We spoke with Caroline who lives aboard “Fizzgig” a Lagoon 450F. She and her family have been aboard for about a year and currently are in Wilmington, North Carolina. Caroline tells us a little bit about the Lagoon 450F and what their plans are. She tells us about their former catamaran, a 2006 Fontaine-Pajot Lavezzi 40 and why they made the transition to a larger catamaran.
Please see more from Caroline on her blog Sailing Fizzgig.
Key Takeaways of Lagoon 450F
- Lagoon 450 is very comfortable and voluminous loaded with amenities and excellent separation of spaces for couple, daughter, and dog. This is owner version with three cabins.
- Headroom to accommodate 6′ 2″ person unlike the 40 Lavezzi where there were only a couple places her husband could stand up in.
- Lots of space and power for equipment such as air conditioning, washer – dryer, dishwasher, etc
- Excellent deck space for lounging outside. Flybridge is amazing for visibility.
- Large community of other owners allows for easier access to technical support and parts and camaraderie while cruising with other Lagoon owners.
- Surprisingly good performance including sailing up to 45 degrees to the wind at 8 knots during passage north along US Atlantic coastline. Performance enhanced during this passage by Gulf Stream current.
- Much improved bridgedeck clearance from Lavezzi which would slam and be uncomfortable. The 450 rarely slams.
Challenges of the Lagoon 450F
- Many Lagoons and Fountaine Pajots are 240 Volt European voltage boats which means gear is also 240 Volt / 50 Hertz. You cannot run European voltage gear such as watermakers, air conditioning compressors, dish washers, appliances, water heaters on USA power which is 120 Volt / 60 Hertz. You need a transformer which is expensive. Beyond changing the gear, you also need to rewire to heavier gauge wiring to handle higher amperage of USA power. It can be an inconvenience and unexpected expense to purchase a European voltage boat if you are primarily cruising in USA waters.
- Flybridge needs an enclosure to be comfortable as exposure in cold or rain is very uncomfortable at flybridge helm. Most do not come with enclosures and you need to consider cost of having one made.
- Not a great beginner catamaran because of size. Not as easy to handle and dock with high freeboard and windage.
Caroline, can you tell me a little bit about you and Fizzgig?
I have been a live aboard cruiser now since 2015, and Fizzgig is our second catamaran. She’s a Lagoon 450F, which means that she is the Flybridge edition of the Lagoon 450, so we’ve got a nice Flybridge.
We’ve been living aboard Fizzgig for a little over a year since we bought her in December of 2019. She is like living in a condominium. It’s a wonderful boat to be living aboard. She’s very comfortable, and it’s myself, my husband, and our teenage daughter, and a dog. We all have our separate living spaces, and it’s great. She has all the amenities, it’s almost like living in a house, but we have to have the pump-out boat visit us.
Can you describe a little bit about the boat and what made you choose it? What were some of the attributes that made you choose to move aboard this one versus what was your former boat? Tell us a little bit about that transition.
Our former boat was a 2006 Fontaine-Pajot 40 Lavezzi, which was an absolutely great little boat. I would never discourage anyone from buying one, but the problem is my husband is six-foot-two, and there were only two places aboard that boat that he could stand up straight. It also had no air conditioning, and we spent a few seasons in the tropics in summer, and decided that no air conditioning was not a good thing.
So we decided we needed a bigger boat, something where my husband could stand up. I’m only four-foot-eleven, so that wasn’t so much an issue for me. But we wanted something that he could stand up in, and something with air conditioning.
So we started looking around. We asked a broker in the Florida area if he could show us around to all sorts of different catamarans. We wanted to look at everything from Lagoons, Leopards, other Fontaine-Peugeots to Catanas, to Privileges; anything in the area he could show us, and we decided on the Lagoon.
The Lagoon has a really great layout. We have an owner’s version, which means we have the three-cabin version. Every cabin has its own separate head, own separate shower that’s separate and completely enclosed, and there is tons of deck space, and tons of room for people to spread out and to have people aboard, which is another thing we wanted. We wanted to be able to have guests, and we decided on the 450. We knew we were going for something bigger.
