Best 40ft family flybridge boats on the market now

Best 40ft family flybridge boats on the market now

There’s more than enough room for finding the best family boats in the exciting 40ft flybridge sector.

The sleek Astonda39, floating in calm waters in front of a blue sky.
Astondoa 39. Date: 2004. Photo: Motor Boat & Yachting

Check out any UK marina and the sheer quantity of them is proof enough of that. But given how strong the big UK builders were in the 40ft flybridge sector for many years, it seems all the more peculiar that, for the most part, they appear to have focused their attentions elsewhere.

It makes sense then that this month’s offerings all come from abroad.

There’s great value from French builder, Jeanneau; there’s a stylish Italian offering in the form of the Sessa Fly 40; and there’s a pair of Spanish boats too – the rock-solid Rodman 41 and the cool looking Astondoa 39.

Ages, styles and prices might vary, but they all offer great family layouts, decent costs and a handy mix of seagoing ability and home-style comfort.

The Jeanneau Velasco 37 floating in a harbour, with a man standing on deck.

The Jeanneau Velasco 37. Photo: Motor Boat & Yachting

Jeanneau Velasco 37

First up on the list of the best family boats with a 40ft flybridge is the Velasco 37F, a perfect example of what Jeanneau does so well.

It’s not trying to be too luxurious and there’s no especially clever thinking. It’s simply a good, functional, practical family flybridge cruiser, and there’s nothing at all wrong with that.


The interior is a clear illustration of that user-friendly approach.

While putting the galley along the port side of the saloon might have threatened to eat into the sociable day spaces, there’s still a decent C-shaped settee to starboard with a drop-down table, for occasional use as an extra berth.

The horseshoe shaped sofa, with a table in the middle. There are windows around the dining area.

The convertible starboard dinette sits opposite a long port galley. Photo: Motor Boat & Yachting

That also pays dividends down below where Jeanneau has again kept things simple. There are just two cabins and a single heads but as a result, everything is a good size.

The heads has a separate shower and the forward cabin has a centreline double bed, which is not always a given on this size of boat.

There’s an extending section so you can choose a longer bed at the expense of some floor space. Cabin two also feels like a very well proportioned part of the boat.


Jeanneau has fitted a sliding side door next to the lower helm – very useful and rare on a sub 50ft flybridge, let alone a circa 40ft boat.

There are no stairs to the flybridge, just a traditional ladder, but that does create more space in the cockpit, not to mention a less obstructed view from the saloon.

The boat facing to the left, with a setting sun behind it. The sun shines on calm water.

Jeanneau Velasco 37’s exterior. Date: 2016. Photo: Motor Boat & Yachting

Up top, a moveable backrest at the front of the dinette gives the optionof forward-facing seating next to the helm, and a similar arrangement at the aft end increases sunbathing space.


Lift a hatch in the saloon floor to reveal a pair of Volvo Penta D4-300s hooked up to shaft drives – again, nice and simple. Top speed should be toward the high 20s, with a comfortable 20-knot cruise.


Jeanneau hulls are generally excellent, and shaft drive should give predictable handling. Bow and stern thrusters also allow you to ‘cheat’ when berthing and push either end sideways at will.

View of Astondoa 39's aft, including bathing deck.

Astondoa 39. Photo: Motor Boat & Yachting

Astondoa 39

We might not be that familiar with Astondoa in the UK but actually, this family-run Spanish shipyard has been building boats for more than 100 years.

As you might expect then, its range is extremely broad, spanning everything from a 37ft outboard-powered weekender to a 125ft superyacht.

View of the wheel. There is a bench facing it with pale upholstery.

With its Olesinski hull and twin 370hp shaft drives, it ought to be good for 30 knots. Photo: Motor Boat & Yachting

However, the company insists that its focus is on quality rather than quantity, with a high degree of customisation ensuring that no two yachts are ever precisely alike.


The high-gloss cherry cabinetry of this boat is very much of its time but the great thing is that it’s applied sparingly, broken up by pale linings, carpets and upholstery so it looks classy, rather than overwhelming.

A beige-cream sofa area with stripy cushions. In front, there is a cherry wood rectangular table.

High-gloss cherry wood is nicely broken up with pale fabrics and bulkhead linings. Photo: Motor Boat & Yachting

The galley-down layout is again typical of the era, meaning that there are two cabins on the lower deck – the owner’s cabin forward and a guest cabin to starboard.

And just one heads compartment rather than two (with easy en suite access from the owner’s cabin) means plenty of space to move.

On the sociable main deck, there are settees on either side that face each other across the central companionway – and the port settee also converts into an occasional extra double for cruising with friends.


A ladder takes you aloft to the flybridge, where you’ll find plenty more sociable seating as well as the upper helm position.

Side decks are a decent size and nicely bulwarked, and the bathing platform is huge!


A pair of Volvo Penta TAMD 63P diesels nestle beneath the saloon floor, sending 370hp apiece down shaft drives to four-bladed propellers for a top speed of around 30 knots.


