2000 Lagoon 380 Owner’s Version

Sailing San Blas

Not bad, eh?

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.