It was love at first sight.
Well, love and fate. Fate brought us to this Leopard 40, and our love for this boat provided us with the best cruising vacation we have encountered during our two short years of marriage. I suppose you can say we are lacking in the experience department, but let’s not discredit our opinion based solely on this fact.
Consider this— Andy is a yacht broker who has spent thousands of hours on sea trials, and has sold his fair share of pretty much everything from center consoles, to bow riders, to sailing catamarans and monohulls, to house boats and everything in between. It was our experience sailing a 47ft Beneteau last summer that made us give up on anything that didn’t have a sail. As a side note, I will say that I spent a few days on a Leopard 43 Powercat a few weeks back which had me warming up to the idea of giving power boating another try, but once we had the Leopard 40 moving at 13 knots under sail in 25 knots of wind, we knew that this was the end of the road for us, this was the perfect boat.
First impressions are everything—I believe that. When we boarded the Leopard 40 that would be home to us for a week, we were blown away. The openness of the galley and the ample counter space almost didn’t seem fair when I considered the fact that this boat provides more kitchen and counter space than my actual home. Not to mention, the galley serves as an excellent makeshift dancefloor. I wasn’t sure if I would ever go home again.
The first thing we did when we stepped onboard was open the sliding glass door to give a feeling of openness to the boat. What we soon realized was that it was not just the door that could slide open. The windows attached to the door could also slide back into the boat to create an open space between the salon and the aft cockpit. We were impressed.
But what really sealed the deal on our love affair with this boat was the forward access door. It is a given that this is a good feature for easy access to the trampoline, but we quickly realized that it was much more than that! At anchorage, with the forward access door open and the sliding glass doors open, the way the breeze circulates throughout the boat is nothing short of fantastic. Add some islands and turquoise water to the back drop and, voila! We were in paradise. With the wind keeping us cool, and the solar panels keeping our batteries charged, we had no need for the Northern Lights Generator. But, we did take comfort in knowing it was there, should we need it. I will confess that we fired her up once, for 20 minutes to test her abilities, and we can confirm that the a/c was ice cold!
The spacious dedicated owner’s cabin in the starboard hull was something to write home about—so we did! The letter home went something like this: “Dear Home, We have found the perfect dwelling. It is in the form of a Leopard 40 and we may never come back. Sincerely, Andy and Katie.” Aside from the owner’s cabin, the interior also features two guest cabins with a shared head in the port hull. These guest cabins are spacious and comfortable.
The maneuverability of this cat is unlike any boat we have ever had the pleasure of cruising. The ease of pulling into a slip and the simplicity of picking up a mooring ball with the dual 29 hp Yanmar engines is a real relationship saver. Gone forever are the arguments you endure when docking a boat with one engine!
The helm station is raised to starboard side, and the hardtop cover has a window so you can keep track of your sheets. Both winches, one of which is electric, are positioned perfectly to the right of the helm for ease of use. This boat was an absolute pleasure to sail.
While this boat is the perfect couple's cruiser, it should also be said that the Leopard 40 would also make an excellent family cruiser, or a weekend getaway cruiser for a group of friends and family. What sets this yacht apart from the rest is her openness, her layout and her functionality.
Upon our return home, it took quite some time for us to adjust back to reality. On past sailing vacations it’s the islands that leaves us longing for more. But this time, it was the Leopard 40 that has us planning our next trip in June.