Ocean Yachts’ 37 Billfish a “New” Direction Offshore - 09/17/2008

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Ocean Yachts 37 bf
Introduced a year ago, Ocean Yachts' 37 has struck a responsive chord among a diverse audience of offshore fishermen.

It is not often that a new design concept comes out in boating, and when one does, we often find that it is a throwback to something done years ago that got lost in the stampede to bigger, faster, fancier, niftier whatever that has gripped boating for the last 30 years or so. Such an example is the Ocean Yachts 37 Billfish launched almost exactly a year ago. At first, to some, she looked odd and out of place with the beefy battlewagons lined up along sportfisherman’s row at the fall and winter boat shows. But then, when hardcore fishermen starting spending some time on the boat, light bulbs began blinking on. The 37 Billfish is a fresh, new 21st century take on an old concept that took good care of our fathers and grandfathers.


Ernest Hemingway’s Pilar provided many years of serious fishing in the Stream from Cuba, Key West and Bimini. Note the location of the helm and his line of vision to the cockpit.



The 40’ Pilar at the Finca Vigia, Cuba museum honoring Hemingway’s memory.


A beautifully restored Bertram 31. The design was SOTA 45 years ago for offshore fishermen.

Ocean Yachts
An early Pacemaker built by C.P. Leek, grandfather of Ocean Yachts’ current president and owner.

Ocean Yachts
The 37 Billfish is one year old and its popularity is growing among fishy folks.
Ocean Yachts was started in 1977 and during the last 31 years it has built thousands of boats of all sizes. The company revolutionized convertible and sportfishing boats in the 1980s building the most beautiful interiors ever to grace a fishing boat up to that time. The Leek family, which founded and owns Ocean Yachts, may not have been the first to figure out that women were the crucial decision makers when it came to which boat was purchased, but it was the first convertible builder to act on it. The lavish interiors you find on most convertibles today were started by Ocean Yachts.


Ocean Yachts puts its 37 Billfish model in context on its website when it says that many fishermen may “…look back to the 1960s as their sport’s Golden Age, when high-utility day-fishermen worked the canyons for marlin and tuna, or even the bays for stripers and blues. For all who dream of owning one of those vintage boats, we dedicate the 37 Billfish – the premiere model in an entirely new class of Ocean sportfishermen.”


Ocean Yachts
The 37’s center console helm on the flying bridge is the sport’s latest wrinkle.

Ocean Yachts knew that serious offshore fishermen who didn’t also own their own Fortune 500 company were faced with some unattractive options when contemplating a fishing boat with which to work the New York and New Jersey canyons which are 150 miles offshore. Namely, buy a 20-year-old battlewagon with 2-stroke diesel engines cobbled together by Rube Goldberg or buy a new express fishboat which was uncomfortable driving 150 miles into the Atlantic from a perch in the tower or from below with limited visibility. And for the occasional overnight spent offshore the express could be a bit Spartan.

Something Old and Something New…

Ocean Yachts’ solution to this dilemma was to leaf through the family’s album of yesteryear for inspiration, then take the best from several types of modern boats and create a whole new creature – the 37 Billfish. By eliminating the cabin’s aft bulkhead – the way boats of this size used to be built – the skipper has good visibility from the helm and can dash to a rod, gaff or net in a couple of seconds, making buddy fishing easy and practical.


Ocean Yachts
With a helm below, skippers have the best of both worlds. Note simple, old-time cabin layout.

By making the 37 a flybridge boat, the crew can comfortably steer the boat out to the canyons and have the same height off the water as a half tower on an express. Finally, by fitting out the accommodations with an over and under bunk arrangement two fishermen can catch some rest comfortably. One can go for the more “conventional” pedestal berth which virtually every boat built these days has (and which has never made much sense to us, particularly in a fishing boat.)

Ocean Yachts
A good allocation of space in our opinion. We like the twin bunk arrangement, and the separate shower stall.


Lightweight Power

Standard power is the Yanmar 6LY3-ETP 480-hp engine (2x) which has a high horsepower per pound of engine weight ratio. The builder also makes Cummins and Cat diesels available if you want them. But the boat with the Yanmars is light, and that along with its 12.8-degrees deadrise at the transom , 13’10” beam, and 23,000-lb. displacement makes the boat fast and nimble. How fast we really don’t know, but we plan on testing the 37 soon to find out.

We asked John Leek if buyers were converging on the boat from both center console folks moving up and large convertible owners moving down, and the answer was yes. But, he hastened to add, the largest migration of all has come from express owners who want more boat, and more comfort both riding far offshore and also in nasty weather. 


Introduced a year ago, Ocean Yacht’s 37 has struck a responsive chord among a diverse audience of offshore fishermen.  "Papa" was born 50 years too soon.

Ocean Yacht dealers make no secret of the fact they are targeting potential Cabo 36 and 38 Express customers. With an MSRP of $472k, the 37 is about the same price at the Cabo 36, but over $100k less than the Cabo 38 Express, which has larger diesel engines, an extra foot of beam and 2,000 pounds more weight.

The 37 Billfish will be making the boat show rounds this fall, starting Sept. 18 through 21 at the Norwalk Boat Show in Connecticut, then making its way down the coast to Annapolis and Ft. Lauderdale. Over the last year the company has made a few refinements, so if you saw her last year, be sure to note the changes. 

Visit Ocean Yachts' website.