Welcome to the first Catamaran review in our new series, and we’re kicking things off with the Lagoon 42!
I can’t think of a more popular catamaran manufacturer than Lagoon. They seem to be everywhere you look, in every cruising ground, from the Mediterranean to French Polynesia. If you plan to go on a charter holiday, chances are you’ll book onto a Lagoon. If you plan to buy a cruising catamaran, you’ll probably at least consider Lagoon, particularly if living space is a priority. In short, they’re popular catamarans.
The first Lagoon we’ll be reviewing is the 42, the new and improved version of the 420. This is an exceptionally popular model, and with very good reason. There’s plenty of plain old ‘tours’ on YouTube, so our video focuses more heavily on analysing the different features of the boat with liveaboard cruising in mind. We’ve designed five categories, each with a score out of 10, in order to fully assess this boat. Let’s start with Safety and Design.
Safety and Design
Now, when we say ‘design’ in this context, we’re not talking about aesthetics (that will come later). We’re talking about practical design, with the sailor in mind. The factors that we’re looking at in this category are:
- Helm position
- Helm visibility
- Liferaft position
- Practicality under sail and on watch
Build quality also comes into assessing safety of course, but that’s a separate category all on it’s own.
Firstly, the liferaft. This is an easy one: the liferaft is positioned in the middle of the transom, with excellent access.
Let’s talk about the helm. This is an area that could be perfect, but we feel that Lagoon have made a couple of fundamental design errors. First, the positives: the helm area is large space, plenty of room for one person to helm while the other works the lines. The seat is big enough for two people to comfortably sit together, and all controls, winches and lines are within easy reach. There’s great protection from the sun and weather due to a hard-top bimini with plexiglass panels, which allows you to easily see the sails while remaining under cover. Access to the cockpit is straightforward via steps.
The issues are twofold: firstly, there’s no physical barrier between the helmsperson and the water, apart from a cockpit tent. In rough seas, or even if you just lost your footing, you could easily fall to the sidedeck, and then into the water. Preventing MOB situations is our number one priority, and ensuring the person on watch is totally safe is very important to us. So we would require some kind of barrier in place- that is more solid than canvas- in order to make the helm as safe as possible.
Secondly, while the visibility of the two sterns is excellent, the forward visibility over that high coachroof is quite poor, particularly when sitting on the seat (and particularly for those of us who are on the petite side!). Even Nick would be unable to keep a proper watch while slouched on the helm seat for hours on end; it would require the person on watch to constantly stand up and look around. We like to make our lives as easy as possible when underway, and clearly this is going to be irritating at best. It’s all too easy to imagine getting lazy after your umpteenth day at sea and then missing that obstruction in the water or tiny boat that doesn’t have AIS. Good helm visibility is a must, and therefore we’d look to raising the helm position, possibly on an adjustable pedestal so it can be lowered again if need be.
Another potential issue is the recessed hand holds around the coachroof. We prefer a grab rail that you can clip onto if things are rough. Also, I (Terysa) found I really had to stretch in order to hold on, and as you know, if it’s not easy to do, at some point you just won’t bother and then things become less safe. On the upside, the recessed groove doubles up as a rain catching device. Grab rails could of course be manufactured and added later.
That all being said, we were generally impressed with the safety and design features of the 42. The helm was easy to access from the cockpit, the nav station had excellent visibility with almost 360 degree views, so on night watch we’d definitely stay indoors and do our watches from the safety of the nav station, unless we had to go to the helm for a particular reason or to check sail trim. The liferaft was in the ideal position, there were no hard edges anywhere inside so less chance of injuring oneself in rough seas (or just if you trip and fall), and the deck was wide enough to walk around on comfortably. The issues that we raised were all easily rectified, so it would be more a matter of making these changes either at the time of build (Lagoon seem fairly happy to do this type of thing) or later down the line.
Therefore, we’re happy to give Safety and Design a 7/10.
This is a big category, and one that is very important to us. I want to start by saying that we were very impressed with the build quality and attention to detail we saw evident in the Lagoon range. It’s clear they’ve thought about what they’re doing and they care about making their boats as good quality as is possible at while adhering to their price point. This is a production boat of course, but still- we’d be very happy sailing this boat across oceans.
(Side note: Lagoon are the most popular catamaran to do the ARC rally, which crosses the Atlantic every year. So there you go.)
Let’s get down to the details.
We’re looking at:
- Fittings and latches
- Engine bay
- Steering mechanism
- Hull construction
There’s other elements of the boat where you could make an assessment on build quality of course; but to keep things manageable we’ve chosen aspects of the build that hopefully give an indication of the level of quality throughout.
The joinery is, of course, not as high quality as you might find in a catamaran of a higher price point, but that said the quality is there where it really counts. The joinery is veneer faced plywood and the edges are all solid wood, meaning that you’re less likely to get peeling of the veneer over time. Everything felt solid and nothing felt flimsy or had any give in it. The fittings and latches felt similarly robust, and all drawers were soft-close. All edges were curved, steamed plywood.
The hull is constructed of a balsa core, with solid GRP below the waterline. The balsa core keeps the boat light (well, kind of; we’ll get to displacement in a moment) and GRP below the waterline is a must.
