Soundings - - Contents - BY STEVE KNAUTH

Af­ter a pe­riod of land­based ad­ven­tur­ing, Ed and Vi­vian Steele picked a 2009 Leop­ard 47 Power Cat as the cure for their nau­ti­cal wanderlust.

In 2001, Ed and Vi­vian Steele sold their busi­ness and started look­ing for some­thing to do for a few years. “My wife sug­gested we go sail­ing,” Ed says. So, af­ter search­ing for the right ride, the cou­ple bought a 53-foot Amel Su­per Maramu ketch and, with three weeks’ ex­pe­ri­ence, set off on a six-year cruise around the world.

Re­turn­ing in 2009, they left the sea, bought a “brace of mo­tor homes,” as Ed puts it, and trav­eled on land.

Three years ago, it was back to blue wa­ter. “We are out of se­quence here,” says Ed, now 70 and a re­tired geo­physi­cist. “You are sup­posed to progress as fol­lows: sail, power­boat, mo­tor home, rest home. We just got con­fused and needed an­other boat.”

In 2015, the cou­ple bought a Leop­ard 47 PC, a power cat that Robert­son and Caine builds in South Africa for The Moor­ings char­ter com­pany. The price for the 2009 model was $ 404,000 in­clud­ing en­gine and gen­er­a­tor up­grades.

“We bought it out of the char­ter pro­gram,” Ed says. “They were both help­ful and knowl­edge­able since they have com­plete ac­cess to all of the ac­cu­mu­lated wis­dom within The Moor­ings char­ter or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

The Leop­ard had ben­e­fit­ted from reg­u­lar main­te­nance in the char­ter pro­gram, with only some light cos­metic work needed, in­side and out. The Moor­ings’ phase-out crew jumped on all of it and made it good, Ed says: “The fact that the Leop­ard sur­vives for five years as a char­ter boat be­fore be­ing sold to the used mar­ket speaks a great deal for the de­sign.”

The switch from a mono­hull to a cata­ma­ran re­flected a boat­ing life­style change for the Stee­les.

“We wanted to spend more time cruis­ing the is­lands rather than pas­sage­mak­ing, and also looked for­ward to en­ter­tain­ing fam­ily and friends,” Ed says. “We felt that a cata­ma­ran would fit our space needs bet­ter and would be more com­fort­able at an­chor.”

The Leop­ard 47 PC’s lay­out has four places to roost. “You can hang around and so­cial­ize

on the solid ‘wing’ be­tween the bows with ‘ sta­dium seat­ing’ on the front wind­screen sun­shades,” he says. “You can sit around the ta­ble in the main cabin, lounge around a sec­ond ta­ble on the rear deck (a fa­vorite for the grand­kids play­ing Mex­i­can Train domi­noes) or sprawl across the seat­ing on the fly­bridge.”

The gal­ley is up, in the main cabin. “This is bet­ter ven­ti­la­tion for the cook and al­lows the cook to par­tic­i­pate in the so­cial ac­tiv­ity,” Ed says.

Doodle­bug, as the Stee­les named her, has a pair of 150-hp Cum­mins tur­bocharged diesels, “the same en­gine as those big, square UPS trucks,” Ed says. At half throt­tle, the 47-footer cruises at 8 to 8 1/2 knots and will hold that speed on one en­gine run­ning at 2000 rpm, he says. Fuel burn is just less than 2 1/2 gal­lons an hour, giv­ing the power cat an ef­fec­tive range of 1,000 nau­ti­cal miles.

The Leop­ard’s elec­tron­ics in­clude dig­i­tal radar, AIS and a re­mote con­trol for the au-

top­i­lot. Us­ing an iPad, the Stee­les can con­trol the radar and chart plot­ter from in­side the main cabin and steer the boat via the au­topi­lot re­mote. “These up­grades mean that in bad weather, we can keep watch in rel­a­tive com­fort in­side, in­stead of the more ex­posed po­si­tion on the fly­bridge,” Ed says. “As long-dis­tance cruis­ers, we use the au­topi­lot ex­ten­sively and rarely hand steer. The AIS is handy when in the ship­ping lanes, but we rely more on the radar in lim­ited-vis­i­bil­ity cir­cum­stances.”

Six so­lar pan­els are in­stalled on Doodle­bug’s fly­bridge roof, and a fourth house bat­tery is aboard, along with a new bat­tery charger and in­verter. There’s also a wa­ter­maker. “She can sit at an­chor with­out hav­ing to use the gen­er­a­tor and at the same time run the de­sali­na­tor to sup­ply fresh wa­ter,” Ed says. “We also added a sec­ond fridge in the fly­bridge wet bar so that we wouldn’t have to go all that way down to the main cabin for cold beer.”

It all adds up to a pack­age that’s per­fect for the Stee­les.

“We love cruis­ing and have been to the ABC is­lands [ Aruba, Bon­aire and Cu­ra­cao], down the is­land chain to Gre­nada and back, as well as mak­ing a trip to Cuba,” Ed says. “Our most mem­o­rable trip was prob­a­bly Christ­mas 2016, as close to a Nor­man Rock­well Christ­mas as we are likely to ever get.” He de­scribes the scene: It was dark when his kids and grand­chil­dren ( ages 7, 9 and 10) flew into Beef Is­land, Tor­tola. They were puz­zled that there was no car or taxi at the air­port, and in­stead they all walked from the ter­mi­nal to the beach, where they boarded a dinghy for a ride to Doodle­bug, at an­chor. When the young­sters awoke the fol­low­ing morn­ing, the fam­ily was at sea, on their way to Vir­gin Gorda for the cel­e­bra­tions.

“She has been a good, re­li­able boat,” Ed says. “We have had so much fun with

Doodle­bug, and she is amaz­ing to en­ter­tain friends and fam­ily. Those are mem­o­ries that stay with you for­ever.”


Also known as the Moor­ings 474 PC, the Leop­ard 47 PC is an is­land cruiser with a three- or four-state­room de­sign and an open deck lay­out. State­rooms are in the cata­ma­ran’s hulls, each with an en­suite head and shower. Queen berths are stan­dard; the for­ward state­rooms also in­clude a sin­gle berth. The three- state­room lay­out puts the mas­ter by it­self in the star­board hull, re­plac­ing a fourth state­room with a study/lounge. Out on deck, there’s a fly­bridge (reached by stairs) with helm seat­ing, guest seat­ing and a hard­top. Side decks and steps are wide for ac­cess around the boat and down to the swim plat­forms. Power comes from a pair of 150-hp Cum­mins diesel engines; 265-hp Volvo Penta engines are an op­tion.

Ed Steele at the helm

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