Report from Motor Boat Monthly
Length 6.4m (21ft 8ins)
Beam 2.55m (8ft 4ins)
Draft 0.66m (
Headroom 2.06m (6ft 9ins)
Engine 90 - 115hp outboard
Country of manufacture: France
Maximum Speed - 26kts at 5300rpm
Cruising Speed - 20kts at 4000rpm
Acceleration - 0-15kts in 6.0secs
More details on full specification can be found at Southern Motorboats
Compatriot and half-sister to the Beneteau, this outbard-powered boat has all the same pratical, likeable qualities. Again the clean. unfussy design has put most space and effort into cabon space, slightly outdoing the cockpit, and there is plenty of pratical detail moulded in.
DESIGN & BULD
Jeanneau make a great deal of their asymmetric decks but the advantage is leass clear when both of the Beneteau's side decks are as wide as the 625's widest one.
However, one area where the Jeanneau does score over its stablemate is the addition of cockpit guardrails, which raise the height of the coamings and doubles as grab handles.
The cockpit is a useful size and can be given more floor area by lowering the transom bench - a sensible solution to the eternal compromise between seating and deck space.
The lazaret, which contains the fuel tank and battery, benifits from GRP liner as do the myriad internal locker spaces. In the wheelhouse, the seating is all but identical to that of the Beneteau, pretty generous and comfortable and the moulded galley and marine toilet are also very similar. Ventilation is via sliding side windows and a hatch in the cabin top.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
Since Jeanneau shares its hull, its 90hp four-stroke engine and even its fuel tank with the Beneteau, it's not surprising there is little to choose between the two boats out on the water.
The Merry Fisher is certainly a very user-frendly package offering stability at rest or when riding the waves. As with other outboard-powered contenders, the bow is liable to drop in a following sea, but this is easily dealt with by trimming out the engine.
Where this boat beats its compatriot is with more stylish helm console and better quality seat, although it fails to include that handy "bits" tray. There are sliding windows and an overhead hatch and visibility is first-class with a standard fit wiper helping keep it that way.
For those looking for the extra stability of a shaftdrive boat, Jeanneau offer the similar 635 with inboard power.
SPECIFICATION & VALUE
Besides the shape of the wheelhouse roof and side mouldings, there is little to separate the Jeanneau from the Beneteau, except the bill.
They both come fitted with a proper marine toilet, a basic freshwater system, a full set of cushions and necessary anchor, warps and fenders. Admittedly the Jeanneau ha a rather more attractive helm position and fractionaly nicer locker latches but not enough to justify the price gap.
With a 90hp Suzuki outboard prices start at £22,004 (the 70hp model was dropped due to lack of interest).
The rod-holders are a nice touch and there's a locker in the cabin which can also be used for storing tackle. The lazaret could also offer tackle stowage but this is also where the fuel tank is located, so won't double as a well to hold your catch.
You'll also want to keep the smart cockpit cusions down below when dealing with any fish.
Report bt Mike Thrussell
FACTS AND FIGURES
OVERALL LENGTH: 21’
DRAFT: 1’ 3.7” (1 foot three point seven inches)
WEIGHT WITHOUT ENGINE: 2090lbs
MAXIMUM ENGINE SIZE: 100hp
CATEGORY: C 7 Persons
Driving along Brighton seafront towards the marina the sea looked lousy. I realised just how much as I glanced over at the west breakwater and saw spray splash right over the top of it. For a summer’s day it was more like the back end of January.
I was visiting Walton Marine, based in the marina, to test the very popular Merry Fisher 625, a boat that’s finding favour with a wide cross section of boaters.
With the weather so unsociable again, having checked in at the office I decided to look the boat over on the pontoon, and wait to see if the forecast for clearing skies later actually materialised. It was pretty obvious though, that the increasing force 6 southwest wind hammering up the English Channel was going to make for one very rough boat test.
DESIGN AND LAYOUT
The 625 is a V shaped semi displacement hull with walk in cabin. She is designed as a capable angling craft, but also for overnight accommodation and weekend living. She was backed in to her pontoon berth, so I made my first observations from there.
The test boat was already sold and I was out on her courtesy of the owner. Called Smoking Banana she looks a treat in all white with bottle green graphics and black water line.
She was fitted with a Suzuki 90HP Fuel Injection 4-stroke outboard. I checked first that there is ample room at the starboard side of the main outboard for an additional auxiliary smaller motor to be fitted. No problem!
