Coincidences are surprising. Only a day before this test, I got a trivia question about which country has the most islands wrong. As it turns out, the answer and the destination of this new Belize 66 are the same. If you guessed Indonesia, you are in the same boat, so to speak, as I was. If you thought Norway, then your geography knowledge will score well at the next pub trivia night.
You have to admit, the idea of cruising Norway’s 55,000 islands in this super cool vessel would be a hoot. Even the options list reflects the northern climate — the icemaker has been substituted for extra storage. Who needs an icemaker when you can make your own in a tray on the foredeck?
Belize might be a sister brand in the Riviera Group, but they are produced in Taiwan, and not that many make it to Australia, as most are shipped directly to their owners in America or Europe. However, this example had its final audit and Australian registration at the Riviera facility in Coomera, so we were lucky enough to jump aboard for a run on the Gold Coast before its voyage to a Nordic adventure.
The Belize story began ten years ago at a time of change for Riviera. Then CEO, Wes Moxey, left to start his own venture with fellow Aussie Lee Dillon, building bespoke luxury yachts through the Kha Shing yard in Taiwan. In 2010, Moxey’s long-time friend, entrepreneur Rodney Longhurst, bought Riviera and convinced Moxey to come back to Riviera and bring the Belize brand with him. These days Belize continues as an even more luxurious brand in the luxury Riviera group.
Production continues in Taiwan under the watch of manager Doug Nelson who spends half his working life — in normal years — at the well-credentialed Kaohsiung factory. Each Belize is a bespoke rendition of the owner’s vision, crafted with the time-rich care of Taiwanese artisans.
Over ten years of production, Belize has launched 33 54ft models and three of the 66, which is available in Sedan and Daybridge versions. The boat on review is a Sedan variant and was only the third 66 to hit the water.
From the beginning, Belize’s concept was to offer a lavish cruiser with classic style and the latest technology. The 66 melds timeless Art Deco inspiration with automotive influences and hints of early 20th century Maine Lobster boats. The result is unique and alluring.
Seeking to extend the appeal of the brand and offer more amenities and range than the original 54, the Riviera design team collaborated with 4D Designs to fashion this full planing, extended cruising motoryacht.
Hull, deck and superstructure are hand-laid fibreglass in a two-piece female mould. A cored fibreglass thickness up to 45mm forms the hull bottom forward of the engine room bulkhead, and there’s around 30mm of solid glass from the bulkhead to the transom. Explicitly designed for IPS drives and built to CE cat A, for wind above 40 knots, the Belize is a true bluewater cruiser with an eye on economic travel.
Foam cored, transverse and longitudinal GRP stringers stiffen the hull, supported by transverse bulkheads and deck, including a high-tech composite construction of the saloon sole for extra stiffening. Adding to safety and hull integrity is a watertight collision bulkhead and independent compartments throughout.
The entire hull is constructed using osmosis-resistant vinylester resin that is post cured to a high temperature to stabilise the surface before being painted — and what a paint job it is. Design cues in the 66 include the rear quarter panels from a Bentley Continental in the aft sections of the hull, so the Rolls Royce Titanium finish is both stunning and appropriate.
With its low profile, single-level helm deck, the Sedan has a lithe and sporty look, assured to turn heads and win a nod of approval from experienced boaties.
With travel to various ports in mind, there are two options for boarding. The swim platform works perfectly for floating docks, while side gates facilitate access from higher jetties. Thick teak welcomes you aboard in both cases, but the swim platform is unique in its split design, which allows the portside section to lower into the water, leaving a third to starboard above the water.
The sinking swim platform serves a second purpose on top of its entertainment value. Forward of the platform is a tender garage which opens on electric actuators and rails drop into slots in the platform to launch a tender up to 3.3m long.
Steps and sturdy gates either side lead to a cockpit set up for the best of outdoor living. A three-seat lounge nestles up to the transom and a starboard side L-shaped dinette wraps around a fold-out table with central cup holders. Over to port is a bar with Kenyon BBQ and a drawer fridge. An awning overhead and track system adjust for the seasons, and a large awning window, alongside a sliding door, extend the social space through to the galley and saloon.
