Author: Capt. Tom Serio
Picture this: Your eyes are closed, and you’re dreaming of lying on a white, puffy cloud, gently floating in the atmosphere aboard a pillowy ride. The motion is effortless, there’s nary a jolt or shudder, and the quietness allows for easy conversation.
Open your eyes. That type of ride can be found on the new Vicem Cruiser 78. Thanks to the wooden hull and the historic ride that timber offers, along with the fine joinery and classic styling, this entry from Vicem looks as good as it feels.
From afar, the Vicem 78 we tested has a gentle look, with a cream-colored hull and off-white superstructure, along with a strong broken sheer line and a mixture of rounded edges and hard angles. One of the angles is the near-vertical axe bow. Not a new concept, it adds to the yesteryear look and improves the yacht’s efficiency and seakeeping ability. The two through-hull anchors are placed as far forward as possible.
Gently curved windows, arched sidedeck overhang supports and generous tumblehome ‘” to name a few features ‘” make the 78 a piece of art that you can take to the sea.
A large curved settee built into the aft bulkhead adorns the aft deck with an appropriately curved teak table, ready for alfresco dining. More than 20 recessed lights fill the full-length overhang. Two large sliding doors open to the salon, bringing in the great outdoors or, better yet, taking the inside of the yacht outside.
Wide sidedecks lead forward and up two steps to the foredeck, which has a huge sunpad on the cabin top. Just forward is a molded-in cushioned seat with a padded backrest, for that exhilarating feeling when running.
Anchor gear includes dual Muir chain windlasses, with rode storage forward through a hatch to keep all access from above.
On other Vicem models, the builder uses darker woods for the interiors, providing a stately feel with a high level of comfort. Our Cruiser 78 has a Euro-sense, featuring a much lighter shade of wood ‘” anegre, to be exact. With light streaming in from the large side windows, rooms are brighter and appear larger thanks to this light-toned tropical hardwood.
Style is in, in the salon. Port and starboard sofas are actually cushions on a built-in sofa frame, made from the same wood finish as the walls. This blends the furniture with the rest of the salon, without having unwieldy furniture pieces. End tables and a center coffee table follow the squared-off styling. Accent lighting under the sofas adds a warm touch after dark. Your first impression should be a lasting one: sharp, crisp, airy styling with a focus on visibility. A 36-inch LED TV in the aft port corner is standard, with a 42-inch model optional.
Up a step from the salon is the dining area. The step gives the dining area its own room, but there are no walls or bulkheads between it and the salon, so the space is wide open and uncluttered. Seating for up to eight people around the contemporary rectangular wood table with inlaid trim works well. To starboard is a credenza for glass and bottle storage, and behind that is stairwell access to the lower master stateroom.
Forward to port is a U-shaped galley, with Miele-brand appliances, including a four-burner electric stovetop with a dishwasher below, an exhaust hood with lighting and a microwave oven. A Sub-Zero unit is split between a standup refrigerator and lower freezer drawers. The large, deep sink is great for pots. There is a sliding door to the port deck, which is great for safety but takes away some potential counter space. Vicem uses appliances that have a large U.S. presence for ease of information and service.
A few steps fore is the lower helm to starboard. A single Stidd helm seat is well positioned to give great forward visibility while maintaining a clear view of the dash. Visibility aft is also good through the dining area and salon. An optional aft-facing camera is mounted on the aft deck and comes up on the helm display, which is useful when backing into a slip.
Our test ride has a two-level dash, with dual 18-inch Raymarine E140 display screens for charts, radar, cameras, etc. The screens are flanked by Raymarine autopilot and speed/depth/temperature log displays on the upper section. On the lower level are two MAN engine displays, Bennett trim tab controls, TRAC bow and stern thruster controls, a TRAC digital stabilizer control panel, rocker switches and throttle controls to the far right.
Access to the starboard deck is via a sliding deck door next to the helm seat, which makes it easy for the captain to grab a line. Right behind the helm seat is the AC/DC power system with breakers and gauges. The real beauty is that it’s well labeled and at eye level.
To port is an observation bench seat sufficient for three or more people, with a large chart table and storage.
