Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45.2
Elegant and spacious cruiser
I confess. While I prefer sailing aft-cockpit boats, it is difficult not to favor the spacious and private interior arrangements of most center-cockpit cruisers. The new Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45.2 proves that an aft-cockpit, performance-oriented cruising hull can, if designed correctly, deliver interior accommodations equal to that of a more commodious center-cockpit design. From the elegant owner's stateroom forward, to the in-line galley, to the functional navigation station tucked away to starboard, the 45.2 features a stylish, roomy and innovative layout.
Jeanneau freely admits that top development priorities were given to creating a comfortable, well-appointed living space. Fortunately, that's just part of the equation. On deck, the 45.2 combines Jeanneau's trademark clean, modern lines with an easy-to-handle, all-furling sailplan controlled from the huge aft cockpit.
Judging from its lineup of boats at last year's boat shows, Jeanneau's timely marriage with Beneteau has worked out well. Jeanneau has maintained its identity, and the overall quality of its boats appears better than ever. The 45.2 is sandwiched between two new center-cockpit models: the 42.2 and the 47. Walking by the three boats at last year's Annapolis show, I was struck by the fact that the 45.2 appears sleeker than its midcockpit sister even though it has proportionally more beam. A few days later, I had the chance to take the helm, skidding over a gentle Chesapeake Bay for a SAILING Magazine boat test.
Although the lines drawings show a slight sheer and a healthy amount of freeboard, when viewed from the water the thin cove stripe arcing through the in-hull portlights handsomely accentuates the subtle lift in both ends. It is a good sign when a boat looks better floating than on paper. Below the water, the 45.2 has a bulbed fin keel with a standard draft of 6 feet, 7 inches and a deep, balanced rudder. The shoal-draft version, which may prove more popular in many sailing areas in the United States, is 5 feet, 3 inches. The bow has some rake and the stern is reversed. The LWL is 38 feet, 5 inches. Photographer Mike Wootton and I tracked down the 45.2 in the inner harbor and I hopped aboard, joining David Farrington, Jeanneau's head man for North American operations.
Easy access transom
I noticed the twin wheels first. On a cruising boat, this demands some attention. Farrington said one of the prime motivations behind the cockpit design was to keep an unencumbered central walkway to the transom and swim step. The split backstay also makes stern access easy. In Europe, boats are almost always Med-moored stern-to and an opening transom is essential. In warmer United States and tropical waters, the stern step and deep ladder make swimming from the boat more enjoyable. The stern step is a good landing and loading point for the dinghy.
When you consider that the 45.2 holds its beam well aft into cockpit area, another practical aspect of twin wheels becomes apparent. A single wheel would need to be huge for effective steering and would probably require a scoop or wheel well. This would eliminate headroom from the twin aft cabins below, and that is a trade-off few cruisers would want to make. A valuable addition to the twin-wheel design would be independent quadrants, thereby offering a built-in emergency steering system.
Once I took the wheel I quite liked the feel of steering from either side without having to stretch back to a centerline wheel. The visibility was excellent, although we did not have a spray dodger to see around.
The primary winches are mounted at the aft end of the coachroof with the other sail controls, out of reach of the helmsman. The Jeanneau design team had wanted to keep the cockpit coamings completely uncluttered. The cockpit table is huge with a built-in ice chest. There are port and starboard cockpit lockers. The teak-covered cockpit seats are comfortably angled for sitting even when heeled, and are long enough for sleeping under the stars. I must admit, reaching the stern step through two swinging doors is a nifty trick. The swim ladder stows cleverly in its own locker.
Jeanneaus have excellent fiberglass work, particularly on deck, and the intricately molded nonskid on the 45.2 provides sure footing. Despite having 12 opening hatches, the deck appears uncluttered and is free of any hard spots or sharp angles. It is a friendly deck to move about. There is a double anchor roller forward, and a step in the pulpit that also serves as a nice place to sit in settled weather. The headsail furling drum is below deck in the anchor locker. An extremely useful watertight deck locker/sail bin is located just aft of the chain locker, and there are two stout midships cleats for springs and breast lines.
