Why review? · At this point, regular readers are thinking WTF, boat review?!? I’ve only been on a handful, I’ve only owned one since 2012, I’m still occasionally baffled by nautical jargon, and my command of knots remains imperfect.
Here’s why. When you go shopping for a refrigerator or car or coffee-maker or TV or (especially) camera, there are loads of excellent detailed skeptical-voiced reviews you can read before you cough up the money. Boats (which cost more money than most of those things) are different. All the online reviews seem to be from dealers or magazine-writers on the comp, and are by and large paeans of praise.
There are owners’ forums out there, but they tend to focus on specific problems and solutions. What’s especially missing is “I have one of these, here are the good parts and bad parts.”
I’m not completely unqualified. It’s been at my dock for a few months, I’ve installed improvements, I’ve piloted twenty-plus hours on it, motored through extreme beauty and nasty scary rough water, taken guests on pleasure cruises and a grouchy family on a tired commute, and used it as an office for a few afternoons.
So I’ll see if I can beg a few links from other 795 owners on the forums and get this a bit of GoogleJuice with the aim of better equipping other boat shoppers like me.
Facts · Jeanneau has been making boats since 1957. That link is to French Wikipedia; the English version is mostly empty and I should fix it up. The interesting, complicated story is nicely told in English by Malcolm Perrins on a Jeanneau-owners community site. The company, since its founding by Henry Jeanneau, has been sold multiple times to US and French companies and is now owned by Beneteau.
The dealer told me that the Jeanneau powerboats are built in Poland — this made him happy because for some obscure reason it leads to favorable import-tax treatment. The Jeanneau America site says “Built in America” and the first version of this piece doubted that, but a reader from Michigan wrote “We have the NC 895. It is built in Cadillac Michigan. They took the old Fourwinns plant.”
Our boat’s curtains are labeled “Made in France” and the appliances such as chargers and thrusters and fridges are Eurobuilt and their manuals have Italian or French as the first language, with English further back in the book. So I’m inclined to believe the France/Poland story in this case.
People who are buying a boat care a lot about dimensions because one of the hardest parts is finding a place that’s big enough and deep enough to park it. The 795 is 7.34m or or 24’4" long, and 2.99m or 9’9" wide, with a hull depth of a mere 0.56m or 1’10" — that’s with the outboard hoisted, which is how you normally park it.
The 795 comes with a Yamaha outboard, either 150 or 200hp, and lots of options. It’s got a modest-sized berth in the bow, a tiny but functional head (as in bathroom), and similarly tiny stove and fridge. What electronics you get apparently depends on the dealer.
Good: Engine · We have the Yamaha F200 and since it’s an outboard, there’s more room inside the boat. I’d never really been aware of this line of motors but now when I walk around any marina I see that somewhere between a third and a half of the powerboats are wearing them. So, right in the middle of the mainstream.
It’s got a very decent little electronic control screen on the dashboard and the docs are clear and comprehensive.
We set it at 4500RPM and it pushes the boat along at a little over 40km/h, depending on wind and waves. If you open it wide up on smooth water you can get up well over fifty clicks but the experience is not relaxing, or cheap either.
Good: Comfort · Not just good, excellent. The pilothouse has room for a driver and two more people in comfort, four if they’re not chunky or need extra personal space. (Protip: The aft bench is way more comfy.) The cockpit out back has forward-facing seating for three with a cushion to lean back on, and then a couple more benches but they’re less comfy. We’ve been out for a slow cruise on a warm night to watch fireworks with seven aboard and it was just fine.
The pilothouse is really the best feature. It has a sliding “Alaska bulkhead” which means a glass door that closes, leaving the motor and its racket outside; inside, you can have a civilized conversation without shouting.
Good: Swimming platform · It’s just big enough and has a nice practical swimming ladder. We’ve used it every time we’ve been to the cabin. I shot that fireworks picture above sitting on the platform dangling my feet in the Pacific; very relaxing.
Bad: Living quarters · While they advertise two berths, realistically there’s just not enough space for more than one couple and they’d better be intimate. What with the tiny fridge and stove, I don’t think this is the boat for a lengthy family cruise up a wild coastline.
Good: Windshield · And I mean awesome. This puppy’s front glass is the size of a small European nation and when you’re sailing home with the sun behind you in a long Canadian sunset with the mountains filling the sky in front, well, there just aren’t words for that.
The wipers’ coverage isn’t that great, leaving swathes of uncleaned glass in dirty weather, but you can see the important stuff. And it comes with a windshield-washing squirter system just like your car’s, which turns out to be brilliant when you hit big waves and they splash up and want to leave sticky salt crystals where you’re trying to look out. You load it with windshield fluid from the gas station.
It’s worth mentioning the side windows too, which open and close easily and let loads of fresh air in at cruising speed without blasting your head off, and seem completely rain-proof too.
Good: Bow thruster · This is magic. We have a nice easy tie-up along the side of a dock, not crammed into a little slip, but it’s on the left as you come in and the boat wants to be tied up with its right side to the dock, so a 180° turn in tight quarters is called for. With the thruster and a light touch, it’s reasonably straightforward. The thruster is also useful as compensation for any dumb piloting errors around the dock — of course, these never happen when I’m at the wheel.
Good: It’s hackable · In the Jeanneau owners’ community I found an active boat-improvement culture; they’re always adding something or replacing something else. By dint of extensive research from primary sources, by which I mean watching YouTube videos, I have learned how to attach things to fiberglass (Protip: Get a countersink bit for your drill) and have so far improved ours by fastening the fire extinguisher to a handy bulkhead, equipping the head with a toilet-paper rod, and installing a garbage-bag holder. Call me Ishmael.
