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Lauderdale powercat built for versatility

Cruising Fort Lauderdale, Fla.’s Intracoastal Waterway, the Ocean Tech 42 is comfortable and stylish, its sleek catamaran hulls spacious enough to host parties that can migrate like movable feasts from one watering hole to the next: Shooters, Docksider’s, Cap’s Place.

But this isn’t an ICW cocktail barge. On sea trials with six Navy Seals aboard, the big cat launched off 8- to 10-foot seas at 46 mph and carved figure eights in the roiled ocean off Norfolk, Va. last year, says Paul LaCarubba, founder and CEO of Ocean Tech Yachts, of Fort Lauderdale.

“I had one admiral say, ‘You’re [expletive] crazy,” LaCarubba says. “The Seals thought it was a blast. It was great.”

Words you would expect from a one-time powerboat racer and chief referee for both the American Power Boat Association and Superboat Racing. An engineer, LaCarubba, 60, sold his mechanical contracting business in Boston in 1999 and came to Florida to build boats. Two years earlier he had begun designing the powerboat of his dreams: a fast, comfortable, well-mannered rough-water catamaran.

“The last person to make a good rough-water boat was Don Aronow,” LaCarubba says. It was his 39-footer, a twin hull that came to be known as Blue Thunder for the one Aronow built for the U.S. Customs Service so it could keep up with drug runners in high-seas chases.

LaCarubba bought an old Aronow 39 as his template, put some steps in the hull and added 4 feet to it to give him the original Ocean Tech 42. LaCarubba and partner Pat Sullivan, a powerboat racer and 15-year owner of Performance Marine, a high-performance engine shop in Pompano Beach, are refining the 42 now, replacing the twin Aronow hulls with Harry Schoell’s patented stepped Duo Delta Conic hull.

The cat delivers a comfortable cruising speed of 50 mph with twin 6 liter Mercruiser Bravo drives, says LaCarubba. But if an owner wants to go faster, he just needs to spend more money on bigger engines.

“It can go up to 100 mph,” LaCarubba says confidently.

The boat is designed for cruising, fishing, diving — and for lavish partying. With its 12-foot-wide, 300-square-foot cockpit, the cat can be a jazzy party boat. The helm station is air-conditioned, and Ocean Tech’s most recent build carries a 4,000-watt sound system with 28 speakers and five amplifiers — enough to entertain the whole marina. But the boat also can take 4- to 6-foot seas at 40 mph, Sullivan says.

“If you want to break away from the [ICW] and go to the islands, it is capable of that as well, no matter what the weather,” he says.

The twin hulls are stable in rough seas, and with twin 440-hp Yanmar diesels the 42 burns 17.5 gallons an hour per engine cruising at 35 mph. A power windscreen made of half-inch-thick tempered glass — superfluous on a cocktail cruise — keeps the wind from buffeting helmsman and guests when the cat screams over the ocean and saves wear and tear on the body on long trips.

LaCarubba — who builds the hulls — and Sullivan — who rigs them — say the 42 fills a niche for a versatile catamaran ICW cruiser, ocean speedster and sportfisherman, but the common denominator for all three uses is the spacious cockpit. It serves for entertaining, hanging out and sunning, and accommodating fish boxes and live wells.

LaCarubba had the dream, Sullivan the expertise to make it happen.

“Together … we put together the ultimate cruising vessel,” Sullivan says.

With the Mercruiser 4 Bravo power option, the 42 starts at $239,000, LaCarubba says, but the price rises quickly to $500,000 with hard top, power wind screen and twin 480-hp Yanmar diesels.

For information contact Ocean Tech Yachts, 2800 W. Cypress Road, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309. Telephone: (954) 968-2330.