Passage Maker - - Contents - Bill Ja­cobs

Test­ing the Okean 50

Test­ing the Mod­ern and Ver­sa­tile Okean 50

It was not the best day for a boat test—fre­quent squalls blow­ing in from the At­lantic, a high-seas warn­ing off­shore, skies spit­ting rain from bil­low­ing clouds, the land­scape shades of gray. Not the vi­sion of Ft. Lauderdale pro­moted by the Tourist Coun­cil.

But in­side the bril­liant sur­rounds of the Okean 50’s main sa­loon, even this view was spec­tac­u­lar. I felt as if I were stand­ing out­side in the rain, but dry. With 360 de­grees of crys­tal clear tem­pered glass sur­round­ing the high-tech helm and sa­loon, na­ture be­came part of the in­te­rior even with all the sa­loon open­ings closed.

Trans­parency was not the fea­ture of the boat that I came to write about, but it per­haps over­shad­owed even the unique pair of bal­conies that de­ploy from the free­board, in­creas­ing the af­ter­deck space by a whop­ping 100% to a to­tal of 228 square feet.

You will no doubt see pho­tographs of this unique yacht, but what is not al­ways ap­par­ent in them is the com­plete open­ness of the main sa­loon. In ad­di­tion to the wrap­around “sea glass” views, there are slid­ing glass doors on the star­board side that dis­ap­pear when opened, a dou­ble-hinged door to the af­ter­deck, and a large open­ing pass-through from the gal­ley to the port­side deck. When ev­ery­thing is opened and both bal­conies are de­ployed, you are sur­rounded by space. And all this only en­hances what is a fairly spec­tac­u­lar sa­loon it­self, one that con­tains an enor­mous set­tee, a finely crafted hi-lo ta­ble, an en­ter­tain­ment cen­ter, and a com­pact, ef­fi­cient gal­ley.

The prove­nance of this unique ves­sel is an in­ter­est­ing story. It all be­gan many years ago when Ner­cio Fer­nan­des, a suc­cess­ful soft­ware en­tre­pre­neur in Brazil, cruised his new 37-foot boat from Mi­ami to his home east of São Paulo, Brazil, a voy­age of more than 4,000 nau­ti­cal miles. Fast for­ward to 2012 when Fer­nan­des took de­liv­ery of a new 60-foot Princess from HMY Yachts in Mi­ami. The hook was set. In 2015 he de­cided it was time to sat­isfy his dream of de­sign­ing and build­ing his own vi­sion of a con­tem­po­rary power cruiser. He en­vi­sioned the type and size yacht he wanted to bring to the mar­ket. It was to be of con­tem­po­rary de­sign, be ca­pa­ble of ex­cel­lent per­for­mance at both dis­place­ment and plan­ing speeds, and cre­ate a sense of open­ness to the sea.

Through con­nec­tions that he had made within the Ital­ian yacht de­sign com­mu­nity, he chose to work with Mi­lanese de­signer Paolo Fer­ragni. Fer­ragni’s de­sign stu­dio has de­vel­oped recre­ational boats for builders and own­ers through­out Europe for 15 years. The de­sign ob­jec­tive for the new line was to cre­ate a se­ries of in­no­va­tive yachts from 50 to 80 feet, built to CE stan­dards with a Cat­e­gory B rat­ing (Off­shore: in­cludes boats op­er­at­ing off­shore with winds to 40 knots and sig­nif­i­cant seas to 13 feet). They wanted a hull de­sign that pro­vided equal per­for­mance at both dis­place­ment and plan­ing speeds, a unique open con­cept, and a high-qual­ity, con­tem­po­rary in­te­rior. In ad­di­tion to the 50-foot model, there is an 80-foot ver­sion near­ing completion, a 66-foot ver­sion cur­rently in the de­sign phase, and a 53-foot open day­boat un­der con­sid­er­a­tion. They are cur­rently work­ing on a back­log of 10 ves­sels to be com­pleted by late 2018. The 50 tested here was hull #2.

Be­cause of Fer­nan­des’ ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with HMY Yachts, he brought them onto the project team to ad­vise on mar­ket­ing and con­struc­tion de­tails. HMY was charged with over­see­ing the use of as many U.S. com­po­nents as pos­si­ble and mak­ing sure that the whole line they of­fered was U.S.-friendly, in­clud­ing lay­out, fin­ish, and many other de­tails that con­cern boaters in the States. In busi­ness for al­most 40 years, HMY has be­come one of the largest yacht deal­ers in the coun­try. With HMY’s Arthur Grin as the project coordinator, HMY will not only be mak­ing source rec­om­men­da­tions and pro­vid­ing world­wide mar­ket­ing but also co­or­di­nat­ing all ser­vice and war­ranty per­for­mance.


