- Out in the cockpit, which is completely self-draining, there is more space than many similar boats from other makes.
- At just over 6m the 615 has a useful balance between the accommodation and open cockpit.
- The spacious wheelhouse gives rise to a compact cabin and doubles as a saloon area.
Ocqueteau Timonier 615
Simon Everett casts his eagle eye over a new craft from a popular brand from across the Channel: the vacuum-infused, composite Ocqueteau Timonier 615.
When the current owners took over the established name of Ocqueteau they were determined to continue the family tradition and provide a range of fresh, modern boats to meet the demands of today’s boating trends. One of their new models is the Timonier 615, aimed at the very popular pêche promenade market, and is what we would regard as a hobby angling or picnic day cruising boat. One measure of the way this boat has been received in France is the fact the SNSM use one as their training boat. That should provide British buyers with a degree of reassurance.
The practicality of the wheelhouse style of boat has ensured that a plethora of models are available, from a wide range of builders or manufacturers, as well as prices. Ocqueteau have set themselves apart by using high-quality construction to provide a long-lasting boat. Even buyers of medium-sized fishing boats demand a reasonable return on their investment, and the resin-infused, composite structure of the Timonier should provide a lasting legacy that can be handed down from father to son, or retain value on the brokerage board.
There are only so many ways to skin a cat, and given the confines of length and beam, with a set style to work within, it is pretty obvious that one cockpit and wheelhouse from one maker is going to look very much like the next. Or is it? The differences in layouts are small but significant, and the Timonier has three berths, a galley and head squeezed into the accommodation block, together with a spacious cockpit.
Ocqueteau are the only boatbuilders to produce pleasure boats under 32 feet using the vacuum-infused resin system to create an advanced composite hull that is far more rigid than a similar boat built using the conventional wet lay-up. Not only is the hull stiffer, but it is also much lighter, which is why this is the construction method of choice for ocean-racing yachts, motor sport bodies and high-performance craft. On a pêche promenade you would have thought that the weight gain would hardly be worth it, but it repays the owner with faster acceleration and more economical cruising, to say nothing of the greater longevity and greater resistance to impacts.
The 615 version of the Timonier range builds on the solid reputation of the 625 inboard model. With the convenience of outboard power and a greater range of motors to choose from, the 615 is altogether more adaptable to suit the available budget, with engine options ranging from 100hp, which is what we had on test, through to 150hp, which takes the speed up to around 40 knots. So there is plenty of adaptability in the Ocqueteau for people to take advantage of.
At just over 6m the 615 has a useful balance between the accommodation and open cockpit. The spacious wheelhouse gives rise to a compact cabin and doubles as a saloon area. The berth down below is bijou, despite the wide beam forward of the helm, and is really a ‘two and a half’ berth due to the helm bulkhead restricting the length of the bunk, but a chemical head is squeezed into that space to provide a modicum of comfort. It is a simple arrangement that has made best use of the available space and has given a good day picnic boat an overnight or short-cruise capability, especially with the loose-carried camping cooker that stows in the main locker and is put into service on free-standing feet with a dedicated area astern the helm seat. The helm seat has to be hinged forward to access the sink and to obtain the necessary space to use the cooker, which means the galley is out of commission while making passage.
The decor is kept simple, with wooden accents added to break up the white surrounds and a rich blue fabric for the upholstery, and although colour choice is something for the customer to decide for themself, there is an enduring appeal about blue and white in boating circles.
The helm is very understated, with a moulded seat sat on rails mounted on the hinged wooden top that covers the sink. The seat matches the white table, rather than the remainder of the upholstery, which I found a bit odd. Nonetheless, it has a useful amount of adjustment and is supportively comfortable. There isn’t a lot to say about the helm. It is kept to a minimum, with the stainless and wood ship’s wheel, throttle and switch panel with ignition key. The two engine clocks, bizarrely, are set in the angled windscreen dam, rather than in the dash facia. A bracket-mounted combination chartplotter and sonar sits atop. To fit the boat as a serious coastal cruiser you would have to rearrange the dash layout. I would like to see some more thought put into this aspect, with perhaps a deckhead mounting facility for the VHF above the helm, as it would be very cramped and awkward to rig as it is. The emphasis has clearly been placed on the accommodation rather than the seamanship side of things, although the visibility from the wheelhouse is superb with the large areas of glazing and minimal framework due to the helm being given a sliding side window, and throughout the wheelhouse the headroom would suit a giraffe.
Out in the cockpit, which is completely self-draining, there is more space than many similar boats from other makes. The large, central hatch cover hinges to starboard, and because it is set so close to the stern seating bench, anyone sat there has to vacate for the hatch lid to be opened. Even so, there is a vast amount of stowage space below that can be utilised for any number of stowage solutions. You could easily keep a small inflatable tender in there for getting ashore on a secluded beach.
