Lagoon 420 Review
Reviewed Sep 2016
We did our homework before we bought our first catamaran and had a number of things on our wish list. We were looking for a sturdy, proven blue water catamaran, with good all round vision from the helm, were not fussed about speed but focussed on long term live aboard comfort. The boat had to have the 3-berth owners layout and, as I am the chef onboard and prone to seasickness, the galley- up design, also good headroom, as Keith is 185 cm tall. As we intended sailing long-term, coastal to off shore and short-handed, we were looking for a manageable sized boat around 40 foot in length with good bridge clearance, and, as much as possible, at-helm control of sails.
We went to boat shows in Australia and during a trip to the US and assessed the pros and cons of numerous designs. As previous owners of a Beneteau 473, we were quite happy with the specifications of the French manufactured range of production yachts and the Lagoons were among a number of designs we were interested in. After about 18 months of research, we focussed on the Lagoon range and soon eliminated the Lagoon 380 as it did not have the carrying capacity we needed for 2-3 years continuous live aboard. While we considered the Lagoon 421, we did not like the location of the helm, situated in a pod above the bimini. In contrast, the Lagoon 420 has a more sociable helm just four steps up from the cockpit and within vision and talking distance of the galley. It also provides 360 degrees of unobstructed vision, with all four corners of the boat in clear view for berthing. So we had our sights set on a Lagoon 420.
The Lagoon 420 is a heavy boat, weighing in at 13,400kg unladen! But it is designed for carrying capacity and with 900L of fuel, 600L of water, provisions to last 4-5 months, sundry equipment, tools, spares, sewing machines etc. we weigh just under 18,000Kg fully laden, yet she still sits nicely just above the waterline. The Lagoon is certainly more of a draft horse than a racehorse and she needs a decent wind to get up and go. As standard she is equipped with a 62m2 fully battened main sail and 35m2 furling genoa and we have reached 9kn in a 15kn wind at 50 degrees with both sails set. However, our usual passage estimates are based on 5kn averages. The Lagoon 420 is designed for ocean passages and has an impressive freeboard, her decks sitting higher from the water than other boats of similar length, her bridge clearance, combined with the wave breaker, is a blue water safety feature.
Lagoons universally, are not the prettiest of cats; with the wrap around vertical saloon windows they have a trawler-like look about them, but they provide a panoramic view from the saloon and, more importantly, from the navigation table for those times when inclement weather makes the helm too uncomfortable. In addition, the vertical windows, with their overhanging eyebrow, keep the sun out of the saloon, and one of the things we have noticed about many of the sleeker looking cats, is that their sloping windows are invariably covered in shade cloth. My only complaint is that I struggle to find a warm sunny spot inside to raise my bread! The wide sill inside the saloon windows is a boon for storage space and the upright sides maximise the saloon space, which has a generous galley and dining area and masses of cupboard storage. The impressive height of the solid bimini and the above average head clearance in the saloon give the 420 a lot of windage, but they also give it a spacious feel not found in similar sized cats. A possibly debatable bonus on a downwind run is that the bimini and cockpit act as an extra sail. The large rectangular hull windows, exclusive to Lagoon, ensure the cabins too have a light airy aspect, and the open nature of the owners hull complements this feeling. The wide hulls of the Lagoon mean they are not built for speed, but they are very stable, give the boat an amazing carrying capacity, easily accommodate queen size bunks with semi walk around in the aft cabins, a full size bathroom in the owners hull and adequate storage space. The lagoon also has 4 massive water tight foredeck lockers with 180cm height in each. We house 14 20L drums of equipment and spares, 14 jerry cans of fuel, 2 fold up bikes, 11 fenders our screecher sail and various other ad hoc equipment in these lockers. The forward deck is a large flat surface, and while there is a large depressed seating area with cushions to fit, we seldom use that, preferring to set up our folding deck chairs to have our sundowners in the cool breeze.
Our Lagoon 420 was originally released as a hybrid boat, with two 72V 10kW electric motors and six 12V deep-cycle batteries in each hull. Plus an 11.4KVa generator to charge the battery bank. However, there are very few of the original hybrids left that have not been converted to diesel sail drives, with twin 40HP the predominant option. Thankfully, our Lagoon had been fitted with twin 75HP Yanmar diesels as it would have been grossly underpowered with the lighter option.
There are a few niggly things about the Lagoon 420 that could be improved upon. As with many 3 berth versions, the guest berths both have self contained en suites. This is wasted space in an owners version and would be better served with a shared semi en suite and more storage space. We use the forward guest shower and head for storage and manage to accommodate guests with no bathroom issues! Above deck, it is a big step up to the saloon roof for some one of challenged stature like myself, but we remedied that by installing a one runged stainless step plus a grab handle on the mast, so I have no excuse not to undertake chores like putting away the main sail or hosing down the solar panels on the bimini. Below decks, the owners version has a bench seat that really serves no purpose, unless you like to look out the emergency window while putting on your shoes (who wears shoes on a boat?)
However, it can be converted into a very effective office desk and shelving space, as ours has been. In summary, if you have plenty of time to get where you want to go, are looking for a safe, stable blue water catamaran, an apartment on water that can be safely loaded to the hilt for long term live aboard and that is easily and comfortably sailed short handed, look no further than the Lagoon 420.