Riviera 40 Flybridge Convertible
NOVEMBER 2002
 
   
Length overall  46'4"
Beam 14'11"
Draft 4'
Displacement 40,000 lb
Fuel Capacity  473 gals
Water Capacity  119 gals
Standard power T/Cummins 450hp diesel
Base Price  $462,262


The beautifully appointed saloon is spacious and bright, with leather upholstery and woodwork finished with a deep luster.

Those Australians know how to make boats. This Riviera 40 flybridge convertible is everything you'd expect in an offshore tournament sportfisherman, except that it's just 46 feet long, including a generously broad swim platform. I had a chance to give the boat a run out of Scituate Harbor, just south of Boston, on a cool, clear Indian summer day with my host, John Ulanowski, of Scituate Yacht Company, the local dealer.

We rode the falling tide down the channel, with those beautiful green meadows of marsh grass off to the east, and headed out through the harbor, through the anchorage with all the working lobster boats, the power yachts that look like lobster boats, and sailboats, past the steam shovel filling the barge with dredge spoils, and out through the jetty under the auspices of that gracefully slender lighthouse, out to where gales sank the Portland in 1898, the Pinthis in 1930 and the Etrusco in 1956.

That day there was no hint of those storms, just placid, rolling sea swelling gently down from way off Provincetown, well over the northeastern horizon. With only a couple of fishing boats out there to wonder what the heck we were doing, I took the helm high up in the flybridge and ran the boat in random zig-zags, tight turns and curlicues, admiring the Riviera's spry handling characteristics and the smooth precision of those Twin Disc electronic controls. Just sitting there at the dock, the Riviera has a distinctive profile, with that tinted windshield glinting like a pair of jaunty wrap-around shades. And the ride was just as sleek and racy as the profile.

The visibility from the helm on the flybridge is absolutely clear over the bow and down into the cockpit, though the helm is on the starboard side. This is curious to note since the helm of the Riviera 37 is dead amidships. The bow does not lift as the twin Caterpillar 3126D 450 hp diesels accelerate. The Cat electronic control displays indicated a top speed of 30 knots at 2800 rpm, and a comfortable cruising speed seemed to be a fast 27 knots at 2500 rpm. The Caterpillars are an upgrade from the standard 450 hp Cummins diesels.

There's plenty of room on the dash for the big twin Cat digital readouts and other electronics you might want to add. There's more room on the overhead dash. The hardtop and enclosure add to the all-weather use of the boat.

The flybridge has plenty of room for guests to lounge, with a big U-shaped seating arrangement. There's a wet bar to port with a small fridge. You climb down the ladder to the cockpit, which is spacious. There are two big fishboxes in the sole, lockers under each gunwale for dock lines and other gear, a live baitwell in the transom, and a wide door leading through the transom out onto the expansive swim platform. Aft of the saloon bulkhead, there's yet another deep baitwell under a countertop, and a bait prep sink that swivels out in an ingenious fashion to reveal the ladder leading down to the engine room.

The engine room is a bit of a squeeze for this large boater, but the relatively shallow draft of only four feet not only accounts for the lack of headroom, but more than makes up for it. If you do get into such skinny water that you run into something, you'll be glad that there's a collision bulk-head forward and separate compartments throughout the hull.

The saloon is quite spacious for a 40-foot boat, thanks to the generous beam, which is nearly 15 feet. It's nicely appointed, with leather upholstery and vinyl headliners, and a high-gloss finish on the paneling and cabinetry. There's a dinette in one corner and an L-shaped lounge in the other, plus an entertainment center.

The starboard side pane of the windshield is blocked by a cupboard, but the center and the port-side panes are not, allowing light through the tinted glass and providing a nice view from the saloon as well as a 'skylight' effect for the galley directly below.

The galley is just two steps down, and very accommodating, with an L-shaped counter that has a molded-in sink and a flush-top two-burner stove, a microwave oven, a small refrigerator/freezer underneath the counter right next to the dishwasher, which is a standard feature. Though it's a 'galley down' design, the cook isn't so isolated that he can't carry on a conversation with the others in the saloon.

The master stateroom in the bow features a full island berth with an innerspring mattress, and a circular deck hatch for a skylight. There are hanging lockers on either side and cabinets above the berth, plus loads of storage underneath. The guest cabin on the starboard side is a unique configuration, with over/under bunks and an additional single berth to boot. The single head really quite spacious, with a roomy shower stall, a VacuFlush toilet and a corner-mounted vanity.

This boat is built in Riviera's new, state-of-the-art facility in Coomera, Queensland, where they build their line-up of nine models for the international market, ranging a 30-foot express cruiser to the 58-foot flybridge convertible. Every Riviera hull is made of hand-laid solid fiberglass and a unique stringer system of transverse and longitudinal stringers for strength and precise handling. Various sections of the hull are stiffened with core mat, end grain balsa or other lightweight materials, all impregnated with resin.

While you can tell a lot about a boat by running it full-bore in open water, there's even more you can learn from how the boat performs in tight spaces. Since both the boat and the harbor were unfamiliar to me, I left the docking to John, turning over the helm once we were safely inside the jetty. John's skills at the helm are considerable, considering how well he maneuvered the boat back into its tight slip with the wind blowing his bow around and not having a bow thruster. Evidently, this boat does not need that particular accessory. And that says a lot.