Specifications
LOA 59 ft., 8 in.
Beam 16 ft., 10 in.
Draft 4 ft., 10 in.
Displacement (dry) 49,160 lbs.
Fuel 925 gals.
Water 198 gals.
Engines Triple Volvo IPS 600, 435 hp each
Base Price as tested $1,985,000
Standard Equipment
See dealer for full list.
Optional Equipment
See dealer for full list.
Builder
Riviera Yachts, Coomera, Queensland, Australia; riviera.com.au
West Coast Dealer
Emerald Pacific Yachts, San Diego;
(619) 497-2993; emeraldpacificyachts.com

Emerald Pacific Yachts, Seattle;
(206) 587-0660; emeraldpacificyachts.com

Van Isle Marina Yacht Sales, Sidney, B.C.;
(250) 656-1138; vanislemarina.com


Riviera 53 Enclosed Flybridge

Posted: January 2, 2013  |  Boat Type: Motoryacht

A full-beam master on a sub-60-foot cruiser

By: Mike Werling

The hull color is an eye-catching feature — a gunmetal hue the builder calls tungsten silver. Combine it with the tinted twin wrap-around windshields on the main cabin and the flybridge, and the large amidships hull window, and the overall package is striking. The Riviera 53 Enclosed Flybridge definitely stands out, whether it’s at the dock or sprinting across the water. It’s not all about looks for our test boat, however. It is equipped with triple Volvo IPS 600 engines, which deliver more than 1,300 hp, provide 30 percent better efficiency and open up the belowdecks accommodations beyond what one might expect in a sub-60-foot boat.

Its strong sheer forward and a sharp entry make it look like a fast boat, while its raised topsides and high freeboard give it the impression of stability and strength. That’s not an unexpected combination from a builder that designs its boats for the challenging waters off Australia. What might surprise you, if you still think of Riviera as a sportfishing builder, is the cruisability of the boat. The flybridge, main cabin and belowdecks accommodations are spacious, comfortable and functional, not just crash pads for tired fishermen. That’s because, as Emerald Pacific Yachts’ Lex Mitchell told me, most sportfishing yachts are only fished about 20 percent of the time — owners use them to cruise.

The large cockpit, with its raised mezzanine seating and open layout, may make you think fishing, but that built-in molded unit on the transom is actually a grill, not a livewell — though a livewell is an option. The flybridge, which is accessed via an inner staircase just inside the cockpit door and to starboard of the galley, is — as the name of the model implies — enclosed. The teak steps are mounted on stainless steel bases that are attached to stylish stainless steel rails befitting of the yacht’s interior.

Riviera didn’t enclose the flybridge on a whim. That decision was based on research and boater feedback. What it did was effectively turn the bridge into a sky lounge, where the captain and about nine passengers can hang out while under way or at anchor (though the cockpit may have something to say about where people should hang out at anchor). The bridge enclosure is solid on three sides under a hardtop, and the aft part of the enclosure is canvas and Isinglass, which can be opened to draw in fresh air or to fish — if rod holders are installed. If the rear canvas, the side windows and the large sunroof are all open, the enclosed bridge feels very exposed. You can’t open the forward windows and get that wind-in-your-face feel, but you won’t feel confined either, as the wrap-around windows let in lots of light and provide a 360-degree view.

The helm on our test boat is forward and to port. Two Furuno Z 13-inch displays are on the dash — and there is room for another — in addition to a Simrad autopilot, a Furuno HD open-array radar, a transducer display, a Raymarine VHF and all the gauges and controls a captain needs. A second captain’s chair and a bench seat to starboard allow three people to keep the captain company. Buyers who are more interested in sportfishing — even if it is just 20 percent of the time — can have the helm placed aft. On our boat, a docking station is hidden in the molded-fiberglass unit that houses the bar, a sink, a refrigerator and an ice-maker. Across from the bar, to port, is a settee and a table. Inclement weather doesn’t have to derail cocktail hour or a semi-al fresco dinner.

