Thirty-one years ago the fledgling Viking Yacht Co., owned by Bob and Bill Healey, introduced a 46-foot convertible, the largest boat they'd splashed since opening their doors in 1964. Fast-forward to fall 2009, and Viking is again debuting a brand-new 46 convertible, but this time it's the smallest boat in the company's line of sport-fishing yachts. Over the past two years, in the face of hard economic realities, Viking has continued doing what it has always done - pushing the technology envelope and bringing to market new boats that raise the bar for performance, fishability and comfort.
After I examined the 46C and got a feel for how it performs, with the help of Viking marketing manager Peter Frederiksen, it was evident that Viking had incorporated both the experience earned over decades of fishing the offshore tournament circuit and advances in design and manufacturing developed by their engineers. It is a thoroughly thought-out boat that's been built to exacting quality standards. The icing on the cake is its appearance, the beautiful lines that brand it a Viking.
In the 121-square-foot cockpit, you'll find mezzanine seating, with the access door to the engine room and a large bait freezer beneath the split cushions. Additional stowage is located under the footrest; a refrigerated drink cooler is under the salon step; there's a tackle drawer in the cabinet beneath the flybridge ladder; and there's a pair of long stowage areas under the gunwales for gaffs, tag sticks and mops. A panel beneath the starboard gunwale provides access to the shore-power cable reel and phone and cable TV connections, and a matching panel on the port side hides a remote oil-exchange system, which allows you to drain and refill the oil reservoirs for the engines, transmissions and generator. No more carting buckets of lubricants into the engine room - a very nice touch.
Two large insulated fish boxes can be customized to include a livewell or an additional bait freezer, and all deck hatches are deeply channeled and sealed with heavy rubber gaskets, with a boost from stainless-steel gas struts. The lazarette provides access to the bilge and pumps. A secondary sump with a bilge pump is located in the engine room to remove any latent water from that area. The gently curved transom creates a crown that pushes water out to the sides when backing down, and the cockpit scuppers drain into collection boxes that prevent water from backing up into the cockpit during fish-chasing maneuvers.
The flybridge looks like it was sculpted, with fine radii and curves that lead from the twin Murray Products teak helm chairs and around to the seating across the starboard side and front. When I saw the state-of-the-art five-axis milling machine that is used to create the plug for the entire deck structure, from the cockpit to the bow pulpit, all in a single piece, the comparison to sculpture was validated. The computer-controlled system is capable of milling structures to micro-tolerances that are truly appreciated in the finished parts. The helm station can handle multiple monitors and peripheral electronics, all within easy reach of the captain's hands, while other system controls rest inside recessed cabinets on either side of the wheel. An insulated drink box or optional refrigerator sits to port, forward, and storage abounds beneath the seats. Visibility is excellent, and the captain can easily oversee the action in the cockpit from his perch on the bridge overhang.
You access the salon and galley through a sliding door. This spacious and nicely arranged area features plenty of seating, two tables, and an island counter with stools, plus high-quality cabinetry. A short companionway leads to a washer-dryer and a twin-bunk stateroom with a head and stand-up shower to port. The last door opens into a spacious master stateroom with a double berth, clothes storage in a hanging locker, and a private head with a large shower enclosure.
The hull features a sharp entry that transitions into a 12.5-degree deadrise at the transom, with prop pockets that allow for a shallower shaft angle and a slight shift of the engines aft to reposition the center of gravity. The unique Veem Interceptor props are another example of utilizing the latest technology. By changing a composite insert on the trailing edge of each blade, you can make minute changes in the pitch and cup to take advantage of the full performance capabilities of the engines under all conditions. Say goodbye to needing a second set of props.
As we were leaving the office to run the 46C, Viking vice president Pat Healey said, "Looks like its pretty calm out there - sorry." Testing a boat in calm seas takes some of the fun out of the exercise, but we did get to see how the boat accelerates - like a stallion on steroids - and maneuvers. The response to the ZF Smart Control shift-throttle system was quick and positive. It backed down nicely, the curved transom doing exactly what it was designed to do. This boat will have no problem tracking the most acrobatic billfish or the speediest tuna. At trolling speeds the wake is clean, which means you can keep the flat lines tight to the transom without their getting lost in the prop wash. The optional MAN V-10 1100CRM 1,100 hp diesels in our test boat were quiet and responsive, cruising at 30-plus knots and topping out at just under 40 knots.
The 46C carries on the Viking legacy of innovation and quality while taking owner expectations to a new level. There are so many features cleverly included in the package that we could only scratch the surface here.
With twin 900 hp MAN V-8 900 CRM diesels
Viking Yachts: 609-296-6000 www.vikingyachts.com