This innovative cruising cat combines great liveaboard accommodations with thoroughly modern sailing and powering systems.
We set off from Miami’s Bayside Marina in the midst of the Strictly Sail Miami boat show and motored south to the broad shallow expanses of Biscayne Bay. The new Lagoon 420, which was fitted out with twin 75-horsepower diesel engines instead of the standard 40-horsepower engines, motored with real authority. At cruising revs we had it up to 8 knots without any trouble and when we pushed the throttle all the way forward we got the 420 over 10 knots…that’s fast for a 42 footer.
South of the Biscayne Boulevard bridge, we hoisted the big, high roach mainsail and rolled out the genoa. With the engines off, we trimmed to a broad reach and set off down the bay in the steady 10 to 12 knots of easterly breeze.
The 420, like most modern cruising cats does not impart a sense of speed as it gathers way. Since it stays level and because you are sailing from the raised helm and cockpit, you don’t hear or see the rush of water along the hull. But, the speedo and GPS tell the story. Broad reaching in a moderate breeze the 420 will sail at 7-plus knots without breaking a sweat.
We put the boat through its paces for an hour or so, tacking, reaching off, jibing and generally getting a feel for how it handles under sail and the angles it likes to sail best. The 420 sails handily and will tack through 100 degrees, which is not bad for a shoal draft cat with small keels. Off the wind it feels docile in a moderate breeze, but is in fact scooting along nicely. Jibing the boat was all accomplished from the helm and could be handled by one experienced sailor; we had several good sailors aboard so throwing the 420 through jibes was simple.
Lagoon 420 helm
The sheets and control lines have all been arranged to work on two winches—one electric—and through a brace of line stoppers conveniently positioned next to the helm. The helm is raised to starboard so the port jib sheet has been routed across the cabin top, through two fixed deck blocks and then through the line stopper to the winch. This is an ingenious system that allows a single watch stander to handle all lines and sheets right from the helm. The electric winch is a boon for easy sail trimming.
We had a large downwind reacher aboard so we hoisted it on its freestanding Facnor roller furling unit and trimmed its sheet through a block on the stern quarter and then back to the electric sheet winch. This worked really well and gave the 420 another knot and a half or more of boat speed. For pleasant and fun downwind running and reaching, this sail configuration is hard to beat and since the boat remains level and stable, handling the big sail is no trouble on the foredeck or aft.
The breeze began to pick up as the sun got closer to the horizon so our sail back up Biscayne Bay close hauled was spirited and fun. We were just cracked off the wind a few degrees with sails full and by, so we were making maximum knots and having a blast. The cable steering system, which has a very long run to the rudders, felt sure and responsive and the rudders were large enough to provide real control and directional stability.
Lagoon 420 cockpit
Sailing is supposed to be fun and certainly the 420 fulfills that requirement. It also adds a high degree of comfort, convenience and stability that will please both veteran sailors and newcomers. During our sail trials, we had five people from Lagoon aboard as well as three couples from the boat show who were out for a test sail. That’s 12 bodies on a 42-foot boat. But, throughout all of the sailing maneuvers, we never once felt we were bumping into each other or that anyone was in the way. Such is life aboard a modern cruising catamaran where there really is enough room to swing a cat.
Design and Construction
The 420 was designed by Marc Van Peteghem and Vincent Lauriot Prévost and built in the Lagoon plant in the southwest of France near Bordeaux. Lagoon, which is a part of Groupe Bénéteau, has grown into the world’s largest volume builder of cruising catamarans. To achieve both the quality Lagoon is known for and efficient volume construction, the company has employed thoroughly modern construction techniques that allow for consistency, efficiency and predictable high quality.
The hulls are hand laid fiberglass with balsa coring above the waterlines and in the decks and super structures. Below the waterline the hulls are solid fiberglass with vinylester resins used in the outer layers to inhibit osmosis. The hulls are built using the resin infusion method, which results in an exact laminate that has the optimum glass-to-core-to-resin ratios.
The interior bulkheads, floors and liners are all fiberglass reinforced and tabbed to the hull to add stiffness and structural integrity. The internal furniture is then installed and permanently attached to this structural grid. The deck and cockpit are attached to the bridge deck and hulls with high strength marine adhesive and stainless steel marine fasteners. Even in rough weather you won’t hear any creaking below decks or see any flexing in the hull panels and deck and cabin structures.