On the port side stern corner you have a moulded in flat step aboard area. This is a lift up hatch hiding a dive ladder and to the side a stainless steel grab rail. On the starboard corner is a smaller step on area. Again this is a lift up hatch cover with access to the wiring etc, for the engine and possibly for additional storage.
The transom is lower than the gunnel height, so I made a mental note to check the boats ability in following seas and when going astern once I got out to sea.
The transom carries a substantial stainless steel safety rail across the top which could be used to fix additional rod holders too, and has a full length fold up bench seat in place supported by fold down legs.
The gunnels carry hardwood tops and 6-inch stainless safety rails. The wood tops have mooring rope access to T cleats at each stern end on the inside of the gunnels, and also carry a single drop in rod holder.
A huge lift up deck hatch offers entry to a massive amount of storage space below deck, and houses the 136-litre fuel tank and battery. The deck is stippled finish for grip and is obviously self draining.
Coming off the deck you have moulded in steps from deck level up on to the walkway by the cabin for bow access with stainless grab rails placed on the cabin rear edges for holding when accessing the walkway. The walkway width gives comfortable access with additional safety supplied by a stainless grab rail on each side of the upper cabin roof. The bow safety rail is full length but splits at the bow offering easy hauling of the anchor.
The bow is fitted with a stainless steel bow roller and a T cleat either side, with the anchor locker having a right hand opening hatch. What strikes you up on the bow is the amount of room available for working and the relatively large flat area of foredeck adding to the safety factor when at the bow.
Glancing back at the cabin the tinted windscreen is split in to two with the duo navigation light positioned at the base of the screen in the middle. I’d rather have separate port and starboard nav lights high up on the cabin sides for better sea visibility for approaching craft and my peace of mind.
The cabin roof carries the all round steaming light, but has easy room for adding a stainless steel gantry, as many choose to do, for carrying of VHF aerials to give greater height and range, GPS units and radar. The rear cabin roof also extends over the deck a short way to give added weather protection.
Back on deck, entry to the cabin is through a tinted sliding door with a step down to cabin floor level. The door way is spacious and with good head room if you’re tall.
The upholstered white plastic helm seat is on the starboard side with a nifty looking hand wash bowl area moulded in rear of the seat, plus with storage locker space underneath.
Sat in the helm seat I found the throttle at a slightly higher height than ideal, but that’s just me and others may find it bang on. The main fuse panel sits just below and slightly forward of the throttle housing, with a fire extinguisher by your right foot for instant access if need be. The foot rest for the helm is fixed to the lower console in front of you.
The wheel is a superb looking round polished wood type with stainless spokes adding a real touch of class. Your fuel gauge is to the right of the wheel, and a flat shelf area behind the wheel carries the compass and sounder. Beyond this is a wood type console carrying all your instruments. This gives easy reading when at the helm, both seated and standing.
Looking at the rest of the console top and dash, you have enough room for a GPS unit close to the side of the sounder, but the rest of the upper dash area is narrow and restricted by the rearwards angle of the screen. I’d probably choose to fit my radio on a roof bracket above and forward of the helm. A nice touch is the stainless grab rail on the port side of the dash for use when travelling in rough seas, and for added stability when entering the cabin area.
The split screen has a windscreen wiper fitted on the starboard side, with both side screens sliding forward to open for air. The ceiling houses an opening sky light vent and a cabin light.
On the port side of the cabin is the galley. This comprises a single burner gas cooker and sink basin with a separate cup storage area, also a large locker space beneath the sink.
As you enter the accommodation area there is a fold in half wooden leaf table for eating and chart work. This collapses to form the bunks that run fully around the forward cabin in to a double bed. The bunks hide three storage lockers with a small dinky toilet inside the bunk moulding on the starboard side. The seat upholstery is blue against white cabin walls and ceiling making for smart surroundings. You also have shelf storage running either side of the cabin area. The cabin area has an opening sky light and a cabin light fitted too.
My overall impression regards the layout of the craft is frankly excellent. The space available in the cabin has been put to maximum use making for a comfortable and practical living area, with the bunk accommodation comfy, roomy and with lots of light, plus its easy to keep clean.
All the fixtures and fittings are top quality and the hull finish superb.