Evidence of good build quality is also clear to the naked eye: all struts are oversized and very solid. Take the davit system for example- there’s no flimsiness here. Likewise the struts around the cockpit and in the helm position.
Looking in the engine bay, the first thing Nick noticed was the easy access, which is safer with Lagoons most recent models; they’ve moved the access to inside the stern guardrails, and the hatch opens in such a way to give you additional protection in following seas. The engine bay is very large, which is to be expected on a catamaran this size.
The steering mechanism is a great way to assess the build quality of any boat. In the Lagoon 42 the tie-rod for the rudders was a 2 inch tube with good quality rose joints, and the nuts are torqued and marked to show slippage or movement. That’s good attention to detail.
Our expectations were exceeded when it came to build quality, and we’d have no qualms about taking this boat across oceans. She’s extremely solid, with good attention to detail throughout.
We’re giving it a very good score of 8/10.
This category takes into account a lot of factors, such as:
- Guest accommodation
- Bed size
- Shower room
Basically we’re looking at how easy, comfortable and enjoyable it would be to live on this boat while at anchor, which, let’s face it, is where we spend most of our time.
The cockpit is huge and exactly what we would want in a catamaran cockpit. It’s got a table with an L shaped settee, as well as several other seating options. The helm position is separate but still part of the same space, making the helmsperson accessible while under way. The only issue is the cockpit cushions; they’re hard and thin and not at all comfortable to sit on.
Aesthetics are subjective, but I like the new Lagoon ‘look’. They’ve finally moved on from the light wood veneer and back towards a cosier and (dare I say it) more boaty feel. Interesting move, at a time when the trend is definitely towards lighter coloured interiors, and it works well.
The galley was a little small and to be honest I didn’t love the layout and narrow bench space. It’s actually no bigger than our current galley, although there’s considerably more cold storage.
Ventilation is a big deal to those of us planning to live in the tropics. I won’t go on about it too much (I talk about it a LOT in the video), but suffice it to say that there’s great ventilation in the 42, particularly in the cabins.
Speaking of the cabins: there is a big bed of 175cm width, which has clear access all around it (very important for Nick’s nightly routine of getting up and spending between 3 and 4am in the saloon reading Reddit). Making this bed every day would be so easy as well.
The shower room is huge, obviously, and there’s an incredible amount of storage in the owner’s hull. The guest accommodations are equally impressive and I can definitely imagine either of our parents being extremely comfortable in their own hull with a smaller but perfectly functional shower room/heads.
Nick and I had different ideas about how to score this category, but we settled on 6/10. This is a great space and absolutely huge, but there were some purely personal aesthetic aspects we didn’t love as much as we wanted to, which brought the score down a little.
(And THIS is why we’re opening up the scoring to everyone! Even we can’t agree; so much of this is subjective. Plus, we love hearing everyone else’s opinions and thoughts.)
Lagoons are not known for their performance. In fact, let me tell you a little story very quickly. Last year we were sailing from Bahamas to Bermuda (about 800 miles) in a flotilla of about 6 boats. We were the shortest, along with a Lagoon 38. We said to each other, “Well, at least we won’t be last. We’ll definitely beat the Lagoon to Bermuda.”
Well guess what? We had 20 knots on the beam the whole way, and they got in 6 hours before us.
That said, they’re hardly a performance catamaran. Let’s take a look at some stats:
- LOA: 12.8 metres
- Beam: 7.7 metres
- Draught: 1.2 metres (stubbed keels)
- Drive type: sail drive (unskegged rudders)
- Mainsail area: 55m2
- Genoa area: 35m2
- Displacement: 12.1 tonnes
And now for the performance polar diagram:
Pointing ability is quite poor, and although the theoretical speeds are around 12 knots in 24 kts of wind at 120°, chances are that the boat will be so heavily laden (I mean, of course you’re going to fill up all those cupboards and lockers if you’re living onboard- I know I would) that it’s not often you’d exceed 10 knots of cruising speed.
We give performance a rather modest 4/10.
Value for Money
This is a tough one, because what we consider to be good value, another person may not. Value for money should be objective- aren’t we just comparing prices after all?- but it’s actually highly subjective. However, we docked points for the discrepancy between the base price and how much we’d have to spend on extras and adjustments to get it ready for a circumnavigation. The full price list for the Lagoon 42 and extras is available as a PDF download below.
We’ll talk more about money in future episodes, but for now we’ll give it a score of 5/10.
Submit Your Scores!
We gave the Lagoon 42 a total of 30/50, and most of that was weighted in favour of build quality and safety (two very important criteria for us!). So even though we ended up with a relatively modest score, we really liked the 42. As our scoring breakdown shows, there are compromises to be made with the 42 (namely in performance and, to a lesser extent, aesthetics) but they’re compromises we may be happy to make.
Now, YOU can submit your scores, which you can do via this link!
Simply tick the box of the catamaran you wish to score (only videos we’ve already released will be available), then use the sliders to score each category, then click the VOTE button. Easy! (But if you need further instructions, you can find them here).
Make sure you leave a comment with your score and thoughts so we can keep the conversation going!
Nick & Terysa