They say the Greeks launched a thousand ships to save Helen of Troy, but I reckon boatbuilders today do just as well. Take French giant Jeanneau, which sold 1000 of its Merry Fisher 755 family cruisers in less than three years. They’ve now launched a new and improved model called the Merry Fisher 795, and you can bet it’s going to be another market winner.
The 795 is a slightly bigger bateau and is more attractively styled and people-friendly. Typical of Jeanneau, the design has been tweaked to provide a more curvaceous look, with rolled gunwales plus deeper-waisted saloon windows that look good and let more light inside.
The boat is selling well as a pocket cruiser, providing broad appeal because it can be dry-stacked or towed (with wide-load permit). Its LOA is 24.4ft (7.43m), but that doesn’t prepare you for the space aboard – the designers have fitted a comfortable saloon dinette, galley, enclosed toilet and a forward sleeping cabin into its big-volume hull.
A key to the Merry Fisher’s success is Jeanneau’s decision to go with outboard power. This not only ensures efficient high-speed performance, but also no loss of valuable hull space and an easier motor exchange when it’s time to repower. Another Merry Fisher hallmark is its enclosed wheelhouse with overhead sliding sunroof and side-opening vent windows, so you can enjoy boating year-round. And the finish is oh-so chic and very French.
Jeanneau is a leading manufacturer of production boats, so prices for its Merry Fisher 795 in Australia start from a competitive $120,000, though typical packages are about $130,000 – that’s remarkable value for such a well-kitted craft.
Stepping aboard is easy via the large, extended transom steps and a stern door on the starboard side. The cockpit is not huge, but comfortable enough, with a U-shaped, cushioned seating arrangement around a removable table – a comfy space for four or five adults to enjoy a sundowner and hors d’oeuvres. The sun awning is a nice addition for summer or for keeping off the night air after dark. A clever touch is the rear lounge that slides forward when the outboard is tilted.
A three-panel, sliding glass door forms the divide between the cockpit and the deck saloon, letting plenty of light into the cabin and providing better vision from the helm.
In the saloon, there’s a four-seater dinette to port and a small, but useable, galley on the starboard side behind the helmseat. The dinette has a clever swing-backrest to convert it to a forward-facing passenger seat.
The fore cabin provides a small toilet/ washbasin to starboard and a comfortable sleeping cab. The latter looks at first too small for two people, however there’s a bulkhead cut-away for feet and an infill cushion to form a double berth.
The galley has a fibreglass bench with double sink and storage underneath. There’s also a 42lt electric fridge on the opposite side under the dinette, so meals can be prepared here quite easily. An optional deluxe galley includes a solid, black onyx benchtop with single-burner gas stove and sink.
The helm station provides a smart-looking, two-tone bucket seat with footrest, along with a black-finished dashboard that houses a Lowrance sounder/GPS plotter as well as Fusion sound system and GME VHF radio. There are double banks of electric switches for functions, including navigation lights and the electric anchor winch on the foredeck. Slipping into the skipper’s seat, you feel very comfortable from the word go. Like the dinette, the ergonomics are great and it’s easy to move into the standing drive position.
Opening windows within the side saloon windows provide effective ventilation.
AT THE HELM
The 795’s optional bowthruster wasn’t fitted to the test boat, as the new owners intend to drive onto and off a swing mooring. Owners with a marina berth will likely go for this $4000 option, as it provides better control in tight spots.
Underway, we skimmed along nicely at a top speed of 31 knots (57.4km/h) at 6000rpm. This is comparable to most modern cruisers and fast enough for exploring places like Sydney Harbour or Pittwater. With hydraulic steering and soft-grip sports wheel, the 795 is a joy to steer and goes through fast turns easily. Just occasionally you’ll need to adjust the trim to suit the speed or sea condition.
The 200hp Mercury Verado four-stroke is a great power choice as it’s a six-cylinder, 2.6lt engine with solid low-end torque. Merry Fisher is not a lightweight craft and needs that sort of grunt to get her out of the hole – it puts the boat on the plane at 14 knots (26km/h) and 3500rpm, while cruising speed is at 4000 to 4500rpm doing 19 to 23 knots (35 to 42.5km/h) on inshore waters.
The ride is pretty comfortable even across small wave chop, such as the formidable wash thrown up by Sydney’s ferries. Thanks to a fairly deep-vee hull plus wide chine flats and a runner plank, the 795 cuts through the water nicely. It isn’t too heavy on fuel and is stable at rest.
The exterior styling is fresh and modern, with laid-teak finish on the boarding steps and a smart black-over-white colour theme on the hull and cabin, or a dark blue ‘Legende’ colour option for the hull.
While essentially geared to leisure cruising, Merry Fisher also lives up to its piscatorial nomenclature by providing single rodholders in the stern quarter along with a self-draining cockpit if you did make a fishy mess. Those really serious about fishing could consider Merry Fisher’s Marlin range, which does that job a lot better.
The Merry Fisher 795 is tailor-made for day cruising and occasional overnight stays. It’s a great boating choice for a couple to operate, with features such as walkways with high rails around the side decks making attending to mooring lines easy, and an electric bow anchor windlass to save having to go forward.
All Merry Fisher models incorporate the latest injected fibreglass construction and meet the strict European EC building standard. Hulls are covered by a two-year warranty, while the Mercury motor has a ‘2 + 3 year’ warranty.
JEANNEAU MERRY FISHER 795
Dry weight (incl engine): 1927kg (approx)
Fuel capacity: 280lt
Water capacity: 100lt
Power (as tested): 200hp Mercury Verado
Price from: $120,000
Price as tested: $129,600
More information: Matthew Willett Marine, tel: (02) 9930 0000. Web: MWmarine.com.au, or: Jeanneau.com.