By: Mike Brown, Photography by: Mike Brown; Silverton Marine Corporation

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MIKE BROWN gets a round of applause from restaurant patrons at Fremantle’s Fishing Boat Harbour precinct as he parks the big American-made Ovation 52 Fly Bridge with triple Volvo Penta IPS 600s

TEST - Ovation 52 Fly Bridge

Ovations are the high-end products of the Silverton Marine Corporation of New Jersey, USA, already regarded as the builder of some very competent boats. The Ovation 52 Fly Bridge I sampled is not just new to Australia, it is a special model finished to the specifications of Fremantle-based Endeavour Boat Sales, the Australian Ovation agents.

The principal feature of the Ovation 52 is the enclosed flybridge. The standard model has a hardtop that can be enclosed by plastic clears. But with armour glass ahead and down both sides, leaving just the aft pane for the clears, it's a different boat.

Add heavy-duty air-conditioning and the bridge becomes a second saloon. Remove the clears, open the skylights and, when moving at least, you can have all the free air you want. To make that doubly sure, Endeavour plans to give future imports sliding side windows.



Despite its origin, the flybridge has an Australian feel about it - in fact, to my eyes, the whole boat's external appearance is more Australian than American. Also, the hardtop affirms our continual emphasis on sun protection. I often wonder about American and European boating habits: do they spend so little time on their boats that protection isn't important? Or is a good suntan worth the UV exposure?

According to Paul Stenton, general manager of Endeavour, the Ovation people are likely to make the fibreglass flybridge enclosure, which must have involved large quantities of time and tooling, an option on this boat in other markets. So in this way, we are shaping overseas trends.

The forward end of the bridge is all business. A pair of excellent helm seats faces an action-packed console that was laid out by a mariner rather than a stylist. A screen right in front of the skipper provides information from the three Volvo IPS units, which is displayed in virtual analogue format. Flanking this central screen is a pair of Raymarine E120 displays showing sounder, plotter, radar and reversing camera. Other displays fall easily to the eye and the controls naturally to hand.

Surrounding the helm seats is a lot of socialising space, in fact, there's more room here than in the cockpit. A semi-circular lounge is wrapped around a tricky table with a fiddle mounted on a locker. There is another jumbo-sized module to port combining sink, servery and fridge. A built-in barbecue is an option, though Australians prefer to cook outdoors. So add an aftermarket rail-mounted barbie in the cockpit.

Still in the flybridge, yet more seating comes in the form of a settee that stretches from the amenities centre to the windscreen. From here, crew can converse with the skipper who, with autopilot at hand, only has to maintain a lookout. And it's my thinking that the flybridge would be very useful on family cruises. And not just underway.

At anchor, with the rear clears in place and the safety hatch over the staircase open, the flybridge becomes a second saloon. It's far enough away from the adults below that teenagers will derive privacy. And we all know that appealing to all tastes in music and conversation makes for happy family times afloat.



American boats are generally noted for small cockpits by Australian standards. The Ovation's is a touch on the short side, however, compared with some of its compatriots it's positively roomy. With a good-sized swim platform, there is space to stretch out, set up a barbecue, do some casual fishing, gear up for diving or just take in the fresh air.

For dinghy dispatch, a transom panel hinges forward to reveal, if you took the option, a davit. Alternatively, you can specify a hydraulic swim platform as a means of launching and retrieving your tender.

Either way, the cockpit is nice and accessible. As touched on, a staircase leads to the flybridge, but there are also good steps to the sidedecks and grabrails. Those sidedeck are a touch on the narrow side, although still perfectly useable, and the room added to the interior makes it a worthwhile trade-off.

Among the reasons for going forward is a foredeck sunbed big enough for three or four, with an adjustable back. Meantime, the rails and deck hardware sturdy and the cleats akin to stainless steel works of art.



The saloon is a big, friendly space made smaller in the unlikely event an owner chose to have a second, lower control station. As it was on this boat, without that station, the saloon is divided by a couple of steps into two main areas. The higher, timber-decked forward section is for cooking and eating, while the larger carpeted area before it is for sitting, socialising, and watching the monster TV that appears from a cabinet at the touch of a button.

There is much to be said for a galley that puts the cook on the same level as hungry customers, but the equipment alone will make the gourmand feel superior. There is plenty of bench space, drawer-style fridge and freezer, and a microwave that, like a lot of things aboard, pops up electrically to supplement the two-plate electric stove. Vast amounts of locker space and an extractor fan emphasise the galley's utility.

