'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
of build.

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
keel box.

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.

John Filer
Portishead Cruising Club