The season had just started in earnest in Palm Beach. Homeowners suddenly stored the summer shutters, gardeners freshened up all the landscaping, and the hustle and bustle of Worth Avenue’s shops decried declining stock prices. Most of the slips at the Sailfish Club were filled with gleaming hulls, and the first serious cold front hit town with brisk northeast winds guaranteed to start the denizens snapping in Sailfish Alley. We, too, hit the town to run Ocean’s newest 52-foot Super Sport, compliments of John Staluppi’s rapidly growing South Florida Yachts.
According to Ocean’s VP of sales, Doug Finney, the majority of the earliest Ocean 52 SS buyers have opted for the standard power package – CAT 3406E diesels of 800 horses each. And our fuel flow figures below reflect those engines. However, the boat we got to run offshore for the real test boasted twin 10-cylinder MAN diesels rated at 1,050 horses each.
With one engine in neutral at idle speed (the only way to produce an acceptable harbor wake), the boat moved along at 6 knots. Outside Lake Worth Inlet we ran at 25 knots dead into the 4-foot seas in perfect comfort, though there was some delay before the engines spooled up – 22 seconds to be exact. Turning off with the seas 10 degrees off the bow showed the 52 had no problem running at 29 knots while staying smooth and dry. Naval architect David Martin, who draws all of Ocean’s hulls, does some masterful blending of a fast running surface combined with exceptionally roomy interiors.
The Ocean 52 running down-sea gives the sensation of riding a fast horse. As you come up on the back of the next wave, there’s just the slightest hesitation, as when a horse is in full gallop and has all its hooves off the ground. Then a fraction after it hits the wave it accelerates, just as when a horse touches the ground again. It’s a subtle but exhilarating sensation. It banks gently into turns and scribes a fairly large arc at cruising speed. But don’t let this stately demeanor fool you. Hook up to a fish, and it can back and spin with the best of them.
Cruising with the MAN engines, I found comfort in running 1,700 rpm at 27 knots. Top speed was 38.8 knots at 2,335 rpm. See the accompanying fuel flow chart for speeds with the CATs.
Ocean provides most everything in the cockpit you’d expect. A deep freeze just to port of the engine hatch has a lift-out tray on top while just outboard of that is the sink and rigging station with tackle drawers beneath. Hidden in a cabinet to starboard is a set of cockpit controls.
Perhaps the only thing I’d change on this boat can be found in the under-gunwale storage compartments. There really aren’t any. When you open the hatch on each side, you find the fiberglass liner comes out to within an inch or so of the hatch, precluding storing anything other than wafer-thin mints inside. And those always fare better when kept in the bait freezer.
The starboard-side fish box boasted an optional cold plate to turn salt water into briny slush – the best possible way to care for fresh fish – and you’ll find a second optional, lift-out baitwell in the cockpit sole on centerline as well as another standard one in the transom.
The wide-open cockpit proved as easy to fish as any, with fish boxes, baitwells and rigging station logically placed. Of course, what every fishing captain does when he takes delivery of an Ocean is remove the life ring on the rail behind the bridge helm seat. It blocks what is otherwise an exceptionally good view of the cockpit, fighting chair and transom.
Ocean leaves toe space under the gunwale cabinetry so you can more easily keep your center of gravity inboard when gaffing or releasing fish. But I’d still like to see that cabinet space opened up for gaff and mop storage.
Ocean provides comfort commensurate with the best four-star hotels. For example, precious few production builders make optional air conditioning available on the flybridge. And whether at the dock or running to the fishing grounds, the flybridge has been designed for entertaining as well as navigating. A large, molded-in table on centerline along the forward brow breaks up the almost 360 degrees of seating in front of the helm console. Another straight settee along the portside ends with an optional built-in drink refrigerator on the aft end.
Ocean Yachts enjoys a reputation for consistently producing some of the best and most creative interiors of any production boat builder. All one need do to sell an Ocean Yacht is to take the family down below. Mission accomplished.
In the case of this 52 SS, the living quarters consist of four separate levels. Enter the salon on one level, where the bulk of the seating consists of an L-shaped settee portside. To starboard, a single swivel chair lets the captain hold court.
Step up to the galley with its beautiful teak joinerwork and satin-finished cabinets that give a warm, lustrous ambience. Waist-high, Corian-topped counters house cabinets and a refrigerator/freezer beneath. Opposite the galley is a dinette perfect for four super models or two people of my size.
Descend the stairs for’ard, and you’ll find an over/under double cabin to port with a head and shower opposite. The forward cabin consists of a full-width cabin with a queen-sized island berth and a private head with shower in the forepeak. But if you walked aft at the bottom of the s’airwell, you’d have taken several steps farther downward and entered the full-width master stateroom. This compartment features an athwartship queen berth and its own private head with shower. If you cruise with two’couples, you’ll appreciate the buffer zone between the two main staterooms.
**You won’t stand upright in this engine ro’m, and there’s no room outboard of the engines. But everything you need to access from valves to dipsticks all rest within easy reach of the centerline passageway. Ocean has placed a large, diamond-plate box at the forward end of the compartment in the center alley to house all batteries. Certainly this makes battery maintenance a dream, but it also limits access to the items on the forward bulkhead.
So if you have your heart set on a top-quality sport-fishing boat but are having trouble convincing your other half to go along, just take her aboard an Ocean 52. And bring a deposit check.