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Viking 74 Convertible

Whoever coined the phrase, “Good things come in small packages,” would probably have changed his or her mind had they been strolling the docks of Atlantic City’s Trump Marina one day last summer. For there, among a myriad assortment of battlewagons and other craft, sat the largest convertible Viking Yachts has ever built, the 74. A formidable, eye-catching machine, she’d grown several feet from her original specs over the 18 months it had taken her to go from design to launch.

Designed by the father-and-son team of Bruce and David Wilson, the 74 actually started as a 68/70. But Viking president Pat Healey intervened. “I wasn’t satisfied with the layout, accommodations, cockpit, and everything else we wanted,” he explained to me as we stood aboard at the dock that day. He went on to explain that the “everything else” was proportion and balance. “The profile had to be perfect. And for that, we needed a 74,” he added.

Sure enough, I was immediately taken with her profile. Her foredeck rises gently to meet the house, which in turn gracefully slopes up to meet the flying bridge. Slightly swept back, our bridge was topped by the standard hardtop, wrapped in full canvas, and bristled with a pair of triple-box 'riggers, a center 'rigger, and a control station at the dizzying apex of a full tower. In addition, the bridge had enough of an overhang to provide shade to those sitting on what Viking calls the observation mezzanine located on the forward, starboard side of the 218-square-foot cockpit, which was dominated by the requisite (and optional) chrome-and-teak fighting chair.

As I stepped aboard, a gentle spray from the optional mister located in the bridge’s overhang filled the area. “That’s the reward for a successful release of a good fish on a hot day,” Healey said with more than a hint of pride as he glanced around the 74’s cockpit. With all that space, I could see plenty of room for multiple anglers and the necessary crew members to get the job done. I liked the hefty two-piece transom door, too. When muscling big fish into the cockpit, there’s always the chance of someone pitching through the space left by the open door; with the lid down, that problem is considerably reduced. Other notable features here include an insole fishbox in the center of the cockpit flanked by a stowage box to either side, one of which can be ordered as a livewell. The aforementioned seating area, with aft-facing lounges located to either side, contains the tackle cabinets, a bait freezer, and stowage, and there’s a refrigerated chill box in the steps to the mezzanine.

I thought it best to visit the engine room before slipping our lines, so I stepped down into it through the cockpit door, accompanied by Peter Frederiksen, Viking’s communication director. Despite the presence of the two 2,030-hp MTU Series 2000 V-16s and a pair of 27.5-kW Onan e-QD gensets, Delta-T ventilation system, and a variety of other engine room equipment, I found good access to maintenance points. There are also plenty of stowage areas here as well as stand-up headroom—I’m 5'9" and had space above me. To port, a watertight door leads to the crew quarters forward, which Frederiksen and I next entered.

The 74 comes standard with four staterooms, including the crew quarters. (An optional fifth stateroom is located forward and to starboard.) I found the crew stateroom more than adequate, containing bunk berths, a washer/dryer, and plenty of stowage space and headroom. And with that passage through the engine room to the cockpit, the crew can come and go without disturbing the owners and guests. “Also, if we would have put the owner’s suite fully aft instead of locating it amidships and forward of the crew quarters, just think about the crew traipsing around in the galley overhead getting things ready at four or five in the morning,” explained Frederiksen.

Speaking of the owner’s suite, Viking wanted it to take full advantage of the boat’s 19'9" beam. But the yard also wanted to provide easy access to it and the other staterooms. To do so, it created a starboard corridor instead of the conventional centerline companionway, which would be the convertible setup. “It’s a bit different than what you’d expect on a convertible, but we wanted the athwartships space for the master,” Frederikson said. Later, Healey explained the rationale behind that thinking: “We found more room by eliminating the centerline stairs and putting the master and port guest, just forward of the master, on one side of the hallway.” Yet another benefit is a day head just forward of the galley, and behind that, a large stowage area accessed through a door. You can never have enough stowage space, especially aboard a big, traveling boat like the 74.

As with the port-side guest stateroom and the forepeak VIP stateroom, the master offers an en suite head and plenty of stowage in drawers and cabinets. In addition, both the VIP’s queen-size berth and master’s king have large stowage compartments beneath the mattresses, accessed via hatches that lift easily on gas-assisted rams. All these quarters are more than just comfortable; they’re downright cushy and well-appointed.

Anglers and cruisers alike will appreciate the main-deck galley, featuring two standard undercounter Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer units, expansive granite-topped food-prep spaces, and many drawers and cabinets, as well as the saloon’s 50-inch Sony plasma TV, seating areas, and furnishings. But touring those spaces would have to wait, as I heard the diesels come to life. We were about to leave, and better yet, I was going to be at the wheel.

By the time I made it out to the cockpit, the crew was already removing our lines and winding in the shore-power cords on one of two Glendinning Cablemasters. Our captain quickly negotiated two jogs to starboard, and we were clear of the marina.

Honestly, I can’t imagine too many things more exciting for a boater than taking the wheel of a 135,000-pound (with 1,500 gallons of fuel and full water), 74-foot convertible and running her up to a top speed of more than 44 mph. Heck, her fast cruise (at 2250 rpm) was better than 42 mph, and with the seas off Atlantic City dead calm, she tracked straight and true, carved S-turns, and shrugged off hard-over 360s.

With an optional 600 gallons of fuel added to the 74’s standard 2,400-gallon capacity, our 74 had a calculated range of 544 NM, and dropping back to 2000 rpm (just over 37 mph) added 100 miles to that number. And her bridge is just as well executed, with a centerline helm, expansive console with room for plenty of electronics, and ample seating and stowage, including a top-loading freezer at the forward end of the console, which can hold food and/or bait. Sightlines were great all around.

As we go to press, Viking says it already has orders for 13 74s, some with the optional enclosed bridge. Little wonder. This boat isn’t just big and impressive, she’s well conceived, well executed, and well on its way to being one of the most successful Viking convertibles ever. Perhaps, if the author of that small-is-better expression had seen the Viking 74, he might have rephrased it into something like, “Great things can come in big packages.”

Viking Yachts
(609) 296-6000

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