There are a variety of surfaces suitable for equipping with electronic upgrades or just decorations. We’ve decorated a couple with family photos.
Bad: Documentation · Hailing from the technology space means that I should be restrained in criticizing other professions’ end-user documentation. The boat came with a nice Jeanneau-branded satchel full of dead trees; the quality of exposition and language is, well, mixed. Highlights are the books for the Yamaha engine and the boat itself. The low point is the Lowrance navigation electronics tome, obviously executed by manic pixies on acid. The information is more or less all there but requires deep digging and Zen calm to extract.
My favorite though is the anchor-winch system, which is written in impenetrably-nautical English. Fortunately it’s accompanied by a diagram with all the parts carefully named and numbered. Unfortunately, about half the nautical names studding the text do not appear in the picture.
To be fair, I managed to figure it out well enough to anchor us (in shallow water with nearly no wind) for firework-watching.
Good: Piloting · The driver’s seat is comfy, the steering and throttle are crisp and responsive, and the view forward and aft is excellent. Steering at speed is a little heavier and slower than our previous inboard-outboard, but it’s plenty good enough to dodge a floating log. I’d actually like a bigger steering wheel that’s closer to me, so there’s another boat-improvement project.
Good: Access · Getting from the cockpit around to the foredeck, and up and down the sides for washing and so on, is all dead easy. The cabin is a little off-center, leaving a walkway along one side; and both sides have intelligently-placed handholds to make things easy and safe.
Bad: Flat bottom · The draft is remarkably small and the bottom, compared to the last boat, is pretty flat. This means that when you hit big waves, for example a ferry wake that you stupidly failed to notice until you were right on top of it cruising at 40km/h, you tend to skip along from wave to wave, hitting each one with a jarring “slap” of the flat bottom. This can fling passengers about a bit in a seriously uncomfortable way. Protip: Be on the sharp lookout for incoming waves and slow the hell down.
I’m not a bossy skipper but we have imposed one rule: If you want to move around the cabin, say so and we’ll slow down while you do. This after I nearly put my niece in orbit when she was going to get her backpack and I slammed on the brakes because I thought I saw some peril out front.
Good: Home office · I’m doing WFB (work from boat) one afternoon most weeks now, and it’s just terrific. The aft passenger-side bench is reasonably ergonomic and the table’s at a sane height. I often make a cup of tea and stash a snack in the fridge. I have taken conference calls, drafted and reviewed documents, reviewed code, and once (cackling with glee) checked in code to the AWS production repository.
I haven’t convinced any colleagues to come down for an in-boat meeting yet; it’s just a matter of time. But I’m just not gonna install whiteboards.
Mixed: Online community · The biggest is the Owners’ Forum, which is OK but suffers from Jeanneau having so many products. There’s also a group on Facebook, obviously. I’ve picked up valuable tips in both places.
Bad: Missing pieces · There’s no automatic bilge pump, which I find shocking, but on the other hand I have to say it stays almost bone-dry down there, even with mixed hot & cold weather, bashing through pretty rough seas, several days of heavy rain, and regular thorough washing (the honeymoon is still on).
There’s no horn; our previous boat had one and while I only ever used it once or twice, I was glad of it.
There’s no built-in heater. Our journeys typically aren’t long enough to need one on the water, but this might be an issue in home-office mode. Multiple owners have installed diesel heaters, and I have a nice little AC space heater that I’ll try out when on shore power. Similarly, there’s no air conditioner, which is more of a problem than you might think up here at 49°30'N because the pilothouse has so much glass, it’s a greenhouse.
There are only two cleats, fore and aft. When you’re tying up to a floating dock for a weekend in Howe Sound (see above), which after all is part of the Pacific, you really want one and ideally two spring lines along with the basic fore and aft. Several owners have figured out how to install an extra central cleat, and I’ll look to do that.
And your conclusion is? · Count the “Good”, “Bad”, and “Mixed” headlines above. The good stuff wins, by a wide margin. I’ve got no standing to say whether or not this is a winner or loser against the competition because I haven’t owned the competition. What I can say, a few months in, is that it meets our needs very well.
Accessorizing · Here are the things I’ve purchased to improve the experience:
SeaTeak 62634 Insulated Four-Drink Binocular Rack — I have two of these things velcro’ed down behind the sink. The binoc-shaped spaces also work for big coffee mugs with handles.
Dell Ultra HD 4K 24-Inch Monitor P2415Q — just the right size for outboarding to my company MBPro, and comes with USB so I only need one plug to power everything. I need to install something to hang it up on the berth bulkhead when not in use, at the moment it’s lying face-down on the mattress, which is OK but takes space.
4.5" 12V Stepless Speed Car Fan — sold by different vendors in the US & Canada. Like I said, it can get toasty in the pilothouse but this guy takes care of it just by keeping the air moving.
Rod Holder Mount Boat Flagpole — the 795 has two fishing-rod holders but no flagpole. Hey-presto! The Canadian flag looks great out there but we haven’t figured out which minor ensign to fly beneath it. Patti Smith fan club? Antifa emblems? Not sure.
From Davis Instruments, Shockles LineSnubbers and LineGrabbers; nothing specific to this boat, just a coincidence that I discovered them recently. If you tie up where it might get rough, you need these.
Summary · My relationship with the previous boat was pretty prosaic. It got us back and forth to the cabin and was kind of charming with its wood trim, but it always needed fixing and there were important subsystems I never learned to understand. This is a whole different kettle of fish. I’m starting to develop sympathy with the oft-repeated Kenneth Grahame quote from The Wind in the Willows:
Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing… about in boats — or with boats. In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not.