Searching for Summer Kai- Part One
Choosing the right boat for our family was a huge decision. Should we buy new or used, monohull or catamaran, how big of a boat can we handle- these were all questions that were bouncing around in our heads as we began to search for the perfect boat for our family. But that's just it, if you ask any boat owner they will tell you- there is NO perfect boat. After owning Summer Kai for 9 months our experience is that the conventional wisdom is absolutely right.
Before discussing why we ultimately chose Summer Kai, let me tell you a bit about her. She is a Lagoon 52F and was built in 2016 in Bordeaux, France (the obvious benefit being that we "had" to go visit the factory and spend a long weekend in the wine country- more on that later). Summer Kai is 52 feet long and nearly 29 feet wide. Her draft (how deep under the waterline) is 5 foot 1 inch. The boat has a "fly bridge" where all of the sail controls and the wheel are located. The flybridge also has a large space for people to hang out. She has two 80 horsepower Yanmar diesel engines and can comfortably cruise under power at 8 knots. The vessel also has four cabins, each with it's own bathroom (head in sailing terms).
In reality, a monohull was never up for serious consideration. There are several reasons for this but for the most part, it comes down to stability and space. The Lagoon catamaran is a very stable, heavy boat and takes the rolling motion of the ocean extremely well. The boat still moves with the swell but it doesn't heel like a monohull. It's also extremely stable at anchor. Some of my old racing friends will tell me that if your rail's (side of the boat) not in the water you're not racing and many years ago I would have agreed. But with my wife and two young children the game we're playing is different. I don't necessarily need to eek out the last 1/2 knot of speed. Instead, I need to get my family from amazing island A to amazing island B safely and comfortably. Additionally, I have a simple theory that goes like this- the farther the kids are away from the rail, the less chance they have of falling off. Finally, the boat is spacious, which allows us to entertain the possibility of living aboard her for an extended period of time (think years).
Of course, as I said before, there is no perfect boat. With a catamaran of our size, it's more difficult to find marinas where she can comfortably dock. This is especially true in the Northeastern US and we have to plan our trips accordingly. The boat also has two of everything which is both blessing and a curse. For example, we have two engines which is fantastic if one fails but is more expensive than the comparable monohull because you double the costs, maintenance, etc. By the way, the boat has six separate air handling units! Additionally, being a big heavy boat, the loads on the sails, lines and other gear are correspondingly higher which means that we have to have more complicated winch systems (electric in this case) which are more expensive and must be handled carefully.
Overall, after nine months of owning Summer Kai we are very happy with our decision. I'd love to hear your thoughts about why you chose your boat or whether you prefer a monohull or a catamaran. In our next post, I'll highlight some of our upgrades and discuss why we chose a Lagoon over other amazing catamaran brands.