Riviera 56 Boat Review

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Boat Review Date: February 2010
Author: Mike Brown


Enclosed flybridges, that are currently all the rage, add interior space but automatically reduce open-air opportunities. Not to worry because this one is Australian, almost definitively Australian being a Riviera, so it has a decent sized cockpit. Riviera has been having its problems but they did not extend to the construction side: the 56 Enclosed Flybridge looked immaculately put together.

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A 56 footer is of course a large boat, and the interior looks even larger thanks to the use of a lighter timber than has appeared on a lot of recent boats. Its finish is excellent, and the standard of joinery and fit of parts just as good. The airiness is helped no end by the large glass area, and by the amount of it that can be opened at the rear end. The galley is located aft; the location I am convinced is right and that took so long for builders to twig to. A window its full width in a stainless steel frame hinges up, mercifully by gas struts, to give access to the cockpit.

It is one of the biggest galleys I have seen, in a near complete wrap around style. Twin fridges, twin sinks, three-hotplate cook top and just about every electric device a kitchen could have share space with extravagant bench area.

The rest of the saloon contains a leather L-shaped settee, conveniently placed for the 32-inch TV and the icemaker, a U-shaped dinette that the extending table allows conversion into pure lounging, and a staircase to the flybridge. This leads not to the usual safety hatch but to an electrically operated roller door.

This opens onto a compartment barely smaller then the saloon. Like the saloon the seats are in leather, and like the cockpit its deck is timber sheathed. All but the rear end is glazed, and that has clears so the space can be air-conditioned. Or removing the clears and opening the powered sliding roof hatch gives an alternative.

A large and a small lounge and a folding table allow dining or socialising groups, and a third lounge aft and facing the stern would be fine for drinks at sun down – a capable wet bar is adjacent - or even for high level fishing: rocket launchers are thoughtfully provided on the guard rail. At the same spot is a set of controls for the engines and thrusters; good for backing into a pen or making sophisticated manoeuvres when game fishing.

This is a boat a serious fisherman could be happy with. That decent sized cockpit is actually large, and besides space has other features to gladden an angler’s heart. There are two long underdeck catch tanks with removable liners, provision for a bait tank in the transom, long bottom-hinged side bins equally capable of stowing fishing gear or berthing lines (there is more rod storage in the salon head liner), toe space at the rails, and an ice box as well as a cavernous fridge.

The latter pair of course comes in equally handy for non-fishers, and for social occasions there is plenty of storage space for folding tables and chairs, inflatable toys and even inflatable boats.

The 56 is capable of sleeping large numbers of people casually, but permanent beds are provided for six in two double (technically queen I suppose) and one twin cabins. 25ft of boat with a 17ft beam is devoted to them, so roominess is a keynote. Both doubles have en suite bathrooms with separate shower compartments, and the occupants of the twin have the use of the slightly smaller day head.

Wardrobes are cedar lined, TVs abound, and every compartment is provided with plenty of natural as well as infinitely controllable artificial light.

Electrical demands are high, with particularly powerful air-conditioning and a host of electrically powered equipment. Riviera ensured the generating system would never be overloaded by installing a whopping 22.5 KVA genset. It shares engine room space with a pair of equally impressive main engines, V8 2000-series MTUs that put out 1220hp each. They are good for 31 knots, and at the universal low-20s cruising speed are merely ambling.

They drive WA-made Veem propellers operating in partial tunnels. These add a touch more efficiency to the props and subtract a little from the draught. This is a gentle 1.53m that allows access to all the local hot spots.

The control station for them on the flybridge is a visual feast and ergonomically top class. A pair of supremely comfortable armchairs faces a full width burr dash dominated by a pair of screens that can display radar, plotter and sounder information in any permutation and proportion.

The 56 is a boat designed for the way Australians actually use boats. As a bonus it has first class equipment, behaves exactly how you would ask, and is an easy family member in its mild demands on maintenance. I could ask no more.



Price, as reviewed   AUD $2.4m

Length overall         19.30m

Hull length              18.18m

Beam                     5.29m

Draught                  1.53m

Dry weight              30T

Fuel capacity           5,700L

Fresh water             1,000L

Sullage                   276L

Engines                   2 x V8 MTU-2000 @ 1220hp ea

Genset                    22.5 KVA