The research of the right boat for us took a few years and was a complex process. Without going into too many details, these are a few of the questions we asked ourselves.
Monohull or catamaran?
I’ve done all of my training in the San Francisco bay on monohulls, from Basic Keelboat to Coastal Passage Making, on a wide range of boats, from Colgate 26s to Beneteau and Doufort 41s. But we also chartered catamarans several times in the Eastern Caribbean. So we have a pretty good idea of pros and cons of the two types of boat.
If I can draw an analogy between boats and motorcycles, I would say monohulls are like dirt bikes, whereas catamarans are more like street bikes. In rough conditions and sailing against the wind, a monohull can cut through the waves, like a dirt bike climbing over all sort of obstacles. Cruising catamarans, on the other hand, are better suited for downwind sailing in the trade winds, just like street bikes are meant for paved roads.
At the end, for our intended use, we decided for a catamaran based on these factors (among others):
Livability: As liveaboard, we wanted to have more comforts.
Redundancy: Two hulls, two engines, two alternators, two rudders.
Maneuverability: Shallow draft allows you to anchor closer to shore.
Tough call. We put together a list of requirements and went to several boat shows to see and compare boats side by side. Leopard, Lagoon and Fountaine Pajot were our final candidates. We chartered Leopards many times in the past, and we liked the way they are build, their layout and how they sail. Leopard fulfilled the majority of our requirements, with the Lagoon coming distant second.
New or used?
If we had the privilege of having a lot of free time at our disposal to go see used boats, we’d probably done that. There are a lot of excellent used boats out there! Cruising cats, however, are more popular on the US east coast, in the Caribbean or in the Med. This means that you need to jump on a plane to go check them out, have a sea trial, hire a surveyor, haul out etc. The process of buying a used boat is very time consuming. With a full time job, unfortunately this was not an option for us.
But at the end of the day, the deciding factor was that Yuka fell in love with the new 2018 model year of the Leopard 40, and to see one of these boats coming on the used market we should have waited a few years. Our goal has always been to do this no later than 2020…
So we decided to buy new. We called our guy in Miami and we pulled the trigger.