The Viking 37 Billfish is the company’s answer to those wishing for a reasonable alternative to any of the many comparably sized outboard center consoles now on the market, as well as a way to appeal to young families ready to take the next step into the lifestyle — it’s all that and more.
“It also attracts a group of serious fish people who are out to set world records with light tackle; it’s just that style of boat with the open bulkhead, maneuverability, comfortable accommodations and all the angling features one comes to associate with Viking,” says Capt. Ryan Higgins, the company’s senior corporate captain. “It really is the perfect entree into our product line.”
Viking acquired the mold for the Billfish 37 in 2015 when it purchased the former Ocean Yachts facility in Mullica, New Jersey. At that time, it was decided to give the 37 a new look, one that would make it fit in with Viking’s most recent models. And as I stood on the dock in North Palm Beach, Florida, and gave her a good once-over from bow to stern, it was evident that this had been achieved. Viking kept the proven running bottom intact, but one of the major changes it incorporated was bringing the curvy Viking lines into its exterior profile. The first thing one notices are the window lines. “We tied in the forward windshield, blacked out the corner posts to achieve the masked look of our larger boats, and continued the side shape,” Higgins says as I step aboard. Also of note are the distinctive Viking air vents.
I couldn’t help but notice how solid she feels underfoot once aboard. “That’s our laminate schedule and is something present in all of our boats, no matter the size,” Higgins says. She has cored hull sides with a solid-glass bottom, and the molded-stringer grid is bonded into the boat using an adhesive called Scigrip.
“Those main structural features, the ones that form the boat’s backbone, have all been audited by Viking. The 37 is stiffer as a result,” says John Leek IV, the project manager for the 37. “No matter where you look, we designed the boat to be a hands-on vessel and one you could take off the dock with a great deal of confidence.”
Located and accessed via the command deck — and in true Viking fashion — both the port and starboard seating areas lift via electric rams to expose the engines. Once in the full-open position, I find ample room to access all critical maintenance areas and easily reach all fluid checks. And for even more room, open the centerline walkway hatch.
The 37 Billfish is equipped for serious fishing. “The big news is the large transom fish box to accommodate the fishermen in the Northeast who are looking to throw some tuna in there,” Higgins notes. “It’s also plumbed as a livewell for anglers in the South.” Viking offers a full teak package for the cockpit that includes the deck, covering boards, and even continues the woodwork right up into the helm. Access to the lazarette is through a centerline hatch, and two large fish boxes with optional chiller plates are on either side. There is a space already dedicated for a Seakeeper, something that has almost become a standard option.
The mezzanine offers much more than a great seat from which to watch the action in the 86-square-foot cockpit. There are storage areas beneath the cushions and tackle center to starboard with a bait station. “Instead of the open space here on the bulkhead up to the helm area, we can offer an optional solid bulkhead with a door and two windows. It’s all up to our customers,” Higgins points out. In the end, Viking can supply just about any option to the cockpit one would want, including tuna tubes and 12- or 24-volt outlets for various electric reels, among other gear.
To Higgins’ point earlier, the interior of this boat presents itself with a very strong alternative to a center console of the same size, and those that are even larger. The excellent fit and finish of the high-gloss Juno teak wood is just what you would expect from the craftsmen at Viking. Fully forward is the queen V-berth stateroom — a crossover layout is also available — with a private head. Fine woodwork is evident, as are large storage areas. A fully equipped galley is amidships, and the dinette on the command deck can convert to an extra berth. The electrical panel is located on the aft bulkhead, and is clearly marked and easily accessible for both AC and DC panels. And of particular note are the robust door and hatch that allow easy entrance and exit from this area.
“I like the comfort level of the bridge,” says Higgins, and that means something coming from someone with years of bluewater experience. “You can get around it quite easily with the center console helm, and it has enough space for all you would ever need in electronics.” There is a well-designed drop-down pod for autopilot and radios, with seating to either side and forward, handy and quickly accessible storage areas, and great visuals everywhere, especially aft.
Ease of operation and versatility come standard aboard the 37 Billfish. This particular boat, Hull No. 2, is equipped with a starboard lower helm that can be eliminated for a larger seating area. It also incorporates the Cummins joystick control system that ties in the bow thruster with the reliable and proven 550-horsepower Cummins QSB 6.7 diesels: a trifecta that combines the finesse of a prima ballerina with that of a spirited sports car. As soon as we pass the no-wake zone and clear the Palm Beach inlet, we let her go through the calm ocean conditions — truth be told, both Higgins and I are looking for more-challenging seas — to a top speed of 35 knots. And while I settle her into an rpm turn of 3,000 and 30 knots, it is at 2,600 rpm and 26 knots with a total fuel burn of 30 gph that I can see myself settling back in the centerline helm seat and setting the autopilot for Bimini with thoughts of some conch salad and a freshly cracked lobster dancing in my mind. As neither Higgins nor I had our passports, it would be the local waters for us.
She handles all commands superbly, including long, loping turns, tight 360s, figure eights, staying straight and true, and showing wonderful abilities during backing down. “Ease of operation is key on this boat and is something we brought to her from our 42C,” says Higgins. “With the joystick option, this is as good as it gets.” Well-built, functional, solid and muscular, the head-turning 37 Billfish is fully prepared to join the rest of the fleet and leave her own special mark in the rarified air of sport-fishing boats.
LOA: 37'8" | Beam: 13'10" | Draft: 2'8" | Disp.: 29,329 lb.
Fuel: 440 gal. | Water: 66 gal. | Power: Twin 550 hp Cummins QSB 6.7 diesels