54 — By George L. Petrie —
Part 2: With the standard engines our boat saw a top speed of more than 38 mph, while at a comfortable 2000 rpm, our cruise speed was a respectable 32 mph.
Complementing her impressive woodwork, a host of subtle refinements gave further testament to the builder’s attention to detail. For example, every mirror has beveled edges. And there are mirrors aplenty, thoughtfully placed, including a full-length dressing mirror on the master stateroom door, a small one built into a cosmetic table, household-size mirrored cabinet doors in both heads, as well as several other decorative mirrors. It was clear that the artisans at Vicem Shipyard are equally skilled in metal work, as evidenced by the stainless steel trim that bordered each of the mahogany shelves in the galley and dinette.
Another feature I liked was the use of space on the lower deck. Bathed in natural light from the sloping windshield above, the galley is generously sized, offering about 25 square feet of open floor space. And our test boat was tricked out with a full suite of gourmet appliances: An Isotherm freezer and two refrigeration units were built into the aft bulkhead alongside a Bosch microwave, while to port there was a four-burner Bosch cooktop. A deep stainless steel sink was set into an island that served as a divider between the galley and dinette, offering an easy pass-through but clearly delineating the two areas.
Even the layout of the machinery spaces won my favor. All auxiliary systems and related equipment were situated around the perimeter of the lazarette (and mounted on mahogany shelves, I must add), providing excellent access to each component, with easy ingress through a hatch in the cockpit sole, and no need to crawl over or around the main engines to service an auxiliary system. So there’s virtually nothing in the engine room except the main engines and their related piping and exhaust systems; easy to see and simple to service.
Our test boat was fitted with standard 800-hp MAN diesels, although Vicem offers the 1,050-hp MANs as an option. But for my money, I don’t see why you would need them. With the standard engines our boat saw a top speed of more than 38 mph, while at a comfortable 2000 rpm, our cruise speed was a respectable 32 mph. Bow rise was minimal throughout the rpm range, with trim never exceeding 4 to 4.5 degrees. Nonetheless, the raised foredeck, which affords an extraordinary seven feet of headroom on the lower deck, can partially restrict sightlines forward while running in the 1500- to 1800-rpm range. But at higher cruising speeds, the hull just lays out flat, as comfortable as a cat curled up on a plush pillow.
I noticed one quirk in an otherwise flawless outing. At higher speeds she can exhibit a tendency to bow steer. A sharp turn of the wheel can make her bow dig in momentarily, which delays the hull’s response to the helm. Although a bit disarming at first, it seems to have no serious consequence. And as soon as the wheel is turned back to center, the bow pops back up, and she goes once again merrily along as if nothing had happened.
A bit of bow steer aside, the Vicem 54 remains as one of the handsomest yachts afloat. Well designed, superbly crafted, and fully equipped, she’s bound to create some lasting impressions of her own.
Down East Yachts Phone: (631) 418-2700. www.deyachts.com.
This article originally appeared in the October 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.