By John Shinnick
Ocean Alexander 78 Motoryacht: Sea Trial
Ocean Alexander 78 Motoryacht: This new cruiser showcases solid construction and a luxurious layout.
Ocean Alexander’s newest edition brings together the talents of naval architect/yacht designer Ed Monk Jr., hydrodynamic naval architect Ed Hagemann, structural naval architect Tim Nolan and interior designer Jon Pokela. The result is a 78-foot motoryacht with a slippery hull, a strong, masculine profile and luxury suggestive of a private club.
The lines of the new 78 are thoroughly modern in every respect, and its lines, layout and hull are clearly a contemporary design from Ed Monk Jr. However, the story of the boat is told in its use of finely crafted wood — a more traditional material that the late, great Ed Monk Sr. would have understood intimately.
We tested the new 78 in Seattle, shortly after its introduction in September. Our test boat was provided by Ocean Alexander Marine Yacht Sales Inc.
One remarkable feature of the Ocean Alexander 78 is its construction. This large vessel is solidly built for offshore cruising, with exceptional overall hull strength and security. You could call this motoryacht “overbuilt” — but in heavy weather, you would be grateful, indeed, for its supremely solid design.
During the design stage, the 78 hull was tank-tested at BC Research Institute in Vancouver, British Columbia. It’s a proven hull.
Crash bulkheads have been installed in critical points throughout the boat, varying from 2 to 3 inches in thickness. High-stress areas, including stringers and decks, have been reinforced with carbon fiber and aluminum I-beams.
Decks have been built with aluminum beams, through-bolted to stainless steel brackets. The beams provide unsurpassed structural rigidity and allow for expansive open space in the boat’s interior.
There is so much aluminum utilized in the 78′s construction, in fact, that my hand-held GPS struggled to read its satellites in the wheelhouse. Fortunately, external antennas for the 78′s onboard electronics are mounted on the hardtop.
Lead-foam sound insulation and glass wool have been installed in bulkheads — both for thermal insulation and soundproofing.
Down to Business
We entered the 78 across a large teak swim step and dinghy platform. A single curved fiberglass staircase rises up the port side to the aft deck, and a curved illuminated bait tank is the prominent detail on the starboard side. “When the lights are on at night, it is like having an illuminated aquarium,” said Johnny Cheuh, of Ocean Alexander.
Access to the engine room is either via a door from the dinghy platform or teak steps through another hatch in the aft deck. Entering through the transom door, we passed the 78′s crew quarters — another of the areas where the 78 differs from most boats in its size range.
Too often, the crew is given cramped bunks that don’t look much different than the hot bunks on a war ship. On this yacht, the crewmembers get comfortable berths, privacy and a well-designed head with a full-size shower.
The boat is sold as a complete package (including dishes and bedding), with few items on its options list. As a result, the engine room is a well-stocked “candy store” for gearheads, dominated by twin 1,500 hp MTU turbocharged diesels. Wiring is well marked, terminated in bus bars and color coded (spare conduit with messengers is also provided).
The 24v DC and 110v AC systems are well-designed, with an inverter system and a bank of 16 L16 batteries for house lighting and equipment, plus four 8D batteries for starting gensets and engines.
A pair of Charles Industries Iso-Boost isolation transformers isolate the 78-footer’s onboard electronics and electrical appliances (including the chilled water air-conditioning system) from shore power. They can boost voltage by up to 20 percent, allowing systems to operate to their rated potential at the end of a long dock run in a remote marina, where 30-amp and 50-amp power supplies may be questionable.
The 2,300 gallons of fuel tankage is balanced between a pair of saddlebag-style tanks, with a manifold system built into the base of the forward bulkhead.
Shafts, struts and rudder posts are 4-inch-diameter Aqua 22HS. Engine shafts are isolated with a PSS dripless shaft log system.
Other equipment of note includes a Track stabilizer system and three sizes of automatic fire extinguishers, mounted on a small shelf against the watertight bulkhead.
The covered aft deck features a drop-down table that splits to form two small cocktail tables or rises to make a larger dining table. With additional deck chairs, there is seating here for at least a dozen adults.
We entered the saloon through a sensor-triggered, pneumatic-driven automatic stainless steel and glass sliding door. It was a bit like approaching the door to a supermarket when the “magic door” unexpectedly opened for us, welcoming us inside.
The saloon is finished in teak, trimmed with anigre wood and accented with camphor burl wood on bulkheads and berth casements. Black leather is used in the built-in settee to port, and other soft leathers are used in the movable furnishings.
The anigre is a nice touch. Creamy, with a slight tinge of pink, this African hardwood is often found in expensive furniture and in applications where lightweight construction is desirable.
The sole — floating Sylomer floors in the saloon and dining area — is inlaid teak and granite. Everything is finished to a beautiful high gloss.
