Boat Review: Ocean Yachts 73 SS

A super sportfisher if there ever was one.

Ocean Yachts 73 SS

Ocean Yachts 73 SS

Ocean Yachts 73 SS

Ocean Yachts 73 SS

Ocean Yachts 73 SS

Ocean Yachts 73 SS

Ocean Yachts 73 SS

Ocean Yachts 73 SS

Ocean Yachts 73 SS

Ocean Yachts 73 SS

Dick Weber and I stood on the balcony of a condo overlooking his South Jersey Marina sipping coffee. The morning sun still had some traveling to do before tinting the Cape May Coast Guard's white buildings that stood off to the east. Sleep hadn't come easily, as 130 big boats cranked up 260 heavy-iron diesels in preparation for another day of fishing in what has become one of offshore fishing's richest tournaments - the Mid-Atlantic $500,000.

"Mr. Weber," I said as I took in his mini maritime kingdom, "you have certainly come a very long way since your days as a charter captain."

"Those were good days," replied Weber. "And these are good days, too. It's all good - I am well and truly blessed."

That was some years ago, but Dick Weber still has plenty of blessings to count. For example, as one of Ocean Yachts' longest-standing dealers, Weber recently took ownership of the largest Ocean Yachts has ever built. And from the looks of the interior and the performance, it may also represent the company's finest offering to date. Weber plans to semiretire aboard the 73-footer, fishing the Bahamas and Caribbean for a while, then taking it on to Magdalena Bay on Mexico's Pacific Coast, eventually working his way back to New Jersey.

**Performance
** At a fairly high 12-knot trolling speed, the Ocean 73 Super Sport generates considerable surface foam but still trails two distinct trolling alleys for your lures. And with one engine in gear at 650 rpm with the trolling valve engaged, the 73 slow-trolls live baits at 2 knots with an absolutely clear wake.

A 2-foot sea outside Miami's Government Cut made for a good test of how the 73 would run on an average day of boating. Fully loaded with 2,200 gallons of fuel, another 330 gallons of water and provisions for three months of cruising in the Bahamas, the 73 still took only eight seconds to plane. I've run smaller boats with empty tanks that didn't get up and go like the Ocean 73 got up and went. On top of that, I have to say the steering is like butter - one finger controls any course change you may want.

LOA 72'6" BEAM 19'8" DRAFT 5'0" WEIGHT 129,223 pounds FUEL 1,800 gallons WATER 330 gallons MAX POWER T 1,675-hp Cat C-32 BASE PRICE On requestOcean Yachts Egg Harbor City, New Jersey 609-965-4616 www.oceanyachtsinc.com

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A 2-foot sea outside Miami's Government Cut made for a good test of how the 73 would run on an average day of boating. Fully loaded with 2,200 gallons of fuel, another 330 gallons of water and provisions for three months of cruising in the Bahamas, the 73 still took only eight seconds to plane. I've run smaller boats with empty tanks that didn't get up and go like the Ocean 73 got up and went. On top of that, I have to say the steering is like butter - one finger controls any course change you may want.

Somewhat to the chagrin of the factory staff aboard - they hadn't really put this boat through its paces yet - I backed down at 7.7 knots. A small amount of water came in around the tuna door, but not enough to wet the cockpit deck. With the wheel hard over, the 73 spins quite well. However, add a shot of bow thruster and the boat reacts like a 31-footer. In fact, overall I'd have to say that the Ocean 73 SS reflects the exact opposite of the hackneyed boating writers' comment about a small boat feeling like a much bigger one. The 73 is a big boat that performs like a much smaller one. About the only performance aspect that lets you know you're on a 73-footer is a hard-over turn at cruising speed. At 25 knots, the 73 scribed a 180-degree arc in five to six boat lengths.

Caterpillar suggests cruising at 80 percent of engine power output, which equates to 31.4 knots burning 142 gph total. And since this boat performs amazingly well in a head sea, you can readily cruise at that speed straight into 4-footers with nary a care.

Interior
Weber and his wife had a big hand in designing the interior of the 73 we tested. "We wanted it to look upscale and simple but fishy and boaty, too," says Weber. "That's the way our house is, and that's how we wanted the boat." I guess that would explain the lavender theme in the salon.

The galley on board the South Jersey Champion - the name Weber gives all his boats - features a large five-sided island that separates the galley from the salon but leaves the entire space with a much more open feeling. The Webers most often dine buffet style, making the island ideal. A dinette to starboard of the galley seats three or four adults in banquette fashion.