It was easy to spot the Okean 50 in the ma­rina as its port­side bal­cony was open, cre­at­ing easy board­ing from the fixed dock. As I stepped on, I thought how im­pres­sive it would be to be an­chored out with both bal­conies de­ployed cre­at­ing over 200 square feet of ad­di­tional open deck space. The sense of space is fur­ther en­hanced by dou­ble slid­ing glass doors on the star­board side that dis­ap­pear into the cabin side, a dou­ble-hinged door at the af­ter end of the sa­loon, and an open bar into the gal­ley to port. The bal­conies are de­ployed by con­cealed hy­draulic lifts and sup­ported by a ful­l­length deck hinge with stain­less wire sup­ports on the for­ward end. A push on the but­ton silently raises them to be­come the af­ter bulk­head on each side. When viewed from the stern, the opened deck com­bined with the glass-en­closed sa­loon cre­ated a three­d­i­men­sional aura un­like any I had ever ex­pe­ri­enced on a boat.


Cap­tain Alex Faga eased the Okean 50 out of the slip into a tight fair­way for our test just as the first ocean-borne squall brought rain and wind from off our bow. HMY’s Arthur Grin and I watched as he deftly ma­nip­u­lated the joy­stick con­trol­ling the twin IPS600 Volvos. Small move­ments al­lowed Faga to ef­fort­lessly spin the boat in its own length. The com­plete ab­sence of win­dow frames pro­vides great vis­i­bil­ity to the per­son at the helm, even in spit­ting rain. The 180-de­gree wind­screen, ra­diused on both sides, has enough straight sur­face in the cen­ter to al­low one large wind­screen wiper to pro­vide about three feet of ef­fec­tive sweep.

We were lim­ited to sec­tions of the in­land wa­ter­ways with­out wake re­stric­tions for our test­ing due to the con­di­tion of the ocean. The ride was, of course, smooth as there were no waves. But a few large wakes from other pass­ing boats did give us a chance to ap­pre­ci­ate the in­ter­nal gyro keep­ing us level at all times. The deci­bel read­ings at all speeds were in very com­fort­able ranges (see test data), and the boat re­sponded well to all ma­neu­vers driven by the pod drives. As we ran the boat from dead idle speed to wide open throt­tle, the ac­cel­er­a­tion was smooth, even as we tran­si­tioned from nine-knot trawler speed to a brisk and com­fort­able 20-knot plan­ing speed. The dif­fer­ence in range be­tween these two com­fort­able speeds was only 76 miles, or about 20%. The num­bers bore out one of the prin­ci­pal ob­jec­tives be­hind the Okean 50—good per­for­mance at dis­place­ment and plan­ing speeds. Fer­ragni uti­lizes what he refers to as a “Duo Mode” hull de­sign, which is his take on a semi-dis­place­ment hull with lift­ing strakes for­ward and a 14-de­gree dead­rise in the stern.

On the sub­ject of per­for­mance, Fer­ragni said, “The Duo Mode hull means that I de­sign a hull ready for smooth cruis­ing at 12 to 14 knots in semi-dis­place­ment [that is] also [able] to reach top speed with­out los­ing safety, smooth be­hav­ior on the waves, and good fuel con­sump­tion.” He con­tin­ued, “The tran­si­tion be­tween semi-dis­place­ment and plan­ing at top speed is very soft and it does not need too much power and con­sump­tion. It is the cus­tomer who chooses the gait and type of nav­i­ga­tion, not the hull.”

And touch­ing on the im­por­tance of the de­sign fea­ture that I first no­ticed about the Okean 50, Fer­ragni said, “The other im­por­tant con­cept of the Okean range de­sign is to be in con­stant re­la­tion­ship with the sea and with no bar­rier be­tween in­side and out­side. The vi­sion is 360 de­grees. This means more light, more safety, more re­lax­ing, more fun, and more re­la­tion­ship with the sea.”

Our test run com­plete, we re­turned to the dock with the same ease as our de­par­ture. It was in­ter­est­ing to note that once Cap­tain Alex Faga se­cured us to the dock on our port side, Arthur Grin

pushed a but­ton and low­ered the port bal­cony. There was plenty of clear­ance in what ap­peared to be a stan­dard width slip of 18 to 20 feet. Step­ping back ashore was a breeze.


