Author : David Toyer
The Ocean Alexander 52 sedan was ordered by its owner for the practicality of the layout and its general suitability to boating with a young family.
During the early 1980s I toured numerous boatbuilding yards throughout Asia, researching a feature story on the proliferation of new Asian-built big boats that were landing in Australia. That was probably the first time that the local boating industry had experienced such a high number of foreign-built luxury cruisers and motor yachts being imported and sold, and many of the brands were from builders that the local industry or buyers knew little about.
The majority of those imports came from boatyards in Taiwan, a great number of which were very new, being set up almost side by side as local tradesmen took advantage of a healthy world wide economy that was creating an international boating boom.
By today’s standards, many of those factories were very raw and very basic, but reliably churned out sedans, sports convertibles and pilot house motor yachts for an eager world wide market.
One of those new boat yards was the Ocean factory in Kaohsiung at the southern end of Taiwan. Although first produced only in 1978, the Ed Monk designed Ocean 50 had already created a name for the company around the world, establishing Ocean as one of the most reputable manufacturers of solidly built, quality, long range pilot house motor yachts.
Since then, Ocean Alexander has grown to be a very large and influential boatyard and now under the guidance of a second generation of the Chueh family, a new factory complex has been completed in Shanghai, China, to accommodate the new Altus range of sports cruisers.
An Ocean Alexander is normally built to order, so expect to see subtle differences from one boat to the next even though “standard’ layouts are provided. The 52 sedan reviewed in this article was ordered by its owner for the practicality of the layout and its general suitability to boating with a young family – be that for a day’s outing, for weekends, or long range cruising.
With a young family, space and keeping those children entertained, particularly during longer cruises, is important. So too are the generous cabin sizes, the spacious saloon with its inbuilt entertainment system plus the separate dinette area and fully equipped galley, providing most of the mod cons from home. There is space to move about without people getting under each other’s feet.
The rear cockpit is not huge, but there is space to set up a small table and a few chairs without cramping the space. The dual access to and from the swim platform either side of the transom works well and the lift-out rails on the rear of the platform give an increased dimension to extended cockpit space when the boat is at rest.
A large sliding glass door leads into the saloon from the cockpit, and it is here that the tone for the rest of the boat is quickly established. Highly polished teak veneers and hardwoods line all the vertical surfaces and joinery and are highlighted by expert matching of veneers or in the case of the table tops and ceiling feature panels, cleverly hand crafted to create works of art within themselves. Concealed window curtains, quality recessed lighting and generous headroom combine to create a great feeling of welcome the moment you step into this boat. Settle back into the enormous saloon settee and it is so comfortable and relaxing that you won’t want to get back up in a hurry.
Without a lower helm station (which is an option), both the galley and separate dining table are raised one step up from the saloon , and “identified” by a change of floor finish from carpet to polished teak. The galley is equipped with a two-door upright fridge and freezer, full-size microwave oven, cooktop, double sink and granite bench tops – both the bench and cooktop unfortunately not being blessed with any sort of fiddle rail.
Below deck are the three cabins and two bathrooms. In the bow is the master stateroom with its island queen bed, twin hanging lockers, under bunk storage, side benches, and built-in LCD TV/DVD/CD system. Although this queen berth has had to be raised quite high off the cabin floor to create the necessary bunk dimensions within the profiles and hull flaring at the bow, the steps around each side are generous and easy going and hence it is an easy berth to get in and out of, and these steps are large enough to allow the bed to be made up fairly easily off to the side.
The guest cabins consist of a queen berth off to port and a twin berth to starboard. Both of these tuck partly back under the galley and dinette, but maintain excellent headroom and a great feeling of space due to the fact that you step down two steps inside both of these cabins. There are hanging lockers and adequate storage space and the washer/dryer is accessed from inside the twin cabin.
There are a few engine options available for the 52 sedan, with this boat being powered by a pair of 6-cylinder turbocharged aftercooled Cummins QSC8.3 diesels. These each provide 540hp at 2600rpm, weigh approximately 900kg dry and have electronic throttle and gearshift.
Maximum speed with this installation is 26 knots and cruising at 20 knots in the right conditions, will provide a cruise range in the vicinity of 400 nautical miles or so.
Noise levels are exceptionally low and even at full throttle it is possible to sit in the saloon or out on the aft cockpit and have a conversation without being drowned out by engine noise.
