As he began laying out his tools and gauges in preparation for a recent trial run of the just-launched Ocean Alexander 120 tri-deck, a technician observed, “In terms of its systems alone, it’s a lot more like a 50-meter yacht.”
He should know, for as an electrician and member of the Christensen Shipyards team that built the gleaming new vessel, he’s more accustomed to working on motoryachts in the 150-foot-plus range (the last four projects launched by Christensen have been 160 feet or larger). That level of experience and ability precisely matched Ocean Alexander’s criteria as the company came looking for a North American partner to build the new semi-displacement design.
“The designers’ task was to fit a 130-foot yacht into a 121-foot LOA,” Ferguson said. To that end, Marshall, working within the envelope of a beamy (25-foot-2-inch) semi-displacement hull form, has incorporated a comparably generous superstructure. A full-length box keel and a system of five integral fuel tanks yield additional living space within the hull, and large windows emphasize a feeling of roominess that noticeably surpasses its nominal dimensions. The Christensen engineering team, not surprisingly, was happy to play an active role in the development process in order to ensure continuity with the yard’s established construction protocols and processes.
Commensurate with the 120’s larger-than-expected scale and ambiance, is its impressive equipment list and fit-out. Perhaps the most noticeable example of this attribute is the yacht’s enormous hydraulically operated door spanning the transom between the swim-platform and aft-deck stairways. In lieu of the more common (and often cramped) lazarette that characterizes many other yachts in this size range, the door opens onto a large bay that can be fitted with a launch and retrieval system for a tender up to 15 feet 8 inches in length—diesel powered in keeping with the yacht’s ABS and MCA classing. As an alternative, a Nautical Structures 3,500-pound hydraulic crane may be installed in a dedicated compartment molded into the trailing edge of the flybridge deck for a 19-foot tender secured up top.
Similarly, the engine room reflects the yacht’s tendency to exceed expectations. Rather than settling for in-line strainers for the main engines’ raw-water intakes, Ocean Alexander has specified two sea chests as a means of ensuring a reliable supply of cooling water for all onboard systems. The mains, moreover, are de-rated to operate below their maximum design output, a strategy that significantly extends maintenance intervals even as it lengthens service life (to the benefit of original and potential subsequent owners). Accordingly, the 120 can cruise all day at 15 nautical miles per hour, a mere knot below its dialed-down top speed, or throttle back to achieve an admirable 3,000-nm range at 10 to 12 knots.
The 120’s equipment list also reads like that of a larger yacht and includes ABT TRAC 16-inch bow and stern thrusters; series 440 TRAC stabilizers with at-rest stabilization, also by ABT; two 1,200-gallon-per-day watermakers; a passerelle and a sewage treatment system. To attenuate mechanical vibration and sound levels, Ocean Alexander specifies floating deck soles on main and lower levels, and isolated interior bulkheads throughout. Hull and frame coring, in addition to their structural properties, further mute ambient noise to allow quiet conversation in all living spaces, throughout the speed range. In the interest of achieving superior structural integrity and seakindly good manners, the yacht’s design brief specifies a very stiff hull, a mandate entirely consistent with Christensen’s own philosophy. The yard takes pride in what it calls the two-point pick, or the ability to support a completed yacht on just two cradles, one well forward and one aft, with no flexing or undue stress. Built to that same lofty standard, the Ocean Alexander 120 delivers a level of hull strength comparable to that of its larger Christensen counterparts.
Given this yacht’s enviable pedigree, expectations with regard to its performance and overall behavior were understandably high as it cast off its lines and eased into the Columbia River, sharing the channel with Portland- and Vancouver-bound freighters, container ships and bulk carriers en route to a less crowded reach downriver for a series of speed runs, full-throttle turns and a crash stop or two, all in pursuit of its classing certifications. Through each trial, the 120 performed according to spec and displayed unexpected agility in a series of lock-to-lock turns at full throttle. As a testament to the skill of its designers and engineers of the team that built it, the Ocean Alexander 120, from its first trial, met its rpm requirements exactly and required not the slightest tweak to its out-of-the-box shaft alignment.