BOAT TEST: RIVIERA 47 FLYBRIDGE ENCLOSED
Gone are the messy clears and in comes an encapsulated flybridge giving the Riviera 47 a new lease on life, writes DAVID LOCKWOOD.
FEBRUARY, 2008 - It's only after you have spent a number of years perched in a flybridge, driving from behind clear curtains, peering through the fingerprints from the terrible tykes who scrolled them up before you, after you've washed and polished those clears tens of times, not to mention finding that the weather gets in through the zips, that you start to look at boats with enclosed flybridges with an enquiring eye.
Say goodbye to the maintenance of those not-so clears, improve your views with safety glass, wipers and freshwater washers, and turn that helm station into a more permanent appendage and a second entertaining area. Such thinking has seen Riviera offer its best-selling 47 Convertible as an Enclosed version and, in so doing, the boat is enjoying a new lease on life.
Not that enclosed flybridge boats are anything new, mind you. The old Riviera 48 was a wildly popular boat in its day and remains especially good buying on the preloved market today. But as with most of the new-generation Rivieras, the 47 Enclosed is a smarter boat again, with plenty of amenities built-in and due consideration given at design level to how the flybridge will be used.?
To this end, creature comforts are an integral part of the 47 Enclosed in what Riviera cheekily calls a "saloon in the sky". There's seating for five people on lounges around a lunch table, a moulded amenities centre with fridge and sink, and great views as you cruise. Nigh a drop of spray, either. And the floor space has been increased over the 47 Open, as the flybridge extends an additional 70mm or so.
Opening side windows and a hatch provide natural ventilation, but the flybridge has its own air-con unit so you can control the climate inside. This way, you have a cool cruising station in summer and a warm retreat in winter - in effect, an all-seasons' boat suitable for waterways from Tassie to the Top End.
The 47 Enclosed is based on the same track-proven 47 Open hull designed by Dutch naval architect Frank Mulder. Part of his charter has been to get the Rivieras running flatter and, with prop tunnels to lower the shaft angle and underwater exhausts, the 47 is one of the flattest running boats in the family.
With a pair of trusty 660hp fully electronic Cummins QSM11 diesel engines with electronic Twin Disc shifts, which I always find are a delight to use, the 47 Enclosed is doubly efficient. This was underscored by a top speed of 30kts on the demo boat carrying a full load of fuel and water. Engine options include C12 715hp Cats and Series 60 825hp MTUs if you want more than 30kts.
As ever, construction is all solid fibreglass below the waterline with foam-cored decks above it. The three-sided moulded hardtop enclosing the bridge - there's a clear curtain back aft - adds about 150kg compared with the 47 Open, yet there was no discernible difference to the boat's stability or, I'm told, its top speed (the 47 Open I tested previously did 32.9kts without full tanks).
There are refinements to the 47's engineering compared with earlier models, namely a better plumbing system, new in-house-designed stainless steel sea strainers, while the batteries have been shifted aft of the engines for, among other reasons, better access. The demo boat also had an oil-change system, 11kW Onan and four Crusair air-con units in the engineroom, leaving plenty of space for servicing.
However, for all that, it's the new room up top that remains the focus. There's a ladder to port leading to the big bridge boasting 190cm of headroom that adds to the sense of space. In fact, compared with the 47 Open, the floor space on the Enclosed model extends an additional 70mm. That mightn't sound much on paper, but the bridge feels B-I-G in the flesh, or fibreglass as it were.
The moulded amenities centre to port flaunts a fridge, sink with hot/cold water, drinkholders, storage space and a grabrail. Five can sit around the dinette, which can be optioned as an impromptu convertible double bed (given the enclosure, I would be ticking that box) and there's a two-person lounge opposite.
The helm seats are trick new high-backed Pompanette types, offering good support when cruising, and the dash is similarly accommodating of electronics. Before me were a Raymarine E120, matching autopilot and twin Smartcraft engine-monitoring gauges.
The Edson wheel is a solid bit of gear that you can hang off, while the trim tabs are the QL low-maintenance retractable blade type from Volvo Penta. There was also a second Clarion sound system so you can stage a rooftop party.
