|Merry By Name, Merry By Design….|
IT’S HYERES and the annual Jeanneau media press test which provided a good opportunity to become acquainted with their Merry Fisher range of power craft.
While they are almost certainly an easy passport to joyful bonhomie afloat and many will never see a fishing rod aboard, they are in fact named after Jeanneau’s M Merry who conceived and looks after the range, writes YL racing editor Andi Robertson.
New for this year are the Merry Fisher 585 HB (Hors Bord – outboard) and the inboard diesel Merry Fisher 805 Fly which has a flying bridge.
The range is ideal for the owner who wants simple, turn key boating. As Euroyachts’ supremo Angus Scott notes: ‘Not everyone who goes out on a power boat wants to look like Don Johnson in Miami Vice.’
And indeed within the Merry Fisher range are economical, good looking well built boats designed to get people on the water and enjoying themselves with the minimum of fuss.
The mid-range, say the 530, 585 and the 655, 695 even the 805, are the kind of boat that will appeal to those who want something nice and simple to keep on their mooring off their country retreat, or to keep in one of the east coast harbours.
The range spans from the 17ft 3in (5.22m) 530 cuddy and targa to the 32ft 1in (9.76m) 925. The common theme which underpins each is that they are robust and seaworthy, with good sidedecks, excellent handling, high and low speeds and self draining cockpits.
The larger models are capable of going offshore, indeed Bill McKenzie, the well known delivery skipper, recently took a 925 from Largs in the early morning to Arisaig in the evening, stopping to refuel only at Craobh.
New this year are the 585 outboard, the outboards specified are usually Suzuki four strokes, and the 625, plus the inboard Merry Fisher 805 which we tried.
The 805 is an ideal size for a couple, or with 4 berths, a small family looking for all the comforts and features of a bigger boat without the cost.
There is an interesting wheelhouse/saloon area with table and seating to port. The forward seat is reversible and can be changed so that it faces forward when you are under way. At rest there is a pleasant wrapround panorama from the dining area. The steering position gives good all round vision and feels secure. Behind the helm’s seat, aft, is a galley pod which has a fold away cover.
Out the back there is plenty of space to enjoy the evening sunshine and up top there is a compact flying bridge which offers a secluded sun pad. With 200hp of engine power the 805 will cruise comfortably at just over 20kts and has a top speed of around 24kts.
It is hard not to be impressed with the 805. It is unpretentious and business-like, but you can see yourself dotting around the inshore coastal waters in it quite happily. Of course as you wander round the marinas of the Med you see hundreds of this style of boat, because they are affordable and easy to use. Indeed many are used every day, with a daily exodus from the marinas and harbours as friends head out together for an evening cruise after work with a bottle or two of wine.
Handling is excellent. We had an almost glassy sea but the boat held a nice arc at speed, surefooted, and there was minimal hobby horsing in what little chop we could find. At low speeds it was predictable enough, berthing with ease.
In Hyeres, I was able to call on the experience of Angus Scott for background info. It transpires that Jeanneau have been producing so called ‘Peche Promenade’ boats for nearly 30 years. The present boats have their roots in a model called the Estou and they have always been designed for Jeanneau’s core domestic market - the Atlantic and Channel coasts of France.
The criteria have always been the same, stresses Angus;
‘They have had to be affordable, safe, seaworthy boats. Features like self draining cockpits (present on the boats forever, unlike some British manufacturers’ products that had to play catch up to comply with RCD), wide side decks and on most of the boats totally enclosed wheelhouses are the kind of things that separate them from sports cruisers.’
‘The name is something of a misnomer because, particularly in the larger diesel boats, some of them are really quite salubrious.
Today in broad terms the range is split into two: Outboard models that come with competitively priced packages featuring Suzuki engines.
Prices range with engines (ex trailers but including delivery to Scotland) from £14,032-£23,189 including VAT. All of these boats are eminently towable and all but the smallest offers overnight accommodation for two folk.’
‘A number of owners utilise Largs Yacht Haven’s dry berthing scheme because of how easy it is to launch and recover them using the Indespension Roller Coaster trailers that we often supply.’
‘Inboard models all have semi-displacement hulls with diesel engines centrally located complete with shaft drives. Nanni, Volvo and Yanmar are all found in the range depending on which manufacturers’ engine best matches a particular model.’
‘For 2008 some of the models will be branded ‘Anniversary’ and will have additional equipment included in their spec at no charge. At present the price range goes from £31,721-£93,950 including VAT and commissioning in Scotland.’
‘Today we sell the MF805 which is one of the longest established models that has just been re-vamped to include a new wheel house roof for £59,885 including the following normally chargeable extras: bow thruster, electric windlass, cockpit shower, shore power, fridge and additional battery.’
‘The bigger boats are really capable and we have delivered them by sea to Londonderry and Arisaig (round the Mull stopping just for fuel) without any problem.’