The mast stands 55 feet above the deck and is supported by a simple single spreader, double shroud rig that is angled far enough aft to make a back stay unnecessary. This arrangement allows for the high roach mainsail, which would not fit under a standing back stay. The mainsheet trims via the almost full width traveler on top of the cockpit hard top and then to the helm and the all purpose electric winch. The fully battened mainsail is controlled with lazy jacks and self stows in a sail pack on top of the boom. The roller furling genoa is mounted on the nacelle forward, which also is home to the bow roller, anchor and windlass.
The engines are installed well aft under the steps where they can be accessed through large lifting panels. The 420 we tested has the 75-horsepower engines, which fit into the spaces aft well with plenty of room around each to allow you to perform routine maintenance and repairs. To reduce engine noise, well insulated panels have been fit over both engines, which can double as aft storage platforms for docking lines and fenders.
The quality of the fiberglass laminates, the hull joints, and the rig and hardware are evident everywhere. Lagoon has gone to great lengths to keep the 420 simple, strong and low maintenance without losing the style and comfort of a real liveaboard cruising boat.
The 420 has two accommodations plans, a four-cabin version for the charter fleets and the three-cabin owner’s plan. We sailed the owner’s version and found it to be incredibly spacious and comfortable.
Lagoon 420 salon
The cockpit aft is the outdoor living room where in the tropics or during the summer you, your family and friends will spend most of your time. The U-shaped seating area has a large varnished table that will seat six for dinner. The table also fits inside the saloon dinette where it can be swapped for the low coffee table. So, if you are eating inside all you have to do is exchange the two tables.
The galley faces aft and joins the saloon with the cockpit. There is plenty of counter space, a three burner stove and oven, double sinks and a useful, side loading fridge-freezer. Overhead cabinets and below counter cabinets provide ample storage.
The chart table and navigation station face forward next to the dinette. This is a good arrangement. If you want to stand watch below decks while the autopilot steers, you can still see in a 360-degree circle as you monitor the radar-chartplotter repeater and sailing instruments and adjust trim with the remote autopilot controller.
The owner’s stateroom occupies the port hull with the large, island double berth aft, the head and shower forward and the den or study in between. The hull is down three steps from the saloon and the whole space can be made private with the sliding door that closes off the companionway.
The guest cabins are in the starboard hull with a large aft cabin and a second double cabin built in under the bridge deck forward. Both are spacious and equipped with private heads and showers.
Lagoon has been working on their interior designs and wood selections over the past two years and have come up with a new interior look that is bright, stylish and low maintenance. The floors throughout the boat are a non-skid finished hardwood called Wenge while all of the cabinets and interior furniture are built of a processed oak called Alpi. Both woods have consistent texture and color so if you ever need to replace a cabinet door or a floor section, Lagoon can provide a piece that is an exact match.
After building thousands of cruising cats for private owners and the charter fleets, Lagoon has evolved the art and science of building and laying out their boats to a very high level. The Lagoon 420 will make a very comfortable floating home.
The 420, equipped with twin 75-horsepower engines, is a powering machine that will exceed 10 knots at the top end. But the boat can also be powered with the standard 40-horsepower engines that will shove it along at eight knots in flat water. Or, you could opt for the Lagoon Hybrid diesel-electric propulsion system that was introduced two years ago, which will reduce the boat’s carbon footprint but will also provide a lower level of performance under power. Having used all three systems in the last two years, we really like the power of the 75-horsepower engine options but would probably choose the 40s for purely practical reasons.
The 420 sailed well and was fun to tack, jibe and run off under the reacher. Lagoon has done a really good job of making the boat easy for a couple to sail and we would think nothing of setting off for extended cruising with just two of us aboard. The working sail plan will suffice in most conditions but we would always carry a cruising chute to give us those extra knots and the extra fun when the wind is moderate and aft of the beam.
For a family cruising boat that has an ocean going pedigree—Lagoons are delivered transatlantic on their own bottoms—the new Lagoon 420 offers the accommodations a family will really appreciate, the quality and systems discerning owners expect and the enduring value any investor desires.