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Used Boat Review: Viking 61 Convertible

Viking’s 61 Convertible has the right blend of luxury, performance, and fishing features to satisfy even the most discriminating yacht owner. Photography by Charlie Clark (www.yachtpics.com)

Viking’s 61 Convertible has the right blend of luxury, performance, and fishing features to satisfy even the most discriminating yacht owner. Photography by Charlie Clark (www.yachtpics.com)

When Viking Yachts debuted the new 61 Convertible during the fall boat shows of 1999, it found a sweet spot in the sportfishing market for a high-quality, midsized convertible that satisfied owners wanting high-end luxury inside and comprehensive fishing features outside. More than 150 were built between 2000 and 2006, making this boat one of the best-selling Vikings ever, and no two were alike because of the company’s willingness to work with owners to create a semi-custom yacht.

“The 61 Convertible fit nicely between Viking’s 58 and 65 Convertibles at that time, offering the kind of handling and performance that serious sportfishermen prized,” said Jeff Creary, a broker for HMY who specializes in sportfishing boats and Vikings in particular. Owners prized the yacht’s stable trolling, as well as its ability to pivot nimbly and back down smartly on big fish in all kinds of sea states.

The 61 Convertible’s wide beam was carried well aft for stability in a seaway, and the sharp bow entry was both aggressively raked and beautifully rounded, with a generous flare, to handle a wide range of seas at cruising and flank speeds. Modified cupped chines and a flattish midsection helped make the 61 Convertible run drier and faster.

Deadrise at the transom was sharper than one might expect, 15.5 degrees, adding to the comfort of the ride in changing offshore conditions. Prop pockets were made available in 2003, reducing the draft to 5 feet, 4 inches for those owners who planned to frequent shallower waters in places such as the Bahamas on a routine basis.

Standard power was a pair of 1,300-horsepower MAN diesels, but according to the officials at Viking, very few were ordered with that power. The next step up the ladder was a pair of 1,480-horsepower MTU Series 2000 V-12s, which were said to produce a comfortable cruise in the mid-30-knot range and a top end of 38 knots. However, 1,500-horsepower MAN 2842LE409s and the 1,550-horsepower CAT C30 diesels were probably the most popular options for this yacht.

World-class fishing features, plus this level of interior comfort? That’s a powerful combination. Photography by Charlie Clark (www.yachtpics.com)

World-class fishing features, plus this level of interior comfort? That’s a powerful combination. Photography by Charlie Clark (www.yachtpics.com)

Viking offered the 61 Convertible in a standard three-stateroom, three-head layout that included a port side master stateroom with a king-size berth and private head, a starboard guest stateroom with over/under bunks and a private entrance to the dayhead, and a VIP crossover stateroom forward with a lower double berth angled to port and a raised single berth angled to starboard. This layout has long been popular with Viking’s serious fishing customers.

Optionally, owners could specify a three-stateroom layout with crossover bunks in the starboard guest and a queen-size island berth forward, or a four-stateroom layout with two starboard staterooms with over/under bunks and a queen-size island forward. Of the two options, the former was preferred by owners who wanted to preserve the spacious luxury of the master, while the latter offered a master that was by necessity slightly less spacious—the standard credenza had to be eliminated.

Whichever layout you find most suited to your needs, all 61 Convertibles have a spacious main saloon that features a C-shaped sofa in the aft port corner that will seat six to eight people in great comfort around a hilo table, a U-shaped galley to port forward, a dinette for four people to starboard (directly opposite the galley for ease of serving meals), and a stunning sweep of low lockers in the starboard aft corner—home to an ice maker, a TV/stereo cabinet, and a general storage cabinet beneath the electrical switching panel that’s positioned at a proper standing height.

The galley typically has multiple Sub-Zero refrigerators and freezers under granite or Corian countertops. There’s still loads of stowage left over below, some of which may be given over to Miele dishwasers, trash compactors, and stoves. Deep under-mount stainless steel sinks, perfect for stashing coffeemakers in a seaway or soaking a bouillabaisse pot after dinner, are standard, as is a microwave/convection oven and an electric range. Overhead lockers on the forward bulkhead are abundant.

