Boat wanted

After almost 15 years in the country and 8 years as mill owners, our longing for the sea is driving us forward again. It was always clear to us that the mill would only be of limited use to us as a retirement home and would therefore „only“ be a very nice interlude. Age is always advancing and at some point you have to think about how you want to spend your retirement.

We have considered many alternatives over the past few years. A finca in Spain, converting the mill to make it suitable for senior citizens, a condominium in Bremen and lots of traveling, or getting back on a boat and sailing the world for as long as possible. In the end, we decided on the latter and slowly but surely started to look around for the right boat.

Monohull or multihull?

The first decision was between a monohull and a multihull. That was made pretty quickly! Even though the monohull has better sailing characteristics, a multihull simply offers more space and freedom of movement. A multihull heels significantly less and life on board takes place mainly on one level. These are both plus points when you consider that we would like to spend another 10-20 years on board if possible and that our own mobility will probably deteriorate.

In the case of multihulls, the question is whether to choose a catamaran – i.e. two hulls – or a trimaran – three hulls, to be precise. Here, too, there are pros and cons to weigh up. In my opinion, a trimaran is better from a sailing point of view, but you usually have two very narrow outer hulls and a larger central hull. The space available is therefore usually manageable compared to a catamaran of the same size.

We found a good solution in the Neel 51 trimaran, which we were able to view in La Rochelle in 2018. What looked great on paper, however, scared us in reality. „A monster,“ said Axel at first sight, and rightly so. With an overall length of 15.60 m and a beam of 8.90 m, you’d better think twice about whether it’s really still manageable in old age. 202 m² of sail area also need to be mastered. The layout, access to technology, design and probably also the sailing characteristics (we haven’t tried them out) are a dream. Perhaps fortunately, but then also far too expensive. And as the range of trimarans suitable for cruising is otherwise relatively limited, we finally decided on a catamaran.

Fountaine Pajot, Leopard, Lagoon, or what?

Also in La Rochelle, we were able to take a look at the Saba 50 and the then brand new Astrea 42 from Fountaine Pajot. We liked the Astrea very much, it met all our requirements and was big enough. It also fitted in well with our plans to buy a catamaran at some point in the next 5-10 years. It was clear to us that we wanted a used boat in any case. We also had a look at the Bali catamarans. However, these quickly fell out of the shortlist for various reasons.

Looking ahead, several years passed after the visit to La Rochelle, during which we were more concerned with sorting out the necessary finances than with the immediate search for a catamaran. During the Corona pandemic, even the decision to retire on a catamaran was completely on the back burner, as many sailors were stranded in the middle of paradise with major problems. Prices for new and used boats then soared to unfamiliar heights as it seemed that everyone wanted to buy a boat in search of social distancing-compliant leisure activities. At some point, the price spiral turned again and prices slowly but steadily began to fall back into predictable and affordable regions. It was therefore a good time to return to the subject of buying a catamaran.

With more or less extensive internet research, we were finally able to narrow down the catamarans we were considering. The size was a decisive criterion. It should be between 40 and 50 feet, ideally 42-45 feet. A 3-cabin owner’s version, not a „charter carrot“. Used, but not too old. Berth, preferably in Europe, as we are planning a transitional period in Germany to fit out the boat. Accordingly, the VAT status was not to be neglected. In terms of equipment, a lot would of course be desirable. However, you always have to weigh up whether the additional „used“ equipment is really worth the higher price. Or whether a less equipped but cheaper boat would not be better.

In the end, the following catamarans emerged as our favorites among the shipyards and models:

  • Lagoon 400, Lagoon 44, Lagoon 450 F or S, Lagoon 46
  • Leopard 45, Leopard 48
  • Fountaine Pajot Astrea 42, Fountaine Pajot Helia 44, Fountaine Pajot Saona 47

Weeks and months of market observation followed. Great boats, great equipment, but nowhere near an acceptable price. For the first time in January 2023, many components were suitable. A Lagoon 440 in Alicante/Spain made a good impression. But wasn’t 2006 a bit too old for us? After all, a lot of the equipment had already been replaced and the pictures looked promising. While we were still wondering whether a trip to Spain would be worthwhile, a Lagoon 400 built in 2011 suddenly turned up in February. Younger, smaller and cheaper. Moored in Denmark, practically around the corner. According to the data, a „harbor ship“, few engine hours, well maintained and reasonably well equipped. So we made an appointment and set off for Denmark.

Well, at least that’s what we thought. Unfortunately, the estate agent got in touch the day before to say that the cat had been sold. Too bad, but we weren’t in a hurry yet… And so we had to keep our eyes open and keep looking.

