Sun Odyssey 37 "Akizuki II"
We just took delivery on a new SO 37 in August 2001. Have been cruising on the Chesapeake Bay since 1980, the past 14 years on a Pearson 31 with my wife and two sons.
We extensively evaluated boats in this size (up to 40' including the SO 40) and price range and believe the SO37 to be an exceptional value. We seriously evaluated Beneteau, Bavaria and looked at Tartan, Sabre, Pacific Seacraft, and Island Packet. We assessed Hunter and Catalina (which frankly aren't in the same league). We also took the opportunity while on travel last Spring to Europe to visit the factory in Les Herbiers, France, and came away very impressed by the quality of design, construction and, particularly, Jeanneau's quality management system.
We were not disappointed on delivery of our boat this summer. Except for a minor flaw in the gelcoat beneath the dealer-installed cockpit speaker (which could have been caused by the dealer) and some initial transmission adjustment problems on the Yanmar 27HP diesel, both of which were sorted out by the dealer, we have found absolutely no problems attributable to design or construction, none. Granted, we haven't had much time on the boat, but we are very pleased.
All the systems--water, electric, engine/trans, etc.--are very well designed and installed for easy access. And finish, even in hidden areas behind cushions, under lockers, etc. is superb. Full length integral solid wood
stringers, glassed to the hull and fully tabbed/glassed bulkheads make for an exceptionally rigid and very quiet boat. I doubt you'll find this type and quality of construction in any but the most serious blue-water cruising boats. Certainly, not in any boat in this price range.
The quality of factory standard gear and rigging is superb. Jeanneau seems to have made wise choices amongst the US, European and Japanese vendors of sails, rigging, hardware, power and electronics. The Goiot steering system and Gebo ports and hatches (and mosquito screens) are better, in my view, than typical US systems like Edson and Bowmar for example with which I have had experience. Winches are all Harken self-tailers; excellent and well placed for ease of operation. Main traveler if typically placed on the cabin top, but well rigged for easier trimming than my P31, even though loads are much higher.
I installed a three-blade Autoprop which improves performance under sail and power and a Harken adjustable genoa lead car system. I am happy with both. But, I sailed the boat prior to their installation with standard factory gear and did not find it wanting.
Before I leave the exterior, would just like to say the boat sails great (after all that's what we buy a sailboat for). Technique Voile sails are typical cruising sails, but well built (although no UV sheild on the roller furling genoa). It is not a racing boat, but as cruisers go will perform as well as any, better than most in a wide range of wind conditions. Really loves to sail in 12 to 20 knots, just locks in goes. Tacks thru 80 to 85 degrees (rig not optimized yet) and flies on close to broad reach. Flat undersections carried well aft and fine entry create a bit of a bang to weather, but the boat doesn't mind at all and the reefing system when the wind pipes up is very easy to operate.
What really sold me on the boat was the cockpit. To say it is spacious is a major understatement (one could construct a small suburb in there and still have room for a major sports complex--well, not quite, but you get the idea). Incredible amounts of stowage in three cockpit lockers. Access from the helm to primaries and control lines on the cabin top is excellent. And, there are a number of comfortable helm positions to windward, leeward (which I prefer) and directly behind the helm. Visibility for the "vertically challenged" helmsperson, of which I am one, is tough with the dodger up. But, the boat is pretty dry so one can sail with dodger down (an easy operation) in all but the wettest conditions. The boat tracks so well, that leaving the helm to trim sails and adjust control lines is no problem while singlehandling.
Our two cabin interior, while a pretty standard layout, has some really great features and a couple of minor annoyances. The quality of the CNC cut woodwork is excellent, joints great, varnish finish great, no flaws. The head/shower are almost as big as the cockpit (not quite), but much larger than typical on this size boat. Nav station is well conceived and comfortable. On the down side, while the galley is adequate, there is
limited storage for gear and foodstuffs in the immediate vicinity. We use the otherwise ample storage under the nav station seat and in the locker in the aft berth.
Plenty of space in both the forward V-berth and expansive quarter berth. An optional conversion kit for the double in the salon is worth considering. The bilge is shallow fore to aft and side to side, but has a deep sump for the pump so the boat is very dry.
We are just getting acquainted with our new boat, but so far so good. Hope the relationship continues in a positive vain. We plan to use her for continued Chesapeake Bay sailing in the near term and eventually coastal
cruising--following the weather up and down the East Coast. Believe she is well suited to this mission.