Everyone has a detail he checks when looking at a new boat. Those who stand more than 6 feet consider headroom. Those who live aboard want lots of stowage. Techies scope out the engine room.
Me? I check the berths first. I spend a lot of time in my berth, even on a charter (when I’m not sucking a beach pub dry). So, I was delighted when I saw the berths on the Leopard 53 Powercat. For once, I didn’t need the moves of an Olympic gymnast just to get into the berth.
On the Leopard 53 Powercat, I could actually walk partway alongside each berth, pull back the covers, and climb in without losing every shred of dignity. No more climbing over the pillow to use the loo in the middle of the night. And that’s true with the four-stateroom or three-stateroom layouts. Even better, the forward berth in both arrangements is athwartships, for even more civilized entry and floor space to pull on my shorts.
Other high points for me aboard the Leopard 53 Powercat were stall showers in every ensuite head. The galley has a full-height fridge plus a fridge drawer near the stove, meaning the chef doesn’t have to move more than a step while cooking. Having a dishwasher next to the sink scores points for easy prewash rinsing, and the washer-dryer combo tucked in the port hull is convenient.
GALLERY: Get a closer look at the Leopard 53's interior
The three-stateroom layout has an owner’s stateroom with twin sinks, a loveseat for quiet time with a book, and extra stowage. All the staterooms have a good number of hanging lockers and drawers.
In the four-stateroom layout, the VIP stateroom is forward with an athwartships berth. I could easily be persuaded that I should stake out this space as the owners’ stateroom.
The Leopard 53 Powercat is an all-new design that replaces the Leopard 51, which sold well. Designers sacrificed the forward cockpit (who cares?) and moved the windshield forward to add volume, which is reportedly 31 percent more than aboard the 51. There is 6 feet, 10 inches of salon headroom, along with 6-foot, 8-inch headroom in the staterooms and 40-inch-wide side decks.
The salon seems immense, which isn’t a big surprise when you consider the 25-foot, 2-inch beam, but I was struck by the brightness and all-around views. The windows seem to disappear behind the couches, and the door to the foredeck is glass. This door leads directly to a hidden anchor windlass, past a pair of sunpads.
The helm has a double-wide bench seat (for three people, if they’re skinny) abaft the dash. The wheel is outboard, and with all the visibility, there are no worries about running the boat from inside the air-conditioned space. The hydraulic swim platform should easily muscle a 10-foot tender in and out of the water, leaving two 5-foot boarding platforms on each side.
The boat has no inside dining, but the cockpit has a table with wraparound seating and a sunpad opposite. The design of the steps makes it easy to access the bridge and side decks from here; the bridge is like a second salon, and is easily enclosed under the fiberglass hardtop. A dining table, chaise and forward-facing seat are to port, with the helm and a cooking setup to starboard.
Power for the Leopard 53 Powercat comes from a pair of 370-hp Yanmar diesels that reportedly are good for just under 25 knots maximum speed, and an economical cruise at 17.5 knots. Cruising with one engine, range jumps to nearly 2,000 nautical miles at just shy of 7 knots, according to the builder.
Watch: Lead Designer Alex Simonis Discusses the Leopard 53 Powercat
Because so many Leopards go into charter service, Leopard focuses on access to maintenance points. There are two engine compartments with a choice of a 9 kW or 12 kW Northern Lights genset. Skippers have room to walk around the engines atop fiberglass nonslip pans, with full access to fuel-water separators, plumbing, thru-hull fittings and bilge pumps. The hydraulics for the steering also are on full display.
Whether the goal is family fun, longer-distance cruising or charter service, the Leopard 53 Powercat is worth a look. And be sure not only to stretch out on those big berths, but also to revel at how gracefully you accessed them.
Watch: The Leopard 53 Powercat Performs in Paradise
LOA 53ft. 1in.
Beam 25ft. 2in.
Draft 3ft. 2in.
Fuel 581 gal.
Water 185 gal.
Displacement 41,070 lbs. (dry)
Standard power 2 x 370-hp Yanmar 8LV370
Top/cruise speed 25/17.5 knots