Custom stainless-steel hardware throughout the boat is beautifully finished with seamless welds and include the Belize logo, which as the B for Bravo flag signal, speaks of a nautical tune. Custom fairleads in the aft corners follow the contour of the cap rails and a foot-operated Muir winch snugs the lines. Small cabinets in the corners of the cockpit house joysticks for easy docking through a Side Power Bow thruster and the IPS drives.
High bulwarks and rails safeguard a walk to the bow where a U-shaped lounge has seating for half a dozen around a gloss teak table. Lower the table on its sturdy pedestal and the space converts to a sunpad with the option of an integrated bimini folding out on stainless steel arms.
Ahead is a raised platform for the ground tackle and side lockers for the all-chain rode. A Muir winch can be controlled from here or the helm, and a high-pressure fresh and saltwater washdown will keep the Ultra polished 45kg stainless steel anchor looking shipshape.
THE ENGINE ROOM
Accessible through two hatches in the cockpit or via the downstairs utility room, the full height engine room is home to twin Volvo Penta IPS 1350 diesel motors. Because the tender garage intrudes into the engine room, rear hatches in the cockpit give direct access to the IPS pods. The tender garage also necessitates the portside engine being set further forward, meaning a longer jackshaft on that side back to its pod.
Painted in gleaming white to match the pristine walls, these turbo-charged, six-cylinder diesels are a hefty 12.8L. They each pump out 1000hp through Volvo's Forward-facing IPS3 pods with twin counter-rotating props.
All electronics are clearly labelled and easily seen on the forward wall, while twin Raco filters and separators per engine are well-positioned for routine maintenance and an Avco oil changer helps maintenance.
A 29kVA Onan gen set should handle all systems at anchor, and as well as standard air conditioning to the entire boat, options for Norway’s weather have been properly considered. A Webasto Cold Climate upgrade includes a diesel boiler in the engine room to heat the entire boat including the enclosed cockpit space.
Additional equipment includes a Sea Recovery 2650L per day watermaker to supplement the two 350L tanks and a Seakeeper 16 Gyro Stabiliser. Two 1275L side tanks and a 2000L tank under the cabin sole take fuel capacity to 4500L which, as we saw later, can deliver substantial sea miles.
The vessel is wired trough Czone’s system of digital switching, with manual overrides at appropriate locations, and readouts at the helm and remotely through an iPad.
The Sedan version is all about single-level living, so the saloon takes in a rear galley, central dining and entertainment space, and the helm deck. While a Daybridge version of the 66 is also available, its open layout is less suited to the colder conditions expected. Even so, there is an option to add aft clears to the Daybridge and heat it if you wanted to.
Stepping inside, we found a starboard side, walk-in, U-shaped galley, centrally set to serve the cockpit or the more formal dining setting further forward. Appliances are arranged in a Caesar Stone benchtop and are all top-shelf Miele. Included are an induction cooktop, fan forced oven and slimline dishwasher. The opposite wall houses an over and under full height Vitrifrigo fridge and two drawer freezers below, so there's enough cold storage for longer voyages.
Dedicated storage for Belize branded cutlery, crockery and glassware add a tidy and practical solution to keeping the valuable sets together and complete.
At the deep one and a half basin sink is a complement of freshwater options. Cold and hot water of course, but a flick of the Hansgrohe designer mixer instantly delivers chilled, sparkling and boiling water as desired.
All joinery is Euro-inspired and impeccable. It’s here I noticed the Belize difference because so much time and effort has been spent in getting everything just right. An example is the perfectly matched inlay and corner highlights on tabletops that are bent to shape rather than being joined.
The fitout throughout the interior is quarter-sawn American Walnut with a grain-filled satin varnish finish blended with fabric and leather features. The result is a warm nautical ambience, and you will have to look hard to find any gelcoat anywhere in the saloon.
Ahead of the galley are a starboard side L-shaped lounge and a large teak table that folds out for dining or drops to form a daybed, and there’s occasional seating for two bringing seating to eight.
Behind the helm station is a timber cabinet from which a 55in television rises electrically and, with another lounge along the portside wall, no one should miss reruns of Gilligan’s Island beamed in from the satellite receiver.
With large windows all around and a full-width Wabasto skyroof overhead, the saloon is swamped with light and panoramic views. Oh, and I shouldn't forget the whisky cupboard handy to the lounge. It adds a cheerful note and reminds me that relaxing aboard in such harmonious surroundings will be a joy.
