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Greg Copp reports on the new lease of life given to the pêche-promenade by the punchy Marlin Offshore …
If this gives you a feeling of déjà vu, then you may have read PBR’s previous accounts of the MF895 and MF895 Offshore. This boat is certainly a new tune on an old fiddle, but it is fair to say that it is better for it.
In raw terms, this version of the MF895 seems not to have changed in its hull design, in that it still has the same medium-vee lines as its counterparts. Layout aside, where it has changed is that it has a slightly heavier construction than the MF895 Offshore, which in turn is a beefed-up version of the basic MF895. As a result, it can handle twin Yamaha F250s, though if you so wish, you can have the 100kg lighter Marlin (non-offshore) version fitted with twin F200s or a single F300. To be blunt, this boat is where the MF895 should have been in the first place. The original MF895 with one Yamaha F300 needs 4000rpm to plane, and although that boat topped 33 knots when I tested it three years ago, I was in no doubt that it needed more power. The MF895 that I subsequently drove was all the better for twin F200s, which considering the rough conditions of the day was a point well made. This boat with twin F250s is simply a great boat to drive.
The MF895 Marlin Offshore is a different beast to its predecessors in other ways. It has twin 300L fuel tanks (unlike the Marlin version, which has twin 200L tanks), and it is laid out with a greater focus on fishing. The deep recessed walk-around foredeck and the classic reverse-slope windscreen immediately differentiate it from its relatives. It has that classic ‘fast fisher Botnia Targa look’ that many boatbuilders adopt, and it suits it. Access to the foredeck is safe and easy. The asymmetrical wheelhouse design provides a 12in side deck on the starboard side, enclosed by a tall bulwark leading to a seating area forward. This area equally suits sunbathers as it does fishermen, or simply provides quick access to the large anchor locker with its remotely powered windlass. The under-seat storage lockers, like the forward escape hatch (which a human can realistically climb out of), are all assisted by strong gas struts, so there’s no chance of trapped fingers on a rough day.
Access to the boat is either via the small bathing platform on the starboard quarter, which serves a transom gate, the port-quarter bathing platform, which involves a step up to get on board, or the starboard side deck gate. Though it lacks a watertight seal, the side deck gate is a crucial touch for this style of boat, as is the impressively large wheelhouse side door. I have been on bigger boats with smaller doors, which inevitably results in you knocking your knees on the door frame if you want to get out smartly. If you want to hang fenders on the port side, you have a sufficiently recessed side deck to clamber down safely, a full-length roof rail to hang onto and steps either end to access it. Jeanneau have chosen to follow a trend in fitting roof bars for the carriage of adventure toys like surfboards and wakeboards, along with SUV-like LED roof lights.
The cockpit can be one of two things: a large open fishing platform or a sociable seating area for four with its drop-in teak table. It quickly converts from one to the other, courtesy of bench seats that fold up flush. The transom double fish sink, located so it self-drains straight into the splash well, can slide forward on deck rails, enabling the outboards to be fully trimmed up clear of the water. Under the cockpit sole sits a well-designed lazarette, which features two internal storage lockers ideal for keeping items like tools securely stashed, and the main section is neatly finished with an internal moulding.
As is to be expected, the wheelhouse/saloon pays a price for the generous deck area. Thus, the helm is a single-seat affair, and the navigator has a reversible bench seat that flips back to create an aft-facing seat to the table. Internal dining will be limited to three, and the galley is split over two locations. The gas hob and sink are located where you might expect a chart table, while the 65L fridge, storage and pull-out wine rack are positioned either side of the rear sliding door. If need be, there is the option of using an infill to create another ‘snug’ double berth in the saloon.
Below decks, the accommodation is limited in terms of headroom, notably in the forecabin where the deep foredeck robs it of space. However, this is to be expected, and the simple reality is that you will spend more time using this very practical and usable foredeck than you will gazing at the insides of your sleeping space. It is the usual V-berth with an infill and has the luxury of a small hanging [SB1] on the port side. The door is a narrow concertina affair due to the lack of room for a conventional arrangement, and the veneer joinery, as found elsewhere, is not of the highest standard – though it is acceptable. The mid cabin does have full standing headroom in the door, but due to the very limited amount of it, you would have to be a skeleton to be able to use it comfortably. If you do not have guests on board, the ideal solution is to use the forecabin as a changing room and then sleep in the wide double bed in the mid cabin, which is generous. Very sensibly the heads is good, giving you exactly 6ft of headroom, a shower, sink and manual-pump toilet. It is hardly a five-star bathroom, but all things considered, Jeanneau have done well to provide a capable crucial feature in a craft that has been built to be used for longer periods offshore than the average day boat.
