Shakedown Cruise

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The order for our Leopard 48 was placed in August of 2014 with an estimated delivery time of eleven months. It showed up on June 22, 2015 after being put on a container ship in Cape Town, South Africa, delivered to Tortola, BVI, and sailed to Ft. Lauderdale. We may have set a record with the Leopard dealer and closed on the boat immediately so we could use it on the Fourth of July!

First sail July 4, 2015
First sail July 4, 2015

There remained about six weeks of extensive commissioning which included: water maker, solar power, tender, rigging, electronics, satellite communications, stereo, underwater lights, custom lighting, mattresses, bedding, cushions, window treatments, safety equipment etc. etc. etc.

Once everything was complete, we departed on a four-night cruise down to the Florida Keys to see how all the gear and equipment performed. The cruise began with sailing from Fort Lauderdale to Miami. We arrived earlier than expected so we headed into Biscayne Bay and south all the way to Pumpkin Key. This island is located just west of Ocean Reef Club and Angelfish Creek. We had a great first night at anchor and barbecued our dinner. Unfortunately, we had to go inside to eat due to the mosquito attack we endured when the sun went down.

The next day we left early to catch high tide through Angelfish Creek and picked up a mooring at John Pennekamp reef to test our new scuba equipment. After a great dive and lunch we headed north to Ocean Reef Club to stay at the Marina. Once tied up, we launched our tender and spent a few hours cruising all the hidden creeks around north Key Largo.

On day three we headed back to Miami with plans of going into the Miami Beach Marina. However, something went wrong. As I approached the slip the boat wouldn’t do what it was supposed to. It was surreal. I put the boat in reverse and gunned it but the boat kept moving forward. I became convinced I had done something wrong so I tried again. At that point the boat spun sideways and we were moments away from crashing into a 150’ yacht. We tried to get the marina staff to come help but no one responded to our calls. Finally, I figured out that no matter what I did the starboard motor was stuck in forward and wouldn’t go into neutral or reverse. When I got that through my head I turned the engine off and was able to easily dock the boat on one engine. Keep in mind that this was all compounded by a major squall that had just come over us with 35-knot winds. Although they had calmed a bit when we hit the marina it was still blowing the boat around while docking. After all that drama we showered and headed out to Smith & Wollensky’s steakhouse on South Beach for some well deserved wine!

The last day we headed north to Fort Lauderdale and stopped a mile out for another practice dive. It was tricky because the current was ripping. When there are only two of you and you both are in the water it’s important that you don’t let the current get you away from the boat or you have big trouble. So after entering the water we decided to swim forward and descend down the mooring line. Once there we spent 30 minutes doing small loops of about 50’ and then back to the mooring line. We weren’t taking any chances. The dive went great and after lunch we packed up and headed back to Bahia Mar Marina to organize the boat. The shakedown went well and only a few items broke.

  1. The holding tank. (bad thing to break. Smelly)
  2. The stereo. (didn’t actually break but realized the entire system needs internet to operate and there is no internet at sea. Big mistake)
  3. The gear shifter. (easy to fix with a screwdriver which I did the night it broke)
  4. The Microwave (the circuit breaker was to small, easy fix)
  5. The AIS (ship identification system, very important)
  6. The Escape hatch under the boat. (defective and wouldn’t close properly)
  7. Light switch in guest stateroom.
Breaking the champagne at Christening
Breaking the champagne at Christening

All of these items were addressed and corrected by Leopard Catamarans and Just Catamarans (our outfitter) within 2 weeks.

Next trip is the big one where we leave Florida headed to the Caribbean – but not before our amazing Christening Party at Kaluz restaurant in Fort Lauderdale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out my video of this trip below.

10 Responses

  1. Brian and Cindy

    We came across your videos on YouTube when we were researching the Leopard 48 and we have really enjoyed them! We have been planning to sail very similar to yourselves; keeping a boat in the Carribean and sailing a couple weeks a month then commuting back home when we needed. Our question is how do you like your Leopard? What options/items are you glad you choose? What items do you wish you had?

    • happytogether

      HI Brian and Cindy,
      Glad you like the videos. Lots of fun to make. We love our leopard. We researched all the production brands when making our decision and the L48 just won each measure. Probably the biggest reason originally was the forward cockpit and the performance. Now its the sea keeping ability and the bridge deck clearance. I have a video coming up that details all the options we bought and how they are performing. The best option may be the satellite internet since I am sitting in a remote caribbean anchorage right now as I am typing this:) or maybe the lithium batteries…no solar….wait, the dinghy….agghhh. The list goes on! We have outfitted a sailboat in the Caribbean previously so we had a good idea what to get. Happy with all choices so far but I would have bought more solar. I would get as much solar as you can get on your roof. Its the best and you need it for one of these power hogs! Send me an email and I will send you my options list from Leopard and aftermarket. I am here for you if you need any help.
      Randy randy@svhappytogether.com

