When Frank Sinatra crooned Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, long before Eddie McGuire cashed in on the act, a million dollars was a mind-blowing amount of moolah – the domain solely of high society.
Nowadays, however, just about every home owner in the leafier suburbs of our state capitals would qualify.
A mill buys you, perhaps, a two-bedroom semi in Sydney’s Double Bay, (known to Sydneysiders as ‘Double Pay’), or a back unit in a bland waterfront block. It’s the prize money for a decent horse race, appearance money for Tiger Woods, petty cash for banking executives, or perhaps a couple of black jack bets for one of our billionaire hi-rollers.
Fortunately, though, a mill can still buy a fair chunk of fibreglass and all the associated lifestyle trimmings. Ludicrous as it seems to suggest that boats in this price bracket can represent good value, in relative terms it’s true.
Take the Jeanneau Prestige 46 – and I wish I could (take it, that is) – this million-dollar baby, abounding with Italian styling and French flair is the ticket to a world of luxury and opulence beyond most people’s wildest dreams.
It may not sound all that imposing at 14.2 metres, but it’s what’s inside that counts. Varnished mahogany sparkling like a ruby, silky soft leather upholstery, a passarelle on the transom; in fact, everything the glamorous European superyachts boast, only on a concentrated scale.
You get three large staterooms, two bathrooms and, for the man on the move, 30-knot offshore performance from its twin 480hp Volvos. Plus something money almost can’t buy – that indefinable, indefatigable X-factor called prestige.
The French marque is well established and highly regarded in Australia in yachting circles, but more specifically yacht chartering. Only two Prestige 46s have been sold since they debuted in Australia last year, but new dealerships have been established on the Gold Coast, Sydney and Perth to push them further.
Jeanneau actually began life as a powerboat builder and will commemorate its 50th anniversary next year. The sportscruisers are built in a separate factory and given their own marketing identity and focus, although you can see in the heavy duty fittings and engineering that lessons from the punishing world of bareboat chartering have been well learnt.
Italian naval architects, Garroni and Musio Sale were commissioned to produce the design, working with Jeanneau’s in-house team. For a 46-footer, it has considerable volume, with a minimum of two metres headroom throughout and accommodation for 6-10 people.
Mid-cabins can be the ‘make or break’ of a sub-50ft sportscruiser, but in the Jeanneau’s case it’s an asset. Both are roomy and cleverly designed to maximise available space. The starboard cabin has a 2m × 1.5m double berth and a bedside table, the portside has two single berths that accept an optional infill to convert into another double.
The main stateroom has an island double berth with slide-out drawers beneath, a hanging locker to starboard and a triple-shelf cupboard to port. Instead of an inner-sprung mattress, you find raised battens that provide spring while improving under-bed ventilation.
The soft headliner and padded backrests add to the sense of opulence. Workmanship shines through in the behind-the-scenes finish. Commonsense is evident, too, with breather holes incorporated in the cupboard trim.
The ensuite has a walk-in shower cubicle with rounded glass screen, teak grate, mirrored doors on the lockers, beautifully moulded benchtops, stainless steel sink and quality Grohe tapware. Behind the door is a full length mirror.
The main bathroom (doubling as the starboard mid-cabin’s ensuite) is similarly appointed and bathed in both natural and halogen light. A water tank meter serves as a reminder to curtail the hot shower, although the test boat carried a desalinator producing 100 litres/hour.
The lower helm station appealed to the owner, being an integral part of the saloon instead of a dispensable option. It’s decked out with Raymarine electronics, including a Tridata gauge, ST-6001 autopilot and, overhead, a multi-function C120 monitor that displays the chartplotting and fish finding functions.
Volvo gauges are neatly displayed on a burl walnut facia across the upper tier, while a highclass timber/chrome steering wheel, electronic throttles, tab controls and a bank of major switches fall easily to hand. The electrics panels are spread across the lower section of the helm unit at about knee-level for the driver; perhaps not the most convenient place.
