Boat Review: Jeanneau 53

The second model in Jeanneau's new Yacht range to reach these shores--the 57 made its debut last fall--this 53-footer is a spacious, well-appointed cruiser. A choice of four interior layouts with up to five cabins should suit just about any sailing preference, and a large rig and easily-driven hull form promise good performance.
Author:
Updated:
Original:
Jen53-01

This lean, stylish-looking vessel is part of Jeanneau’s new “Yacht” line of larger cruisers and replaces the 54DS, which sold over 400 copies worldwide. Like the DS model, this new 53 features a blister-type coachroof, but with a much lower, sleeker profile. With its large rig, easily driven hull and spacious interior, it should appeal to many cruising sailors.

CONSTRUCTION

The hull is solid handlaid fiberglass set in polyester resin with an isophthalic gelcoat finish. A glass structural grid is glued and laminated in place, with aluminum subflooring in the area of the saloon. The injection-molded deck is cored with discontinuous balsa panels. The ballast keel is cast iron encapsulated in epoxy.

ON DECK

The cockpit is huge, with a spacious social area forward and a well-designed working area aft split between twin helm stations. The cockpit coamings are quite low, so the seating offers little back support, but otherwise the space feels both grand and comfortable.

Jen53

Working lines coming off the spars, including the mainsheet, are led to the coachroof, which seems very far from the wheels, and a well-designed line locker set into the cockpit sole helps keep the spaghetti sorted. The companionway hatch also slides conveniently into the sole and can be fixed at intermediate heights for security in strong weather.

During our double-handed test sail, I found the cockpit on the whole very easy to work in, with just one exception. The wide bimini over the mainsheet winch forward made trimming the sail an awful chore. Be sure to specify an overhead window here when ordering canvas.

Up forward I found a smallish anchor well that nonetheless was properly divided to accommodate two separate rodes. On our test boat there was also an enormous dedicated sail locker just abaft the anchor well that could happily swallow huge mounds of gear.

ACCOMMODATIONS

Jen53-09

The Jeanneau 53 has an amazingly versatile interior that can be configured four different ways with three to four heads and three to five sleeping compartments. A luxurious master stateroom can be situated forward or aft, or you can order the boat with a set of symmetrical twin double cabins at each end. A small crew cabin right forward in place of a dedicated sail locker can also be specified, as can a small starboard-side passage cabin with two single bunk berths.

Our test boat featured a full-width owner’s stateroom and en suite head aft, with twin double cabins forward separated by a removable centerline bulkhead. To me the aft stateroom seemed a little cramped for a boat this size, with just 2ft 7in vertical clearance over the island double berth and only crouching headroom in the center of the cabin just forward of the berth. Ventilation also seemed wanting, with just four small opening ports.

Jen53_2

The galley on our test boat boasted a range hood over the stove, plus a nifty dishwasher tucked right under the sinks. Locker space was limited due to the hood, but I did find some easily accessed storage bins under the cabin sole directly inboard of the galley. In the aft-stateroom layout there is also a bulkhead directly abaft the galley on which some useful shelves could be mounted.

The saloon, which is the same in all the layouts, is light and airy with full-length settees on both sides and a big dinette table with folding leaves to starboard. The settee to port can be quickly converted to split captain’s seats with a small table between them, and the nav station to starboard (not included in the layout with the passage cabin) has a good-sized desk, a dedicated seat, plus room to install ancillary electronics if desired. Behind the nav station on our boat there was also a huge locker with plumbing leads for a washer/drier.

UNDER SAIL

We sailed the 53 in open water off Miami Beach in 10-12 knots of wind. Our boat was equipped with an in-mast furling mainsail with no battens and a 125 percent genoa. Given the less-than-optimal main (in terms of performance) and the lack of proper downwind sails, I was pleasantly surprised by how well we did. We made our best speed to windward, about 6.5 knots, close-hauled at an apparent wind angle of about 40 degrees. Pinching a bit we could maintain 5.4 knots at an angle of 35 degrees. On a broad reach we hit 5.3 knots in spite of the reduced apparent wind.

