Atlantic City is a gambling town that’s not particularly well-known for its gentlemen. (I’m from New Jersey, so I’m allowed to say that.) But that’s why it was more than a little ironic that I met the Viking 48 Open there, because the 48 is the near apotheosis of what a gentleman’s sport-fisher should be. This is a boat that can fish hard and cruise easy. She has plenty of design features, onboard amenities and tantalizing options that make her as well suited for a sailfish tournament as she is for an evening cocktail cruise — and for just about everything else in between.
The first thing to know about the 48 Open is that she’s a Viking and, thus, her fishing pedigree is enviable. She has a 124-square-foot cockpit with more than enough space for everyone on board to maneuver around safely, especially during the sometimes frenzied action after a fish has struck a bait. Next, a transom fish box doubles as a livewell. That box can also be drained and used as extra stowage, most likely for snorkeling equipment, it seems. Another double-duty feature is the transom tuna door, which lets you haul in prize catches and makes getting in and out of the water easy, even when wearing that snorkeling equipment on, say, a free-diving adventure.
A laminated aluminum plate in the sole serves as a base for a fighting chair, and if you happen to go drifting, you’ll be thankful for the flattened after section of the hull. Viking reduced the transom deadrise from 15 degrees on previous models to 12 degrees on more recent builds. That design choice, coupled with a Seakeeper 9 gyrostabilizer that I bet will prove a popular option, should keep everybody comfortable (or at least functional) at slow speeds in sloppy seas.
332 nautical miles maximum cruising range at 36 knots
The flattened after section has other benefits too: For one, it helps get this vessel up and out of the hole quickly. My test boat fired onto plane when I dropped the hammer, and the twin 1,200 hp MAN V-8s roared to life. We registered an even 40-knot peak velocity as the 48 sliced cleanly through a moderate 2- to 3-foot-high North Atlantic chop. Backing off the throttle just a wee bit to 2,100 rpm produced a fast cruise speed of 36 knots while burning 103 gph. If you’re feeling more economical, cruise her at 30 knots and 1,800 rpm while burning a pleasingly modest 75 gph. My test boat was as nimble as I’ve come to expect of Vikings, particularly the smaller ones. I carved a whole bunch of hard S-turns through the whitecapped slop, and the Viking’s hull, with its razor-sharp entry, clung to the water with a gorilla grip.
From the vessel’s helm, I couldn’t help but notice that the yacht’s command bridge is well-suited to socializing, with two separate dinettes with L-shaped settees, including the forward-facing seating that guests will crave in a seaway. (Mezzanine seating is also available in the cockpit.)
Below, the 48 has an en suite forepeak master with an island queen berth and maple-lined lockers. The starboard-side guest stateroom has twin bunks. The accommodations are everything a family might need for a three-day weekend getaway, say, to Martha’s Vineyard or perhaps the Abacos.
Viking insiders describe this boat as a convertible, but not in the way that we usually mean in reference to yachts. They mean it in the way we describe a car with the top down. This boat is designed for fun. The open layout means that if you’re fishing with your kids, you don’t have to scurry down off the bridge when one of them hooks a mahi. You’re right there in the middle of the action, showing them the ropes, from setting the hook to landing the thing.
The same rules apply when you’re cruising. Those dining settees are where your guests will be sitting, and you can easily chat along with them while you man the helm. The open layout has proved popular with young families as well. Think about it. Who wants to carry a baby up a ladder in a seaway? Nobody in their right mind, that’s who.
However, this boat also has a tower made by Viking subsidiary Palm Beach Towers, so if you want to keep in line with the 48’s gentlemanly pedigree, you may politely excuse yourself and man the boat from up top. That way, you can get a better eye on where the fish are — and with a full electronic setup at the helm, that tower can become a de facto flybridge.
And also, well, having a tower lets you get away from anybody not bold enough to climb that ladder. The builder is well aware of the subtle duality. Sometimes a guy just needs some room to breathe.
The 48 comes with twin MANs in 900 hp, 1,000 hp or 1,200 hp versions. Our test boat had the big guns, which have proved a popular option thanks to their blend of speed, efficiency and durability. The engine room itself has good access to all major components, including to the sides of the engines — not something every open fishing boat can say. When you combine the 48’s considerable engine mojo with a hull that has a sharp entry, a flat after section and molded running strakes that aid maneuverability and tracking, what you get is a yacht that can truly fly. Albeit, without a flybridge.
Another nice attribute of an open boat is that she’s easy to clean. Sans flybridge, the 48 is a different beast than some of her sister ships when it’s time to wash up. She’s simply a lot less boat than a big ol’ convertible. Take her out, cruise her, fish her, do whatever you want. Bring her in, rinse, chamois and that’s that.
Ease of operation and maintenance is a big reason why the Open line has been so successful for Viking. The company builds a 42, 46, 48 and 52, with a 44 set to debut this fall in Fort Lauderdale.
I may have tested the Viking 48 Open in a town not usually known for its gentlemen — though surely known for anglers, and a whole lot of other guys just playing the angles. But in a very real sense, this fun and versatile boat proved herself lucky enough to truly be called a lady.