Jeanneau has a strong presence in Australia among the sailing fraternity so the name is relatively well-known here. Powerboats, on the other hand, have had little representation over the last few years. This situation has changed recently, with a dealer network revitalised across Australia including longtime boat broker Matthew Willett, who has included the brand into his business operated out of the d’Albora Marina at The Spit in Sydney’s North.
In its home country of France, Jeanneau is a big player and its annual production of more than 5000 boats numbers it among the world’s largest boatbuilders. You have to be impressed by a company in business for half a century and employing 2500 workers at its La Rochelle factory. Along with an enviable history Jeanneau has a distinctly European style and let me say a je ne sais quoi all their own.
Legend tells it that an employee of the factory by the name of Merry de Lapoeze was asked to design a fishing boat some years ago and the code name for the project, Merry Fisher, became the product line in tribute to him. While some of the smaller craft in the range may double as fishing and cruising boats it is a bit of a stretch to see the Merry Fisher 8 in a serious dual-purpose roll. Merry yes, Fisher maybe not. Perhaps to dangle a line over the side to wile away the hours at an anchorage, but it seems unlikely that many will head out to sea as hardcore big-game chasers. For the boat on test, its destiny lies in the more sedate cruising roll around the idyllic waters of Pittwater.
For Matthew Willett the Merry Fisher 10 fills a gap in the local market for an easily operated 30ft cruiser with a single diesel and shaftdrive. First timers won’t be daunted by the size, and the inclusion of a bowthruster will make them look like old salts at the marina. Moving up from a trailerboat, the Jeanneau will offer more room for the family to relax in style. Coming from a bigger vessel, you will still find a workable galley and overnight accommodation for up to six and a fuel bill that will justify the change.
My first impression was that the Merry Fisher 8 was a big boat for 10m and it wasn’t until later that I realised it has a hull length of just 9.07m — so it really does pack a lot into a 30-footer. Because the cockpit doors open wide to create a flow-through space, two-thirds of the boat’s length functions as a breezy, single-level entertainment area.
Our test boat was one of the first to be delivered to the NSW dealership and the new owner had specified a single downstairs helm station rather than the more usual second helm on the flybridge, leaving the overhead deck for storage and a platform for his Ocean TV 32 satellite receiver.
Boarding is easy across the wide teak swimplatform and through a starboardside transom door. A folding stainless steel swimladder, with its own covering board is recessed into the teak deck. The teak flooring follows through to the self-draining cockpit and an L-shaped lounge to port looks like an ideal place to soak-up the sun.
I found lots of storage for water toys in the wide lazerette located centrally in the floor, while the transom houses the master breaker for the batteries and a deck wash. The forward part of the cockpit has a moulded fibreglass roof and there is a hatch and stainless steel ladder to access the upper deck.
Wide doors open into the saloon with galley to starboard and a club lounge to port. Full-length windows wrap all the way around allowing expansive views and flooding the saloon with light. An overhead hatch gives an even more open feel. White fibreglass mouldings dominate the interior, offset by timber features and cream upholstery. Jeanneau emphasises that Alpi timber in the trim and cabin floor is from a specially grown eco-friendly plantation.
To starboard the galley has a food preparation bench featuring lifting sections revealing a Smik stainless steel sink incorporating a mixer tap for hot and cold water and a Westinghouse dual-burner cooktop. Set below are a Waeco 100lt fridge-freezer, a Sharp convection microwave and storage lockers. It’s not a gourmet kitchen and there is not a lot of room, but with some planning the basics are there to prepare meals for liveaboard and it is more than adequate for day-tripping with friends.
Opposite the galley is a dinette with room for four around a rectangular timber table and on cream coloured lounges that convert to a double bed if required. In a clever space-saving design, the forward backrest of the U-shaped lounge flips over to create a comfortable navigator chair with good forward vision and room for two.
