We have long been impressed by boat builders who recognize that they don't know it all. Granted, this is a rare circumstance, but one that has been acknowledged by the folks at Riviera, Australia's largest boat builder. The fact of life is that most yacht designers and boat builders have to work for a living, therefore don't have as much time to experience their own products as many of their customers. The design of Riviera's new 50 Enclosed Flybridge (first introduced in August, 2013) was based on boat owner input, gleaned and distilled over the two years at owner forums, specifically set up to find out what actual boat owners wanted in a 50-something yacht.
- Double side transom doors
- Mezzanine seating with integrated table
- Cockpit storage with self-draining moulded lazarette bin integrated to the cockpit floor
- Tender storage on the boarding platform
- A large aft C-shaped lounge on flybridge
- Flexible accommodation plan
- Full headroom in the two aft cabins
- Huge hull windows with opening port holes on both sides
|Length Overall||56' 8'' / 17.26 m|
Currently no test numbers
2 x 600-hp Volvo Penta IPS800
2 x 725-hp Volvo Penta IPS950
The 50 Enclosed Flybridge is a convertible that was designed primarily as a cruising yacht that maximizes the use of interior space. Thanks in part to its sophisticated CAD CAM software, Riviera designers were able to see every square inch of available space in the boat and put it to use based on customer feedback. By powering with pod drives Riviera can move the engine room aft and is able to increase the longitudinal accommodations space by 5'6" (1.7 m), permitting three large staterooms and two heads. Her semi-enclosed flying bridge gets the helm out of the salon, protects the captain in inclement weather, and creates an economical extra living area, but one that is spectacular.
Secondarily, the mission of the new 50 Enclosed Flybridge convertible is to be an offshore sportfishing battlewagon. Her mezzanine seating, transom console, 16'5" (5 m) beam, two transom doors, and pod drives that can easily spin the stern around on a dime, all go to make this vessel a powerful bluewater fishing machine.
Port and Starboard Transom Doors.
We have never seen this done before and it allows easy access to the cockpit from either the port or starboard side.
This provides a slightly elevated viewing position under the protection of the extended overhead above. Notably, this seating is not as high as we usually see in this type of boat which permits a moveable table to be put here for dining or drinks. Add two slightly higher folding chairs and four people can dine.
Central Transom Barbecue.
Having what is essentially a mini, outdoor galley in the center of the cockpit is a huge perk.
Flybridge Enclosed on Three Sides.
By not having an aft bulkhead, the flying bridge will have an open, more expansive feel than it would have with an aft bulkhead. Communication with the cockpit is made easy as is the addition of a second control station at the aft rail of the bridge for use when a fish is on. Those boaters wanting to be hermetically sealed in air conditioning can simply add an isinglass aft curtain.
Large Side Windows for Staterooms.
They have been featured on motoryachts and cruisers for well over a decade but the more traditionally-oriented convertible builders in America have been slow to adopt what is obviously a very good idea. (In fact most of these builders permit not even a traditional, small portlight in their pristine hull sides because it might look "un-cool.")
Full Headroom in Both Aft Cabins.
It is at about 50' (15.24 m) that boats are long enough to sometimes be able to incorporate full standing headroom in their mid cabins. Some boats have it and some don't or find ways to cheat it. The Riviera 50 EFB has it and that is important to comfort.
Two Potential Master Staterooms.
An owner of the 50 can choose to have either the traditional large port mid stateroom as the master, or go with the forward cabin as the master. Both are large and have an en suite head with separate shower stall. Both have large side windows.
A 50' Boat That's a 50' Boat.
As most boat buyers realize by now, for the last eight years or so, many boat builders have been playing games with the model designation number, which traditionally indicated the length of the boat's hull. Today, most builders are counting swim platforms and bow pulpits to make their boats seem longer than they really are. (A couple of builders even design extreme "hawk" into the bow to stretch out the hull.)
While the folks at Riviera think outside the box on many issues, when it comes to identifying the size of this vessel, they are quite conservative. The LOA, counting swim platform and pulpit of the 50 is actually 56'8" (17.26 m). Its hull length as proscribed by ISO8666, 5.2.2 standards (the hull with all detachable protuberances not counted) is 53'0" (16.15 m). How's that for a 50' boat?