As with the 47 Open, the Enclosed has three cabins and two bathrooms (they're more than just heads). The third cabin with bunks will endear itself to children, while also doubling as a handy dressing room and storage area to toss your gear.
Having spent considerable time aboard a 47 Open in the Whitsundays, I can vouch for the comfort of the VIP cabin amidships. There's a nice big double bed and, I'm guessing, some owners might migrate here when the water's playing noisily on the chines. The communal bathroom - typically plush with big shower stall and Vacuflush loo - doubles as the second en suite. Otherwise, owners get the forward stateroom with signature island bed and second en suite. Plumbing on both showers has also been improved.
The saloon living area is vast and the views unfettered thanks to surrounding windows. The 47 comes with a dedicated dinette for four, high-gloss cherrywood joinery with improved finish since the company invested in a special Italian-made varnishing machine, and there's a big choice of soft furnishings so you can stamp your own style on the interior.
A large flatscreen television was mounted atop the wetbar opposite the boat's L-shaped lounge, which with trundle bed takes the accommodation to eight (plus two with that optional bed in the bridge). The gregarious galley down half a step is virtually on the same level as the saloon. The fridge/freezer are counter height and therefore unobtrusive.
The 47 as tested had a central vac to assist with post-party cleanups. Back outdoors, the cockpit lends itself to fishing or family use - a real convertible. Keen anglers will welcome the vision from the aft helm station in the flybridge, where the lone rear clear curtain can be scrolled up, to the fishing area. Seated, I could just see the bowrail when I took the throttles and bowthruster in hand.
CLEAR ROAD AHEAD
Low-speed cruise was clocked at 1750rpm and 18.5kts for 130lt/h consumption, while at 2000rpm the fully laden 47 Enclosed maintained a comfortable 23kts cruise. At this speed, consumption is 175lt/h for a safe working range of about 320nm leaving 10 per cent of the fuel supply in reserve. The 620 litres of water means you can head away for a week at least. Of course, most owners fit a watermaker these days.
Fast cruise was clocked at 2150rpm for 26kts and 216lt/h consumption, while full throttle returned 29 to 30kts while carrying full fuel and water. Like the 47 Open, the hull with prop pockets or tunnels (and underwater exhausts) tends to run pretty flat and, as such, the 47 has never been one of the yard's driest boats. But with the addition of the hardtop all that's changed. A lashing of spray, a flick of the wipers and, quick as that, your view is restored.
Whether you game fish, gad about the bay or harbour, or enjoy coastal cruising, the enclosed bridge is where it's all at these days. Do breakfast, lunch and sundowners in air-conditioned comfort and enjoy the penthouse living. You can come away from a big day feeling as fresh as when you started. No salt, no sun, and no kiddies' handprints on the clear curtains.
More power to the flybridge!
(Facts & Figures)
RIVIERA 47 ENCLOSED FLYBRIDGE
PRICE AS TESTED
Approx $1,215,810 w/ twin 660hp Cummins QSM11
Rodholders to flybridge rail; teak cockpit floor, side steps and saloon entry step; teak-laid swim platform; dishwasher (drawer) to galley; drinking water purifier to galley; three-quarter rear awning (acrylic canvas) to cockpit; front windscreen cover; flybridge carpet; Alcantara upholstery to flybridge lounges (white vinyl is standard); interior carpet upgrade (Fairhaven); foam fill under forward floor; soft furnishings package upgrade; bathware, galleyware and décor packages; electronics package - Raymarine E120 GPS, fishfinder and extra large chart plotter
$1,166,237 w/ 660hp Cummins engines
Material: GRP and foam-cored decks
Type: Moderate-vee mono
Length overall: 16.17m
Hull length: 15.19m
Weight: Approx 19,750kg dry (base motors)
Berths: 6 + 2 + 2
Make/model: QSM11 Cummins
Type: Turbo-charged, fully electronic, straight six-cylinder diesel
Rated HP: 660
Weight: Approx 1125kg plus gearbox
Gearboxes (Make/ratio): Twin Disc 1.75:1
Props: Four-blade bronze
R Marine Sydney, d'Albora Marinas, New Beach Rd, Rushcutters Bay, NSW, 2011, (02) 9327 0000
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