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Few builders have the gift of making a 28’6” (8.69 m) boat feel like a 38’ (11.6 m) boat like Jeanneau, but that’s exactly what it has accomplished with the Merry Fisher 855. She has two staterooms, and can accommodate still a third couple. Dinette seating converts to multiple positions. The cockpit converts from small to large and optional seats are offered. And she can be powered by either single or twin outboards.
The mission of the Merry Fisher 855 is to combine innovative interior design solutions with a fuel-efficient, outboard powered cruiser. With two separate cabins, this boat ranks in the category of being a true cruiser opening up many possibilities for couples. With her side opening door by the helm she’s also easy to operate single handed.
• Outboard Power. This not only gives the Merry Fisher 855 the reliability that today’s outboard engines offer, but increases the available space inside the boat that the design team was able to take full advantage of. She’s offered in either single, or twin engine configurations; undoubtedly the twin engine setup will offer her a better CG balance and improved maneuverability and important redundancy needed for extended cruises.
• Innovative Salon Seating. The booth seating in the salon converts to a berth in the usual manner, but the forward seat is also reversible allowing it to convert to a forward facing bench seat. Workspace ahead of the seat allows the observers to become an active part in the navigating.
• Movable Rear Bench Seat. The cockpit bench seat is mounted to a rail allowing it to slide forward creating room for the engines to be fully raised when beaching the boat or taking her out of service.
• Dual Opening Skylights. While the benefits of the hardtop are obvious, this design also incorporates two opening smoked skylights. They let daylight in while still providing protection, and when desired allow sunlight and fresh air in. This design also aids in visibility from the helm when making turns to port. The skylight drops down into view of the turn adding to the safety factor.
• Sliding Side Door. A door just to starboard of the helm allows quick access to the side decks making single-handed operations a simple affair. A large cleat is just forward of this door, and if it were relocated to a position adjacent to the door it would make single-handed tie-ups even easier.
• Asymmetrical Deck Layout. Jeanneau went with an offset wheelhouse for the Merry Fisher 855 and as such the starboard side deck is wider than the portside. This again plays into the sliding side door next to the starboard side helm. However, the port side deck is still easy to negotiate thanks to the abundance of handrails and the side rail that extends well back to the cockpit.
The styling of the Merry Fisher 855 signals that she is a serious cruiser. High side rails extend well back to the cockpit and side decks to both port and starboard allow easy transitions fore and aft. The absence of a flying bridge keeps the profile low enough so that she can slip under the bridges of European canals or the US Great Loop route. And her shallow 1’8″ (.56 m) draft allows her to transition through skinny water.
The standard boat comes with a white hull, a color that’s been done to death. Personally, I would upgrade to the “Legende” version with a blue hull, stainless accents and teak decking.
The cockpit is down two steps from the side decks and presents a wide open space. An opening gate to the starboard side leads to the modest (as most are with outboard designs) swim platform. Standard seating is a bench across the transom mounted to a slider. This allows the seat to slide forward which in turn allows the outboards to tilt to their full up position.
With the outboards down the seat slides back providing more deck space. An option is offered that creates U-shaped seating which can then be converted to a sun pad. An optional table facilitates al fresco dining. An optional extended sunshade adds additional protection from the elements.
A triple-wide folding door serves to make a seamless transition between the outside and inside and also serves to blend the two together. With two opening side windows, two opening sunroof hatches, the starboard side door and the triple-wide aft doors, ventilation will be the least of the concerns. Natural light is also a non-issue with nearly 360-degrees of visibility. For that reason, should any guest be sleeping on the main deck, optional wraparound canvas closes off all of the glass for privacy.
To the port side is booth seating that offers a surprising amount of flexibility and really adds to the cruise-ability of the Merry Fisher 855. In the dining configuration two couples will be sitting across from each other with the table in the middle. In cruise configuration, the front seat reverses and becomes forward facing seating, and chart storage just ahead allow the observers in this bench seat to play an active role in the navigational chores.
A smoked panel that allows light to the cabin below serves as a functional chart table and for that reason I would include a small light on a gooseneck into the design layout. Finally, the table drops down to form a berth creating room for a third couple to spend the night onboard.
The galley is over to the starboard side just behind the helm. It has the usual accommodations for storage, a two-burner stove and sink. An optional fridge will reside below the helm seat.
Jeanneau accommodates sitting at the helm with the comfortable bucket seat and a flip-down foot rest. Flip up the foot rest and standing at the helm becomes equally comfortable. It is also equally comfortable to be sitting with one foot resting on the sill of the open side door and enjoying the unobstructed view of the water passing by.
The bow is accessed by either of the side decks, with the starboard of course being easier to negotiate as it is wider than the portside deck. The bow features a split rail forward easing the chore of working the ground tackle as well as facilitating bow-in mooring. A large anchor locker makes managing any tangles easy whether the optional windlass is chosen or not. Just behind is an open deck that will accommodate an optional sun pad and also has a hatch leading to the forward cabin.
The accommodations deck is down two forward steps and the design allows for two private cabins, something practically unheard of in a boat this size. The forward cabin features an island berth with access to both sides. The clever use of space again comes into play here as the berth is only 5’9″ (1.8 m) when not in use providing much easier access throughout the cabin. When it’s time to turn in, it then extends to a full 6’8″ (2 m). The usual storage is accommodated and natural light comes in through hullside windows and an overhead hatch.
Down below she offers a two stateroom layout with a shared head.
Just abaft is a guest cabin with a double berth and standing headroom at the entrance. Natural light comes from overhead and hullside windows. This cabin does offer limited storage space, but it is a fair trade-off for having the privacy of the second cabin.
While the basic Merry Fisher 855 is well-appointed there are always options to ensure an owner’s boat is dialed-in to his or her liking. “Trim Level” options include an anchor windlass, bow thruster, shore power, battery charger and water heater. Of course it would be a rare cruiser that doesn’t include these essentials when the initial order is being written. Naturally there are electronics packages available, and a camper canvas package will allow the aft deck to be enclosed for three-season comfort. The Premier Trim Level package includes a refrigerator and microwave.
Jeanneau seems to have created a practical and functional cruiser in the Merry Fisher 855. Her size makes her an excellent trade-off between a boat that serves as a real cruiser and a boat that is small enough to still be handled by novice operators. And with her versatility she can be as comfortable entertaining a party as she is carrying a couple on an extended voyage.