While still checking over the cabin area I’d notice a shaft of sunlight pour through the window, and glancing up at the sky, as forecast, there was enough blue to make a shirt as my old dad used to say, so it was time to check out the sea conditions.
Chris and Paul from Walton Marine were to accompany me using another boat as my camera platform, then me to jump ship and take the helm of the 625.
Poking our noses out of the marina between the east and west walls and looking seawards the horizon looked like a mountain scene rather than a seascape. Big waves rolled over the horizon line and a short high swell made for a very uncomfortable and difficult sea to work in. Not conditions you would actually choose to be out in, but safe enough with sense and care.
Staying relatively close to shore on the east side we watched as Chris worked the hull as hard as he could. From my outside vantage point you can see the hull takes the wave straight on and lifts a little as she carves her way through but does not deviate at all as wave pressure comes on to the hull. Given the seas there was bound to be spray flying about, but she is a pretty dry boat with little water getting back on deck in forward motion.
We headed back inside the marina entrance for me to swap boats as the seas were way too dodgy to be “walking” between boats.
At the wheel and easing my way out I found you have good all round vision from the helm seat, so much so that I didn’t stand up as I usually prefer to do. The seat is also comfy and holds you in position when you battle big waves.
Though obviously nothing like flat out regards speed the hull is quieter than I anticipated with minimal pressure slam and chatter as you travel through the waves. I was getting some spray back on to the screen, but given the seas I was working in it was inevitable, though you did have to really ram a wave to get a good dousing on to the screen. Power is progressive coming in over a wide band, but the boats digs in and surges forward when the shove the throttle forward.
Easing back on the throttle and turning round between waves proved she is docile with no sudden tendency to lean as a wave pushes hard on one side of the hull. Bringing her stern on to the waves and easing back on the throttle to tick over I left her at the mercy of the following waves for a few seconds, but she remained stable and didn’t allow herself to be pushed off at an angle too much. Adding power, but still travelling with the wave direction, I did find she needs a little work on the wheel to hold her on a true course, but that’s nothing out of the ordinary and again I have to quote the ferocity of the seas during the test.
Swinging round again and increasing speed I could feel the hull climb and cut the waves, and deliberately dropping her in to the now very deep troughs creates nothing spectacular, the hull just settles in to the bottom of the waves and starts to climb again with minimal noise. Watching the lifting spray during this manoeuvre it gets forced well out to the side.
I’d spotted that the transom was lower than the gunnels back in the marina, so I gave the controls to Chris and asked him to gently back the boat at the waves as I went on deck to observe. I could see he thought I’d lost my marbles, but we needed to test if she’d take water. She took a little, but in those seas was remarkably dry.
She’s not a fidget on the water either staying stable on the drift and she has no bias lateral lean to one side with two of you stood at the gunnel.
Real speed was out of the question on the test day in the big seas, but coming in through the calm water just inside the marina she hit nearly 25-knots and looks slick at that speed with little wake and a flat ride trajectory. At 5850rpm you can expect 27-knots, with a cruising speed of 19.5-knots at 4600rpm.
THINGS I’D CHANGE
Looking specifically at the test boat I’d prefer my nav lights separate and mounted high up on the cabin sides for better sea visibility.
I’d probably opt for a matt grey deck finish to cut down on light kick back to your eyes when on deck. Pure white decks do reflect light back at you making you squint badly.
Another simple addition would be a short clip on safety chain to go between the end of the port side safety rail and the transom safety rail. This would eliminate any chance of someone tripping over while on deck and falling through the step on gap between the two safety rails at the port corner.
What a little gem! I was very impressed while handling the 625 in what were absolutely horrible seas. She’s stable, good natured if you’re slow on the wheel when turning between big waves, and for a relatively small boat attacked those seas with confidence, ease and minimal noise. Visibility from the helm seat is excellent and your instruments are all easy to read in front of you.
The thoughtful use of interior cabin space is top notch and will impress the ladies. You’ll be really comfortable if you spend your nights in the marina, plus you are fully self sufficient with the galley. There’s a lot of thought gone in to the interior, and it shows.
She’s ideal for two man teams or husband and wife crews looking to fish a boat hard, but still offering good accommodation when you want to stay over. If you’re buying straight in to the 21-foot market for your first boat she has a lot going for her.
Disclaimer: Everything written in these reports are based on personal experience and the individual's opinion only. I have tried my best to present the facts correctly, but I/we take no responsibility for any mistakes or omissions.