Specifications
LOA 56 ft., 8 in.
Beam 16 ft., 5 in.
Draft 3 ft., 10 in.
Displacement See Dealer
Fuel 793 gals.
Water 198 gals.
Engines Twin Cummins 600 hp w/Zeus pods
Base Price See Dealer
Standard Equipment
See dealer for a full list.
Optional Equipment
See dealer for a full list.
Builder
Riviera, Queensland, Australia; riviera.com.au
West Coast Dealer
Emerald Pacific Yachts, Seattle;
(206) 587-0660; emeraldpacificyachts.com

Emerald Pacific Yachts, San Diego;
(619) 497-2993; emeraldpacificyachts.com

Van Isle Marina Yacht Sales, Sidney, B.C.;
(250) 656-1138; vanislemarina.com

Richard Boland Yachts, Alameda, Calif.;
(510) 521-6213; richardbolandyachts.com


Riviera 50 Enclosed Flybridge

Posted: June 1, 2014  |  Boat Type: Motoryacht

A family motoryacht that’s as tough as it is comfortable

By: Roger McAfee

Australia’s Riviera has splashed down more than 5,000 boats in the 34 years it has been in business. The builder has developed a reputation for building tough, strong boats that seem to love bashing quickly out to the fishing grounds and back, and that toughness has translated well to Riviera models that are going to be used as much or more for cruising than for fishing.

The toughness approach — one that got the company through a difficult bankruptcy in the wake of the 2008 global financial meltdown — has led to one of the builder’s newest offerings, the Riviera 50 Enclosed Flybridge. With crisp, contemporary styling, the 50EFB has a great dock presence. While it was the smallest boat tied along the dock — though at 58 feet with the swim step and bow roller it is hardly small — it was the vessel that first attracted attention. The fiberglass work was excellent, as one would expect from such an experienced builder, perfectly fair, without signs of haze or print-through.

Great Idea

As boating costs rise, many potential buyers are looking for affordable ways to get on the water or to get into that coveted bigger boat. Such thinking has led to an increase in fractional ownership programs and more discussions of boating partnerships. The Riviera 50 Enclosed Flybridge may be one of the new vessels that spurs those discussions along.

Having been involved in the development of partnerships as part of my former law practice, I know there is one feature that was often a deal breaker. It had nothing to do with the design, construction, machinery, performance or seaworthiness of the vessel being considered. It had to do with the fact that many boats — especially those not in the superyacht category — have only one large, truly comfortable stateroom. Potential partners, each of whom was sharing the capital and operating costs of the vessel, were looking for roughly equal accommodations on board.

While they might have done it accidentally, the designers of the new 50 may have created a solution, solving the issue with the stateroom layout. There is a well-fitted-out cabin in the traditional bow location, and another equally well-fitted-out stateroom aft and to port. According to the builder, either can be the master, and based on our time aboard we agree. Both staterooms have walk-around queen berths, both have hull windows and opening ports, both have an en suite head with a separate shower stall, both have plenty of storage and both have the same high-quality woodwork. The same soft-goods material is used in each space.

A third smaller cabin, to starboard of the mid-cabin, is well fitted out with twin berths.

Owners Will Love

Access to the vessel is off the swim step through either a port or starboard transom gate. The swim step, almost exactly at the same height as most docks, makes getting on and off the vessel safe, quick and easy.

Riviera designers have put together an open-plan salon, taking advantage of the extra space created by having no deckhouse helm station. The interior, because of the substantial amount of window glass, is bright and cheery, and will remain so even on a dull day. Windowsill heights are low enough that anyone sitting at the U-shaped dining settee and table, or on the lounge across from it, can see outside without stretching or getting up.

The U-shaped galley, positioned at the aft end of the salon, will be the focus of onboard entertainment. With the stainless steel–framed aft salon door pinned open, and the large, similarly framed, top-hinged glass window locked in the up position, the galley opens to the aft deck. The bar, directly across from the galley, not only allows the cook quick and easy access to wine and spirits for sauces and other cooking requirements, but also allows people on the back deck to grab a cold one without having to move through, or congregate in, the salon.

The ease of access from the galley to the aft deck — well protected from rain or blazing sun by the extended salon roof — combined with the aft-deck barbecue center, will allow the cook, or the caterers, to easily prepare meals for more than a dozen people.

Unexpected Finds

Staterooms and heads are forward and down from the deckhouse. The stairway ends on a landing, or vestibule, like you will often see on much larger yachts, and access to all three cabins is off that vestibule.

Our test boat, though less than 60 feet, features three staterooms — two with queen beds (as noted previously) and the third with a pair of twins. By selecting a pod-drive system for the 50EFB, Riviera added 5 feet, 6 inches to the interior hull living space compared to the traditional shaft-drive system.

As I moved around the boat during our test, I noted how quiet the vessel was. Part of the credit for that goes to the Zeus drive system, which enables the builder to position much of the machinery space, always a major source of noise, aft under the cockpit. It also means the builder can place a more soundproof bulkhead between the machinery space and the rest of the hull.

Whether a boat is perceived to be noisy or quiet is often a difference of opinion among those listening, which is why instruments are used in business and industry to accurately determine noise levels, such as my top-of-the-line decibel meter like the ones used by Workers’ Compensation Boards and Occupational Health and Safety officers in most of the industrialized world. As we moved away from the dock, I placed the meter on a countertop in the salon, as close to directly above the machinery space as it could be put. It read 66 decibels. A normal conversation is 70. As we reached the end of the no-wake zone, I moved the decibel meter up to the enclosed bridge, to a tabletop as close to directly over the engine space as we could get it. It read 64 decibels. Many boaters who have experienced long hours on powerboats know that a continuing high level of noise can be very tiring. In fact, it can be exhausting. This was not a problem on our test boat.

Underway

Even from a cold start, the twin 600 hp Cummins diesels fired instantly, without smoke or rattle. In fact, during our entire test the engines ran flawlessly, as modern computer-controlled diesels are supposed to. We idled at 600 rpm making 4.5 knots out of the marina.

As we cleared the no-wake zone, we upped the speed to 7.5 knots, which led to a total fuel burn of 3.5 gph. At 1500 revs, we made 10.4 knots with a fuel burn of 11 gph. We spooled up to 2000 rpm and made 12 knots while burning 26 gph. Wide-open throttle, 3000 revs, gave us 28 knots while burning 65 gph. The helm responded smartly to all inputs, and the fly-by-wire steering proved precise. The vessel handled sharp turns easily, without excessive lean, skip or hull chatter, even when the wheel was turned hard over from port to starboard. Clearly, the engine-and-drive combination is well suited to the hull.

Don’t Overlook

The new Riviera 50 manages to keep faith with buyers who want a traditional tough, strong, well-built fishing machine, while at the same time including features that make it a comfortable family motoryacht. The enclosed flybridge is a design stroke of genius. It’s large enough to allow the skipper to socialize with his whole family in style and comfort but gives great protection from the weather. Visibility while cruising is unparalleled.

The fit and finish throughout the vessel is excellent, and all equipment and appliances are first class. The pod-drive system, combined with joystick controls, makes anyone a great boat handler. As a boat that can function as both a fishing machine and a family cruiser, without compromising the major features of either, the Riviera 50 Enclosed Flybridge is a versatile must-see.

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