Viking 64 ConvertibleBy George L. Petrie
Usually the design of a new sportfishing yacht evolves around the cockpit. Fishing, above all else, is what the yacht is built for. But the design of Viking's new 64 Convertible was motivated by another equally significant factor: the imminent availability of the new, highly anticipated MTU 16V 2000 M93 diesel engine. Rated at 2,400 hp, the muscular MTU offers promise of substantially higher speeds but presented a new set of design challenges for the 64C, the first Viking designed to accommodate it.
Sad to say, our test boat was not powered by the new MTUs; the first pair had been installed in Hull No. 5, which has been sold and delivered to Veem, an Australian company that builds propellers for Viking. But no apologies are necessary. Powered by a pair of Caterpillar C32 ACERT diesels rated at a "mere" 1,825 hp, our test boat delivered an impressive 44-mph top speed during sea trials we conducted earlier this year, out of Viking's service facility in Riviera Beach, Florida. With a light breeze stirring up a gentle one-foot chop, I found her to be responsive and well behaved, even in a series of tight turns that I made with the throttles mashed wide open. She banked gently and predictably, though at high speed with the wheel hard over, she did emit a bit of a bark as her underwater exhaust aerated.
With a relatively moderate 15-degree transom deadrise and a narrow strip of virtually flat bottom alongside the keel, the hull seems to almost leap onto plane with hardly any bow rise. Throughout the rpm range, trim never exceeded four degrees, so sightlines forward were never impaired, even though the helm station is positioned well aft on the flying bridge to afford an unobstructed view into the cockpit. To see how the 64C might handle in a seaway, I carved some tight figure-eights that built our wake into a series of steeply crested peaks about five feet high. Taking these at full throttle did produce a couple of stiff jolts, but in fairness, I think our wake-generated waves were steeper than naturally occurring ones of similar height would be.
Back at the dock, following our sea trial, Viking's marketing director, Peter Frederiksen, pointed out some niftier features on the bridge deck. I'd already taken note of the classy-looking teak helm pod and the pair of handsome Murray Products helm and companion seats, but not so obvious was the 16"x 29"x13" top-loading refrigerated chill box just forward of the console. Standard on the 64C, it will spare future owners countless trips up and down the ladder for snacks and refreshments. Also on the bridge was an optional 16"x65"x25" freezer compartment to accommodate extra stores or bait for extended fishing trips.
One of the more striking aspects of the 64's helm station is the acreage available for electronic displays. Centered in front of the helm pod is a panel about 5' x 1'8", big enough for the Northstar 972 plotter and a pair of 18-inch Vei monitors on our test boat, with room to spare. To port, a second panel about five feet wide housed an 11-inch Northstar 6000 display and a variety of communications gear. Clear plastic covers protect the electronics, but all screens are visible with the protective covers in place. Instrumentation, engine status, and other controls are housed in weather-tight enclosures alongside the helm pod that can be closed when not in use, giving the helm a crisp, clean look and keeping things safe from weather and vandals.
Having observed the 64's cockpit from above throughout our sea trial, I was anxious to descend the ladder and take some time to check it out close up. The 180-square-foot cockpit and mezzanine on our test boat had been spiffed up with optional custom teak decking. Within the mezzanine, there is stowage galore, including two bait freezers to port and two insulated drink boxes beneath the steps on the starboard side. Space beneath the center of the cockpit is devoted to a 1,468-gallon fuel tank, and while it is a bit unusual to locate fuel that far aft, it didn't seem to have any detrimental effect on the performance of our test boat. And alongside the centerline fuel tank, there's still plenty of room for the standard five-foot-long, in-deck fishbox along the starboard side and an optional icebox or livewell of similar size to port.
Engine-room access is on centerline from here, and it was clear that the machinery space on the C64 was designed to accommodate some major-league iron. Sized to fit the 91/2-foot-long MTU diesels, the engine room seemed to swallow up the 61/2-foot-long Cats. But more impressive to me was the way the whole engine room sparkled; every surface finished: gelcoated, painted, or polished to a gleaming shine, as a fitting showcase for some serious muscle.
Serious fishing demands equally serious relaxation when the day's action is done, and the 64 is well-equipped to deliver on that account, too. The three-stateroom, three-head layout on our test boat is standard, offering a master suite along the port side with an athwartship king-size berth. In the forward stateroom, a centerline queen berth is standard, but crossover berths can be fitted as an option. Also optional is a four-stateroom, three-head layout.
Last but not least is a place for socializing and swapping the occasional fish story, and the 64's saloon and galley areas rise to the occasion. I particularly liked Viking's wise use of space, utilizing three undercounter Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer drawers that provide ample capacity without diminishing the open layout of the galley and saloon. A pair of well-placed stools lets the galley countertop serve two purposes: a work surface and a place to socialize. And a bank of deep, pullout shelves above the countertop effectively utilizes volume under the sloping forward end of the deckhouse.
Meticulously finished inside and out, the Viking 64C seems to offer the complete package: looks, style, amenities, and great performance. What more could a body want? Well, maybe just a chance to test one with a pair of those gnarly 2,400-hp MTUs, even if it takes a trip Down Under to do it.
This article originally appeared in the September 2006 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.