2000 Lagoon 380 Owner’s Version
Boat shopping was a little hectic. But it was fun. I approached the boat-buying decision differently than most. For me, I knew I needed a sailboat. I knew I wanted a catamaran. Choosing a catamaran is, in fact, often considered heretical – but if you’ve ever been on one you’ll understand why so many people choose them for cruising in the tropics. Honestly, in my mind, the only reason to choose a monohull is budget. But never, ever, wait around until you have “the right amount of money” for “the perfect boat.” If you can afford a monohull today, buy it today and start cruising – tomorrow doesn’t always come.
I built my budget around needing $25-50K in refit, minimum. To that end, I was stuck in the $150,000 price range (total $200K). Budget was the largest concern, as I knew that I could do just fine on any of the commercially available catamarans on the market (Fountaine Pajot, Lagoon, Leopard, etc) – but my budget was on the very low end. I also wanted a boat with a decent resale market, that was considered relatively high-quality.
So I started searching within my budget. I didn’t fly all over the country looking at boats (though that’s not a bad plan), rationalizing that the money spend flying and time taken off work would negatively affect my budget. Instead I started with (all) sailing catamarans in my budget, over 36 foot. There were a few, but most needed serious outfitting/refitting. I ran across my boat, S/V NOMAD on yachtworld.com, at an asking price of $160,000. I offered $150,000 and it was accepted. With this I got a boat outfitted for coastal cruising (though many would take it, in its current condition, offshore).
The Lagoon 380 owner’s version fits me well, but I would have happily taken another 2-3 foot in waterline. I would have jumped on a well-equipped Catana as well. All that said, my philosophy was “smaller is better” – the smaller the systems the less to maintain/replace. The less I spend in initial purchase, the longer I get to cruise and the more goodies I can add. Here was my basic criteria:
- Production sailing catamaran – one-offs and custom jobs are very hard to value and depend very much on the quality of the build. I’m new at this and didn’t want to get stuck with a lemon. I also want to be able to sell the boat when/if the time comes.
- Proven blue-water cruising abilities – coastal cruising is great. Smaller cats are great. But I don’t want to trade off blue-water abilities. That means I need a robustly built catamaran, that has a high bridgedeck clearance and oversized rigging. All of the catamarans I looked at had example that had circumnavigated.
- Low engine hours – this isn’t always black and white, as engine hours can be fudged (broken hour meters, replaced hour meters) and proper maintenance/use is often much more of a factor than engine-hours.
- Set up for cruising – though my Lagoon 380 wasn’t set up for blue-water cruising, it did have many things a charter or weekend sailor wouldn’t have. Like: a big watermaker, a serviceable dinghy/outboard, a custom arch, a spare freezer, a generator, a solar system, tons of spares onboard, appropriate electronics (mostly), and enough ground tackle. And the boat was in serviceable condition when I purchased it. I’m upgrading most of that, but it would have sufficed.
- At least 3 bunks – I may or may not have guests/crew – but I want that to be my choice and not dictated by the design of the catamaran. The owner’s version is a tradeoff (standup shower for a fourth bunk), as are most things on a boat. But the owner’s version is remarkably more comfortable to live on. As a bonus, it’s usually more valuable in resale than the charter versions.
- No charter history – this is a huge thing, and has two effects. One – a boat with charter history is scary to many boat owners, so a boat with charter history won’t command the same resale price. Two – a boat with charter history can mean that it’s been used roughly, as people who charter don’t have to maintain the boat.
- Relatively new – older boats are more prone to sub-system failure. As a general rule, they’ve also had more owners – and you inherit all of the sins of any previous owner. Older boats are also an older design – they may not sail as well, may have some safety concerns, and often don’t have the same comfort/speed tradeoffs in the same proportion. Of note: there’s a grey-area here, where a boat may be “relatively new” but hasn’t gotten old enough to replace many of the sub-systems (rigging, sails, electronics hatches, safety equipment, seacocks, etc). I actually think my boat falls into this category, and it’s something to factor into maintenance/refit costs.
- A previous owner who seemed to care – this is very subjective, and almost all people that are selling a boat seem to care. A good sign is a list of replacements/upgrades. The older the boat, the longer the list should be. I would have liked to see a longer list, but I didn’t want to pay any more – so I ended up with mine, in it’s current condition. Not bad, but certainly in need of some work.