The aluminum I-beams supporting the upper deck and pilothouse are concealed inside rounded teak-veneered struts, to port and starboard. The use of aluminum allows larger open spaces in this area — and larger windows (of tempered safety glass).
The two-stateroom layout features a “media room” that would be the envy of any cyberspace cowboy. At the push of a button, a 32-inch flat-screen plasma monitor rises from its hiding spot inside a cabinet.
Japanese-style Shoji screens can be left open to create an expansive feeling as you descend the stairs, or they can be closed for privacy. This area can also be devoted to an optional third stateroom, if you prefer.
A large VIP stateroom is located at the bow, while the owner’s stateroom is located amidships, across a foyer, accessible through a pair of opening doors. Both are beautifully appointed, with plenty of storage.
The master stateroom’s en suite head has a pair of marine toilets and a large bathtub, between two sliding smoked-glass doors.
The galley is a work of art. Its sole and countertops are crafted of inlaid Indian black marble, while the cabinets are finished in teak and anigre. The overall look is stylish, with a pleasant blend of stainless steel and black surfaces.
Appliances on our test boat included a Gagganau four-burner propane range, a full-size GE Profile upright refrigerator/freezer, a Gagganau conventional oven and a full-size microwave oven. A counter with stools is adjacent, and a large dinette with seating for eight is forward of the counter.
At the Helm
The skylounge-style pilothouse offers a layout that is a helmsman’s dream for ease of operation, yet is also great for entertaining guests aboard. A day head is located to port, and a large dinette converts to form a pilot berth for longer cruises.
A full-size glass door leads from the pilothouse to the upper aft deck, where we found a remote-controlled davit. This handy launching and retrieval system can even be operated from the tender as you lower it into the water.
The wheelhouse is perched high above the water (higher than stations on most boats of this size), and large windows provide an open view of the water on all sides. The large teak-inlaid captain’s wheel is within easy grasp of a pair of black, ergonomically designed Stidd helm seats.
The instruments are easy to view, for the most part — however, the rpm readouts on the DDEC electronic engine display appear as small half-inch numbers in the small engine panels. Within a short time, I became accustomed to it — but, to me, the numbers seem a bit small for something so important.
We took the 78 out across Seattle’s Lake Union, through the Montlake Cut and past a flotilla of boats whose crews were attending a Washington Huskies football game. Then, we ran onto Lake Washington and put the boat through its paces, running through its full speed range.
The 78 has a remarkably slippery hull for a large vessel, coming on plane at around 1,500 rpm during our test. The second turbos kicked in at 1,800 rpm. The boat’s top speed is 24.5 knots, at 2,300 rpm.
The engine room is well insulated with triple-layer lead/foam to silence the diesel powerplants — and the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Under way at full speed, sound tests belowdecks in the saloon produced a reading of just 74 dB.
This boat is as easy on the ears as it is on the eyes.
Ocean Alexander 78 Motoryacht Specifications
|Fuel capacity||2,300 gallons|
|Water capacity||430 gallons|
|Propellers||Five-blade HS-computer-cut Class-S|
|Price as testedwith twin 1,00-hp MTU turbocharged diesel engines||$3.25 million|
|Top speed||24.5 knots|
|Miles per gallon at 20.2-knot cruising speed||17|
|Range at 20.2-knot cruising speed||425 nautical miles|
|Sound level at 20.2-knot cruising speed||73 dB A|
ABT hydraulic bow and stern thrusters with stabilizer; remote-controlled Steelhead SM3000 retracting yacht crane, C-Power Iso-Boost isolation transformers; emergency engine-driven bilge pump; oil change system for engine and generator; curved glass bait tank at transom; hand-held remote control for engine and thruster system; DCS professional barbecue; Kohler whirlpool tub; washer/dryer, refrigerator and microwave oven in crew quarters; two Stidd helm seats; U-Line wine cooler; deck washdown system; Three 17-inch monitors at skylounge helm station; Furuno NAVnet system with 48-mile radar, depth sounder and GPS; Simrad tri-data system; Simrad AP20 autopilot; 42-inch plasma televisions in saloon and master stateroom; 32-inch plasma television in media center; 20-inch LCD televisions in forward stateroom and crew quarters; sound system for staterooms, galley, saloon and skylounge; Sea-Tel satellite television system; Sea-Tel WaveCall system; two Icom VHF radios.
Hand-laid fiberglass hull; crash bulkheads; carbon fiber and aluminum I-beam reinforcement in high-stress areas; decks built with aluminum beams through-bolted to stainless steel brackets; skid-resistant fiberglass decks. Hull utilizes Monk/Hagemann tunnel (prop pocket) system and underwater exhaust.
For More Information
Alexander Marine Co. Ltd.
Ocean Alexander Marine Yacht Sales Inc.
Orange Coast Yachts
Newport Beach, CA