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Ocean Star 51.2 Exclusive
By contrast, the primary winches, mounted well inboard on 'buttresses', are within easy reach and in a good position for grinding. Not that we had to do much of that: the test boat had electric primaries and one electric halyard winch too. Two large electric motors within inches of the wheels would play havoc with the steering compasses so a centrally mounted compass sits at the aft end of the cockpit table with fluxgate displays at each wheel.
This boat has loads of space for all the necessities of cruising. You could graze a small herd of goats in the lazarette, which has access via a hatch in the cockpit sole and another under one of the helmsman's seats. Another 51.2 has an occasional bunk for extra crew fitted here, right alongside the generator. Nice. There are another two large lockers on the swim platform and a huge forward locker too. This is usually fitted out as a crew cabin but would make a fantastic workshop for long-distance cruising. Ahead of this is the chain locker.
Although the 51.2 had few surprises on deck, the interior impressed us. There's nothing in particular that stands out as daringly different, but somehow you know this boat wasn't built by machines. Descending a very secure companionway, flanked by strong handholds above and below deck, you enter a spacious saloon. The test boat was finished with a cherry veneer and satin varnish with a pale headlining broken up by strips of dark trim. Ocean Yachts also offer a beautiful teak interior, seen on another 51.2.
The woodwork is solid and nicely finished all round, the odd uneven gap being the only qualm. The doors in particular are beautifully made and feature quality fittings with a heavy, solid action. There are magnetic catches on all doors to hold them open, and extra catches so they can be left slightly ajar. That immense under-floor grid seems to work too; there are no creaks or groans anywhere.
Unusually, the saloon table is mounted athwart ships, making room for the chart table to tuck in abaft it. This in turn allows the longitudinal galley to extend the full length of the saloon. It has plenty of workspace with a neat Corian-style counter top and high wooden fiddles, and a large chest freezer, Front-opening fridge and separate icemaker should keep the supply " if refreshment (lowing, but with no saloon island there's nothing to keep the cook in place on starboard tack
I found the chart table short of legroom but then not everyone is 6ft 4in and it did make it easy to stay wedged in. The table is a reasonable size if a little shallow, but there's the option of having a wider table with an extended instrument binnacle. Hinged switchboard panels here makes access to the electrics simple and gave me a glimpse of very neat wiring looms inside.
The layout features a large owner's cabin up forward and two double guest cabins aft. The owner's cabin is particularly comfortable, with a large island bed and spacious dressing table/desk. Leecloths would be essential if this bunk is to be used at sea, though. All cabins are ensuite with separate shower stalls in all but the port aft head. The aft cabins are comfortable enough, with room to stand up and get dressed, but a little stark and short on natural light. Hull ports, available as an option, were fitted to another boat we saw and make a big difference.
Huge removable panels on either side give excellent access to the 1OOhp Yanmar. With these removed and the companionway lifted, the engine is easy to get at. Under way It was a blustery day off Athens when we sailed the Exclusive, with an icy breeze reaching 30 knots at times. We set off under full sail on a broad reach and were soon doing over nine knots, hitting a high for the day of 9.5 knots in 22 knots apparent. She felt stable and controllable even when flirting with a gybe dead downwind.
The efa rod-linked mechanical steering system, with self-aligning bearings, gives the helm a beautifully light and direct feel, with none of that slack' sogginess' often associated with twin wheels. 1 thought the wheels felt a bit low initially, but they just took a bit of getting used to and were a good height if you tend to do most of your driving sitting down - not a bad thing for a cruising boat. The position is comfortable with lots of things to brace against and it's great having the genoa sheet an arm's length away, but a wider coaming outboard for the helmsman to sit out on would be good.
Hardening up onto a beat, it quickly became apparent that we were over-canvassed. With the mainsheet and traveller controls far away from me, not to mention the language problems with the Greek crew, it was too late to do anything about it when we started rounding up. The helm remained light so there wasn't much warning either, but fortunately the boat came back on course without much fuss.
We eventually settled down under single-reefed main and staysail. The helm remained light and responsive and the log quickly crept up to over 7 knots, staying there with little attention. Under this sail plan the boat felt secure and the self-tacking staysail, rather than an inefficient half-furled genoa. meant I could tack when and where I wanted with no help from the crew. This was a good thing, because with the staysail sheet on the coach roof. along with the main, I was left with no control of the sails. Still, the boat went through a series of quick lacks very smartly.
Heading back to the marina, the grunty loohp Yanmar made quick work of motoring into 30 knots of breeze. Not surprisingly, with that deep spade rudder she was quick to turn under power too but a bowthrusler is a popular option.
Ocean Yachts arc a good example of how a small yard can build production boats the old fashioned way and slill be competitive. She's a big, safe, dependable cruising boat that seems to be built with great care. Overall the boat's performance was impressive too and wit ha decent set of sails should be a lot better. But the Ocean Star is not cheap and mass-produced boats are getting better - their builders have been at it fora long time and know what they're doing. You could save money by being less of an individual, but then again it's difficult to put a cost on having something slightly different.
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Ocean Yachts UK, Ocean House, PO Box 84, Battle, East Sussex TN33 9WF
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