Our Born Again Boater tells us all about his new toy

Motorboat & Yachting - - Contents - Nick Burn­ham

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

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