My cellphone rang as I stared at the ocean out the window of my hotel room on Singer Island, Florida, which is about 15 miles north and east of West Palm Beach. Ocean Yachts’ captain Gene Hawn was calling. We were scheduled to meet in a short time to test the Ocean 50 Super Sport. However, a 20- to 25-mph-plus wind had been blowing east and sometimes east-northeast for several days, and the ocean was frothing like the mouth of a rabid dog.
“Patrick, can you see the ocean from where you are?” asked Hawn. “Yeah, I can see it,” I replied. “What does it look like there?” he inquired. “It’s pretty ugly, Gene,” I said, adding, “but we’ll do what we can.” “Okay, see you in a little while,” Hawn concluded. Within a few minutes, I was off to South Florida Yachts, the Ocean dealer in Riviera Beach, to see how the 50 would handle the frothing mouth.
Hawn and I decided that we’d try speed runs first and concurred they were best performed on the calmer Lake Worth. The 50’s twin 1,015-mhp Caterpillar C18 diesel inboards, the largest powerplants available on the 50, were warmed up and ready to go. Her top speed of 41.7 mph at 2360 rpm and a comfortable cruise of 37.2 mph at 2000 rpm seemed an admirable performance with a full complement of diesel (780 gallons) and water (150 gallons). I calculated a range of 298 NM at cruise speed, plenty for a weekend outing or fishing trip to the edge.
Other than an occasional breeze requiring some tab to get her nose down, the 50 was beating back the wind with a vengeance. “Want to go outside?” asked Hawn. “Let’s take a look,” I replied. It was time to play.
The steady wind had the ocean teaming with six- to nine-footers. As we made our way through the confused inlet, Hawn stepped out of the helm chair, and I took the wheel. The standard Hynautic hydraulic steering and optional ($7,075) Glendinning single-lever electronic controls were as smooth as the 50’s tracking. With her 54,000-pound displacement, due in part to a heavily built, 3/4-inch solid-fiberglass hull bottom, the 50 plowed through the inlet. Adding to her toughness is Divinycell H80 coring in her sides, which stiffens the hull while enhancing the strength-to-weight ratio.
Once we ventured into the ocean, I was able to run the 50 at 1500 rpm into the seas with wind-driven spray frequently hitting the optional ($6,240) EZ2CY enclosure. At 22 knots, she ran without so much as a slap, and she performed equally well beam-to. Her deadrise varies from a maximum of 50 degrees forward to 15.5 degrees at her transom. This could lead one to believe she might dig in and have poor down-sea tracking, but she proved me wrong, and I was actually able to pick up an extra 50 rpm after I trimmed her bow up. In addition, her planing hull and flattened deadrise aft helps reduce roll underway and should do the same while drifting.
Having salted the boat like a bacalao, we headed back to Riviera Beach to wash her down. With the wind still honkin’, Hawn deftly maneuvered the 50 into her berth (of course, the big Cats, 30"x40" 4-blade Hall & Stavert wheels, and ZF tranny with a 1.75:1 gear reduction helped a little bit). Coming down the flying-bridge ladder, I noted that her 100-square-foot cockpit was, for the most part, dry. The 50 had proven herself on the high seas, and it was time to see if her brawn had a layout to match.
The engine room, accessed from a cockpit with optional teak coaming and covering boards ($4,700), offers 5'10" headroom, and even with the big Cats, I was able to easily get outboard of both engines. In fact, this is one of the more accessible engine rooms I’ve been in lately in this size vessel, and routine service down here should be a breeze, with regular maintenance points at your fingertips.
The intelligence and cleanliness of the engine room setup is rivaled only by the 50’s interior layout. The standard satin-finish, teak-paneled saloon (maple is available, too) is warm and inviting. Immediately inside the saloon, an L-shape lounge to port has stowage for rods or other gear below but can be replaced by a sofa bed if you require extra accommodations. Either way it offers the best view of the standard Sony flat-screen TV to starboard and is comfortable if you just want to put your feet up.
Of course, even lounge lizards occasionally need a snack, and that’s where the U-shape galley just forward and to port comes in. It’s equipped for the Hot Pocket guy who just needs a microwave and the gourmet chef who’ll require the three-burner Force 10 cooktop. The stealth of the standard Sub-Zero under-counter refrigerators and freezers maximizes the galley’s narrow U-shape. One thing I was not fond of here was the optional $5,600 granite countertop. While the granite is attractive, I found that lifting the heavy cooktop cover (which slipped out of my hands the first time) was a mandatory two-handed effort, and there was no place to stow it securely. As I’m a klutz, I had visions of the thing falling and cracking. I think the standard Corian is the better choice. One neat feature is the hatch in the galley sole that provides access to maintain the Cruisair air-conditioning system (there are three zones) and more room for provisions. I had enough room to squat and crab walk down here.
The 50’s below-decks area was also spot-on when it came to layout and looks. Her three-stateroom, two-head accommodations are equally suited for the cruising family or bluewater tournament team needing a rest from the bite. Amidships to port is the master, with full-size walkaround athwartships berth and en suite head. The standard five-inch foam mattress felt great on my achy back (while I didn’t take a nap, I needed to thoroughly inspect all of the boat’s features). Overhead cabinets, drawers, and two hanging lockers offer enough space for even the most demanding clotheshorse.
Rounding out the below-decks area is the crew (or kids) room to starboard, with side-by-side twins, and a forepeak VIP that comes with an island berth or with upper and lower berths. The crew and guests share a second head that lies between these two staterooms. Again, with cedar-lined hanging lockers, neither is lacking in stowage space. In short, this boat is rigged for the long haul, and if you encounter weather like my test day, a long haul it could be.
With fishing options like refrigerated fishboxes, Rupp triple-box ‘riggers, and an International fighting chair, the 50 could easily be a contender on the tournament trail. Yet she’s equally adept as a cruiser. One thing’s for sure, no matter how you rig your 50, you’ll call it a day long before she will.
4/rod holders; bait-prep center; transom door; insulated fishboxes w/pumpout; lounge seats w/polyfoam cushions on flying bridge; hardtop w/3-sided enclosure; Nibral props; Awlgrip engine room; Aquamet 22 shafts; 220V-50A shore power w/auto cord reel; 20-gal. hot-water heater; 2/VacuFlush MSDs; Sony flat-screen TV in saloon; Autohelm Tri-data
teak coaming and covering boards; Lewmar Concept II windlass; refrigerated fishbox; Rupp outriggers; International fighting chair w/teak rod holder; granite countertops; Amtico oak flooring in galley, dinette, and heads; Broan compactor; tinted aft windows and door; EZ2CY 3-sided enclosure (in lieu of standard); Glendinning controls; 13-inch Samsung flat-screen TV w/DVD in guest stateroom; steps and companionway runner; accessory package; extra step box; designer interior
Test Boat Specifications
- Test Engine: 2/1,015-hp Caterpillar C18 diesel inboards
- Transmission/Ratio: ZF/1.75:1
- Props: 30"x40" 4-blade Hall & Stalvert
- Price as Tested: $1,071,605
This article originally appeared in the March 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.