Welcome to what we hope to be the most comprehensive and up-to-date Lagoon 42 catamaran review on the interwebs. We manage the Facebook Lagoon 42 owners’ group and are the owners of Blue Buddha hull #333, currently under charter management with Dream Yacht Charter (DYC) in Antigua. We will be curating this review with input from owners who are active in the Facebook group. Please suggest changes or additions using the comments feature below the article.
The Lagoon 42 is likely to become the best selling Lagoon catamaran ever made. With over 500 hulls made in the first 3 years of production, the L42 is far outpacing the Lagoon 38 sales numbers by a wide margin. There is a reason for this. The L42 is one of the fastest production cats on the market today and its large width-to-length ratio (as wide as the L450!) makes the boat feel much larger than other boats in this size-range without sacrificing performance. The boat is extremely easy to sail by a couple and thus is likely one of the best options for couples who will be sailing with limited or no additional crew. Yet, like all boats, the L42 has issues and compromises worth knowing. Below we review all systems and key features of the Lagoon 42, including common issues.
Most people reading this review have seen the promotional video of the L42 doing 16 knots. I confess that video was what initially got me excited about this boat as I thought the L42 would be as fast as an Outremer 45 but with much more space and at a much cheaper price tag. The reality is that the L42 is no Outremer – but it is fast. You won’t be hitting 16 knots unless you have an empty boat flying the spinnaker in 25 knots of wind on the flat waters of the Abacos (like they did in the video) but you will often hit double digits surfing down waves and will cruise in the 8-9 knots without feeling that you are about to break the rig.
In strong winds, upwind performance is very decent. We cruise at 7+ knots at 60 degrees true (45-50 apparent) in 18+ knots of wind with one reef in the main and full jib. Even faster speeds are commonly reported by owners with folding props and over flat waters. Downwind in strong winds, the boat flies. On the southern coast of Antigua, we cruised at 8-9 knots and hit 10 knots of speed in 20 knots of wind using full sails. We even kept these speeds after reefing the main when the wind climbed to 25+ knots. And we got these speeds without the folding props or a square-top main!
In light wind, the boat is extremely sensitive to the sail plan. Without a spinnaker or code zero, the boat is simply a tank that will barely move. You will essentially need 10 knots or more to get the boat moving above 3 knots of speed. However, with a spinnaker or code zero the boat becomes a rocket ship. Doing 9 knots in 12 knots of wind with the code zero is common. On passage from Guadeloupe to Antigua we cruised at 7 knots in 9 knots of wind using an undersized asymmetric spinnaker at 60 degrees true. So having the right sail plan is imperative to get the boat moving in low winds.
Overall, the L42 is one of the fastest production catamarans in this size range. It will not fly at 16 knots like in the marketing videos, but with the right sail plan you will comfortably beat most same-size cats and monohulls and the boat will take you across passages fast and in comfort.
As most recent boats, the L42 is easy to handle short-handed given that all lines come back to the helm. The self-tacking jib also makes it possible to single-hand the boat easily. The main is easy to raise with the electric winch with little friction as long as the reef lines are prepped in advance. Reefing is also a breeze especially if the main halyard is marked for the correct reefing points. Some owners have reported rapid chafing of the first reef line due to an unusual angle of the first reef set up during commissioning, although we have not experienced that issue. Our 1st reef line has no sign of chafing after almost 1 year of use.
Now, for those who like to actively trim sails and get the most performance out of the boat, you should know this boat is tricky to properly trim. First, with the standard sail plan, the center of force is significantly aft of the beam resulting in severe weather helm. The skipper will need to know how to properly flatten the main and power the jib to reduce the weather helm and increase speed (see my trimming guide with more details on how to trim the L42). Trimming the main correctly is much more complex than just easing or sheeting in the main sheet as it requires a good understanding of how the traveler and the main sheet are used together to find the correct trim for each wind angle. In addition, the leech of the factory jib is cut a bit too long, which makes it difficult to remove the twist. It is almost impossible to flatten the jib enough when needed, even when correctly positioning the jib cart. So in some wind speeds and angles, you will be unable to trim the jib correctly and will lose some speed (albeit only enough to make a difference if you are racing!).