Af­ter a quick lunch I went back aboard to tour the boat. All the sa­loon glass is able to be covered by slim alu­minum blinds hid­den in a valance. An in­ter­est­ing op­tion might be elec­tri­cally op­er­ated blinds. The com­pact gal­ley is well lo­cated and suf­fi­cient for en­ter­tain­ing, but could use ad­di­tional counter space and re­frig­er­a­tion (the lat­ter com­mon on ves­sels de­signed in Europe). Grin had ex­plained that this will be ad­dressed in fu­ture builds.

The de­tail­ing, use of ma­te­ri­als, and qual­ity of fin­ish are right out of a Mi­lan de­sign stu­dio. And the qual­ity is un­mis­tak­able. The only use of vinyl in the in­te­rior is the head­liner. Oth­er­wise, stitched leather, wood, re­cessed LED light­ing, and stain­less steel hard­ware abound. This boat fea­tured a neu­tral color palate through­out, which I thought was per­fect for the con­tem­po­rary con­cept. Grin told me that there are two other color pal­ettes avail­able and ad­di­tional floor­ing op­tions as well. Part of his re­spon­si­bil­ity was to source al­most all of the in­te­rior ap­pli­ances, con­trols, and me­chan­i­cal com­po­nents from U.S. sources or read­ily avail­able in­ter­na­tional dis­tri­bu­tion.

The three-state­room lay­out in­cludes a mid­ship mas­ter, a for­ward VIP cabin, and a port­side cabin that is equipped with bunk beds. An of­fice op­tion and other re­quests for cus­tom touches can also be ac­com­mo­dated. Large glass hull win­dows in all cab­ins al­low great amounts of nat­u­ral light through­out. There are two full heads that are spa­cious and well lit.

The en­gine room is ac­ces­si­ble from a large deck hatch on a hy­draulic lift, down a steep but man­age­able lad­der into a com­modi­ous en­gine bay. The twin Volvo IPS600 diesels looked as tidy as un­der the hood of a brand-new Mer­cedes. Gone are myr­iad runs of hoses and wires; here, ev­ery­thing is neatly con­tained in log­i­cal runs. The wa­ter man­i­fold on the port side was as neat an in­stal­la­tion of ser­vices I’ve seen. The for­ward side of the en­gine room holds a pow­er­ful Onan 13.5 kW gen­er­a­tor, which pow­ers six sep­a­rate A/C units to­tal­ing 74,000 BTU. Both en­gine wa­ter in­takes are very ac­ces­si­ble nearby.

There is a large lazarette astern ac­ces­si­ble from a hatch above and a door to the swim plat­form. This boat had a com­pact washer/dryer lo­cated within, but fu­ture boats will move this unit to in­side the for­ward corridor.

The fly­ing bridge has a se­cond helm sta­tion and large U-shaped set­tee, both covered by an op­tional car­bon fiber hard­top. It was open with no can­vas, which I think was ap­pro­pri­ate as the main helm be­low pro­vides such great vis­i­bil­ity.

The en­tire hull is lam­i­nated with bi­ax­ial fiber­glass over a Diviny­cell foam core in­fused with vinylester resin. The main deck and its bal­conies are all teak-sur­faced, but fiber­glass non­skid is an op­tion. Up for­ward, the ver­ti­cal wind­lass drops a pol­ished stain­less steel Bruce an­chor on a 50-foot chain and 200foot line rode. Twin deck hatches open to an im­mense an­chor locker. Fu­ture builds will in­clude a ded­i­cated rode box, al­low­ing ex­tra stor­age for fend­ers. In­cluded in the price are dual Garmin dis­plays at both helm sta­tions, a 50-inch LED TV on a hy­draulic lift in the sa­loon, and 24-inch TVs in both state­rooms.

So where does the Okean 50 fit in the world of power cruis­ers and trawlers? Frankly, it can fit any­where you want it to. It is a unique ex­pres­sion of voy­ag­ing un­der power. It cer­tainly falls on the con­tem­po­rary side of de­sign, but its abil­ity to per­form well at both dis­place­ment and plan­ing speeds, its ocean­go­ing Cat­e­gory B sta­tus, and its unique in­door/out­door con­fig­u­ra­tion may also prove of great in­ter­est to the gen­eral mar­ket. n

Bow- on, the Okean looks space- age in its de­sign and an­gu­lar­ity. The to­tal ef­fect is a mod­ern-look­ing Mad Max aes­thetic.

Like the rest of the boat, the 50’s fly­bridge is wide open and also well- equipped for en­ter­tain­ing. Be­low: The mas­ter, with an off- cen­ter berth, is also open and sub­stan­tial.

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