Hello, dear readers! Most of you have read our blog throughout the years to follow the fun, salty travel adventures of the nerdy Burnetts. Boy, have we had adventures over the last two years! We’ve ridden horses through Colombia, island-hopped through the Caribbean, met amazing people, crossed the mighty Atlantic twice, followed the path of Odysseus, and saw more mountains, sunsets, paintings, monuments, prehistoric settlements, good restaurants, bad restaurants, and dolphins than you can count. We’ve also had the downside of adventuring, including severe offshore gales, clogged heads, exploding wieners, “Mayday!”, worm encounters, and bleeding thumbs. Despite these misadventures, the only word Mel has for the experience is: wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!
Through her tears, Mel just laughed while remembering the wiener episode.
Anyway, our wonderful journey is coming to an end, due to this terrible thing called a “calling” to resume the practice of medicine. Mel had no idea when she started this sabbatical that the deceivingly relaxing ocean harbored things like “dedication”, “ambition”, and “creativity” within it. Damn. She should’ve gone RV’ing instead.
Mel recently made an innocent inquiry regarding boat brokerage rates on the fantastic Facebook Group Women Who Sail, and now suddenly things have kicked into high gear. Interest is rising in Marvin, and reality has hit that the Burnetts need to sell him before they move inland. So here’s our first effort to that end. Read on if you are interested in boats and have a lot of cash lying around!
Why you should buy a used Leopard 48
Congrats! You want to buy a Leopard and are a person of exceptional means. You want a blue-water boat and are considering both the proven 48 or its little sister, the new 45. Both are popular, have long wait lists, beautiful front cockpits, big open saloons, massive windows, and gorgeous modern styling. You can’t get excited about slab-sided Lagoons, and you worry about the poor customer service of the French manufacturers. You are very smart.
Note that the following comes from a L48 owner who is selling her boat. She thinks Leopard 45s are gorgeous, and if after reading this you still chose a new 45 or 48, you will still have a fantastic boat. You will just have less for your money and a long wait time. So take this with a grain of salt. Ahem.
1. The main point: L45: The company is going to make money. Used L48: The seller is going to lose money. Hey, more money and boat for you!
2. Bigger displacement. Leopard 48’s are about 5500 lbs heavier than L45’s. Trust me, you want a heavier boat. Less bouncing means less barfing. L48s can handle big seas. We know.
3. Bigger boat for the money. Don’t be afraid of a slightly bigger boat. If you can handle an L45, an L48 is no different. To the human body, the forces to manage the sails on an L45 and L48 are similar: you still need power winches, you still can be pulled off the boat by the spinnaker, the mast is still really high up there. Mel (a clumsy weakling) and Greg (strong guy with back issues) double-handed their L48 through 18,000 nautical miles without bodily injury. Also, remember, cats have two hulls. Just 3 feet more of length gives you more width and double that much more storage. When we unpack this thing, it’s going to look like we are unloading a frickin’ clown car. Mel is going to play Benny Hill music and everything. Finally, we were never in a situation where we couldn’t get a slip where a 45-ft cat could, and the difference in marina fees is usually just a few dollars a day.
4. All the “new boat” kinks have been worked out! You may think, like us, that you will have fewer worries with a brand new boat. Oh, we were so cute back then! These boats are so complex that even a 0.1% level of screw-ups at the factory can turn into a new thing to fix every week. Luckily for Leopards with their high level of quality control, these things are usually minor: a single cheap electrical connector (that temporarily cut out our port engine), a defective hatch, a drawer that sticks or hurtles out, a leaky sink seal, a slight asymmetry in the fuel gauges… Other new boat owners have been less fortunate, with more significant problems like leaking fuel tanks and such. The first six months on our boat, we were tweaking and making minor warranty claims all of the time. You don’t want to be bothered with that! You want to skip the fixing things in exotic locations part and go straight for the fun, which we enjoyed for long stretches once our boat was all tuned up, remarkably just about when the warranties ran out.