The cockpit seating is a simple across-the-stern three-quarter bench with a cushion atop the locker lid for the battery compartment and the isolator switch mounted astern the battery box within the locker. It is at the same time handy and protected from the elements. Within the same locker space there is room for a full suite of fenders, although some owners may wish to fit fender racks on and use this space for other essentials. Fenders take up so much volume within locker space that racks are the best solution; this also makes getting hold of one at short notice much easier. One thing I wasn’t so keen on was the inboard fuel filler set into the battery locker moulding. Admittedly, it is in a recess out of the way and it is convenient, but any spillage goes straight onto the free-draining deck. I would rather it was within the engine well, where the risk of pollution is no greater, but the danger of creating a very slippery deck is removed. It is a conundrum that boatbuilders have to solve.
The wheelhouse has a fully glazed after end with sliding access door to the cockpit. There is one step up to the foredeck either side. This higher side deck arrangement gives more room in the cabin without sacrificing the ease of forward access. One would expect any boat in this day and age to have cracked the placement of handrails and side deck guards and the Timonier builders have made a good job of it. The step up to the side deck could be pressed into service to house further small storage lockers, with the step forming the hatch lid. I am sure this is something that could be incorporated if required, or even carried out by an owner as a DIY project. The foredeck itself has a noticeable sheer, but the deck is provided with sharply moulded grip areas that really do bite into the soles of your deck shoes. By the pattern of the areas defined by the grip there is an area to mount a round hatch for the cabin and to fit cushions for the foredeck, but the deck sheer would mean you would tend to roll outboard while lying catching the sun with flat cushions. This could be overcome by creating wedge-shaped cushions to counter the sheer. It wasn’t made clear during the test whether these options exist yet.
The anchor and chain locker sit below married hatch covers that open outwards. The space itself is formed by the bow, rather than a separate moulding, so personally I would lash the anchor, or stow it in a box, to prevent it punching through the structure in a heavy seaway. The stemhead roller sits proud of the closed covers that allow for the anchor warp run. The tying-off cleat sits on the aft bulkhead, in line with the roller. There is space to fit an electric windlass but the hatch covers would require alteration – not a big job.
In the handling and performance stakes, the Ocqueteau is light, so requires less horsepower than heavier boats of a similar size and design, thanks to the resin-infused lay-up. Our 100hp gave a top speed of just shy of 30 knots on a brand-new motor and an economic cruising speed of between 16 and 20 knots. With the maximum of 150hp she would really fly, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her attain 37 or 38 knots in light trim.
A deep-vee hull gives a softer ride in rough water, but it requires more power to lift than a flatter section. The sharply angled vee forward softens the ride, while the less aggressive, flatter-running section aft makes acceleration, planing and load carrying less fuel hungry, albeit at the expense of a harsher ride. You can’t have everything, and the juggling act that designers face is one of compromises. In the short chop that we had at times the ride was firm, but the rigidity of the hull could be felt, and the thinking behind the hull shape is that family and leisure users are less likely to be taking on rough water at anything but comfortable speeds, so a bit of hull vee can be sacrificed for the benefit of ease of driving and fuel economy. It is a logical argument.
Once on the plane the hull frees up considerably and will change direction with the twitch of a finger on the wheel. Off the plane the hull sits more firmly, those emphasised chines increasing the waterline beam to provide greater stability. This does mean you have to be determined in your manoeuvring and not let the tide or wind take control. On the plane the boat rides with a nicely trimmed aspect; she hardly needs any increase in leg trim to get the engine revs loosened up and you can feel this on the steering too, as it becomes lighter in the hand. With those wide chines, hard turns are accomplished with linear control, and it needed extreme provocation to get any noticeable degree of slip at the stern. The wheelhouse height is useful under these circumstances too, with the coachroof staying out of the helm’s vision, allowing a clear view into the turn. So many boats lose vision because it is blocked through the angle of heel. The performance and handling are not going to set the world on fire, but for the style of boat they are more than acceptable.
It is a shame that the cockpit is so basic. The straight bulwarks could be made use of with cut-outs that could be utilised for rod stowage in tubes forward and racks aft, or alternatively with folding seats that lie flush into the same bulwark cut-outs as an optional layout, like the Merry Fisher range.
There is always the danger in trying to make a boat suitable for all uses that it ends up being a ‘jack of all trades and master of none’. The Timonier 615 is a sound base for both a coastal day cruiser and an angling boat, but I think she could be even better by offering more dedicated layout options – a bare cockpit layout for angling operations, or a more family-orientated version with better cockpit arrangements.
RPM Speed in knots
- 1000 2.3
- 2000 5.7
- 3000 8.2
- 3500 12.3
- 4000 15.9
- 5000 22.5
- 6000 29.0
- LOA: 6.34m
- Beam: 2.45m
- Draught: 0.32m
- Dry weight: 1000kg without motor
- Fuel capacity: 90 litres
- Berths: 3
- Max. power: 150hp
- CE cat: C for 7 people
- Composite construction for light weight with strength and rigidity
- Large cockpit area
- Galley arrangement
- Cockpit sparsity of features
- Fuel-filling arrangement
As tested with Suzuki DF100: £29,588 (inc. VAT)
E.C. Leisurecraft Ltd
Essex SS4 2HF
Telephone: 01702 257 090