by Dom Wiseman

Jeanneau position the Merry Fisher series as boats capable of straddling the cruising market while also offering the functionality to appeal to fishing fanatics. A difficult task to be sure, but with her European styling and innovative design, it’s not hard to see that this design will have appeal for Aussies more than used to a little of both. In fact with fishing the number one boating pastime, and luxury often high on the list of the better half, it is quite possible that Jeanneau has discovered a niche that few brands have been able to tap into.

The Merry Fisher 855 itself is a high sided hardtop design reminiscent of some of the older style Maltese fishing boats plying the Mediterranean. The angular and tall design strikes a perfect balance between appearance and maximum internal space with smart use of glass and an enormous floor to ceiling rear cabin entry reinforcing that spacious feel. Once aboard, the Jeanneau feels closer to a 35 footer than the listed 28.
The boxy appearance has been softened with some beautiful curves on the gunwales, clever angles on the cabin and a roofline that rises slightly front to back delivering an attractive package at any angle.


WHAT YOU GET

Stepping aboard the Merry Fisher is via an access way on the aft starboard side. Two rear swim platforms straddle the twin outboards here giving way to a wide and comfortable gangway leading into the rear cockpit. The cabin itself is a true walk-around with the wide teak lined walkway leading up to the bow and back down the port side.

lowranceAt the stern, the outdoor living area is vast and usable in every sense. Combined with the innovative sliding transom and seat arrangement, which increases space by way of a sliding mechanism once the outboards are deployed, you can generate much more space than equivalent boats in this class. The area consists of  a lounge
arrangement that covers three quarters of the stern, runs along the port side and ends with two smaller seats against the aft cabin window, the table cleverly doubles as a sun lounge. Drop the table; throw on some cushions and almost half the cockpit space converts into a daybed. Beautiful!

The massive floor to ceiling glass door allows the captain full vision from the driving position to the rear cockpit. The upholstery oozes class without being too fancy to want to sit on and is a brilliant match to the teak flooring used throughout the cockpit.

Jenneau-Merry-Fisher-855-17There’s plenty to look at once you step inside the cabin with light streaming in through the cabin door, windows and sliding sunroof illuminating everything in sight, and the clever use of timber creates a warm and inviting feel throughout.

The smart design continues inside with a dining table on the port side created by reversing the passenger forward facing seat and sliding it back against the companion way leading downstairs to the cabins. These seats are finished in grey upholstery while the table is a dark walnut again matched perfectly to maintain an up market feel. Underneath the rear seat, a slide out draw will fit any and all pantry items or cooking utensils.

Immediately opposite is a small but functional galley which would be enough for small trips up to a few days but longer excursions may require the addition of an outdoor BBQ. A fridge sits underneath the embroidered helm seat which comes with a bolster and floor infill for standing, allowing view out of the sunroof. The storage space here is impressive with secure push button fasteners keeping the high end feel throughout.

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The helm position is commanding offering an entire view of the upstairs space. The electronics are all laid out in an easy to see arrangement with a Lowrance unit and engine measurements taking pride of place. Trim tab controls are easily reached just sitting to the right of the wheel while the radio sits to the left. The switch panel is situated on the bottom right of the helm adjacent to the keys. Fly by wire controls make the process of accelerating a breeze while the steering wheel, complete with wood trim, sits at a comfortable angle for drivers of any height.

Three stairs lead down to the cabins and bathroom or head as it is known in a boat. On the port side, a low roofed but functional double cabin is light filled courtesy of the porthole which is actually quite long and includes a hatch to allow fresh air into the cabin. There is also small cupboard space here all finished in wood trim.

Move to the starboard side and you will find a well appointed head with a toilet, sink and storage space. The faucet doubles as a shower head and the entire room doubles as the shower saving space for other areas such as the main cabin which sits at the bow.

Secured behind a sliding door, the main cabin is large, light and spacious courtesy of the large portholes running along the hull. The bed sits in the centre of the room with storage underneath and a cupboard providing the necessary hanging room. There is space on the rear wall for a television should the waves not be enough to lull you to sleep, while a mirror enhances that already spacious feel.

POWER
Power is delivered unusually by twin outboard engines, in this case Mercury 200hp Verado engines. These engines run a supercharged 1.7-litre inline four cylinder set up with a claimed best in class fuel efficiency. What they are is impressively quiet which is true of most modern outboards these days, but the Mercury Verado engines seem quieter than most.

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Jenneau Merry Fisher 855 14They still deliver awesome acceleration and will run on 87 octane minimum fuel. Surprisingly, they will also run on a claimed maximum 10% ethanol 90 RON fuel, although you hardly see it at on-water fuel facilities.

The trim is smart and efficient moving the engines between the fully up and down position easily. The engine is rated at 2 stars placing it in the very low emissions category.

ON THE WATER
The Merry Fisher 855 hull is a beautiful compromise designed to deliver impressing cruising range while still being robust enough to handle rough water. It’s a difficult task for any builder to find the sweet spot as too much vee results in a nice ride, but poor cruising ability and fuel consumption, while the opposite will be tough to handle in choppy conditions but Jeanneau have the runs on the board to make a hull like this work well in Australian conditions.

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Jenneau Merry Fisher 855 10The power from the twin engine set-up is evident and pushes the hull onto the plane in short order. Heading out the heads into oncoming swell and chop the fine entry cut through waves with ease.

When we did come across a large wave the spray deflected away from the hull nicely although I envisage most users would be more at home cruising on flat water.

At rest the stability this hull provides is evident and combined with the wide almost 3.0m beam it feels as though you’re on an island as opposed to an 8.7m. It allows you to move easily around the cabin and importantly the top sides.

You can rig this package with a single 300hp engine, but after testing a twin set-up, it’s one I would go for myself mainly due to the safety factor and the improved handling I believe twin engines provide.

OVERVIEW
The Merry Fisher 855 is a well designed package Jenneau Merry Fisher 855 4perfect for a couple with small children. The space onboard is impressive and it certainly feels larger than the written specifications suggest. The internal design maximises every available space onboard with some innovative design ideas mixed in with tried and true methods to create a great package ideally suited to Australian conditions.

Too often internal space is hampered by a lack of available natural light but Jeanneau has judiciously used large windows to allow light to stream into areas that would otherwise be in darkness. Internal space is also evidenced by the twin berths, a rare commodity on boats of this length. Overall a great cruising package more than capable of multiple night stays aboard with family or friends.

POSITIVES

  • Innovative design
  • Space
  • Excellent trim

NEGATIVES

  • Galley is small for long stays

Jenneau Merry Fisher 855 11NUMBERS THAT MATTER
Price: $179,900 (as tested)
Construction: Fibreglass
Length Overall: 8.72m
Beam: 2.99m
Draft: 0.56m
Dry Weight: 2900kgs
Engines: Twin Mercury 200 hp Verado
Fuel Capacity: 400 litres
Water: 100 litres