French builder Jeanneau introduced this New Concept range in 2010 in response to market demand for an all-round motorboat that would have wide appeal — a sort of everyman of the sports cruiser world.
It has obviously worked because the range has grown to include half a dozen models during the decade and the 2019 NC37 impressed me strongly when I spent an afternoon blasting along the French Riviera aboard it. The appeal? Well, what it may lack in character, it makes up for in usability, which includes a manageable 37-foot hull that families won’t find daunting to handle, yet can have three cabins plus a saloon berth.
Families will also like the single-level main deck that, while hardly unique in this competitive market sector, combines with other NC37 features such as the handy saloon side-door and hull doors, to make a versatile coastal cruiser. In terms of aesthetics, American design house Michael Peters has used curved lines and elliptical windows to soften the upright profile, while underneath a deadrise of 17 degrees and longitudinal rails grip the water. Inside, Italian experts Garroni have packed it with clever features.
The Australian climate ensures we spend much of our time on deck, so we like spacious cockpits, swim platforms and shade. The NC37 scores high in all these areas. Our review boat, hull number two, included the wide teak swim platform which allows easy access to the cockpit via the transom door and is also perch for the rubber ducky. European regulations require a life raft space to be fitted here, inside a locker.
There’s also seamless access to the saloon via a large portside folding door arrangement. The cockpit is protected by the fibreglass roof with extended bimini available, while beneath is moveable furniture — cleverly, the transom bench transforms into a two metre sunpad when the folding table is removed. A small wet bar finishes this area off.
Decks are also well thought out, and the starboard one is widest, allowing the crew to easily move forward. Tall handrails make the journey easy and upon arrival you can slouch down on the twin sunpads, plus another can be added that covers the hatches of the owner's cabin. Elevated head rests and cup holders all go to make this a restful perch at anchor. The rode is conventionally laid out from a vertical windlass and small bow roller. Cleating is also adequate, including midship ones on the moulded toe rails.
The saloon’s vertical bulkheads and swept back windows forward create a light-filled yet shaded interior, again ideal for Australia. The optional sunroof fitted to our review boat added to this ambience.
The entire portside is one long bench with table, but a moveable section at the front allows two people to sit alongside the steerer. The seating also transforms into a bed when the folding dinette table is lowered — again, great versatility.
On the starboard side, the longitudinal galley has all the necessities for the weekend escape or longer thanks to twin burner Eno stove-oven and stainless sink. An 80L fridge plus a smaller second one is another welcome feature. The joinery is factory standard CNC machined Walnut laminates, which may lack character but are precise. However, sharp edges and corners could bruise you at sea. Upholstery was cream-coloured linen, comfortable but perhaps not ideal for messy families.
Underfoot is the biggest surprise — a large lazarette with space for heavy items or a rather claustrophobic third cabin. With no shafts, the Volvo stern drive engines are far back so free up space for the lazarette, which is also accessed from down below where the two main double cabins are. There's also good access in this lazarette to the main electrics, hot water system and refrigeration components.
Stepping up to the steering console gives you commanding views forward through the curved single-piece, toughened glass front window — in fact there are clear views all around, including to the aft. Combined with the optional joystick to control the Volvo sterndrives, it means the NC37 is not a daunting boat to command, even on your own, as I found when berthing it in the busy port of Cannes.
Also handy for solo sailors is the starboard side door at the console, allowing you to dart out to secure a wrap on the midships cleats, while there's also an opening window portside as well.
The console is a busy spot with digital controls and analogue engine dials dominated by a Raymarine Axiom 12-inch plotter, nicely angled to allow the sitting or standing steerer to read it even with the sunroof open. The starboard end of the console houses the electronic throttles beside the optional joystick and bow thruster, which is near the door so you can operate it from outside.
One ergonomic feature that could be better is the Lenco trim tabs on the opposite side of the console to the throttles. Generally, though, everything is well planned and finished throughout with the leather-clad wheel plus similar handrails enhancing this stylish Garroni-designed interior.
Boasting up to eight beds when the saloon couch and lazarette are included, the NC37 is a compelling proposition for those larger groups. Liveability is further enhanced by having a separate toilet and shower rooms on port/starboard respectively.
The layout has the owner’s double in the bow and the second guest double midships. The owner’s cabin benefits from the upright topsides to maximise space and there’s plenty of headroom around the foot of the queen sized island bed, that can also be extended to well over 2m. Storage is good, in overhead and side lockers, while under-bed space is shared with the bow thruster. Two sizable hanging lockers gives plenty of additional storage. Generous natural light comes from elliptical hull windows and twin opening top hatches.
Guest cabin space is limited by the saloon bulkhead so queasy sailors should choose the outboard bunk with sea views rather the more claustrophobic inside berth. But you should be able to sit up to read in bed — with LED spotlights — and there’s a large wardrobe. The cabin can also transform into singles. Next door is the lazarette that can be also be a sleeping space with the optional mattress installed or a kid’s cubby.
WEIGH YOUR HULL
Jeanneau benefits from the economies-of-scale that being part of the Beneteau Group affords, so pricing is sharp, but as an independent company it pioneered its own processes such as injection moulding, which it uses in the foam cored hulls of the NC range. Injection moulding reduces harmful gas emissions which helps both workers and the planet, while keeping the weight down.
The design uses foam core above the waterline, with (sensibly) solid glass below. Weight-wise, the company is developing a useful online tool called an Option Weight Calculator to allow clients to see the implications of adding items like generators, dinghies and so on.
Elsewhere on the NC37, engine room access is via a large hatch on the teak-clad aft cockpit where the twin Volvo D3-220hp sterndrives are mounted. Bilge space is also sufficiently high to cope with some water incursion. There’s also sufficient space around these five cylinder turbocharged engines for an optional generator — to power a washer-dryer or air conditioner — and crawl space to service the access points, including the forward-located transmissions on the D3s. Fitting more conventional sterndrives over the popular IPS pod drives with their more manoeuvrable handling (and more vulnerable forward-facing propellers) is a wise choice for this family boat, and, as I found, slow handling was good when combined with the bow thruster.
CANNES SEA TRIAL
A docile looking NC37 lay along the dock in the old port of Cannes but when I cleared the seawall this impression abruptly changed as it leapt on the plane surprisingly quickly and flattened out nicely as my bow aimed at the Isle de Lerins, my favourite anchoring spot.
One of the busiest bays in the region, Cannes has everything from superyachts to tinnies to contend with so there’s always plenty to avoid but it only required a light touch on the wheel thanks to the electronic-hydraulic mechanism. Sat comfortably on the double helm seat, I felt confident because the hull trimmed itself (with only a little help from the Lenco tabs) as we sped across the small chop, the Raymarine showing nearly 20 knots for a fuel burn of 58 litres per hour, giving a reasonable range of 322 miles.
Predictable handling followed when I made the turn towards the islands, as the hull leaned over moderately then dug itself in, and handily I could also see through the open sunroof. Another pleasant surprise was a top speed above 30 knots, albeit just, proving that the NC37 is no slouch. Slow handling also proved good as, despite the afternoon sea breeze, I berthed it aft-to to finish an enjoyable outing on this accomplished NC37.
My conclusion: a well-mannered cruiser that has deservedly become a best seller for Jeanneau.
FACTS & FIGURES
Length overall 11.47m
Hull Beam 3.59m
Deadrise 17 degrees
Water 200 + 100L
Make/model Volvo 2 x D4-220 std (D4-260 option)
CE Category B-8/C-10
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