Worth the Wait
Makaira 64, the long-time-coming next generation of Ocean Yachts has finally arrived.
The chances of tying up at a marina, fishing any offshore tournament, or dropping lines in, 80 miles from the nearest inlet, and not seeing the classic silhouette of an Ocean are slim to none.
The Makaira 64 is Ocean Yachts’s newest sportfisherman, and she’s positioned to help the company reach the next level of boatbuilding. Her adroit design respects the bloodline, yet captures style and function in a truly subtle and modern, yet non-ostentatious style. Ocean has backed up the looks with quality construction and authentic performance.
“Makaira is our new semi-custom series,” says Ocean’s general manager John Leek IV. “A portion of our customer base is looking for a high-end, unique yacht they can build with specific requirements to meet their boating needs. Our goal is to build a few each year, tailored exactly to what the customer wants.”
New Jersey’s Leek family has been building boats by the Mullica River for centuries—though Ocean Yachts wasn’t officially founded until 1977. Few manufacturers escaped the downturn of 2008 unscathed, and certainly Ocean endured some body blows. The Makaira project was in its infancy then and she, like the company, has persevered.
“Ocean Yachts currently has a handful of new contracted boats under construction and a yard full of service jobs for this winter,” reports Leek. “Our schedule for 2015 looks bright. The recession altered our business model and we began expanding our service and refit work in addition to our new construction. The additional work has kept us steady.”
Under the Hood:
Three60 Slam Dunk
The Makaira 64 was outfitted with Caterpillar’s Three60 Precision Control System. This system proves joystick technology is no longer proprietary to vessels with pod-propulsion systems. (Indeed there are systems for I/O, outboard, and other applications.) The system on the Makaira is matched to Twin Disc Quickshift transmissions as well as other components, including throttle control, harnesses and sensors, and bow thruster and hydraulics.
The joystick mode controls the conventional propeller drivetrains and thruster and allows the vessel to rotate within her own length as well as maneuver forward, back, and sideways. It comes with an array of thruster options to yachts up to approximately 140 feet.
The manufacturer reports the system simultaneously actuates and controls the engines, transmissions, and thruster with easy fingertip movement and eliminates rudder and throttle control activities during docking.
Hydraulic thrusters are part of the system; the advantage is that they they tend to be more powerful and also will not “time out,” as an electric thruster may. The system on the Makaira additionally allows the thruster to be worked independently utilizing a traditional toggle switch.
Captain Jeff Theil, the Makaira’s captain, feels the system is a great asset and, judging by the demonstration during our sea trial, it seems to be a must have.
Makaira is the genus name for marlin, the fish this four-cabin, three-head yacht is designed to pursue. Her cockpit is smooth to work, freeboard is friendly for handling releases, and the mezzanine is functional and comfortable.
That mezzanine, by the way, as well as the cockpit, is a sea of soft lines. It houses the expected bait freezer, refrigerated box, livewell, and a separate, insulated ice compartment. An Eskimo ice machine dumps into a starboard-side bin. The engine room is accessed through a mezz hatch. (There’s a second entrance via the crew’s quarters). Cool air is pumped through concentrated vents onto the crew on this level.
The in-sole, cockpit fishboxes on Hull No. 1—set into the optional teak deck—are not designed as large-capacity storage areas. The purpose of this boat is tournament billfishing. Owners can configure boxes according to their personal mission. A second, large livewell is built within the transom; it’s the perfect option when the need arises to segregate older or less hearty baitfish.
Dick Weber of South Jersey Yacht Sales is the owner of Hull No. 1. His captain of 10 years is Jeff Theil. The captain is very impressed with Makaira so far, and in particular, with her hullform.
“When the boat was first delivered,” he says, “as we ran I waited for the shudder as we’d come off a wave; it never seemed to come. Plus the rounded bottom at the transom keeps the wake exceptionally clean for trolling baits as water funnels amidship.”
Our sea trial supported both those observations. Conditions were, let’s say, sporty. As we headed out Palm Beach Inlet, the stacked, wind-against-tide confluence proved to be merely a distraction rather than resistance. The big bow pushed water aside and only the wind seemed to bring the green water past the gunwales. Once outside, the waves were tightly packed, 4- to mostly 6-foot seas from the southeast. Our speeds were relative to the direction of our ride and where the ride actually took place; Makaira nudged 42 knots wide open (in Lake Worth) and easily cruised at 35 knots.
Out in the big stuff, the boat held well against a rolling beam sea at trolling speeds; however, a true cresting, 7-footer let us know it was a really nasty day. Two characteristics of this sleek hull left lasting impressions. The first was, as Theil said, the sheer lack of white-water disturbance behind the transom at trolling speed, even as the boat raised and lowered with the seas. It was, in my opinion, perhaps the cleanest of any boat I’ve tested.
The second was the soft lift of the transom when going astern during a simulated backdown on a fish. The slippery transom design coupled with the SeaTorque BOSS (Bolt On Shaft System) enclosed shaft system delivered a vibration-less experience. This design also allows the angle of the diesel engines to be flatter, a feature that reduces draft to a mere 5 feet, 2 inches , a measurement that folks traveling to the Bahamas will probably appreciate.
If people aren’t comfortable, it’s easy for them to get distracted or to go into the saloon. That’s never good when you are tournament fishing. Makaira’s cockpit and mezzanine have plenty of room for everyone to be comfortable and stay close to the action.