  2. Tim Mailman

    Hi Randy – my wife and I love your series of videos – keep them coming! After a few Strictly Sail shows we (and our friends) also decided the Leopard 48 was the production cat that best met our wish list. We’re still a couple of years away from having the time to enjoy the lifestyle so we’re living vicariously through you and Lennie. Living in Nova Scotia, our summers are a lot shorter but we plan to base our boat in the Caribbean. How have you found the L48 upwind? We noticed you were just 40 degrees off windward on one video and making good speed. Fountaine Pajot claim they have less bridge slapping but that didn’t seem to be an issue in the seas you and Lennie encountered. Have not been able to play the “lost video” you resurrected where it sounds like you had the worst seas yet. You Tube gives a “Blocked in Your Country” message for Canada for that clip for some reason!! If you ever sail north to Nova Scotia drop me a line! Best wishes – Tim & Shelly

    • happytogether

      Hi Tim and Valerie thanks for watching! I appreciate your comments about the videos and we will keep making them. We do often sail at 40 degrees at about 8 knots in 16 knots of apparent wind. We never sailed much closer even on our monohull. We have found the upwind performance amazing so don’t believe what you read about cat sailing. There are several differences though. Tacking is a challenge as you don’t have the weight of the keep to carry you through the wind so you can get stalled. Also the downwind is the biggest problem so you have to tack downwind to stay at 150-60 degrees to maintain boat speed. We may buy a parasailor to help with DDW legs. We also studied all the production cats and found the leopard to be the highest performance but not necessarily the roomiest interior which is why we went up to the 48 to get more room. Narrow hulls and high bridge deck clearance are what prevent pounding and our cat doesn’t slap hardly at all. Only if motoring direct into 20-25 K with 6-8 will it pound every 5-10 waves but we try to avoid those head seas on any boat but as a reference that is the ONLY time waves have hit the bridge deck. I am working on a video that shows the front profile of dozens of cats and the pictures don’t lie about height off the water. As you know I use pop music in my videos and sometimes the copyright owner will block them. Have you tried it on a PC or just an iPad? Also someone told me there is a way to get around that block by using a VPN to see the videos but I don’t even know what that is. I want you to see that one to see the waves etc. Buy a boat sooner rather than later as its never a good time:)
      Randy & Lennie

  3. Tim Mailman

    Thanks for the quick reply guys – have been taking catamaran sailing lessons in the Virgin Islands and you two are an inspiration to follow one’s dreams before life passes by. I am very encouraged by your reports on the L48’s upwind performance. Although the Leopard folks are awesome, nothing beats an owner’s experience. Thats the only criticism my monohull and Fountaine Pajot friends have been able to dredge up about the Leopard and it seems like that may be an historical criticism that Leopard have worked out! Will be awaiting your next adventures! Happy sailing. Tim & Shelly, Halifax Nova Scotia

  4. Eric & Amy

    Hey Guys…loved watching your videos! You said the interior is not the roomiest, and that makes sense if you want a bit of performance, but do you every feel it’s too small for you guys? I’m fairly tall (about 6’3″) and was just trying to get some perspective. How tall is Randy??

    Anyways, keep up the good work! We’ll be in Miami for Strictly Sail, maybe we’ll run into you guys!

    Eric & Amy

    • happytogether

      Hi Eric & Amy, Here’s my thought on this. Its actually very roomy however in comparison to some other 48-50 its smaller. On its own its plenty big. I am 6-3 and have never felt that the boat didn’t have the space for us. We really appreciate your comments on our videos and we have several more in the piepeline so stay tuned. We will be in miami both Friday and Saturday, There is a leopard party friday night so you might want to attend that.

      See you in miami! Randy

      • Eric & Amy

        Hi Randy, thanks for the info! I thought we might be about the same height, judging from your videos, but it’s sometimes hard to tell when wide-angle lenses are involved. I know it’s smaller, but the salon layout is pretty important to Amy. We were on a Lagoon 450 this weekend, and yes it is bigger, but she really didn’t like the flow all that much. On your videos and anything else we can find on the internet about the Leopard, she is drawn to the open feeling of the Leopards, which is great because the Leopards are probably my first choice. The front cockpit alone might be worth sacrificing some shoulder room 🙂

        The Leopard party sounds “awesome”, hope to see you there!

        Thanks!
        Eric

  5. Greg Lesley

    Awesome videos – we own leopard 47 and just love our cat. Name of our cat is ” HAPPY DESTINY” and is kept at BURNT STORE MARINA in Punta Gorda Fl.. look forward to running into y’all some day …. Taunya & Greg Lesley

    • happytogether

      Hi Taunya & Greg, We love your boat. It was the first cat we every chartered and got us hooked on multihulls. Thanks for saying hello and we hope to meet as well! Randy & Lennie

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