The dining space steps up a notch in respect of opulence. Leather settees for six or more surround three sides of a matched-grain timber table that has a built-in locker and drawer. And when not buried in their plates, the eyes of diners are at the right level for the large window pane that is equipped with shades for glary days.

The aft lounge area is without a table, thereby opening up the space while encouraging social discourse. The seats consist of a three-piece settee to starboard and another settee opposite, which is actually two armchairs, beside a cabinet that conceals a 32in TV. An icemaker can replace the locker.

Cabinetry is in pale cherrywood and the bulkheads are sheathed largely in off-white padded synthetic. The headliner uses synthetic suede on curved panels with burl timber highlights. Plenty of natural light is on tap through windows and the double rear doors, but an almost uncountable number of lights with zone controls allow infinite lighting effects.

The four-zone air-conditioning is as powerful as any I have encountered. Wind it up and even in summer up in the Persian Gulf you would be wise to pack a jumper. Silverton has installed a 15.5kW genset on the Ovation 52 to cope with the power demands of the air-con and other electrical equipment that's in plentiful supply, including a central vacuum system.



The accommodation takes up about 55 per cent of the hull's length. And with the double doors open to the forward cabin, you can stand in the saloon and see for almost 10m of open accommodation.

The three-cabin layout puts the full-beam master suite aft in the premium area. The bed runs fore and aft, with plenty of floor space around and six portholes for light. There are dressers, cedar-lined wardrobes and vanities almost in excess, and an en suite bathroom in grand proportion.

The second or VIP guests cabin up front in the bow is also generously sized, with an innerspring queen-size island bed, a pair of wardrobes and useful horizontal surfaces. A shower compartment is to port and a separate WC is to starboard, with doors to make them accessible as en suite and day head.

The third cabin is tighter but with a full-size double bed that can be folded to give access to the washing machine.



Power options for the 52 are triple Volvo Penta IPS 500s or 600s. The flybridge glass adds a surprising amount of weight, so Endeavour specified the 435hp 600 IPS units for the test boat. The Volvo Pentas certainly got us moving. We were up to 3600rpm and 31kts in no time, and held that speed through some vigorous turns. The IPS do not lose revs in the turns.

Cruising speed is around 22 or 23kts, but the economical cruise of 20kts sees a combined fuel burn of 150lt/h or 7.5lt/nm, which is pretty good going for a boat with a light displacement of around 24 tonnes.

Generally, American cruising boats have beefy shoulders to add volume to the for'ard cabin. The Ovation's finer lines don't reduce space and worked wonders in the lumpy head seas of the day. We had a typical WA southwester working up to hooligan strength. But there was no hull shuddering, just brisk progress in the high 20kts.

Noise levels were extremely low, the motion predictable, leading me to say this should be a comfortable boat for coastal cruising. Best of all, it's an easy boat to berth…

One of the classic places for fouling up a parking job is the boardwalk outside Kailis's seafood café in Fremantle's Fishing Boat Harbour. It calls for some tight turning in confined spaces and usually berthing against the wind. The consequences of getting it wrong can be expensive, plus you always have a crowd of diners who regard berthing as a spectator sport.

We came alongside like a crab, stopping parallel to and a centimetre away from the boardwalk. At first just a couple, then practically everybody gave us a round of applause. Never one to knock back unwarranted praise, I graciously waved an acknowledgement.

Vision ahead is good from the helm seat and with the reversing camera parking should never be a problem. And with five big cleats down each side, securing the cruiser is simple. A 52 with an enclosed flybridge that's a snap to drive. A round of applause, indeed.



Specifications: OVATION 52 HARDTOP



The Australian agents were not being coy when they asked that prices be quoted as 'on application'. With fluctuating exchange rates and generally increasing builder's incentives (discounts), the price at time of review could be substantially different to that at time of publication.



Length overall:   15.8m
Beam:   4.9m
Draught:     1.22m
Deadrise:    13 degrees 
Weight:    Approx 23,600kg (dry)



Berths:   6
Fuel:    2309lt
Freshwater:   757lt
Holding tank:   303lt



Make/model:  Triple Volvo Penta IPS 600
Type:    Six-cylinder turbo diesels
Displacement:  5.5lt
Rated HP:   435 at 3500rpm
Drive:   Duoprop



Endeavour Boat Sales,
1 Mews Road,
Fremantle, WA, 6160
Phone: (08) 9433 3663; Paul Stenton on 0400 880 051

Find Ovation boats for sale.


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