We decided on the 450 because after looking at boats from anywhere between other 40-foot catamarans, up to 58-foot catamarans, I decided this would be the largest boat that I would be willing to comfortably single-hand, if I needed to. These boats have crossed oceans, and we happened to find one that had the the owner’s layout and all of the amenities that we wanted, so it kind of just worked out that way.
I know you’ve got the Flybridge, was that a big selling feature for you, or is there something specific that was the thing?
It was one of those moments the boat was on the hard when we went to go look at it. Honestly, we almost did not go look at it, because our boat has kind of an odd thing that the broker, when he told us about it, kind of made us think maybe this wouldn’t be the boat for us. I’ll tell you what that is in a second, but it was on the hard. They were doing work on it and I walked into the boat and it was one of those moments where, “Oh! This feels like home!”
The Flybridge is wonderful, the Flybridge gives you absolutely great visibility when you’re out sailing. You can see everything we have in a full enclosure for it, so we’re pretty protected from the elements when we’re up there. It has a long bench seat, which is great because you can be at the helm and someone can sleep next to you if they need to. Or you can have four or five people sitting up there with you at the helm. You don’t feel like you’re separated, and I know that some people, because there’s a sport top version of this boat as well, where the helm is not separated. You could be out in the cockpit and you’re right next to the person at the helm. We have our VHF set up with a wireless handset in our salon, so we can use it as an intercom to communicate back and forth. You’re never really alone up there.
So tell us about the unusual aspect of your boat then.
In the two aft cabins, we have ceiling fans. They are actual 12-volt ceiling fans.
Do they work?
They work! They work beautifully. They move air wonderfully. You open up a hatch, and because they cover the hatch, you get air. They bring in air, and they’re energy efficient, they’re quiet. They’re just something I didn’t even know existed before I saw this boat. But the previous owner said he got to the Bahamas and said he had to have them in there.
With Lagoons, because they are a production boat, especially on the used market, there’s all sorts of different configurations. There’s the four-cabin version, which usually people call them charter versions. We’ve got the owner’s version, which is the three-cabin version. Then every person who bought it new has the options for putting in air conditioner, different types of generators, washers, dryers, all sorts of different things.
So if you’re going to look for one on the used market, again there’s just all sorts of options, in different configurations. One thing with our boat, is the previous owner, when he bought it from the factory, just checked all of the available options.
So everything’s there.
Everything’s there. We have a dishwasher, which I swore, when I got the boat, I opened it up and said this is just where I’m going to store dishes. But I actually use the dishwasher, it’s more energy efficient than washing dishes by hand. The previous owner sailed it over on the ark, so it’s crossed oceans already. It came pre-configured with all of the handholds and blocks for various sales configurations and everything. We kind of got lucky, in that we got a boat where we didn’t have to add on a whole lot of things.
It is nice when they’re the right things that are already there and they’re in good shape. So have you changed anything, has there been anything you felt you needed to change or that you plan to change?
The big thing that we did, probably the biggest change, is the electrical. The boat was a 240 boat, and we updated and upgraded the electrical so it’s now a dual-voltage boat. We can run both 120 and 240. A big part of the reason that we kept the dual voltage, is because a lot of our major appliances like the dishwasher, washer/dryer, our water maker, our ac units, are things that we didn’t want to have to replace our generator, but I’ll run off of the European voltage. But at the same time, because we’re at this point primarily in the US, and all of our convenience things run on 120. We wanted to make sure we could do both, so that was probably the biggest thing.
The other thing we did is that enclosure for the Flybridge, we had that made. Not a lot of these come with those enclosures, and they are something that you pretty much have to have made, so that would be the biggest thing otherwise.
There’s also little things that I feel like anyone who buys a used boat. There’s always going to be things that you want to change. Like, I put in a spice rack.
Those are mandatory. Tell me about a little bit about sailing and being out on the boat. You’re pretty tiny and you said that you feel comfortable single-handed. Maybe start with that, how is it for you, running the boat?
