Our Born Again Boater tells us all about his new toy
Nick Burnham introduces us to his new Jeanneau Leader 805 and Jack Haines treats his Jeanneau Cap Camarat 625 to a 3M gelcoat treatment
Do we need to justify our spending? Must we account for every chunk of money? Sadly, for those of us of limited means, the answer has to be yes. It’s a responsible attitude to finances that helps put us in a position to buy boats in the first place after all. But of course, there’s always room for a little man-maths in the spreadsheet.
For me, several reasons came into play to justify this move to a (much) larger and more expensive boat. On a practical level, after three very successful years with my Skibsplast 660D, a 21-year-old 21ft cuddy cabin boat fitted with a single TAMD 22P 106hp diesel engine, we were just starting to butt up against its limitations a little too often. Something bigger, faster and newer would broaden our horizons, metaphorically and literally, giving us the ability to cruise further faster, and stay on board when we got there.
On a financial level, due to the coarse jumps between berth sizes in my marina, I’m already paying for an 8m berth. A larger single diesel shouldn’t cost much more to service, and it’ll require a bit more antifoul. We’re not talking quantum leaps in costs here. I figured that an 8m diesel cruiser would only cost 10-15% more to run yet offer 100% more ability. There may be some man-maths at play here… The final push was the drop in the interest base rate to 0.25%, swiftly followed by a drop in savings rates. Suddenly I was getting 0.35% interest on my ISA. £40,000 (my potential new boat fund) was earning me a frankly insulting £140 a year. What’s the point?
All of the above set the hard points. The new boat had to be as close to 8m as possible. I wanted to gain standing headroom, a separate loo, a permanent double berth separate to the dinette and a large single-diesel engine. It had to be able to reach over 30 knots, it had to have good seakeeping and ideally, I wanted to move the build date circa ten years on from the Skibsplast. The reason for this is that this move is likely to be the last for a very long time. The Skibsplast still feels like it has plenty of life in it, so a boat ten years younger should easily have well over a decade of use in it. With the budget set at £30,000-£40,000, it was time to go boat hunting.
Because this boat was such a longterm project, it absolutely had to be right – as close to perfect as possible. Any fundamental compromises had the potential to annoy me for a long time. I was in the fortunate position that the Skibsplast was bought and paid for and I already had the funds for the new boat, so I was able to keep the little boat while I took my time looking for the new one. A good job, as it turned out – in fact, it took nearly a year.
One thing that became immediately obvious was that many boats of this
size are designed with the American tow boat market in mind, and thus are limited to their maximum trailerable width, 8ft 6in. So either you cope without side decks (Sea Ray 240 Sundancer, Rinker 270, Crownline 250), have vestigial side decks (Doral Monticello) or have reasonable side decks but rather narrow cockpits (Sealine S25). Also a few of these boats seemed designed for big V8 petrol engines but the diesel alternative was an adequate but comparatively small KAD 32.
However, a couple of boats stood out. The Bavaria 27 Sport has a beam of 9ft 9in and gets the meaty D4-260 diesel. Great-looking boat and a lovely interior too. The trouble is, the length overall is brushing 9m. And the Cranchi 25 Perla was an interesting possibility. This is the predecessor to the Cranchi 28 Zaffiro – it’s the same boat in fact, it’s just that the Zaffiro gets a massive bathing platform bolted to the back. But without it, the LOA is under 8m. A little older, it gets the KAD 43 230hp diesel (or twin TAMD 22 diesels) and it’s a finelooking boat.
However, for me there is an issue with both of these vessels. We do a lot of cruising rather than sitting in marinas, and both of these boats lack forward-facing seating at the helm for anyone other than the helmsman. The Cranchi has a sideways seat next to the helm (to give headroom in the mid cabin), the Bavaria has a large C-shaped dinette so the seating at the front of the cockpit is facing backwards. For many, this would be a worthwhile compromise as it gives a terrific social area when stationary (and a fixed sunpad on the Bavaria), but I didn’t want to be Billy No Mates at the helm. A second forward-facing seat at the front was a must.
The boat that I kept coming back to again and again was the Jeanneau 805 Leader, with its 9ft 9in beam and asymmetrical side decks that mean the port side deck is huge and bulwarked! A double helm seat with a big social dinette behind plus a rearward-facing chaise longue (a nice place to relax with a book at anchor) and Volvo Penta’s KAD 43 230hp diesel fitted to older boats, D4-260 in later versions offering 32 knots.
Inside there’s the preferable gas hob rather than the meths burner of many American boats, plenty of proper storage (two wardrobes!), a genuinely separate mid cabin rather than the usual crawl-in bed beneath the stairs, and it’s beautifully finished in cherry wood. I checked the MBM back issue boat test which raved about the seakeeping and searched the MBY forums where people did the same, about both the seakeeping and the boat in general. Demerits include an awful canopy design (I’ll fit a tonneau and leave it stowed most of the time) and engine access isn’t great.
I looked at several but one boat stood out, for its condition but also for its age (one of the newest at 2006 which gives it the D4-260) and its spec, which included a Raymarine C70 chartplotter, bow thruster, Webasto central heating, new canopy and a proper hot water calorifier (the standard 805 Leader water heater apparently only works off shorepower!) It was, inevitably, also about the most expensive, leaving it over budget and 350 miles away in Norfolk, listed for sale with Norfolk Yacht Agency.
But sometimes you just have to make these things happen and one month later, with a head full of big plans for it, I met my ‘new’ Jeanneau 805 Leader as it arrived at Darthaven Marina on the back of a large truck. Obviously, there are still one or two things I need to add to make it mine. Let the spending begin!
Nick tries his best not to look daunted by his huge new boat
Darthaven’s 35-tonne crane copes easily with 3 tonnes of Jeanneau
Norfolk Yacht Agency champagne in the fridge was a nice touch Masses of sociable cockpit seating was a major draw
Working hard or hardly working? Nick ‘tests’ his new foredeck sun cushions