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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Vicem 78

Turkish Traveler

This 78-footer combines a classic profile, a modern interior, and generous cruising range.

I’ve seen and tested a fair number of cold-molded mahogany Vicems over the years, and almost all featured the Turkish builder’s trademark traditional-looking, rich, mahogany interior. But that image was shattered for me (in a brilliant way) when I stepped aboard the company’s 78 Cruiser recently in Fort Lauderdale.

Stepping from the optional teak cockpit sole through the sliding doors and into the saloon was not only a transition from outside to inside, but from a traditional space into a contemporary one that was flooded with light. The voluminous saloon and elevated dining area forward of it, which has near-seven-foot headroom, features light anigre wood (not quite white oak, but close), which makes the space feel airy. The saloon windows run the length of the house to help open up the ambiance of the area as well.

The spaciousness (sensing a theme here?) will surely be felt when entertaining, as the saloon’s opposing white leather settees provide an inviting retreat for cocktails and conversation amid 170,000 Btus of air-conditioned comfort—something this boat’s owner will surely enjoy once the boat reaches him in Dubai. These seats also offer an unobstructed view of the standard 32-inch Samsung flat-panel TV. (A 42-incher is optional). On this boat the space—as well as the dining area one step up from the saloon—was framed by optional and attractive dark wenge trim, which offers a striking contrast to the anigre bulkheads and the saloon’s off-white carpet, enhancing the modern feel.

The galley, just forward and to port of the dining table for six is every bit as modern, with standard Miele and Sub-Zero appliances. But the best feature here is the door leading to the teak side decks, which allows the crew to access the area and walk around outside to enter the dining area, limiting the amount of times they have to disturb the owner and guests. For even more privacy, a companionway pocket door from the saloon can close to isolate the galley.

More onboard comfort is found in the big king-size-bed-equipped, full-beam master stateroom. The two 25"H x 11"W windows that flank the room offer great vistas, and the settee adjacent to the port-side window is the perfect place to kick back, relax, and read a book. Like the windows in the saloon, these open to let the room breathe. If the owner of this 78 happens to be a long-distance cruiser, he’ll particularly enjoy the generous stowage here: six pull-out drawers under the berth, three hanging lockers, and a closet. An en suite head offers a Tecma MSD, Duravit sink, and shower stall.

Guest accommodations include a forepeak VIP with queen-size bed, a double-berth guest stateroom aft and to port, and a bunk cabin across and to starboard (all have en suite heads). Vicem is generous with its crew accommodations too, which feature two cabins containing a total of three berths, two heads, and a galley. The crew cabins are accented in the builder’s traditional mahogany, and while the area is noticeably larger than other crew spaces I’ve seen on similar-size boats, the dark wood actually made it feel smaller.

Whether her owner is watching the world go by from that spacious master or taking in the view from the saloon, it’ll be a comfortable ride thanks to optional Trac fin-type stabilizers, which made the sea conditions a non-factor while we were traveling across the white-tipped three-footers through 15- to 20-mph breezes. Before we’d gotten underway, I noticed that the engine room was well laid out, with 6'10" headroom and walkaround engine access. Looking at the abundance of free space, I wondered whether an internal gyrostabilizer might be a fit for future 78s lacking this boat’s external fins.

But that’s not to say that this yacht isn’t efficient. In fact, with her standard fuel load of 2,168 gallons, my test boat will be able to cruise nonstop for more than 650 statute miles at a speed of 16.2 mph (14 knots) while her standard 900-hp MAN diesels are burning a comparatively modest 48 gph. (MAN diesels of up to 1,360 hp are optional.) At WOT (2324 rpm), my 78 made a top two-way average speed of 15.4 knots (17.7 mph) which at an 84-gph fuel burn, offers an effective range of 411 statute miles.

That kind of range should appeal to serious cruisers, as should the 78’s quiet ride. Perhaps it’s the cold-molded construction (I never noted a creak or a groan while I was onboard), but when I measured sound levels at her lower helm, my dB meter never exceeded 73 dB-A. (65 dB-A is the level of normal conversation.)

With a top speed of just under 18 mph, the 78 is obviously not as much about performance as she is about ride and range. And after spending about 45 minutes at the upper helm, which was equipped with ZF Mathers controls and BCS hydraulic power-assisted steering, I concluded that ride was, as the Commodores so aptly put it, “easy like Sunday morning.” She banked predictably inboard in hard turns and reacted to wheel input in real-time fashion. And her Side-Power hydraulic bow and stern thrusters made sliding and spinning the 78—well, fun. My only quibble is that in the three-footers, I noted consistent spray running up her sides and onto the wheelhouse windows, necessitating regular windshield-wiper use.

All in all, the Vicem 78 Cruiser proved herself to be a comfortable at-sea companion. From her solid yet lightweight cold-molded construction to her soft ride, she has much to recommend her. Could she be dryer? Sure, but when you consider her beautiful retro-style profile, modern interior, admirable fit and finish, and impressive range, having to use the windshield wipers a little more often is a small price to pay for what is really a near-perfect formula. And when it comes to boats, near perfect is damn good.

Vicem Yachts

This article originally appeared in the July 2011 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.