Has the world turned so completely upside down that an entry-level production boat has a price tag of more than $800,000? I began to think so when I looked at the Viking 45 Convertible on paper, at a base price of $810,000 with optional 800 hp MAN diesels. If you add the appropriate options and a decent electronics package, this 45-footer can creep up on the million-dollar mark.
But thinking in terms of price point only ignores the big picture and conflicts with Viking's track record of producing high-quality, well-engineered yachts that hold their value. When developing the 45, the team could not conceive of developing a lesser boat simply to attract an entry-level market. Their goal was to produce a little Viking, benefiting from the larger Vikings, using many of the same components and incorporating lessons learned on models such as the 65 and 61. Having tested a few Vikings and crawled into the bilges of several others, I think the team hit its mark.
The engineroom, for instance, incorporates quite a few of the same items I've seen on the larger models. You need to squat a little to get into it, but personally, I couldn't care less about standing height in an engineroom. My normal posture usually involves trying to service the engines or some hidden pump while blood rushes to my head. This won't be the case on the 45, where the outboard sides of the 800hp MAN diesels are accessible and there is plenty of room forward of them, as well. Thanks to 22 inches between the engines, you can turn around and maneuver easily.
The 45's engineroom is finished with bright, white Awlgrip to a glossy luster. This makes cleaning up easy. A sump for the air-conditioning condensation pans will help keep the bilges dry and the boat smelling fresh. Twelve-volt and 110-volt lighting provide more than enough light to find the smallest lost screw. A water manifold system, first installed on the 65, mounted on the forward bulkhead isolates any faucet or intake in the system if there is a leak, eliminating the need to shut down the entire system for one leaky faucet. These details amount to a higher price tag but make the difference.
The 675-gallon fiberglass fuel tank is under the forward portion of the cockpit. By building its own tanks as well as the majority of parts that go into each vessel, Viking can control not only the cost, but more important, the quality of the boat's components. Viking also has the ability to make changes in design and engineering right away if needed, instead of having to wait at the mercy of a supplier.
The 128-square-foot cockpit benefits from lessons learned on the company's larger models, as well. An insulated icebox in the step to the saloon means busy anglers will have no need to pop into the galley to rehydrate. You don't have to worry about an unsightly shorepower cord, since it runs through a recessed hawsepipe and is secured under the gunwale, leading through a locker. I saw this same treatment on a Viking 65 docked nearby. Additional cockpit features include a freezer, a fishbox, five tackle drawers under a bait prep station, and gaff stowage. The bottom of edge of the gunwale is rounded, providing less wear and tear on the knees when fighting a fish.
On our run out on the Bass River near the Viking plant, we hit a top speed of 34.6 knots with the 800 hp MANs, a $14,000 upgrade over the 700s. I recommend the upgrade, since this is the type of item that usually comes up during resale. Based on our test, the 800s appeared to be an appropriate package for the 45. At 2100 rpm, we hit a cruising speed of 30 knots. The raked stem and 15-degree deadrise were consistent with this new era of Viking. While whipping around the tight bends in the river, I was thankful for the yacht's quick response. At flank speed, she felt like she was on rails.
The companion helm chair on the flying bridge, located outboard, has plenty of clearance aft to move around without disturbing the helmsman. This feature may seem obvious, but there are some similarly sized convertibles with far less room. The electronics console is designed to absorb a large package behind hinged acrylic doors, which protect instruments from the saltwater environment.
A 7 1/2-foot-long, L-shape settee is forward of the helm, providing one of the best perches on board. There is a locker forward and a huge space under the helm. Stowing liferafts and safety gear for long canyon runs will certainly not be an issue.
The Viking 45's formidable gene pool is very evident in the interior. The teak woodwork glows with the same UV-resistant coating as that on her larger, more expensive siblings. The saloon layout is a slight variation of an arrangement Viking appears to have perfected. An L-shape settee is on the port side, opposite the entertainment cabinet and electrical panel. The galley is nipped and tucked in a few spots compared with the space on the 48 and 52, but is still well thought out and has good working counter space afforded by the Sub-Zero under-counter refrigerator and freezer. The L-shape dinette can host four slim people.
The portside guest stateroom is similar in layout and size to the one aboard the Viking 48 I tested this year ("Simply Stunning", July) and includes two awthwartships bunks, a hanging locker and a head with separate shower stall. The Corian-topped vanity on the 45 has a rounded front, a treatment Viking first used on its 65.
The master stateroom includes an island berth, an opening hatch at the head of the berth bringing in air and light, and a cedar-lined hanging locker. The head benefits from an overhead hatch and an air-conditioning vent.
After the first of the year and the introduction of several new models at the Miami International Boat Show in February, no model in the Viking Yachts lineup will be more than five years old. If, at first blush, this 45 seems a little pricey, do as I did and dig a little deeper. You'll see that Viking only knows one way to build boats, no matter what the size: first-class.
Contact: Viking Yacht Co., (609) 296-6000; www.vikingyachts.com.