As with the Yankees, Viking retained much from previous years’ winning lineups, and nowhere is that more obvious than in the 68’s construction and engine room. Her hull is not only balsa-cored—along with her top and hull sides—but also vacuum-bagged, as are the principal bulkheads. Divinycell is used in the engine room overhead to reduce thermal and acoustical transfer to the living spaces, but the keel is solid fiberglass, so it’s a real grounding shoe. Even the through-hulls are molded fiberglass, not only for low maintenance but because it looks sleek and neat.
In the engine room the story is about space—all Vikings have expansive ERs, and the 68’s is no exception. At 6'6", headroom is generous. There’s two feet between the engines and a foot and a half between them and the standard Delta “T” demisters. Everything is accessible, but more impressive to me is the powder-coated, structural steel engine bearers that affix to the fore and aft bulkheads, a configuration that Viking says reduces vibration and allows for more accurate and long-lasting drive train alignment. The lack of clutter is also remarkable, an impression enhanced by the standard Awlgrip finish. Not only does it make for a beautiful space, it also allows you to instantly spot a fluid leak of any kind. There’s even a compartment in the forward starboard corner for one of two freshwater manifolds, the water heater, and Cruisair air conditioning compressors.
Underwater exhausts and Viking-manufactured mufflers, visible in the after corners of the engine room, contribute to moderate (for a 4,000-hp boat) sound levels. But as anyone who has ever ridden on a Viking will tell you, these boats are rattle-free, and our 68 was again no exception, despite the 1,000 hours she’d logged in Venezuela, Mexico, and the Bahamas. One reason is the fact that every hatch is gasketed, and most have dogs or latches. And we’re not talking those cheesy quarter-inch-thick gaskets. These are thick and beefy.
Yet another commonality is the fact that virtually everything aboard the 68, short of engines, electronics (installed by Atlantic Marine Electronics, a Viking subsidiary), and ancillary equipment, was made in house. Viking is “vertically integrated,” which means everything from joinery to electrical harnesses to every piece of metal from the tower (built by Palm Beach Towers, another Viking subsidiary) to the cockpit drains comes out of the factory in New Gretna, New Jersey. It also includes all tanks, which Viking molds to fit each boat. Not only does this preclude corrosion, but it allows the tank to occupy every possible cubic inch of space, maximizing capacity and, in the case of the fuel tanks, range. (Viking says 95 percent of its fuel-tank capacity is useable.) It also places the tanks as deep in the bilge as possible, lowering the center of gravity and improving seakeeping and handling.
Which brings me to the last thing the 68 shares with her stablemates: seakeeping. Vikings have a reputation for bluewater performance, and the 68 maintains that tradition in spades. We had our test boat out in the Atlantic in 25 knots of wind and steep six-footers, a combination that repeatedly blew water clear over the bridge, and she seriously abused those seas. Despite repeated impacts, the only thing that went awry was a rocket launcher that was attached to the Murray Brothers fighting chair. When they call a Viking a battlewagon, they’re not just talking about how she fishes.
But then that’s what Vikings are all about. Like the Yankees, when the game is tough, you expect the best. And as good as the last effort may be, you know it only raises the bar for the next lineup.
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