A joy ride on an amenity-rich 65-foot cruiser with the soul of a sea-stomping battlewagon.
There were four of us playing poker that night, sprawled around the dinette table of Ocean Yachts’ new four-stateroom three-head cruiser, the 65 Odyssey. In response to a question about making flight connections the following day, Ocean’s company captain Gene Hawn made a rather stunning pronouncement.
“She’ll do twenty-five knots goin’ back to Lauderdale in the mornin’,” he said, “Maybe twenty-six. Be a quick trip.”
I say “stunning” for two reasons. First, at that moment, the 65 was parked in a slip at Cat Cay Marina on Cat Cay, a little Bahamian island some 55 NM southeast of Ft. Lauderdale. And second, a big-bad norther had been howling for three solid days. The Gulf Stream, an often turbulent oceanic river separating the Bahamas from Florida, was sure to be rolling with monstrous sea conditions in the morning. Even if wind and waves were to abate as predicted, we’d still be confronting 16-foot swells at least, coming out of the northeast, an orientation that would put them squarely on our starboard beam.
Acknowledging Hawn’s claim with a poker-faced glance, Ocean Yachts’ sales and marketing VP Doug Finney studied his hand for a moment, then said to PMY publisher Dave Branch, who was dealing, “Gimme two cards, Dave.”
Branch obliged, then rejoined speculatively, “Should be quite a ride tomorrow.”
“Indeedy,” I noted, enjoying a sporty surge of excitement not wholly born of poker. “I’ll take a couple o’ cards myself, Dave…workin’ on a full-house over here.”
We all needed a little excitement at this point. We’d been stuck at Cat Cay for three days, waiting on the sunshine that is part and parcel of any well-photographed Bahamas cruising story. Only trouble was, the sunshine never showed up. Instead, the rain and 35-knot winds we’d experienced upon our arrival had continued with no letup. Now, with deadlines pressing and photo-friendly weather still days off, the consensus was to simply bag the trip and go home.
A gloomy business? Sure, but there was one redeeming aspect, at least from my point of view: With the 65 hunkered dockside for such an extended period, I’d had loads of time to not only examine but actually live aboard the boat, developing an appreciation for many of its virtues in the process.
Creature comfort topped the list. Having spent innumerable hours confined to the 65’s accommodation spaces, weathered-in by rain, wind, and frosty temperatures, with little to do but read, watch TV, listen to music, play cards, and shoot the breeze with three other wild-and-crazy guys, I can state unequivocally that this boat is one of the most hospitable, easy-going motoryachts I’ve ever tossed a sea bag aboard.
Admittedly, watching Cliffhanger four times on the Sony in the saloon was a little much, despite the thrills of a hi-def plasma screen and bass tones from the integrated Bose sound system gutsy enough to make your very lungs vibrate. But with the only other DVDs onboard being Barbara Streisand Live In Concert and A Decade of Song & Video by Celine Dion, was there a sensible alternative? And besides, all hands soon discovered how exquisitely easy it was to do a mid-movie doze-off thanks to the stretch-out expansiveness of the giant L-shape sofa, the plush comfort of the two matching designer chairs, and the soporific effects of the thick, surprisingly soft carpet.
Of course, the proximity of the U-shape galley added zest to the cinematic activities. Stowage for junk food was abundant, thankfully. Moreover, appurtenances and appliances, which all bore top-shelf brand-names were cunningly arranged, with a big Corian sink and lots of adjoining counter space below the side-window, a Gaggenau oven set beneath a three-burner Force 10 cooktop against the forward bulkhead, and a huge Whirlpool refrigerator-freezer installed along the aft bulkhead in such a way that at least one of our number could make secret raids with impunity, even during the day.
But what really put the frosting on the cake for me—or maybe it’s better to say “the glazing on the doughnut” given the staggering number of Krispy Kremes we devoured at Cat Cay—was the savvy use of Amtico vinyl flooring on the galley’s sole. A dead ringer for teak planking, the stuff’s far easier to clean and maintain. Mustard, pancake syrup, trampled Cheetos—you name it, we swiped up goofs and spills with little more than a damp sponge.
