Boats & Gear
- Category: Boats & Gear
- Created: Monday, 08 October 2012 22:11
- Written by Charles Doane
The Lagoon 380 is not the smallest Lagoon catamaran ever built--both the Lagoon 37, its immediate predecessor, and the Lagoon 35CCC were smaller--but it is the smallest Lagoon currently built and one of the smallest dedicated cruising cats that succeeds in combining both reasonable performance and a "big cat" accommodation plan in a single package. It is a carefully balanced exercise in moderation. Designed by Marc Van Peteghem and Vincent Lauriot Prevost and first introduced in 2000, the Lagoon 380 is intended to serve both as a charter fleet workhorse (it is co-branded as the Moorings Lagoon 380) and as a serious entry-level cruising cat for private owners. Several hundred of these boats have been built over the years, and it is probably the most successful contemporary cruising cat currently on the market.
The key to the 380's popularity, without a doubt, is its supple accommodations plan. The hulls are just wide enough to fit a good-size double berth in each "corner" of the boat. In the four-stateroom charter version of the layout (four doubles with two small midship heads) four couples can enjoy complete conjugal privacy while cruising together, which is very impressive on a boat just 38 feet long. In the three-stateroom "owner's" version the entire starboard hull becomes a deluxe master suite with a small office and large forward head with a separate shower stall, just like on much bigger cats.
Aft double berth on the Lagoon 380
Forward double berth
Owner' stateroom on 3-cabin boat looking aft from head
The main saloon, slung between the hulls on the bridgedeck, is compact, but its layout makes it seem larger. The galley is just large enough to work comfortably in (though it could use a bit more counter space) and lies along a partial horizontal aft bulkhead fit with a sliding glass panel that permits generous access to the cockpit and outside breezes. The table and settees forward of the galley are large enough to be very useful and benefit from Lagoon's trademark vertical saloon windows. These both increase usable interior space and afford fabulous wrap-around views of the outside world. The only area that receives short shrift is the vestigial nav station, which has minimal room for electronic installations and even less room for spreading out charts.
Lagoon 380 saloon and galley
The cockpit and deck layout also work well. The single-station helm is to port, behind the aft cabin bulkhead on a small raised dais with good views of both bows and transoms. There is also a good view of the sails through a small hatch in the umbrella-type canvas bimini. Most sail controls (the main halyard, main sheet, and port jib sheet) are led to the helm. Though the main traveler must be controlled at the back of the cockpit and the starboard jib sheet is opposite the helm, the cockpit is compact enough that one or two crew can operate the boat efficiently. The side decks and foredeck just in front of the cabinhouse are perfectly flat and quite wide (which is not always the case on smaller cruising cats), so going forward and handling ground tackle is easy. The cockpit, meanwhile, is just large enough to serve as a great social venue.
Lagoon 380 cockpit looking into the saloon
The cockpit in its entirety
The 380 is not terribly light for an unballasted cat and is very much a mass production boat. The handlaid hull is solid fiberglass below the waterline and is cored with a mix of foam and balsa above the waterline, with vinlyester resin in the outer layers of the laminate to resist blistering. The deck, also laid up by hand, is balsa-cored with solid laminate interposed under the deck hardware. The hardware is backed by a mix of washers and backing plates, and the deck joint is bonded and fastened with screws instead of through-bolts. Interior bulkheads are merely bonded to the outer sides of the hulls, but are tabbed to the inner sides, where they help stiffen the hulls in the area of the cross-beams and bridgedeck.
The 380's sailing performance, as with many dedicated cruising cats, is hampered by its physique. Its hulls, as mentioned, are wide, though not extremely so, and are symmetrically shaped. To resist leeway there are a pair of fixed low-aspect keels, which are not as efficient as daggerboards and are harder for the boat to pivot on when tacking. The bridgedeck is reasonably high for a cruising cat, about 2.5 feet off the water, and does not stretch too far forward. The sail plan, though it features a modern full-battened main with a full roach, is modest in size.
What this adds up to is a cat that can sail 10 knots or better with a strong wind near its beam, but it is not very closewinded. I test-sailed a 380 on Chesapeake Bay when they first appeared on the market and have twice chartered them in the West Indies and have found they don't maintain much speed if held closer than 50 degrees to the apparent wind. They also tend to dog it in lighter air, though this can be cured by fitting the optional sprit forward and flying a lightweight gennaker or screecher. Once the wind drops much below 10 knots, however, most cruisers will want to kick on the twin engines and get the sail-drives turning.
A Lagoon 380 sailing closehauled
That said, I do believe the 380 sails better than many fat "condo cats." If you're willing to set a spinnaker, you can keep it moving nicely when sailing off the wind. If you are careful to build momentum before putting the helm down, you can also tack cleanly through the wind without stalling. In a moderate sea there is little problem with the bridgedeck pounding, though I expect this would be more noticeable in larger waves. As with most cats, you can expect it to hobbyhorse in a chop.
All up the Lagoon 380 delivers a great deal of attractive living space for the money and makes an excellent family coastal cruiser. There are also now a number of owners who use 380s for extended bluewater cruising, though many might prefer vessels with a bit stronger construction and larger fuel and water tanks. A few different models of the 380 have been marketed in recent years, but differences between them are not substantive and mostly involve accommodations details and standard equipment packages.
-Light ship: 13,010 lbs.
-Loaded: 15,697 lbs.
Sail area: 833 sq.ft.
Fuel: 53 gal.
Water: 79 gal.
-Light ship: 124
-Light ship: 24.05
Nominal hull speed
-Light ship: 11.0 knots
-Loaded: 10.4 knots
Typical asking prices: $130K-$310K
Base price new: $333K