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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Ocean 46 Super Sport

In the early 1980’s, Ocean Yachts gave naval architect Dave Martin a task: design a hull that would be seakindly and quick. How quick? The goal was 30 knots on the top end with twin 450-hp Detroit Diesel 6-71TIs. Martin’s solution was a planing-hull form that measured 46 feet LOA and transitioned from a 24-degree deadrise forward to three degrees at the transom (more on this later). He met the 30-knot goal, and from 1982 to 1985 the Ocean 46 Super Sport was a hit with bluewater anglers and cruisers alike.

Fast forward 20 years. Ocean Yachts once again calls upon Martin to design a hull with the same LOA, only this time with with nearly double the horsepower and a 30-knot cruise speed.

I never had the chance to test the original 46 SS, but I can say that Martin’s current design, matched with Ocean’s boatbuilding expertise, has produced a winner.

My test boat, which was powered with optional twin 825-hp MTU Series 60 diesels (710-hp Caterpillar C12s are standard), made a 31-knot (35.5 mph) cruise speed and topped out at 35.6 knots (41 mph) in a quick two- to three-foot chop off of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. That’s almost a six-knot increase over her predecessor, and much of the speed, says Martin, is attributed to advancements in horsepower. “Back in those days [the 1980’s], a planing hull was either going to take off or it wasn’t,” he says laughingly. (I can hear the wisdom of experience in every chuckle.) “Today it’s a whole different ball game. People are going to use [the available] power, and the trick is to design an efficient and smooth ride without pounding,” he adds. Martin notes that pounding varies according to the square of the speed. For instance, 40 knots squared (40 x 40)is 1600, and 30 knots squared (30 x 30) is 900. To find out just how much more that same hull will pound while traveling at the higher speed, you divide 1600 by 900, and you divide get 1.77, which mathematically equates to a ride that pounds nearly twice as rough. “So I have to put in a lot of thought into keeping the hull efficient and seaworthy,” Martin adds.

To that end, the 46’s hull starts with a 34-degree deadrise forward, ten degrees more than the original. Like the first 46, this entry represents 25 percent of the total waterline length. The hull then transitions to 23 degrees amidships (nearly 12 degrees more deadrise than the original 46) for 50 percent of the waterline length, and ends with a moderate 14 degrees for the last 25 percent of the waterline length (the preceding 46 ran a flat three degrees at the transom). In addition, Martin designed this boat with lifting strakes down-angle at 32 degrees and farther apart forward of the hull than aft. This, combined with the more sharply transitioning deadrise, helps prevent hull suction at speed and provides a flow of undisturbed water to the 28x38 four-blade props, enhancing both the feel and efficiency of the 46.

I found that whether I ran this boat down-sea or into a head sea, she ran true. I liked her best cross-sea but found some tab was needed here and there to deal with the wind and occasional spray. Sightlines at the helm are clean all the way around, and a great view of the cockpit is afforded here, a plus when backing down on big fish. However, I did find the side-by-side single-lever MTU controls to the right of the wheel oddly placed. I prefer one to either side of the wheel or single levers flanking the small helm pod. The standard hydraulic steering reacted in real time and helped show off the 46’s nimble nature. She turned on a dime and carved symmetrical figure-eights without much wheelwork. It reminded me of a similar ride I experienced last year on Ocean’s 50-footer. While my test boat’s helm station was bare, I noted large spaces for a multiscreen electronics suite.

One place that isn’t bare on the 46 is her interior. This boat is offered with two below-decks layouts. My 46 had Plan A, which, like Plan B, provides an athwartships master to port and a guest berth aft to starboard. The master sports an en suite head, a full-size berth with five-inch foam mattress (even that Princess and the Pea lady won’t complain about this one), and a standard 20-inch LCD TV. The difference between the two plans is in the forepeak VIP. Plan A features a full-size berth on centerline, while Plan B has crossover berths. For cruising families layout A makes sense, while for hardcore anglers just looking for a place to put their head when the bite’s off, B works better. A warm teak interior is standard in both configurations.

Like all Oceans, the new 46 also offers the comforts of home in the saloon. My test boat’s saloon sported the optional high-gloss interior finish on the teak. Immediately on entering from the cockpit, there’s a comfy L-shape Ultraleather lounge with high-gloss hi-lo table to port, a great place to kick back with a sandwich made in the fully equipped, U-shape galley just forward of the lounge. My galley had the optional Amtico teak and holly sole, which is attractive and durable. For a more formal dining occasion, the dinette across from the galley can seat four. All in all, I found the main deck area an inviting place for a quiet day on the hook with a book or to rest the bones with a beer at the end of a day of fishing.

The original 46 was quick for her time, and advancements in hull design and diesel technology have made this second generation even quicker. These advancements have allowed Ocean to stay at the top of an extremely competitive marketplace. Aside from the boat’s speed and seakeeping, it’s her dual-purpose nature that appeals to the masses. For instance, the cruising family might opt for some silhouette or wood blinds, satin-finish cherrywood interior, and a sofa bed to make the 46 a waterfront home or mobile summer place. However, if you add some fishing options, such as 30-foot Rupp outriggers, a fighting chair, and a refrigerated fishbox, to the standards, such as flush-mount rod holders, a transom door, a bait-prep center, and a transom livewell, then the 46 becomes a true tournament contender.

Either way, this is a vessel that has benefitted greatly from a combination of three key things. First, there’s improved diesel-engine technology. Next is the wisdom of an experienced naval architect who knew where design changes had to be made to accommodate big power while still offering both speed and comfort. And finally comes a builder that could bring the line drawings and design concept to life. And when you further add decades of boatbuilding experience and knowledge, the chances of hitting the mark are pretty good. I have to say Ocean's 46 Super Sport does just that. But what happens over the next 20 years? A third-generation 46 Super Sport cruising at 50 knots? I guess anything’s possible. I just hope I get to test it.

Ocean Yachts
(609) 965-4616

This article originally appeared in the January 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.