As to sleeping arrangements, there were three instead of four staterooms onboard our test boat because a laundry room with a home-sized washer and dryer had been substituted for the standard, starboard-side crew’s quarters. All were roomy and nicely outfitted: the forward VIP that I occupied, the portside, two-berth guest that Finney and Hawn claimed, and the amidships master where Branch ensconced himself. Although the en suite head in my VIP, immediately abaft the chain-locker bulkhead, was located in a rather unconventional spot, I soon discovered it was convienient and easy to use. I especially enjoyed the separate stall shower—with rain pounding down, I could crack the overhead hatch to let in just enough cold water to be delightful and let out just enough steam to nix condensate on mirrors. My only criticism stems from the challenge I encountered while trying to read in bed—low, overhanging cabinetry at the head of the berth made recumbent book-worming impossible, unless I stuffed the underlying gap with pillows and blankets.
Inconveniences, great and small, were absent from the engine room, however. Although the 65 is essentially a motoryacht, it obviously benefits from the same sea-savvy engineering methods Ocean has been employing on its canyon-runners for decades. The fuel tankage and transfer system, for example, is as logical as it is simple: Gravity-fed plumbing obviates reliance on electrics to pump and equalize fuel levels. Main engines are secured on foam-cored fiberglass stringers with long, encapsulated slabs of bar-stock steel inside, precisely drilled and tapped for isolation mounts. There was a bulkhead-installed Reverso oil-exchange system that facilitates oil changes and a couple of giant, thoroughly-illuminating A.C.-type fluorescent lights overhead with backup D.C. incandescents nearby.
But what of the seemingly extravagant assertions I began with? Was Hawn going to be right about our trip across the Gulf Stream in the morning? Would we do 25 knots? Or even 26?
At daybreak, with virtually flat sea conditions in Cat’s narrow lee, we sea-trialed the 65 from our climate-controlled, fully enclosed bridge. The ride was smooth and so were the turns, thanks in part to Hynautic hydraulic steering. Pompanette Prestige Series helm seats were comfortably adjustable and the Glenndinning electronic controls mannerly, with easy-to-feel detentes. Visibility was continuously excellent over the bow due to optimized running angles, and sightlines to port and starboard were also good. A fully-outfitted control station (with wheel, electronic engine control, and bow-thruster joystick) on the comfy little sundeck abaft the bridge enclosure proffered superb views of the transom for dockside maneuvering.
But the run across the stream? Thanks to a supremely balanced, distinctly un-motoryacht-like hull form with a 14-degree transom deadrise and sharp entry, the 65 rocketed back to Fort Lauderdale at about 26 knots, according to the Northstar 962 at the helm. She accomplished this feat in just under two hours, greyhounding swells that averaged 16 feet at least, guided almost exclusively by her Simrad Robertson AP22 autopilot.
Even more astonishing was the fact that the 65 did all this without seriously shaking anybody up, although an occasional plunge into an especially deep chasm would tend to heighten stress levels momentarily. Ultimately though, the ride began to feel so close to comfortable that Finney suggested another game of cards.
I’m still not sure if he was joking.
Base price: $1,570,000 with 2/900-hp DDC-MTU 8V-2000 diesel inboards
Optional power: 2/800-hp Caterpillar 3406E or 2/1,050-hp MAN D2848LE403 diesel outboards
Standard equipment: Nautica 10-foot RIB; Whirlpool refrigerator and trash compactor; Kenmore dishwasher; Gaggenau oven; Sharp Carousel microwave oven; 3-burner Force 10 cooktop; Sony TV on bridge; Sony flat-screen TV w/Bose 3-2-1- Surround Sound/DVD system in master; Sony 42" high-definition plasma-screen TV in saloon w/Bose Lifestyle stereo system w/DVD player; SSB ground screen; 2/15-kW Westerbeke gensets; 62,000-BTU Cruisair zoned A/C system
Weight: 85,000 lbs.
Fuel capacity: 1,100 gal.
Water capacity: 450 gal.
Test engines: 2/900-hp DDC-MTU 8V-2000 diesel inboards
Transmissions: Twin Disc 5114A
Props: 34 X 49 4-blade (light cup) Nibral
Steering: Hynautic hydraulic w/power assist
Controls: Twin Disc electonic
Optional equipment on test boat: engine-driven emergency bilge pump; 20-hp Vetus bowthruster; Jenn-Air grill w/cabinet locker and stowage for 8-man liferaft
This review/article originally appeared in Power & Motoryacht Magazine, May 2002 and is written by Captain Bill Pike. For more great powerboat reviews, visit their website and subscribe at: https://www.powerandmotoryacht.com/uncategorized/subscribe-power-motoryacht
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