Le chariot

20180223_132713.jpgSabella is a Lagoon 42, hull 169. We launched her in January 2018. She is a 3 cabin owners version, which provides an incredible amount of space. If you were to measure 42 feet on a football field it doesn’t look like much, but Lagoon have created a vast amount of room in such a small area. Each night when we lie in bed we gaze forward at the owners suite and wonder how our boat is only 42 feet long, it looks so spacious and uncluttered!

We purchased our lovely lady new from The Multihull Group (TMG) in Australia. We’ve found our best decisions in life tend to be rapid ones, made when opportunities appear that are too good to miss. Sabella was one of those. When we commenced discussions about purchasing a Lagoon 42 with TMG, Sabella was due to be shipped from France to Oz in less than 36 hours time. We proposed that she stayed in Europe and we pick her up over there, and everything fell into place. Suddenly we owned a new boat, something that we never could have predicted in our wildest dreams!


As Sabella was already out of the factory when we signed on the dotted line, we didn’t have a chance to change any of the factory fitted options. Fortunately TMG had fitted her out very close to our desired specifications. Some of her notable factory options include:

  • upgraded Yanmar 4JH57 diesels with folding props
  • a massive black code zero light air sail and associated riggging
  • 2kw inverter
  • 12 inch plotter and autopilot at the helm
  • teak decks
  • leather furniture inside (we probably wouldn’t have gone for this but with kids it’s worth its weight in gold)


Standby as I prepare to elegantly nose dive straight into the table below…

Notable exceptions to her factory fit out were no big diesel generator, no water maker, no air con and no heating.

Now, the way one chooses to cruise on a small sailboat is one’s own choice. People will throw spears regardless. For us, we’ve worked hard for many years, and sans kids we had many “dirtbag” climbing trips abroad sleeping on bouldering crash pads. We are happy doing it cheaply, but that’s not what this new life is about. To be sustainable with 2 little ones in tow, we intend to make Sabella comfortable. Not excessive, but comfortable. That means being able to make enough water to have a shower a day, and not rationing power or water because we’re about to run out. If we were cruising sans kids this might be different.

To that end, these are the modifications in progress on Sabella:

  • Solar – We have 1680 watts of solar, split across 5 x BenQ Sunforte rigid panels. This setup is a big deal for Sabella, being without an integral generator. The array is currently under construction and we can’t wait to see how it works in practice – indications are that it will meet our daily (and nightly) energy requirements. Working out where to put all those panels (8 square meters worth) was quite a challenge. We ended up with 2 raised above the traveller lines on the cockpit roof, leaving enough room up there to access the boom, whilst the other 3 are on a stainless steel arch cantilevered out from the tender davits. The panels are wired into 2 separate systems in parallel, each with its own MPPT controller, which helps to mitigate shading issues from the main sail.


  • Energy storage – Unfortunately, Sabella came with lead acid batteries. Given the choice we would have selected AGM batteries with a view to upgrading to a LIFEPO4 lithium setup down the track. She came with 4 batteries totalling 560 amp hours (ah) which is not enough for our energy needs. To store a day’s energy requirements we expect to require about 1000 ah of conventional batteries, providing 300-400 ah of useable energy. Conventional wisdom says not to mix battery types, so we’re stuck purchasing extra lead acid batteries at present. Perhaps we’ll discharge them deeply each cycle to ensure they die quickly and we can switch to lithium 🙂


  • Watermaker – We have an EchoTec 260-DML water maker fitted in the port engine bay. This brand came highly recommended from several cruisers due to its simplicity, providing the ability to fix it more readily in remote areas using generic spare parts from the local hardware store. It makes 50 litres an hour and uses just under an amp of power per litre. We estimate our water consumption to be about 100 litres a day and we have a 600 litre tank. We had a below water line through hull fitted prior to splashing the boat, otherwise to install the water maker would have required a haul out.


  • Anchor – We plan to spend most of our time on the hook. It’s much more pleasant being far from the madding crowds in marinas, not to mention significantly better for the wallet. I’ve been told the best way to start a fight in a cruisers’ bar is to ask “which is best, a Rocna or a Spade”?. I’ve come to the conclusion that at the end of the day any of the modern anchors, (particularly Rocna, Spade and Mantus) will do an excellent job. We went with a 35kg Spade with a WASI swivel, which JUST fits under our bowsprit bobstay (thank goodness!). It’s a big anchor, which should continue to provide a solid night’s sleep for many years to come. The reason we finally went with a Spade anchor is that all of the weight is concentrated into the tip (using molten lead), which results in a good bite into all sorts of ground. Spade anchors were highly recommended by the good folks from Morgan’s Cloud, and after so many years spent in the harsh weather of the high latitudes we figured they should know!
I love the yellow, don’t you?
  • Tender – After much research we went with the a Highfield CL340 with a Honda 20hp outboard – funnily enough the same as the Lagoon option. Same thing, just quite a bit cheaper from a different supplier. One downfall of the Lagoon 42 is the davit design – it results in the tender swinging impressively and rubbing against the steel when sailing. We secure the tender with 2 racket straps when under way,  not ideal but a sustainable fix in the medium term.


  • Life raft – In a previous life I spent 16 hours bobbing around the ocean in an overloaded 12 person life raft, which was probably the worst experience of my life. Literally. It was horrible. During that dark moment I swore if we ever followed our dreams and slipped the docklines, we’d buy a great life raft! So we ended up with a Viking RescuPro self righting 6 man raft, it was expensive but if we need it to work, we REALLY need it to play the game. This raft makes us feel that little bit more comfortable aboard, particularly in its unused state sitting there happily in its canister…


  • Washing machine – We um’d and ah’d about whether to fit a washer on our boat. Avoid the complexity the forums said. “Just rinse it over the side”, some argued. I can’t believe I’m excited about domestic bliss, but there you have it. It turns out Lagoon, in their generosity, had pre-wired a 230v plug next to the standard place to fit a washer, and also a fresh water outlet plumber to the tanks. This we did not expect and it was a very happy surprise. We had a through hull fitted prior to Sabella’s launch for the dirty wash water outlet, and the cost of the the entire setup (through hull, machine itself and installation) was 1200 euro, half the price of the Lagoon option. This worked out in our favour, some other aspects of our modifications … not so much! To run our washer is easy when plugged into a marina, just turn it on. When on the hook, the plug is not fed from our inverter – we may change this in the future, but for now we run our Honda generator, aka “the little red beast” in eco mode to power the machine. A couple of 100 millilitres of petrol per wash.


  • Generator (portable) – The machine recommended unanimously by all is the Honda EU20i, 2 kw portable generator. This is our get out of jail free machine, pumping out 1600 watts of battery charging goodness whilst burning about 400 mils an hour. It’s helpful when the sun ain’t shining, compromising the efficiency of our greener energy source. We store it in our anchor locker and simply pull it out and run it on deck, ideally downwind of living areas, although it is very quiet and the exhaust fumes disperse quickly in any sort of breeze. It’s plugged into the shore power inlet via a small adapter like this one.


  • Fans – Sabella came sans fans, so we’ve fitted 6 x 12 volt Caframo Ultimate fans throughout the boat.


  • Heating – We use 4 x oil heaters in marinas when plugged into shore power, 1 per cabin and one in the saloon. In reality we’ll intend to spend each winter in a marina (some provide excellent rates for the 6 ish cold months of each year here in the Med’). We’d love to lash out and fit a diesel powered hydronic heating system, which would also provide a source of hot water. For the time being we’re going to wait to see how this whole adventure pans out before committing to the effort of this major installation.