Last week in the Just Cruising column we gave you a tease as we introduced hull number one of the new Leopard 42. The little sister to the Leopard 50 and 45, the 42 offers a couple a complete cruising cat that is easier to handle underway, easier to moor and dock and simpler to maintain. Plus, it offers all the space a couple would need for living aboard and extensive cruising.
The wind was howling the day we were scheduled for a test sail so we had to make a decision right up front about how hard we wanted to push the boat and ourselves. We got away from the bock at Harbour Towne Marina in Dania, Florida and motored north along the river toward Port Everglades and the cut to the ocean. With the wind gusting to 25 or more and blowing steadily at 20 to 22, we put a reef in the mainsail and prepared for a bumpy ride.
But, as we turned into the cut and headed out to sea, we saw the waves ahead in the sharp easterly wind were rising to eight to 10 feet and were breaking ominously against the out-flowing tide. In a fit of good judgement, Leopard’s director of sales Frank Baguil, made the executive decision to turn back so we could sail test the 42 in the ship turning basin where the wind was steady and the water flatter.
The 42 is a cruising cat designed to provide her owners with a safe, reliable and stable sailing platform. You will never fly a hull in a Leopard cat yet the 42 but, like her sister cats, she still provides a good turn of speed under sail. In the hearty breeze that day, we reached back and forth, ran down wind and then tacked back upwind again. Upwind we saw sailing angles of about 55 degrees from the wind and a steady eight knots on the speedo. Reaching, we saw the speed increase to nine to 10 knots and downwind the 42 broad reached at nine knots even.
With the raised helm on the starboard side, you have excellent visibility forward and are socially connected to the raised lounge on top of the hard cockpit cover as well as the cockpit. All lines, sheets and halyards run to the helm so the boat can be singlehanded easily. This can create a lot of line spaghetti so Leopard provides a deep line catching system in the cockpit floor to prevent tangles. Electric winches make hoisting the main, furling the genoa and trimming sheets a simple push-button affair.
The flow of the boat on deck is wide open. The stern platforms are wide and make boarding from the dock a short step. The cockpit is spacious with a U-shaped dinette that will seat six for dinner. The aft back rest folds forward so you can sit facing aft to watch the world go by.
The cockpit and saloon are connected by a large sliding door and sliding window to create one indoor-outdoor living area. There is an indoor dinette to port, the nav station, which faces forward, also to port and the large U-shaped galley forward and to starboard. The galley is huge for a 42 footer and equipped with large drawer fridge and freezer units, a countertop gas cook stove and an oven. A dish washer is optional. A unique Leopard galley feature is the standard water purification system and spigot that cleans and purifies drinking water down to the most minute particles and bacteria. Even so, most owners will add a watermaker, so you will always know that you have truly safe and pure drinking water.
The master suite is in the starboard hull and offers an island berth aft, a vanity and large storage areas amidships and the huge head with separate shower forward. As we had our first look at this cabin, we were stunned by how spacious it is. The hulls have even larger chines than you will find on the 45 and 50, which translates into even more space inside.
Plus, there are windows everywhere so you have the sense that you are living as much outside as inside. The natural light in the hulls really makes them feel spacious and open, and eliminates any sense of claustrophobia you might feel in a narrower and darker cabin space. The port hull has two guest cabins, each with its own head and shower.
The 42 has a remarkable amount of storage space. In the cabins there are huge hanging lockers, large drawers and cubbies for all of your clothing and personal stuff. In the saloon, the floorboards cover large storage bins where you can stow enough dry goods for a month while the fridge and freeze will hold an equal amount of perishables.
Forward, where the two large water tanks are usually placed under the sub beds and forward cockpit, the storage areas are now open because the water tanks have been hidden at the bottom of the hulls. The gen set is in the starboard compartment, but there is now room there for downwind sails, folding kayaks, SUPs and all of your docking lines and fenders.
The 42, like her larger sisters, is designed for comfortable living aboard and safe and convenient world cruising. With optional solar panels on the cabin top and the gen set, you have all the power sources you need to keep the battery bank charged. With a dishwasher in the galley and a washing machine cum drier in the master head, daily chores will be just as simple as they are at home.
And with the huge windows and skylights admitting light to every cabin and living space, you will always feel the sense of lightness and airiness that make living aboard all the more pleasant. The Leopard 42 is a couple’s boat that will take then happily anywhere they choose to sail.
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