Can This Floating Apartment Sail? (Sailing Cape Town, South Africa)

Can This Floating Apartment Sail? (Sailing Cape Town, South Africa)

Sailing means different things to different people.  Hence the never-ending debate over which boat is the best.  We honestly don’t get too hung up on it all.  Any boat that stays afloat and gets you to your destination could be considered a good boat.  I would venture to say that any boat that gets you motivated to get out on the water and explore is a good boat.

But, opinions are like birthdays; everyone has one and thinks theirs is important.

When it comes to catamarans, many a sailor will scoff at the major production boats and label them as floating apartments or condomarans.  Ya know, big, boxy things not meant for sailing.

I’ll admit that I have thought the same when looking out at raised flybridges with hulls twice the width of ours.

But, once upon a time, our sailboat CURIOSITY was the production catamaran or “floating apartment” of her day.  Designed for comfort and space but with decent performance.

Now, here we are, boarding the Leopard 45 which is the modern-day “floating apartment” version of our CURIOSITY.  It’s way bigger and there have been more than a few design changes over the past fifteen years.  So the question that begs to be answered…can it sail and is it a better boat?

I honestly didn’t expect to be so impressed.  I really thought this would be confirmation that we already owned the better boat.  I thought it would be harder to handle (windage), less agile, more bouncing (wider hulls), and more…well…bulky.

Instead, it was a responsive vessel with a smooth, relaxed vibe.  I don’t think any of us could quite get over just how damned comfortable and quiet everything was.  It may be loaded with all the comforts of an apartment, but it was still just as much fun to sail.

After touring the factory where Leopard Catamarans are made (very impressive) and having sailed on the 2020 Leopard 45 I feel I can finally answer the burning question “is a newer Leopard better?”.

Yes and no.  Because we live in reality and try not to think in hypothetical dream worlds.  Because in a dream world we wouldn’t be looking a Leopard, we would be looking at a custom-built, sustainably made, alternatively powered multi-million dollar vessel.  (queue angelic music and sexy dream sequence)

But back to reality, where it boils down to price.  What can you afford?  Sure, I would 100% consider the new Leopards if I were in the market for a boat and it were in my budget.  It’s a very comfortable boat with a strong build made to last.

But, scaling back 10 or 15 years can mean 50-60% less money.  Which can mean the difference between sailing now or when future you can afford that new boat.  I will always choose sail now.  Because the older leopards, like our Curiosity, are still considered some of the best production catamarans out there.

jason and nikki wynn at the helm of a leopard catamaran in south africanikki wynn on the bow of a leopard catamaran with cape town south africa in backgroundjason and nikki wynn at the helm of leopard catamaran in cape town south africaleopard 45 test sail with jason and nikki of gone with the wynns in cape town south africa

That said, we are writing this post from Fiji…so we didn’t steal the boat and sail off (but we did consider it).  We’re still locked down waiting for borders to open so we can get back to our CURIOSITY.  She may not be the modern-day luxury that is the new L45 but she is still one helluva catamaran.

This whole experience has made our love for our proudly South African built boat stronger.  Her story became deeper with the factory tour, we shook the culturally diverse hands that spent months building her and listened to tales of delivery captains sailing Leopards to America.

Add that to the years of memories made with her original Canadian family, the 13,000+ miles of adventures we’ve had and the ones we still have to make.  As far as boat lifetimes go…her adventures are in their infancy.  We’ll be back CURIOSITY!  We’ll swim if we have to!


Thanks to Marcel, Valentine, and the Leopard crew for hosting us in your beautiful home of Cape Town.  Thank you to our new friends Michael and Tammy, for joining us on the adventure and helping capture some fantastic shots!

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