Theory of Evolution: Ocean Alexander's 70e

The Ocean Alexander 70e mixes a healthy respect for the past with an eye toward the future.

Everything you need to know about the Ocean Alexander 70e is summed up in that "e" tacked on so casually to the end of the name. It stands for Evolution, an apt descriptor for this 70-footer. But, lest you worry that Ocean Alexander has thrown the baby out with the bath water, this is still a classic OA in so many ways: solid construction, outstanding seakeeping abilities and thoughtful design. If your dad had an Ocean Alexander, he'll still feel right at home.

So what's new? Well, start with the Volvo Penta IPS pod drives. This is the first OA with pods, and the setup reflects the modern thinking that went into this yacht. The 70e is also the first Ocean ­Alexander built in the United States. And ­mega-yacht designer Evan K. Marshall, working with Ocean Alexander U.S. Director Richard Allender, achieved several evolutionary changes.

First, the 70e has modern exterior lines evocative of much larger yachts, with oversize hullside ports and a stylized European superstructure. And yet, the yacht maintains a notched sheerline and classic-yacht aesthetic.

Second, Marshall looked at how ­Americans use their yachts: as family gathering places for adventures. Openness was essential. When you stand in the 70e’s cockpit, you see through the salon and galley to the pilothouse windows. That doesn’t mean you can’t get away; Marshall created four areas within the main deck so guests can find their comfort zones.

Ocean Alexander 70E, Ocean Alexander Yachts
An island galley setup lets everyone help out for dinner with room to spare. The 70e is the first Ocean Alexander built in the United States.Forest Johnson

The cockpit has a settee with table, plus a wet bar with sink and fridge. There is also a traditional entertainment area in the salon, with a pair of sofas and a TV that swings down from the overhead. Just forward, the galley has an island that begs for a pair of stools at the raised counter. Forward is a settee with table where guests can gather next to the skipper while running, or where casual or formal dining can take place. The delight in my mind, though, is the foredeck layout that Marshall carried down from larger yachts, with twin ­settees, a table and a sun pad. This is where you can enjoy a sundowner at anchor.

The same big-boat thinking carries through to the lower deck. This is a 70-footer with four staterooms served by three heads, and nothing feels shoehorned to fit. The master suite aft spans the full beam, and oversize windows let in plenty of light and fresh air through the ports in each window. Composite beams frame the windows for strength, and the glass is the sandwiched type used on larger vessels built to stringent classification specs. There is a serenity to this stateroom that comes from Ocean Alexander’s trademark use of teak joinery and a calming fabric headboard with sconces. Our test 70e had bureaus under the windows on each side, but this is an owner-choice area that can also have a couch or table and chairs. What is sure to be a deal closer for some families is the cedar-lined walk-in closet to starboard, with backlit drawers and liveaboard space. The head is another deal closer, with elegant stone counters, twin glass vessel sinks, and the OA “crystal shower” with custom glass door and seat.

Forward along the foyer, with hidden washer and dryer, are twin staterooms to port and starboard. The starboard stateroom has two single berths plus direct access to the day-head with shower, while the port stateroom has bunks that are actually usable by adults and not just kids. Both staterooms have considerable stowage, and the bunk stateroom has nightstands at each bunk level, a thoughtful touch.

Ocean Alexander 70E, Ocean Alexander Yachts
The 70E has a maximum cruising range of 10 knots for 980 nautical miles.Courtesy Ocean Alexander

Forward, the VIP stateroom fills the bow with an island berth, two windows plus an overhead hatch, and an en-suite head finished to match the master with stone counters, glass vessel sink and Hansgrohe faucets.

The flybridge, with access from inside (opposite the galley) and the cockpit, also impresses. Once again, Marshall created entertainment areas to suit everyone’s needs. A fiberglass hardtop covers the forward half of the flybridge with helm, starboard-side lounge, and ElectriChef grill and fridge. At the after edge of the hardtop is a wet bar that would do justice to a yacht twice this size. With a pair of stools at the raised counter, this bar will be a gathering point. It has stone counters and a sink, fridge and ice maker for serving guests in the lounges fore and aft.

