I first laid eyes on the Jeanneau 54 last June while in Croatia attending the annual Jeanneau dealer meeting. I was standing on the deck of our hotel looking out at the Adriatic Sea when along came the Jeanneau 54 charging up the coast in a brisk 15 -20 knot breeze. I was enamored with the boat right from the start. Brilliant white hull, distinctive Jeanneau lines, big windows and what looked like great sailing performance were just a few of the features that I noticed right off the bat.
The next day, I got the chance to sail the boat with a group of my fellow dealers. I have always been impressed with the way Jeanneaus sail and the 54 proved to be no exception. Twin wheels, Harken electric rewind winches, great visibility and a HUGE cockpit with built-in lounge areas made my initial sail aboard the 54 truly exceptional.
I was equally impressed with the interior of the 54. This was a true live-aboard cruiser. And, because of the use of the optional light oak, the interior was bright and completely bathed in natural light. I knew this was a perfect boat for where I sailed in the Pacific Northwest so I made the decision right there and then to order a boat for stock. Normally I wouldn’t stock such a big boat like a 54 but I figured that if I loved it as much as I did, someone else would too and we would sell it shortly after it arrived in Seattle.
Fast forward to last weekend. I had our stock Jeanneau 54 out sailing in Anacortes with 2 separate very interested customers, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. Both groups were absolutely amazed at how fast and smooth the 54 was, not to mention how maneuverable. We had her sailing 9.5 knots to weather in a 15 knot westerly wind funneling down Guemes Channel. The boat was “truckin” as I told one client as his wife and kids snuggled in the foward cockpit loungers and he and I smiled as the knot meter climbed. She is a ton of fun to sail and tacks and handles as easy as the Jeanneau 409 does!
When I brought her back into Cap Sante Marina, the slip we had left from was full so I nosed forward to see if the slip near the head of the marina was open. My client asked me if I was going into that tight slip stern-to and I said of course. And, without the use of the thruster to boot! I proceeded to turn the boat 180 degrees in her own length in the fairway by backing and filling and then backed down, glided, and led the boat with her rudder to a clean landing – no thruster. A bunch of people who were at Anthony’s Restaurant came down and said they had never seen anything like that before on such a large boat. The client’s wife was amazed and it gave her confidence that she and her husband could easily make the move from their Passport 40 to the new Jeanneau 54; tight maneuvering was her biggest concern she said.
As I left the boat that day, I couldn’t help but smile. I felt the same way I had when I left the boat after sailing it for the first time in Croatia. The 54 is an incredible, amazing machine!
Dan is a principal at Marine Servicenter with offices in both Seattle and Anacortes, WA. He has been involved with Jeanneau for more than 15 years. He is an avid sailor, racer, cruiser and all-around good guy!