The salon has seating to port, with the wet bar and entertainment center to starboard. Stairs to belowdecks open up to reveal a pump room with a ton of pantry storage. However, I'd think that accessing the pantry from the galley would be more advantageous.

Below, the starboard cabin accommodates the crew in over/under berths. The fo'c's'le offers a large, oblique, double island berth and Ocean's signature head and shower in the prow. The other guest cabin provides twin berths.
Moving aft, you'll find the master stateroom beneath the galley amidships, and its full width makes this compartment seem palatial. In fact, the shower is bigger than the one in my home.

Though somewhat less flashy, thanks to the Webers' input, there's no mistaking that this interior belongs to an Ocean Yacht. If you're having a tough time selling your significant other on the idea of a boat, simply take her aboard an Ocean. Problem solved.

**Cockpit
** Another feature on this new Ocean that surprised me: I couldn't find any lockers under the gunwales. Ocean now builds storage for mops, brushes and gaff handles under the mezzanine seats. Those same seats also provide rod storage for the tackle you aren't keeping in the rocket launchers on the tower legs or the eight across the back of the flybridge.

Lift-out boxes in the aftermost deck hatches provide storage space for hoses, lines and bumpers. Simply lift the shallow boxes out for access to bilge, rudderposts, et al. In the transom itself, a livewell also doubles as a fish box. But you should put your larger fish in the in-deck fish boxes, one with optional Eskimo ice maker. I'd still love to see some tubes dedicated to storing gaffs and mops.

As you'd expect, the cockpit qualifies as nothing short of huge, with gunwales at midthigh and an offset chair allowing rod tips to reach the corners.

**Flybridge
** I found only one negative on the Ocean 73's flybridge, so let's get it out of the way right off the bat. On smaller models, the aft flybridge rail runs along the edge of the access hatch. This larger model's rail rests several feet farther aft, leaving the hatch as an open hole in the deck. I don't expect you'll ever see another 73 without a rail around the hatch for safety, as well as to assist your climb up from the cockpit. I'd personally insist on a rail closer to the hatch.

I found the rest of the flybridge both excellent and remarkable. The excellence stems from the copious storage space here, as well as the almost-360-degree seating arrangement forward of the helm console augmenting the straight settees to port and starboard. Each straight settee boasts a foldaway backrest for rear-facing seating comfort. One remarkable find: Even with no step at the helm, you can still see both bow and stern clearly from the wheel.

Weber recessed Miya Epoch electronic teaser reels into the overhead, though they drop down so as not to require running lines through the hardtop - an excellent innovation that will add life to the reels' levelwind mechanisms.
Future hulls will offer an enclosed bridge with a spiral staircase to the salon if you choose.

Engine Room
Ever since my trawler days, I've loved engine rooms with standing headroom. The Ocean 73 gives you that and more. You can honestly access everything in this compartment, both inboard and outboard of the engines. You'll find filters and pumps along the forward bulkhead and generators aft of the engines situated fore and aft rather than athwartships to free up space along the bulkhead.

Weber's captain opted for smaller-than-usual generators at 15 kW each to free up even more work space in the compartment. Even living aboard, he figures it will be rare that they'll ever need more than 30 kW of AC power at one time. The generators exhaust through the hull below the waterline for quiet operation.
Weber and his crew chose the 60-degree V of the Caterpillars over the 90-degree V of the Detroit 2000 series diesels in an effort to save even more space.
The new C32 Cat diesels put out 1,675 hp each. Come early summer, Cat expects its C32A series to debut at 1,800, which may buy you an extra knot or two at top end with no extra weight.

Design and Construction
Thankfully, Ocean applies nonskid to the entire foredeck, as well as the side walkways. Admittedly, many owners never venture to the foredeck and prefer a gloss finish because they find it more aesthetically pleasing. But for anyone who has to walk out regularly to anchor or handle dock lines, the nonskid couldn't be more appreciated. Once out on the foredeck, you'll notice an unusual stainless-steel plate on the bow. It's an innovative anchoring arrangement which includes a removable bow pulpit with integral roller that bolts to the bow in a matter of minutes. When not in use, it stows out of sight for a cleaner line to the bow. The huge anchor locker includes a freshwater washdown outlet and built-in hanger for a Danforth-style anchor.

Dave Martin designs all the Oceans, and I must congratulate him. I truly feel this 73 represents the best-running boat Ocean has made to date. It offers a smoother, drier ride, and it handles head seas like a knife through hot butter. If you're looking for a serious fishing machine with real live-aboard comforts, you'll do yourself a disservice if you don't visit your local Ocean dealer.