Southern Boating

Two Sailors, One Leopard 43 Powercat

A couple of diehard sailors cross to the dark side only to discover that it’s not so dark after all.

In a way, it was a double conversion. Not only were we blow-boaters on a stinkpot, but one with two hulls at that. It was going to take some getting used to, all this space and speed and simplicity. Welcoming the chance to review a 2016 model power catamaran, we chartered a Moorings 433—a Leopard 43 with three cabins. We picked up our boat at The Moorings charter base in Tortola, quite possibly the busiest in the world. Our brand-new owner’s version was named Rubis (French for ruby), and she was already hinting at her gemlike qualities.

Eager to head into the Sir Francis Drake Channel, we put the twin Yanmar 220-hp diesels to work and topped out at 20 knots. (The Moorings keeps the engines on their charter fleet governed down to 80 percent.) We settled into a cruising speed of 14 knots that still left us with more than half of our original fuel level at the end of the charter. Besides the fuel-sipping engines, part of this catamaran’s efficiency comes from the stepped hulls. They are narrow at the waterline for better hydrodynamics but flare out with a hard chine to create interior volume for the cabins. Unlike monohulls, cats aren’t dragging a heavy keel through the water and can operate with smaller engines. We found our diesel engines under the aft bunks and noticed they were surprisingly quiet and vibration-free.