Oyster 655: Best Premium Cruiser Over 50 Feet

This boat's safety features made it stand out from it's competition. A feature from our January 2010 issue

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The Oyster 655 was designed and built by people who simply know what you need offshore.Billy Black

The boats that made up the category of Premium Cruisers Over 50 Feet are exactly that: Each of these big, beautiful boats is sure to demand attention wherever it goes. It wasn't easy picking a winner from a category filled with superlative designs, but when the test-sail dust settled and the merits of each had been thoroughly deliberated, the Oyster 655 edged out the other contenders to be named the Best Premium Cruiser.

The positive comments began as soon as the judges stepped on deck. Alvah Simon wasn't only impressed with how well thought out he found the deck space; he also liked the long list of safety features he encountered: twin life rafts mounted on deck; heavy padeyes for jacklines, both on deck running fore and aft and in the cockpit; a dedicated flare locker for all the necessary emergency equipment; easy access to manual bilge pumps; and super-sturdy, 30-inch lifeline stanchions.

Other topside shout-outs for the judges were the twin helms (more like control centers, really), which permit the raising, lowering, and trimming of all sails via the push of a button; wide side decks, which make moving forward easy; and the large, comfortable cockpit.

Granted, having 67 feet of LOA to work with makes it easy to provide lots of on-deck space, but the 655's designer and builder used that space to create a very seaworthy and usable environment that's well suited to both dockside living and offshore conditions.

Judges found a similarly long list of exemplary design details down below. Roger Hellyar-Brook succinctly summed up the complicated systems with just a single word: "Bombproof."

Stacey Collins loved the spacious saloon, the large master suite (more than just a cabin) aft, and the well-designed galley. Tim Murphy was impressed with the boat's high-quality joinery and by the fact that the boat is equipped with everything (down to the lee cloths) that you'll need to sail around the world.

And everyone took note of the way this big boat performed in 10 knots of breeze and flat water: Boat speed ranged from 5 to 8 knots. B.S

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