Belowdecks are four staterooms, three accessible by a stairway next to the helm and the master with its own entrance from the salon. Suffice it to say that all three forward rooms (VIP in the peak, full size to port and double bunks to starboard) have en suite heads with shower stalls, basin-style sinks and overhead hatches. Staterooms are finished with anegre wood and have more storage than you’ll know what to do with ‘” lockers, drawers and cabinets abound. Oversized portholes allow ambient light in and provide viewing opportunities. More than 6 feet of headroom should cure any of that claustrophobic closed-in feeling. Vicem does a great job with aesthetics such as ceiling trays, wood and fabric trim, stylish lighting, hidden drawer/door pulls and recessed lighting.
Nestled beneath the forward rooms is a mechanical area, accessible through floor hatches in the hallway. This area ‘” as is being done on more yachts ‘” houses components such as water pumps and filters, water heaters, the central vacuum and other non-engine room-specific systems.
The full-beam midship master is a comfortable oasis, with a king-size island berth that faces aft, so your head is not right up against the engine-room bulkhead. A double settee is to port and a vanity table to starboard. Large windows in the hull allow for near-sea-level viewing while also brightening this living space. The beamy head, complete with a single-basin sink and a large stall shower, helps insulate the master from engine noise.
This is Vicem’s second entry in its Cruiser line of yachts. The Cruiser 92 has the same exterior styling, albeit longer, but the interior layout differs. Vicem also builds the Classic series (from 52 to 75 feet), the Bahama Bay line (from 52 to 58 feet) and the new Vulcan motoryacht series from 32 to 46 meters.
On the Cruiser 78, even though the flybridge structure is a little narrower than the beam and has all of the niceties you’d want, it still feels roomy. Up the stairwell from the aft deck, the flybridge’s first noticeable feature is the optional Jacuzzi. A Jacuzzi? This yacht is only 78 feet long. Yep, and with more than 12 jets to soothe your muscles, it fits well on the starboard side, aft of the long, U-shaped, cushioned settee and its two gas-adjustable teak tables. To port is a built-in bar with a sink and storage and a cabinet with a grill and a refrigerator.
The aft deck of the bridge has room for tender stowage along with the optional Opacmare davit. The radar mast has aft-swept wings for antenna mounts that keep them away from the rotating radar arrays. The mast is hinged at the base to lower it for bridge clearance.
Forward is the helm to starboard with a bench seat or optional chairs. The dash is large, and here’s why: It has the same complement of electronics as the lower station, which may signify that you’ll spend as much, if not more, time piloting from up here. Go for the optional hardtop (with 24 recessed lights and polished stainless stanchions), and the crowd will surely migrate to the flybridge deck whenever they can.
Moving this massive yacht are twin MAN V-8 900 CRM blocks, producing 900 hp each. Housed in a pristinely finished engine room, they appear to be recessed into the floor. What Vicem has done is raise the center walkway, which houses pipe, cable and hose runs, and provides a bird’s-eye view of the engines.
Vicem’s construction is noteworthy. Using the company’s cold-molded technique, this hard-chined planing hull is made of cross-planked mahogany with West System epoxy. Lamination consists of two-ply fiberglass with epoxy coating and faired with a colored polyurethane coating. The stringer system is mahogany and hardwood framing. The deck and hull joint is fully glued and mechanically fastened. The top superstructure is mahogany framing and beams. With a smooth and glossy finish, the 78 is all wood where it floats, and it does make a difference.
Marine plywood is used for soles, bulkheads, the main deck and other areas. What all this means is that the MAN engines will get the 62-ton-plus yacht up to 17 knots wide open, with a cruise of around 14 knots, burning 32 gpm at about 2150 rpm. At about 1000 rpm, the yacht travels at 7 knots, while 1400 rpm gets it to 10 knots. What impressed me was the amount the yacht did not heel into the turns; it had more of a slight lean, tracking true.
This model is tailored to older sailors who pine for a classic feel and may want to actually get somewhere, but don’t let that stop you from taking a serious look. The Vicem Cruiser 78 will help you enjoy the journey over the destination a little more. It’s heaven sent.