Hardtop runabouts were always the choice of owners who went boating in areas where the water was continuously cold, the fog was thick every so often, and the fishing was always worthwhile. In recent years, builders have added more amenities, creating a whole new supply of entry-level, trailerable family cruisers that can entertain and overnight as well as they fish.
I had a chance to test a great example, Jeanneau’s Merry Fisher 695 (22 feet 8 inches length overall), in the waters off Cannes, France. Working with the Italian firm Centkowski & Denert Design, Jeanneau packed a lot of great features into this newest Merry Fisher.
Our test power was a 150 hp Yamaha F150 — 25 hp under the maximum power rating for this vessel. It produced 37.7 mph at wide-open throttle in moderate conditions — a thrilling ride without feeling like it was unmanageable — and it cruised efficiently at 22.8 mph, burning 6.9 gph for a predicted range of over 300 miles. Handling was confident, as it should be with hydraulic-assisted steering.
The 695 was equipped with Jeanneau’s Premiere level of trim, which included a slew of optional items (cockpit cushions and table, conversion for the dinette, enclosed head compartment and more) required to let the owners fully enjoy the dual role of this design. I recommend this package for a number of good reasons, if only for the portside windshield wiper and the freshwater window rinse, which ought to be a standard part of the package to begin with. There is nothing more disconcerting for the crew than being unable to see the water ahead when the spray is heavy or the rain is torrential, because there is only one windshield wiper.
Also included are an extra sliding window to port and an overhead sliding sunroof for improved natural light and ventilation, which combined with the sliding door aft gave the 695 exceptional sightlines in every direction.
Two notable cockpit features include an aft bench seat that slides forward, making room for the outboard powerhead when the lower unit is raised clear of the water, and a removable L-shaped seating and storage unit that makes more space for fish fighting. In the cabin, the dinette converts to a double berth and also has a movable seat back to create a forward-facing seat.
Whether you want to begin your season earlier or end it later, or get into cruising and fishing in an affordable way, the Jeanneau 695 has a lot to offer.
Comparable Model: Eastern Boats’ 248 Islander