Pod drives have been around for seven years, yet most builders of convertibles and sedans have been remarkably slow to figure out a way to incorporate them into their models. One reason is that they are concerned with raising the height of the cockpit deck. A solution is the compromise Riviera has used of tucking the engines under the mezzanine seating and running jackshafts aft to the pod units. The cockpit deck is slightly higher than it would be with inboard shaft power, but not prohibitively so.
Choice of Pod Systems and Brands.
Volvo Penta's first test boat in this class was in an older Riviera model 50 five years ago, so the company has had years to perfect the system. The new Riviera 50 Enclosed Flybridge hull has been designed to be able to handle both the Volvo Penta IPS system as well as the Zeus pods coupled to Cummins diesels. Buyers are not locked into one brand or the other. This is a particularly unusual option.
Flying Bridge Access is Important.
The flying bridge is well designed to be a popular gathering spot, if not the most popular gathering spot on the 50. It is accessed from an internal staircase for all-weather comfort. But more than just protection from the weather is at work here. One of the big objections that many people have with flying bridge convertibles and sedans is the steep -- usually nearly vertical -- ladder in the cockpit by which the bridge is reached. This is often difficult for some older people to negotiate, requires a bit of upper body strength, and a very sloppy seaway can be dangerous.
Safer in Many Ways.
By placing access inside and creating a stairway, the 8" to 9" (20 to 22.7 cm) riser height is more like steps at home. The way up is not vertical, but diagonal, and the treads are not metal which can be small and slippery, but are wood, large and skid-resistant. Further, if someone does fall in a seaway, there is a convenient grab rail -- and the fall is inside, not potentially overboard.
The Helm Station.
The helm station is located forward and to port. Having an L-shaped lounge in close proximity to the helm allows easy conversations with the captain while underway. A dual set of helm chairs allows two pair of eyes looking forward and assistance with the navigation. The instrument console is a bit high but there are still good sightlines past the bow.
By having the helm station forward, this layout is clearly set up for cruising and not sportfishing. Those wanting to do serious game fishing will need to put auxiliary controls either by the rail on the starboard aft corner of the flying bridge or in the cockpit on the starboard side.
A Wet Bar
is located just behind the helm seats negating the need to travel all the way to the lower deck just to grab a snack or drink. These snacks, or full meals for that matter, can be enjoyed at the huge C-shaped lounge, to the aft end of the flying bridge deck, that wraps around a hi-low pedestal table.
The cockpit of the 50 EFB closely resembles those of her larger sisters. Riviera again went with mezzanine seating but it has been lowered lightly to take advantage of the space between the aft galley and cockpit to add a fridge and freezer. This additional space for refrigerated stores speaks volumes of the cruising heritage of the Riviera brand and how well this new 50 fits into that mold.
A huge window between the aft galley and cockpit opens up to lay flush to the overhead and blend the two areas together, along with aiding in the serving of food without having to leave the galley. The mezzanine table can be repositioned in the center of the cockpit and folding chairs placed around it.
Delete the swim platform, swap out the barbecue for a rigging station, add outriggers and a fighting chair to the cockpit deck and now the 50 becomes a serious battlewagon. Of course an array of rod holders and rocket launchers can also be added.
Americans in particular should remember that Australia has some of the best big game fishing waters on earth and much of it is in fairly big, beam seas. For example, fishing off the Great Barrier Reef in the vicinity of Lizard Island means trolling along the continental drop-off north and south with the deep blue Pacific Ocean rolling in from the east. It is not unusual for the seas to be 15' (4.5 m) high and abeam during the season. This is the perfect set-up for rock-and-roll and that is why virtually all Riviera yachts have overhead hand-holds placed liberally throughout the boat.
Salon and Galley
The salon is accessed through a full-length sliding glass door with polished stainless steel frame. To port a galley is located between the cockpit, and a forward dinette, which means it is handy no matter the action is, thereby minimizing the need for roaming to keep everyone onboard fed and happy. Additionally, the galley is also just opposite of the stairs to the flying bridge which means prepared food can easily be passed skyward.
We like the opening aft window which brings fresh air to the galley and makes the chef feel part of the action. It might even reduce the chances of mal de mer for those so inclined when cooped up inside.
Stairway to the Stars.
Opposite the galley is the stairway to the bridge. Riviera has discovered in previous models the advantages of an internal stairway access to the flying bridge. While some eschew this sort of design scheme, and it’s amount of living space sacrificed, we think Riviera has created a good design and has placed a lot of much-needed storage drawers and cabinets in this space.
Saloon or Salon?
