A great cruising package for the family or a couple no matter what the conditions!
New to Jeanneau’s Merry Fisher range is the 695 which offers some big-boat feature in a package that makes it a true overnighter or weekender. Geoff Middleton from BoatSales.com.au took one out on a blustery Melbourne day and put it well and truly through its paces.
– A proud history of powerboat manufacture
Although many Australians would know Jeanneau as a yacht brand, the history of the company is quite different. The company started out in the late 1950s when Henri Jeanneau built his first boat – a racing powerboat.
After getting bitten severely by the boating bug, Jeanneau embraced the latest fibreglass technology and in 1961 built his first fibreglass-hulled powerboat. Realising the benefits of fibreglass, and the way that many hulls could be built from the one mould, Jeanneau designed and built many different ranges of powerboats, often building up to 1500 of a certain design before moving on to the next.
The first Jeanneau sailing yacht was not built until 1964 but then Henri Jeanneau embraced both sail and power to become one of Europe’s biggest manufacturers.
PRICE AND EQUIPMENT
– Fully loaded and read for adventure
Our test boat was the first of the new Merry Fisher 695‘s to arrive in Australia. The range consists of four boats in this series with sizes from 6.05m to 8.55m as well as the Marlin series of walk-arounds from 6.95m to 8.55.
Being the first boat in the country, the importer Rohan Veal from 38 South Boat Sales specified the boat as a fully-loaded turn-key rig with everything needed for weekend boating.
Hence, it had the desirable layout complete with enclosed head with pump-out toilet and holding tank, 1000W windlass, 50-litre fresh water tank, deck shower, electronics including Lowrance HDS7 plotter, Fusion stereo system, Uniden VHF and a great dual-axle Danbier multi-roller trailer. Power was supplied by a Mercury 150hp four-stroke engine with Mercury’s VesselView 7 engine monitoring system and SeaStar hydraulic steering.
The whole package was priced at $118K but the demo boat was up for sale at a very neat $99K (be quick!)
LAYOUT AND ACCOMMODATION
– Can you get much more in a sub-seven-metre boat?
Our first impression of the Merry Fisher 695 was that it had all the hallmarks of a big boat but in a little boat size.
The twin swim platforms aft are big enough for boarding – indeed probably big enough to put deck chair on and wet a line or read a book!
The starboard side is fitted with a telescopic ladder with, thankfully, enough length to get a few rungs into the water, while the port side has a locker where things like wet swimmers, snorkelling gear or bait can be stored out of the way.
Enter through the starboard side cockpit door and you can have a rinse from the deck shower.
Under the cockpit sole is a big locker for all your deflated water toys, fenders, ropes and the like. The lid raises on gas struts which makes stowage easy.
The rear lounge slides forward to facilitate full tilt of the engine and maximises cockpit area when the engine is down. A full U-shaped lounge can be ordered as an option as can a cockpit table for outdoor eating.
Entry into the cabin is through a sliding glass door – just like on the big boats – and once inside, it’s a cosy, but roomy environment. To port is a dinette that could seat mum, dad and two kids but is really more suited to a couple.
The front seat of the dinette is reversible so that while under way, it can double as a co-pilot’s seat. There is a handy grab handle in front and the view is great. Adding to the versatility of the dinette, it can be dropped down and an infill added to make a double bed.
Under the aft seat of the dinette is the front-opening fridge tucked neatly away. It’s not full size but plenty to keep the food and drinks cold for the weekend. Over to starboard is a double sink with storage underneath for all your galley equipment. The helm seat folds forward to reveal plenty of bench space for preparing lunches or dinners.
The helm is a beauty with an adjustable helm seat, opening window and a very well laid out dash. We had plenty of room for the Lowrance unit, the VesselView and the Fusion head unit with more room to spare. The VHF was mounted down low near the helmsman’s right knee.
The throttle control fell easily to hand while on the left of the dash were the rocker switches for the lights, wipers and bilge pumps. I didn’t see a switch for the windlass at the helm which would mean travelling to the bow to drop and retrieve the anchor. It was something I mentioned to Rohan and he said he was looking at addressing the issue.
One step down into the forward section of the cabin there’s a comfortable one-and-a-half berth. The enclosed head intrudes into the starboard side a bit so it’s really only for one full-sized person and a littlie. The port side, however is big enough for six-footer.
Ventilation is via a big forward hatch through which you could also operate the windlass if necessary.
HULL AND ENGINEERING
– A solid and well-built vessel
We have mentioned the fact that this boat has features that are generally found on much bigger boats. It’s certainly the case that Jeanneau has transferred some of its big-boat thinking into the Merry Fisher range.
The sliding rear doors that link the outdoors with the interior is just one aspect. We found a proper electrical switch panel behind a Perspex door that took good care of the battery isolators and made them neat and easy to access.
So too, we found the fuel filter in the big cockpit locker that featured gas struts on the lid. Here as well were the batteries neatly stowed in their boxes, and the 50-litre water tank to serve the sink and deck shower.
Bilge pumps consisted of one forward and one aft electric as well as a manual back-up pump – not bad for a sub-seven-metre boat. Add to that the self-draining cockpit and you shouldn’t have too much trouble if you get a bit of water aboard.
