Nordhavn 56 Motorsailer: Throwback to the Future

Nordhavn 56 MotorsailerNordhavn trawlers are considered by many global passagemakers to be the ultimate long-range, powered vessel.  That reputation has been reflected in the company’s success in the marketplace and its growing line of boats from 35 feet to 86 feet.  Not everyone realizes that the Nordhavn brand grew up only after its parent, Pacific Asian Enterprises, had finished a long and successful run building the Mason line of sailboats.

Well, that history has come full circle now and the PAE folks have decided to build a brand new motorsailer, under the Nordhavn brand, to meet the needs of those who got their sea legs under sail but who might appreciate some of the performance and features of running under power at times.  Thus was born the new 56MS (motorsailer), now under construction in the Taiwan shipyards of PAE’s longtime partner, Ta Shing.

As befits its Nordhavn heritage, this is no ordinary motorsailer.  The N56MS has a 3,000 mile range under power alone, due to its high-efficiency, full displacement hull designed by Nordhavn’s master designer, Jeff Leishman.  Of course, should you choose to raise the sails and shut down the diesel and feather its controllable pitch propeller, your range will be limited only by your stamina and food supply.  I suppose scurvy could make a comeback with range capabilities like this.  Just in case, remember to bring citrus along.

Motorsailers are not a new idea, of course.  They’ve been around for many years and in many iterations — some of them sailed better than they ran under power; some were better powerboats than sailers; but typically the compromise was significant.  Nordhavn has taken advantage of the lastest technology and materials and design philosophy to create a new motorsailer where the performance — and comfort — compromises have been dramatically minimized.  Several elements combine to make this so.

Probably most unique in the N56MS is its fully controllable-pitch propeller, from the Danish Hundested Propeller company.  By fine-tuning the pitch of the prop to match load conditions, utilizing exhaust gas temperature and fuel flow measurements, the 56MS captain can achieve motoring efficiencies never-before possible in a motorsailer.  A Lugger 1066 T diesel will drive the 36-inch, four-bladed prop at a top cruising speed of 9 knots. 

The sailing setup aboard the 56MS is a sloop rig with powered main and headsail furling, along with powered winches, which should make for very easy sail handling.  The boat is designed with a typical trawler-style wheelhouse/saloon and cockpit aft, with the sailing cockpit forward of the wheelhouse.  There is room to carry a RIB athwartship on the roof of the wheelhouse and Nordhavn fits a standard power winch for launching and retrieval. 

Nordhavn 56MS Interior ViewsThe aft cockpit has room to sit and enjoy a cocktail at anchor and also features hatch-access to a lazarette below deck.  The saloon/wheelhouse entry is through a door slightly offset to port.  The saloon features chairs to port and a U-shaped settee to starboard with a table for dining.  The helm is forward and slightly offset to port, enabling the helmsman to see clearly forward past the main mast.  Stairs to port of the helm lead below decks to the galley along the starboard side and the stand-up engine room admidships.  There is a guest stateroom forward with queen-sized accomodations and head, while the master stateroom is aft, with a very large head to starboard and another queen berth.

Nordhavn provides room along the portside for laundry facilities and storage for tools and spare parts.  Standard in the galley will be a Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer with icemaker, Force Ten three-burner, gimballed LPG stove with oven and GE microwave oven and trash compactor.  The countertops are Corian in the galley and heads, with teak fiddles.  The interior spaces feature lots of teak, including bulkheads, decks and cabinetry.

The 56MS dimensions and capacities reflect its mission as a long-range passagemaker.  The freshwater tanks for example, hold 250 gallons, which most cruisers will undoubtedly replenish from a watermaker.  The LPG tanks — two 20-pound Worthington bottles — are carried in a portside transom locker.  Fuel capacity is 750 gallons with a centerline day tank.  The system features a proprietary supply reservoir for the diesel fuel, with a calibration feature and water sensor.

An overview of the N56MS specs:  (Specifications are subject to change at the discretion of designers and

  • LOA:                              57’/17.37M including swim step
  • LWL:                             52′ 06″/16.0M
  • Draft – full load:           6’/1.83M
  • Displacement:              70,410 lbs./32.0T
  • Water Capacity:          250 gallons/946L
  • Fuel Capacity:             750 gallons/2,839L
  • Engine:                         Luggar L1066T Diesel
  • Power Output:            165HP @ 2400 RPM
  • Sail Area:                     1,217 SQ FT/113.1 SQ M
  • Range under Power:  3,000+ nautical miles

Source:  PAE 

Copyright ©  Tom Tripp 2007

Posted by Tom

Tom Tripp is the owner of OceanLines LLC, the publisher of OceanLines and founder of Marine Science Today. He is an award-winning marine journalist, science writer and long-time public communications specialist. His PR career and much of his writing stems from the fact that he loves to explain stuff. It all began when he and his brother Mark threw all of Mom’s tomatoes at the back wall of the house. . .