56 — By Capt. Bill Pike
|Navigator Yachts' 56 Classic is as comfortable as a rocking chair and just as sensible.|
There were three reasons why I had a little trouble docking the Navigator 56 Classic at the end of a nice, long sea trial in the Gulf Stream. First, because the robust, 6-hp Sidepower bow thruster had been inadvertently cross-wired during installation, pushing the joystick one way made the bow go the other, a mind-scrambling phenomenon if you're mildly dyslexic like myself. Second, the boat deck/cockpit overhang totally obscures the stern of the vessel from the upper helm station where I was standing, making it hard to judge how far to go when backing into a slip. And third, big wheels, big rudders, and a deeper-than-most gear ratio put a heck of a lot of maneuvering oomph into the water--way more than I was anticipating from a set of 430-hp Volvo Penta 74L EDC diesels.
Not that my moves were that bad. I was simply expecting the Navigator, like most other coastal cruisers I've tested within her size range, to be a little slow and hard to handle in a breeze, and she fooled me. In fact she fooled me to such an extent that with the swim platform approaching the inner end of the berth at a sporty rate, Alex Rogers of Port Everglades Yacht Sales, Navigator's Fort Lauderdale-based dealership, felt compelled to yell, "Stop, Bill--stop!" Which was actually pretty easy to do, given the whopping, near-instantaneous effect of the large props when employed with a will.
I never claimed to be a boathandling artiste," I shot back, a little
peeved with myself. The whole fracas could have been avoided, of course,
if I'd just taken the time to familiarize myself with the 58's
handling characteristics and thruster foibles in the fairway before going
for the berth. I got even more peeved when I went below to shut down the
radar and discovered another way the fracas could have been avoided--I
could have docked the boat from the lower helm station, where sight lines
aft are way better than they are topside, thanks to a clear sliding cockpit
door, with corner windows on either side and long, extra-high side windows.
I mumbled to myself for a moment or two while standing at the lower helm. Then I sat down in the cushy, centerline helm seat as another realization hit me, albeit not quite so forcefully as the one I'd just had. Thanks to big windshield panels and narrow windshield mullions, especially in the port and starboard corners, visibility forward from the Navigator's lower helm is as good as it is aft. I eased back, feeling a deep appreciation for the practicality around me. This was a true cruiser's helm. With guest or copilot seating at an adjacent U-shape dinette area to port, a chart table nearby, and plenty of panel area on which to mount an autopilot, chartplotter, depthsounder, and other electronic nav aids, the potential for comfortable long-distance trips was obvious.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.