In terms of construction, Jeanneau says that 20 years ago the company developed a closed moulding process called Prisma Process. “This technological edge yields a higher-quality part with a lower weight,” says the company. “It also reduces airborne VOCs (contaminants) by 90 per cent compared with traditional GRP moulding, thus making it a much greener way to produce boats.”
Whatever the process, the Jeanneaus are neat and clean in construction with quality stainless-steel fittings and a high level of fit and finish.
ON THE WATER
– Able to take the rough stuff
It is refreshing to find an importer who is willing to back his product no matter what the weather conditions are like. We met the 38 Degrees South boys, Rohan Veal and Steve Bull at the Sandringham Yacht Club on a day that could only be described as, well, blustery.
A strong northerly was blowing better than gale force with gusts up to 40 knots.
An indication of the pressure came when we were getting the Merry Fisher and our camera boat, a Jeanneau Cap Camerat, ready for launching. Steve was on the Cap Camerat when a strong gust picked up a 14ft skiff which was on its trolley on the grass, and flung it toward the Cap Camerat with the mast hitting Steve flush on the head.
We had to run and disentangle Steve from the rigging and lie the 14 down so it would pose no further risk. Fortunately Steve has a tough noggin and wasn’t badly hurt. Yes, it was a windy day.
The boys asked if I still wanted to go ahead with the test. “Sure, it’s not my boat,” said I. “If you’re happy to go out, I’m happy too.”
And so we ventured forth out into the northerly gale. First we took the Merry Fisher out with the three of us aboard to see how it would handle the sea state. A nasty chop of about 1.5m greeted us but the Merry Fisher took it in its stride. The deep V hull cut through the waves and the Mercury 150 four-stroke gave us plenty of push into the wind and swell.
We were well protected in the cabin and the standard wipers on the windscreens proved very handy on the day.
It’s fairly obvious that Jeanneau has done some serious homework on this hull. Sure, we got some spray over the decks, but on a day like the one we had, it would have been inevitable on any boat. Pounding was minimal into the wind and sea, and the ride down-sea was great. Handling in the rugged conditions was really good and assisted by the SeaStar hydraulic steering.
Once we found some smoother water, I found a good cruise of about 20 knots at 3900rpm. The 150 Merc pushes the Merry Fisher up on to the plane easily and the hull rises nicely without too much of a ‘hole’.
Although we couldn’t really do flat-out testing on the day, Rohan told us that he’d had the boat out on a flat day and got 32 knots at WOT with the economical 150hp Merc drinking around 35 litres per hour. With a fuel load of 170 litres, that translates to a pretty good range, even if you’re running flat out.
On an Arvor 675 Sportfish, a similar kind of boat in many ways, the same Mercury 150hp FourStroke returned a 22 knot cruise at 4300rpm for 28.9 litres per hour. So at around 20 knots we would anticipate 22-25 litres per hour consumption for a range of 200nm or thereabouts.
Inside, the boat was comfortable with no rattles or complaints from the hull or the fitout. The helm is good whether you’re standing or seated and vision is great thanks to big windows and glass rear door.
It’s roomy inside too. With the versatile seating indoors, you can comfortably seat a family of four or more while remaining warm and dry no matter what the weather outside.
– A great little weekender for a good price
Desipite the weather – or maybe partly because of it – we enjoyed our day on the Merry Fisher 695. As a day boat, we could easily see this boat pulled up at a remote beach for a picnic – raise the engine and simply run it up on the beach. Fishermen will love it for the smooth comfortable ride and the big workable cockpit, not to mention the storage and overnighting ability.
Similarly, it would be great in the marina as it has enough room to overnight or even entertain. If a marina isn’t your thing, put it in a stacker and delete the trailer, or take the tailer and transport your Merry Fisher to the cruising ground or fishing spot of your choice.
Whether you’re just getting into boating or looking to downsize to something more manageable; whether you’re looking for a family weekender or an all-weather fishing boat that can handle the rough stuff or some light offshore work, the Merry Fisher 695 is worth getting on your shopping list.
Packaging and practicality: 4.8/5.0
On water performance: 4.8/5.0
Value for money: 4.9/5.0
>> Big boat features in a smaller boat
>> Can handle the rough stuff
>> Enough equipment to make it a true weekender
NOT SO MUCH
>> A tad beamy for towing in some states
>> Would like to see windlass switch at the helm
Price as tested: $118,000 including anchor windlass, trailer, fridge, extra battery, pressurised water, deck shower, electronics, safety gear and regos
LOA: 6.9 metres
Beam: 2.54 metres
Weight without engine: 1400kg
Towing weight: Approx 2300kg
Standard keel draft: 0.5 metres
Fuel capacity: 170 litres
Water capacity: 50 litres
Engine: Mercury 150 four-stroke
Max HP: 170hp
38 South Boat Sales
Rietmans Business Park, Unit 6, 347 Bay Road,
Cheltenham, Victoria, 3192
Phone : (03) 9397 3855
Words & photos – Geoff Middleton