When the 32-foot Ocean Craft 9.8M AMP, powered by twin 300 hp Mercury Pro XS outboards, rolled up the boat ramp and into the parking lot on its own wheels, every nearby head swiveled to look.
The Ocean Craft has three hydraulic legs that raise and lower, powered by a 40 hp Briggs and Stratton gasoline engine parked under a motor box in the transom. Each rear leg sports a custom 26-by-12-by-12-inch Turf Tire wheel, and the leg that tucks up against the bow has dual wheels. The ability to drive at jogging speed (a governor keeps top-end down to around 6 mph) across asphalt, sand or just about any reasonably firm surface in all-wheel-drive sets this boat apart from the mainstream. While the amphibious nature of this craft grabs most of the attention, it can also blast through raging seas at high speeds in relative comfort.
When we tested the Ocean Craft, gusts to 29 mph had roiled up Chesapeake Bay, creating a back-breaking 2- to 4-foot chop. In our quest to find calmer waters for high-speed runs, we ran north, then west, then south, and eventually back east again. Thanks to an aggressive hull with razor-sharp concave reversed chines surrounded by the shock-absorbing Hypalon collar, there was never a moment when my aching old back cried out in pain aboard this center-console layout, regardless of the direction we cruised—that includes when cranked up to full tilt.
The boat’s amphibious nature isn’t its only unusual trait. Construction is also atypical. Ocean Craft builds this model just as it builds its professional line intended for law enforcement, firefighters and military applications. Upgrades from the norm include military-grade Hypalon 1670 Dtex tubes, stainless-steel pipework and shock-mitigating seats. These touches might not be as obvious as the legs and wheels, but it’s no matter. We’re still 100 percent sure that each and every head will turn when you cruise that Ocean Craft out of the water and drive onto dry land.
How We Tested
- Engines: Twin Mercury Pro XS 300
- Drive/prop: Outboard/14″ x 21″ Mirage Plus 3-blade stainless-steel
- Gear ratio: 1.75:1 Fuel Load: 120 gal. Crew Weight: 320 lb. (approx.)
- Boat ramp? Who needs a boat ramp? Trailer? Who needs a trailer?
- Exceedingly comfortable in a nasty chop, even while posting impressive performance numbers.
- Bow wheels create a permanent fender of sorts.
- If you trim the boat improperly and push the bow too low, the forward wheels can grab water and throw spray.
- Additional weight of the amphibious system (over 800 pounds) means otherwise equal nonamphibious versions could go faster or burn less fuel.
The slightly smaller 30-foot Sea Legs 9.0M is another amphibious RIB with deployable wheels. It offers a single wheel at the bow rather than dual, rides on an aluminum hull as opposed to fiberglass, and carries a 400 hp maximum rating.
Pricing and Specs
|Price:||$311,000 (as tested)|
|Transom Deadrise:||13 degrees|
|Fuel Capacity:||180 gal.|
|Available Power:||Single or twin outboards to 800 hp|
Speed, Efficiency, Operation
Ocean Craft Marine – Annapolis, Maryland; 410-263-3242; oceancraftmarine.com