The 70e is offered in two versions: tender up and tender down. The tender-down setup takes advantage of th2e oversize hydraulic teak swim platform that is standard in both versions. This allows you to carry a large tender — the beam is 18 feet — and launch it by immersing the swim platform, which then becomes a boarding platform as well as a beach for swimming. This would be my choice. The tender-up version adds a crane to the flybridge and places the tender aft on the upper deck. This would be a good solution if you plan long-distance cruises where you want the tender protected, ­either from large seas or from idle hands in harbors. Crane-launching is always more complicated and requires more people, and you also lose space on the flybridge that, in the tender-down version, is used for more seating and a convertible sun pad. Your call.

Ocean Alexander 70E, Ocean Alexander Yachts
The 70e is the first Ocean Alexander built in the United States. Founded in Taiwan and run by the Chueh family, OA will build yachts from 60 to 90 feet LOA at a yard in Florida run by Merritt Island Boat Works. The facility has 150,000 square feet of space, which will soon grow by 80,000 square feet. A $16.2 million investment is expected during the next four years, with an expansion to nearly 400 workers.Forest Johnson

One feature about pod drives that is often promoted: They take up less space than conventional drives. Nowhere is that more evident than in the 70e’s engine room. The two ­Volvo Penta IPS 1200s put out 900 hp apiece and are basically marinized six-cylinder, four-stroke diesel truck engines. They are, in a word, bulletproof. There is plenty of room to walk between the engines, and the usual service and checkpoints are mounted inboard to the walkway. Two standard 20 kW ­Northern Lights gensets are found here. Just abaft the engine room is a surprisingly civilized crew cabin with a single berth, a head with shower and a mini galley.

Ocean Alexander 70E, Ocean Alexander Yachts
Foredeck layouts have come a long way. This part of the yacht used to be a place for the crew to work when dropping or retrieving the hook. As you can see, the table and settees now make this a great spot for an alfresco lunch or end-of-day sundowner in a cozy cove, and the family-size sun pad has room for, well, everybody and some friends.Forest Johnson

The 70e has a top hop of 30 knots with a 26-knot cruise speed. Volvo Penta’s joystick docking system enables fingertip control of this 78,000-pound yacht. Upgrade to Dynamic Positioning mode, and you can plant the yacht alongside a dock while you rig fenders and dock lines.

Charles Darwin was right about evolution: It is for the fittest. The 70e is floating proof. Ocean Alexander has produced a fully evolved yacht that combines modern sensibilities with classic features, and high-tech engineering with proven construction.

A WORD WITH EVAN K. MARSHALL

Q. What challenged you in giving the 70e the feel of a larger yacht?

A. We really set out to achieve a big-boat feel on board the Ocean Alexander 70e, and this meant fully developing the space planning and allocation to achieve both the proper balance and emphasis on important areas. For example, with the main salon it was important for us to achieve a very comfortable, distinct feeling within this area as you enter the yacht. Forward of the salon area with the galley, we thought carefully about lifestyle qualities, which include casual dining and a layout where the cook can interact easily with people sitting in the salon or forward in the dining/pilothouse area. We are also unique in class in offering internal stairs to the flybridge and an access door to the side deck. These go to the core of OA's philosophy of building boats that go to sea.

Q. What features did you want to include?

A. The design goal with the OA 70e was to, as its name defines, evolve the features OAs have featured since the start of the shipyard. These include first-class construction and engineering, excellent seakeeping and performance characteristics, and harmonious aesthetics, both interior and exterior. With the 70e, we set out to continue the new modern and streamlined exterior aesthetic signature developed over the last five years, which have now been introduced across the entire Ocean Alexander product line.

Q. Do you have a favorite space on the 70e?

A. I am very pleased with the layout of the main deck on the interior, as it allows for everyone to interact easily within the three principal areas. The same applies to the flybridge deck, where we also have three distinct areas, all of which blend together.

Ocean Alexander 70E, Ocean Alexander Yachts
The extended flybridge of the 70e helped the builder create three entertainment areas for parties under the stars.Courtesy Ocean Alexander