51 Sportfisherman — By George L. Petrie —
|This new 51-foot convertible reinforces the Australian builder’s reputation for toughness.|
Aussies, by and large, are a tough lot, so it comes as no surprise that the yachts they build are just as tough. A day aboard the new Riviera 51 confirmed that expectation for me. Inside and out, she’s built to take the punishment of hard-core fishing or venturing to distant shores. But she’s far from Spartan. Quite the opposite, in fact, as she boasts a spacious saloon, fully equipped galley, three comfortable staterooms, and two heads, all catering to her owner’s comfort and relaxation. What did come as a nice surprise, however, was learning that so many of the features on our test boat were standard.
Take the engine room, a well-laid-out space dominated by twin 825-hp MTU diesels crouched on either side of the centerline. Mounted near the forward bulkhead astride the centerline was the standard 17.5-kW Onan genset and hushbox, flanked by a holding tank and macerator pumps to port and two standard Cruisair A/C units on the starboard side.
Though at first the engine room felt cramped (with barely kneeling headroom for my 6'2" frame and just an inch or two of clearance between the top of the engines and the overhead), I quickly found that I could easily reach all necessary access points. Dipsticks for both engines were inboard, and the engine-mounted fuel filters were on the aft ends of the blocks, where they’re easier to get to. From here, I could also reach the dual Racors on the aft bulkhead as well as the cooling-water inlets and strainers that flank the centerline. There was even room to snake around in front of the engines and access the outboard sides if necessary. For major engine work, removable panels above each engine provide access from the saloon.
In contrast to the engine room’s close quarters, the Riviera’s 12'x9' cockpit seemed big as all outdoors. Along the forward bulkhead is a top-loading refrigerated cooler to port and a sink on centerline. Both are concealed beneath gas-assisted lids that lower to form a smooth countertop and are handy to the built-in tackle locker in the bulkhead above. I also noticed the transom livewell, a 2'8"x1'4" aquarium with a clear panel facing into the cockpit. Not as visible, but equally impressive, was the 1'10"x4'9"x1'6" removable fishbox beneath two gas-assisted hatches in the sole.
To keep gear neat, dry, and secure, Riviera rims the cockpit with six built-in locking cabinets beneath the coaming. For bulkier stuff, like fenders, there’s a pair of 2'x2' gas-assisted hatches in the sole (outboard of the fishbox) that affords access to a stowage area in the lazarette. This space also allows access to the steering gear, which I was pleased to see mounted on a platform separate from the stowage area to minimize the chance of anything getting tangled in the mechanism. The rudders are equipped with locking pins, a signature Riviera feature. In the event of a steering gear failure, both rudders can be manually locked in the straight-ahead position, allowing the boat to be steered home on engines alone. This may seem like a small detail, but it’s an example of the seagoing savvy built into the 51.
Riviera Yachts’ vice president, Scott Lizza, pointed out a host of other construction features that lend support to the yacht’s reputation for toughness. For starters, there’s a collision bulkhead in the bow to protect the hull’s watertight integrity. In addition, if the hull should strike a submerged object, the lower forward portion is filled with closed-cell foam to help it stay afloat.
This article originally appeared in the February 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.