“We caught fish during the Ocean City White Marlin Open,” Leek told me. “Some of our most productive days fishing were in big seas. One white marlin in particular stood out as we trolled in 6- to 8-foot seas. Captain Jeff maneuvered up-sea of the fish so that we could fight it while backing down. Makaira was able to keep up with the white as it greyhounded away,” he concluded.
The flying bridge advances the theme of function and comfort. The flat surface of the helm easily accepts three large multifunction displays. The seating forward of the console hosts a complement of rod and tackle stowage below. There’s a centerline storage chute for easy access to a valise-style life raft under the brow. Two forward-facing, cushioned barrel seats are molded into the console. They offer bolster-like support and are extremely comfortable at speed.
The flying bridge brow is low profile, so it’s no strain to see the bow from the helm. The anchor retracts through a custom receiver into the hull, so Makaira has no pulpit. From the helm a casual, downward glance will encompass the entire cockpit, including the corners. And all the accoutrements one would expect, including a freshwater washdown, teaser reels, air conditioning, etc. are in place on the bridge.
A pair of 1,925-horsepower Caterpillar C32 ACERTs propel the resin-infused, charcoal-gray hull. Ocean Yachts has used modern methods and materials with the Makaira. For rigidity, strength, and weight reduction, the laminate in the hull’s bottom features two 1-inch-thick layers of Corecell (with an interstitial layer of glass) and the hull sides contain another 1-inch-thick layer of Corecell. A layer of Kevlar on the bottom offers additional protection. Fuel tanks are centerline and the day tank is gravity fed. Fuel-transfer pumps move fuel to optimize weight distribution.
The engines sit atop a molded stringer grid that utilizes carbon fiber, which is designed to distribute the weight of the engines over a greater area. Lightweight Nidacore panels line the interior soles and bulkheads again for strength and sound attenuation. The approach works; Makaira’s decibel levels were quite acceptable inside and out.
In addition to the main engines, the engine room also easily houses two 21.5-kW Cat generators, as well as an Eskimo ice machine and a watermaker. Lighting and fit and finish in the area are what are expected of a boat of this caliber, as is 360-degree access around the powerplants. Hatches in the walkway that runs between the engine’s house battery banks and the raw-water intakes for the mains are down there too. Fuel-water separators and a tool chest are secured on the forward bulkhead on either side of the access door to the crew’s quarters.
Those quarters are far from an afterthought. The berths are wide and the head is full size with a décor in keeping with the rest of the yacht. A washer and dryer are stacked in a locker with enough of a nearby folding area to actually do a load of laundry.
A circular staircase winds from the crew’s quarters to the saloon. Here the second wow factor comes into play. The ‘wow’ is slightly more impactful when entering from the main cabin door; it’s the placement of country-style kitchen that completely expands the area. It takes advantage of the near 19-foot beam and 7 feet of headroom. The warm joinery is a contrast of walnut and sycamore.
The main-deck layout is typical of most convertibles with a large, U-shaped settee to port, and an entertainment system and wet bar to starboard. It’s one step up to the centerline dinette with an aft-facing bench, table, and stools. The dinette is a great perch for watching trolling baits or the action dockside. Its placement offers a saloon with a feel of a much larger boat. Every seat in the house is at the proper height to see out the large expanse of side windows.
The staterooms are down a curved staircase with the master to port. It sports an island queen and large en suite head. The VIP is situated in the bow with a queen berth. It has a hatch and access to a head that has an additional companionway door that serves for dayhead access and head access for the third guest stateroom. All cabins have hanging and bulk stowage and easy-to-locate light switches. Doors are solidly constructed, offering a house-like feel.
A compartment under a hatch in the companionway sole contains a pump room with a full bank of manifolds for the freshwater systems. Another compartment houses thruster hydraulics.
Ocean Yachts will work with individual owners to investigate other layouts, in keeping with company’s desire to keep the Makaira, and the models that follow her, a custom yacht series.
The Makaira 64 will have many scratching their heads as she glides past. The hint of Oceans past will nag at their psyches. Yet Ocean Yachts’s evolution into the future didn’t abandon tradition in lieu of super futuristic design. From the boat’s tall prow, to her windshield mask, and aft to the curved transom, the look is good, as is the quality. The ruggedness of the construction and the big-water ride is more than admirable. And perhaps more than anything else, that’s what lets you know, for all her high-end design and finish, the Makaira 64 never forgot where she came from.
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NOTEWORTHY OPTIONS: Rupp Outriggers; CAT Three60 Precision Control System; Furuno electronics package; Crestron AV Package; OceanView Marine Welding tuna tower; Custom Alexseal paint; Eskimo ice maker: Sea Recovery Aquamatic watermaker; Marine Exhaust Thinline Muffler; Release Marine Rocket Launcher and Helm Chairs; Prices available upon request.
Generator: 2/21.5-kW Caterpillar C2s, Warranty: 5-year limited warranty on hull; 1-year limited warranty on associated equipment
Conditions During Boat Test
Air temperature: 80°F; humidity: 80%; seas: 4-6 feet; wind: 10 knots
Load During Boat Test
1,800 gal. fuel, 250 gal. water, 3 persons, full load of gear.
Test Boat Specifications
- Test Engine: 2/1,925-hp Caterpillar C32 ACERTs
- Transmission/Ratio: 1:74:1 Twin Disc Quickshift
- Props: 36 x 43.8 5-Blade Veem
- Price as Tested: Upon request
This article originally appeared in the January 2015 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.