Viking 38 Billfish
Viking’s 38 Billfish is the builder’s latest innovation in versatility, comfort, and performance.
Viking’s 38 Billfish exemplifies the builder’s evolutionary strategy to build a better boat every day. Already leaving its predecessor, the 37 Billfish, in its wake, this new model
is longer, wider and sports a refined running surface. A new hull design with foam encapsulated stringers, a raked stem, double chines and a pair of running strakes delivers performance and maximizes speed and efficiency with two 550-hp Cummins QSB 6.7 diesels.
Aimed at bluewater anglers and young families, the 38 Billfish appeals to the upward moving owner/operator as well as those looking for an easy-to-handle and maintain convertible that’s ideal for mastering inshore and offshore assignments.
Small and Mighty
Perhaps more than anything, this new Billfish model demonstrates how much boat Viking is able to build in 38 feet. There’s no mistaking the Viking DNA with its eye-pleasing, unbroken sheer, the finely proportioned deckhouse and the spacious cockpit. A full-feature convertible in a mid-size package, the boat checks every box for practicality and fun.
Underway, with full fuel and water and five people aboard, the 38 Billfish ripped to a top speed of 35 knots drinking 56 gallons per hour on my Lake Worth, Florida, test run. Throttled back to 31 knots for a swift cruise, the turbocharged, after-cooled Cummins consumed 41 gallons per hour.
At a moderate 26 knots, figure on 31 gallons per hour. With a capacity of 460 gallons, the boat has more than ample range wherever you decide to set the throttles. Pick the spot, and the 38 Billfish performs and handles with the enthusiasm of a student on the last day of school thanks to the Cummins Inboard Joystick matched to the DC bow thruster. Both acceleration and throttle response are swift with virtually no diesel exhaust.
Runs in the Family
Sharing the popular style and traits of its larger brothers, the flybridge utilizes a center console command station. Visibility throughout 32 points of the compass is excellent.
The fiberglass helm pod painted to mimic teak adds a custom touch and is augmented with single lever controls with thruster buttons and power-assisted hydraulic steering.
Viking subsidiary Atlantic Marine Electronics provided the electronics that are well-organized and stowed in the console for all-weather navigation. Additional instrumentation is mounted overhead in the fiberglass hardtop as are the 24VDC Miya
Epoch electric teaser reels favored by offshore tuna and billfish anglers, and a rocket launcher is built into the aft aluminum rail. A single Release helm seat is standard and a second seat is optional.
Lounges to port and starboard ahead of the console offer plenty of seating and room to stretch. A Costa Clear three-sided enclosure provides comfort and protection. Viking’s legacy in building tournament contenders is obvious in the many features found in the 109-square-foot cockpit starting with the molded, non-skid deck with a 29-inch reach to the waterline. It was raining on test day and the surefootedness was appreciated.
Fish on, friends
A transom livewell, port and starboard insulated fish wells measuring 46 inches by 18
inches by 16 inches and fresh and raw-water wash-down systems are standard fare. The coaming is rounded and is comfortable when leaning against it during stand-up battles with sails, mahi and cobia. A walk-through transom door with a lift gate complements a swim step.
Underneath the coaming, tricolor LED lighting illuminates the cockpit. An aluminum mounting plate is laminated in the deck to accommodate a fishing chair or rocket launcher, and flush-mounted rod holders are conveniently placed. To port is a bait freezer inside a molded console with a removable fiberglass tray to handle a day’s worth of rigged
balao and mullet, which not only keeps the baits ready but also eliminates the clutter of a portable cooler on deck.
To starboard, lifting the molded console lid reveals a sink with a freshwater spigot and a board for cutting bait or rigging while underneath, a door opens to access four tackle drawers and accessory switches, including a temperature gauge for the freezer. Cushions atop the consoles make ideal perches for keeping out of the weather, watching baits in the wake and relaxing underway or at the dock.
Day Boat Vibes
With its traditional day-boat layout, the salon door is replaced by a Costa Clear curtain, but it opens the cockpit to the air-conditioned salon/command deck with 80 inches of
headroom and the option to install a lower helm station. For early season starts in the north or late season cruising and fishing, the lower helm station is a popular choice, especially with fishermen that go shorthanded.
The open salon design is a reminder of the style so well propagated by Palm Beach
Ryboviches and Pompano Beach Merritt boats way back when. To maximize the comfort and usefulness of the space, Viking has added a refrigerator, a U-shaped lounge and a
fiberglass hi-lo table to port that can convert to a berth and a starboard-side, 88-inch-long lounge with rod and tackle stowage below.
The command deck is especially inviting after returning to the dock and serves as a social area that makes the boat very flexible in its mission as both a capable hardcore fishing boat and family cruiser.
Electrically actuated rams lift the sole to expose each engine compartment, but a center hatch also provides access for quick daily checks. Viking’s attention to detail in the mechanical space is outstanding. The bright white Awlgrip-painted bilge lights up the area, and the slender, inline six-cylinder Cummins engines are accessible for routine maintenance and service. Racor fuel/water separators, seacocks, sea valves, and strainers are labeled and painted with white Awlgrip. Wire and plumbing runs are neat and chafe-protected.
Our test boat had a 13.5 kW Onan generator, a Seakeeper SK6 gyrostabilizer, accessible engine and house batteries in fiberglass boxes, a voltage stabilizer isolation transformer,
Dometic air conditioning, a Dolphin Pro battery charger, an oil exchanger system for draining and filling the engines, transmissions and the generator, a freshwater outlet for
keeping the machinery space clean, and a Delta-T ventilation system that provides fresh air supply and water intrusion suppression. Each diesel is equipped with a Y-valve to function as emergency bilge pumps.
‘Reel’ Living Space
Unlike big center console boats of similar length with a cuddy cabin, the 38 Billfish has actual overnight living accommodations three steps down from the salon deck. The
L-shape galley features a stainless steel sink, Corian countertop, Kenyon electric cooktop, Samsung microwave, and an Isotherm refrigerator and freezer. Teak cabinetry is abundant, and the electrical panel is eye level for ease of use. The spacious head
to port has a Dometic MSD, Corian countertop, teak vanity, and a better than full-size fiberglass shower stall with a glass door.
The master stateroom is forward with a bi-fold door for privacy, an island double berth with an innerspring mattress and stowage underneath, a pair of maple-lined hanging lockers, rod locker, TV and stereo. The air conditioning system services the lower accommodations, and the flooring throughout the area is custom Amtico vinyl. Hatches in the sole provide access to bilge pumps, shower sump, plumbing, and the like.
This is the smallest Viking, but noting that even the sole hatches are framed with teak showcases its pedigree to its larger siblings.
LOA: 38′ 8″
Draft: 3′ 4″
Displacement: 30,954 lbs.
Fuel/Water: 460/69 gal.
Cruise/Max Speed: 31/35 knots
Power: 2x Cummins QSB 6.7 @ 550-hp
Price: On request
Viking Yacht Company
By Peter Frederiksen, Southern Boating June 2019