Boat Review: Riviera 42

The Aussie builder continues to make waves.

Riviera 42 368

Riviera 42 368

Riviera Yachts represents the largest manufacturer of sportfishing boats in Australia. Now before you blithely turn the page because you can't believe you'd get good service in the United States from an Aussie company, let me set the record straight: Riviera's market in America has grown so significantly that the company opened an office here staffed with an engineer and several Australian factory reps to handle any and all warranty work. Not that there seems to be a whole lot for them to do - Rivieria is known for building some tough-nut boats.

If a problem does arise, however, you can rest assured that you'll get every bit as much attention from Riviera as you would from any reputable American builder. In fact, the company boasts an ever-expanding dealer network that currently spans more than 30 countries.

SPECIFICATIONS**** LOA 46'8" ** BEAM** 14'11" ** DRAFT** 4'2" ** DEADRISE** 15 degrees ** WEIGHT** 30,900 pounds ** FUEL** 476 gallons ** MAX PWR** T 510 hp C9 Cats ** BASE PRICE $587,243Riviera Yachts** Riviera Beach, Florida 561-472-8800 www.rivierayachtsinc.com

Performance
I have to hand it to Alec Sadler, the owner of the Riviera 42 I tested. With the marina next door tying barges alongside its concrete pier and the channel being particularly narrow to begin with, maneuvering room to get the 42 in and out of its slip bordered on nonexistent. Sadler managed to get his boat in and out without so much as a kiss of a piling masterful boat handling from a responsive vessel.

With its Twin Disc electronic controls and the low-idle setting on the 510-hp Caterpillar C9s, the 42 displayed great close-quarters maneuverability, helping Sadler slip the boat with ease.

The seas kicked up to snotty foam the day we ran the Riviera 42. (In fact, it seemed Florida didn't enjoy a calm day from last November until May of this year!) But during our speed runs on the Intracoastal Waterway in Palm Beach, the Riviera 42 topped out at 29.6 knots. (If we had opened the flybridge enclosure, I'd bet that it would have topped 30.)

With no tabs, the Riviera took eight seconds to get up on plane and had no problems charging at 5 knots in full reverse. Overall, it backs down in total control, spinning beautifully with or without turning the steering wheel, which should make things easier for your wire man. The slowest speed we managed while live-bait fishing was 4 knots in low idle (550 rpm) and with only one engine in gear.

I found the roll moment while drifting the troughs very comfortable, both in the 4- to 6-foot seas close to shore and the larger 6- to 8-footers coming out of the east from the Gulf Stream. The Riviera exhibited just enough side slide to prevent a snap roll and drifted beam-to the seas.

Running the troughs at 24 knots in the steep, nearshore seas also proved very comfortable. However, I found it prudent to bring her back to 161¼2 knots when heading straight into the sea.

Flybridge
The Riviera 42's flybridge offers a unique design incorporating an unusual starboard-side helm with a companion seat on centerline. I like the fact that the helmsman doesn't have to move to let a guest pass and occupy the companion seat. And I enjoyed unobstructed vision both fore and aft from the wheel. On the other hand, if the captain needs to get down below in the heat of the moment, the guest may be in the way.

A straight settee to port and a large L-shaped settee forward of the helm console offers more guest seating than most 42-footers. This Riviera provides as much room on the bridge as any production 42 I can remember, maybe more.

Several things caught my eye when looking down from the bridge. On the foredeck, the Riviera provides twin access hatches for the mammoth anchor locker. More important, I truly appreciate that Riviera puts nonskid everywhere anyone is likely to place a foot and that includes the entire foredeck. You'll also find three large, circular Bomar hatches up on the bow to provide plenty of fresh air to the cabin below. The builder also mounts two sets of spring cleats on each gunwale, besides the hefty bow and stern cleats.

Engine Room
Because I am a larger-than-average person, the compact engine room on the Riviera stands as my least-favorite element of the boat. I can't traverse the centerline alley between the engines without the breathers depositing oil on my shirtsleeves. Yes, I could work in the space, but I would prefer a little more elbowroom. Average people probably won't have a problem.

Riviera places the water tanks against outboard bulkheads and the generator along the forward bulkhead. I'd prefer to switch those around and mount the generator away from the living quarters on the opposite bulkhead.

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Cockpit**
The Riviera 42 sports several innovative features, one of which can be found in the cockpit. Small pop-up cleats in the cockpit covering boards specifically accommodate fenders so you needn't suffer a tangle of different-sized lines on your stern cleats running out in various directions. Speaking of which, Riviera mounts its large stern cleats in deep indentations in the aft corner covering boards with fairleads. Some say this system has the potential for snagging a fishing line. While this may be true, I don't think you'd ever see a line touch the gunwales anywhere near the position of these cleats unless the angler was lying on the cockpit sole.

Square, lift-out fish boxes in the port and starboard cockpit deck hide cavernous lazarette space. In addition, a lazarette hatch on centerline accesses storage space under the fish boxes, as well as the rudderposts and quadrants, pumps and hydraulics. Additional hatches under the gunwales and in the transom hide storage for mops, lines and so on.

You'll find a transom baitwell on centerline alongside a tuna door. Riviera also provides six in-gunwale rod holders augmented by rocket launchers across the back of the flybridge rail.

The owner of our test boat opted for cockpit controls with a Furuno NavNet repeater mounted below as well. He likes to swordfish short-handed with his family, and this arrangement allows him to watch the sounder and run the boat from the pit.

You'll find ample storage along the entire width of the cockpit's forward bulkhead beneath the salon window. Along that same bulkhead are all the standard cockpit accoutrements any angler could want, such as a deep freeze, tackle drawers and a rigging station. The bait sink actually fits into the top of the engine compartment door, which makes wise use of space but also makes getting in and out of the engine room a slight challenge.

Pipe welders placed the halyard blocks for the outrigger lines through the side deck and cleats them off in the compartments under the side-deck stairs.

Another unique feature is the deep channel all the way around the cockpit deck that channels water to the single broad scupper at the center of the transom. Honestly, I wasn't able to get water into the cockpit without taking entire waves over the transom, so I couldn't test just how fast water would leave the deck. However, absolutely no water ever gathered at the scupper during the washdown it flushed out with ease. Overall, you'd have a tough time finding a dryer cockpit.

Interior
Thanks to large side windows and light fabrics, the Riviera 42 pulls off a light and airy ambience. Being family oriented, I'm used to spending time around the dinner table after a meal, so I liked the larger-than-usual dinette with J-shaped seating for five or six adults.

The step-down galley doesn't forget the chef and still provides visibility and conversation with the rest of the group in the salon while concealing the leftover roast and dirty dishes. And, as you'll find on more and more traveling boats these days, Riviera provides a sizable pantry under the galley sole.

This 42 boasts a slightly unorthodox layout consisting of three berths in one guest cabin with two low singles and one upper berth. This cabin has a head with shower that's accessible from the companionway. The master cabin in the bow, with its own private head and shower, sports a double island berth for the owner's comfort.

You'll surely be impressed with the exceptional job Riviera does with joinery and brightwork finishing as far I could tell it was flawless.

Don't think about disqualifying Riviera just because it's an Aussie builder. Smart financial types know that this can actually mean a terrific bang for your buck.