'Fifth' is a 9.8Mtr Jeanneau Symphonie built in 1981.
Around the time that 'Fifth' was built the popular designs of boats were changing from the more traditional narrow beamed, heavy displacement boat to the faster, more modern, wide beamed, lighter displacement types. The Jeanneau Symphonie falls somewhere in the middle of these extremes. Its wide beam and moderate ballast ratio (50%) ensure the Symphonie stays
upright whilst carrying a large amount of sail on her taller than average mast. This set-up results in a surprising turn of speed when on a reach. The down side of the large sail area is that reefing needs to be done earlier than most yachts, however the helm remains light and responsive at all but the most extreme angles of heel.
The long bows and wide stern ensure that when beating to windward the Symphonie rises and falls with an easy motion.
The build quality is very good, using robust components. A lot of thought and experience has gone in to the layout both above and below decks. The finish down below is above average with plenty of woodwork and plenty of good ideas. The navigators seat is slatted and scooped so that you feel secure when the boat is well heeled on either tack. The heads is positioned fore and aft so that you don't feel as though you will be pitched forward at
any time. The saloon table is strongly constructed making a good brace position at sea. The table has two leaves on folds down to allow passage to the forecabin the other drops down to provide a double berth.
There are a total of eight berths on board, which were probably included to allow the Symphonie to be used as a charter boat. In reality it starts getting busy once five are living aboard. The large number of berths means that storage is primarily located under the berths, and although it can at times be difficult to access there is ample storage for short cruises. In fact the galley storage bears out the short cruise philosophy, with five people on board there is enough space to store about a weeks supply of
food. The galley is reasonably laid out except there is little dedicated work surface, and even that is difficult to reach when the cooker is in use, a cover over one of the sinks provides a much more accessible food preparation space. One nice touch in the galley is a long canvas hanging locker which will accommodate several baguettes, thus betraying the country
With its large main saloon the Symphonie is good in harbour, on wet days there is plenty of space and light to sit with your feet up and read, and up to 8 people can sit around the table for an evening meal.
The Yanmar 2GM20 diesel will push the boat up to 6.5 knots and uses about 2 litres an hour. The diesel tank holds around 45 litres giving a motoring range of about 150 nMiles, but this can be extended by carrying additional containers.
'Fifth' is the extendible keel version. A fixed keel with 1.5 metres draught incorporates most of the keel weight, a steel plate held within the fixed section can be lowered to increase the draught to 1.8 metres. The fixed section of the keel has a bulbous foot this gives a lower centre of gravity to the keel and also provides a stable base on which to sit the boat when leaning it against a wall.
The large spade rudder is the same draught as the fixed section of keel and so care is needed when taking the ground.
So far I have been very positive about the Symphonie, but with every rose you end up with a few thorns. I have found two problems with the Symphonie which should not be there, firstly the bilge is shallow but covers all of the space below the cabin sole. There are cross members which support the cabin sole and divide up the bilge. To allow water to pass between the
sections of the bilge there is a hole in each cross member on the starboard side. The bilge pump is located on the port side. So if you are heeling to starboard the bilge pump is out of the water and if you are heeling to port water cannot get between the sections of the bilge. If you are not heeling at all the bilge pump leaves about 1cm of water and with the large area of the bilge this can be a couple of gallons. Which then sploshes about when
underway. The second problem is with the keel box. The keel box holds the pulley system used to raise the lifting section of the keel. Our mooring is a drying mud mooring. When the boat goes down on its mooring the keel pushes into the mud, and the mud is squeezed up inside the keel box, water already in the box is pushed upwards and over the top of the box and into the bilges. I have put in an automatic bilge pump to remove this water from the
All in all my wife and I are more than pleased with the Symphonie, she races very well, she is more sea worthy than we are, she is sea kindly and she is very comfortable in port.
In a recent race in light conditions we were spinnakering on a reach, when we closed on the sailing secretary in his SJ36 and then carried on to take the lead. He commented afterwards that with our tall mast and vast spinnaker, as we passed him he suddenly was overwhelmed by a feeling of defeat. Somewhat like that of a small rodent caught out in the open when the shadow of a large owl slowly gathered over it, before that final inevitable
ultimate moment when all was lost.
Portishead Cruising Club