirth, how are you going to cope. That my friends is to be seen.
Now to name her ....