We were in 3-footers off the coast of south Florida, my Belize 66’s motors burning 100 gallons per hour, when I realized she was moving at 35 knots. Her acceleration was so smooth and controlled that at first, I didn’t realize the speeds we were attaining. Being at the wheel felt much like driving a BMW 7 Series, where you absentmindedly glance at the speedometer, gulp and ease off the gas. Steering the Belize 66 was commensurately smooth, and the hull gripped the water tightly during a series of slaloming S-turns through the swells.
This is exactly the type of experience that Australia-based Riviera Yachts, which is known for rugged, seaworthy hulls, hoped to create when it launched the Belize brand to add a bit more posh luxury. Today, Belize offers two models: a 54 and the flagship 66. Both are available in flybridge and sedan versions, with the Belize 66 Daybridge scheduled to debut later this year. She’s a sweet boat, based on what I saw when I got aboard the sedan version in South Florida.
The Downeast-inspired Belize 66 catches the eye with a straight sheer line playing foil to a curvy, contoured after section. The effect of this interplay is an exterior that at once conveys femininity and masculinity. The visorlike windshield stretches nearly all the way aft, heightening her exterior appeal as she cruises into port while providing good lines of sight for the skipper on board.
The yacht has only one power option: twin 1,000 hp Volvo Penta D13-IPS1350s. The engine placement on the 66 is staggered, a configuration that catches some potential owners off guard. The unorthodox engine configuration makes room for the tender garage (a Brig Falcon 330 is a popular choice without affecting the boat’s weight). The drives themselves are right next to one another, and thus the engine setup has no effect on performance.
The engine room has a white gelcoated sole — good for spotting spills — and houses a 21.5 kW Cummins Onan generator. The space has good ventilation; we ran for more than an hour in 85-degree heat, and the temperature in the engine room was very much bearable afterward. The two access points to the engine room are a cockpit hatch and a door in the after section of the master stateroom.
The Belize 66 is also designed with entertaining in mind. Her foredeck has U-shaped seating and a table that converts to a sun pad. A Bimini top here is standard, making for a shady and secluded place to enjoy the yacht and her environs. There’s also a standard stainless-steel Muir windlass and Ultra anchor.
As with many midsize yachts these days, the Belize 66’s galley is aft. It has U-shaped counter space plus a flip-up window to the cockpit, for easier service and a breezy, open feel. The cockpit has an L-shaped settee to starboard and double Kenyon cooktops to port for alfresco chef work. Volvo Penta joysticks on both sides of the deck aid in docking. There’s bench seating at the transom, as well as a hydraulic swim platform.
Inside, the accommodations are built for cruising, with multiple layouts available. On the 66 I tested, the amidships master has twin cedar-lined lockers to port and starboard, each measuring 5 feet high and a foot deep. The en suite head has a heated towel rack and a shower that’s 5 feet wide by 3 ½ feet deep — wide enough for broad shoulders. The forepeak VIP also has hanging lockers, and a guest stateroom to port has twin berths that convert to a double.
Belize yachts are built at the Hargrave factory in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and the woodwork is a point of pride, with rich grains and tight joinery. Smart fit and finish are also seen elsewhere: The rugs have extra cushioning for comfort and sound attenuation, and handrails are oval, as opposed to circular, for better gripping. The latter detail really did make a difference once I wrapped my mind and hand around it.
From a brand run by Riviera, I expected the Belize 66 to be a well-thought-out design with a rugged hull, but the luxurious touches surprised me. Sweet indeed.
Take the next step: belizemotoryachts.com