Viking is introducing its new 42 Convertible to most of the world at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show, but we got an early sneak-peek at it– and we liked what we saw. The 42 represents a big change of pace for Viking. It’s the smallest boat to join their fleet in over a decade, and it’s the company’s first attempt at designing and building a pod-drive boat. (See our initial impressions). The 42 runs on a pair of Cummins QSB 440 or 480 horsepower diesels, coupled to Zeus pod drives. These power systems have proven themselves efficient and reliable in the past few years, so it’s no wonder Viking is giving them a shot.
Not only is the 42 Viking’s smallest offering, it’s also Viking’s least expensive boat and the only one in their line-up that starts at under a million bucks. List cost is $972,000 with the QSB 440’s, and $993,000 with 480’s. You have to wonder: is a smaller and less expensive Viking going to be built with the same craftsmanship and quality as their larger yachts?
Walking into the salon answers that question in a matter of seconds. The first thing I noticed was the gleaming woodwork, so thickly lacquered it still looked wet. Who needs a mirror, when you’ve got wood finished like this? Sure, Viking’s always been known for top-notch woodwork, but they didn’t just continue this tradition on the 42—they’ve even stepped it up a notch. Molding is created on a press, which hydraulically shapes multiple teak strips. The glue between the strips is “excited” with 10 kW radio waves, which essentially microwave the glue and wood so they solidify into the shaped part. Even the corner molding on the shelving shows a perfect end result.
Beyond the woodwork, a huge forward skylight, Ocean Air blinds, and AC vents integrated into the valences will also catch your eye when you look around the cabin. But the most impressive feature isn’t one you’re going to see at all—it’s one you’ll feel. The intelligent use of space gives the salon the feeling of a much larger boat, and even though there were 10 people in the cabin at the same time, I didn’t feel cramped or crowded one bit.
How does Viking make it happen? I give a lot of the credit to galley design. It’s forward to starboard, with a counter running athwartships and the settee aft. Two stools are mounted alongside the counter, turning it into a defacto breakfast nook. There’s also a dinette, forward to port. The after port section of the salon is wide-open, leaving a spacious path to travel from the entry to the amidships stairs, which lead down to the two staterooms. (A three-stateroom layout is also available, but you can’t expect to enjoy as much elbow room with this arrangement.)
So 10 people can sit, another can cook, and the high-traffic areas of the cabin are still completely unhindered. Now toss that big skylight, side windows, and an all-glass aft bulkhead into the mix, and you have natural lighting galore. Spacious feeling? You bet—far more so than the salons of most competing 42 foot convertibles I’ve been on.
After surveying the cabin there’s no doubt that Viking maintained their yachty interior attitude on the 42, but what about construction? Is it up to par with this boat’s bigger brethren?
Take a peek into the engine room, an inboard’s heart and soul. First you’ll have to remove one of the mezzanine seats and find somewhere to secure it, which does make entering the ER a bit clumsy. Once that seat’s out of the way, however, what you see will warm your heart: massive stainless-steel gas-assist struts on the hatch, which are bolted down on double-sized hinges. Thick steel plates, capping the engine-bearers. Huge seacocks with strainers, sitting between the powerplants.
And more evidence of this overbuild-it mentality can be found just about anywhere else you look; the bowrail is twice as thick as those you’ll see on many 50-footers, helm seats are Murray Brothers ladder-backs, and wherever wiring or plumbing passes through a bulkhead, it’s chafe-protected.
Fishing-wise, the 42 Convertible has what it takes to get the job done. The overall cockpit measurements provide for 122 square feet, but some of that’s eaten up by the mezzanine, bridgedeck ladder, and cabin entry. Plan for 100 or so square feet of actual fish-fighting room. There’s a transom compartment that can be a fishbox or a livewell, a compartment under the starboard mezzanine seat that can be a bait freezer or refrigerator, and there’s room for another unit behind the bridgedeck ladder.
Viking treats the cockpit units as a semi-customizable part of the boat and will tweak these out as you like ‘em. The boat I toured cut out a stand-up bait prep station in exchange for the mezzanine, which most anglers (myself included) will feel is a worthy trade-off—after standing in a hot ‘pit half the day, nothing’s a better change of pace than plopping down on a comfy bait-watching perch. And a change of pace is exactly what Viking’s new 42 Convertible is all about.