Sea Trials

12 Dec

Hemingway at the wheelA Good Call

The all new VIKING 55C easily picks up where her much-admired predecessor left off.

By Capt. Ken Kreisler

The Viking 55C runs proud to a heritage that is built on pride of craftsmanship and a name that is synonomous with the best that a fishing boat has to offer.

The Viking 55C runs on a heritage built on pride of craftsmanship and a name synonymous with the best a fishing boat has to offer.

As all freelance writers can readily attest to, the sound of one’s own phone ringing is a joyous noise and when mine sounded off one particular day, I was quite busy negotiating getting a 47-foot catamaran out of her dock in reverse. While I pride myself on being a competent and intelligent multi-tasker, when it comes to safety, as in this tricky maneuver given having to deal with both a rather insistent breeze and a rip-roaring incoming tide, I decided to wait before picking up the phone until I had comfortably cleared the close-quartered pier and put my current charge on course for the preferred channel.

After the last time I spoke with Marlin editor Dave Ferrell, I quickly found myself with billfish-tight lines for several days in the waters off Isla Mujeres, Cancun, Mexico. And while New Gretna, NJ’s Bass River does not teem with any kind of significant game fish, it is home to a very specific top-of-the-line predator of another genus. For this is where Viking Yachts are designed and built and my quarry this outing is nothing less than the brand spanking new Viking 55C.

Before we jump aboard and have a go at her, there is a little background information on this latest offering from the highly-respected company that will shed some light on this particular vessel’s importance in the Viking line up.

The first 55C, drawn by Bruce Wilson—with Viking since 1968 by the way—was introduced at the 1996 Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show. It was so well-received that 153 hulls later, the boat had established itself as one of the premier sportfishing boats in its size and accordingly, occupied a strategic place in the Viking fleet. As equally impressive is the fact that Wilson’s son Dave is responsible for designing the new 55.

In describing the 55 from the bottom up, Wilson explained how the convex shape is softened up a bit in the midsections. “We’re always looking to refine it some with tank testing; maybe drop the deadrise two degrees and then another. This new 55 is at 12 degrees at the transom where my dad’s boat was at 15/15 ½. Among other things, we’ve been working at getting a sharper entry up front and a little flatter in the back for a more improved and efficient planning area aft,” remarked Wilson. “Nothing too exotic here and we weren’t looking for any buzz words to describe the design. It is what it is; and if you come out with a good product you can call it a Viking,” he says with pride.

One of the many sisterships to my 55C test boat waits to move up the line at the Viking plant.

One of the many sister ships to my 55C test boat waits to move up the line at the Viking plant.

Besides the several factory visits at those strategic times during a new build, it has always been my assertion that one should first look at the engine room space before anything else on board. For it is here that one can readily see if the kind of thought and planning for such an important area is up to the task. If it is, you can just about count on everything else to follow suit. And that is just what I did.

With Viking’s Peter Frederiksen as my guide, I easily lifted the upper cockpit’s centerline hatch and, after comfortably negotiating the stairs, entered the space. My first impression was that this is a roomy and hands-on friendly space with the kind of work room that would all but eliminate the elbow-busting, knuckle-scraping conditions that are often present in engine rooms of similar sized boats. There is a bright white Awlgripped finish on the overhead and bulkheads and the Viking engineering staff fit in the pair of new MAN V12 1,550hp CRM power plants so as to provide complete access on both inboard and outboard sides. Among many other outstanding features, the latest from MAN offers maintenance-free, gear-driven fresh-water pumps, starter motors that can be fitted to both sides, multi-stage injection for quiet operation; and as I would find out during my performance runs, powerful acceleration and excellent and lightning quick reaction to the throttle. With this kind of power and room to move, this space is a skipper’s dream.

“We try, all the time, to always improve on things on all our boats; to find either a better design or a simpler method,” said Frederiksen as, making his point, showed me the centralized water system on the engine room’s forward bulkhead. Driven by a single, high output, continuous duty pump—yes, there is a backup just in case—with access to all the shut off valves, this system eliminates the need for any other ones to drive the live well, for example, any refrigeration that needs water, the wash downs, shaved ice unit, or water maker. “And if you don’t need a specific system, you can shut it off. It’s all done from right here.”

Efficient use of resin infusion is a major part of the Viking approach to its boat building. Weight saving along with stronger hulls and parts, and a cleaner, more environmentally safe work space definitely makes the company’s A list. “We are using a lot more cored material; like foam and balsa coring in the bulkheads, bringing in new composites, and being careful to look for anywhere to save some weight,” said Wilson.

Along with many of the smaller parts, including up on the bridge and underneath the hardtop, fuel and holding tanks and shower compartments, the 55’s hull has also been infused. Other notable Viking construction techniques include vinyl and polyester resins used in structural laminates and topsides, fiberglass side thru-hulls, prop pockets for draft reduction, solid reinforced keel, encapsulated foam fiberglass stringer system, and vacuum bagged composite bulkheads including the engine room, intermediate engine room, and forward bulkhead.

Viking prides itself on the company’s ability to provide almost ninety percent of everything you find on its boats being supplied by its own design, engineering, and manufacturing entities. And that includes the interior as well. Entering from the cockpit, the sliding door opens up to a well-balanced and functional salon.

This salon layout is one of many interior options available on the 55C.

This salon layout is one of many interior options available on the 55C.