Inside

In the main cabin, the galley is aft and to port. Fully functional and packed with high-end appliances — a Miele combination oven with an induction cooktop, a convection microwave and an electric grill, a Vitrifrigo drawer refrigerator/freezer, a Fisher and Paykel dishwasher — the galley is part of the action forward in the salon, but it can be part of the action in the cockpit, too. The aft window flips up and creates an unbroken flow from the mezzanine all the way forward. In the salon, up a couple of steps from the galley, two C-shaped sofas face each other — the port-side one is a dinette with a glossy teak table. An aisle between the sofas leads to steps to the belowdecks area.

Throughout the 53 EFB, high-gloss teak shines, and this is especially true in the salon, where light pours in through the windshield, which wraps around the salon. A 45-inch flat-screen TV is part of an entertainment system that will keep restless young ones occupied on a rainy day or after the outdoor activities have been exhausted.

Customers had asked for a big master stateroom, and Riviera designers were able to answer that call, with the help of the IPS pods. The engines are a lot farther aft than they would be on a boat with conventional shaft drives, so Riviera moved the master to an amidships location, where it is able to take advantage of the yacht’s full 16 feet, 10 inches of beam and still be several feet from the engines themselves. In fact, there’s enough room for an optional crew quarters between the Volvos and the aft master bulkhead.

Above the king-size bed is a framed headliner detail, shaped roughly like the bed, complete with lights, fabric and wood. A double-seat lounge and a nightstand/dresser are to port, while a built-in bureau occupies the starboard side, and an entertainment center with a 46-inch — yes, 46 — LED TV with a Bose stereo system is at the foot of the bed. The en suite head includes a VacuFlush toilet, a separate shower stall and a bowl sink on a Corian countertop. Large hull windows let in lots of light, and opening portholes provide fresh air. Owners have a place to retreat to and recharge when the on-deck activities wind down.

The VIP stateroom is forward and features full headroom, an island queen bed and private access to the guest head. An overhead hatch opens to let in light and air, and a 22-inch LED TV with a DVD player is included for guests’ viewing pleasure.

The third stateroom is to port and includes upper/lower bunks and storage in a cedar-lined locker, a bureau and a chest of drawers.

Performer

After a ride through the slow zone on Lake Union, we used our perch on the flybridge to see that Lake Washington was basically ours, so it was finally time to see how the 53 EFB handled. As we pushed the engine controls forward, the triple pods bit in and propelled the yacht smoothly and quickly, hopping on plane with minimal bowrise. We executed a few hard-over turns and figure-8s, and once I had what I needed, we pulled a few more, because the boat seemed very happy doing so. In turns, the 53 leans slightly into them, like you would expect a sportboat to do, and it made the transition from hard-over left to hard-over right with no jerkiness or skidding. I did it a few more times, just to be sure. The electronic steering was a breeze, and the pods responded immediately to the helm. Our beautiful Seattle test day wasn’t conducive to crashing through big waves, so we had to make our own, hitting our wake at odd angles while still in a hard turn, and the 53 was solid no matter the angle. It didn’t pound over the wake, opting instead to cut through and seek out the next bump.

We managed a top speed of 28 knots, though tests in salt water have yielded speeds of 30-plus, at which time the triple Volvo IPS 600s were burning a total of 66 gph and turning at 3540 rpm. At 3300 rpm, we were moving along at 24.6 mph, a solid cruising speed, and burning 54 gph. Backing off to 3000 rpm yielded 20.6 knots and 44 gph, while 2500 rpm garnered 14.5 knots and 29 gph. At the lower end of the spectrum, 2000 rpm pushed the 53 EFB along at 11 knots while burning 16 gph, and 1500 rpm gave us 8.9 knots and 7.3 gph.

A feature of the boat that tech buffs are sure to enjoy is the C-Zone Touch Screen. Mounted at the base of the steps to the flybridge, the screen allows the captain to control all of the circuits and view onboard systems, such as tank and power levels, from one place.

Riviera celebrated its 5,000th build in November. That’s a lot of hulls in the water. That’s a lot of time to experiment and get things right. It’s a lot of time for a builder to evolve from sportfishing to a cruiser-friendly builder that hasn’t forgotten its roots but knows what boaters want and is determined to deliver. The 53 Enclosed Flybridge is an example of a growing breed of yacht on which fishability is a feature, not its identity, allowing it to be many things to many people — a yacht that’s cruiseworthy with fishing in its DNA.

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