Driving the MF895 Marlin Offshore
For an offshore boat, we hardly had testing conditions. However, I had exactly that three years ago when driving the twin F200-powered MF895 Offshore. Given that the dimensions and displacement are the same, I can assume this boat performs in much the same way in big seas. Downwind in the F6 seas of the day, the Offshore displayed plenty of forward buoyancy, enabling me to maintain speeds of just over 30 knots on occasions. There was no tendency to try and bury the nose. However, running back into a worsening south-westerly was a case of keeping down to a 15-knot semi-displacement speed, as this fairly beamy boat is not built to run fast into short, sharp head seas.
During the moderate conditions of our Marlin test, I got a chance to run this boat flat out, achieving 9 knots more than I managed to get from the MF895 Offshore on a rough October day in 2017. Our test boat had the optional Zipwake trim tabs, which, acting automatically, are simply a case of switching on and forgetting. Though the sea was calm, we did have northerly winds gusting up to 30 knots at times and the boat displayed no tendency to lean into the wind as you might expect if it had no trim tabs to counter that. The basic trim tab option is manually activated Lencos, which though they are quite capable do not offer such a ‘point and shoot’ driving experience. On this subject, I am told that the MF895 in all variants is not available without trim tabs if you opt for the single-engine option, so you can draw your own conclusions from that.
The helm set-up works well if you stand, with your feet on the bulkhead, as you get a better view under the window line in hard port turns. Also, the wheel comes more easily to hand, as it is a bit of a stretch when you are seated, even with the seat adjusted fully forward. I will say that the footboard at the helm is a bit on the ‘flexi side’ for something that is likely to have to bear weight in a lively passage.
In hard turns, though not built to be a sports boat, it holds a perfect line, and hitting steep ridges of wake at speeds of 40 knots does not produce any creaks or groans from the hull. In comparison, the standard MF895 is not as solid, and I remember in particular that the MF1095 at 30 knots created a symphony of complaints from the joinery. Only about 30% of ‘trim out’ is needed to push past 37 knots, but to be honest, 35 knots is a great fast cruising speed that you will feel inclined to sit at. Where this boat feels virtually sedate is at 3400rpm, which equates to 23/24 knots, where she returns between 1.6 and 1.7 nmpg. The F200-powered Offshore, in comparison, returns 1.9nmpg at this speed, but with her 2.8L 4-cylinder motors spinning at 4000rpm. The Marlin really benefits from the extra grunt produced by the 4.2L V6 F250s, especially as they only weigh an extra 30kg each over the F200. The response to the throttle is ‘sports boat like’ as this boat is off in an instant, making her well suited to powering up and over sharp wave patterns.
I feel that the MF895 has come of age with this latest version. We have seen a variety of big outboard-powered boats in recent years providing good power-to-weight ratios, and with a better driving experience as a result. This is another boat to add to this list, and it is all the more appealing due to its dual role as a family boat and an offshore fishing boat. It does have some irregularities in terms of the finish of its veneer joinery ‒ for example, the wheelhouse table, which contrasts with the high-quality cockpit teak table. Though it does have some very healthy competition from Scandinavia, at its 155K price tag it will likely prove a popular boat and put a more exciting spin on the concept of the French pêche-promenade.
Fuel figures (Yamaha flow meter ‒ two-way average)
RPM Speed (knots) LPH Fuel consumption nMpg
1500 6.5 15.1 1.9
2000 8.1 27.2 1.4
2500 10.2 40.0 1.2
3000 11.4 49.5 1.0
3500 24.2 68.2 1.6
4000 29.5 89.2 1.5
4500 33.0 106.9 1.4
5000 37.6 140.0 1.2
5500 41.5 178.0 1.1
5700 (WOT) 42.3 192.7 1.0
Range 170 miles with a 20% reserve at 24 knots
What we thought
- Good performance
- Safety/movement on deck
- Deck space
- On-deck storage
- Visibility from helm
- Solid GRP construction
- Good heads/shower for 28ft boat
- A long extras list to get it to the spec as tested
- Some of the joinery could be better
- Not available with power steering yet, which is coming, apparently
Jeanneau MF895 Offshore Specifications
- LOA: 8.92m (29ft 3in)
- Beam: 2.99m (9ft 9in)
- Draught: 0.62m (2ft 0in)
- Displacement: 3.8 tonnes (dry with twin 250hp Yamaha F250s)
- Power options: 1 x 300hp Yamaha F300, 2 x 200hp Yamaha F200s, 2 x 250hp Yamaha F250s
- Fuel capacity: 2 x 300L (132 gal)
- RCD category: B for 6 or C for 10
- Test engines: 2 x 250hp Yamaha F250s
- Design: Jeanneau Design/Centkowski & Denert Design
- From: £124,000 (inc. VAT) (twin 200hp F200 Yamahas)
- As tested: £154,781 (inc. VAT)
- 42.3 knots – two-way average, sea conditions moderate, 70% fuel, crew 3