By Capt. Steve
The mission of the NC9 is to create an innovative boat targeting a broad-based customer segment who understands boats and are more interested in function, utility and price. For that reason cosmetic details that push up the cost of boat building but do not add to the function, livability or performance have been scaled back, or have been re-cast in a more practical way.
Roomy aft deck.
The NC9 features a spacious cockpit deck, that is easily expandable with a sliding cockpit bench seat that gains cockpit room fore-and-aft by taking it away from the swim platform. •
Expandable swim platform.
Likewise, the swim platform can be made larger, fore-and-aft, for watersports activities by moving the bench seat forward and taking space away from the cockpit.•
Triple sliding glass door.
This unusual door offers three positions to present the interior to the outside cockpit. This gives you more ways to bring the outside in. Slide the doors to port, to starboard, or place them in the middle with openings on both sides.•
This is unique feature and one that did not take any time to get used to.•
Helm sliding door.
A sliding door right next to the helm allows access to the wide portside deck, and a midship cleat allows the NC9 to be easily tied up single-handed.•
Innovative salon seats.
The salon seats are all reversible, and can go from dining at the movable table to facing aft and enjoying the company in the cockpit, to facing forward and joining the Capt. from an elevated double wide bench seat.•
Hidden galley up.
The salon galley is concealed in a portside credenza that remains centrally located when cooking, and elegantly concealed when cruising.•
Private guest cabin.
Most express boats this size have a guest cabin that is under the bridge with crawl-in head room and a curtain for privacy. The NC9 has a wood door and stand-up head room at the head of the bed.•
Single diesel engine.
Most boats this size have twin gas engines. For fuel economy diesel, of course, is the way to go, and a single diesel is most economical of all.
With a single 260-hp Volvo Penta D4 diesel driving through a DPH sterndrive lower unit our NC9 reached a top speed at 3500 rpm of 29.6 mph. At that speed I measured the fuel burn to be 14 gph which gave us a range of 150 statute miles. Thanks to the efficiency of the D4, best cruise was slightly slower, at 3250 rpm, and 28.4 mph. At that speed fuel burn was measured to be 11.9 gph for range of 169 statute miles. We reached planing speed in 6.2 seconds, and accelerated to 30 mph and 13.8 seconds.The NC9 is a joy to operate. Upon acceleration there's a 16-degree bow rise which produces no loss of visibility to the horizon. In a hard-over turn she has a maximum bank angle of 15-degrees which I found comfortable. She does tend to dig her shoulders in during a hard turn which causes her to bleed off a lot of speed, but that reduction in speed will make the passengers happy. Once she's straightened out, thanks to her quick time to plane, she picks up speed again very rapidly. She also has good wave penetration and thanks to her hard chine the spray is kept down low producing a dry ride. When launching off waves she remains fairly level, and exhibits a gentle reentry.
Her low-speed handling capabilities are also outstanding. She responds quickly to the helm at low-speed and steers surprisingly well in reverse. This, in conjunction with the standard bow thruster, makes her extremely maneuverable in tight conditions as exhibited by our med-moor approach tucked in between two larger models. I was able to slide the NC9 into position with near surgical precision.
Two Concepts in One Boat
First there was the Jeanneau NC11, the 35' "New Concept" launched by Jeanneau that introduced a new approach to mid-sized express cruisers. She won accolades from the European boating press because she was a versatile vessel that could do most anything from distance coastal cruising for one or two couples to being a watersports platform for day boating with the family and a gang of kids. She can be sort of a floating summer cottage, which are by definition, informal.Now, comes the 30' NC9 which added a new wrinkle to an already innovative approach -- at 30' (9.11 m) the boat is not only a versatile marvel like her predecessor, but at about $200,000, she is affordable to a large segment of boaters all over the world.
Who is the NC9 For?
The NC9 has everything four people need to go cruising, and it is all done with the élan and the joie de vie that comes so naturally to a French builder. For that reason alone, she could be an able boat for nearly anyone. But to be more specific, as Jeanneau says, she is designed for a "new" audience, and among them are the millions of owners of sportboats, pontoon boats, skiboats, and even aging PWC dudes who are getting too old for cranking and banking. People who have been nursing old cruisers along for years and who would like the dependability, low-maintenance, and pride of ownership of a new boat are also candidates for the NC9. There are people trading down from big boats who want a practical, low maintenance boat for running around close to home. Many boaters who only use a boat for a couple of weeks in the summer who could afford a much more expensive boat might find the NC9 a more sensible solution. And finally, there are the newcomers to the sport who have the desire to do more than just sport-boating. For them, the NC9 is probably an ideal first cruising boat.
Small But Seaworthy
Jeanneau's NC9 has been designed to be a coastal cruiser and she is currently undergoing the qualifications necessary to be rated as a CE Category B vessel in Europe for 8 people. She is not a blown up sportboat, but rather the other way around, the NC9 is a down-sized version of the revolutionary 35' NC11. Jeanneau has used all of the same innovative devices that made the NC11 so popular and has incorporated them in the NC9.