According to Berthon, Bernard Olesinski, more famous for his Princess and Fairline hulls, was behind this one, so it should prove to have a good ride.

Interestingly, they say that it has an RCD Category A classification too, which is rare on this sort of boat.

Deeply tunnelled propellers reduce both draft and engine height, as well as aiding directional stability.

Article continues below…

Sessa Marine Fly 40

If anyone can add excitement to the functional 40ft flybridge market, it’s the Italian yard


View of the aft of Rodman 41, with a small bathing deck.

Rodman 41. Photo: Motor Boat & Yachting

Rodman 41

Spanish yard Rodman is a builder of serious commercial craft from patrol boats to large ferries, so it’s no surprise that its leisure boat-building arm creates some sturdy cruisers.

They might not represent the pinnacle of fashion but they’re always very solid and dependable. Therefore, they deserve a spot on the list of the best family boats with a 40-foot flybridge.


Launched in 2000, the 41 was Rodman’s first attempt at a proper motor cruiser and it came to the party with a completely blank sheet of paper.

Opting to raise the forward end of the main deck saloon area and place the galley there next to the helm was a neat touch, as it completely opened up not just the footprint of the lower deck, but also the headroom, which usually gets a little pinched as it slides beneath the main deck.

The result is a genuinely convincing three-cabin layout and that’s not something you tend to find at this size.

The dining area with an arched window behind it. There is a rectangulat table in the middle of the upholstered seating area.

Even without the saloon dinette, this is an authentic three-cabin cruiser. Photo: Motor Boat & Yachting

There are staggered bunk beds in the third cabin, reducing the slightly claustrophobic effect of the lower bunk.

Cabin two shares the day heads and is a proper twin-bedded affair. And the forward owner’s cabin comes with a central island double bed
and its own bathroom.


The Rodman 41 is a no-nonsense sort of design that ages well.

As a conventional flybridge, you get steps rather than a ladder to gain access to the upper deck from the aft cockpit. You also get wide, safe side decks and a very generous bathing platform.


This model was first developed for twin shaft drive installations.

The helm area has beige upholstery and has two long, thin windows around it.

A raised main deck helm and galley generates plenty of headroom down below. Photo: Motor Boat & Yachting

When Volvo Penta launched IPS in 2005, Rodman was one of the first to adopt this new technology but it didn’t simply fit pods into the existing hull.

Instead a new hull mould with aft sections was specifically optimised for IPS and twin IPS500s were used.


This boat is smooth and quiet, particularly on the flybridge where the engines are all but inaudible.

Despite being a solid 12 tonnes, acceleration is lively, cornering is enthusiastic and it’s pretty good in a chop too.

The Sessa Fly 40 in marina with a beige fitted covering over it.

Sessa Fly 40. Photo: Motor Boat & Yachting

Sessa Fly 40

Next on our list of best family boats is the Sessa Fly 40.

The 40ft flybridge sector was very firmly established by the time Italian builder Sessa brought out its first example. So in order to differentiate its new baby from the existing herd, it went big on Italian style.

Inside and out, this is a cool-looking vessel, and yet it’s been achieved without any loss of practicality or usefulness.


Considering that this boat is over a decade old, it’s incredible just how fresh and modern this interior is – a testimony to how far ahead the Italians were with interior finishes when this boat was built.

The interior has an L-shaped seating area, with a small, rectangular table.

A galley-down layout frees up plenty of main deck saloon space. Photo: Motor Boat & Yachting

With chenille upholstery, carpet inlaid into wooden flooring, pale hessian headlining and deep brown mouldings, it looks superb.

Despite its galley-down layout (with optional washing machine), Sessa has still included two cabins and two heads on the lower deck, as well as an enormous storage void under the saloon floor.


Style is equally sophisticated on the outside. In this case, we have a jet-black hull, though metallic silver grey was another attractive option.

We also have saloon windows that sweep dramatically down to deck level, as well as stainless steel fittings everywhere you look.

There are also some neat touches elsewhere, not least in the vinyl-upholstered underside of the flybridge overhang above the cockpit – a feature that we’re only recently starting to see from other brands.

Only the two-piece windscreen and the portholes (rather than hull windows) date it slightly.

The layout is pretty conventional flybridge fare but it works well. And there’s a huge bathing platform for tender retrieval and storage duties.


In an era when most builders were still using shaft drives, Sessa was quick to get on board with Volvo Penta IPS pod drives. On this boat, they’re hooked up to twin IPS400 engines based on the D4-300s.

The helm area has wooden features, with a few steps leading up to the driving seat.

Given that it’s over a decade old, it feels astonishingly fresh and modern. Photo: Motor Boat & Yachting

When we tested it new, that delivered a 28-knot top end and a 22-knot cruise.


The Sessa Fly 400 is remarkably quiet from the upper helm. Steering is electronic and finger-light, manoeuvring is joystick controlled and it feels solid at speed too.

This article Best 40ft family flybridge boats on the market now appeared first on Motor Boat & Yachting.


Boat Lyfe