The boat’s name came about over drinks one evening at Mum and Dad’s Bribie Island home. Together we were dreaming and planning for the year that lay ahead. Our family name is Darling and Dad’s 40 year-long dream was finally within his reach.
Hence we could not think of a more fitting title: finally my darling.
There’s perhaps nothing quite so special as travelling around with your home, like a turtle so to speak. With your familiar comfortable bed, clothes hung in the wardrobe, toiletries in your own (albeit small) bathroom and kitchen with stocked fridge. Perhaps this essence lies behind the popularity explosion of cruising on mega ships and riverboats in recent years – unpack once and wake up in a new port or bay each morning. However we don’t share our floating home with 4,000 others. There are just four of us and we are making up the itinerary as we go.
Our boat is a lovingly maintained Lagoon 440 catamaran that Dad fell in love with on a research trip to Croatia in October 2012. For those interested, here’s a detailed description and recent modifications from her proud owner, Captain Col:
Finally my darling was constructed in the Lagoon factory near Bordeaux on the French Atlantic coast, located at the top of the notoriously stormy Bay of Biscay. Her hull number is 441 and she was built mid 2006 to meet an order for her former German owners. She is a three-cabin owner’s version, the entire starboard hull being the owner’s cabin including bedroom, lounge, office, separate shower and toilet. In the port hull, there are two additional cabins to suit a couple, each having their own bathroom and toilet. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll refer to finally my darling as “FMD”.
Like all other Lagoon 440s, FMD is powered by twin Volvo-Penta D2-55Hp 4-cylinder diesel engines, each mated to a Volvo 150S sail drive. Together with a pair of three-bladed folding props designed to reduce drag when sailing. There are numerous discussions about the value of the folding props over the standard Volvo two-bladed fixed props. Though we have no technical proof one way or another of the benefits of one type over another; but our folding props seem to meet all operational conditions, including manoeuvring, very well. Following close monitoring on our Atlantic crossing we estimate we attain about 4 Lph fuel burn at 1,800 rpm when motoring for a steady 6 kts speed over the ground (SOG), based on constantly updating GPS data from our comprehensive Raymarine electronic system.
FMD’s previous owner was a keen SCUBA diver and in addition to the Aqua-Tec 140 lph water maker he had installed, he also added a Junior Bauer electrically driven dive compressor in the same compartment as the 2 X 300L water tanks located immediately in front of the mast. Lagoon’s normally have 3 X 300L water tanks, but one had to go to make room for the water maker and we find 600L is more than adequate considering we can make our own water as long as the sea around us is clean.
Both the dive compressor and the water maker draw lots of power, so it’s essential to start our (over-sized) 11.5kVA 220V Onan generator when doing either of these functions. I understand the standard generator is a 6 kVA Onan, so we have lots of reserve power. The generator will handle the dive compressor and water maker at the same time, and will even run our 3 X air conditioning units simultaneously if that were required. While on comfort, we also have a number of built-in diesel heaters installed during construction, so when we joined FMD in Croatia early March 2013, we were kept cosy warm by these small and very efficient heaters.
The original owner’s needs and ours differ significantly, so we‘ve made a number of mods to accommodate those differences. For most of FMD’s former life as Symphony, her previous owners left their boat in a permanent mooring at Marina Mandalina in Sibenik and drove from their home in Germany to spend time sailing or motoring for reasonably short periods. Whereas FMD’s new purpose is to provide a full time, live aboard cruising platform for between four and six people (most visitors are couples).
The modifications we’ve made have all been about utilising available space onboard for storage of clothes, food and the other essentials of the fulltime cruising lifestyle. We were keen to meet the balance of our power demands without constantly running the generator. So with the design created earlier by fellow Australian Lagoon 440 owner Frank, we installed 3 X 250W solar panels on an adjustable array across the transom and added an Outback FlexMax 80A solar MPPT regulator to manage our solar collection and battery management. The solar power and solar regulator now meet the vast majority of our needs. The dive compressor and water maker are the only exceptions that require the generator. We have three large AGM house or service batteries (recently replaced late 2014), though may eventually change our batteries to lithium which will give significant improvement in storage and charging flexibility.
A significant but fairly simple change was made to remove the engine gearshift and throttle controls from the navigation desk in the saloon and relocate them (whilst changing to shorter control cables) to a new pedestal fixed to the very rear of the port hull. I believe most Lagoon owners will agree the original units located in the saloon were seldom if ever used. Mounted on a custom made pedestal, the dual controls make backing in to the standard Mediterranean quayside mooring or marina berth an absolute breeze. I should note that the new solar panel array on the stern had hindered the view from the upper helm position; so being right there within two metres of the quay really helps.
It also allows the person driving/operating the controls to handle the starboard stern line if required. In addition we installed an electric switch on the pedestal to heave in or let out the anchor from the same stern pedestal control position. In Greece in particular, very few bowlines are laid to seabed moorings so the routine was to drop the anchor and back in, using the anchor to manage the bow position and the final distance off the quay once stern lines were ashore. Being able to manage the anchor from the stern pedestal leaves other crew members free to attend to other equally important duties while berthing.
Much has been said of Lagoon’s sailing ability with comments like “they are only a glorified apartment block with sails”. Nothing in my view, and might I add most of those who have sailed a 440 at least, support those comments. Our boat has a fairly standard Lagoon factory rig save for an additional Code 0 Reacher and a huge Parasailor courtesy of the previous owner. Our headsail is a self-furling genoa and the main sail is a battened, slab-reefed, robust sail (the original was recently replaced early 2015 after extensive UV damage).
The Parasailor is an exceptional sail for downwind sailing. It’s easy to “pop” or open and just as easy to “snuff” or close down quickly. All due to its light weight sausage-shaped bag and carbon-fibre throat that encloses the sail until we want to let it fly. During our Atlantic Ocean crossing we had ours hoisted in up to 25 kts following breeze, though find snuffing it at this strength can prove challenging (releasing the leeward sheets is a huge help). The Parasailor is best flown by itself. Once up, it’s extremely easy to manage and we have reports of people crossing the Pacific for multiple days in a single hit with only their Parasailor. Due to frequent squalls during our Atlantic passage, it was snuffed during the one-person night watches for precautionary reasons.
Other sweet things on board our Lagoon 440 include an icemaker and hydraulically operated extendable gangway or passerole. The icemaker is 220V and runs easily on the 12V to 220V inverter, so we’re never short of ice cubes for sun downers. The passerole is a “must have” option with the normal Mediterranean stern-to type of mooring. We see gangways that range from pine planks on charter yachts to carbon-fibre hinged units, and extra-long units for large crewed charter boats who regularly back up to the shore to discharge their guests. Ours is two-part meaning it can be hydraulically extended to about twice its normal stowed length of about 1.6M. It can extend or rise at the press of a button, on either the fixed onboard control panel or a fob (a bit like a roller-door controller). We can leave the boat taking a fob with us and lift or retract the passerole as we leave – for either physical boat security or to protect the gangway against waves or swell from passing boats while we are absent.
Not much more to can add but we’ll gladly answer any questions about our experiences with the Lagoon 440 via email at crew[at]finallymydarling[dot]com.