The Leopard 46 checks all the boxes for an efficient cruiser able to handle a crowd.
The Leopard 46 Powercat looked a little out of place when I met her just after the 2022 Miami boat show. For one thing, owing to Leopard’s sailing roots, she was docked among the blowboats despite being very much a powerboat, with twin 370-horsepower Yanmars in her engine room. For another, the boat is just so practical looking and glaringly efficient in all manners, that she stood out while negotiating the seaways of Biscayne Bay. I certainly wouldn’t call the 46 a “Miami boat,” but that’s not to say she doesn’t have a place in the world—she expertly fulfills her niche.
An exceptional amount of work went into designing this model, which also operates under the Moorings 464 PC moniker, as part of that charter fleet. Leopard put the 46 through extensive computational fluid dynamics (CFD) testing with a German company called Numeca. “It’s a virtual tank test facility,” explains Naval Architect Alex Simonis. “Trim tabs don’t really work on a catamaran, so the trick is to devise a hull shape with a near level running trim over a wide range of conditions. The CFD process helped us develop a hull that could do that. It’s a relatively easy thing to accomplish for a fast powercat, but for a boat that also needs to cruise and carry a lot of weight, it can be quite complicated.”
The resulting hull shape has fine entry points that stay narrow moving aft, but also extend out into a tulip shape above the waterline to make room for the staterooms. The shape allows for those lighter Yanmars to be used, which doubly aids fuel efficiency. A slight rise in the bow section stops upwards spray in its tracks so guests remain dry.
I can attest to the effectiveness of the design, because conditions on test day could have rightfully left us all doused. Just outside Government Cut, the wind was kicking up confused 3- to 4-footers that would have easily tossed around a less seaworthy craft. But the Leopard took it all in stride, offering an even and sturdy ride throughout her RPM scale. She cruised comfortably at 17 knots and hit a respectable 21 knots with the hammer down. When I turned the wheel lock to lock at cruise, she spun so tightly as to barely get outside her own footprint—remarkable agility for a boat in this class. Equally impressive, with a light ship at that 17-knot cruise, the range hovers right around 550 nautical miles, and if you pull the throttle back to 8 knots, you can make it from Ft. Lauderdale to Annapolis (about 1,000 miles) on a single tank of fuel.
The 46’s layout was dreamed up with long-range cruising and entertainment firmly in mind. That means space, of course, is at the forefront. A massive salon makes full use of the boat’s 24-foot, 1-inch beam and is connected to the bow deck via a glass door on centerline. Up top, a low-profile hardtop offers shade to the helm, companion seating to port, and L-shaped dining settee and teak table aft of that. A sunpad peaks out from underneath the hardtop at the aft end of the deck to keep the sun worshipers among us smiling.
The 46 Powercat comes in either a three- or four-stateroom layout. Predictably, the four-stateroom version is popular for charters because of the unmatched privacy it offers. The test boat had a starboard-side master with a forward-facing queen, stowage nearly everywhere (great for longer voyages) and a massive head forward with a shower large enough for an NFL lineman. Though the four-cabin version is the one usually spoken of when discussing privacy, it’s worth noting that this master, which takes up the entire starboard-side hull, feels much like its own wing of a house.
Speaking of houses, those Yanmars have a nice little abode to themselves. Excellent access to all systems, including twin Racor fuel-water separators and a 9-kW Northern Lights generator, is the hallmark of the space. The sole is coated in white gelcoat for easy spill identification, and the wiring is neatly organized for quick-and-easy maintenance.
With so much to like about the Leopard 46 Powercat, it comes as no surprise that the model has experienced such gangbusters popularity in its young life. The builder says it sold 50 of them before the boat even debuted, and with such an eye-grabbing presence at Miami and beyond, those numbers are sure to skyrocket.
Leopard 46 Powercat Specifications:
Displ.: 36,945 lbs.
Fuel: 489 gal.
Water: 185 gal.
Power: 2/250-hp, 2/320-hp, or 2/370-hp Yanmars
Top speed: 21 knots
Cruise speed: 17 knots
Base Price: $969,000
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