Trimming the Lagoon 42: https://bluebuddhaadventures.com/how-to-trim-the-sails-on-a-lagoon-42-cruising-catamaran/
Here is a list of the many safety features of this boat that we love:
- The bow and stern have watertight sacrificial compartments. As long as the valve connecting these sections to the main bilge is closed, the boat will not sink when you hit that iceberg off the coast of Greenland.
- The sugar scoops are as wide as you would find in much larger boats creating a very safe platform for entering/exiting and during passage.
- The location of the life raft is as ideal as it comes. It is placed inside a dedicated open compartment on the most aft section of the boat and can be deployed easily even if the boat is upside down.
- Unlike cats with a flybridge and high booms, the boom of the L42 is low enough that is fully accessible by just walking on the coach roof. This increases safety if something happens that needs to attending during rough weather (i.e, untangling a line, bringing the sail down manually during a storm, etc).
- The U-shape galley is narrow enough near the stove that it is easy to brace yourself and cook safely even in rough weather.
- There is a mast compression post in the middle of the saloon. This has often been seen as an eyesore and undesirable consequence of the new mast location. However, several times that post has saved a crew member from falling in rough weather. In fact, we now consider the compression post a critical safety feature as we often find ourselves being grateful that the pole is there when needed to regain our balance.
There are some safety issues that potential and new owners should keep in mind. Some owners have added additional handholds throughout the boat including on the steps towards the hulls. There is definitely a lack of handholds needed by anyone with limited mobility specially when coming to the saloon from the hulls. At least one injury was reported in the owner’s FB group after a crew slipped while walking on the edge of the coach roof. The issue is that the no-skid grip surface ends about 1 foot from the edge of the roof and thus that area of the roof is quite slippery. Some owners have solved this problem by adding 3M non-skid translucent tape to the smooth surface. Another major safety issue is that the helm station is exposed and unprotected. Unlike the new lagoon 450S that has a door to protect the helmsperson from falling overboard, the helm of the 42 is fully open to port. We temporary solve this issue during the passage by simply closing that opening with webbing. Other owners have considered more permanent solutions like adding a custom fiberglass barrier door similar to the one in the 450S.
Mast step and hatch recall. Furthermore, there have been 2 major safety-related recalls. The first was for a modification of the mast step that impacted 2018 and prior models. This recall was likely related to two dismastings reported by owners of earlier models. We have not heard of any other dismastings after the recall and the 2019 and newer models have a different mast step setup. The second recall was to install a reinforcement to the escape hatches. This recall is not unique to the L42 (or to Lagoon) as it impacts all boats that use that same 3rd party hatch. There have been several reports of these hatches failing in other boats resulting in the partial or complete sinking of the boats (we know at least of 3 Helia 44s that experienced similar hatch detachment issues). We have not heard of any reports of the L42 experiencing this problem.
Design issues we love and hate
There are a number of clever design issues that we find extremely convenient, some of which are unique to this specific model.
The helm station is amazing. We have sailed almost every current catamaran model in the 42-45 foot range, and the L42 has by far the best helm station. All instruments are ideally located and angled just perfectly for the helmsperson. You would think that angeling the instruments so that they can be seen easily by the helmsperson would be a design 101 issue, but this is actually a rare benefit of the L42 that is not available in most other boats this size. Likewise, the side by side helm/line management areas make them ideal for a two-crew to manage any sail changes without getting on each other’s way. Yet, the stations are close enough so that the helmsperson can maintain one hand on the helm and still manage the line if needed. This setup is actually not that common in other boats. For example, in the L450 flybridge, the first mate has to climb behind the helmsperson when tacking if two-handed. In the Helia 44, the stations are too far apart so that it is quite difficult for the helmsperson to manage the line without using the autopilot.
The helm seat is too low. The only thing that is universally hated about the helm station is the height of the helm seat. It is simply too low unless you are a basketball player. When seated, your visibility is significantly reduced which has led many owners to make modifications. These go from replacing the cushions with a taller one to replacing the seat altogether. Likewise, the helm station provides limited visibility for short people. Some owners have built a folding step on the helm seat to provide better visibility while others have built a completely new higher subfloor.
