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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Oceanus Voyager 45

The midsize express-cruiser segment is a tough nut to crack, mainly because a plethora of stateside and European builders already offer so many choices. So while flying to Charleston, South Carolina, I asked myself why would someone—facing a nearly saturated marketplace—launch a new brand of express cruiser? I assumed the answer was because there's always room for a new concept.

Randall Sellers, president of Oceanus Yachts and distributor of the Turkish-built Oceanus Voyager 45, claims this vessel is just that. He says Oceanus' forte is delivering a seakindly, semicustom, three-cabin, cost-conscious boat. And the owner of this 45, Joe Rodrigo, agrees. He told me that to him this boat represents a good value for the money ($449,000 as tested), adding that he liked the European influence evident in the boat's contoured exterior styling.

But fitting three staterooms into a 45-foot, open-style boat is no small feat, so on the rainy morning of this test, I spent a lot of time inspecting the 45's interior setup to see how well Oceanus pulled it off. I looked around the glossy cherrywood-accented saloon (mahogany, ash, and teak in both satin and high-gloss are options), and it seemed this boat didn't suffer from the fact that her 12'9" beam is at least a foot narrower than several similar size vessels. Her saloon/galley/dinette area features all the standards boaters expect, such as a crescent-shape settee for four that can double as an extra berth (if the three staterooms aren't enough); a two-burner, propane cooktop; Vitrifrigo refrigerator; bracket-mounted Toshiba LCD TV; and sizable galley stowage space, which includes two cabinets and three drawers below the counter and several more overhead. The countertop was made out of a synthetic material that didn't match the quality of the woodwork. Granite would be a better choice, and indeed, Sellers says it will be on future models. I also noted inconsistency in the cabinet latches: Some were of the push-pull variety, while others were fixed. Sellers assured they would be uniform on the boats that follow this one off the line.

The three staterooms have been tailored to work with the limited space. The master is forward and features a standard step-up queen and en suite head. Although it's below decks, the room is bright, compliments of an overhead hatch that measures 20 inches across. While I found the layout here standard fare, the reduced beam allowed for only a small hanging locker that could manage a few shirts and pairs of shorts. You'll need to utilize all of the overhead space here if you're considering a serious cruise. Additionally, the bracket-mounted, 14-inch Toshiba LCD TV interfered with the locker door. Sellers assured me that from now on the TVs will be bulkhead-mounted. The narrow beam also prevented a full swing of the door opening to the head here.

Things were similar in the starboard aft stateroom. The door rubbed against the settee when open, and the space inside provides a suitable berth mainly for kids, as maximum headroom is about three feet. Adult guests will prefer the two single berths in the port-side stateroom, which features 5'2" headroom. These berths are more than six feet long and average more than two feet wide. Yet I found it impressive that the boat managed three staterooms at all, considering the challenges below-decks accommodations present in express-style boats. When I mentioned this to Sellers, he credited stern-drive power, which places the engines well aft.

My test boat sported the largest powerplant offered by Oceanus: twin 350-hp Volvo Penta D6-350 diesel stern drives (V-drives and surface drives are options). The engines are accessed via a centerline cockpit hatch, and there was room for me to easily fit my 5'7", 170-pound frame between the engines and rest my feet on the stringers. The starboard powerplant's filters and dipsticks are easily accessed from the inboard side, but the port engine's filters are outboard, next to the Vetus genset. Both should be inboard. As I looked around at the engine placement and considered the 45's beam, I wondered what effect, if any, this aft engine placement would have on the boat's ride and performance. So with a break in the weather, we took her out for a test ride.

Running the 45 in the slick-calm channel behind the famed Citadel, I noted that she was quick to plane (about five seconds) and reached WOT in less than 30 seconds. Her average top speed of 32.7 mph (28.4 knots) was good, but Sellers told me the boat had been faster during earlier sea trials. To be fair, we were carrying five adults and nearly full fuel (265 gallons) and water (100 gallons). Furthermore, the engines weren't making top rpm, either. The D6-350s turned 3330 rpm yet are rated for 3500 rpm. Part of the blame was no doubt the dirty hull bottom, but additional pitch may be needed as well.

Still, at nearly 33 mph the 45 is an exciting ride, and with optional power-assist steering, she turns a full circle quickly, in fewer than two boat lengths at cruise speed. The narrow beam and comparatively heavy aft sections make her somewhat tender in hard-over maneuvers and when weight shifts on deck. She also tends to lean heavily into turns, a common characteristic of narrow stern drive boats. Trim tabs are a must on the 45, and when they're used she rides evenly and smoothly.

On the way back in, Rodrigo mentioned that while he enjoys his boat's performance, he also likes entertaining alfresco with family and friends, and to that end Oceanus has put together a solid on-the-water party place. The 45 has a large L-shape cockpit seating arrangement with a nearby electric barbecue and refrigerator. It's a nice setup for lunch on the hook or cocktails at sunset. There's additional seating across from the starboard-side helm seat, but if you prefer to work on your tan, the standard foredeck sunpads are ready.

I worked my way from the foredeck down the side decks as the sun broke through the lightening sky, and I found the well-arranged, open cockpit a fitting place to finish this test. While this builder could improve the execution and consistency of some of its fit and finish, it has managed to get its foot in the door of one tough club. If Oceanus adds that granite, makes those latches uniform, fine-tunes the detail work, and keeps the price at or near its current level, the 45 could just make it. The proof? Rodrigo is already talking about ordering the first hardtop version.

Oceanus Yachts
(561) 274-7520

This article originally appeared in the November 2006 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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