Above is an excellent review of the 421 Catamaran from Multihull World. It explains how the Lagoon 421 corrected the problems of the Lagoon 420 that was designed to motor sail rather than sail. To quote the opening paragraph of the article….
“Here is the revised and corrected version of the 420. With its less bulky lines and more hydro-dynamically efficient hulls, the 421 should make a name for itself as one of the most widely-distributed catamarans on the market.“
THIS IS AN ARTICLE I WROTE LAST YEAR THAT I”VE JUST GOT AROUND TO POSTING
After two seasons cruising the Eastern Caribbean aboard La Mischief, our Lagoon 421 catamaran, it was time to look westwards and check out the “other” side of the Caribbean. When we heard about the Ocean Cruising Club’s Suzie Too Rally from some of our cruising friends, we jumped at the chance to explore this part of the world in the company of both old and new friends.
The Suzie Too OCC Rally is the brainchild of Suzanne and David Chappell, who first ran the rally in 2016. Our rally started in November 2018 from Curaçao, visiting Aruba, Colombia, San Blas, Panama, San Andres, Providencia, Roatan, and Utila before finishing in Belize in April.
The first major leg of the rally was the passage from Aruba to Santa Marta in Colombia, which has the reputation of being very challenging. Trade Winds funnel across the top of Colombia and the waves have a very long fetch in which to build up size. Folklore has it as being one of the five worst passages in the world. But having researched and now done it, I believe that the Rally got it right; and you can dramatically improve your chances of a pleasant non-eventful passage by planning to go at the right time of the year – before the Christmas winds kick in; penciling in an optional rest stop at Cabo De La Vela; staying close to the coast to make use of the beneficial land effects; and applying a little patience to wait for a good weather window.
Setting off from Aruba at 5pm with my partner DeAnne, and our crew of Richard and Christy, we ended up having rather benign conditions all the way to Cabo De La Vela (the Cape of the Wind), with an annoying one knot current against us, instead of with us as advertised. Progress was slow but okay, made worse by our overly conservative sail plan, choosing not to deploy our parasailer when conditions were perfect. The folklore had got the better of us!
As we left Cabo De La Vela, we pulled out the light wind gennaker for a few hours until the wind built to 20-25 knots as dusk approached. Down the gennaker came and in went a reef into the mainsail. Around midnight the wind completely died and on went the motors so that we could see the sunrise over the Sierra Nevada mountains, which run down to the sea and are very spectacular. These are the only mountains in the Caribbean where you can see snow on the mountain tops.
The approach to Santa Marta is stunningly spectacular. As we approached the headland, distracted by the snowcapped mountains, the wind picked up and the waves grew in size. We were having a great downwind sail, but we needed to reef. As we were close to Santa Marta, we decided to drop the mainsail instead of going through the rigmarole of reefing. We turned into the wind to lower the main, just as a large wave broke over us thoroughly soaking DeAnne as she stood on the coach roof to help with the sail drop.
Santa Marta Marina was fantastic. Kelly, who manages the office, is awesome. Colombia requires that you use an agent to clear into each port, and Santa Marta Marina provided us with an agent free of charge because of our extended booking. We soon discovered the famous Santa Marta katabatic winds that appear every afternoon and blow around 40kts. A good reason to be tucked up in the marina rather than out at anchor with reputedly dubious holding.
We spent two weeks soaking up the sites, culture and food in Santa Marta, which was celebrating its 500-year anniversary. We hired a car and drove the countryside. We spent two days exploring Tayrona National Park, which has some great walks and beaches. We checked out the Caiman crocodile floating in the river just behind the Park’s most popular swimming beach. Yikes. The marina also arranged three complimentary buses for the rally to go to another part of Tayrona for a wonderful beach day. We spend the night up at Minca in the mountains and did a wonderful motorbike tour to several waterfalls; an old coffee plantation; and Casa Elemente for lunch, complete with giant hammocks, a swimming pool and a view to die for. We went river tubing on Rio Don Diego and visited the bohemian hangout of Palomino.
