Market differentiators in the burgeoning cruising catamaran market can be difficult to find, yet this is what industry leader Beneteau-Lagoon has achieved with its Excess models, which deliver a livelier and more responsive range.
- All teak walk-around flush-deck is self-draining
- Capable rough water performer
- Seagoing hull and practical layout, inside and out, encourages year-round boating
- Volvo D4 320hp ensures spirited performance
It is somewhat unusual to review a boat of such relatively modest dimensions with inboard diesel power rather than outboards, but the Swedish-built Paragon 25 Cabin has a 320hp Volvo Penta turbodiesel neatly tucked away under the cockpit sole.
The D4 DPI is an upgrade on the standard 300hp model, driving through Volvo-Penta’s latest duo-prop Aquamatic sterndrive with electric steering. The Paragon 25 is also fitted with a bow thruster, making it an easy boat to handle dockside.
An inboard configuration means an uncluttered cockpit enclosed by stainless steel rails and a very useful swim platform aft – an extension of the cockpit – accessible through gates both sides of the transom seat module. The platform’s equipped with a u-shaped support for the bait board, BBQ and tender, something importers Sports Marine fit to every boat.
Other local additions include the stainless-steel rocket launcher and radar arch on the hardtop, additional rod holders on the cockpit rails, bow rails and dinghy support, seat cushions fore and aft and four 12-volt electric reel outlets, two in the bow and two in the cockpit.
This boat, called Sounds Nauti, is heading to a family of keen fishers in the Marlborough Sounds, so its well set up for exploring the deep waters of Cook Strait.
Paragon Yachts, part of the Nimbus group of companies, prides itself on building uncompromising, seaworthy motorboats suitable for year-round boating. In its home market the Paragon 25 is a popular choice with sea-rescue services, which says something about its performance and safety. While it’s called a 25, length overall is nearly 28 feet (8.52m).
The 3.5-tonne Paragon 25 Cabin with its upright windscreen, enclosed wheelhouse, walk-around flush decks and waist-high stainless-steel railings has a whiff of workboat about it. Its distinctive thick rubber beltings not only look the business – at first glance you might think the Paragon is a RIB – they protect the fibreglass hull when coming alongside a jetty or another vessel.
With its free-draining, flush decks, easy access around the wheelhouse and good-sized foredeck, it’s a very practical boat for fishing or diving – there’s a pull-out boarding ladder on the starboard side and LED cockpit lighting. A lightbar on the wheelhouse roof illuminates the foredeck and makes it easier to pick up a mooring in the dark or nose into an unfamiliar anchorage.
Knee-high, wraparound bulwarks topped by solid stainless-steel railings and an abundance of handrails provide excellent security on deck, while telescoping rails on both sides of the cockpit make embarking and disembarking easier. A Stressfree drum winch inside the anchor locker and the solid stainless-steel anchor deployed through the hull are operated from the helm. The ground tackle and winch were fitted here in New Zealand.
It may be practical, but the Paragon 25 Cabin is not in any way austere. Sounds Nauti boasts teak decks all round, high-quality deck fittings, a deck wash and cockpit shower, a tow point for water toys and some useful stowage under the aft seats.
Step through the sliding rear door into the wheelhouse and you are greeted by a light, bright, fully lined interior with comfortable, fabric-covered seating, warm wooden panelling and big windows. There’s even a clever drop-down table and an infill seat aft to allow four people to sit around the table.
It’s a compact cabin but Paragon have made good use of space, so it doesn’t lack for storage. Head height is generous. This boat has a sink on the port side under the dashboard, hot and cold fresh water (a cooker is an option) and a fridge under the helm seat.
The helmsman is treated to a suspension driver’s seat. Teak footrests/platforms for both front seats fold away when not required and sliding side-doors let out onto the side decks port and starboard. A pair of sliding glass roof hatches provide additional light and ventilation.
A yacht-style wooden companionway hatch and door provide privacy for the forward cabin, which can sleep two in comfort. There’s a plumbed toilet with a 40-litre holding tank under the v-berths and a glass skylight hatch with a screen for those mornings when you want to sleep a bit longer.
Overall, the nicely finished interior reinforces the impression the boat is well put together. It’s practical, ergonomically laid out and very comfortable too. On a nasty day, with the doors and windows closed, Sounds Nauti’s cabin should be warm and cosy.
This is the sort of boat that should give a good account of itself on a nasty day. The 26.5° at the transom deep-vee hull is designed for fast, comfortable passages in a seaway. The hull strakes look unusual in the way they angle up towards the bow, but they lift the boat so its fine entry and deep vee can do their work.
Zipwake interceptor trim tabs do a good job of controlling pitch and roll, compensating for shifting loads or changing sea conditions, even in automatic mode. The sterndrive can also be trimmed, just like an outboard, for optimum performance. The boat appears to be a dry runner too, while a couple of windscreen wiper-washers deal with any spray on the windscreen.
We encountered some choppy water in the channels during our run, but the boat hardly noticed it. Fast passages are the name of the game. The unflappable Swede is happy to cruise at 30 knots and will maintain 25 knots in quite lumpy conditions, without beating up its occupants. Top speed on test day was a tad over 35 knots and the boat felt stable and safe at any speed.
With its deep vee hull there’s a fair amount of heel when you throw the Paragon over into a sharp turn, but the boat tracks like it’s on rails, hanging on tight and going exactly where it’s pointed. Its speed is deceptive too. This is not a big boat but, in some respects, it performs like one. It cruises as comfortably as many larger boats and can maintain a high average speed. I sometimes didn’t realise how fast we were travelling until I glanced at the GPS.
Stated fuel burn figures for the standard D4 300hp version are 1.1 litres per nautical miles at 30 knots and 1.8lpnm at wide open throttle – figures for this slightly more powerful D4 320hp should be broadly similar.
The helm position is pretty good, whether driving sitting or standing up. The removable footrest/platform compensates for standing drivers of different heights, but most of the time people will helm the boat from the comfortable driver’s seat.
Whichever position you choose, vision through the upright windscreen is very good. The boat rides level underway and the transition onto the plane is smooth and fast – the D4 delivers plenty of torque, punching the boat out of the hole and really giving it a shove once the turbo spins up.
By positioning most of the analogue engine instruments, anchor counter and communications gear above the windscreen under the ceiling, there’s ample room on the helm console for switchgear, anchor switches, Zipwake controls and more.
The topmost angled binnacle houses a Simrad 12-inch NSS evoIII MFD, with bow thruster controls, toggle switches and a pair of cupholders below it. This boat is equipped with Simrad Halo radar, an HS60 compass, Simrad echo-sounder, Volvo Penta digital engine controls and electric steering. The wheel looks smart and feels good.
The Paragon 25 Cabin is an interesting newcomer to the New Zealand boating scene. Regularly updated, the model’s been around for years in Europe, but Sounds Nauti is the first in this country. Inboard diesel power, a very capable, seagoing hull and a practical layout, which together encourage year-round boating, are bound to be attractive to more New Zealand boaters – Sports Marine thinks so.
Paragon Yachts says the company values function over form – and form necessarily reflects function. Well, Paragon Yacht’s 25 Cabin is certainly functional – performance, layout, deck space, equipment, range and fuel economy – but I also rather like its uncompromising form. After all, this is a boat designed for having some serious fun.