Matthew Sheahan investigates a new mid-range cruiser, the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 37, to find out what you get for your mone
Jeanneau are on a roll at the moment. Over the past few years they’ve avoided the bright lights and excitement of fancy racing machines and radical cruising designs in favour of more modest, subtle cruisers and their latest, the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 37 is once again in this mould.
The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 40 is a good example of this concept too. This is a boat that not only sails well and is comfortable above and below decks but actually looks good, too.
It’s easy to dismiss this last point but as far as I’m concerned there are far too many ugly ducklings out there and the 40’s new sister is not one of them.
A cracker from the start, the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 37 has inherited the same sleek lines in profile as her bigger sister and that puts her 15-love up immediately.
Looks count for lots in my book, especially when you’re spending as much money as you might on a house.
Of course safe practical boats are very important but the fact is that it is difficult to walk away from a family cruiser this attractive. Difficult but not impossible. She does have her weaknesses.
Designed by Jacques Faroux, the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 37 has been created to cater for a wide range of uses, from short-handed family sailing to fully loaded charter work.
As a ‘one size fits all’ type of boat, her brief is bound to lead to corn promises. Take the cockpit, for instance. Open, spacious, comfortable and convivial to seat six for an alfresco lunch at anchor. But under sail those with legs any shorter than Naomi Campbell’s will be struggling to stop themselves from sliding to leeward as the scats are set too far apart, with only a small teak strip on the cockpit floor to act as a foot brace.
Then there’s the old chestnut of handling the mainsheet from behind the wheel, (or rather not being able to), as well as a mainsheet traveller so far forward and so short that you wonder why it’s there at all.
There are a few cheap-looking shackles and light-looking fittings, too, making you wish a few more Euros had been spent just to lift the final quality of the boat’s basic spec.
But at the end of the day criticisms like these are just niggles because the rest of the boat is well thought out. Simple, comfortable and, in the main, practical for the usage she’s likely to get.
Accommodation and construction
Below decks the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 37 once again apes the style or the 40, with a large galley to starboard and a small face-to-face type navigation table to port.
The layout as a whole is typical of Jeanneau ‘s current approach which is to put greater emphasis on space and comfort than on the practical aspects of long periods at sea.
The ample seating to starboard and large bench-type settee to port, with little in between to clutter the space, is just one example of the simplicity of a layout that allows her accommodation to breathe.
The spacious and simple double cabin forward and the layout of the head continued the trend and only the slightly cramped after cabin contradicts the impression of spacious living.
In the case of the head aboard the two-cabin layout, the arrangement benefits from having a single, larger than normal, combined head and shower arrangement where the shower area and wet hanging space is divided off from the head itself with a smart perspex tinted door.
The layout and proportions of the head reflect a style more commonly seen in a Holiday Inn than aboard a 30-something production cruiser, but the change is a welcome one.
Interestingly, the style throughout the rest of the interior is considerably less adventurous and rather reflects a careful balance between efficiency and cosiness.
Deep behind the Velcro-hung cushions and roughly varnished locker lids, the basic structure looks well put together and chunky, leaving little to worry about on the structural side.
The construction falls in line with Jeanneau’s normal build system with a solid laminate hull and conventionally laminated longitudinals and transverse members giving her both the appearance and credentials of a robust cruiser.
Closer to the surface, although still normally out of sight, the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 37 was less well finished, with rough edges to some or the joinery and a varnish finish that felt a touch on the thin side.
Overall she’s still perfectly acceptable but will need to be looked after if she’s to maintain her looks for years to come.
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 37 Under way
Slipping out of even the tightest of berths should present few problems aboard the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 37.
Her 40hp saildrive engine (27hp is standard) may not provide the kind or propwalk that can be used to crank you out of a tight corner but she’s still easily manageable, especially with her fixed prop.
Once under way she turns tightly, stops quickly and goes astern as easily as she goes ahead.
Under sail she’s just as well behaved. albeit subject to my usual round of reservations about not being able to handle the mainsheet from behind the wheel.
The masthead rig means that there is a large overlapping headsail to handle, which also means that someone in the crew is bound to get some upper body exercise as soon as the boat goes upwind.
Once wound up onto the breeze during our test, the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 37 bowled along at around 5.8 knots in 12-14 true and a flat sea.
She felt pleasantly slippery, accelerating to slight increases in breeze but without ever feeling like she was about to misbehave.
Her wheel was large enough to provide good visibility forward and her gear ratio felt spot on. giving good feel through the helm.
Where l believe she could be improved is in the ability to change gear as the breeze comes up.
An adjustable back stay tensioner and a set of genoa car pullers are just two extras l’d want fitted to give me a bit more flexibility as the breeze fluctuates. It may sound too racy for cruising, but who actually likes putting reefs in? Changing gear with just these two controls is often enough.
First published in the June 2000 issue of Yachting World.
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