At the helm the driver gets a hip-hugging bucket seat, set high on a timber-finished storage locker. Instruments are well-placed and easy to read and have displays for oil temperature and pressure, revs and voltage, as well as a chain counter for the anchor and a simple Humminbird depthsounder. Switches operate the Lenco electric trim tabs and the Max Power bowthruster and there is provision for navigation screens up to 12in on the panel. Big, sweeping windscreen wipers and washers are fitted, but unusually for Sydney the dry weather over autumn meant we happily did not need them.
Three steps lead down to the lower deck, where I found the head and sleeping quarters comprising a bow double and a portside cabin with two single bunks. The compact head has a moulded glass vanity with a stainless steel sink and a mixer that doubles as a pull-out showerhead, while a Jabsco Lite-Flush toilet is connected to a holding tank. Despite its size, the head has adequate room for showering and an opening port gives good ventilation and light, augmented by an exhaust fan and flush-mounted LEDs overhead.
Long wedge-shaped windows along each side of the bow cabin afford panoramic views and give a bright, open feel to what could have been quite a confined space. Overhead an Ocean Air hatch adds further light and ventilation and block-out covers keep the cabin dark for sleeping, while four LEDs provide illumination. An offset island double bed has two reading lamps and makes best use of the space available leaving room for a seat and a hanging wardrobe.
Despite being more than six feet in length the double bunks in the second cabin are narrow and a little confined, while a small port allows ventilation and some light only to the top bunk. Kids, though, will love their own room but adults might be better off on the converted double in the saloon. At the end of the day these are the realities of a 9m boat. While some might see it as a bit of a compromise in accommodation, I think Jeanneau has done well to sacrifice cabin space that may be only occasionally used to the advantage of a bigger living area upstairs, which is the key to the success of the Merry Fisher’s family and entertaining appeal. The whole upstairs section of the boat has an open, friendly feel and flows through the saloon, across the cockpit and out onto the duckboard leaving plenty of room for everyone to spread out.
HOW DOES SHE GO?
As tempting as it might be to lounge around in the sun all day, the boat is no slouch underway and just as much a pleasure to drive. From rest it accelerates quickly to top speed of 26kts and 3500rpm where, according to factory figures, it is gulping down 77lt/h. A more sedate 3000rpm gives 20kts and a better consumption of 53lt/h, but even then many owners will be happy cruising at 2500rpm and a more sedate 14kts to extend the cruising range.
Loaded with fuel and water the Merry Fisher 8 feels all of its five tons as it steams through waves and chop with a steady, big-boat feel. Power steering is light and direct and the boat turns predictably, with minimum roll and a reassuring progress across all sea directions. The slight seas did not offer much of a challenge, but the boat gave every indication that it would be stable at rest if you wanted to test your fishing skills with some bottom bouncing.
There is unrestricted vision all round from the high captain’s seat and with side windows opened, a cooling flow of fresh air circulates through the cabin. Noise from the engine is well suppressed — there is some rattle at low speed and a reassuring whistle as the turbo kicks in at mid-range, but never enough to restrict normal conversations.
Of course you can go fishing on your Merry Fisher 10, but my guess is that most buyers will find appeal in an easily handled 30-footer, with the simplicity of a diesel shaftdrive that can be taken out for a spin and locked-up at the end of the day. All fun, no fuss and plenty of room for the family.
JEANNEAU MERRY FISHER 10
PRICE AS TESTED
Teak floors, electric windlass, trim tabs, cockpit sun protection, and more
Single 370hp Volvo Penta D6 turbo-diesel, full fuel and water
HULL LENGTH: 9.07m
PEOPLE (DAY): 8
REC. HP: 370
REC. MAX HP: 370
MAKE/MODEL: Volvo Penta D6
TYPE: Six-cylinder turbo-diesel
RATED HP: 370 at 3500rpm
Matthew Willet Marine,
d’Albora Marinas, The Spit,
Mosman, NSW, 2088
Phone: (02) 9930 0000
Fax: (02) 9930 0011
From Trade-a-Boat Issue 428, June-July 2012. Story & photos by John Ford.