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Riviera 53 Flybridge Boat Review

Boat Review Date: December 2012
Author: Mike Brown

The Riviera 53 Flybridge had been fitted out to order and it showed: this boat has as nearly everything as I could think of. More, actually - I had never before come across a Riviera with a gyro stabilising system. One item the owner specified, a 500 litre increase in fuel capacity, demonstrated his intention of really using the boat; long trips north are firmly planned.

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Riviera has nicknamed the 53 its ‘spaceship’, and space is what it has lots of. Three cabins, one very large, one simply large and one a bigger than average twin, plus two bathrooms inhabit the space below decks. A deck up is possibly the best laid out saloon I have come across, and the flybridge above that provides virtually a second saloon.

Propulsion is by Volvo’s IPS system that makes world class manoeuvrers out of us all. Unlike most boats using the system in this size range, the 53 uses twin rather than triple IPS. The total horsepower, 1400, is more than the triple installation’s, and it has the bonus of more room in both the engine room and below the cockpit. For penning, coming alongside and the like, the routine is to switch from the conventional wheel and throttle levers on the flybridge to joystick control.

There are three joysticks, one alongside the wheel, one at the flybridge’s aft starboard corner, and the other on the port side in the cockpit. Single handed parking is a breeze, although to gild the convenience lily there are CCTV cameras pointing everywhere, including the engine room, to keep the skipper in touch.

The cockpit is typical Riviera, spacious and with no clutter. Room here for fishing, diving and picnicking, with extra space available on the hydraulic swim platform. The goodies are tucked away around the cockpit edges: rope lockers, large barbecue, two fridges, two enormous under deck wet or dry lockers, push button reel for the shore power cable, hot and cold shower and a mezzanine settee. It has access to the saloon via a wide door for foot traffic, and through a hinge-up window to the galley.

At long last builders are starting to standardise on galleys that service both saloon and cockpit, and the 53’s is a beauty: enough room to prepare a banquet and the appliances to do everything else. It not only has two fridges, two freezers and an ice maker, stove and microwave and so on, it has a macerator for the sink and a garbage compactor. Storage includes double-decker drawers with side access for all the bits and pieces.

Opposite the galley is the open stair access to the flybridge, which cunningly takes up no valuable space: it has lockers below it. There is no lower control station so everything ahead of the galley is devoted to sitting, eating and drinking. Unlike most boats, there is no segregation between the activities: settees are around the perimeter, with a hydraulically adjustable table at the settees to one side that, among other things, allows conversion to a double bed. It all works brilliantly, and allows viewing of the jumbo TV (every other compartment has one as well) from every direction, and outside viewing through the low-set windows.

The flybridge is not a reproduction of the saloon, but it has all the facilities short of full blooded cooking. Wet bar, table and plenty of seating are here, and it has more: an electric sun roof allows extra fresh air. The rear lounge is reversible, allowing viewing aft or joining with others at the table. Up front the control station says ‘drive me’, and comfortable seating all around it allows plenty of friends to watch you enjoying yourself.

Listing the extras that can be ordered and that the buyer of this one chose could almost become tedious, or at least the objects of envy. Heavy duty air conditioning and commercial grade water maker for northern trips, and a bigger genset to cope with them; clothes washer and dryer; radar tower and mast that lower at button push to cope with low bridges; a solar panel; touch screen control for the electrics; WiFi everything; and so it goes. Clearly this is a boat for serious use, with an owner whose friendship is well worth cultivating.


Price from                $1,793,600

Length over all         18.20m

Hull length                17.20m

Beam                       5.13m

Draught                    1.25m

Fuel capacity            4,000L (3,500L standard)

Fresh water               740L

Sullage                     273L

Motors fitted              2 x 700hp Volvo D11 IPS pod drives

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