Years ago, I bought a bicycle in England, took it to Belgium and rode it south through France almost all the way to the Med. During the trip, I slept in a tent in campgrounds mostly, and became quite familiar with what the French call a “caravane,” a sort of sporty-looking travel trailer that facilitates going places and doing things in the great outdoors.
Of course, some memories never fade. And during a recent Jeanneau event in Florida, that long-gone, freeweheeling summer came back to me as I stopped to admire a jaunty 29-foot cruiser—the 895 Sport—that Jeanneau affectionately calls “the SUV of the seas.”
There was a roof rack, complete with a lashed-down paddle board. Below, the aft cockpit sported a rail-mounted, Magma grill, fold-away bench seats on three sides and a movable dining table. And there was a modest collection of fishing paraphernalia as well, including a rocket launcher, cutting board and the optional baitwell.
Upon going aboard, I noticed little side-to-side movement, a finding that surprised me, given the boat’s middle-weight displacement and her fairly sharp 18-degree transom deadrise. I liked the extra-wide sliding door on the salon’s starboard side, accessed via an easily traversed walkway that communicates between the fore and aft cockpits—when I slid it open, I noticed that the great outdoors came immediately inside. And I also noticed that the open door made it easy for a skipper to reach across to the midship cleat from the helm station, a great feature for single-handed docking.
The salon itself was a practicable affair. All the way forward on the port side, I lifted a lid with molded-in drink holders to reveal a simple galley, with a propane cooktop (electric is available for those who opt for a genset) and fiberglass sink. The starboard-side helm station (with refrigerator and storage space under the seat) was compact, albeit well-thought-out, and, for convenience, there were cabinets and lockers at the rear. Ventilation was ample, too, thanks to a giant, sliding glass window to port (opposite the aforementioned sliding glass door) and an equally large opening sunroof above.
The belowdecks spaces, it seemed, had been expressly designed for an adventurous couple or a small family. There were two staterooms, a master forward (with a V-berth) and a guest to port (with a transverse queen), each featuring an air-conditioning plenum, opening ports and windows. And no TV on board! To slake the modern thirst for distraction, Jeanneau offers a Fusion stereo. That’s it.
I ran the 895 on St. Petersburg’s Boca Ciega Bay. Conditions were mild, with little more than a 1-foot chop, occasionally enlivened by a wake or two. Although I was anticipating a rousing performance, my eyes widened a bit when I hit a one-way speed of roughly 43 knots. And sightlines, via the immense windshield and the salon’s contingent of wraparound windows, were superb.
Back dockside, I took stock. Yup, Jeanneau’s new 895 Sport had lots going for her, from a reasonable base price (although the options list is lengthy), to an outdoorsy, easy-cruisin’ personality, to the speedboat performance I’d just so thoroughly enjoyed. But there was something else as well, something less specific.
For just a moment, I could almost see a bicycle on the roof rack, yours truly flipping burgers in the cockpit and scads of vacation days stretching ahead. —Capt. Bill Pike
Displ.: (without engines) 7,275 lbs.
Fuel: 158 gal.
Water: 26 gal.
Test Power: 2/250-hp Yamaha F250 outboards
Cruise Speed: 26 knots
Top Speed: 43 knots