Old boat to future boat: “Third Aye” versus a 2005 Leopard 43, comparing layouts of two very different boats.

In July of 2008, I purchased a 1976 monohulled 30 foot Irwin Sloop for 5,100 USD on Ebay. I used it as a livaboard vessel while working in Key West as a SNUBA guide. I later changed the name to “Third Aye.”

Tadd Prax 1

There was just enough headroom for me to walk upright and not hit my head on the “domelight” in the saloon, which looked like something from my first car in high school.


As you can see from the “accommodation plan” and “inboard profile” below, the boat is pretty much divided into thirds from bow to stern.

1976 Irwin 30 layout
1976 Irwin 30 layout

In the bow, one third of the length is taken up by the v-berth and head on port with sink and locker on the starboard side.

 Third Aye V-BerthIMG00183IMG00182

The middle third is the saloon with a table that folds down and settees on either side. This needs to be raised up and everything stowed when a meal is finished. Storage lockers for personal items and clothing are stored behind and below the seats.


On the starboard side just down the companionway is the galley for one with an ice box I converted to a freezer. On the port side is a chart table and navigation station. Behind that is a tiny aft berth for crew to rest while underway.


The remaining third of the interior is for the engine room, which is inconveniently located under a bonnet or hood on the interior of the boat, between the galley and the chart table. This was very tight and I had to use mirrors and flashlights to see where to put the screwdriver or wrench when replacing parts. In the stern is the steering linkage and a large locker on the starboard which is accessed from the cockpit above.


In 2009, when Lindsay and I spent quite a bit of time and money fixing her up and finally sailed away, we got along very well aboard despite the small space.



After purchasing the dive shop in 2012, we rented an apartment in Puerto Morelos, Mexico. Not living aboard any longer, she was being neglected on a mooring at the El Cid marina, and costing us money. Besides, it was too small for us to use for our future travel goals, and we wanted something larger and safer. We sold her for 10,000 USD, with a clause that she be delivered to Rio Dulce, Guatemala before final payment. That in an of itself is another great fiasco, a good story to tell now about how delivery captains can seriously affect your life. Ask me about it sometime.

Goodbye Third Aye!
Goodbye Third Aye!

The next boat we buy, after selling the dive shop, will hopefully be a Leopard 43. Architect Alex Simonis and builders Robertson & Caine won praise for this catamaran’s speed, windward ability, ease of handling, innovative design features, and phenomenal robustness. The maximum hull speed is 8 knots through the water, if the waves are from behind, in “following seas”, the boat is pushed faster than that over ground. This is over twice as fast as “Third Aye.” They were built with the robust South African standards, received glowing reviews in major sailing magazines, sailed to the Caribbean on their own bottoms, not shipped over. They are a very popular charter boat and currently there are two available right now on Yachtworld.com. I will provide the links to them at the end of this post.

2005 Leopard 43 under sail

This drawing of the layout with shadowing vividly shows the spacious cabins.

2005 Leopard 43 BVI layout

There are four cabins, four queen sized beds, two quarter berths in the forward cabins, and the v-shaped settee in the saloon converts into a double bed. Therefore, this model sleeps up to 8 adults on the queen sized beds, 2 children in the quarter berth, and 2 young adults in the saloon. That’s 12 people on a 43 foot boat, provided everybody packed light in soft luggage. What a layout!

There are four bathrooms, or “heads” with showers, and an additional fresh water shower outside at the swim platform.

The Leopards are famous for incorporating the cooking space into the dining space, called a “galley up” design. We love this concept of bringing the chef into the room, instead of being trapped in a hallway of one of the pontoons. For dining space, there are two options. Inside for windy or rainy conditions and the v-shaped settee seats 8. 2005 Leopard 43 Saloon BVI

Outside in the cockpit, which is preferrable for cruisers, seats 6 on benches with backs and 2 more on a cooler, with cushions provided for all seats. That’s a total of 16, which is 4 more than can sleep aboard! Again, what a layout!

2005 Leopard cockpit seating

Catamarans have over twice the deck space, and the “trampolines” are every charter guests dream come true. There are even dolphin-watching seats installed up front at the “pushpits.”

2005 Leopard Front of deck

To see more pictures and videos of this boat design, follow this link: 2005 Leopard 43 on yachtworld.com in BVIs. And a second boat for sale here: Another 2005 Leopard 32 on yachtworld.com in BVIs.