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I''ve heard more than once that Jenneau is a cut above the Beneteau. Even though owned by the same conglomerate they are independent. They are *way* above Hunters in quality, I would not put them in the same class.
Practical Sailor did a reveiw of the Jenneau Sun Odyssey 43 Nov. 1, 2001 and they were fairly impressed (you can a copy of it from them by contacting them at www.practical-sailor.com -- though its for the traditional 43 not the Deck Salon, but I assume the hull and many things are similar) It says they use things like kevlar in the hull and the bottom of the hull is 2 inches thick. There were quite a few comments on the build quality being pretty good and performance being pretty good also.
Yachting world May 2002 also did a reveiw on all the Jenneau 43''s, you can read it here http://www.jeanneauamerica.com/43s_ontest/43s_ontest_intro.htm . It sounded pretty good.
I got a chance to see the Jenneau 43 DS recently at a show and I was not intending to really like a Jenneau or a Deck Salon. But I came away fairly impressed. I really liked the boat and the way it was set up. All boats are a compromise, but for me I think I would really like owning this boat. From what I read the boat sails well and has a pretty good turn of speed. I also liked the deck Salon area, its set up nice and you have to love the full cabin in the rear. But the boat is not too high and have a lot of freeboard (well not as much as you''d expect) and looks pretty nice still.
The Island Packets are really solid well made boats, but I''m not sure I would want to own one for coastal cruising of any type (and that includes the Caribbean ) for all the reasons stated before. Maybe if I was sailing around the world in poorly charted waters then I would prefer an Island Packet or some other full keel boat. When you talk to some really long distance cruisers, one or two days extra sailing is not that big of a deal when compared to the security and comfort of a heavy full keel boat. And more importantly a well designed full keel (or at least modified full keel) gives an added benefit of being able to beach the boat at high tide and do underwater repairs when the tide goes out. Not to mention the added "toughness" of a full keel to run aground and survive with less damage or problems than a fin keel boat. Nigel Calder (Well known writer who writes Books on Cruising and Diesel Engines and Mechanical systems)