The engine rooms are easy to access. The engines are located aft of the berth with easy access from the stern of the boat. Some boats have the engines under the berth requiring you to dismantle the entire bed every time you need to check the oils. Other boats have the engine so far aft that the opening is in the sugar scoops making it a bit unsafe to access while on passage. Not so on the L42. Furthermore, the engine rooms provide easy access to all key steering systems so in case of a failure it is easy to identify what went wrong.
The anchor locker is deep. After years of chartering, we learned that the location of the windlass breaker is one must-know piece of information to get during the technical briefing. In many boats, the anchor locker is not deep enough and the chain piles up tripping the windlass and requiring a mad scramble to reset the breaker. That is something we never have to do in the L42 as the locker is quite deep and the chain never piles up.
Outdoor locker space is at a premium. The two bow lockers are large but they must be limited to light items like sails, fenders, and toys. The only two forward lockers are small especially if you have a generator or the extra water tank. Lockers in the cockpit are even more limited. You essentially have one single large locker under one seat and a smaller locker dedicated to the gas canisters. The amount of space is sufficient for the non-live aboard but for those cruising full time finding enough space is a challenge. Now, you could reframe this as an opportunity to get rid of all those useless things you want to bring (e.g., big inflatable swan!) but the reality is that owners planning to cruise full time in remote areas will need to find creative ideas to add more storage space. For example, we added a large cooler as a seat for the cockpit table that can double as a wet locker for all snorkeling/dive gear.
We have a love-hate relationship with the davit system. The first time we used a L42 we hated the new davit system. Yes, it is easy to use with the electric winch on the helm but we found it extremely awkward and somewhat unsafe to get in and out of the dinghy with the davit bar always getting in the way. When I first complained about this issue in the owner’s group, most people reported having a different experience and loving the davits. Later, when we were able to sail our own boat, we realized that the length of the lines that attached the davit to the dinghy makes a massive difference. If the lines are too short, the davit bar becomes a safety hazard when trying to clip the dinghy but if the lines are long enough the bar becomes a key safety improvement as you can hold on to the bar easily while trying to clip in. So we no longer hate it as we used to and actually feel the entire system is excellent with one exception: it is impossible to raise the dinghy without using the electric winch. Some owners have even installed additional blocks to get more purchase but they indicate the system is still too heavy to raise it manually. Honestly, this worries us because we want to be able to operate all systems manually in case the electric winch fails. Imagine being stuck in remote french Polynesia with a broken winch and being unable to lift your dinghy without getting a hernia or pulling a muscle!
The staterooms are large for a 42ft boat. In the 4-cabin 4-head layout, both aft staterooms have their own heads with separate showers. The forward rooms are large compared to similar boats (Fountain Pajot Astrea) and although the head does not have a separate shower, it is large enough not to feel claustrophobic.
Storage space in the 4 cabin layout is minimal. For those interested in the 4 cabin layout for extended cruising, keep in mind that storage is minimal and mostly inadequate for anything more than a couple of weeks of cruising. Setting a 4 cabin model for extended cruising would require adding storage to the cabins. Doing so for the aft cabins is easy as you can simply add a layer of cabinets to space under the cockpit seat. In our case, we will be converting one of the aft cabins into a master cabin by removing the walls to the head, removing the toilet, and adding additional storage where the toilet used to be. We know of at least one other owner planning to do a similar conversion.
Storage space in the galley is also limited. Owners’ opinions on this issue vary. Some feel the number and size of cabinets are not sufficient for extended cruising while others feel that with some modifications, the boat offers adequate storage. Common modifications include adding the Lagoon microwave storage unit to the port side, adding additional storage under the upper cabinets, and adding baskets to store items behind the seats. We have not tested the limit of the galley storage as we have provisioned for no more than two weeks. So the jury is still out about how we feel about the storage situation in the galley for extended cruising.
