If you think Jeanneau only makes boats for the charter market, think again. The 41DS is aimed squarely at the average cruising couple, as Chris Beeson finds out
What’s she like to sail?
In one word, she’s comfortable. The helm positions are secure, nicely contained by the wheel forward, coamings outboard and the pushpit seating rail aft, which really benefits from the optional cockpit cushions. At the wheels, you have everything you need immediately to hand: mainsheet, jibsheet, backstay, instruments, plotter and engine controls. She is very easy to sail short-handed or even singlehanded. The feel at the wheel wasn’t sensational but that was due to the hydraulic autopilot ram, which is a very useful addition to a cruising yacht such as this, so it’s swings and roundabouts. Moving around in the cockpit, curved handholds forward of the wheel give you an option other than grabbing the wheel, and the moulded table with its grabrails on top give you complete security in a seaway. Down below there are fiddles and handrails a-plenty, though a J-shaped galley would offer more security upwind. Performance was very respectable above a beam reach, and below that she would benefit from a Code Zero or a cruising chute to boost her sail area and maintain passage speeds that will keep the engine off and the smiles on.
What’s she like in port and at anchor?
I’m a fan of the folding transom. It’s secure at sea but opens up the cockpit and produces a large bathing platform at anchor. For the big French builders, though, this concept is a slow-burn. The arrangement on the 41DS gives good access once you step over a lip and through the transom to the bathing platform, but it’s a small platform, even with the fold-out ladder. It’s perfectly serviceable but I still feel the folding transom is a better option. For sunnier climes, a framed bimini that zips onto the sprayhood, or runs over the boom down to the lifelines, would be a valuable addition.
A true deck saloon cruiser has her saloon at deck level, allowing you to see out while seated, which you can’t do on this boat. But leaving that terminological inexactitude aside, she offers a big, comfortable saloon, bathed with light from huge coachroof windows and a galley with plenty of stowage. As a two-plus-two, there’s lots of room to dine and relax before you retire to your two big en suite cabins with very decent stowage.
Would she suit you and your crew?
I imagine the 41DS going down very well with a couple of empty-nesters, whose children are working or studying away from home, allowing Mum and Dad to downsize their house, divert £220,000 of ‘rainy day’ money for a luxuriously appointed 41DS and make good on the promises they made themselves during the hard times. Park her in a marina over here or have her delivered to the Med. Other good prospects might be a successful young family new to cruising, or a sailing couple who want to invite freinds aboard for weekends without having to jeopardise their comfort or worry about safety.
She doesn’t have the gears to keep a tweaky sailor out of everyone’s hair, so racers and performance cruisers should look elsewhere. Likewise, if you’re planning on sailing in gale-torn high latitudes, or noodling around estuaries and creeks, there are better choices. However, if you’re a relaxed cruiser who is quite happy to set the sails, sit back and enjoy the ride, or a newcomer to sail cruising looking for a boat that’s easily tamed from the wheel, simple to handle and family-friendly on deck and down below, she’s a comfortable contender for your cash.