When looking for a used boat, the local waters often help determine the size and type to go after. Take New Jersey’s coastal lagoons, inlets and Barnegat Bay. The nearshore waters and inlets can change quickly, and the waters in the bay are shallow and often choppy.
Phil Masters found a boat that fits the local seascape well, serving as both a comfortable cruiser and a stable fishing platform. It’s a 35-foot Viking convertible, a 1980-vintage family sportfishing boat that enjoyed a long production run. It’s been a perfect match for the 55-year-old Waretown, New Jersey, general and mechanical contractor, his wife Alice, and teenage son Jesse. “I searched long and hard for this model,” Masters says. “I wanted a boat large enough to weekend and do extended coastal cruising [and] to fish inshore and near-coastal, yet of a size for solo operation and docking.”
The Viking 35 has classic lines and a simple, functional layout. The cockpit is open, with two in-deck fishboxes and a bait-prep center. A ladder leads to the flying bridge, where the centerline steering station has good sightlines to the cockpit and forward over the bow. A settee forward of the helm seats three.
The boat was offered with a variety of layouts over the years. All included a forward stateroom and an open saloon with an L-shaped couch. The two-stateroom layout had bunks across from the galley-down; an alternate layout replaced the smaller cabin with a convertible dinette.
Masters’s boat has a galley-up arrangement. The dinette is to port three steps down from the saloon, and it converts to a twin berth. The stateroom has hanging lockers and cabinetry at the foot of each berth, as well as an area for television and stereo components. The head is to starboard, opposite the dinette, and there’s a separate stall shower abaft the enclosed head compartment.
He found the boat in the Jersey City area and bought it in 2008 from an owner who’d only had it for two months. “He really wasn’t ready for a boat of her makeup and realized he made a mistake,” says Masters. At $16,000, the price allowed Masters to begin an extensive list of must-dos.
Over the winter beginning in 2008 he had the engines and transmissions rebuilt. “The original 7.4 Crusaders had served the previous owners well for 28 years and had given over 900 hours of reliable service,” Masters says. Starters, alternators, and carburetors were rebuilt or replaced, as well. And he replaced all the hoses and wiring. That was just the start.
The mechanical contractor dug in, replacing and upgrading the boat’s pumps, heaters, and mechanical systems. In the saloon, the couch was replaced by a compact settee, leaving room for Finster, the boat dog. New quartz countertops were installed in the galley, new cabinetry went up in the head, and the master stateroom got a makeover.
The galley-up layout is less common, but it was just what Masters was looking for. “My youngest is an aspiring chef, so cooking is an integral part of our lifestyle,” he says. “The galley is part of our social area aboard the boat.”
The family stays close to home most of the time. And why not? It’s a wonderful area for boating adventures. “Straight out from our marina is Barnegat Light and inlet, and the barrier island just north of the inlet is a state park,” Masters says. “We anchor at Tice’s Shoal and take the dinghy ashore for walks on the ocean beach and swimming.”
Finster, a Boston terrier-pit bull mix, “absolutely loves” the boating lifestyle, according to Masters. “We rarely go out on the boat without the dog coming along,” he says.
Cruising has taken the family south to Chesapeake Bay for a week or two each summer, with stops at Atlantic City and Cape May, New Jersey, and Annapolis, Maryland. Masters’s oldest son and his family live in the Baltimore area. “That gives me a reason to go visit the grandkids,” he says.
Then there’s the fishing. Masters belongs to the Forked River Tuna Club, which sponsors numerous fishing tournaments and social events. “My favorite fishery is striped bass, and the coastline from Barnegat Inlet north to Manasquan Inlet—Point Pleasant—has been very productive in years past,” he says.
The Viking is a good fishing platform. “She’s a true convertible,” he says. “She has an in-deck fishbox, a flush cockpit sole with good drainage and room for a fighting chair, although we do not require one.”
Contained between the mainland and the barrier islands, Barnegat Bay is affected by wind, boat traffic, and tidal changes through the inlets—Manasquan, Barnegat, and Little Egg. The Viking is well suited to the conditions. “She has a sharp bow entry and moderate flare, and she flattens out to a modified-V at the transom,” says Masters. “With trim tabs to adjust her attitude under way, she has a solid ride into and across seas. Following and rear corner seas require more attention.” Cruising speed is 20 to 22 knots, burning 24 gallons an hour, according to the owner’s figures. Top speed is 29 to 31 knots.
The 35’s also an easy boat to get around on. “Safe and roomy passage along the superstructure with wraparound railings to the pulpit and a hand grip along the flybridge sides make anchoring and line-handling tasks a breeze,” he adds.
Masters has invested almost twice as much as the boat’s purchase price over the past few years, but it has been a labor of love. “I never thought that I would own a Viking but always dreamed of one,” he says. “I love her classic lines and solid construction. I have plans of doing the Great Loop someday, and this could be the boat we do it in.”
Power & Motoryacht spoke to three brokers who each had a Viking 35 listed on BoatQuest.com. Here’s what each had to say about this convertible and the market for buying and selling them. ➤
LOA 38'6" (with pulpit)
Displacement 20,000 lb.
Fuel 300 gal.
Water 75 gal.
Power twin diesel and gasoline engines including Caterpillar, Crusader, and others
Built 1975 to 1991