It’s good. Just because of its size, I wouldn’t classify it as a really good beginner boat if you’re new to sailing a catamaran, especially if you’re going to go cruising and be out on the open ocean. We sailed from we sailed from Seattle, down through Central America, through the Panama Canal, and we’ve ended up here. We’ve been out in all sorts of conditions, and gained that experience on our smaller boat. This boat, she actually sails really well. The comment I make to my husband is I was pleasantly surprised. Because everybody said, “Oh, that’s gonna be so slow.”
I was okay with that, because I was going for comfort over speed. Because we spend so much more time at anchor than we do on passages, I was okay with that. We purchased this boat in Fort Myers, Florida and we sailed it to Wilmington, North Carolina, and we averaged eight knots during that time. We were able to sail about 45 degrees into the wind, which also surprised me because that’s really good for a catamaran.
This is after you’ve moved all your personal goods aboard, you’re fully loaded, and she’s pointing like that?
Again, maybe that just had some luck, but we were able to do it. She sailed really well. Our boat does have the upgraded engine, so if we have to motor, we have a combined horse 108 horsepower. We can still motor along if we need to. We carry 280 gallons of fuel so we can, if we need to motor, we can do that. As far as sailing goes, this boat has a much higher bridgedeck clearance than the Lavezzi did.
Anyone who’s been offshore in a catamaran, especially if you have to beat in a catamaran is familiar with deck slap. We didn’t really notice it on this boat. We were beating into 30 to 35 knots for about 12 hours on our way north to get to Wilmington and there was some.
But again, those times in the previous boat, I know that we would have been hearing that thumping underneath, and things would have been bouncing on the table, and the salon, and it would have been really uncomfortable. We didn’t have that in this boat. That was nice.
Wow! That is cool. How about light winds? Have you had her out for just sort of day sails and really light winds, or did the motors go on?
We have been in light winds. We have a code zero and we also have a parasailor. Between those two sails we can do pretty good in light winds, light winds being around tip knots. If we’re talking down around five knots, we’re pretty much kicking an engine. Again, this is really big heavy boat and it has a huge amount of windage. Being tied to a dock, we move pretty good with not a whole lot of wind. Even docking in 10 knots of wind can sometimes be challenging, if you have any other things going around you because it’s really impacted by that.
Tell me a bit about that then, moving around marinas in the wind with just the three of you aboard. Are you feeling like you’re short-handed or are you able to get around marinas fine?
We’re able to do it. Again, I really wouldn’t consider this a good beginner boat. That’s part of the reason it would take some practice. We’re pretty good at docking at this point. We’re also really good at choosing when we move around and when we dock.
That may be the difference between beginners and people who’ve done it for a while. As you’re able to read those conditions and you do start to understand what your boat can do, and you don’t sort of cross those the wrong way. You go out in conditions that work for you, and you do things you’re capable of.
It’s good we compared to the Lavezzi. If I remember correctly, this boat weighs almost twice as heavy as the Lavezzi was. It’s actually six-and-a-half feet longer, and it is six feet wider. So we’re six-foot beamier and she has a lot more free board. But again, the space is really nice.
Why don’t we finish up with telling us, is this the boat? Would you trade her for anything else, or have you found the one you want?
If someone offered me a brand new Catana I wouldn’t say no. As far as a production catamaran goes, I do like the Lagoons. I think they have a lot of advantages to them and they’re pretty solid boats. They’ve made a lot of them. A lot of people are circumnavigating with them, traveling the world. If you’re doing the Caribbean, if you’re gonna do the milk run, do South Pacific, any of those, I think they’re absolutely great boats.
Again, having a production boat like this, there’s huge communities of owners, so it’s easy to find help and resources if you have a problem. All boats have problems.
Probably the only downside is, and this is coming from someone who’s based out of the United States, they are European boats. It’s a French boat, so occasionally you do have to go on parts hunts because everything’s metric. Occasionally, you will have to buy something from Europe, and that’s the same thing with the Fontaine-Pajot.
That’s a really good point, is there anything else that you feel like is an important point to make about the boat?
No, nothing comes to mind. Again, they’re good boats. There’s lots and lots of youtube channels, and places where people have Lagoon 450s. If you want to get a better idea of what one looks like inside, there’s lots of places you can go. Our sales process for this boat took a little longer than they normally do, for a few reasons. But during that time we binge-watched a youtube channel on a 450 and that helps.