Ocean 73 Super SportBy Capt. Ken Kreisler
"My friends from the Bahamas, they say that the devil lives here, man," says Jose, also known around the docks of San Juan, Puerto Rico, as Vanilla due to his light skin color. He's one of two mates aboard the Ramon family's 73 Ocean Super Sport, the company's largest convertible to date, and is gesturing out past the tranquil waters of the inner harbor to the not-so-calm ocean. Angel, the other mate peering out the starboard side of the cockpit, is called Chocolate for obvious reasons.
Jose's Latino accent bathes my American ears in a light Salsa ballad as the boat turns the corner at Bahia de San Juan and heads out to sea. I hear the turbos from the pair of 2,000-hp MTU 16V 2000s beneath my feet hit a high note as Capt. Jaime Ramon leans on the throttles. Sitting on the big boat's mezzanine overlooking the almost 150-square-foot cockpit on this, the standard enclosed-bridge version, I look to port as a big slate-gray wave rolls by. I follow its rush landward until it explodes against the rocks under El Morro.
This is the first of two Ocean 73s I'll be aboard. The other, which has the optional open tournament bridge and is powered by a pair of 1,675-hp Caterpillar C32s, belongs to Dick Weber of Mid-Atlantic 500 fishing tourney fame and the owner of South Jersey Yacht Sales of Cape May, New Jersey, an Ocean Yachts dealership. But I won't be aboard that one until the upcoming 2005 Miami International Boat Show. Now, I'm focused on those ten- to 12-footers that are standing between us and Playa de Fajardo, where we'll be spending the night.
As we pass the walls of the old Spanish fort, Ramon applies power and we plow into the heaving sea head on, throwing big spray out from either side. We're doing around 22 knots, and I feel the big boat settle into the rhythm of the crest and trough of each wave. The smooth ride is courtesy of Dave Martin's hull design with a sharp entry and tunneled aft sections. "When we developed the hull of the 73-footer, we kept the qualities we liked about our 70: good top-end and cruise speed, maneuverability, hull efficiency, and a smooth ride," Mike Hartline, Ocean's manager of research and development, told me during a previous interview. A big part of the nice ride is due to those tunnels. Ocean eased them a bit more forward of the props and flared the front ends, smoothing out the waterflow to the props and thereby increasing propeller efficiency. For the same reason, the depth of the tunnels has been reduced at their aft end, which ensures that the boat loses minimal running surface—and thereby lift—while also allowing the rudders to be placed in a more efficient location. Judging from my time at the wheel, Ocean seems to have found the balance it was looking for.
But while the hulls of both versions of the 73 are the same, much of the remainder of the boats is different, reflecting the needs of each owner. The Ramons are an older couple who enjoy cruising their 73 with friends and family—their son is their captain—so their enclosed-bridge boat features a stairway separating the saloon from the galley that winds its way topside. Here, in an expansive air-conditioned space, is lounge seating around a table aft of the helm, an entertainment center, and a wet bar, refrigerator, and ice maker to starboard. Not being hardcore anglers, they opted for a canvas bimini overhang in the cockpit area and chose to mount their tender and its davit on the foredeck.
In contrast, the Weber boat was configured, as Weber himself says, to be "a boat that would satisfy both our cruising needs as well as our hardcore fishing interests." To that end, besides the open bridge, his boat has a full tower, recessed teaser reels in the custom hardtop, and a fighting chair with an offset base so anglers can reach the cockpit corners so as not to lose a big fish. He also ordered the optional Eskimo shaved-ice maker, underwater lights, an auxiliary 400-gallon fuel tank, and a teak cockpit and coamings.
Where these two boats are again alike is in their luxurious living accommodations. The four-stateroom, four-head layout features a forepeak VIP, guest quarters with bunks aft and to starboard, a double-berth stateroom opposite and to port, and a full-beam amidships master. Both boats' distinctive decors reflect each owner's tastes, and both come with comfortable crew quarters aft of the master that can accommodate a captain and mate in ample berths plus provide decent stowage and a head and shower compartment. This space also has direct access to the engine room, enabling the crew to get outside without disturbing the owners or guests.
While I can personally attest to the ride and performance of the enclosed-bridge boat, the performance numbers posted here are ones I took from Weber's 73, as the Veem prop people were still tweaking the running gear of the Ramons' boat during my visit. When I caught up to Weber in Miami after the show, the weather was as perfect as could be, just a puff of wind and flat-calm seas. We took the boat out on Biscayne Bay, and after spooling up the diesels to an average WOT speed of 41.6 mph (36.2 knots), settled her into an impressive 35-mph (30.4-knot) cruise speed at 2000 rpm. She tracked straight and true during my speed runs, and with her Hynautic hydraulic steering, answered the helm with razor-sharp efficiency as we performed hard-over maneuvers, figure eights, and 360s.
Each of these 73s is impressive in her own way and typifies Ocean's ability to once again successfully balance a cruising boat with a horizon-chasing battlewagon. Whether you opt for the open- or enclosed-bridge version, the Ocean 73 Super Sport can take you to faraway cruising grounds in search of solitude or distant canyons in search of world-class game fish.
This article originally appeared in the June 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.