Experiences after one year

Part 1: Leopard 45 – about the vessel

A year has passed since we started travelling with the Rivercafe. Time for a review. Today we start with part one and briefly look at the technical stuff. (sorry Bettina ). In the second part, in the next article, it’s all about us.

Grenada News frist

But first: what’s new in Grenada? Pandemic, recently arrived. People were surprised to see that after an island party (something like carnival) C19 went up like a bat out of hell. This and next weekend is Lockdown and its the rumor that the Prime Minister is abroad, supposedly for health reasons, as a precaution – of course. Keith Mitchell – that’s his name – , by the way, is a former cricket player, millionaire and quite unpopular as it seems. Unfortunately, there are also underexposed conspiracy followers here and there are motivation problems with vaccination.

Otherwise, the sun shines, it rains every day – mostly short and crisp – and we have temperatures between 26 degrees celsius at night and 33 degrees during the day. We have been spared hurricanes so far, but there are still about 2 months to go.


Now back to the main topic:

Leopard 45 – one year after

The beginning was tough and unpleasant because of the many installation problems. But then everything got better. Since the ship finally works, life on board is a joy.

The design is ingenious for our way of travelling. The aperitif in the front lounge, dinner outside in the huge aft cockpit and then a movie night on the Cinema sunbathing area at the bow – it’s all very bearable. Unlike other ships, we are very well ventilated and don’t use a lot of electricity for the aircon.  Our air AC very rarely runs. The Leopard is perfect for hot regions.

Good stuff:

The structure, fittings and workmanship are class. We are not shipbuilders, but those who crawled through the innards with us on board were very taken with the quality of the vessel. Especially those who have comparisons with other boats.

Nothing creaks, the ship sails stably and everything is solid and solidly finished. The maintenance effort is kept within limits, we have to derust from time to time, no wonder with plenty of salt water. Unfortunately, there are no self-cleaning boats.

The design and the walkways fit well with our routines. The sugarscoops (the steps at the stern) are good sized, the swim ladder easy to handle and the outside shower is ideal when you come back from a swim in the sea.

Very pleasant is the outside barbecue, that was a good decision. The grill is connected to the gas supply of the galley, so it doesn’t need separate gas. With butane our grill gets easily 20 degrees hotter than with propane.

The dishwasher and washing machine were perfect choices. Both don’t need much electricity and give us more free time.

Our electric upgrade delights us every day. A really good investment.


This could work better:

When it rains, water runs down the side of the hardtop and drips in through the open skylight into the owner’s bed. We put some silicone noses on the roof to drain off the rainwater. The roof hatch can now remain open even when it rains. Problem solved.

Some installation parts simply fell off right at the beginning, e.g. the counter plate on the seat of the steering position. It is now screwed on. In a swell, the ceiling panelling in the owner’s bathroom simply fell off. It was damaged, but luckily there was no one in the room. We were able to fix it again, but Leopard has yet to supply us with a replacement.

The fridge/freezer combination didn’t work out. At least all two weeks we have to defrost the freezer compartment. Annoying. Our gas cooker is no superhero either. The electric starter gave up after only 5 months. Instead, we can now use propane and butane gas after a conversion.

The watermaker supplies us with 110 litres of drinking water per hour. However, the handling is inconvenient. The system is started on the control panel, but the water pressure has to be regulated under a bed with a gymnastics exercise. Not well thought out and annoying.

How the Leopard 45 sails

The Leopard 45 is no racer, but no lame duck either. We are satisfied with the speed. Faster than Lagoon and Bali, similar to Fountain Pajot. Depending on the wind angle and strength, we sail between 5 and 10 knots. On average, we are sailing at 7-8 knots.

For the Caribbean, the standard sail setup with square top mainsail and genoa is completely sufficient. We haven’t needed Code D and spi between the islands so far. From 20 knots of wind, the main should be reefed, so: always. All sailing manoeuvres are easy to handle from the helm.

We still don’t like the way the mainsheet is routed, but I guess we’ll have to live with that.

We still have a problem with the main halyard, which runs very stiffly and with resistance. Setting the sail just takes much longer than we are used to. I hope the appointed rigger can find the reason before the new season starts. The undersized winches are a miscast. We are considering replacing the 45s with 55s.

Under engine the Leo is weaker than we thought. Maybe the standard folding propellers are undersized. At 1,800 rpm an engine consumes 2.5-3.0 l diesel. That makes 4.5 -6.0 knots of speed. Consumption and speed depend on the current. If both engines are running, it only brings about an extra knot of speed, with twice the fuel consumption. Sailing, the Leo is much faster.

After a year, the underwater hull urgently needed a new coat of paint, a new antifouling. There were simply too much wildlife on the hulls. Leopard uses Seahawk as antifouling. Didn’t convince me. We have now painted Seajet 039 and hope for a longer effect. The wear on the anodes was within normal limits.


The conclusion:

We are happy. Monohull sailing is more fun. But now the time under sail is the lesser part of life on board. Everyday life on a catamaran is very comfortable. Our decision for a catamaran was right and the choice for the Leopard 45 perfect.

If we hadn’t had the unnecessary start-up problems, our first year’s conclusion would have been pure rejoicing. After one year with Rivercafe, Karin and Holger, we can say that it is fun and we are sure that it will get better and better. / Holger Binz

P.S. Of course there is more to say about the technology, but I don’t want to go into too much detail. But I’m happy to answer questions if you want to know more: h@sailrivercafe.com.

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