Rally members organized regular rubbish cleanups to do our bit to try and clean up the ocean; Spanish lessons were organized; we had some OpenCPN sessions in readiness for the San Blas; and Suzanne had organized for the rally to donate heaps of children’s clothes, toys and school equipment to a local charity.
We also took the opportunity to do some provisioning. We found the supermarkets to be very good, with the exception of canned fruit and vegetables that some cruisers wanted for the San Blas, which they had to get in Curaçao beforehand. This was entirely understandable as the fresh produce in Colombia was extensive and of high quality.
But by far and away the best part of Colombia was its super friendly people. They loved helping, even if they couldn’t speak any English and I couldn’t speak any Spanish. Luckily, DeAnne was fluent in Spanish and loved practicing with the locals.
Two weeks was not nearly long enough and before we knew it, we were at the farewell party put on by the Marina and on our way at first light the next morning.
The leg from Santa Marta to Puerto Velero was more like what we had heard about. Very lively with big following seas. We got caught out when a big breaking wave came over the back-starboard steps and into our cockpit, before proceeding through our open door into our saloon. From there we watched in stunned silence as it went down both sets of steps and into each of our hulls before we were able to pull up the floor boards for our bilge pumps to do their thing. We spent the next 30 minutes mopping up and rinsing everything with fresh water. Needless to say, the saloon door was pulled shut to avoid any repeat performance.
Once we got close to the mouth of the Rio Magdalena, we had a new potential problem to contend with. Rio Magdalena is the biggest river in Colombia and spits out large logs, whole trees and all sorts of large debris. As the water color dramatically changed, we were on the lookout for anything big that could ruin our day. On the plus side, the river water seemed to dampen the waves, making for a more comfortable ride.
Turning the corner shortly after passing the river mouth provided further relief from the large seas and we had a wonderful sail down to Puerto Velero, where we anchored for the night, under the watchful eye of our friends from the Colombian Coast Guard, who were escorting us right through Colombia, with their boats patrolling our various anchorages night and day. We felt very honored and safe in their presence.
We were off again at first light and this time the wind was nowhere to be seen. We motor sailed in calm seas, with winds less than 10kts towards the Rosario Islands, instead of heading directly to Cartagena, where you normally have to go first, as the Rally had got special dispensation for a three day stay in these islands, something that is not normally allowed.
The Colombian Islands aren’t to be missed and we were allocated an anchorage off Isla Grande in the Rosario group. We had a pleasant three days, swimming in crystal clear waters and exploring the island with its interesting pathways and beach bars. It felt good to get back to a bit of island life between city stops.
Refreshed and relaxed, we all set off together, proceeding in single file into Cartagena. It was quite a sight with 38 boats following Suzie Too past the forts and into the inner harbor. We felt like Sir Francis Drake as we lay siege to the city. We had a choice of two marinas (Club De Pesca and Club Nautico) or an anchorage that the coast guard had set aside for the Rally, just outside the old city walls. Colombia has a great attitude towards cruisers and is trying really hard to realize the potential that visiting cruisers represent.
Cartagena itself is one of the great cruising destinations in the world. It’s a must see with its old city, its magnificent fort and its wonderful architecture. And it does Christmas incredibly well with its many beautiful churches, its great decorations and a festive atmosphere unlike anywhere else. The Rally celebrated Christmas at Club De Pesca with a Pot Luck lunch and a bit of fun with a Secret Santa session, where fishing lures seemed to be the catch of the day.
New Year’s Eve in Cartagena is also an event not to be missed. Half of Colombia seems to descend on Cartagena for the festivities. To accommodate the crowds, all the restaurants spill out into the streets, and pop-up restaurants appear across the city. The Rally booked various restaurants around the town, before spilling out onto the streets to watch the fireworks at midnight. DeAnne and I then spent several hours walking the streets listening to the music and soaking up the festivities.
Colombia certainly impressed us, and we wished we could have stayed a little longer. But with the New Year upon us and the San Blas Islands calling, it was time to head West.
Ten Tips for Colombia
Try and make it to Cartagena by Christmas to avoid the Christmas Winds.
