Boat Reviews

Viking 38 Billfish – Up The Ante

The Viking Billfish evolves, with the new 38 for serious offshore anglers.

If you’ve seen the Viking Billfish 37, but wished for just a hair more beef, a smidge more fishing space, and a bit more LOA, you’ll be happy to meet the Billfish 38. This model adds a foot of length, two inches of beam, about 1,500 pounds of displacement, and 20 gallons of fuel capacity as compared to its predecessor. But perhaps most important to many anglers, cockpit territory expands by about a quarter, from 86 square feet to 109 square feet.

Viking Billfish 38
A slightly larger platform allows Viking to greatly expand cockpit space, on the Billfish 38.

One of the great things about the 37 was that it had a lower station which allowed the captain to run this boat more or less like an express, without having to deal with a ladder and a flybridge when a short-handed crew required help with the lines or a gaff. The 38 still offers a lower helm as an option, though if you forego it, you’ll also find that the “command deck” is another area that grows substantially. It has a dinette to port and a settee to starboard, and the back is sealed off not with a bulkhead but with canvass. That means you can start un-zipping to enjoy salty breezes in what amounts to an open-air saloon. What we really like about this area, however, is that it gives you a comfortable place to catch a breather when the action is hot and heavy and fish gore is flying. Unlike being on a boat with a snazzy saloon, feel free to walk inside and take a seat in the air conditioning without having to change clothes or wash off your shoes first – the entire command bridge is hose-able.

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The command deck seating opens up for rod stowage and bulk gear; the entire seating unit swings up on both sides for easy engine access.
viking boats
The lower cabin is finished off to Viking Yachts standards – no disappointments, there.

Continue forward into the main cabin and you’ll need to be a bit more concerned about just how messy you are, because down below is just as finely finished as you’d expect from any Viking. The head is to port, the galley’s to starboard, and forward there’s a private stateroom that’s available with either a single pedestal berth or a set of over/unders that expands the options for tired crew members looking for a nap between swordfish bites.

Specifications

  • LOA – 38’8”
  • Beam – 14’0”
  • Draft – 3’4”
  • Displacement – 30,953 lbs.
  • Transom deadrise –NA
  • Fuel capacity – 460 gal.
viking 38
Of course small flybridge boats have small bridges. But this one will seat more people in comfort than you’d expect.

When we ran the 38 one of the things we found surprising was the amount of room on the flybridge. Usually, bridge boats in this class have room for the captain and maybe a cramped passenger or two. And yes, this bridge is rather diminutive. Still, it does have room for four people to sit in comfort, between the helm chair, flanking lounger seats with backrests, and a (somewhat confined) forward console seat.

The Billfish 38 comes with a pair of 550-horse Cummins QSB6.7s in its belly, which gets you a cruise of right around 30 knots and a top-end of 35. That may not be spectacular performance but it’s certainly solid, and as we discovered during a lumpy afternoon off the Jersey coast, the 30-knot cruise is do-able when there’s a stiff breeze and tight two- to three-footers rolling around in different directions. Another thing that’s solid: the feeling underfoot, as you run. The 38 Billfish is built with end-grain balsa and closed-cell foam coring, the hull-to-deck joint is fiberglassed, the fuel tank is resin-infused and foamed in, and the hatches are properly fitted and dog down tight.

viking billfish
Romping through a churned sea is not a problem, on the Billfish 38.

The bottom line? We liked the Billfish 37. Heck, it’s fair to say we loved it. But the Billfish 38 is beefier, roomier, and ever so slightly larger – and we think we love this one even more.

For more information, visit Viking Yachts.

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Lenny Rudow
Lenny Rudow …has been a writer and editor in the marine field for over two decades, and has authored seven books. He is currently the Angler in Chie...