The 53’s powerful hull shouldered its way easily through the moderate sea we encountered and also handled well in the steep powerboat wakes that occasionally assaulted us. Steering the boat is easy, as it settles quickly into a nice wide groove. During our sail, the helm was smooth and crisp, with excellent feel for the rudder.

UNDER POWER

Motoring into a mild current we ran flat out at 8.8 knots at 3,400 rpm. At a cruising rpm of 2,200 we made 7.4 knots. Spinning the boat around on its keel, I found it could turn 360 degrees within about 1-1/2 boatlengths. From full speed ahead it stopped dead in its tracks in full reverse in about two boatlengths. Moving in reverse the boat was a joy, easily holding a straight line and turning smoothly and predictably when asked to

CONCLUSION

This large, comfortable cruiser can be configured just about any way you like and is surprisingly affordable. The discrete modern styling will turn a few heads in harbor, and the long hull will turn miles easily out in open water. The spacious cockpit should work well both under sail and when entertaining.

SPECS:

LOA: 52ft 8in
LWL: 45ft 9in
BEAM: 15ft 7in
DISPLACEMENT: 32,926lb
FUEL/WATER (GAL): 63/251
ENGINE: 110hp Yanmar
SAIL AREA: 1,420 sq ft
DESIGNER: Philippe Briand Yacht Design
BUILDER: Jeanneau

Related

grenadapromo_0

A Grand Grenada Charter

I have often sailed in the swath of more accessible West Indian islands that lie between Antigua and Puerto Rico. But I had never before cruised around any of the islands south of Antigua, so I jumped at the chance last April to step aboard a Lagoon 380 catamaran from Horizon ...read more

SunFast-600x

Video tour: Jeanneau Sun Fast 3300

Jeanneau America's Mike Coe takes SAIL aboard the brand new Sun Fast 3300 for an exclusive tour. This mid-sized stripped-down racing boat has a perfect balance of amenities and weight-saving simplicity to make it a blast to sail. Though it boasts sleeping space for up to six, ...read more

furlex2

Know-how: Installing an Electric Furler

Push-Button Reefing Boats have never been easier to sail, and yet, designers and builders still strive for that extra iota or two of convenience. A case in point is the growing acceptance of powered headsail furlers. Roller-furling headsails are ubiquitous not only on cruising ...read more

New-Lead

Know-how: Modify a Blackwater System

My dissatisfaction with the head and holding tank plumbing arrangement on our 1987 Sabre 38 had grown as we cruised the boat away from the comforts of a marina for longer periods of time. When we are tied up at a marina, the use of regular bathrooms generally trumps the ...read more

01-LEAD-Suzuki-55f19d31e297c

Choosing the Right Outboard

Two of the most indispensable items on board a cruising yacht are a dinghy and an outboard motor. At anchor or on a buoy, of course, they are your only means of getting ashore. They also have a thousand other uses. For example, they can allow you to motor across to friends’ ...read more

2019-giftGuide

2019 Holiday Gift Guide

Sailing America Rizzoli International Publications has released this striking portrait of American sailing by nautical photography legend Onne van der Wal just in time for the holidays. Featuring 200 stunning photographs spanning the length and breadth of the sailing scene—from ...read more

01-Sailing-La-Vagabonde,-Outremer-48

Cruising: the Vagabonde Life

Once upon a time conquering your dream of sailing off into the sunset was enough, but these days it seems like you have to be popular on social media too. Balancing the stresses of sailing around the world while keeping a successful—not to mention financially lucrative—social ...read more

191114

Video: 11th Hour Racing Arrives in Brazil

Team 11th Hour Racing finished in fourth place this past week among the 29 IMOCA 60s competing in the 4,335-mile doublehanded Transat Jacques Vabre race from Le Havre, France, to Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. Aboard were American Charlie Enright and French sailor Pascal Bidégorry, ...read more