Christmas in Colombia is awesome. New Year’s Eve in Cartagena is also an experience not to be missed.
Brush up on your Spanish. Not many locals speak English.
Don’t go too shallow. The charts don’t have all the rocks. Locals suggest staying 5nm off the coast on approach to Cartagena.
Visit Colombia’s Islands – Isla Rosario, San Bernardo Group and Isla Fuerte before departing for the San Blas.
Take advantage of the cheap airfares and accommodation to fly to some of Colombia’s amazing inland cities and attractions. Medellin, Bogotá, and the Amazon Jungle are all worth considering.
Hire a Car in Santa Marta. There’s so much to see and do. Do a Motor Bike tour in Minca, go river tubing on Rio Don Diego or Palomino, and visit The Tayrona National Park, staying overnight in small hotels. Or take a four-day hike to the Lost City.
Soak up the culture in Santa Marta and Cartagena. These places are full of history.
Get a 10USD steak dinner at 13 Reses in Santa Marta. Eat out at many fantastic restaurants in Santa Marta and Cartagena.
Look at joining the next Suzie Too OCC Rally, you won’t regret it!
The Admiral has decided she wants an even bigger boat than a Lagoon 421 and we have recently put a deposit down on a new 50 foot catamaran. As a result, the Captain has reluctantly put La Mischief on the market, pending the move to our new catamaran.
If you are after a world cruising catamaran, it would be rare indeed to find a boat better equipped than La Mischief. We purchased her new from the Factory in March 2013 and she has never been chartered. With twin upgraded 75HP engines, twin Autopilots, 2000W of solar and Victron Lithium batteries, you can step on board and head straight out to the Bahamas, the Caribbean or indeed around the world. We have set her up with everything needed to cruise as a couple off the grid with a circumnavigation in mind.
The Lagoon 421 is a highly sought after model, with limited stock available. It is a strongly built world cruiser, designed for the liveaboards to sail fulltime, with unbelievable storage for a 42 foot catamaran. She is the popular 3 bedroom version with the port hull totally dedicated to the owners, with a large luxury bathroom and outstanding living areas. She was built just before the catamaran market shifted its focus to the charter market, where the requirements for full time living aboard are largely reduced.
As you can read below, La Mischief has a host of aftermarket improvements and additions not typically found on other boats, that add safety, maintainability and comfort to your cruising experience.
With a spacious cockpit that can comfortably sit 8 around a custom-built mahogany dining table, that also converts into a cocktail table, this boat is the ultimate entertainer. The teak floor adds a nice touch. As well as full all around cockpit enclosure, La Mischief has a full set of sunshades for the cockpit. There’s the obligatory cockpit fridge as well as a custom-made sunbed. Being an Australian boat, there’s a large Galleymate 2000 Gas BBQ with own fiberglass propane tank.
The saloon has standing room of 6’ 7” and is extremely well appointed, with special blue leather seating for 8 around a large saloon table. There are a separate set of blue leather Cushions that can be used to convert the Saloon Table to a bed. There is a forward facing Navigation Station, with a Fusion stereo system with 4 speakers in the saloon, 2 speakers in the cockpit and 2 speakers with separate Fusion amplifier for the front deck. There is also a Bose Lifestyle V35 Home Cinema with sub woofer and a Bluray DVD Player hooked up to a 37” TV for movie nights.
The owners version has the entire port hull dedicated to the owners with a semi – island type berth with front and lateral access, together with its own 22” TV, a leather sofa, two large mirrors and a luxurious bathroom with a walk in shower and fresh water quiet flush electric marine head. There is also a 3kg Washing Machine in its own separate cupboard.
Guest accommodation is generous with two large staterooms in the Starboard Hull, each with its own separate shower and separate bathroom with quiet flush electric marine head.
The galley is a chef’s delight, with good communication to the cockpit and the helm station via a sliding bay window. There’s a 3 burner stove and a separate oven with grill (broiler), all protected with a propane gas detection and shutoff system. There’s a 130L (34 US gal) fridge (plus an additional fridge in the cockpit), a 110L (29US Gal) freezer and a unique 3 sink arrangement, with a dish drainer in the 3rd sink. There’s also an additional storage area designed for a Microwave.
