Boat Review Date: February 2013
Author: Mike Brown
Belize is the name Riviera gives to a new line of boats built in Taiwan (a country with a long history of first class boat building) but under Riviera’s direct supervision. The first Belize hull is a 52, available as a flybridge and as the review boat’s sedan or sports cruiser layout.
All the public areas, and even the bathrooms, have timber decks, saving carpet for the three bedrooms: a double forward, a good sized twin, and the master suite amidships. In the current, and very welcome, fashion the suite has large windows incorporating opening portholes. There is plenty of timber incorporated in the lining, but leavened with neutral toned soft fabric.
The saloon too is strong on natural light – and on controlling it. Blinds open electrically at the windows, and electricity also powers the sun roof
The saloon does not have separate sitting and dining areas, which allows the dinette to be on a vast scale. It faces the galley that takes up most of the port side, ending at the cockpit window that tilts up to create a serving hatch. A lot of boats have a clothes washer-drier (the 52 does as well) but how often is it likely to be used? Dishes are the drudge, and the 52 is one of the rarer vessels to have a dish washer – as well as every other kind of kitchen fitting. Soft leather is used a lot around the boat, including lining the cutlery drawers.
The control station ahead of the dinette is a joy. Three supremely comfortable seats face the dash, and a fourth faces this trio; the helmsman’s job is no longer lonely. The dash itself is a glass cockpit, a pair of G-series Raymarine screens displaying most of the information and subsidiary screens handling the rest. All the usual electronics are present plus the rarer Inmarsat.
The electronic whizz-bangery continues with a touch screen in the saloon that controls and monitors everything on board that uses electricity. Luddites will be pleased that there is also a manual battery control board in the cockpit.
In Riviera tradition the cockpit has a decent amount of room and is sparing with permanent seating. There is a settee aft behind the hydraulically adjusted table, and a corner seat. Besides these a pair of stools swing out of stowage at the wet bar, and box stools can be carried out from their place at the saloon table. The whole space has shade from a stylish canopy combining a hardtop and fabric. The barbecue is operated from the hydraulic swim platform – the right place. Its location is above the door to the dinghy garage, which is itself an ingeniously engineered space.
Passage from cockpit to fore deck involves a couple of shallow steps, a generous width of side deck, and wondrous rails. All the rails on board are oval section with immaculate welding. First grab tells you that oval rather than round is the natural shape for hanging on to.
For those tired of the cockpit’s shade the foredeck offers a sun bed, tiltable to maximise the exposure. The detail design at this end of the 52 is considerable, with practically every piece of mooring and anchoring hardware out of sight.
Engine rooms can be revealing – like a messy garage in a flash house. The 52’s though is superbly laid out for routine maintenance, with every function labelled and all flow directions indicated, and is one of the very few with guard/grab rails around the engines. The twin 600hp Cummins diesels drive through Cummins’ Zeus pods, allowing joystick manoeuvring without the need for thrusters. For backing into pens, a second joystick lives in the cockpit.
The maiden voyage was Mandurah and return rather than the traditional Rottnest. The longer trip with varying sea conditions gave a better opportunity for the Belize to show its capabilities – and these were considerable. The hull shape appears to have reduced pitching motions, and that can sometimes result in a wet boat although not in this case. The ride was a lot better than acceptable, and the rigidity and general freedom from creaks seemed absolute. High levels of creature comfort in a good sea boat – a top combination.
Price from AUD $1.489m
Length overall 16.10m
Dry weight 18.5T
Fuel capacity 2400L
Fresh water 700L
Engines fitted 2 x Cummins OSC600 @ 600hp ea