- With the excellent fuel range, this is a boat that will enable holiday cruising to create many fond memories.
- … given her wide beam she performs very well.
- The accommodation considerations are the main features of the Velasco, but the pilotage hasn’t been neglected.
From the spring sunshine in the French Riviera, Simon Everett brings news of Jeanneau’s latest entry into their flybridge range, the Velasco 37F.
Since the economic downturn hit, Jeanneau have completely redefined their range, taking the opportunity of cheap finance to develop a whole fleet of new models. The Velasco 37 Flybridge is just one of a handful of models that have been launched over the last two years. With family cruising at the heart of this compact cruiser, she has been designed to provide a pleasant, sociable and inclusive open-plan living area combined with economic cruising at a moderate pace through conventional shaft drive.
In a diversion from the established norm, Jeanneau have placed the galley just inside the double-opening cockpit doors, which are part of the triple-glazing panels separating the saloon from the cockpit. This layout provides more space in the saloon and creates an uninterrupted open-plan layout from the cockpit seating through to the dining table and interior L-shaped seating around the table, which faces aft so everyone is facing each other and part of the party. The galley placement makes it easy to serve guests, both inside and outside, and provides full ventilation so cooking smells can pervade without steaming up the saloon windows.
At this juncture it is worth mentioning the lack of raised fittings within the accommodation block, so the panoramic vista is uninterrupted for 360 degrees from the helm and saloon area, save for the flybridge supports. Wherever one sits there is a clear view of the sea; even those passengers sitting on the sofas can see forward through the main screen ahead, or out the side, so everyone has a clear vision of the world around them.
The overnight aspects are taken care of with a forward main double cabin and a second guest or children’s cabin with two singles under the helm. The Jeanneau designer, Tony Castro Yacht Design, has incorporated full standing headroom for getting dressed within the cabin confines at the foot of the berths in both cabins. The master cabin has a wealth of stowage and room for personal items each side of the raised berth. By carrying the beam above the waterline well forward there is a platform for a proper double, not a tapered one.
The guest cabin is as light as the main cabin thanks to the extra glazing introduced on the side of the hull, a feature that has been seen on larger craft for some years and is now filtering down to the smaller cruising boats as buyers expect more for their money. There is a shared access to the shower and heads compartment at the foot of the companionway, but no direct access from the main cabin. Instead, the shower cubicle has been given its own privacy, so that two people can use the facilities at the same time, the heads and basin being separate, outside the shower. This makes life so much more convenient as there will be less queuing and tripping over each other when getting ready to go out.
Once at your anchorage, the electric windlass makes the drudgery of dropping anchor no more taxing than releasing the lashing and pressing a button. A generous sunbathing area is provided on the extensive foredeck, with a wide, flat area thanks to that increased forward beam on deck. This also makes forward rope work safer and more comfortable, with more footing available. The revised sunbed cushions can be raised into a reclined position for reading, which makes them even more desirable and versatile. There are further opportunities for topping up your tan in total seclusion on the flybridge sun deck, while those wanting to take to the water can do so via the expansive bathing platform close to the waterline with its built-in ladder. The flybridge seating is as versatile as that below, with a forward-facing stretch lounger next to the helm created by using an infill. Access to the flybridge is via a wide, teak-stepped ladder with good handrails that make it easy to ascend or descend, even at sea.
The accommodation considerations are the main features of the Velasco, but the pilotage hasn’t been neglected. The main helm is well laid out with a double, fixed seat with a folding edge to allow a higher seating position. I would have preferred this to be split so the orientation of the passenger and helm seats can be chosen separately. It is the bench-style helm seating that provides the headroom for the guest cabin, so the possibility of stowage below has been exchanged for cabin convenience. The immediate access to the side deck from the wheel through the sliding side door is a useful feature that makes solo or short-handed operation much easier, as does the provision of both bow and stern thrusters. Handling, even into a tight berth, is enhanced by the twin engines and the thrusters, which help to overcome the not inconsiderable windage that the accommodation and flybridge create.
Moving about the boat, especially down the side decks, feels secure thanks to the teak decking underfoot, high bulwarks and rails and the well-placed handrails. Even the foredeck has more footing than the norm for a boat of this size. The aft cockpit is uncluttered, with the access ladder to the flybridge offset and bench seat against the transom, leaving the maximum amount of free deck space. The flybridge extends the socialising area further with a dining table and seating, in addition to the fly helm, and a drinks fridge up top to save having to constantly go below for a top-up.
Having all the conveniences and comforts of home is one thing, but there are still the basic needs of a motor boat to consider, such as the seakeeping, performance and handling. Obviously a motor cruiser is not an out-and-out performance craft, with or without a flybridge. The ability to cover ground at a respectable rate and to ride the odd wave is desirable, as is the ability to negotiate tricky mooring situations. In these respects the Velasco 37F comes out pretty well, but isn’t as sparkling in the speed stakes as the rival Sealine 380, for instance. With her twin Volvo D4 engines rated at 300hp apiece, she comfortably cruised at 2750rpm, which was 16.3 knots and used around 70 litres per hour. Pushing the levers all the way forward brought the revs up to the electronically protected maximum of 3600rpm, and the speed up to a respectable 26.3 knots, breaching the magical 25-knot mark that everyone seems to look for. Obviously conventional drive is not going to be as fast as sterndrive propulsion, but it is simpler and cheaper to maintain. Jeanneau have gone for the traditional boating feel with the 37F, and given her wide beam she performs very well.
On the lazy swell we had to test the boat there was no opportunity to put her real seakeeping to the test, but the hull was secure and planted when put into hard turns. The hull planes with just over 13 knots of water flow passing the keel, hinting towards a boat that will cope with rising and falling happily.
As an entry into the world of flybridge cruising, the Velasco 37 offers the growing family separate cabins with good space in both, roomy socialising areas and catering facilities to create a home from home. With the excellent fuel range, this is a boat that will enable holiday cruising to create many fond memories.
- RPM Speed Fuel consumption (L/h)
- 700 4.2 3.0
- 1000 5.8 4.8
- 2000 9.0 31.1
- 2500 plane 13.1 56.0
- 2750 16.3 69.0
- 3000 18.9 77.0
- 3600 26.3 114.0
- LOA: 11.43m (37ft 5in)
- Beam: 3.84m (12ft 7in)
- Draught: 0.83m (2ft 8in)
- Light displacement: 8271kg (18,234lb)
- Fuel tank: 2 x 400 litres (2 x 88 imp gal)
- Water tank: 330 litres (72.5 imp gal)
- Berths: 2 doubles in 2 cabins plus occasional berth in wheelhouse
- Power: 2 x Volvo D4 300hp
- CE cat: B for 10 / C for 12
Starting from £242,149 (inc. VAT @ 20%)
As tested with the Premier pack: £252,921 (inc. VAT @ 20%)
Cambrian Boat Sales – 14 Cambrian Place – Swansea SA1 1PQ
Telephone: 01792 467263