Ambling up the Intracoastal Waterway near Little River, S.C., aboard the new Ocean 70 Super Sport, I had a strange feeling of worlds colliding. Here I was aboard the latest hot rod fish boat from John Leek and Co., passing a rundown marina and restaurant on the creek's west bank. Some 28 years ago on my first traipse down the waterway, I spent a night at that marina aboard a 55 Pacemaker, the last wood sportfisherman built by John's father, Jack Leek. My, how things have changed.
Our test boat, supplied by Harbor View Yacht Sales of Myrtle Beach, was the first open bridge 70 Super Sport, sistership to the enclosed bridge model introduced at February's Miami Inter-national Boat Show. Like that old Pacemaker, the newest Oceans are strikingly different in dockside appearance.
The exterior profile of the open bridge is lower and sleeker because the hardtop lacks the fiberglass arch wings used on the enclosed model. The view from the centerline helm is clear straight ahead and back to the third stanchion on the broad foredeck. Aft, the operator has a good view of the cockpit. Hydraulic power steering and single-lever electronic controls are standard. Electronics fit neatly into the dash to starboard. Fishing big boats requires a slightly different tact to get the job done, so the $4,320 optional built-in teaser reels mounted into the overhead make sense. The boat has a clean wake with crisply defined allies in the wash. Paired with the low rumble from the 1,800 hp 16V Series 2000 DDC/MTU diesels, it's perfect for raising fish.
The cockpit has an athwartship ladder to the bridge, tackle and rod stowage, a bait-prep center, a chill box, a freezer, a live well and a refrigerated fish well. Our test boat also had an optional Eskimo ice maker and a 600 gpd Sea Recovery watermaker. For long-range fish boats, these features are as necessary as fresh bait.
Eliminating the inside stairway to the bridge dramatically increases galley and saloon size. With the stairway walls gone, the dinette opposite the galley flows into the saloon, seating as many as 15 comfortably between the two areas. The U-shape galley has Corian countertops with S-shape moldings, Whirlpool Gold appliances and a maple sole with teak and bird's-eye maple inlays.
Grace Ramsey and Bill Bales of Philadelphia's William Bales Co. decorate all Oceans. This 70 received a $17,000 custom interior package in-cluding special fabrics, wallpaper treatments, silhouette saloon blinds and lovely joinery throughout. The woodwork has a distinct, textured look with lacquered bird's-eye maple countertops and bull-nose moldings against satin-finished clear maple cabinetry. The finish glows, and the chrome hardware and fixtures play off the wood in a way reminiscent of a custom yacht. The floor plan gets high marks, too. A full-beam master suite is amidships. It has a king-size berth on a 5" innerspring mattress flanked by chests of drawers, his-and-her cedar-lined hanging lockers, a vanity and a head with a bathtub. With the suite's entertainment center and a chilled wine locker just outside the door in the utility room (which also houses a washer and dryer, extra freezer, central vacuum system and the watermaker), an owner has whatever he needs after turning in for the night.
The other three staterooms also have entertainment systems and private heads. The VIP has a queen-size berth with the head forward. I like this location not only for the headroom, but because from a structural perspective, the walls create a triple set of transverse bulkheads for hull strength. The portside cabin has side-by-side berths that become a queen-size berth by moving some cushions. Crew's quarters are starboard, and the head serves as a day head as well. Privacy is important on any yacht, and designer Dave Martin, who has drawn every Ocean, allowed ample room between the staterooms with a wide companionway.
He also made good use of engineroom space. Headroom on centerline is nearly 7' at the back of the compartment tapering downward as you move forward to the bulkhead-mounted dual Racor fuel separators. Batteries are in fiberglass boxes between the mains. Wiring is neatly hung in overhead trays. A 32 kW Westerbeke sits abaft the starboard engine. Abaft on centerline is the Cruisair chilled water air-conditioning system. While it is possible to get outboard around the front of the engines, rear access is blocked by exhaust riser hoses and cockpit console inserts. Outboard fuel tanks tighten up things a bit as well, but overall the engineroom appears easy to maintain. Standard fuel capacity is 1,585 gallons, although our boat carried 415 additional gallons.
In the calm Intracoastal Waterway, the 70 ripped to a top two-way average speed of 36.9 knots with full fuel and water, plus four people aboard. Shallow propeller pockets give her slippery transition from idle to plane without using the tabs, and the boat was on top at 1200 rpm sliding along at 17.4 knots. With 3,600 hp in her belly, going slow in shallow water means running her on one engine at low idle to settle in at 6.5 knots. With both engines at low idle, the GPS read 7.8 knots. Docking is best accomplished in the low idle mode, but the optional bow thruster is a worthwhile investment.
With options including electronics, outriggers and a fighting chair, our test boat had a delivered price of $2,727,000.
Contact: Ocean Yachts Inc., Dept. Y, Box 312, Egg Harbor City, N.J. 08215. (609) 965-4616; fax (609) 965-4914; www.oceanyachtsinc.com.