May 2007
I will take delivery of
Changing Spots, a 40 foot cruising catamaran, after the 2008 Miami boat show, where she will be the demo boat.  She is a
Leopard 40
, to be built in Cape Town, South Africa by Robertson and Caine.   The renowned Morelli & Melvin designed her.  The owner's version
has three cabins, rather than the four cabins used by the Moorings (the Moorings 4000)  for the charter business.  Cruising World's 2005
Import Boat-of-the-Year title was a good start for her lineage.  This is my retirement home, since my current home is about to be put up for
sale.  She will be well equipped for offshore cruising, live-aboard, and I am considering a
hybrid diesel-electric system   More to follow.    

Why a new, Leopard 40, catamaran?
There were many reasons for choosing a catamaran: that decision was easy, and was made many years ago. The main reason for choosing a
catamaran is safety.  For a monohull sailor that may sound like heresy, but look at the facts, not just the
dogma.  (How appropriate for a cat!)   
Granted, everything is a compromise, but when you examine the many different factors involved in safety, the decision becomes a no-brainer.  
When you realize that for 95% of the type of cruising that 99% of us are going to do, we will be downwind, in warm climates, the tougher
question should be: “why not a catamaran?” or possibly “what about a trimaran?”   If I were planning to spend most of my time cruising in cold
climates, or wanted to sail the Cape Horn, I would consider a monohull (a very large one).  Many people are "discovering" catamarans and their
benefits, and very few go from a cat to a monohull, except for a little dinghy sail.  Horses and covered wagons are still a fun way to travel too.  It
comes down to preferences and biases.  Fiberglass boats were seriously derided for many years before they became accepted (by most), and
multihulls are another step up in safety (and comfort).  

Around forty feet in length, the space between the hulls on a catamaran becomes very functional, giving much more room than a similar sized
monohull or trimaran.  Besides the obvious fact of not carrying tons of lead (or iron) around with you, which will carry you to the bottom if a
serious breach of hull integrity occurs,and the boat fills with water, there is the safety in redundancy.  All (almost) sailboats have redundancy in
that they have both sails and an engine.  For almost everyone, the engine is not just a convenience, but a safety item.  Some people take this
safety so far that they carry spare parts for their spare parts.  Well I carry awhole spare engine, and a spare rudder.   I'm not going to discuss
all the reasons for the superior safety of a multihull versus a monohull here, but would be happy to discuss them if you like.    

I have encountered this comment in the multihull-monohull rivalry discussion on a few web sites recently:
  • The most stable position for a multihull is upside down,  - to which the reply is:
  • The most stable position for a monohull is on the bottom of the ocean.

A second reason for choosing a cat is speed, which I learned to appreciate from my
trimaran.  This also adds to the safety - within reason.

Comfort is another reason for choosing a cat, and interestingly, also adds to safety.  For a weekend, even a month or two, roughing it is part of
the adventure.  When you are going to be living aboard for years, and facing the inconveniences of travel, you need to be able to say: “there is
nowhere else I would rather be”, rather than: “are we there yet?”  As non-intuitive as it may sound, added comfort may also help to keep costs
down  (see below).

The ability to manage a sailboat shorthanded is also important, adding critically also to safety.  Multihulls, the Leopard in particular, simplify
shorthanded sailing.  To start with, even the first half a reefing point is fully automatic!  (If any monohull sailors don't understand this, please
ask, but it is because of the fully battened, large roach mainsail.)  In the Leopard, most of the sail control lines lead to the helm station, not just
the cockpit.  

Although possibly difficult to envision at first glance, cost is another reason for choosing a cat.  Yes, the initial cost is higher, compared to a
similar sized monohull.  For that extra cost, you get much more space; comparable to a larger boat.  The space is also more friendly, since it
does not rock nor heel as much.  And yes, some things such as haulouts and bottom painting may cost more, and there may be fewer facilities
able to do these chores.  After that, however, the cat should generally cost less.  Besides the expected higher resale value, the improved
comfort, and the ability to easily anchor or moor in shallow water means you don’t feel the need to rush to an expensive marina or hotel at
every landfall.   That said, you can get a used monohull pretty cheap.  For those of you who just want to get going - on a very limited budget, and
now - get a used monohull and go for it!  Once you have the boat, and are living aboard, your cost of living is reduced dramatically.  

Finally, when in paradise, let’s enjoy it.  We want to be able to spend time outside, or at least viewing it; not down in a hull looking out through
portholes - especially if you are rocking back and forth with even small waves.  With the cat you have a large salon area where much of your
living is done, with a 360 view.  At the same upper level there is a large cockpit (outside), and it can be provided with shade and enclosed easily,
even while sailing.   This great view of your surroundings even adds to your safety.  Not to mention that you don’t need to climb down a ladder to
check the navigation station!  OK, OK, I'll concede that those of you who want to travel to ugly places might prefer a monohull.  

Forty feet is probably the smallest length for
very safely, and comfortably crossing oceans in a catamaran, and for effectively utilizing the
bridgedeck (the living space above the water, between the hulls).  It needs to be high above the water since if the bridgedeck is too close to the
water, it will pound in small waves.   If too high, it looks ugly, creates considerable windage, and won't sail as well.  Then you need
daggerboards, and all their problems,  to sail to windward at all.
A new, bigger boat would cost a lot more money, and be more work to buy, to sail,  and to maintain.  I don't have the financial flexibility to buy a
used boat, although you can certainly get some good deals in used boats.  Sometimes there is something to be said for paying a bit more and
having it your way.  

It was after a great deal of research and tire kicking that a final decision was made for the Leopard 40.  I haven't looked back or doubted the

The boat in the photo below was the demo boat at the 2007 Miami boat show, and I edited in the new name on the photo.  For stock photos,
check out the Moorings website on the
Leopard 40.   For my photos, click on the photo links for Cabin  or  Hull & Deck.
Explore the world by sail
The journey will start in Ft Lauderdale:  take delivery, finish equipping, and then provision.
After a sea trial to the Bahamas, will probably head up the East Coast (how far?) for the first Summer.  The next Winter will probably be in the
Carib.  Then, either East to the Med, or West through Panama (not directly, of course).  There is no firm time line, and no use of the "
S" words
(as in:
Schedule, and nothing is in Stone!).

Notice the empty place in the top background picture where Changing Spots will be!  
3/12/2009  I finally put a photo in the top spot!
My article on anchoring was published in Jan/Feb 2009 Multihulls magazine!

My article on "Bugs" appeared in the Nov/Dec 2010 issue of Latts & Atts magazine.  

Stay tuned and check in periodically to follow the saga.
Robert Watson
Changing Spots, a Leopard 40
The Journey Begins!  The longest journey begins with the first step.  
Click on picture to see the full version.
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These web pages contain no advertising, nor donation requests, and nobody is trying to sell you
something. Please enjoy, and let me know if you have comments or suggestions.
The button labelled "the journey" is where the progress will be documented.  I apologize that it is
getting so long (not the content, but the page!).  I haven't yet found out how to cut up the page.  
For the most recent update, scroll to the bottom of the "Journey" page.
This web site  was started in May 2007.  The most recent changes were made Sept. 23, 2012.     
         There have been                      visitors to this site since Feb 2008.