BOAT REVIEW Jeanneau Merry Fisher 795 Marlin

January 2021 Trailer Boat Reviews
Words by Norman Holtzhausen, Photography and video by Roger Mills.
Build Quality
MODEL Jeanneau Merry Fisher 795 Marlin
BUILDER Jeanneau
LOA 7.17M
LENGTH (Waterline) 6.98M
ENGINE Yamaha F200 200hp four-cylinder four-stroke
  • Well engineered spaces
  • Clever hinged flap over outboard well creates extra works space
  • SeaDek underfoot feels really good
  • Impressive use of space on a 7.95m vessel

Clark Gayford, host of the Fish of the Day TV programme, has pretty exacting requirements. The pressures of producing the show, along with the fishing, means that when he gets on the water everything’s got to work perfectly.

While his previous ride – the Jeanneau Merry Fisher 795 – was great, it wasn’t quite what he wanted.
That model is configured more as ‘family cruiser’ than ‘serious fishing boat’, and it lacks easy access to the bow area. And though the enclosed cabin area with four berths is perfect for extended family overnight trips, it reduced the available fishing space.
When the 795’s new ‘Marlin’ model (same hull) was released with a walk-around cabin, it looked much more ‘fit-for-purpose’. We recently got the opportunity to check her out and chat with Gayford about her new features.
The most obvious of these is the wide, flared bow with the upright, workboat-style cabin. This creates considerably more usable forward deck space than most boats of a similar length, without impinging on the hull’s entry angle. With the Marlin configuration, this area translates into a very generous walk-around area that enables safe fishing while standing forward of the cabin.


This bow space is combined with a split rail and a squared-off step over the bowsprit – this makes her one of the few boats you can board from the bow. Whether at the dock, or nosing around some rocks or even the beach, it means the engine remains safely in deeper water while occupants embark/disembark. With a draft of only 50cm (excluding engine), it also means this boat can venture into very shallow places.
The full-height cabin has another feature not usually seen on boats of this size – side doors, enabling the skipper to step directly from the cabin onto the walk-around. This accessibility simplifies solo handling – the skipper can easily reach out and grab a dock line, or walk to the bow to sort out an anchor issue.
In fact, this boat has about as much all-around access as a centre console layout, while still retaining the benefit of a weatherproof cabin that also contains two berths, a small galley, movable dining table and a toilet. All those doors also allow the best of both worlds: quiet, warm and snug when everything’s closed up, but plenty of airflow to keep things cool when they’re open.
As a production model from a high-volume boatbuilder like Jeanneau, it means that every aspect of the Marlin has been well thought out and carefully crafted. Says Gayford: “You have to give credit to the French. They do these details really well, and they are beautifully engineered.”

This walk-around model also has wide bench seats that drop down from recessed pockets on three sides of the cockpit. When deployed they provide comfortable seating for up to six people, with an optional table in the middle. Folded away they provide a comfortable flat panel to lean against, high enough to provide thigh support and the toe-gap allows you to stand square-on to the gunwales while fishing.
This theme continues right around the boat, with the wide walk-around and high gunwales allowing fishermen to safely fight a fish from any corner of the boat. There is little chance of being pulled overboard, especially in the front half where a stainless guard rail adds an additional safety.
Gayford says his fishing has evolved – it’s now more lure-based, casting rather than simply dropping a bait over the side. “Having a boat where you can use the bow, approaching schools of fish and casting off the front at them, is such an advantage. For this style of fishing, being able to get all around the boat is great.”

One criticism some have of open-front vessels is the danger of a rogue wave dumping over the bow. Apart from the height of the bow making this unlikely, the 795 has a self-draining deck. An unimpeded flow around the deck ensures that the large cockpit drains will rapidly deal with any wayward water.
She’s powered by a Yamaha F200 four-stroke outboard. Gayford says the performance from this relatively modest powerplant is, for his purposes, more than adequate. Jeanneau’s production methods minimise the weight of the fibreglass, and with the hull’s 1,750kg dry weight those 200 horses still get her up and going well.

Gayford’s trips usually have three or four people on board, sometimes with heavy dive or camera gear as well. The boat cruises comfortably in the mid-20 knot range, with maximum speed close to 30 knots.
One of the challenges all outboard-powered vessels face is the space required to allow the engine to tilt. This usually requires a large cutaway section in the transom – it becomes mostly unusable space.
Jeanneau has overcome this by placing a hinged flap over the gap, with a replaceable baitboard set into it. Of course, someone is sure to forget to lift this before tilting the engine, which is why there is an automatic roller system that allows the engine cowling to gently lift the flap during tilting.

The 280-litre fuel tank provides a workable range of over 200 nautical miles. There is also a 100-litre freshwater tank. Under the cockpit deck is a very large wet locker, which Gayford says easily swallows two dives bags and a couple of scuba tanks. Narrower wet lockers either side hold the catch or other gear and could easily accommodate an extra-large kingfish. All are easily hosed clean afterwards.
Although this boat’s not intended for extended trips, it’s certainly set up as an overnighter. There are two full-length berths, a fridge and fresh-water sink. There is no fitted cooker but there is space for a small portable burner. For Gayford, “one of the key things that helps me take a family on the boat is having a toilet in its own enclosed space. And again, the French are really good at getting this into a really compact space.”
On the dash, touch-screen MFDs provide navigation, fish-finding and engine monitoring services, and Yamaha’s fly-by-wire controls make driving a breeze. Steering is hydraulic and light to the touch, with Lenco tabs sorting out trim issues.

Gayford’s particularly enthusiastic about the boat’s stability at rest. He’s been trolling for marlin, jigging for kingfish, and soft-bait fishing, all of which require a really stable platform. He has taken the two Merry Fisher 795s pretty much all around the country, from The Mokohinaus up north, through Tairua, the Aldermans, White Island, Gisborne, and all the way down to Milford Sound and back. Her 2.8m beam meets New Zealand towing regulations, and the all-up towing weight is under 2.5 tonnes – no problem for most tow vehicles.

Drive time
With the wind blowing over 15 knots and the America’s Cup foilers screaming around the harbour, we headed out at a comfortable 20 knots. Happy to see the glass surfaces remained free of spray. In fact, despite the high-speed driving for the cameraman, she stayed dry and comfortable throughout.
The acceleration is certainly adequate for a boat of this size. At 22 knots the Yamaha was ticking along smoothly at 4,200rpm, using about 1.3 litres of petrol per nautical mile. This was well below the maximum for this engine – there was still plenty of get-up-and-go if needed.
By the time the pictures were done we headed home into a snarling 20-knot wind and nearly a metre of chop. Yes, we finally managed to get a small amount of spray over the bow, but the wipers (with freshwater rinse), easily took care of it.

So is the Marlin Gayford’s ultimate fishing boat? She might just be. He describes her thus: “The SUV of the ocean, ready to be thrown at adventure.” And certainly, this 795 is well suited to every type of fishing, from traditional bottom-bouncing with bait, through lure and jig fishing, right up there to hardcore game fishing.
All in a package that’s smart and comfortable enough for a corporate or family trip, while remaining small enough to be a reasonable towing proposition.



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