The Vicem 63SF, when she first catches the eye-and many will be caught-looks to be an alluring sportfisherman that's at home in U.S. waters. This initial impression is built on a solid foundation: She's Awlgripped in Fighting Lady Yellow, with a dramatic broken sheer, fine forward entry, and spacious cockpit. And there's the fact of her location-I saw her at the geographic center of American yachting, Fort Lauderdale.
The 63SF is the latest sportfisherman design Vicem brought to the U.S. from its facilities in Turkey, and it follows the builder's proven formula of reinterpreting classic yacht styles with fine woodwork and comfortable accommodations. The company made its first foray into U.S. waters in 1999 with the 51 Classic, followed in ensuing years by a series of down east-style cruising yachts boasting traditional lines and careful detailing. Vicem's offerings range from 52 to 95 feet long and also include flying bridge models. And while delving into larger designs-they have 115- and 125-footers in the works and a 150-plus-foot Frank Mulder-designed trideck motoryacht being built-Vicem went for the trifecta by adding a line of sportfishing boats.
Powered by twin 1,500-horsepower MAN CRM diesels, this Vicem 63SF rumbled to life. We figured on an interesting ride, since the wind was gusting to 20 knots and when we got outside we found four-foot seas. She took them in stride, topping out at 29.5 knots. I found she matched the conditions best at 1900 rpm and noted 23.4 knots with a 104-gph burn. At that rate, her 1,950-gallon fuel capacity gave her a range of about 410 nautical miles, allowing for a 10-percent safety reserve.
Whether taking the seas on the nose, or quartering fore or aft, the 63SF ran well, with no pounding or slamming. When I brought her back to 1700 rpm, she cruised at just under 20 knots with a 78-gph burn. She ran a bit wet in the cockpit, and threw water across the bow on my speed runs.
The bridge has an EZ2CY enclosure, seating forward on both port and starboard sides, and a large cabinet. Abaft the starboard seating area is a console with a refrigerator and ice maker, a sink, and a place for an optional barbecue grill. The helm console is abaft the port seating area with a pair of Pompanette pedestal chairs and I noted adequate sightlines to the bow while seated in the skipper's seat. The helm station has plenty of room to flush-mount an array of navigational electronics in a gasketed cabinet. There is stowage under all seating areas and the deck up here has a teak sole as well.
From the skipper's position at the helm, I noticed the view of the cockpit was obstructed. And while a remote-control unit could be installed on the aft bridge rail, a more suitable fix would be to have a second helm station either to port or starboard instead of one of the two outside seating areas. While a retrofit would be out of the question on this boat, Michael Landsberg, president of Vicem USA, said that on a new build, this addition could be accommodated.
To step aboard the Vicem 63SF is to get a lesson in woodwork. The well-crafted cockpit coamings and beautiful sole are teak. The toe rail and the array of cabinets, drawers, steps, and bulkheads of the tackle-stowage center leading up to the salon entrance are all khaya mahogany. More mahogany went into a built-in live well to port and into the starboard cockpit docking station. But it's not just the shine of the wood that is so striking. Upon close examination, and as I found everywhere aboard, the fit and finish is superior, with obvious extra care taken to make sure that grains match.
"As with our cruising boats, we decided to get into the sportfishing market using our core competency-our exceptional woodworking abilities," said Landsberg. "With hand-built, cold-molded boats, using mahogany and WEST System epoxy, we wanted in at a high position as a specialty builder."
To that end, the Vicem yard, based in Istanbul and a recently expanded facility in Antalya, Turkey, some 500 miles south, hires a full complement of fine interior woodworkers and boatbuilders. Their expertise was readily apparent in the cockpit of the 63SF, and I had no doubt that it would be evident in the interior, too.
But it would have to wait, as I wanted to make a quick stop into the engineroom. By simply lifting up the four steps that led from the cockpit to the salon door-the hatch rose effortlessly on gas-assisted struts-I found the way into the mechanical space. There I found headroom measuring a bit over 5 feet, 9 inches, and ready access to all engine maintenance checks and handson systems.
Back in the cockpit, an enclosed spiral staircase leads to the bridge, located to starboard of the wooden salon door. To port, I noticed another door, and a quick look inside confirmed my hunch: a spacious, wellfinished head. Would one rather have a "traditional" mezzanine instead? Your call, but I kind of liked the idea of an extra head being handy to limit traipsing through the salon during the fishing action. And once I stepped inside the salon, I liked the idea even more.
The interior of this Vicem 63SF takes inspiration from an English country gentleman's den. The salon and galley, including bulkheads, cabinetry, and trim, are all finished in the same rich mahogany. The seating areas, aft and to port in the salon, and just forward in the amidships dining space, offer comfortable leather settees. There is mahogany underfoot as well and again, the joinery is impeccable, with the grains and inlay work nicely matched. The entertainment center, with a 50-inch flatscreen TV and Bose home-theater system, is on the salon's starboard side. A fully equipped galley features solid granite countertops, four Sub-Zero refrigerator-freezer units, a double stainless steel sink, a four-burner Bosch electric cooktop, and plenty of stowage in drawers and cabinets. There is LED lighting in the overhead and throughout the boat.
The stairway to the staterooms lies forward and to port and both the exceptional décor and beautiful woodwork continue in the three-stateroom, three-head layout. The VIP cabin is in the forepeak with guest quarters abaft and to starboard. The full-beam master lies amidships and features separate his-and-hers heads separated by a full shower. The space had an airy, open feel, which I attributed to the high ceilings. There is also plenty of stowage spread throughout in cabinets, drawers, and closets.
Fine woodwork inside and out, and comfortable, guest-pleasing quarters, combine to make certain the Vicem 63SF will garner plenty of attention at the dock.
Vicem Yachts USA, (631) 418-2700; www.vicemyacht.com