5. New boats come with cut corners to minimize cost, and L48 owners have un-cut those for you. For example, a new L45 boat will likely come with crappy 12 mm poly jibsheets. If you continue on your merry way with those and forget to open the clutches once in a while, you will soon hear a loud crack! that so many owners have heard as it pops at the clutch. Buy a used L48 and you will already have Dyneema or 14 mm poly jibsheets installed, and likely a rigging upgrade that includes a Dyneema halyard! Less work and worry for you!
6. A well-maintained boat. Have you seen the kind of people who buy L48s? These folks are smart, detail-oriented, technical people. I mean, look at Randy. They care about proper maintenance; you aren’t going to be buying a boat from Barnacle Bob. Filters are cleaned and replaced on schedule, the A/C is run and flushed, the oil is changed. Hell, many L48 owners are pilots who are used to possible death if required maintenance is skipped. Take us: we had our rigging inspected twice last year. We wash our entire boat after every passage, and Greg does his anti-corrosion on the stainless weekly. He starts at the front of the boat and when he gets to the back of the boat he starts all over, like painting the Golden Gate Bridge. Mel is cleaning or changing some sort of filter almost every day. In other words, if you buy a used L48, you are not buying the Clampett’s carriage, you are buying the Ferrari in Ferris Bueller’s day off. Well, before Cameron crashed it, anyway.
7. And of course the obvious advantage: your boat is going to come so souped-up in a way that will take a lot of money and time to replicate. Many of us have already installed extra solar and replaced the factory controllers with networked MPPT ones; you are going to have at least 1000 W right out of the box. Many have already put in Lithium Ion batteries; throw away your lead-acid maintenance kit! Your watermaker and controller will be ready to go, having been frequently used, with all of the quirks worked out. You may even get a fancy UV water filter! And if you want a good downwind sail sized perfectly for your boat, complete with checklist for hoisting and dousing, well, just look in one of the forward lockers! Also, if you are lucky enough to buy a boat that has crossed an ocean (like ours; twice!), say hello to all of the free toys! Extra lines, drogues, para-anchors, storm anchors, and SPARES (basically about five aisles-worth of chandlery stuff) could be waiting for you in all of that storage space!
8. Production/charter-style boats come with bare-bones electrical systems. A used L48 that has been lived in by people who enjoy the finer things in life won’t! For example, our electrical system took Greg (electrical engineer) tens of thousands of dollars and several months of design and installation to accomplish, all so Mel can run her Griddler and her InstantPot or the AC at the same time without the generator on. Also, new L48’s require some futzing with the reefing system and the dinghy davit system for optimal functioning, which definitely would have been taken care of by the time you buy. Plug and play, baby!
9. After purchase, you’ve got questions about the boat? You don’t have to ask a Leopard representative who will answer you with general statements before they attend to their next customer (although our Leopard contacts have been VERY accessible and helpful.) You can ask the former owner, who knows every inch and quirk of your particular boat and will be more than happy to walk you through it. Trust me, conversations between compulsive L48 owners can go on excitedly forever!
10. And a final note: The Leopard 48 was voted Best Cruising Catamaran OF ALL TIME. Trust me, the glamour of that has not faded. We have always been proud to pull up at a slip or drop the hook at an anchorage, where we instantly become the belle of the ball. The Gunboat is probably the only sailing cat that gets more attention, but you’ll need a few more million dollars for that. You will have admirers, if you like that sort of thing. Enough said.
A few notes about our dear boat, The Amazing Marvin, in particular: Yes, we ran into a fish farm, and it had major fiberglass and hull repair done. This is to your advantage. We have proven that our engine compartments are truly sealed off from the rest of the hulls. We have new Yanmar 57 engines, with the latest controllers, that have been broken in and tested out but have less than 100 hours on them. These don’t overheat at high rpm and start sluggishly, like our old engines did. Our new rudders are more aligned than they ever were before, and our bottom paint was just put on in March. We have sailed over 4000 nautical miles since the repairs without any leaks, and we have proven that the work done was solid. In other words, you will get a two-year old boat with a 4-month old butt. Even better!
Despite the fact that Mel wants to throw up every time she thinks of selling off one of her family members and going back to work (the plan this entire time), The Amazing Marvin will be for sale sometime after July 15, 2017, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Apparently, we are currently the only used USCG-registered L48 in the US market at this time and we anticipate a lot of interest.