On a sunny fall afternoon, in the middle of an obscure channel off Long Island, New York, I was casting a plug for striped bass when a brand-new Ocean Yachts Odyssey 65 cruised by. This was hull number three, and her form-running attitude and profile design-made much more of a positive impact under way than it had when I saw hull number one tied to a pier a few months earlier.
I hailed the skipper on the VHF. As luck would have it, I had met this 65's owner, Richard Morrison, while transiting the Intracoastal a few years back. A gentleman accustomed to being listened to, he later told me that he has owned four other Ocean yachts, all convertibles. I asked him why he switched to this style of boat.
"We used to fish quite a lot, Morrison said. "I started fishing less, and my wife and I started to cruise more. We both wanted more storage, and speed was important. I looked at other manufacturers. This offered what I wanted, and I know Ocean Yachts well.
Ocean's goal in creating the 65 was to attract customers such as Morrison with a hybrid design. The 65 is billed as a fast cruising yacht with plenty of stowage, a pilothouse-style helm, bluewater performance and all the interior volume of similar-size motoryachts. According to our test boat's owner, Ocean hit its mark. My time on board showed little to dispute that opinion.
The 65 is based on Ocean's 62-foot Super Sport hull. That's a fine bluewater platform on which to build, and the 65 has a similar 111/2 degrees of deadrise at the transom. Adding an enclosed flying bridge allowed for the pilothouse feel Ocean wanted, without detracting from the saloon area.
The morning of our test, the dew was heavy. I tested the nonslip foredeck gingerly (after a recent butt-over-teakettle embarrassment on another boat test) and remained happily upright. Since the channel we were in was more like a creek, we had to back the 65 about a hundred yards just to pivot a turn. Morrison simply blasted the bow thruster once or twice.
Idling between the marshes, we sat in the enclosed flying bridge, which has a more clubhouse-like feel than the helm. Certainly, this nearly 90,000-pound vessel can be ably piloted from the shiplike helm, but the flying bridge's twin deep-cushion pedestal chairs, L-shape settee, wet bar, refrigerator and flat-screen TV make a perfect setting for a He-man Woman Haters Club. The saloon below will beckon only during more social occasions.
Under way, the 65's feel is in keeping with that of her sportfish siblings. The big boat reacted well to a series of turns at speed, sat quietly beam-to at rest and backed down without any noticeable vibration. Our test boat had 900 hp MTUs, a pair of 3-inch shafts and 34-by-49-inch four-blade Nibral wheels. Cruising along at 26 knots, turning 2070 rpm, the decibel level in the saloon was just over 70, hardly enough reason to turn up the football game. At cruising speed, the MTUs consumed 58 gallons per hour.
Construction follows traditional techniques, with solid glass below the waterline and Divinycell coring for hull sides, deck and flying bridge. The deck-to-hull bond is fiberglassed from the bow to just forward of the cockpit.
The panoramic view from the flying bridge is an uninterrupted 360 degrees, and the windshield consists of three large glass panels. Based on his experience, Morrison suggests some additional tinting, and air-conditioner tweaking is required to properly cool the environment. The console area is so large, the 65 seems under-equipped even with two large navigation displays, engine gauges, radios and electronic control levers.
Abaft the flying bridge bulkhead is a rear sundeck reserved for socializing, since the standard tender is neatly hidden in a one-boat garage behind a transom lifting gate. An after station control system is standard. An interior spiral staircase and exterior molded-step ladder both lead below.
The cockpit, at 125 square feet, is partially covered and houses transom seating, a table and deep stowage facilities. Freeboard is slightly less than I expected because of the positioning of the tender below.
I would like to see Ocean revisit the placement of the cleats on the swim platform. To tie up, one must leave the security of the cockpit-a questionable maneuver in nasty weather or with novice crew. A hawsepipe could be cut, with cleats inset in the corners. Ocean's representative said the company was aware of the issue and working on a remedy.
Engineroom access is through a cockpit door. Here, as in so many boats, the ladder leading below has rail-thin treads, a hardship on bare feet. Once in the space, though, everything is painless. A full 32 inches is between engine mount stringers, and headroom throughout is 64 inches. Compressors for the air conditioners are not jammed in here; they are in belowdecks spaces in the forward staterooms. Those spaces are a little snug, but the placement keeps the engineroom open.
Batteries are neatly stowed below a fabricated shelf and in boxes. Fuel manifolds and filters are in plain sight on the forward bulkhead. The saloon sole is sealed, and low saloon decibel levels prove the attention to sound deadening is precise. After our test, the ventilation system displaced enough heat to allow a final engineroom inspection. Sound-shielded 15kW Westerbekes are abaft the mains, an oil-change system is on the after bulkhead.
On our test boat, the Morrisons' input resulted in a décor of subtle class, with teak joinery complementing soft fabric hues. (Maple is an option.) The interior, in keeping with Ocean's goals for this design, is apartment-like, with sectioned social venues connected by open passageways and stairs. For example, in the saloon, guests chillin' on the settee or in barrel chairs are separated from the galley and dinette by a portside bulkhead of teak cabinetry, a Corian counter, a wet bar and a large, flat-screen television. The saloon's starboard side is wide open, and the line of sight is continuous through the open (and not drastically spiraled) stairs.
At the base of the legitimately two-person-wide staircase to the staterooms, our test boat had a laundry room with enough space to wash and fold towels without needing to become a contortionist. This layout was one of two available, the other with four staterooms and no laundry room.
As inviting as the staterooms are, they will probably be treated like hotel rooms and used only for sleeping. The 65 offers too much else aboard for guests to waste time napping.
Contact: Ocean Yachts, (609) 965-4616; www.oceanyachtsinc.com.