Single Diesel Engine
Conceptually, perhaps the biggest difference between the NC11 and the NC9 is that the NC9 is powered by a single diesel engine rather than the twin diesels or twin gas engines offered in the NC11. Standard power is the Volvo Penta 260-hp D4, with an optional upgrade to the 300-hp D4 version. Both engines drive through a Volvo Penta sterndrive Duoprop lower unit. It is the combination of the high torque of the diesel engine, the relatively light weight of the boat at 7,992 lbs. (3,625 kgs.), and the Duoprop sterndrive that make this vessel an able performer, in our opinion. She is not a rocketship, but that is not this boat's mission. Rather, she has a WOT of over 25-knots and cruises comfortably in the low 20-knot range, where she gets good fuel economy.
Boaters venturing far from home who are used to twin-engine installations might miss the redundancy of a second engine. Often the boaters concerned about engine reliability are ones that have had problems with gas engines in the past. Our experience is that these people will get over that concern quickly after hearing a throaty diesel roar to life. As long as diesels get clean fuel, there is very little that can stop them. In fact, many long range cruisers going transatlantic and transpacific have only a single engine (to say nothing of most commercial vessels on the high seas).
The Marvel of the NC Series
Like her bigger sister, the NC9 incorporates a number of design advancements that make a 30' (9.11 m) boat practical for cruising for up to six people. We would think the boat should be comfortable for two couples or a family with as many as four kids.
Below, the NC9 has a guest cabin with a double bed that is about 46" (1.16 m) wide and 72" (1.82 m) long. As you can see in the drawing on this page the berth is the "crawl-in" type, but because the helm and galley console are located on the port side, and because the port side deck is raised, the overhead is higher than on most any 30-footer mid cabin we have seen.
In fact, many 30' express cruisers do not even have a second cabin, and in the ones that do have a mid-cabin, it is little more than a crawl-in space with a low, claustrophobic overhead. Further, the NC9 is the only boat we can think of in this size range with a bulkhead and door for the guest cabin, and standing head room inside.
The master cabin is pretty standard. The queen berth measures about 60" (1.52 m) wide and is 6'6" (1.98 m) long. There are large portlights on both sides of the bow which bring lots of light into this cabin.
The Main Cabin
The pilothouse contains the helm, galley and booth-type dinette much like on the NC11.
The forward dinette seat can be converted into a companion or navigator seat facing forward when the boat is under way. Likewise, the aft seat of the dinette can be flipped over to face aft when the slider doors are open, thereby creating two large facing bench seats in the cockpit. In a pinch, the table can be dropped down and the booth can be converted into a double bed.
The galley is below an enclosed cabinet and has a stove top, oven, sink and refrigerator. The stove and oven are gas unless an optional generator is added. There is a hatch in the cabin sole to access a large storage area for dry goods and equipment. The NC9 also has a flat screen TV mounted in the galley console as standard equipment.
Jeanneau has placed the helm on the port side which is a bit unusual, but this works out fine in my opinion, just as it did in the NC11. There is a sliding door by the helm which makes single-handed tie-ups a simple affair.
Cockpit and Swim Platform
There are three sliding glass panels across the back of the cabin that open up onto the cockpit. Both the cabin and the aft deck are on the same level, which is a feature that distinguishes this boat from many other express boats this size. The cockpit itself is about 4'4" (1.32 m) fore-and-aft and about 8' (2.43 m) wide. This is big for a 30-footer. The bench seat slides aft to maximize the size of the cockpit, or it can be moved forward to make the swim platform larger. Taken together, this feature, plus the single level from the cabin to the stern -- and the teak deck -- make this a terrific venue for all sorts of watersports.
I think people looking at an affordable coastal cruiser or a versatile day boat with hardtop should definitely put this boat on their short list. Her utility, handling and price make her a very attractive proposition in my mind. As I mentioned, there is a summer cottage feel about this boat. There is an informality about her, so if you are looking for something that is more yachty inside, this may not be the boat for you. But having grown up spending summers in Cape Cod I like the idea of a boat without bright work to worry about.Some boaters might be concerned about the fact the NC9 is propelled by a single engine. To them we would say, spring for the optional bow thruster. And remember that this is a sterndrive, not an inboard, so the lower unit can be maneuvered. Some people might want to go faster than her WOT of 25.7 knots and to them we suggest taking a look at the twin-engine NC11. My experience is that when coastal cruising in an express, I rarely go faster than 27 knots, so this is not far from that mark. And most of the time I like travelling at 20 knots because it is comfortable and keeps the navigation simple. Clearly Jeanneau and Volvo Penta have dialed in 3250 rpm to be the sweet spot for fuel economy at 24.7 knots, getting 2.07 nmpg with the 260-hp D4 diesels. I normally don't run that fast when cruising, but with the NC9 I would just get used to going a little faster.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Jeanneau NC9 (2014-) is 29.6 mph (47.6 kph), burning 14.00 gallons per hour (gph) or 52.99 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Jeanneau NC9 (2014-) is 28.4 mph (45.7 kph), and the boat gets 2.38 miles per gallon (mpg) or 1.01 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 169 miles (271.98 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x 260-hp Volvo Penta D4.
Standard and Optional Features
|Washdown: Fresh Water||Optional|
Boats More Than 30 Feet
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