A companionway to starboard of the helm leads down to the accommodation, and the owners have chosen the Grand Presidential layout of three cabins, and three bathrooms. Options could have been a four-cabin design, and there is also scope to vary the utility room to allow for a crew quarters.
The VIP cabin in the bow is roomy and well-appointed. Side ports extend the view, and an overhead deck hatch brings in more light. A dedicated ensuite has 2m head height, a roomy glass-walled shower and elegant vanity. Like the rest of the downstairs decor, the finely finished timber and fabric theme continue. Cedar lined hanging cupboards and under-bed drawers add to storage, plus a vanity table could easily double as an office if the thought of work is bearable.
The guest cabin features twin beds that convert to a double at the touch of a switch and an ensuite shared as a day head.
A wine cooler and cupboard in the companionway leading back to the master make the most of available space and also means there’s always a chilled bottle to go with midnight snacks.
The full-beam master places the island queen bed along the centreline for maximum comfort. At the bedhead are reading lights and handy storage nooks with USB chargers. Windows either side have lounges and electric blinds for privacy and light control. Cupboards and drawers abound, and there's also space under a lounge for a couple of deck chairs and loads of room under the bed for extra items.
The master cabin’s full beam ensuite to the rear has a huge shower that includes a teak seat and a view through its opening port. Further back is a utility room with Miele washer and dryer as well as access to the engine room.
The timber rimmed steering wheel and a pair of centrally mounted analogue tachometers hint once more at the automotive design influences. Both are really nostalgic redundancies, as the engine revolutions are adequately displayed on the digital screens, and a helm side joystick will do most of the steering.
Two 22in Garmin Glass Bridge displays share the dash with a central 17in version, and they can be switched to the skipper’s wishes between charts, sonar, cameras and engine readouts. There’s also a 5in Czone panel for AC and DC switching and vessel monitoring.
Mounted high on a raised platform, the leather-clad London helm chairs suit the retro dash, and the skipper gets electric adjustability for a big range of seating possibilities. Meanwhile, that arm-mounted joystick takes driving to a new level of ease, where a quick touch veers one degree and a longer twist changes course by ten.
Vision through the curved windscreen and around the sides is excellent, and the twin 1000hp engines were keen to go once we cleared the dock. Planing speed came quickly at around 1500rpm with only a slight rise from the bow. Volvo interceptors work automatically for optimum trim and can be overridden if necessary.
A slow cruise at 1800rpm delivered a two-way average of 21kt in the quiet reaches of the Broadwater where fuel use sat on 194L/h in total. At this speed expect a range around 400nm with 10 per cent in reserve from the 4500L tanks.
Wound out we saw 34.4kt average in the 1kt tide with fuel consumption at 384L/h. But in extended travel mode we achieved 9kt at 45L/h and 11kt at 74L/h for 810nm and 694nm respectively.
Handling was sporty as the twin props drove the hull around in turns quickly and effortlessly. Unfortunately, we didn't get to experience the ride offshore, but the wake of several big cruisers caused no drama.
A lot of custom work has gone into the completed vessel so you can expect the final price to climb well over the $4,999,000 base. For this, you get an internationally respected cruiser with many personalities.
A lot of owners would be happy entertaining and accommodating up to 25 mates and family on a day trip, but the opportunity to travel wider will appeal to the adventurous.
This is a boat for experienced yachties, albeit with deeper pockets and more class than most of the ones I know. When the time is right to leave, point the nose to the horizon and settle back for adventure, secure in the knowledge that when you arrive at your destination, you will be as comfortable and safe as it’s possible to be these days.
FACTS & FIGURES
TYPE Monohull Sedan Cruiser
LOA 21.12m (69ft 3in)
BEAM 5.45m (17ft 11in)
PEOPLE 6–10(Night) 25(Day)
MAKE/MODEL Twin Volvo Penta
TYPE In-line, six-cylinder, four-stroke, turbodiesel
RATED HP 1000hp (735kW)
PROPELLER IPS 3 with type Q counter-rotating 3/4 blades
Belize/Kha Shing Enterprise Taiwan
50 Waterway Dr
Coomera, Qld 4209
P: (07) 55025555