This new cruising cat has all the luxury features and speed performance of its bigger sisters in a compact, easy-to-handle package
At first glance, the helm looks a bit like the rigging on a square-rigger right out of “Master and Commander” but it’s not. First, there aren’t any cleats. There are a wealth of line-stoppers (I lost count at nine) with a trio of electric Lewmar winches to handle them at the push of a button. Everything is clearly labeled, and there’s no chance you’ll lower the main when you meant to furl the headsail.
What I might worry about is having a bunch of back-seat drivers on the nearby flybridge lounge. “Oh, skipper, I think the genny needs to come in an inch.” I foresee people being tossed overboard for kibitizing.
Nevertheless, I loved the helm with a double-wide seat, great visibility, every line at your fingertips and easy deck access. The skipper is protected from the elements by a fiberglass hardtop and I suspect adding a weather enclosure would be easy.
Let’s jump into the saloon for my second epiphany. The galley wasn’t where I expected it to be. Most cat designers place the galley aft, ostensibly so the cook can hand food to the cockpit. But the design team of Simonis & Voogd put it forward in the starboard corner, where the chef gets a terrific view both forward and to the sides. Leopard offers an optional dishwasher, but this galley location makes dishwashing in the big stainless steel sink fun. And, besides, they’ve hidden a very clever dish drying rack in a locker. So the chef takes two extra steps to feed the big table in the cockpit. Tough. Actually, what would be useful is a dumb waiter (no, I don’t mean you, honey) to provide munchies and cold ones to the flybridge.
Another item I liked (which isn’t visible in the galley) is the water purification system that takes all the cooties out of your freshwater, especially if you topped off the tanks in some dodgy foreign country or in some parts of Florida.
The saloon is finished with an L-shaped dinette that opens to the cockpit with sliding doors, a nav station forward with a seat, and a clear door to the foredeck that seals with dogging levers stolen from “Red October.”
Another feature I liked about the Leopard 42 is the return of dignity. Each of the berths is at least partially walkaround, so there is no more of this graceless climbing into the berth from the foot. No one clambers into bed that way at home, so why should you on a luxury yacht?
Now we come to one benefit of those wider chines—bigger berths. The owner’s cabin has a berth about 68 inches by 80 inches, just a bit smaller than king. Yes, all the berths are tapered, but I don’t mind occasionally tangling toes with She Who Must Be Obeyed. The owner also gets a lot of stowage in lockers and drawers, including a cavernous lighted one that pulls from beneath the berth.
The two guest cabins in the port hull also benefit from the chine, with en suite heads and (ta-dah!) stall showers, unlike the Leopard 40 where guests share a shower. Again, the berths are generous, with the aft cabin having a berth 66 inches wide or 6 inches wider than a queen.
One thing you’ll notice, particularly if you’re planning on cruising or living aboard, is the stowage. In the saloon, there are four oversized hatches with fiberglass liners that would hold a month of dry food or several cases of wine. Your call.
The second thing you’ll see (that I’ve noticed on other Leopards) is that there is great access to systems. This is clearly a function of the many Leopards in charter service, where any down time for service is lost income for the charter company. On the Leopard, however, pop a hatch in the saloon sole and there are the batteries. Pop a cover in one of the cabins, and you’ll find seamanlike and neatly labeled electrical and plumbing.
And the Leopard 42 is user-friendly even for dumb heads. The electrical panel is both comprehensive and easily understood. Even better, it’s in the stairway to the owner’s suite, so you can sit on a stair to read the labels, or stand with the panel at eye-level. No more groveling on your knees to find the breaker for the air conditioning.
While the Leopard 42 does have many of the features found aboard the company’s power catamarans (flybridge, great cabins, wonderful saloon), it is a sailboat. And the 42 is a sailing fool. Our review boat had the optional 755 square-foot square-topped main and, with the overlapping 501 square foot roller genoa unfurled, she reaches like the devil was chasing her, sailing at 10 knots in a 20-knot breeze. The boat points to about 110-degrees, which is solid for a cat, and runs like a leopard in the jungle.
Speaking of power, where is it? Well, unlike many cats where the engines are buried under the mattresses of the aft berths, these twin Yanmar 45-horsepower diesels have compact saildrives, so they each have their own hatches from the after deck. Open the hatches on gas lifts and the engines (and steering gear) are fully revealed. Your service techs will probably kiss you.
So, my love affair with Leopards continues unabated. But something just occurred to me. The owner’s shower is really oversized, so both She Who Must Be Obeyed and I could get squeaky clean and do our laundry together.
Principal dimensions: LOA 41’7”; LWL 40’11”; Beam 23’1”; Draft 4’7”; Displacement 27,432 lb.; Sail area 1,259 sq. ft.
Sailaway price: $669,000
850 NE 3rd Street, Ste. 201
Dania Beach, FL 33004