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BOAT TESTS

Vicem 63 Sportfisherman

They make fishing boats, too?

That was the question I asked myself when I tested the first Vicem-built sportfisherman four years ago. (Based in Turkey, Vicem has 20-plus years experience in building custom cold-molded Downeast-style vessels.) At the time she was named the S&J Violator 54 ( see “Building a Contender,” March 2005). Now called the Vicem 54, she is a lightweight (44,000 pounds dry), tricked-out fishing machine that with 1,050-hp MANs, cruises at nearly 33 knots (38 mph) and tops out at around 38 knots (43.7 mph).

Several more 54s have been built since that test, and when I got word that Vicem had expanded its line with a 63-footer, I was curious to discover how the builder had evolved its battlewagon offerings.

The first thing I noticed dockside was that the 63 features the same broken sheerline as the 54, which gives her a sleek, porpoise-like look. She also has noticeable flare and a sharp entry like the 54’s 75-degree one. A fighting-lady yellow Awlgripped hull enhanced my 63’s modern aesthetics.

Add teak covering boards and a 127-square-foot teak-covered cockpit (both optional as she’s a custom boat), plus a high-gloss mahogany exterior saloon door and bulkhead, and you have a striking, contemporary-looking vessel. However, her build is quite traditional, at least by Vicem’s standards.

Using mahogany acquired from Honduras and Africa and West System epoxy, Vicem lays out the hull jig right side up (so that interior and superstructure components can be built simultaneously), then applies three layers of the wood to the frame. The first layer of 1.4" (thick) x 2.1"(wide) planking is laid longitudinally. Next, second and third layers of planks, each measuring about .62" x 3.9", are laid at 45 degrees to provide shear strength. The layup is then saturated with epoxy, with epoxy filler added as needed, after which primer is applied and then finally Awlgrip paint.

Vicem’s goal for the 63 was a 73,000-pound displacement (dry), but she came in at 80,000 pounds. That extra 7,000 pounds likely cost her in performance. I recorded an average 2000-rpm cruise speed of 29.7 mph (25.8 knots) with her twin 1,550-hp MANs burning 114 gph (see “By the Numbers,” this story for complete test data). By comparison, the Jarrett Bay 63 we tested in March 2008 (“Nothing Rhymes With Orange”) is listed at 80,000 pounds, like the Vicem, but has 1,825-hp C32 Caterpillars that let her cruise at 42.2 mph with a fuel burn of 113 gph. To be fair, Vicem USA’s president Michael Landsberg admitted that my particular 63 is not as fast as some custom and production builds, but counters that she’s aimed more at family fishermen than hardcore anglers. And as a custom builder, Vicem will outfit this boat however you’d like. For instance, Landsberg says you could fit 1,800-hp diesels in the 63, which he claims will get you about three more knots at cruise. When I inspected the engine room, I confirmed that there is space for bigger motors. I also noticed that removing the engines would require cutting out that high-gloss saloon bulkhead.

While the ER is spacious, with walkaround engine accessibility, the Racors and MAN filters are outboard, not convenient for a regular maintenance item. I’d like to see them on either the forward bulkhead or inboard of the motors. In addition, the fuel sight gauge isn’t labeled, so you can’t tell exactly how many gallons are in the four fuel tanks (two on centerline, two saddle tanks), which carry 1,950 gallons in total. The bottom section of the gauge is also exposed and could be damaged by an errant foot or tool; it needs some sort of protective cover. And from the ER, the only access to the lazarette is by crawling through a small companionway under the cockpit. Accessing the area around the rudder posts and strut backing plates is not possible from the cockpit. I’d like to either see a cockpit hatch or the two macerated in-deck 6'x18" x 20.5" fishboxes become removable, instead of fixed, as they are now.

In addition to those fishboxes, my 63 was armed with a livewell and Pompanette offset fighting chair, making her cockpit a great place for a stand-up battle, except for the stern-line cleats that are mounted on deck near the aft corners where most fish fights take place. They need to be under the gunwales to avoid being both an angling hindrance and a stubbed-toe hazard. This 63 was also equipped with a cockpit Bosch grill and Isotherm ‘fridge, reinforcing the fact that she’s more of a casual fishing vessel.

But while my 63 would need some tweaks to run with the hardcore battlewagons, her interior needs nothing to compete with anyone. Her satin-finish mahogany (high-gloss is available) was expertly grain-matched, and imparted a warm, upscale feel to the wide-open saloon/galley/dinette. The light-tone settee to port, set against a sea of rich, dark-brown bulkheads and trim, was a great place from which to watch a movie on the 50-inch Pioneer plasma TV. Other upscale touches included granite countertops and top-notch appliances from Sub-Zero and GE in the well-appointed galley.

Add to the above, a three-stateroom layout with a full-beam master aft, complete with his and her heads, and you have room for a fisherman with a family and then some. And remember, since Vicem is a custom builder, you can pick your own below-deck’s arrangement, too. An at-sea office perhaps?

Taking all this into account, my Vicem 63 was, as Landsberg said, a good family fishing boat and a luxurious cruiser. She was also a very good value at $2.45 million as this price put her under her similar-size U.S.-built competition by at least half million dollars. Combine that with the fact you can outfit your 63 to be anything from family friendly to fish-ready, and you have a vessel worth a closer look.

A fighting chair is the centerpiece of many a battlewagon. (How else would we decorate our cockpits with symmetrically crisscrossed rods and reels?) And the Pompanette 130-pound-class chair onboard the Vicem 63, which was complete with optional rocket launcher, teak seatboard, and offset pedestal, does the job well. (Pricing starts around $10,500.) On the 63 it’s a great complement to the teak-covered cockpit and teak-wrapped gunwales. But this chair is more than flash, it’s functional. It features a four-position gimbal to adjust rod angle when leaning back on that big one and even has diamond nonskid on the footboard. To ensure your chair looks good every season, it features a durable epoxy and urethane finish, which is said to help reduce the effects of UV rays and exposure to the elements. www.pompanette.com. —P.S.

This article originally appeared in the March 2009 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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