Take the flybridge, for example, which is basically an innovation for any sailboat less than 75 feet in length. Let’s add swallow wings here – a new shape for the bridge deck. We mix in enough really comfortable deck layout, comfort in the cabins and quality of performance – and you get Lagoon 440, a breakthrough in the world of cruising catamarans.
At first glance, the Lagoon 440 lines seem familiar. The general shape of the hull and deckhouse reminded me of something that I cannot quite accurately express. Externally, the Lagoon 440 certainly resembles other boats in this series. I was thinking about it when the motor Lagoon Power 43 arrived at the mooring and I immediately saw the resemblance …
Of course, the bow of the Lagoon 440 is not as wide as that of the Lagoon Power 43, but the superstructures are similar, although this is probably more typical for motor boats than for previous models of sailing catamarans in this series. When I first saw the Lagoon Power 43 with a giant aft cabin – I commented that the day will come when the saloons on sailing catamarans will be equipped as a “suite”. The Lagoon 440 is still not exactly a deluxe suite, but one day …
The helm station is located on the roof of the salon, on the flybridge, with access from the sides. The shape of the bottom of the bridge deck is revolutionary, as is the flybridge: the creators call it “swallow wings” and it is designed to dampen the impact of waves beating in the bottom. Usually the noise of these beats is loud and always unpleasant. We’ll see later if this really works at sea.
Meanwhile, I finally found myself on board the Lagoon 440, which made one of the strongest impressions on me at the Miami boat show. The catamaran was supposed to go from the shipyard on its own to the Baleares, and I proceeded on it to La Caruna through Vizcay. Everything on board is amazing: the guys from Lagoon have outdone themselves. I’ve never seen anything like it. The words that came into my head to describe what I saw were more related to vocabulary related to houses and apartments, such as “ground floor”, “patio”, “two-story apartment” …
I forgot that I was on board the catamaran. Everything in the catamaran is designed around the flybridge and the steering is accessed via two ladders, one on either side of the cockpit. All halyards and sheets, even the gennaker control, are controlled from here. However, in the interests of safety, the main halyard is brought down onto a hard bimini so that it can be quickly spread out if necessary.
In the open sea
Friday morning turned into a beautiful spring day with a cool northeastern breeze. The weather forecast promised a powerful anticyclone and winds – ideal conditions for our trip. There were five of us on board, so the night watch promised to be easy. Maneuvering in the port was not a problem – from a high-located control post, where there were more than enough visibility – there were no blind spots.
We left the famous yacht port of Les Minimes in La Rochelle. The layout of our catamaran is the master cabin version. Also, the vessel is equipped with almost all possible options, including electric winches. With them, lifting the grotto turns into a child’s play, but Alain preferred to exercise and raised it by hand. The last few feet of the halyard were driven by an electric winch.
The sheet winches are also electric. Our next sailing maneuver was the installation of a gennaker, after the installation of which our Lagoon 440 gained 5 knots on the backstay in an 11 knot wind. During the trip, we did not use the genoa, but I noticed that the shoulder straps of the staysail sheets are on the roof of the wheelhouse. In general, it is easy and safe to walk on the roof of the cabin, thanks to the numerous handrails. These grab bars are everywhere, including the often forgotten tank.
In the cockpit we will find a barbecue area, an icemaker and a refrigerator; the galley also has a second refrigerator, as well as a freezer and dishwasher. It is very convenient to serve the cockpit table from the saloon through a special sliding window. When the cockpit table is not needed, it can be easily replaced with a small coffee table. Previously, on catamarans, the cockpit was just an external space, but on the Lagoon 440 it is a single unit with the deck and saloon.
However, the principle of “three zones” can be distinguished here. The first safety area is the main cockpit. The second area is the bow cockpit with solarium. The windlass and anchor locker are also installed. The anchor is lowered from the bow beam. The weight distribution is optimal.
The third zone is the control room. Thus, this principle of zoning is very useful for families who want to protect children from sheets and potentially dangerous items and tackle. However, there is a downside – dividing the vessel into three zones means that the person at the helm is isolated from the rest of the crew.
And it’s true – such a catamaran is not so easy to operate. But later, having tried the Lagoon 440 on the go, I realized that there would be no problems – the flybridge is good for maneuvers, and it is worth putting the boat on autopilot, and the helmsman will be able to join the others “below” …!
From the salon, I watched the island of Ile de Re passing by – the view from the salon was almost 360 degrees! Ventilation is provided through 4 hatches, plus a service hatch between galley and cockpit. Our catamaran is adapted to the American market – the engines are more powerful than the standard ones (2 x 75 hp versus the standard 2 x 40 hp). The steering table in the wheelhouse is equipped with an engine control system and an autopilot joystick.
Beautiful weather calm sea
The weather forecast for the day foreshadowed: fine weather, calm sea, but intensification in the afternoon. The famous “swallow’s wings” do seem to work by dampening the shock of the waves in the bottom of the bridge deck, but we’ll see later if they work in more turbulent seas. Impressive superstructures show the catamaran’s predisposition to pitching.
