My “a-ha” moment for understanding what the Vicem 54 Bahama Bay is all about didn’t come while I admired its beautiful Down East lines from the dock, nor when I executed the well-controlled hairpin turns that the Volvo IPS system permitted. The moment came in the master stateroom, while I checked out the TV. The flatscreen is inset inside mahogany cabinetry, with a perfectly placed hand insert for accessing the control buttons and the remote sensor. I imagined the hours it took to sand and shape this one little part so that it looks seamless and flawless. If you extrapolate that craftsmanship and attention to detail and apply it to the entire boat, you get the 54.
“Our forte is our woodwork,” said Dirk Boehmer, president of Vicem USA. “We have master craftsmen with the ability to make two pieces of wood look like one.”
Turkey has a rich boatbuilding history and is a place where people pass down their skills over generations. Vicem (pronounced Veechem) started building in 1991, and its workforce follows in that tradition. The 54 is part of the Bahama Bay series, a line of boats designed and built specifically to run with the Volvo Penta IPS system. Vicem also builds a 52, a 56 and a 58 Bahama Bay. Bahama Bays are similar in appearance to Vicem’s Classic line, but with less curve in the sheer line, no varnished-teak hand and toe rails above deck, and a hardtop that extends all the way aft to cover the teak-laden cockpit.
“The Bahama Bay line is made for more southern and tropical climates,” Boehmer explained. The idea is to present a classic look and profile without all the classic maintenance, and to make it stand up better to the harsher effects of the sun.
We had a bright and beautiful Florida day during our sea trial in Sarasota, and as we pulled out of the marina into the bay, we could see that the 54 was turning heads at the docks. Boehmer said these folks are Vicem’s demographic. Almost all its customers in the United States are experienced boat owners who come to Vicem already knowing what they like and want. Every boat is customizable per the owner’s desires, and this 54 was no exception. Take the galley; Vicem normally uses granite, but for this particular build the company installed marble countertops at the owner’s request. The owner also requested a steamer, so Vicem installed a top-of-the-line Wolf unit, along with a matching cooktop, a Bosch oven and Sub-Zero refrigerators and freezers that roll out from beneath the countertops. The whole interior glowed from the rich mahogany paneling.
The modern look of the interior design stands apart from traditional Down East styling, and from Vicem’s Classic line, thanks to the inspired work of Hakki Koroglu, a noted architect based in Miami. Koroglu also designed the exterior look of the 54 Bahama Bay. While bold, his work perfectly complements the traditional lines of the 54 rather than clashing with them. There are subtle touches, like the smoked-glass windows in the bulkhead between the galley and the master stateroom amidships. The smoked glass allows in natural light, giving it a roomier feel, but also protects the privacy of those inside.