I could see from my window seat on the final approach into Nice, France, that we were in for some fun on the water. It was a breezy morning on the Côte d’Azur, and Cap d’Antibes was rimmed in white, margarita-style breaking surf. Our ride of the day was the Jeanneau DB/43, an open hardtop yacht that the French builder designed as a premium cruiser.
And cruise, it can. Powered with a pair of 380 hp Volvo Penta D6 Duoprop sterndrives, the Jeanneau DB/43 I got aboard topped out at 32 to 33 knots at two-thirds load with 39 percent fuel, 100 percent water and seven people aboard. At a 25-knot cruise, the engines burned about 29 gph, which translates to a theoretical range of 170 nautical miles. At 8 knots, expect 340 nautical miles.
The yacht felt nimble at the wheel and turned tightly. The Michael Peters-penned hull form romped through the lively seas. Close-quarters maneuvering with the joystick was easy as well. These latest sterndrives and their electronic clutches are streets away from the old, clunky installations of the past. They slip in and out of gear smoothly.
For those wanting even more oomph, twin 440 hp diesels and sterndrives are available. They reportedly push the top-end nearer to 37 or 38 knots. With triple 350 hp Mercury Verado outboards or equivalent Yamahas, the builder promises a top speed near 40 knots.
The hull can certainly take it. The original design speed was 45 knots, and the yacht’s hull and stringer system are constructed via infused fiberglass. A Seakeeper gyrostabilizer is optional. (This DB/43 did not have one.)
Outwardly, this model sports a thoroughly modern profile. The stem is squared off , as is the relatively low transom. The freeboard is high, and there are two tiers of hullside windows: one set high and running from amidships virtually through to the bow, and one aft that’s low, near swim- platform height. In profile, the transom appears high and almost back-raked. Those hindquarters fold down to create an aft terrace. Within 20 seconds a side, the maximum beam dimension extends from 12 feet, 6 inches to around 18 feet, 6 inches, offering a true beach-club vibe.
With headroom varying from 6 feet, 5 inches to 6 feet, 7 inches, and with a 21-square-foot sunroof above it, the cockpit is a flexible entertaining space. There’s a sun pad aft with stowage underneath for a Seabob, life raft and fenders. Part of the sun pad doubles as a sofa bench at a double-leaf dining table that easily seats six to eight guests for alfresco meals. That bench and another one have stowage underneath and two-way backrests. The forward bench slides on tracks for whichever way guests want to face. A wet bar is amidships.
Inside, three helm seats are abaft the singlepiece raked windshield. All three seats have bolster cushions and armrests, and are adjustable back and forth. The helm console is to starboard. I’m a big fan of the short boarding gate adjacent to the helm, a feature that is especially great if you can find a dock with an appropriate height for stepping ashore.
Instead of walk-around decks, the DB/43 has a three-step ascent past the windshield to reach the foredeck, which is ringed by a guardrail. The extra space allows for a sun pad and sun loungers, with the potential for a small table as well as extra headroom in the master stateroom forward on the main deck.
Speaking of which, down below, the yacht sleeps as many as four or five people in two staterooms. At the foot of the companionway (in addition to the proper galley), there’s a sink, microwave and coffee machine; this area can also be configured as a second shower room.
The master stateroom has a 6.5-by-5.25-foot aft- facing berth and en suite access to the shower room, which has another door to the lower lobby, unless the second shower room has been specified. The second guest stateroom is amidships, tucked beneath the cockpit sole. It has a double berth to port, and a single berth to starboard that will probably spend most of its time as a low-slung sofa.
The Jeanneau DB/43 is equally well-suited for dayboating with friends and for weekend or longer voyages with the family. The main-deck layout keeps everyone within earshot and within well-defined social spaces. Add the yacht’s zip and seakindliness, and it’s fair to say Jeanneau has created a vessel with wide appeal.
The Jeanneau DB/43 running surface comes from Michael Peters’ prolific team, which has developed more than 500 designs in the past 40-plus years and seen around 40,000 of its creations launched. They include iconic models from Chris-Craft and Viking Yachts. The rest of the Jeanneau’s design credits belong to Genoa, Italy-based Camillo Garroni and his studio, which has developed a substantial Groupe Bénéteau portfolio that includes Prestige motoryachts.
The Beach Club
“Beach club” is an everyday phrase in modern yachting, but where did it start? Some say the Beach Club in Palm Beach, Florida, but the InterContinental Carlton in Cannes, France, seemed to be calling its private beach facilities “the beach club” first. Those facilities were referenced as such in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 To Catch a Thief with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly.
Where It All Started
Jeanneau is headquartered in Les Herbiers, France. Henri Jeanneau started building outboardpropelled wooden dinghies there in 1957 but quickly switched to fiberglass. The 16-foot Jeanneau Sea Bird was one of the company’s earliest motorcruisers. The first sailboats were added in 1963. In 1995, the business merged with its biggest competitor to create Groupe Bénéteau, which today ranks as the world’s largest builder of sailboats and second-largest pleasure-boat builder, behind Brunswick Corp.