We were well loaded for our crossing – about a ton of water, a full tank of fuel, 10 kW. generator and other equipment. It was my turn to work in the galley (chicken curry and rice on the menu) and I appreciated the additional porthole above the stove.
Now we were in the Atlantic Ocean, there was a slight swell. Further down the course, a slight excitement in the nose made us dance a little. The breeze soon diminished and our speed dropped. As with all comfortable cruising catamarans, the Lagoon 440 needs at least 15-20 knots of breeze to “come alive”. In an average wind, the speed of the catamaran will be 8-9 knots without effort, but to exceed the 10 knot speed limit, a stronger wind is needed.
At sunset, the breeze increased to 20 knots; with an angle to the wind of 130 degrees, our speed was 9 knots, and we felt some discomfort in handling. I climbed onto the flybridge and took the helm in my hands. At a speed of 10 knots, the steering wheel seemed to lose some sensitivity. I had fun playing with the waves, but I could not get the boat to the speedboat; more wind would be needed.
I would like to point out that in general, flybridge control is convenient and safe. However, in strong winds it is probably more comfortable to stay in the classic cockpit. Moreover, the Lagoon 440 has translucent sidewalls on the sides of the cockpit, turning the cockpit into a protected open saloon. Night was approaching and our skipper Jean-Pierre gave me a watch from 1 to 3 am. In 11 hours at sea, we covered 75 miles – pretty good. The night found us in the ocean with a wind of 4-5 points and a favorable wave.
Let me remind you once again that the layout of our catamaran is a version with a master cabin. This means that the entire right body is given over to the owner – a large double bed, a sofa. There is a table with an armchair next to the sofa. The height in the cabins is excellent. The ventilation is also not satisfactory. There is a separate toilet and shower in the bow.
In the left hull there are two double cabins with separate bathrooms. My cabin (aft, port side) was well decorated. The view through the windows is excellent, and I only had to turn my head to have an unobstructed view of the ocean.
I almost fell asleep … For a moment it seemed to me that the wind died down and the skipper turned on the engine. I was just about to congratulate the manufacturer on the excellent soundproofing level when I suddenly realized that it was actually a working generator! After a few hours of intermittent sleep, it was time for my watch.
The sea became rough; the impact of the waves on the nasal bridge were weakened, but did not completely disappear. The first introduced Swallow Wing form of bridge deck definitely works, leaving the waves less room to hit hard than if the bridge deck was flat. The wind was changeable, between 15 and 25 knots, and the speed of the catamaran ranged from 6 to 8 knots.
Dawn illuminated the distant horizon, while fluorescent plankton colored our double wake … Continuous short flashes of light in the distance pointed to the fishing boat in its course. I forgot to inform you that soft night lighting is installed above the navigator’s table and galley so as not to dazzle the helmsman at night. Also an interesting moment – when the gennaker was etched, the angle of view from the cabin decreases, and I was forced to periodically go outside to check the horizon.
Breakfast at 8 knots
We have covered one hundred and seventy-seven miles since we left La Rochelle. Our journey proceeded on a calm sea and in great comfort … We had breakfast in the cabin overlooking the sea. Lag showed us 8 knots …
In the afternoon, the wind sank again to 7-9 knots. We removed the gennaker and started the engine. More powerful diesel engines were installed on our catamaran than in the standard version. Our two 75 hp at 2000 rpm they pushed us forward at 7.5 knots. Sound insulation could be improved. But the vibration is almost not felt.
I fell asleep, and when Jean-Pierre woke me up on watch, the lights of the Spanish coast were already in sight. At two o’clock in the morning I sent everyone to sleep, and I myself spent the watch, sitting at the navigator’s table and controlling the catamaran with the joystick.
We arrived in La Coruña early in the morning. It’s time for me to go ashore. Jean-Pierre told me later about the rest of the trip: “With a wind of 20-30 knots, we flew to the Baleares in 8 days. Often the speed reached 13 knots (with a wind of 25-30 knots, under the mainsail and gennaker). And the speed record for crossings was 17.6 knots. “
Having spent 48 hours and sailed over 300 miles across the Bay of Biscay, the Lagoon 440 seems to me a very pleasant boat both in terms of seaworthiness and as a vessel perfectly equipped for life on board. The catamaran is easy to operate, but somewhat heavy. Even with a gennaker, a good breeze of at least 12 knots is needed to reach a decent speed. However, this is typical for all serial cruising catamarans. In general, Lagoon 440 is an absolute success of the shipyard.
What I liked:
Excellent visibility from the helmsman’s seat.
The vessel is divided into three “zones”.
Plenty of handrails on deck.
What I didn’t like very much:
Cockpit roof table.
Boom height above flybridge.
The fact that all the halyards and sheets are controlled from the flybridge (sometimes you want to do this from the “first” floor).
Source: Multihulls World Magazine, August 2005