When you’re looking for a boat, you need to ask yourself three questions. First, decide what you want to do with it. Second, work out how far you want to go. And then figure how many friends you want to take along with you. If the cumulative answer is a weekend trip to Tai Long Wan or Long Harbour (in Hong Kong) or across to Lazarus Island or maybe Nongsa Point (from Singapore) with four on board, then a Merry Fisher 895 could be just the ticket.
Jeanneau have a history of producing functional, practical little boats. You can call it a pocket cruiser, or you can say it’s a family boat. The builders call it a ‘weekender’, and they have gone to substantial lengths to squeeze as much as they can into the available space, to make the whole space as usable as possible, and to make sure that no space is wasted. In a 30ft hull, accommodation for four – six at a pinch – the ability to get you there and back again, and keep you fed and watered at the same time; what more do you want?
The Merry Fisher 895 is a well-thought-out little number. Step aboard from a dock, via the starboard swim deck that incorporates not only a drop-down ladder but also a handrail, and straight through the transom door. The cockpit has plenty of space for entertainment – plenty of party room! There’s an L-shaped sofa bench to the rear that slides forward to allow for lifting of the twin 150hp outboards, and more storage space under the cockpit sole than you’ll ever need. On the starboard side there’s a boarding gate that gives onto the recessed side deck from an alongside berth. Getting on board couldn’t be easier. The trick for all boat designers is to maximise space and light.
The ultimate boat design is Dr Who’s Tardis, which is bigger on the inside than the outside, and Jeanneau have come very close here. The cabin is full of light – wraparound windows let it in, and at the same time let you see out. It’s very much a ‘panoramic’ view, a strip all the way round, and it’s great. It’s great for the helmsman, too; this is proper ‘driver visibility’. To port, this boat has a dinette which drops down to become a third double berth – just – and the forward seat is reversible; it’s a dining seat, facing aft, or it’s a navigator’s seat, facing forwards. There’s a two-ring stove and a sink on starboard, with storage under, and a 60 litre fridge under the helmsman’s seat. We reckon we can get 12 bottles of wine in there without too much trouble, and a few beers besides. Be sure to lock the door. The helm position adapts to standing or sitting, and has a sliding door out onto the starboard side deck – just like a superyacht, which gives access to a midships cleat at the same time.
On the foredeck, a generously-proportioned sunpad does some clever origami tricks and turns into a bench seat, and if you are picking up more passengers from the pier steps then there’s a split pulpit as well for easy boarding.
Down below, the light magician has been at work again. Substantial hull windows and skylights in both the master and guest suites make both cabins light and airy, and the head/bathroom/vanity is generously proportioned – meaning that there’s plenty of room to shower and brush your teeth at the same time without banging your elbows.
But what about the get-up-and-go? The Merry Fisher 895 comes with different engine specs, and the boat we tried on a flat calm morning in the Baie de Cannes had two 150hp outboards on the transom. We found this to be a good engine configuration: plenty of power off the standing start and up on to the plane, and good crisp handling all the way though the speed range right up to 33kts. The newly-developed hull design minimises slamming (we had to race back over our own wake to find some waves), and the reverse chines mean that the boat carves in nicely in a tight turn, without biting into ‘oversteer’. She has very good manners.
We rather fell in love with the Merry Fisher 895. This is a thoroughly practical and entirely unpretentious boat. It’s a family boat, a dayboat, a fishing boat (if you must) and a weekender all rolled into one. If you sacrifice the storage under the port dinette seating, you can have air conditioning – and that’s a must in Asia. You can pack on board umpteen friends for a dockside party, or you can take off for the weekend with a family of six, no problem. You can shift from Clearwater Bay to Long Harbour in less than 40 minutes, and Nongsa is only 30 minutes from Sentosa Cove. Buy one now, before they run out.
For more information: www.jeanneau.com