This midsize convertible melds fishing features and cruising amenities.
VIKING’S NEW 46 BILLFISH overflows with bluewater DNA, long the hallmark of the company’s 55-year heritage. Beautifully proportioned with a graceful sheer line that complements the flybridge, deckhouse, accommodations and cockpit, this new Viking redefines the purpose of the midsize convertible yacht, with features and performance that not only satisfy offshore fishermen with tournament mettle, but equally appease casual cruisers longing to rack up hours of water time in total comfort.
Well suited for an owner/operator, the 46 Billfish is equipped for offshore duties. Its 140-square-foot cockpit includes a molded nonskid surface for solid footing, scuppers in the corners, an average depth of 26 inches and a 35-inch reach to the waterline for fast marlin releases. Four flush rod holders are standard, and the cabin-side haunches have room for three more per side. A pair of 52-inch by 19-inch by 17-inch insulated fishboxes in the sole handle the catch of the day or serve as stowage compartments. A walkthrough transom door with a lift gate and a transom livewell are standard.
A deck hatch provides access to the bilge to reach the Seastar Optimus steering ram, as well as plumbing fittings for the bilge, the high water alarm, fishbox macerators, and livewell pumps. The bilge area is finished with bright white Awlgrip, and the workmanship throughout is top notch.
Well suited for an owner-operator and featuring a fully outfitted helm that includes Palm Beachstyle controls, the 46 Billfish is equipped for offshore duties.
VIKING 46 BILLFISH FISHING AMENITIES
The observation mezzanine is equipped with port and starboard seating. Thick cushions keep anglers comfortable as they watch the baits in the wake, and the flybridge overhang protects them from sun and spray. Our test boat had the available air-conditioning vents built into the bridge overhang, which should deliver plenty of chilled breeze between bites and are a nice touch for fishing in tropical waters. In cold weather, the cycle can be reversed to deliver warm air.
A large refrigerated box is built into the starboard mezzanine step, while underneath the seat is a clever arrangement of tackle drawers and a bank of Dometic controls for refrigeration. On the port side is a large freezer with a removable upper tray for the day’s bait, and a separate insulated stowage compartment below.
Beneath the port coaming is a manifold that facilitates lube oil transfer from the engines and generator via quick-disconnect fittings. Nearby, other quick-disconnect fittings accommodate a dockside freshwater inlet, and fresh- and raw-water outlets. A pair of 24v 30-amp outlets beneath the coaming serves as power sources for electric kite reels. Tricolor LED lighting illuminates under the coaming and flybridge overhang.
INSIDE THE VIKING 46 BILLFISH
A Costa Clear three-panel enclosure keeps the weather out of the salon command-deck area, which features 80 inches of headroom from the sole to the fiberglass headliner. I would consider putting a grabrail in the overhead for added security. A flat-screen TV on the starboard bulkhead, stereo speakers and a stowage cabinet to port add convenience and entertainment. A U-shaped vinyl-cushioned lounge to port features a fiberglass highlow table, and a second lounge to starboard includes rod stowage and offers extra napping room. Each lounge rises on an electrically actuated lift to provide access to the machinery compartment.
Our test boat, which was headed for Costa Rica, had a pair of MAN I6 800 mhp diesels, a 13.5 kw Kohler generator and a Seakeeper SK 6 gyro stabilizer. Other optional equipment included a 600 gpd water-maker and an Eskimo ice chipper.
Despite the amount of machinery, the overall installations were quite neat, so most daily checks — oil, Racor fuel filters and raw-water strainers — could be accomplished via a centerline hatch between the engines. As in the lazarette, the engineroom is finished with white Awlgrip and the valves and fittings are clearly labeled for ease of operation and routine maintenance. A ladder or step would be a nice addition for entering and leaving the engine compartment.