On this 55, there is a C-shape leather couch to port—the cushions are removable with storage areas beneath—and a dinette just forward. The galley is to starboard and is available in either an island or peninsula configuration; the latter allows for a bit more counter space and can include a trash compactor as well. There is ample cabinet storage above the three burner electric stove top and sink and in either arrangement, the four drawer, under counter Sub Zero units make this galley capable of quick eats for busy fishermen or an elegant sit down dinner once the day is done.

The master stateroom offers style and comfort.

The master stateroom offers style and comfort.

The 55C is equipped with a three stateroom, two head layout. The master, with an en suite head, is to starboard with the two-berth quarters directly to port. The forepeak, available in either island berth or angled over under configuration, shares the port side head with the stateroom on that side. All these well-appointed living spaces are quite roomy with excellent headroom and adequate storage. And no matter where I looked or examined, I found excellent fit and finish complementing the tasteful décor all around.

Driving the 55C is nothing short of exhilarating and reminiscent of taking the wheel of a well-tuned and performance-oriented sports car; the result being an exciting and impressively hot nautical ride. While my test day saw clear skies, marginal wind, and flat calm seas, there is no doubt in my mind that she is all Viking and would relish some challenging seas. When I called upon the twin MAN V12’s for a full throttle run, remarking how quickly she came up out of the hole and settled in to spooling up 41 knots, I noticed how responsive the steering was and how well she answered the helm. Whether carving long and looping S-curves, letting her dig in either on port or starboard sides during hard over maneuvers, playing backing down on a near-grander, or just sitting back and letting her run straight and true, near instantaneous control was mine. At 2050 rpm, she settled into a comfortable 34.7 knots and when I knocked her down to 1800, watched the instruments log a 29.8 knot speed with a 93gph total fuel burn. At this rate, this particular boat could expect a range of approximately 440 nautical miles. And throughout my entire performance testing, not once did I detect any kind of smoke or exhaust from the engines.

When I told him about the 55’s remarkable and quick response to the helm, Wilson offered some first-hand insight. “The change here is due to some subtle distances we added between the rudders and the propellers and the space from the rudder to the transom. And like most of the things we’ve learned, it comes from the success on the other boats we’ve built.”

Unfortunately for me, but quite fortunate for her new owner, this 55C was sold and therefore, unavailable for a day of offshore fishing. Really too bad as the late summer bite off the Jersey coast was doing very well and having fished on many Vikings in the past, this kind of outing would have been something I would have truly relished.

The 151 square foot, self-bailing cockpit is Viking-ready for action and packed with all the requisite equipment to make her both a formidable participant on the tournament circuit or hosting a day with some family and friends. The extended flying bridge overhang can provide shade during particularly sunny days while the now-indispensable port aft facing mezzanine not only provides a “fifty yard line” seat for all the action but holds freezer compartment, insulated storage spaces, and tackle drawers as well. Add an optional fighting chair, an additional live well in the sole, and a pair of Rupp ‘riggers to her live well/tuna tube at the transom, her side gaff lockers, rod holders, and in-sole fish boxes, and all you will need to provide is a crew.

Topsides, the flying bridge is available two ways; the first is the traditional set up with access to the forward area over on the starboard side or in a ‘center console’ style. Either way, there is comfortable seating, ample storage areas, and excellent sightlines for the skipper not only into the cockpit, but out into the seaway when performing backing down maneuvers as well. You can customize the helm station to your liking with a variety of options and electronics as well as selecting a full enclosure or hardtop.

Yours truly making the call that will hopefully, get me out on this boat looking for deep waters and tight lines.

Yours truly making the call that will hopefully, get me out on this boat again, this time looking for deep waters and tight lines.

As we backed her into the make-ready dock, where over the next week or two she would get her finishing touches for her impending delivery, I had two thoughts. Firstly, I applaud Viking’s decision to re-introduce the Dave Wilson-designed 55C to the convertible line up. Given its size, power, performance, amenities on both its fishing prowess—it is a Viking after all—and creature comforts, there is little wonder the plant is already eight hulls out. She is truly a boat for the times

My second thought came in an admittedly selfish moment. I hoped that sometime in the future, and sooner rather than later, my phone would ring with an invitation to spend some time fishing on a new 55C.    Now that would be a really good call.

Viking 55 Convertible  Specifications

Length Overall (LOA): 56′ 5″ (17.20 m)
Beam: 17′ 9 (5.41 m)
Draft: 5′ 1″ (1.55 m)
Gross Weight*: 77,700 lbs. (35,244 kg)
Fuel Capacity: 1,414 gals. (5,353 l)
Water Capacity: 225 gals. (852 l)
Cockpit Area: 151 sq.ft. (14.0 sq. m.)
* Standard Fuel Load

Power: 2x 1,550 mhp MAN V12 CRM diesels
Fuel: Full, 1,414 gallons, standard
Water: Full, 225 gallons
POB: 3

RPM             Knots    Total GPH   NM range @ 95%   DBA
1500             20.5        62                444                           82
1600             24.8        73                456                           83
1700             27.0        83                436                           85
1800             29.8        93                440                           86
2000             34.2        108              435                           87
2050             34.7        119              398                           87
2100             36.0        124              399                           88
2200             38.2        138              380                           89
2300             40.1        147              373                           90
2330             41.2        158              357                           91
(2050 is typical cruise speed.)

1 Comment

Posted by on December 12, 2012 in Sea Trials



One response to “Sea Trials

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