All sail controls are led aft through deck organizers. On the standard boat, there isn't a winch on the mast. The 45.2 comes standard with a furling mast and rigid vang. The mainsheet traveler is forward of the companionway and the sheeting is midboom. Our test boat had optional adjustable genoa leads by Harken instead of the standard single-point lead. It's an option well worth getting.
The interior of the 45.2 is impressive, both from a design and a quality standpoint, and the appointments are tasteful. Teak joinery is blended nicely with white fabric liners to create a bright feeling below. There are two different layouts: an owner's version, with a single cabin forward and two double cabins aft; and a charter edition, with two double cabins forward. Unless you need four cabins, the three-cabin layout is more sensible. Our test boat featured another variation with a customized owner's cabin forward. From the centerline queen berth, to the mirrored vanity and light teak cabinetry, to the extraordinary head with a curved door enclosing a separate shower, elegant is the only way to describe the forward section of the interior.
Only the French would design the saloon around the galley. A wrap-around settee to starboard and a free-standing seat on the centerline enclose a large, handsome teak table that can seat 10, according to the brochure. I think dinner would be more enjoyable with no more than six. There are lockers behind the settees for storage or, as seems to be the case these days, space for a television and VCR. A wet bar is conveniently located in the centerline seat.
The galley is opposite and stretches along the port side of the saloon. From forward to aft, the long counter space incorporates double sinks, a four-burner stove and oven, and good-sized fridge and freezer compartments. There is storage above, with cutouts for plates and cups, and below, with an ingenious sliding food locker. I don't think it would be easy to cook in any kind of a seaway. In fact, the saloon is completely lacking handholds. But once the anchor is down and the stern secured to the quay, this galley is fit for a chef.
Farther aft and to starboard is the nav station, which is oriented 30 degrees off center and tucked under the side deck. The desktop is large and there is room for electronics and repeaters. Besides being located out of the main traffic flow, there is a nice sense of privacy, making this space ideal for an onboard office. The aft head is located opposite. Like the forward head, it is completely molded in fiberglass, which makes splashing water around less troublesome. Two double cabins are squeezed astern. There is a surprising amount of useful storage space in each cabin, including hanging lockers, shelves and lockers.
There is excellent ventilation throughout the boat, with many opening hatches and opening portlights in every cabin. Little touches that the French do so well, from roll-out shades for each hatch to well-placed mirrors that enhance a feeling of spaciousness, are everywhere.
Access to the 62-horsepower Yanmar diesel is good via the companionway steps and from hatches in each aft cabin. The stuffing box is the dripless, maintenance-free variety. Although more manufacturers are taking this route, I still prefer the reliable Stone Age technology of a conventional box. Fuel capacity is 54 gallons and there are two stainless water tanks for a capacity of 158 gallons.
The wind was just strong enough to put the 45.2 through her paces. We rolled out the 130-percent genoa and then unveiled the main. While there is undoubtedly a performance trade-off with a furling main, I have come to appreciate them. In many cruising applications, carrying the right amount of sail is more productive than worrying about the overall sail shape. This is especially true when the winds are squally. With full-batten, slab-reefing mains, you usually just leave the reef in even after the squall passes because you know another one will happen along soon enough. With a furling main you don't hesitate to roll out more sail.
Not surprisingly, the 45.2 footed along happily, about 50 degrees off the wind, touching 6 knots in 19 knots of apparent wind. Steering from the low side but sitting directly behind the wheel, I didn't have to duck very low to check the trim of the genoa. The adjustable Harken sheet leads should be standard on every boat. Falling off onto a close reach, we picked up a little speed. The helm was light and well-balanced. Letting go of the wheel, the boat tracked better than I expected. Reaching in the light conditions produced a predictable loss of speed and we didn't have a downwind sail aboard to test. We jibed over and brought the boat back on the wind, then quietly beat into Back Creek as the fickle Chesapeake wind did its usual disappearing act. The single pod chainplates are set well inboard and we were able to strap the genny in tight and lay the mark on one tack, sailing very close to the wind.
The Jeanneau 45.2 is an attractive package for a cruising boat. Designed for ease of handling, the sloop rig delivers good performance, and the innovative, well-appointed interior makes living aboard for long periods an alluring option.