Our British friends (who, after all, along with the Dutch invented yachts) call it a "saloon" and so do their Australian descendants. Americans being contrary call it "salon" as if somehow we would mistake it for an unseemly bar with spittoons. No matter what it is called the area in the Riviera 50 EFB is large and comfortable. With a C-shaped dinette to port and a high-low table (for dinner or cocktails), and a long sofa to starboard there is plenty of seating for owners and guests to relax after a hard day at sea.
Riviera has thoughtfully provided two stools or ottomans that can be placed at the inboard side of the table so six people can be seated around it for dinner. Having the forward dinette slightly raised allows guests to see stunning views that are usually reserved only for the command stations.
Optional Lower Helm
The 50 Enclosed Flybridge has an optional lower control station below on the starboard side. We don't know why anyone would feel the need to use it, even in rough cold conditions with the installation of isinglass above. However, it will allow better visibility to the cockpit for backing into a slip. Opening side windows will also give a clear view of the side for a starboard side beam-to lay up. This option is in place of the sofa and tea-for-two café table.
The 50 Enclosed Flybridge features a first for Riviera in the realm of semi-customization. While still being a 3 stateroom/ 3 head layout, this model will allow owners to select from one of two different master stateroom layouts, specifically, forward or aft on the port side.
What’s the Difference?
There is a good view out of the large hull side window, as well as the added benefit of being closer to the center of gravity. Laying horizontally amidships deep in the boat is obviously the place on the vessel with the least motion. Also, when at anchor it is away from the bow so at night the "slap, slap, slap" of waves -- even small ones -- hitting the bow is less audible.
With the stateroom forward
, there are views to either side. In fact the square footage of this cabin is probably greater. Access to the chain locker is through the forward bulkhead behind the bed's headboard. For those who plan to do a lot of anchoring, it might be necessary to occasionally access this locker to arrange the chain or tie it down so that it does not become tangled. Most owners we know would not like to be trampling on their guests beds to do that chore.
In either case, Riviera takes full advantage of the storage space available under the berths, along with built in bedside tables, a vanity, and cedar-lined hanging lockers.
Riviera offers the 50 Enclosed Flybridge in two power packages, both connected to pod drives. Twin Cummins 600-hp QSC diesels will be used to power Zeus drives, or owners can select twin Volvo Penta IPS800 which have 600-hp, or IPS950s, rated at 725-hp. The counter-rotating IPS props face forward, and the counter-rotating Zeus drives face aft.
We have not tested this boat so can make no comments as to its performance. The folks at Riviera tell us that with the 600-hp engines they expect a top speed of 32 knots and a cruise speed between 25 and 28 kts delivering a range of 400 nautical miles on her 793 gal. (3,000 L) fuel capacity.
The 50 Enclosed Flybridge offers a surprising amount of roominess for a 50-footer, but part of the reason for that is that she is really a 50-footer (15.24 m). With a displacement of 57,607 lbs. (26,130 kgs.), she falls right in the middle between the heaviest and lightest boats in class. That is a good sign.
Good Sea Boats.
As regular readers know, we think that convertibles make fine cruising boats for a number of reasons. For one thing they usually ride better than a big, lumbering motoryacht because they have a lower CG and less windage. Their long, clean fore deck is an ideal place to store a large tender and a hydraulic davit is less costly than a hydraulic stern platform and is less susceptible to damage.
Modifications for Entertaining.
If using the Riviera 50 EFB exclusively for cruising, both the owner and the builder need to think creatively to maximize the utility of the boat. If the cockpit is going to be used for entertaining (i.e. cocktail and dinner parties), then we think foldaway bench seats should be placed in the gunwales port and starboard. Men don't mind sitting on cockpit gunwales, but most women don't like to. (We know of one or two builders that make this an option.)
For Dinner Parties.
Secondly, those owners who like to throw dinner parties should consider removing the huge BBQ console in our opinion. Work with the boat dealer on relocating it and making it smaller, then placing a long fold-away seat in the gunwale and a dinner table affixed to the deck. In this way 6 to 8 people can be seated here for dinner, much like on the aft deck of a motoryacht. Finally, if one intends to use the boat for the type of entertaining described above, then we would talk to the dealer about an appropriate awning that extends over the whole cockpit.
We are glad to be able to report that Riviera is taking owner feedback aboard, and the fact that the 50 Enclosed Flybridge is so user-friendly attests to the importance of that policy.