Sunday, July 26, 2020

Our search has narrowed to two boats and brands

Initially, we were interested in three boats (which you can still see on the website) the Fountaine Pajot Salina 48, Saona 47, or the Leopard 48.  After more research, we have narrowed it down to just the Salina 48 or Leopard 48.

Mostly, this has to do with room for solar panels; we feel we must have 5 kWh or more and we just can't squeeze that much on the Saona 47.  It also has to do with price, and being newer, the Saona 47 is looking like they will still be too far above our budget in two more years, seeing as they are up at $700,000 to $900,000 now.  We just don't see them coming down enough.

Now, for a while, the Salina 48 was our front runner.  However, over time, the Leopard 48 has gained ground.  At this point, I would call them neck and neck. 

Leopard 48 Concerns: 

The issue with the Leopard was the safety of that forward cockpit in bad seas.  However, we have been unable to find a single case reported where a forward cockpit, in any Leopard boat, has been proven to be catastrophic.  In fact, just the opposite.  With one delivery captain reporting 70-knot winds with green water coming over the bow for 15 hours, and no issue with the forward cockpit filling... well, it seems that concerns about it have been unfounded.  As for that flat surface not being aerodynamic, the boat also has reports of decent sailing performance for a comfort style catamaran.  Certainly as good as the Salina 48.  

Just to note: There was one 40' Leopard cat lost on delivery from South Africa to Thailand, but they ran into a cyclone.  That boat was found, upside down, which leads one to believe that this was flipped by heavy winds (like cats in the Caribbean which were turned over by hurricane Irma).  There is no evidence to suggest that the forward cockpit was the issue.

Addendum: We learned recently that Leopard cats cannot be beached on their keels, and require support at the bulkheads, this all but eliminates Leopard cats from our consideration as we plan to beach our boat, often, in certain locations of our voyage.

Salina 48 concerns:

The main concern we have on the Salina 48 is the dinghy system under the stern sundeck.  We just can't get a dinghy high enough.  We also can't put it on top, as that would be too high.  Our only option is to cut off that sundeck, re-finish the cut at the top of the wall and construct and add on a whole new dinghy lift system.  Then, we want a hardtop over the steering station.  To do that, we would need to raise the boom, which means remounting the gooseneck higher up on the mast and recutting the mainsail.  Then, we'd also have to construct and mount that new hardtop.  The Leopard already comes with an excellent dinghy lift system and a hardtop over the steering.

That being said... it looks like the Leopard 48 will likely be more expensive than the Salina 48, so we could afford to do the changes and be at the same price point.

Like I said, neck in neck. 

To make our decision, we are going to have to go sail both boats and also look at the condition as well as build quality.  Only seeing the boats will help us in these areas.

Covid 19 is getting in our way of doing that, with travel bans on US citizens and country lockdowns.  So, it looks like we will have to wait.  The good news is, we have time.  We don't expect to buy the boat we choose until 2023.  Hopefully, this will all be a  bad memory by then.  Here is hoping for a good vaccine!  One more thing that Covid 19 has caused (indirectly), our money is in U.S. dollars, and the dollar is currently pretty weak.  We are also hoping it gets better in a couple of years, as this could be a difference of $30,000 to $50,000 depending on the price of the boat and its location.

Addendum: the Covid years have also had the affect of driving up the prices of used catamarans to ridiculous amounts.  At this point, a Salina 48 is out of our price range if you add on what it costs to refit the boat for blue water sailing.  Hence, we are now planning to build a kit catamaran, and build a performance 50' cruising cat, from Schionning Designs.

We'll keep you posted as time goes on!