Riviera 33By Capt. Ken Kreisler
What do you do if you're no longer an entry-level boater and are now looking for a small convertible? Or if you're an express-cruiser owner ready for something different? Or maybe you're an offshore fisherman with a center console who wants a better ride and more creature comforts? If you happen to fit into any of these categories, what you might do is have a look at the Riviera 33.
Although she's the smallest Riviera, the 33 has many of the qualities that have made her larger predecessors—the 37, 40, 42, 47, 51, and 58—so successful. These include a Frank Mulder-designed hull, solid-fiberglass bottom, and forward collision bulkhead. Moreover, she's the first Riviera built with what the company calls Operational Task Sequencing, a production system in which workers with specialized expertise follow the boat through production to ensure the work they perform is properly integrated into the rest of the building process.
Another first is an underwater exhaust system that PMY covered back in January, which, among other things, reduces exhaust-related sound levels. At WOT I recorded just 85 dB-A on the 33's open bridge (65 is the level of normal conversation) and also noticed considerably less exhaust smell, due to the fact that gases don't bubble to the surface until well aft of the boat. Also new to the 33 are propeller pockets that reduce her shaft angle and thereby lower draft to 3'3". Riviera also claims they improve performance: Lowering the shaft angle lets this boat get good performance out of the only engine package offered, a pair of 310-hp Volvo Penta diesels. After piloting her through the calm waters of the Gulf on test day with a full tank of fuel (264 gallons), I had to agree. We hit an average top speed of 33.3 mph (three seems to be this boat's magic number), and the boat turned on a dime with little rpm drop, for which Mulder's running surface gets some credit. When I settled her into her 32.4-mph (28.1-knot) fast-cruise speed, I calculated a range of 240 miles. She tracked straight and true, and with that 3'3"draft, you'll have plenty of room to poke around skinny water before raising your pucker factor.
You'll also have plenty of room on the bridge with a control station package that will make both the fisherman and the cruiser happy. Our 33 was equipped with the standard bimini top; a hardtop is optional. Sightlines were excellent on all points, including aft, making backing down on a big fish or backing her into a slip a snap. Driving comfort is tops, with the starboard helm offering plenty of console room for mounting electronics—my 33 had the optional Raymarine C120 multifunction 12-inch display installed and ample seating areas forward for guests.
Despite the good sightlines, the 33 has a low profile that is in proportion to her length, thus avoiding the somewhat stubby look common to some other convertibles of her size. Her handsome interior also has some handy features that make her attractive to boaters who aren't into serious fishing. The 33 was the first assignment for Riviera's new interior design team, which has placed the saloon and dinette areas on the same level, with the forward galley and forepeak stateroom a few steps down. Light and bright fabrics and beautifully finished woods combine with the large windows in the saloon and the sliding-glass door aft to produce an airy interior. The port-side dinette features a nicely crafted table with leaves that open to provide a comfortable space for six; close them, and it's service for four.
In the saloon's standard teak and holly sole is a day hatch for the engine space beneath; the main entry is via the cockpit, which lets you get in between the powerplants. The engine room space offers about four-foot headroom, but I still found enough space to do all critical fluid checks as well as get to all the filters in order to change them. Having to crouch down there for a prolonged time would be another story, but that comes with the territory afforded by a 33-foot sportfishing boat.
Forward and a few steps down, the galley is to port, while the head, with separate shower stall, is to starboard. There's enough headroom on the galley side here for Shaquille O'Neill to prepare a quick snack in between fighting fish. Work space and stowage are fine for a 33-footer, but for prolonged cruising, I'd add a 55-gallon cockpit cooler.
Forward of the galley and head is the forepeak master with a queen island berth. Also finished in finely crafted cherry and appointed with designer touches, these quarters have cabinets along each bulkhead, drawer space in the island, a large compartment under the mattress that flips open effortlessly on a pair of gas-assist rams, and a closet.
Riviera has put together a nice package with this 33-foot convertible. For a boat its size, it combines the kind of comfort and accommodations to please the owner looking to fish as well as cruise, or both. And with the lineup of Riviera convertibles ahead of her, once you're ready to move up, you'll have plenty of places to go.
This article originally appeared in the March 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.