Is it a cruiser or a sportboat? Yes.
I’m standing at the wheel as we cruise down the South River toward Chesapeake Bay, with 600 total Yamaha horses on the transom, props spinning at 4500 rpm and the GPS showing a speed of just over 32 mph. That’s a pretty energetic cruising speed, especially for a cruiser. But I just can’t resist pushing the Jeanneau NC 1095’s limits — this is, after all, a boat test — so I slap the throttles forward and inch up the trim until the twin F300s are turning at WOT, 6000 rpm. The boat leaps forward, blows right past 40 mph and tops out at 44.
We have the windows down, the huge overhead sunroof pulled back and the triple-pane aft bulkhead sliding-glass door wide open, and the breeze feels great. But for some reason, the guy from Jeanneau wants to close up the entire cabin while we blast across the water’s surface. As the final window clicks shut, I understand why. With the elements sealed out, it’s nearly silent inside the salon, despite all the rapid-fire internal combustion going on at the transom. We can talk at normal levels while the boat runs at full tilt, and when I ease back to 4500 rpm again — fuel burn at cruise is 31.5 gph, netting a hair more than 1 mpg — sound levels at the helm are negligible. Sweet.
Cranking the wheel hard over at cruise proved that the deep-V hull has a firm grip. And while running parallel to boat wakes and at rest in the trough, the boat showed excellent stability. Surprisingly excellent, no doubt one of the benefits of the 1095’s relatively low profile and correspondingly low center of gravity. Add to that the boat’s relatively beamy disposition, and rocking and rolling are greatly reduced.
What about dockside handling? The close-together outboards won’t spin the boat like a ballerina when opposed, which is why our test boat had an optional bow thruster installed. Fortunately, shifting the engines and prodding the joystick makes it a piece of cake to maneuver the boat. I highly recommend the bow thruster to anyone purchasing the NC 1095. It will make life a lot easier at the end of the day when it’s time to shoehorn into a tight slip or fight a breeze to slide up next to the fuel dock.
The sporty performance in a cruiser may at first seem to be the character trait that sets the NC 1095 apart from much of its competition, and it certainly does rate one’s attention. The even bigger surprise, however, comes in the cabin. Because despite having just more than 34 feet of LOA, this boat actually has three private staterooms.
OK, it’s a stretch to call the port- and starboard-side mid-cabin berths “staterooms.” But uncomplicated and compact as they may be, they are both completely private. They have a door at the entry, enough headroom at the entrance to step in and close the door, and a double berth big enough for a couple. The portside version also has enough space for a single seat and a compact hanging locker. The starboard side is a bit tighter and integrates a hanging locker that can contain a refrigerator, forward of the bunk. The idea here is that the room can serve double duty as a pantry and be used for bulk stowage during longer cruises and when not in use as a stateroom.
The forward stateroom is similarly simple: a pedestal berth with a small hanging locker and stowage compartments around the perimeter. Jeanneau could have made it larger but instead wisely dedicated a lot of the available space to the enclosed head compartment, giving it the room needed to include a separate stall shower instead of making it a wet head. Nifty perk: The swing-down seat in the shower allows occupants to chillax as they rinse off after a day on the bay. The salon has a fairly traditional cruiser arrangement, with the helm on starboard, a galley behind it and a dinette to port. The galley has a two-burner cooktop, a sink, a 21-gallon refrigerator and stowage compartments. Two interesting notes about the salon. One, the forward dinette seat has a swing-back backrest that also shifts the seat base, so it converts into a forward-facing companion seat. The entire affair can also be converted into a berth, giving the boat sleeping accommodations for a grand total of eight people. Two, there’s a side door at the helm that makes it easy to move from the wheel to the bow or stern for line-handling duties. I love the door but wish the catch, and the one on the aft sliding door, was recessed. It sticks out a hair and caught my shirt a couple of times when I wasn’t paying attention.
The other place I see a bit of room for improvement in the cabin is with the dinette table’s swing-up support arm. It does the job, but if anyone folds the side of the table up and then leans on the edge, it bends a bit. Beefing up the support would be a good move.
Like many cruisers of this size, the Jeanneau NC 1095 has an L-shaped settee in the cockpit, and a table. Where it differs from other cruisers is the aft part of the “L” is mounted on sliding tracks. Pull a couple of pins and it slides all the way back, enlarging the cockpit when the boat is running; slide it forward again at the end of the day to make room to tilt the outboards up. Just remember not to tilt the engines up without first moving the seating unit forward.
Added bonus: Jeanneau puts a swingaway section in the port side of the seatback, so passengers can board the boat from the port side, if need be, when the boat is docked. The starboard side has a swing-in gunwale door — divers can make good use of it too — that is the intended point of entry and egress, but having the ability to get on and off the boat from both sides can come in quite handy in new ports where one can’t always choose the ideal mooring arrangements.
Similarly asymmetrical in nature, the starboard recessed sidedeck is wider than the one to port. That means it’s particularly easy to navigate and most people will walk forward on that side, but to port there’s also a usable just-in-case sidedeck.
Another cool way Jeanneau expands exterior space is by putting a pair of lounges on the bow, to either side of the cabin’s overhead hatch, each with a flip-up seatback. This sort of arrangement has become fairly common on modern cruisers, and it’s an excellent use of space. Where Jeanneau takes it up a notch is in the front of the cabin-top, where a dedicated stowage compartment is molded in. Flip the hatch open to discover filler cushions for the section between the two lounges. They can become one huge sunpad.
As outboards get more and more powerful, outboard cruisers can grow bigger. And the Jeanneau NC 1095 is an excellent example of how utilizing outboards instead of inboards can allow for more flexibility in design, along with vastly improved performance.