The Jeanneau Merry Fisher 895 Marlin promises a lot, but could it be the best model of this best-selling series? We take a test drive to find out
While Jeanneau’s venerable Merry Fisher line now extends all the way from the 605 to the flybridge-equipped 38, the sport-optimised Marlin variant stops a good way short of that. At 29ft in length, the new 895 is in fact the flagship of the Marlin fleet and, with its broad beam, its big aft deck, its upright pilothouse and its roof-top storage rack, it looks every bit the versatile sporting companion it ought to be.
The external spaces also bear that out. For instance, the aft cockpit uses fold-down bench seats to port and starboard, plus an additional folding bench, built into a handy workstation perched out over the engine well.
This helps maximise cockpit space for fishing parties, while still providing the capacity to seat six for alfresco lunches. The fact that it slides forwards on inset deck runners also means you can lift the engines clear of the water, while still accessing the storage beneath the central deck hatch.
At around 1.9 x 1.7m, the forward cockpit is equally valuable. It offers seating for five around the removable table, or even six if you make use of the broad hatch for the anchor locker. It also offers a large convertible sunbed, which is easy to rig courtesy of Jeanneau’s cleverly conceived lightweight aluminium infill; and it gives you quick access to the main cabin through a cargo hatch in the central seat base, so you can drop your bulky luggage directly below.
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Step into the 895 Marlin’s pilothouse and, although the starboard storage unit behind the skipper’s chair has been kept very narrow to maximise ease of movement along the diagonal walkway, it’s still big enough for a compact microwave.
There’s also a fridge beneath the helm seat, plus a stove and sink under a lid ahead of the co-pilot, complete with side-window and overhead sunroof to help mitigate smells and moisture. Headroom of 1.95m is very good, the light grey fabrics are practical and attractive, and the capacity to create an extra double bed to port is a handy extra.
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Down below, the 895 Marlin’s primary cabin is also very practical. It uses an easy-rig double bed with an integrated sheet of ply, which slides into place, eradicating the need for a separate infill.
There’s also a huge amount of natural light down here, courtesy of four windows – two in the hull sides, another facing forward into the bow space and a fourth up above, in front of the wheelhouse in the ideal position to cast lots of light onto the big cabin mirror, which then disperses it all around the changing area. By the standards of a 30-footer, the heads compartment and guest double are also remarkably well proportioned.
The large double guest bed is supplemented by a changing zone, complete with bench storage and a perfectly serviceable 1.5 metres of headroom and there are some particularly neat touches in the starboard heads compartment too – not least, an excellent fold-down hatch, secured with a couple of rotating thumb fasteners, which gives you rapid access to the wiring on the back of the dash.
Now of course, all these practical assets – the twin cockpits, the sheltered seating the sleeping for six and the convertible deck space – are very welcome, but they count for little if the 895 Marlin is overweight or unbalanced. Here, however, with twin Yamaha F200 outboards on the transom, everything feels well sorted.
The positioning of the helm controls is very intuitive, the visibility is great and the hull’s grip is nicely counterbalanced by some reassuring heel in the turn. It can invite a little launching and slamming if you get lazy at the helm, but if you take a proactive approach, the 895 Marlin certainly doesn’t feel like a craft that has to be ‘managed’ through a seascape.
On the contrary, while the physical constraints of its scale and type mean it will never feel urgent or hyper responsive, a sensitive and engaged approach to wheel, throttle, trim and tabs will reward you with a reliable and remarkably satisfying drive.
Price as reviewed:
£137,627.00 (inc. VAT)
In all key regards then, the new 895 Marlin represents a very solid proposition. It offers two bright cabins, two excellent cockpits, lots of flexible deck space, fine all-round visibility and the capacity, should you want it, to sleep as many as six people in decent comfort. You also get seating for five in the wheelhouse, a high level of convertibility and a very competent driving experience. It’s certainly not without competition but the 895 Marlin does put forward a very credible claim to being the most complete and convincing platform the iconic Merry Fisher line has yet produced.
Starting price: £102,987 (inc. VAT)
LOA: 29ft 0in (8.83m)
Beam : 9ft 9in (2.99m)
Displacement (light) : 3,300 kg
Engine options : Single 300hp, Twin 150-250hp
Test engines : Twin Yamaha F200s
Top speed on test : 37.7 knots
Fuel capacity : 2 x 200 litres
Fuel consumption at 20 knots : 51.8 lph
Cruising speed: 22 knots
Range at 22 knots: 129 miles