This is a very large 42ft boat! That is not an oxymoron. At 25ft wide, the L42 is as wide as the L450 and significantly wider than other boats in the range (FP Lucia 22ft, FP Astrea 23ft). It is also a true 42ft boat unlike the Astrea 42 which is actually 41.3 ft. Thus, the boat truly feels closer to a 45ft boat without the expense :-). This extra space is especially critical in the 4 cabin layout as it allows the two aft heads to have separate showers. In contrast, for example, the Astrea 4 cabin does not have separate showers in any of the heads. The entertaining space in the outdoor cockpit is also quite large for a boat this size and the outdoor cockpit sits 8 for dinner. Our only complaint about the entertaining space is the lack of a proper entertaining area on the bow, like the one found in the FP Astrea.
MAJOR AND MINOR ISSUES IN NEED OF ATTENTION BY NEW OWNERS
The saildrives seals are failing prematurely. There are countless owners reporting water in the sail drives within days of launch. In fact, several owners had to haul out in Portugal and Spain for service due to water leaking into the drives. We experienced the same issue after 8 months of charter use. We know of several cases in which Yanmar has paid for the haulout and seal replacement as long as there is no evidence of damage to the saidrive (e.g., fishing line, etc) so this seems to be a common warranty issue that we hope that it is solved soon by Yanmar.
The factory anti-fouling fails prematurely. Another common complaint of new owners is that the entire bottom paint is mostly gone after a couple of months of Caribbean cruising. We have heard from several charter company base managers indicating that this is an almost universal issue with all new Lagoon boats coming into the charter fleet. Our bottom paint suffered the same fate. The paint was gone all the way to the gelcoat in several areas after just 8 months of use. Our recommendation for new owners is to not get the factory antifoul package and instead use a commissioning company to put a high-end antifoul. We are repainting our boat with Seajet 038 which was highly recommended by our base manager. Apparently Chris Doyle conducted an extensive test of several antifouling agents and found the new Seajet 038 to be the best http://www.caribbeancompass.com/painttest_2017.html
The factory-installed watermaker has been a disaster. Complaints about the watermaker either not performing to specs or not working all together have been nearly universal and have affected almost all 42s in the DYC Caribbean fleet. The Facebook owners group has extensive discussions about this issue and some possible solutions. Until the core of the issue is solved, our recommendation to potential owners is to not get the factory option and instead get a more reliable watermaker installed during commissioning.
Test the bilge pumps frequently. Some owners have reported that the Rule Mate 1100 bilge pumps do not work correctly and may need to be replaced. Ours works fine. The Rule 2000 has been reported as a better option.
Some fuel tank caps are defective. There have been a few reports of the fuel tank caps breaking and spilling diesel into the bilge. When I mentioned this to our base manager, she mentioned our caps were replaced preventively as this appears to be a common issue. A pic of the culprit caps below.
Refrigeration ventilation needs upgrading. We have seen several reports of the freezer and fridge units, in both the saloon and the cockpit, either underperforming or failing prematurely. The general consensus seems to be that this is due to poor ventilation behind the units given that increasing ventilation has solved the issues. One owner added computer box fans to the panel on the port aft cabin that connects to the back of the freezer/fridge units and got great results. Another owner added vents to the top of the saloon freezer to improve performance.
The blocks at the base of the mast need can get tangled. The factory blocks at the base of the mast do not come with springs to keep them up. This leads to the blocks collapsing on each other and getting tangled. Under the wrong conditions, this can lead to blocks breaking. Solutions include adding springs to the blocks to keep them from collapsing or simply running a bungee cord through the middle of the blocks to keep them up. We used bungee technique is what we did with Blue Buddha and it cost us no more than $2.
There are other issues that have been reported but I wanted to keep this list to only those issues reported by more than 1 owner. For a comprehensive list of all issues, I invite readers to see the “Issues” topics in the Lagoon 42 Facebook owners group.
In sum, the Lagoon 42 is a beamy, fast, and extremely comfortable boat that is arguably one of the best catamarans for cruising couples. At this size and price range, it is difficult to find a better catamaran in the market. FP did a great job with the Astrea 42 as it is a great boat that should be on the shortlist of anyone seeking a cat in this size range. Yet, the Astrea is smaller and more expensive and thus the Lagoon 42 provides better value. We always talk about whether we will refit our L42 when we start our circumnavigation in 4 years or get something else. So far we have not seen anything that would tempt us away from our Blue Buddha – unless I win the lottery and decide to get the amazing-looking New Privilege Signature 510 🙂