Ancora Yacht Festival 2023

Next chance to see catamarans „live“ again. Fountaine Pajot, Lagoon and Nautitech were on the list of exhibitors and the visit to the Baltic Sea fitted in perfectly with Axel’s birthday. He booked a hotel, made an appointment to visit and was already looking forward to it. We received direct feedback from Lagoon and Fountaine Pajot and the appointments were easy to arrange. We still haven’t heard back from Nautitech – well, it wasn’t really on our wish list anyway.

On Saturday, May 13, we went to Neustadt/Holstein in glorious sunny weather. We stopped by our friend Heinke Böhnert’s stand and were already standing in the marina looking at a row of catamarans. Very striking, a Lagoon 55, which already gave a „monster impression“ from a distance. Definitely too big for us. Next to it was the Lagoon 42, which we were then able to inspect directly. Nils Heyde from Lagoon Catamaran Nord took his time and gave us lots of valuable information. All in all, the 42 made a very good impression, structurally sound and with good details. Small details can certainly be added quickly. After a fish sandwich and a stroll through the harbor, we continued our tour of the Fountaine Pajot Isla in the afternoon. Despite making an appointment, it was only after a lot of asking around that we found an employee who was friendly but still seemed rather ignorant. Many detailed questions were answered in general terms, and some things had to be looked up in the brochure first. In addition to the fact that 40 feet definitely seemed too small to us, there were also some structural defects that we would not have expected from Fountaine Pajot. In addition, the boat didn’t really seem to have been prepared for the trade fair. No cushions, protective stickers on the fridges, no decorations. This could certainly have distracted from the minor flaws. This left a rather negative impression. During our evening meal at the Nautilo restaurant (highly recommended!) in Lübeck, we realized that we would probably rather concentrate on the 44-48 foot sizes and limit our search to Lagoon and Leopard.

That leaves the following catamarans to choose from:

  • Lagoon 44, Lagoon 450 F/S
  • Leopard 44, Leopard 45, Leopard 48

Test sailing Lagoon 42 off Laboe

The good impression of the Lagoon dealer was confirmed a week after the trade fair when we received an invitation to test sail the 42 off Laboe. As we had never sailed on a catamaran before – it’s hard to believe – we quickly arranged a date for mid-June 2023. The weather that day was perfect for summer, so we took a leisurely convertible tour through Schleswig Holstein to get there. The weather on the Kiel Fjord was also perfect for test sailing: sunshine, a light breeze and not much going on on the water. The good impression was confirmed, although any catamaran sailing would probably have been fun in these conditions. Conclusion at the end: catamaran sailing suits us, but the Lagoon 42 we sailed still seems too small. The final order to Nils and Michael from Lagoon was therefore to please keep us informed about used Lagoon 450s as an owner’s version. However, we have removed the Lagoon 44 from our list, as the flybridge on this model cannot be reached from the cockpit but only „around the outside“ and contact with the cockpit therefore seems too difficult for us. At the same time, the Leopard catamarans remain on our list. Let’s see when we can have a „live“ look at these catamarans too.

Sweet dreams or pure madness?

Well, what wouldn’t the world be without dreaming? We have probably always been known for our (sometimes) crazy ideas. And so, of course, we are always open to completely different solutions.

A long time ago, for example, we found the catamarans from Yapluka very interesting. Unfortunately, these luxury aluminum catamarans are almost never for sale used and are actually built from 60-70 feet. Recently, however, there have been some very interesting alternatives, such as the ExploCat from Garcia or the Portofino 47 or 52. As both are brand new, however, for us they are more of an option for a possible lottery win.

If you browse the Lagoon or Leopard websites, you will of course quickly come across the larger models. In our opinion, the 50-foot catamarans from both manufacturers are perfect in terms of equipment options, room layout and safety. In our opinion, the Leopard 50 is just a touch ahead, which is why this model also ends up on our list. In contrast to the 45-48 foot variants, it has the charming advantage that a 4-cabin version would be perfectly conceivable for us in this case and is even offered with one of the four cabins as a „utility room/workshop“ at the shipyard. Simply a dream! We can almost realistically see ourselves sitting in the front cockpit or in the spacious roof lounge area with a sundowner and enjoying the Caribbean sunsets! New, of course, unaffordable for us, but fortunately the Leopard 50 is actually available for sale as a 4-cabin version from the charter business. The dream is therefore not so far away and almost within reach. Unfortunately, it still remains to be clarified how we can manage this with the lottery win that will probably be necessary 😉

We’re excited to see what we end up with and will of course keep you up to date as soon as we find a final solution!