There’s a sea water foot pump, and a fresh water foot pump with a drinking water filter.
The large 75 HP Yanmar engines are an important safety feature when operating in large adverse sea conditions. Engine hours are 2402 and 2351. The SD50 sail drives have been modified with an optional kit to eliminate the cone clutch slippage problems that typically happen every 600 hours. Folding propellers provide extra speed whilst sailing. Aftermarket automatic fire extinguishers were added in each engine bay, as were secondary fuel filters with clear bowl water separators.
The 100L (26Gal) per Hour Dessalator Watermaker runs both on 12V and 220V and typically runs off the solar panels providing free fresh water.
There are four separate CRUISAIR airconditioning systems that provides separate cooling and heating in all the staterooms as well as the saloon.
The electrical system is fed by four 90AH Victron LiFePO4 Batteries together with Victron BMS, Li-Charge and Li-Load units. Charging these batteries is performed by:
3 Sunpower SPR-X22-360 Solar panels on an Aluminum and Stainless Steel Frame connected to a large Victron 150/70 MPPT Solar Panel Controller
10 Stick on solar panels on the roof (1000W) connected to separate Victron MPPT Solar Panel Controller
D400 Wind Generator
A Victron Quattro 3000VA/120A Invertor Charger providing 230V alternating current,
Two 40Amp Cristec battery chargers,
Two Alpha Pro Smart Charger regulators for each Alternator
A 9.5Kva Onan Generator (1300 engine hours)
Battery Monitoring is achieved using VICTRON BMV 602 and a Victron Colour Controller.
Shore power supply is protected by a 360W 115 / 230 V Galvanic Isolator, that accepts both 110V and 230V and is rated for lightening.
La Mischief has a comprehensive set of Navigational equipment, accessable from both the helmstation and the safety of the forward facing Navigation station in the comfort of the Saloon.
AIS 650 RAYMARINE TRANSCEIVER WITH ANTENNA
RAYMARINE REMOTE SMART CONTROL
RAYMARINE E125W DISPLAY AT HELM STATION
RAYMARINE E125W DISPLAY AT NAV. STATION
Raymarine I70 Displays (2 at Helmstation, 1 at Nav Station)
RAYMARINEHD DIGITAL 18″ 48 NM 4 Kw RADAR
RAYMARINE 55 E VHF RADIO WITH DSC
2nd HANDSET AT HELM STATION FOR VHF RAYMARINE 55E
Two independent autopilots with full redundancy – one in each engine bay (L&S and Raymarine)
Deck and Hull Equipment
La Mischief has an extensive list of optional, upgraded and aftermarket equipment, and is fully equipped and ready to sail around the world.
Lofrans 1500W Windlass new in November 2019.
Three Harken 46.2STAEH electric winches at helm station
Forth Harken Winch on Port Side for Spinnaker and Geneker use.
66m2 Square Top Mainsail
36m2 Furling genoa with UV protective band
69 m2 Gennaker (blue / white), together with Genaker rig, including optional bowsprit
Backing Plates for Parasailor attachment points
Foldable mast steps to spreaders
Deck wash pump with both sea water and fresh water.
Freshwater dock inlet
Four Underwater LED lights on Stern (LEDS hybrid Serie 30i 9-32vDC Midnight Blue)
Ground Plate for HF Radio
4 Stainless steel dive tank holders (new in 2017)
Aftermarket Stainless steel reinforcing to protect fibreglass during anchor retrieval
Waterproof loudspeakers under coach roof with additional Fusion amplifier to drive these and provide music for front deck.
Quick Chain Counter
Upgraded 33Kg Rocna Anchor and 100m Chain
Spare Fortress anchor
Aftermarket stainless steel handrail on sub and port transoms
Ultrasonic Antifouling Units in each hull.
Pirate Lights Security Alarm System with front and rear sensors
Badboy WiFI Booster (Antenna plus router)
Hypalon Ulta Light 340 Dinghy with Honda BF20HP Engine
Dinghy Davits with Harken 40.2STAEH electric winch.
