Jeanneau Prestige 42S

The life of the party.

The French-built Jeanneau Prestige 42S offers everything you've come to expect from a midsized express cruiser-and much more. It boasts a coupe top for climate-controlled cruising. Powered by Volvo Penta's IPS tractor drives, it offers quiet, efficient, high-performance joystick docking and increased accommodation space. Its lines are low slung and edgy. But hold onto your seats! There's even a transom garage, a feature not available on other boats in this class.

The garage opens hydraulically, lifting the aft cockpit with it. Inside is room for a small inflatable boat. The space is low, so you won't stow the dink with its outboard mounted. But the low ceiling makes room for seating above the garage instead of the more typical sunpad. Here, Jeanneau provides semi-circular seating around a teak table. What's lost? Because the engine room hatch is in the floor of the garage, performing a quick check will be time-consuming, especially if the garage is crammed with gear. The engine hatch is proper, with deep gutters and hefty latches that dog it down tightly enough to get good compression on the thick gasket.

In the forward cockpit, under the hardtop, is another teak table, serving the companion lounge. Dockside privacy is assured because the glass enclosure is mirrored on the exterior. The helm is a tall console, even for my 6' frame, with the adjustable wheel rising 4'7" above the sole at its lowest position. Combined with the steep rake of the windshield, visibility from the helm is adequate but not great. The sunroof runs the full width of the hardtop. Hit the switch. In an instant, you're transported from airconditioned silence to the world of whoosh and salt tang.

Belowdecks, the Prestige 42S sports a two-head, twostateroom layout. It's bright, thanks to large hullside deadlights and stainless-steel portholes. But the best sources for all this light come from the clear panel in the cabin top and the translucent companionway hatch. These turn the salon into an atrium, allowing enough light for potted plants to survive.

Of course, you might want to glue the pots in place. Twin 352-bhp Volvo Penta IPS 500 tractor drives hurryupped my tester onto plane, delivering a sporty 35.9-mph top end. Designed by Michael Peters, the Prestige 42S paved smooth the choppy Long Island Sound three-to-fours I ran it in.

Contact: 410-280-9400, www.jeanneau.com