I remember my first ride on an Ocean Yachts boat, in the early 1980s. A buddy had purchased a new 46-footer whose flag blue hull and sleek superstructure were the talk of the dock. Her interior was finished in teak and seemed to have more living space than possible for a boat of her size and type. A pair of 450 hp Detroit Diesel 6-71s seemed a modest choice of power, yet her 30-knot top speed left much of the fleet in her wake. Most amazing, Ocean Yachts delivered all this at a price substantially lower than that of the competition.
The new 52 Super Sport's smart design and performance are strong evidence the company hasn't lost the successful formula it created. Along the New Jersey shore, the Leek name has been associated with boatbuilding since the 1700s. Jack Leek launched Ocean Yachts in 1977 and called on the design talents of Dave Martin, who began his career in 1948 at age 18 at Egg Harbor and later worked at Pacemaker. Ocean Yachts is now in the hands of John E. Leek III.
The 52 SS is a perfect example of Martin's eye for proportion. Her hull is an adaptation of the 53-footer she replaces, and she nestles neatly in the company's line between its 48- and 56-footers.
In an age when hull designs have followed the whims of industrial designers and decorators, Martin has maintained a firm grip on Ocean Yachts' naval architecture. The tapered double chine on the 52 SS defines an easily driven planing surface that has a fine entry forward and shallow, slippery after sections. A slight keel aids in tracking, and deadrise at the transom is about 11 degrees. Slight rocker in her after sections results in a longitudinal running trim of about 5 degrees, which is ideal for running in following seas or inlets. While some designers prefer a shallower natural running angle, I like Martin's approach. It lets the skipper trim the boat to suit the conditions.
The hull and superstructure are built in female tooling with a combination of woven and stitched reinforcements. A network of fiberglass stringers and marine plywood bulkheads support the hull. Divinycell foam coring stiffens the topsides, superstructure and exterior decks.
While the mechanical and electrical systems on the 52 SS are assembled at Ocean Yachts' Weekstown, New Jersey, facility, her cabinetry is built in modules off-site. The modules are attached to the superstructure, which is lowered into and fastened to the hull.
The engineroom is accessible from the cockpit. Bilges are painted, and systems are reasonably tidy. Fuel is carried in aluminum centerline tanks fore and aft, and in aluminum wing tanks in the engineroom. I would prefer fiberglass tankage and a simpler approach, but tank placement was dictated by a focus on balancing the boat for performance. Access about the engineroom with the 800 hp Caterpillar 3406Es is generally good, although the generator and AC units, positioned abaft the engines, are a bit of a reach.
Exterior styling and layout are tuned to appeal to serious fishermen. Her flying bridge is arranged with a business-like control console, and there is a clear view of the transom from her helm and companion seating. There is plenty of space for electronics, including a molded-in radio box in the standard fiberglass hardtop. A three-side enclosure is included, and our test boat was fitted with a hatch above the helm seat. This will be a worthy accessory while dragging baits on hot summer days. A wraparound seating area forward of the helm has an integral table.
The cockpit has a molded-in console that includes cockpit controls and a bait prep center with a sink, tackle drawers and a freezer. A recirculating live well is molded into the transom. A transom door with a lift gate is standard, and teak covering boards are available. Our test boat was dressed out with Rupp Tournament outriggers and a refrigerated fishbox.
Martin is a master of squeezing the most out of available interior volume. Considering the 52 SS is not overly beamy, the usable space in her three-stateroom, three-head arrangement is impressive. Martin's trademark technique of stepping the saloon over the lower deck arrangement makes a full-beam master suite possible. There is a slight step up into the master head to accommodate the outboard stringer. A guest/crew stateroom has upper-and-lower berths and is served by a head across the passageway. This head also serves as a day head. Forward, a VIP stateroom with an athwartships island berth rivals the master in size and has a private head with shower.
The saloon has an L-shape sofa and a high-low table. A chair is next to the entertainment center, which is fitted with a 27-inch TV/VCR. A wet bar is fitted with an ice maker and an automatic liquor dispenser.
The open galley is two steps up and has a convection/microwave oven, a range, an ice maker and a refrigerator. An adjacent dinette area accommodates four or five. The satin-finished teak joinery is trimmed with high-gloss accents, and the work is well-executed. Ocean Yachts offers several standard décor packages, and maple joinery is available.
Martin's efficient hull form and Ocean Yachts' efficient production methods make this yacht a good value in today's market, at $914,200 with Caterpillar power and a substantial list of standard features.
The 52 SS also stands out as a more sensible offering than sportfishermen focused on high horsepower, high speed and high-end solutions. The fact is, 30 knots is fast, and few boats can run any faster in anything but ideal conditions. Ocean Yachts' figures suggest the optional 1,050 hp MANs will deliver an impressive 38-knot top speed, but the real appeal of the 52 SS is that she is capable of excellent performance with modest power.
Contact: Ocean Yachts Inc., (609) 965-4616; www.oceanyachtsinc.com.