Viking 40 Convertible
By Jack Hornor
Revised by BoatUS editors in October 2012
The Viking 40 Convertible offers versatility and solid construction, in a design that's a good combination for boating families who split their time between coastal cruising and fishing. Add to this a contemporary styling that results in an older model appearing years newer than it is and it's no wonder this model remains a popular choice of used boat buyers 20 years after the last model rolled out the door.
The Viking Yacht Company was founded in 1964 when brothers Bill and Bob Healey took over the financially failing New Jersey boatbuilder Peterson Viking. In the years since, the Healy brothers have built Viking into one of the most highly regarded yacht builders in the world. Early models were constructed of wood and in 1972 Viking introduced their first fiberglass model, the 33 Convertible.
The Viking 40 Convertible, as nearly all Viking models, is the product of an in-house design team led by Bruce Wilson. It was introduced at the New York Boat Show in 1973 and remained in production until 1982, making it one of the most successful models the company has offered. Only the Viking 35 Convertible (1975-92) remained in production longer.
Viking 40 hull and decks are entirely constructed of fiberglass composite materials with solid fiberglass laminate bottom and cored hull sides, deck and cabin structures. Structurally, a cored composite behaves like an I-beam in that it gains strength from two flanges separated by a web. Viking was an early pioneer of core composite technology and has an excellent track record with these methods. Problems are rare and most often are caused by inadequate repair of damages or improper installation of hardware and through hull fittings.
I believe there is one weakness in the Viking 40's design that will only be of concern to serious fishermen who routinely venture 70 miles or more offshore. The large cabin windows across the forward portion of the main saloon are prone to damage from boarding seas and the structure will eventually weaken and develop leaks at the windows. Several Viking 40 owners I know have chosen to eliminate the forward windows in favor of a stronger fiberglass structure. This modification and refinishing can cost $10,000 or more (2004 est). It is also worth noting that, for years, Viking used solid, single-strand copper household-type wiring in their AC electric system, no longer accepted by American Boat and Yacht Council standards which call for the use of multiple-stranded copper wire in all boat electrical systems. While current model Vikings comply with the standard, older models may not. To rewire to accepted standards may cost up to $6,000 (2004 est).
Although there are a number of very successful convertible sportfishing models under 40 feet, I think 40 is about the minimum length necessary for the designer to include comfortable accommodations for families and still have enough cockpit space for serious fisherman.
The Viking 40 balances the requirements of fisherman and cruisers well. There is a large open foredeck with easy access along wide side decks. The flybridge accommodates the skipper and four or five guests in comfort; the helm is on centerline at the aft portion of the bridge and the skipper has a good view of the fishing action below. The 100-square-foot cockpit is large enough to accommodate a fighting chair and still have room for passengers and crew to move about. There were three interior plans offered, two with double staterooms and one with a single owner's stateroom. All were what are commonly referred to in the lexicon of the boatbuilders as "galley down" models meaning that the galley facilities are several steps down from the main saloon and entertaining area. The single stateroom model seems to have been, by far, the most popular. This arrangement featured a V-berth owner's stateroom forward with large hanging locker to starboard and private entrance to the head to port. Amidships along the starboard side was the galley with double sink, refrigerator/freezer and electric stove and oven. Opposite the galley is an L-shaped dinette that comfortably seats four adults. Up several steps is an open saloon with storage along both sides and engine room below. A lower steering station was not a standard feature, although I have seen at least one Viking 40 Convertible with an inside steering station on the starboard side of the saloon.
Twin, 350 hp Crusader gasoline engines were the standard offered by Viking, but because this model was so popular among sportfishermen who generally prefer diesel engines, it was common for boats to be ordered with optional diesel engines including Caterpillar, General Motors and Cummins engines, ranging from 225 hp to 410 hp each.
The bottom of the Viking 40 has an 18-degree deadrise at the transom which is fairly steep for this class boat. This results in smooth, responsive and directional stable performance at a slight penalty in speed. The cruising speed ranges from about 20 to 26 mph and top speed is between 27 and 30 mph depending on the engines installed.
The fuel capacity is 300 gallons and cruising range will vary considerably depending on the engines installed and how the boat is operated. Assuming a fuel consumption of 24 gallons per hour, an average speed of 22 mph, and 10% fuel reserve, cruising range is about 250 statute miles. By today's standard for similar sized boats, the tankage and cruising range is a bit low but it is about average for similar boats of the period.
No matter how well maintained, engines are bound to wear out and the cost of repowering an older boat is likely to be the most expensive aspect of boat ownership. Frankly, there are few 25-year-old boats that are worth spending $60,000 or more to repower with new diesel engines (2004 estimate). But, with a new boat of comparable size and quality costing over a half-million dollars, repowering makes sense to many owners.
There were 270 Viking 40 Convertibles built between 1973 and 1982, quite a few for a vessel of this class. These numbers assure a well-stocked supply of used boats.
Over the years Viking has built a reputation as a builder of some of the highest quality yachts in the business. The Viking 40 Convertible is one of the vessels that was the foundation for that reputation and is still well regarded by yachtsmen and sportfishermen.
Naval architect Jack Hornor was the principal surveyor and designer for Marine Survey & Design, Co., based in Annapolis, MD. He was on the boards of the American Boat and Yacht Council, the National Association of Marine Surveyors, and the Society of Boat and Yacht Designers. He and his wife sailed their Catalina 42, Legacy, based on Maryland's Eastern Shore.