German company Viator Marine is a new name in the boatbuilding world and the Viator 54DS is its second boat. An electric powered yacht ready for high latitudes

Product Overview


First look: Viator 54DS – electric powered explorer

Electric propulsion makes a great deal of sense for explorer yachts that have to be self-sufficient for long periods. Energy reserves can be replenished through regeneration when there’s enough wind to sail at a decent speed, along with a large area of solar panels. And that’s the direction of travel for the new Viator 54DS.

Electric cookers and tenders with electric motors eliminate the need to source petrol and gas in remote areas. An additional small ‘range extender’ diesel generator will keep the boat moving in prolonged calms.

German company Viator Marine is a new name in the boatbuilding world, but one that’s backed by substantial private equity investment.

The Viator 54DS is a semi-custom aluminium explorer yacht engineered to withstand contact with ice and is the yard’s second model following a 42-footer. It’s fully insulated, which reduces heating requirements in cool climates and helps to eliminate condensation. At the same time, decent insulation makes life aboard much more comfortable in the tropics and helps allow air conditioning to be run with a relatively modest power draw.

Viator 54DS features a generous deck saloon and large walkaround cockpit

Propulsion is from twin 50kW motors, which offer plenty of reserve if needed to power away from a lee shore or through head seas, as well as nimble in-harbour manoeuvring. Founder and CEO Hendrick Heiner told me shaft drives were chosen over saildrives due to their greater inherent reliability on an explorer yacht.

Battery options extend to a 100kW bank, giving 8-10 hours of range, which equates to around 40-50 miles at cruising speed in pure electric mode. It takes remarkably little energy to push a yacht along at moderate speeds relative to waterline length in calm conditions, so a surprisingly small range extender generator will suffice.

In this case it’s a 15kW unit that gives the Viator 54DS non-stop range under power of up to 1,600 miles from an 800lt fuel tank. Additional battery charging comes from a 1.5kW array of solar panels on the coachroof.

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Despite the ice-capable hull, which has a reinforced waterline with beefed up stringers, displacement has been kept down to around 17 tonnes. Naval architects iYacht also drew a powerful, modern sail plan that promises to deliver good performance even in light airs, when a 160m2 Code 0 can be used to boost speed. This reduces dependence on the electric motors and enables regeneration to start in lighter airs. Once boat speed reaches 8 knots regeneration rises to more than 1kW.

The Viator 54DS benefits from both a large cockpit and generous deck saloon, in recognition that there are some parts of the world – whether hot or cold – in which it’s far more comfortable to be inside. This has a full 360º view that allows a watchkeeper to pilot the boat in comfort from a raised navigation station aft on the port side.

A walk around cockpit layout allows easy access to the side decks via two steps outboard and ahead of the helm stations, while key sail handling is done from inboard pedestals using four electric winches.

Viator 54DS Specifications

LOA: 16.5m 54ft 1in
Beam: 5.12m 16ft 9in
Draught: 1.55-3.20m 5ft 1in-10ft 6in
Displacement: 17,200kg 37,900lb
Sail area: 195m2 2,100ft2
Base price: from €1,550,000 ex VAT

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