Wiring comes to a central point – a dedicated compartment in front of the engineroom, accessed from a hatch in the saloon floor – and is soundly executed. The test boat’s owner had installed an Engel fridge/freezer in the compartment to supplement the galley fridge.
Speaking of the galley, it’s located to port in the saloon, amidships, but one step down from floor level so as not to interrupt the visual flow through the saloon. Again, the layout and storage solutions are innovative, compensating for compact dimensions.
The two-burner De Dietrich cooktop is immediately above the under-bench bar fridge and cutlery drawers, so you can grab the bacon and eggs and toss them straight into the frypan.
Corian covers for the twin sinks maximise the benchtop space when preparing meals, while adjacent to the sinks is a recessed dish drainer.
On the for’ard arm of the C-shaped galley is an Electrolux microwave plus crockery storage. Pans go below. The garbage container is concealed beneath the saloon floor, while nonperishable groceries store in plastic trays under the galley sole.
Depending on how many people you have aboard, there’s a choice of dinettes. The fourseater, opposite the helm station, is a cosy nook where you can enjoy intimate conversation. For larger gatherings, you can raise and open the pedestal-mounted, drop-leaf coffee table that services the main lounge.
Opposite this lounge is the entertainment unit containing a 51cm flatscreen TV and Bose DVD player. A sumptuous two-seater leather lounge is next in line. The test boat had plush carpet to protect the polished timber flooring that comes standard.
Access to the cockpit is via a double casement stainless steel bay door. Guests can move about with ease, as there are steps to the wide sidedecks and a moulded stairwell leading to the flybridge; something older guests may appreciate.
Bollards are concealed beneath coaming mouldings, big boat-style, and in another nice touch there are LED lights integrated into the boarding platform.
Access from the boarding platform is through a walkway to port, while on the starboard side, the hatch leads to the optional crew quarters, which house a single berth, head, wash basin and hanging locker, along with access ports for the watermaker and steering equipment.
A lazarette beneath the cockpit floor contains the genset – in this case an Onan – and the test boat also had a retro-fitted Miele washer/dryer. Engineroom access is via either a door in the lazarette or a saloon floor hatch.
The flybridge overhangs the cockpit and boasts a sunlounge, circular settee with a round table, a 60-litre refrigerated icebox, and a three-seater helm seat – but no sink, surprisingly. A bimini is optional, but the test boat’s owner chose to delay fitting it.
Hull construction is balsa-cored to keep the overall displacement under 13 tonnes (12,688kg to be exact) and the beam is also quite moderate at 4.36 metres. Entry is sharp, but leads into an aggressive chine to give lift and spray deflection, while the props reside in a semi-tunnel to enhance the drive angle.
During our calm water test, the hull gave the impression that it was soft-riding yet efficient and user-friendly. At no stage did it feel like it was labouring and the acceleration figures confirmed the fact.
Standard power is twin 430s, which would deliver about 26 knots. The test boat, as mentioned, had the Volvo 480s, and the additional 100 horsepower didn’t go astray when accelerating onto the plane or cranking through corners.
At 1500rpm, the 46-footer holds a minimum plane speed of 13 knots, and 2000rpm spurs it to 17 knots. A comfortable cruise speed of 24 knots comes at 2300 revs and it maxes out at 29 knots (against a knot or two of tide, I’d estimate).
It’s quiet and fume-free because the exhausts exit underwater, with an idle bypass leading up risers in the lazarette then out the hull beneath the integrated swim platform. Air intakes are moulded into the topsides.
The test boat’s owner, a property developer, came from a 32-foot sportsboat to the Jeanneau, apparently enticed by the French boat’s price as much as its performance and layout. Fair enough when it’s some $200,000 less than a similar-sized offering from a comparable rival builder.
It comes back to what I was saying at the start. A luxury cruiser is the sum of its parts; and in the Jeanneau 46 it adds up to a good buy.
Fuel: 1600 litres
Water: 600 litres
Power: 2 × Volvo EDC 480hp
Price base: $981,000
Fully optioned: $1.1 million
Agent: Euroyachts. Phone Mark Ali on: 0416 231 312.