Fishing performance combined with luxury accommodations define the latest battlewagon from a 55-year-old builder.
Introduced at the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show last fall, the Viking 58 Convertible sits at the size midpoint of the New Jersey-based builder’s fleet, which ranges from 38 to 93 feet. Now in its 55th year of continuous operation, Viking — still family owned and operated — builds yachts at its facility on the Bass River just north of Atlantic City, and its new 58 has already proven itself on the tournament circuit. It appeals to hardcore anglers as well as cruising yachtsmen, because it checks the box for performance, luxury and accommodations.
I stepped aboard the 58 Convertible in Atlantic City before my sea trial, and there was no mistaking its open-ocean DNA. The cockpit covers 165 square feet and every inch is utilized. The first thing that caught my eye was the transom fishbox, which doubles as a live baitwell and can be equipped with multiple tuna tubes. For West Coast and Central America-bound tournament anglers, this setup is made to order. Below the deck, a second livewell and a stowage well add more capacity and can be fitted with an ice machine discharge to keep the catch chilled.
Rounded coamings in the cockpit reduce wear and tear on anglers and crew when they are working a fish with standup tackle. An aluminum plate is sandwiched into the fiberglass sole to anchor a fighting chair, a rocket launcher or a cockpit table. Stowage lockers built into the cockpit sides help keep the decks clear and also conceal the Glendinning shore-power cord, raw- and freshwater outlets and hoses, electric deep-water and kite-reel DC terminals, and racks for the mop, gaff and tag stick.
An extended flybridge deck overhang offers shade and spray protection for anyone who is sitting on the observation mezzanine. Beneath the mezzanine’s Sunbrella lounge are compartments for tackle, stowage for gear, a refrigerator and a freezer, a bait tray and ample choices for customization. A refrigerated drink cooler is built into the salon entrance step, which eliminates the need for a portable chest. Our test boat also was equipped with a walkthrough transom door with a lift gate, a Seakeeper 9 gyro stabilizer and custom teak decks.
An electric sliding door opens into the salon. Viking offers buyers a choice of teak and walnut in gloss and satin finishes, and an in-house design group, WBC Design, handles each customer’s needs and wants, from carpeting to custom sculptures and paintings. No two Vikings are ever alike, and our test boat carried the tradition of luxury and practicality throughout the interior. To port, an L-shaped sofa with rod stowage underneath is complemented by a burl coffee table. To starboard, a flat-screen TV rises from the cabinetry, which also contains the electrical distribution panels, an ice-cube maker, and bottle and glass stowage. Air conditioning flows quietly from the hidden registers behind the valences.
Moving forward, the dinette seats four, and two barstools in the U-shaped portside galley increase seating options. Amtico vinyl flooring in the galley wipes clean with a damp mop, and a bank of appliances features under-counter drawer-style Sub-Zero refrigeration (a second ice-maker is in the freezer), an electric cooktop, a microwave-convection oven, a stainless steel sink and engineered stone countertops. Abundant stowage in maple-lined cabinetry swallows supplies, dinnerware, cookware and groceries.
Moving below, the three-stateroom, two-head layout delivers commonalities of comfort and privacy. The master stateroom is amidships. Its walk-around queen-size bed — a Handcraft Viking Slumber #8 innerspring mattress — is flanked by night tables and reading lights. The mattress lifts to reveal a massive stowage well with room for golf clubs and other bulky items. A wall of maple-lined hanging lockers covers his and hers requirements for fishing, cruising and yacht club festivities. An en suite head features a fiberglass shower stall with a molded seat and a glass door.
Side-by-side berths, also with Handcraft mattresses, are located in the starboard stateroom, while the forward stateroom has a centerline queen bed as the standard arrangement, but crossover berths are available as an option, featuring a double and a single. Both staterooms share the second head and shower. A laundry center is located in the companionway.
The flybridge layout is the result of thousands of hours on the tournament trail. A center console command station provides excellent visibility for the operator, whether he’s tracking the fishing action or navigating to the next port. Electronics and engine instrumentation stow in a raised fiberglass console whose clear acrylic lid lifts on stainless steel gas struts. Additional compartments with accessories flank a Release Marine teak helm pod whose single-lever electronic controls have bow thruster buttons built into the handles. A dropdown electronics box in the bridge hardtop contains additional electronics, and Miya Epoch teaser reels are recessed in a compartment directly overhead of the operator.
Twin Release Marine Trillion Series helm seats provide a comfortable station for the operator and a companion. Additional seating is found in lounges with reversible backrests that flank the helm and on a center lounge forward. Plenty of stowage space is available beneath the lounges. A three-sided Costa Clear enclosure with front vents delivers all-weather protection. Up on a Palm Beach Towers tuna tower, the upper helm and control station includes more electronics, a fiberglass buggy top and a freshwater outlet to rinse off salt.
Attention to Detail
Viking is known for its engineering, and the proof is obvious in the engine room. Accessed from the mezzanine and down a four-rung powder-coated aluminum ladder, the room’s centerline headroom is nearly 6 feet tall. Completely painted in bright white Awlgrip, the area resembles a hospital operating room, and I could see myself in the overhead, which is the bottom side of the salon floor. The floor is 4 inches thick and composed of fiberglass and composite coring for thermal and acoustical insulation.
The boat’s MTU engines have better than 2 feet between them and are easy to get around to reach the four Dometic air conditioning units and the house and ship service batteries in fiberglass boxes outboard on the port side. Racor fuel/water separators are at the front of each engine. On the starboard-side bulkhead, an easy-to-follow freshwater manifold and a Grundfos pump will facilitate keeping the systems operating properly. A forward centerline hatch exposes the raw-water pickups for the mains, and every sea valve and seacock is painted with white Awlgrip and labeled.
Delta T ventilation intakes provide ample fresh air for combustion and its water intrusion suppression design keeps the area clean and dry. Water pickups for the air conditioners, refrigeration, the Sea Recovery desalinator and the 21.5 kw Onan generator are readily accessible and easy to maintain. Although the 58 Convertible is likely to be run by a captain, this ride is well within the ability of a knowledgeable owner/operator.
The Viking 58 Convertible is available with engine choices from MAN and MTU. Our test boat had the MTU 10V 2000 M96L package rated at 1,600 mhp each. Those big diesels delivered rapid acceleration with virtually no sign of smoking at any throttle setting, whether we were attempting a Bimini start or reversing hard to simulate chasing a big fish. Backing down, the Viking 58 managed to reach 8 to 9 knots while the crown in the transom did yeoman’s work moving the water away from the stern and keeping the cockpit dry. At full throttle and 2432 rpm, the boat’s GPS recorded 42 knots, with 1,500 gallons of fuel, full water and seven people aboard.
With the yacht running in the ocean, the molded lift strakes did an admirable job of deflecting spray, with the water breaking just forward of the deckhouse windshield and the downward angle of the strakes diverting the spray away from the boat. The Sea Star Optimus EPS steering was finger light, fast and responsive.
Viking’s construction includes a resin-infused hull with end-grain balsa sandwiched between the fiberglass laminates. Virtually 90 percent of what goes into a Viking is manufactured in-house, the company being vertically integrated, from its fiberglass fuel tanks to the interior furniture to the custom metal fabrications including bow rails. Viking uses a pair of five-axis profiling milling machines to create its molds, which are designed in-house too. Palm Beach Towers and Atlantic Marine Electronics are onsite Viking subsidiaries that supply tuna towers and navigation and entertainment packages respectively, which allow the Viking 58 and other models to be delivered turnkey ready from the Viking factory to each customer.