But it’s the large cockpit that always draws high praise from Viking owners. The 61 Convertible’s 170-square-foot cockpit is roomy enough to accommodate an optional fighting chair with loads of room on all four sides for mates to do their jobs without hindrance. A molded console spanning the full width of the aft cabin bulkhead neatly hides a drink box under the steps leading to the saloon, an engine compartment hatch, a freezer, a tackle center, and a sink.

“Starting in about 2005, Viking offered mezzanine seating in the cockpit,” Creary said. “It’s become such a popular feature, some owners are spending up to $100,000 to retrofit earlier models. You don’t lose much of the stowage in the tall cabinets found against the cabin bulkhead on earlier models, but drawer space was affected a bit, down to three drawers from five.”

The nearly 5-foot-long, athwartships fishbox, recessed in the sole near the transom, has two flanking storage boxes, at least one of which was plumbed as a livewell on many of the 61 Convertibles. With the addition of an optional ice machine, this battlewagon was more than capable of keeping the catch of the day fresh during a long ride home.

A starboard side ladder leads up to the flybridge on the standard model. The helm console is positioned far enough forward so that there’s plenty of room for two helm seats, and space behind them for a small crowd to stand and watch the horizon for fish signs. Even then, the helmsman has excellent views of the cockpit below. Weatherproof boxes for large-screen navigation and fishfinding electronics are directly ahead of the skipper’s chair, with a separate radio box to the left of the wheel.

A pair of single-lever controls makes maneuvering easy and precise, whether following fish or spinning in a fairway in front of a slip. More than a few owners have opted for the custom helm pod with electronic single-lever controls. Virtually every 61 Convertible sported an optional hardtop, and many have full towers.

Viking also offered an enclosed flybridge option with a spiral staircase accessing the saloon and a single helm seat flanked by twin bench seats. An optional double-wide Stidd helm chair was also a possibility. An L-shaped sofa with table occupied the aft port corner of the enclosure, and there was a door in the aft bulkhead leading to a balcony overlooking the cockpit and a console with a stainless steel steering wheel and engine controls to starboard.

“Owners appreciated all the refrigeration they could have on the 61 Convertible, particularly for long trips to the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, or in one case, to Costa Rica,” said Creary. “It was possible to set the boat up to carry six to seven months of food.”

One of the reasons the 61 Convertible, and more to the point, all Vikings, meet or beat owner’s expectations and retain a high-percentage of their original purchase price is the care with which they were built. Viking’s success using balsa coring in virtually every part of the structure, including vacuum-bagged panels in the bottom, helps ensure a light, strong structure that’s stiffer, quieter, and more fuel efficient than a similar boat with a solid fiberglass build. There’s knitted, multidirectional fiberglass surrounding the core, with an outer skin of epoxy to help prevent osmotic blistering.

A second genset was also a popular option, and there’s plenty of room for it in the engine room. “For the owner who would make a long passage overnight, to be on the fishing grounds the next morning, having two gensets would let him swap the units from time to time to equal the hours used,” Creary said. “And if he ever had an issue with one, he could take it offline and depend on the other one.”

If a sportfishing convertible is what you’re dreaming of, you can’t go wrong with a
Viking 61. The build is proven, the fishing features reflect the serious experience that the manufacturer brings to the table, and the level of luxury inside is sure to satisfy even the most discriminating yacht owner.

There are some key factors to consider if you’re looking at a used Viking sportfisherman. Have a look at what a broker has to say about this proven model.

 

  • LOA 61'9"
  • Beam 18'8"
  • Draft 5'10" (5'4" with prop pockets)
  • Displacement 87,000 lb. (std. engines)
  • Fuel 1,843 gal.
  • Water 316 gal.
  • Power 2/1,300-hp MAN 2842LE404 diesels
  • Years Built 2000 to 2006
  • Price Ranger $825,000 to $1,395,000
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