Pacific Asian Enterprises has been building Nordhavn cruising trawlers for more than 30 years. In 2002, founding partners Dan Streech and Jim Leishman embarked on an around-the-world, 26,000-mile cruise in a Nordhavn trawler to test its capabilities. The trip gave them a fundamental understanding of the trawler’s incredible versatility as a world cruiser and also laid the groundwork for the idea of a Nordhavn motorsailer. From that expedition, which proved the durability, comfort and stability of a trawler, the Nordhavn Expedition 56 was born, a motorsailor to combine motor yacht qualities with the efficiency of sail for a long voyage. With the help of designer and brother Jeff Leishman, a legacy of rugged sailing vessels will continue for Pacific Asian Enterprises.
PAE has deep roots in sail design with their Mason line of sailboats, designed and built to sail worldwide, which were produced from 1974 through 1995. The 56MS will share the heritage of the Mason line alongside the voyaging pedigree of Nordhavn’s cruising trawler yachts, which range in length from 40 to 120 feet.
The new 56MS will be built by the Taiwanese builder Ta Shing, which has worked closely with PAE over the years and shares their vision of producing strong, heavy-duty hulls that withstand the hard knocks of ocean voyaging.
The composite nature of the new boat is also timely as companies work toward lowering their carbon footprint. Given the nature of a well-built motorsailer, in light winds the Nordhavn 56 will be more efficient and predictable than plain sail, and in more powerful wind conditions, it will be effective in utilizing the power of Mother Nature, thus reducing its environmental impact.
The 56MS has a molded hull built up of solid laminate with three resin layers in the outside laminate. Along the hull, immense full-length stringers run fore and aft in addition to a solid floor grid to reinforce the hull stiffness. The 17,500 pounds of internal ballast incorporated into the keel delivers immense stability and with an overall displacement of 75,000 pounds the 56MS is truly heavy duty. The vessel has a shallow 6-foot draft with a full-length keel. A Hundested variable pitch propeller is attached immediately behind an aft skeg at the keel’s terminus. The stern is broad like a trawler to prevent squatting when cruising, yet the bow is more narrow than a traditional motor yacht while remaining high and bluff. Wide side decks on the port and starboard side of the wheelhouse offer access to the outdoor steering cockpit placed forward of the pilothouse. This provides stand alone steering for the voyaging couple negotiating docking or mooring operations. A Side-Power 15 hp 24V bow thruster is provided to assist maneuvering in tight quarters.
The pilothouse on deck spans the width of the hull allowing for a spacious and comfortable interior that will be the central place to socialize. The top deck above the pilothouse anchors the mainsheet and is large enough for a radar and instrument tower alongside a 10-foot dinghy, launched and hauled inboard by the main boom that doubles as a crane. The mast height is 72 feet. For ease of sail handling the main is fitted with Leisure Furl in-boom roller furling gear. Along with the power-furled jib, overall sail area is a healthy 1,304 square feet. The ease of sail handling via power winches and furlers on main and head sails will soon convince the motor-only crowd that sailing can be as simple as pushing a button.
The pilothouse offers an unrestricted 360-degree view at the primary helm and navigation station inside. The space is adorned with a starboard settee and dining area in addition to the two reclining chairs to port for sightseeing and lounging. Five gentle steps lead forward below deck where the saloon opens into a large galley to starboard and the forward leading passageway is to port. The galley offers generous Corian-topped counter space, large sinks, three-burner Force 10 propane stove, U-Line reefer/freezer, and a GE microwave.
Amidships lies the engine room with full head room for the main engine, a Lugger L1066 T that delivers 165 hp at 2,400 rpm and a top cruising speed of 9 knots. The engine is connected to a Twin Disc MG5050 SC 3:1 gearbox. Fuel capacity is 750 gallons, offering a power cruising range of about 3,000 miles.
Both of the fore-and-aft staterooms are equipped with forward-facing double bunks, ample hanging locker space and a private head and shower. All of the heads are from Tecma with freshwater flush. The interior space is kept cool by three Cruisair air conditioning units. The hot water system can be a choice of either engine-driven or A/C powered.
Anyone who has appreciated the rugged beauty of a Mason line sailboat and has dabbled with the thought of motor sailing, should take a serious look at the Norhavn 56MS. It will likely tempt anyone already committed to the trawler as a blue water voyager, particularly those adventurers inclined to take part in the annual Nordhavn Trans-atlantic rally or other long passages. This vessel’s roots stem from a tradition of uncompromising quality, rugged hull and components and comfortable layout. If you combine all that with a fuel efficient hull and a stable sailing rig, it’s likely that in a few years to come, the 56MS may be having a rally event of its own.