Do you remember your first car? Probably it wasn’t very big or luxurious, but small, simple and more or less safe. And most importantly, it wasn’t expensive. There are many motor boats on the market that can be the perfect first boat when you’re just starting out in water sports. Check the article New Small Boats Deliver Big Fun for more details.
Two of my favourite boats are the smallest Jeanneau Cap Camarat models presented at the start of the current season, the CC 5.5 and the CC 6.5, both bowriders with an open seat in the forebody.
Let’s have a look at the smaller of the two boats:
The Cap Camarat 5.5 BR reminds me of all the positive aspects of my first car: a Fiat 126 FSM, which was very popular in Poland at that time and was nicknamed “Maluch” (Smaller). Later I changed to an Opel Kadett D. It was still quite small, but already offered three doors and more speed, which is important for a young driver.
My “Maluch” was a very simple car, everything was controlled manually. There was no power steering and no electric windows. The engine was small and air-cooled, the engine power was 30 hp. But there was room for four people and I drove it at maximum speed, which was just over 110 kilometres per hour. It was the perfect car for beginners: in all weather conditions, when parking – and also to do the technical maintenance myself. The engine was mounted in the rear and we knew nothing about winter tyres. After a few snowfalls we were very experienced drift drivers.
The Cap Camarat 5.5 Bowrider is technically much more advanced than my first car, and yet it inspires a beginner similarly. The boat is very easy to operate and equipped with outboard engines up to 120 hp power quite powerful. The boat we tested is powered by a Yamaha F100. This is the lowest power available for this hull – and more than three times the maximum power of my first car.
100 hp at the stern allows this small boat a top speed of 34 knots at 5,400 rpm. I think that’s more than enough for real beginners. But this boat is not only built for the first beginner trips. After the pilot has gained his first experience on the water, it should be fun for everyone on board.
Small and dynamic
With small boats, access on board is easy: usually a jump over the handrail takes you directly to the seat cushions of the foredeck. This regularly leads to dirty cushions on wet feet or dusty shoes. Jeanneau has solved the problem well: “On the CC 5.5 there is a special step on the starboard side for the forward gear, all you have to do is lift a cushion. From the cockpit there is a sufficiently wide passage to the cockpit with a door that can be closed during the cruise.
The driver’s platform has two rotating single seats for pilot and front passenger, plus a two-seater sofa in the stern. Optional and highly recommended is the small foldable table, which can be mounted in the cockpit or in the foredeck. There is also enough space on board for two adults to lie in the sun. Two large sun loungers are quickly assembled, which is a real comfort considering the size of this boat. The stern sunbed is created by folding down the back of the stern sofa. A second sun lounger can be installed in the foredeck.
Comfortable for two to four
The smallest Cap Camarat is only a little more than five metres long and two metres wide. Therefore the space for extras is limited: There is no toilet and no pantry. There’s plenty of room for a table, extra cushions, fenders and large storage compartments under the seats in the foredeck and steering console. You don’t need much more for a day trip with friends. The Cap Camarat 5.5 BR is certified for six adults. There are correspondingly many seats on board. If you’re travelling with half a dozen people, you don’t have much freedom of movement. Optimal is the use with a maximum of four persons.
The helmstand on the starboard side is really comfortable to use. The windscreen offers good all-round visibility and wind protection, especially when you’re sitting down. The steering wheel and throttle are well positioned. In the standard version, the controls are classic mechanical without power steering, but are easy to maintain.
For this boat size, manoeuvring with the mechanical steering is safe and easy. Like most small boats, the Cap Camarat 5.5 cavitates in sharp turns at high speed. This effect is however smaller than with other boats I have driven. Apart from that, the boat is doing really well in the test.
The Cap Camarat 5.5 is small, dynamic and easy to drive. I felt safe on board at all times, even at top speed at sea. And also at low speed in port. Due to its compact dimensions, the boat is easy to moor on its own. From the bow to the stern you get with four to five steps, from starboard to port in two steps – maximum. This makes this boat easy to manoeuvre, even for inexperienced boaters, without risking expensive beginner’s mistakes.