How we chose our boat:

Selecting a boat is a very personal endeavor, to be sure. However, we assumed that we could learn a lot from those ahead of us in the process.  It used to drive Lori-Anne crazy when I asked fellow sailors about which boat, rigging, anchor, etc. they would recommend. The answer was always: "It depends."   But, when you don't have any reference or experience to pull from, "It depends," doesn't help!

Turns out, “It Depends” is 100% correct… (albeit still frustrating).  If you’re going to be a day sailor and stay close to shore, or rarely sleep aboard, or primarily use the vessel for fishing, etc. etc. – then of course there are many different ways to go.

But – if you are looking for a live-aboard sailboat, capable of circumnavigation… then you may learn a bit from the decision making process we endured.   Here are some of the key factors that led us to selecting a new Leopard 44:

  1. Monohull vs Catamaran.  This was easy for us.   Since we did not grow-up racing on the Chesapeake or etc.  – we had no romantic notions of healing 30 degrees or “hiking out” to hang off the high side.   While a Monohull is pretty, and can indeed sail a bit closer to the wind when you’re beating (or heading into the wind), for us, the additional living space, added speed and overall stability made this part a ‘no-brainer.’
  2. Head room.  At over 6'2" with fairly wide shoulders (and the rest of me getting wider every day!)  - I’ve never been particularly flexible & don’t like crawling around.     Don’t get me wrong, I can “camp” with the best of ‘em… but If I am going to live on this vessel; I needed a bit more room to comfortably maneuver.  I don’t enjoy bending down to enter a doorway, having my feet hang off a bed or turning sideways to walk down a gangway.  Besides, my co-captain and partner in crime shouldn’t have to put up with groaning and moaning from too many "boat bites."   So, we were relegated to the 42- 47’ range.  (The 50’s are just too expensive and too big for a novice couple).
  3. Price/Value.  Alas, like most folks, we did not have an unlimited budget…We really connected with a few boats that were 40%+ more than what we wanted to spend (Antares, Catana, Privilege, etc.). The Leopard provided us the best boat for the dollar.
  4. Performance. Design ratios such as: How much sail area divided by overall weight (displacement)? Some boats have high deck clearance and others had very narrow hulls. We were looking for a balance. We felt it translated to "reasonable" performance
  5. Design. We eliminated some makes due to dagger boards. We felt the lost deck space was too much for the amount of added performance. It is all trade-offs! 
  6. New vs. Used. We are not particularly handy, nor do we want to spend a ton of time repairing stuff.  Given that, and the significant improvement in design and fiberglass technology, I was only interested in boats less than 3 years old.   So – we had a fairly small list of possibilities (make, model and year)…  turns out that there weren’t many of the boats on our list up for sale and the ones that were, were holding their value pretty well.  We ended up selecting a new boat, partially because we lost patience.   Since we fell in love with the Leopard 44 and was able to get a decent ‘show special’ discount…

Occasionally, I think we could have saved $100K AND got a blue-water equipped boat if we had been more calculating.   Some of the used boats out there are better equip, fully sea tested and refit to look new. Saving those extra dollars could mean the difference between sail one year or many years for some.