VIKING 46 BILLFISH ACCOMMODATIONS
A powder-coated aluminum and glass bi-fold door leads below, into a plush environment. At the bottom of the teak staircase, the interior takes advantage of the 15-foot, 4-inch beam and 6-foot, 4-inch clearance to maximize living and sleeping space. To starboard, the galley features plenty of teak cabinetry and drawers with maple-lined interiors. Polished Corian countertops brighten the interior and meld nicely with the Majilite headliner and the Amtico vinyl flooring. The galley is equipped with a Samsung microwave/convection oven, a Kenyon two-burner electric cooktop, an Isotherm drawer-style refrigerator and freezer, and a stainless steel sink. An electrical panel on the aft bulkhead is full height for easy monitoring.
To port, the generously proportioned head is air conditioned and has a fiberglass shower stall with a light, Corian countertop and sink over the vanity and a Dometic portable toilet. Forward of the head are upper and lower bunks. The air-conditioned private master stateroom is in the bow. It features an island queen bed, a pair of maple-lined hanging lockers, starboard hullside cabinetry, a Samsung 32-inch flatscreen TV, a CD/DVD player and a stereo. Natural ventilation is provided by an overhead Bomar hatch. An alternate version in this stateroom offers crossover berths.
THE VIKING 46 BILLFISH FLYBRIDGE
The flybridge on the Viking 46 Billfish features the builder’s signature layout: a center console helm, a forward-facing lounge and flanking lounges. The low profile of the console does not give passengers much to hold on to, so I would add grabrails on each side of the console for more security. A Release Marine teak ladder-back helm seat gives the operator an unobstructed 360-degree view and a comfortable perch that reduces fatigue on long runs. The faux-teak fiberglass helm pod includes a stainless-steel wheel and single-lever Palm Beach-style ZF engine controls with Side Power bow-thruster buttons built into the handles. Flanking radio boxes, accessory switches and trim-tab controls are a glance away and always within reach.
A raised fiberglass dash is home to a pair of 17-inch Garmin navigation screens, and additional electronics and engine instrumentation are installed in the hardtop overhead. Navigation, communication and entertainment systems are factory installed while the boat is on the production line, thanks to Viking subsidiary Atlantic Marine Electronics, which provides turnkey delivery.
SEA TRIAL THE VIKING 46 BILLFISH
With a light breeze from the southeast, the ocean off Atlantic City, N.J., provided modest seas of 2 feet, with an occasional 3-footer. A touch of trim with the tabs kept the prow in the water, and the raked entry maneuvered through the slop nicely. Top speed approached 39 knots with four people aboard, full water and approximately 400 gallons of fuel. While this speed is helpful while racing the clock to be at the weigh-in dock in time, midrange performance is especially notable. At 1435 rpm, the boat recorded 20.7 knots and the twin MAN diesels burned 30 gph, delivering a range of 440 n.m. based on 90 percent of the 709-gallon fuel capacity. At 1600 rpm and 25 knots, the engines consumed 36 gph, for a range of 443 miles. Running 30 knots at 1800 rpm, the MANs drank 44 gph, providing a 435-mile range. At wide-open throttle, 2340 rpm, the engines consumed 80 gph, for a range of 311 miles. Clearly, the MAN engines are the right choice for the 46 Billfish.
Handling is impressive and response is quick and definitive.
Handling is equally impressive. The response is quick and definitive — the wheel goes five and a half turns lock to lock — and makes it a fun boat to operate. Buyers will certainly want autopilot but its sporty behavior is enjoyable. At cruise speed, the water breaks aft of the windshield and molded-in lift strakes provide a clean running surface and control side spray. At trolling speeds, the wake provides several clear alleys for staggering the baits in good position. Backing down, the transom crown worked nicely to move water away from the stern.
Like all Viking models, the 46 Billfish is built using composite construction with closed-cell foam and end-grain balsa coring in its layup. Foam coring also is used in the command deck floor above the engines to provide thermal and acoustical insulation. Fuel tanks are molded fiberglass, designed and built in-house, as is 90 percent of the boat, to ensure quality control and advanced engineering by Viking’s design group.