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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Viking 45 Open

My friend Tom is dealing with a wonderful dilemma. He’s an avid offshore angler and express-boat aficionado looking to move up to his next vessel, but he also likes to cruise with his wife and three kids. So what’s the problem? Finding a boat that can satisfy his desire for a big bridge deck and cockpit with below-deck accommodations for five. Tom, my friend, I think I may have found the answer. It comes in the form of the optional two-stateroom 45 Open from New Gretna, New Jersey’s Viking Yachts.

I recently stopped by Outrigger Harbour Marina in Jensen Beach, Florida, where HMY Yacht Sales let me take the 45 for a day. Stepping behind HMY’s office, I was immediately struck by the 45’s profile; she looked sleek, sinewy, and speedy. I thought that if her performance and build could come close to her appearance, it would be a good day for me, and Tom might need to call his local dealer.

Stepping into the 119-square-foot cockpit, I could see the 45 is certainly armed for bluewater battle, with a standard tackle cabinet, freezer, and recessed fishbox that, at 501/2"Lx17"Wx20"D, can hold a dozen dressed tuna and dolphin. If the catch is too big to swing over the 34-inch-high gunwale, you can drag your quarry through the standard transom door with optional gate. Also noteworthy is that all cockpit hatches are gasketed and built using Resin Transfer Molding (RTM), a process that provides a clean and smooth surface on both sides. In addition, my test boat was armed with the optional ($1,850) 29-gallon in-sole livewell, custom Palm Beach Towers tuna tower, 36-foot Rupp triple-spreader outriggers, recessed electric teaser reels that cleanly exit through hardtop (one word: cool), and six rocket launchers.

While the cockpit layout is noteworthy, I was impressed by how the tower and hardtop work in concert. The hardtop has premolded notches in the aft corners, resulting in a tower that doesn’t mount onto the side decks and invade walking space. From an aesthetic point of view, the setup makes the tower look like it was designed as part of the boat, not added on. Of course, that could also be because Palm Beach Towers is Viking.

The 45’s bridge deck is as wide open as her cockpit. The centerline helm pod and cushy teak Bluewater chair (there are also twin companion chairs to port and starboard) put you more than just in the middle of the boat, you’re in the middle of the action. The companion seats aren’t the only things flanking you. Just aft of the helm and wrapping around to port is an L-shape lounge for guests; no lonely days on the bridge for the captain of this boat. You can also stow rods, PFDs, and other assorted gear under the lounge seating.

I found sightlines from the helm to be good at most speeds. But while the 45’s trim angle never rose above five degrees, I, at 5'7", had trouble looking over her bow between 1250 rpm and 1500 rpm. Noting the second helm station on the tower, I decided to take my wheel time from up top.

The single-lever Glendinning electronic controls make maneuvering the 45 as easy as handling a boat half her size. She spins easily on her length and turns smoothly at speed thanks to Teleflex SeaStar power-assisted hydraulic steering. In addition, the 45 lifts her 48,048-pound displacement up on plane in a hurry, even though her construction details are relatively conservative. The 45’s hull (15-degree aft deadrise) is comprised mostly of solid fiberglass below the waterline (except for half-inch vacuum-bagged balsa core under the engines to stiffen the structure), a reinforced keel of silica sand and resin, and balsa-cored hull sides and is powered with nearly 6,000 pounds of diesels (twin 800-hp MAN 2848 LE403s). She tops 38 mph in about 20 seconds and maintains a comfortable cruise of 33.9 mph at 2000 rpm while burning 56 gph. With her range of 401 NM at cruise, canyon anglers in the north and Bahamas runners to the south should be pleased with her speed and efficiency. As for her test results at WOT, a faulty cable on the starboard control prevented my boat’s engines from reaching their rated rpm. Viking corrected the problem and supplied the reported top speed of 39.2 mph at 2324 rpm, which is in line with our results at lower rpm levels.

The 45 was living up to her initial appearance, and her engine room and below-decks areas helped reinforce that impression. With regards to the former, her Alwgripped engine room, with 5'2" headroom, was as smooth-looking as those molded cockpit hatches, and the steel web-frame engine beds just strengthened what I’d already learned about her heavy build. Those beds not only keep the big MANs aligned, Viking says they reduce vibration and noise, too. Viking also employs a Delta T ventilation system here, which, thanks to four high-speed but quiet axial fans, keeps the engine room cool (about 95F underway) and salt spray out.

The 45’s cockpit, bridge deck, and engine room are well-arranged and very white, which make the boat’s below-deck area, with 6'5" headroom, an inviting retreat from the sun’s glare. The standard high-gloss and latch-free teak cabinetry (push to open) help give her starboard galley a clean, uniform appearance. To port, her optional Ultraleather L-shape lounge ($1,900) and Amtico teak-and-holly sole ($980) provided a warm ambiance. My test boat also had the optional two-stateroom layout. It’s a smart layout in a lot of ways. Take my buddy Tom, for example. His children are small enough to make this setup work. The lower bunk in the port-side guest stateroom is just under two feet wide, too tight for most grown-ups. Of course, the master forward with queen-size berth is the place I’d prefer to rest my head. Stowage space abounds down here; you can pack this boat for a week’s cruise or more with room to spare.

I concluded that the 45 was everything she’d appeared to be at first glance. But I did have one regret. I wished there’d been some weather so I could see how the 45 handled a big sea. But in spite of the blue sky, warm temperatures, and flat water, I could still see that Viking has built an express with all the angling amenities a tournament fisherman could want and all the accommodations a young cruising family could desire. And her cockpit offers not only a formidable fishing platform, but for the crowd that is more interested in cocktails, it can double nicely as a dance floor.

So, to my friend Tom, and all the other boaters out there like him that face that wonderful dilemma and are ready to step into that next boat, I say, take the 45 Open on a snotty-day sea trial, but don’t forget the checkbook. This may be the one you’ve been looking for.

Viking Yachts
(609) 296-6000

This article originally appeared in the March 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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