The hull runs very flat at any speed so you get good vision out of the saloon and galley. There is no bogging down when the throttles are opened, as the hull zips quickly onto the plane with virtually no bow lift. Trim tabs are only necessary to level the port/starboard balance and not needed for the fore/aft trim. Though it runs flat and pushes water fairly well forward on the chines it is a reasonably clean and dry ride.
Propeller tunnels are credited for much of the level trim attitude and the performance of this and most other Ed Monk designed Ocean Alexander hulls. These tunnels enable a flatter shaft angle and larger diameter props to be used; and it is claimed that the rudders and props are further aft than could otherwise be achieved. Ocean Alexander says they have been able to gain more space in their cabins due to engine location and the size of engines needed to achieve suitable performance.
The engine room is pristine, and to steal some words from the company brochure . . . . . “you may find you want to spend a great deal of time in your engine room, just admiring it.” The entire engine room including the spacious lazarette aft (both accessed directly through the cockpit floor hatch), is fully sealed and finished with not a rough junction or a lower standard of workmanship to be seen anywhere.
There is good access all round the 8.3-litre Cummins so that every component is accessible and serviceable. Plumbing, hydraulics and electrics are colour coded or labelled for easy servicing and tracing, and all tanks are fitted with sight gauges located where they can be checked at a glance.
Ocean Alexander put a lot of faith and stake their reputation on the design and engineering that goes into each of their boats, and when you get behind the linings, into the back of cupboards or fitments, and under the floors into the storage areas and the engine room, that all of this reinforced. The unseen areas are treated as for the rest of the boat and the attention to detail and the quality of the workmanship in these out of the ways places is top class.
The design engineers assess each section of the hull and superstructure in accordance with the stresses and loadings that are likely to be imposed, and decide on the best construction technique that is likely to address those loadings, always bearing in mind the weight factor. Hence there is a mix of build methods on various sections of the boat.
The hull is solid FRP layup with unidirectional carbon fibre as reinforcement in critical areas. There is no cored laminates, nor any other exotic materials in the major stress areas of the hull. The Ocean Alexander engineers sticking by the tried and proven solid FRP construction to achieve the strength they require without the risk of delamination, water penetration, or other stress failures.
Above the waterline however there is a mix of construction with balsa cored laminates in hull sides and deck plus a reinforcement of the superstructure and other large span deck areas via a combination of laminates and aluminium I-beam reinforcement.
One feature that I thought was quite well done on the reviewed boat is the manner in which the 3.8 metre Sirocco rigid inflatable is mounted off the rear of the flybridge deck. This in fact is not an Ocean Alexander fitted item, but one designed by the distributor here in Australia and manufactured by Southern Stainless in Brisbane. It can be a challenge to mount any rigid bottom inflatable on a boat around this size, without it becoming a cumbersome and awkward add-on.
Hovering where it does, on a stainless steel cantilever cradle, the dinghy looks as though it is an extension of the upper deck and hardtop. The dingy isn’t an intrusion when you get on or off the boat and all the posts and cradle fabrication or even the dinghy and the outboard engine themselves, don’t seem to be an intrusion when you sit out on the aft cockpit.
Where it is mounted, the dinghy can be easily launched and retrieved with the 400kg davit and because of its position close to the back of the boat, it is not necessary to install a long reach arm on the davit to launch the dingy either off the stern or on the port side.
The Ocean Alexander 52 is a classic style sedan cruiser integrated with a modern European styled transom. Externally it has neat, smart, modern lines about it, yet the interior is typical of the classic sedan cruiser. There is a clever maximisation of space, with a finish that is again classical but with an attention to detail and a high grade finish to the joinery and timber linings, the bulkheads, and built in fixtures, that is outstanding.
- Design Name: Ocean Alexander 52 Sedan
- Year Launched: 2006
- Designer: Ed Monk Jnr.
- Builder: Ocean Alexander
- LOA: 15.85m
- Waterline Length: 14.17m
- Beam: 4.72m
- Draft: 1.22m
- Displacement: 16.33 tonne (approx.)
- Max. Speed: 26 knots
- Cruise Speed: 20 knots
- Construction: FRP / balsa core
- Fuel Capacity: 2271 litres
- Fresh Water: 680 litres
- Engine: 2 x Cummins 540hp QSC8.3