Captain’s review – Riviera 515 SUV

Captain’s review – Riviera 515 SUV

Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Stuart, Florida: – Last Friday, I was asked to travel to Boston, MA to pick up a new Riviera 515 SUV yacht, and to deliver it to the Fort Lauderdale area in seven days or less.  The trip, 1250 nautical miles, would be possible, but only if we could remain on the Atlantic and off the slow and winding Intracoastal Waterway.

As a professional captain, I asked the typical questions regarding the capabilities of the vessel – fuel capacity, cruise range, cruise speeds, electronics packages, etc.  I did not ask whether the vessel had good rough-sea capabilities.  I’ve delivered scores of new and pre-owned Rivieras and, frankly, they’ve all been good, hearty rough-sea yachts.

As I sit here in Stuart, FL, five and a half days after departing Cape Cod, I look back in wonder at this Riviera – she truly seems capable of defying the laws of physics which govern lesser boats…

Example:  At this time of year, we can count on about 11 useful hours of daylight.  Given that, and not knowing this Riviera, I expected that the we might make it to Atlantic City, or at best, Cape May, NJ our first day out.  The Riviera finally stopped in Ocean City, MD on the first day – this this was a 300-nautical mile journey in 4-6 foot (following) seas.  At the fuel dock, we took aboard 690 gallons of fuel – we had cruised at an AVERAGE of over 27 knots in fairly high seas, burning about 62.7 gallons per hour. Moreover, captain and crew weren’t even “worn out” and went out that evening for an excellent meal!

Great Music

Posted by Stan R. Mawyer on Saturday, November 14, 2015


The next day (Sunday) the Riviera gave us an encore performance.  We travelled another 300 nautical miles, and arrived in Beaufort, NC without a hint of fatigue.  (I mention this, because it is VERY unusual to be at the helm of a sea going vessel for 11 unbroken hours and NOT feel fatigue).  The seas (growing as we went south) and winds (growing even more rapidly) were still from the northeast, and remained “doable” for this Riviera.  When we arrived at the fuel dock that evening, the dockmaster who I’ve known for years was shocked when I told him we had begun the day in Ocean City, MD.  He had assumed that we had run a much shorter distance on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) since the seas “outside” we’re so high!


Captain Stan R Mawyer

(If we didn’t know each other, I’m not sure that he would have believed me when I said we ran outside all day for 300 nautical miles.  He hears a lot of “sea talk” which has only a nodding acquaintance with actual facts.)

Monday morning we departed Beaufort in heavy winds, gusting at times to 30 knots.  I had decided the evening before, after hearing the NOAA weather forecast that we would remain on the ICW for the day.

Nonetheless, since we were so close to the Beaufort Inlet, I decided we would “peek” our nose out into the Atlantic to see if our Riviera would tolerate the seriously ugly seas which had developed…Imagine my surprise at this sure footed lady picking her way through high seas off her port beam as we headed out to sea…after a 15 minute run to get out of the shallower coastal water, we turned on course to head to Cape Fear, some 90 nautical miles away.

The seas had grown considerably, reaching 8-10 feet, and the prevailing direction was shifting quickly in a clockwise direction, becoming easterly.  In any other vessel, including my own 45 Viking Convertible, I would have terminated the “experiment” and turned back toward the Beaufort Inlet.  In the Riviera, I simply reduced throttle to achieve a decent ride and settled on 19 knots.  At this speed, there was NO slamming as we dropped off the sheer sided waves into the troughs.  My mate and I watched the high seas in awe as every few seconds we experienced an impossibly soft landing…neither of us had experienced anything like this.  As I said earlier, the laws of physics appear to be suspended for this girl…

The ride to Frying Pan Shoals (East of Cape Fear) became a 5 hour voyage as we had to continue to throttle back for comfort.  Turning in toward the Cape Fear River Inlet, we encountered seas so high that I videotaped them for future reference…( yes, I was STILL so comfortable with the Riviera’s inherent stability that I could take the time to do a little video… )

It took another hour to make it to the calm and safety of Southport, NC on the ICW.  Whew, what a boat!

As it turns out, the local Coast Guard crew, seeing us enter the inlet decided to investigate the beautiful vessel.  Accordingly, we were boarded for a “courtesy safety inspection”.  We passed with flying colors, but these friendly guardians of the sea remained with us for nearly an hour.  (They allowed us to continue, even at cruising speed, while they marveled at the boat. Their chase boat followed.) We weren’t held up at all, and there are at least three young “coasties” who want a new Riviera 515.

We ended the day in North Myrtle Beach, SC.  This was a 155 nautical mile day.

The following day (Tuesday) we remained in the ICW while King Neptune raged out in the Atlantic.  We arrived in Hilton Head, SC at nightfall.  We had covered 185 nautical miles on the ICW that day.

Wednesday, we left Hilton Head in heavy rain and patchy fog.  We remained on the ICW until Cumberland Island, GA., where we re-entered the Atlantic, bound for St Augustine, FL.  Heavy rain remained with us most of the way, but at least the seas were subsiding.  Moreover, St Augustine is the Florida home of Miss B’s Goombay Smash.  I believe a Class III explosives license must be required to mix this tasty adult beverage.

And today ( Thursday) we arrived in Stuart, Florida at mid day to meet up with other Riviera vessels bound for Fort Lauderdale.

The high points of this Riviera:

  • Incredible sea manners, even in “bumpy” conditions
  • Great power from the Volvo 950 IPS power systems
  • 793 gallon fuel tank
  • Nearly 0.5 nm per gallon at a cruise speed of 28 knots
  • Best and fastest responding trim system
  • Superb Garmin radar and chart plotter system fully integrated with the Volvo autopilot.  (This one shines even in challenging conditions)
  • IPS provides excellent control in all close quarter situations and the “Sky Anchor” feature is a godsend on the ICW while waiting for a bridge opening.

My closing thought is that I’m glad that my beautiful wife was not along on this trip.  She would have fallen in love with the Riviera and my budget constraints prohibit buying this one.

All the best,

Captain Stan R Mawyer
US Merchant Marine 100 Ton Offshore Master
6300 hours at sea since 2000
Owner, Land & Sea Yacht Services, Naples, Florida