OUTBOARD ENGINE BRACKET ON PUSHPIT
Viking 8 person Rescu You Liferaft in canister
Folding Carbon Gangplank 2.6m (8.53ft) with cover and handrail
To give you an idea of the additional value that has been added to La Mischief, here is a list of the optional and after market items that have been added.
Upgraded 75HP Engines (an important safety feature)
Two independent autopilots with full redundancy – one in each engine bay (L&S and Raymarine). Losing an autopilot mid ocean is not a good scenario and is too common to ignore.
Four 90AH Victron LiFePO4 Batteries together with Victron BMS, Li-Charge and Li-Load units. Lithium batteries are great at keeping the voltage up and the beer cold.
Square Top Mainsail (for extra performance)
Custom-built mahogany dining table in cockpit (folds into a cocktail table, which also allows easy access to the lockers)
Teak floor in cockpit
Lofrans 1500W Windlass new in November 2019 (standard Windlass is underpowered).
Three Harken 46.2STAEH electric winches at helm station (makes sailing a big cat easier).
100L (26Gal) per Hour Dessalator Watermaker runs both on 12V and 220V and typically runs off the solar panels providing free fresh water.
There are four separate CRUISAIR airconditioning systems that provides separate cooling and heating in all the staterooms as well as the saloon.
AIS 650 RAYMARINE TRANSCEIVER WITH ANTENNA
RAYMARINE REMOTE SMART CONTROL (Can hang around your neck and control the boat from anywhere on board).
RAYMARINE E125W DISPLAY AT NAV. STATION (great redundancy)
RAYMARINE HD DIGITAL 18″ 48 NM 4 Kw RADAR (RADAR is great for night passages, fog and for spotting and avoiding squalls)
2nd HANDSET AT HELM STATION FOR VHF RAYMARINE 55E (where the watch keeper is)
VICTRON BMV 602 Battery Monitor and a Victron Colour Controller.
Victron Digital Multi Control for remote management of Victron Quattro (no more going under the bed to switch the invertor on and off)
3 Sunpower SPR-X22-360 Solar panels on an Aluminum and Stainless Steel Frame connected to a large Victron 150/70 MPPT Solar Panel Controller (these are the best panels going around and provide an amazing amount of free electricity)
10 Stick on solar panels on the roof (1000W) connected to separate Victron MPPT Solar Panel Controller (not as good as the Sunpower panels, but still provide extra battery charging)
D400 Wind Generator (great at night in the trade winds or when the sun doesn’t shine)
Victron Quattro 3000VA/120A Inverter/Charger providing 230V alternating current (the Quattro provides a passthrough capability for when the genset or mains is connected. Victron’s high end inverter/charger.
Two Alpha Pro Smart Charger regulators for each Alternator (provide more charging capability and better for the batteries)
One of the joys of cruising the world is that we visit places where we can make a difference to a community by pitching in and helping the locals. Steven Elliott at Catamaran Island is an all round good guy, and he rounded up the cruisers at not only Catamaran Island Marina but elsewhere as well to help out with a 300 pupil school over an hours drive away with a few projects that desperately needed doing,
They had managed to fund raise some money to buy a water pump and some piping and lumber to get water from the public service down the hill to a tank higher up to gravity feed the toilets and the kitchen. Previously, water has to be carried up to do this manually. Everyone got busy building stands, wiring the pump and connecting up the plumbing.
A second work group set about a playground upgrade.
It turned out to be a big day and the beers did taste really good when we made it back to Catamarans.
Bonaire is dive heaven. Its so easy to dive here, either from the shore or from the back of La Mischief. We’ve done both, having hired a car for a week. The beauty of Bonaire is that you could be lazy and just dive off the back of the boat without even leaving the mooring.
Clifton was our last stop in St Vincent and the Grenadines, before we left for Carriacou. We climbed to the top of the Fort for some outstanding views, checked out the cute town and then retired to Happy Island with our friends from Vela for some sunset drinks and to watch the Kite Boarding locals put on a show.