56 Sedan Bridge — By Tim Clark — November 2001
Not the Girl Next Door
|Part 2: Neptunus 56 continued|
The 56's handling seemed in perfect pitch with her sweeping European styling. Her modified deep-V hull form cut the chop well, giving the yacht a forceful feeling in head seas and a stable but exciting attitude while banked into turns.
I don't think Herb will feel any dearth of excitement on this yacht. He has decked out the standard flying bridge helm with a Raymarine R85 radar, ST60 Tridata, 650 autopilot, and 220 VHF as well as a Northstar 962 chartplotter with DGPS. And with all these options repeated at a lower helm that's perched to starboard on a bridge deck wrapped with windows, he should be able to cruise just as confidently from below.
While Herb has power-hungry priorities, he's certainly not without pride in the 56's comforts. But Judie's enthusiasm concerning such matters was hard to match. Back in the harbor, she eagerly led me on a tour of the yacht's amenities. Her fondness for the open saloon/galley/bridge deck concept seemed perfectly in keeping with her expansive personality. With the U-shape galley open to both the saloon and the forward dinette, she'll never be isolated from the goings on. That a good portion of the semicircular dinette faces aft is a further guarantee of this and also makes it easy to imagine the entire space spanned by large (remember the five sons) social gatherings. Even if it's just the two of them, Herb can stretch out on one of the two saloon settees and still chat with Judie steering from the lower helm (both husband and wife recently earned their 100-ton Master's licenses).
Not only was the broad concept of the space to her liking, but Judie says addressing the details was easy. "Kelly Jackson Sorge [Neptunus' interior designer] was great to work with," she told me, and there was an attractive selection of textiles to bring out the best in the bright blonde North American cherry Judie chose for the joinery throughout. Even below decks this wood gives the interior an atmosphere that's at once rich and cheerful.
Judie especially liked the way the 56's design prevents spaces from feeling confining. The curving companionway is exceptionally wide (around four feet) and well lit, and its steps are gradual. The size of the master stateroom amidships seems enhanced by the double island berth's diagonal position, and worries about stowage are assuaged by the largest hanging locker I've ever seen on a yacht this size (6'11" high, and you can step into it), combined with a dresser (requested in lieu of a vanity) along with other drawers and compartments. In addition to a forward VIP with generous proportions, there is a guest midcabin whose twin berths are higher than usual, to accommodate particularly voluminous stowage beneath.
Judie also felt that the diversity of spaces on the 56 adds to its unconfined ambience. She pointed out that the couple can choose among three different places to dine: at the dinette, on the flying bridge at the large aft settee and table (near a Miele grill), or just a few steps from the galley, at the cockpit table.
Both Judie's and Herb's exuberance were infectious, but I noted a couple of details that weren't entirely to my liking. The two steel posts supporting the flying bridge hardtop forward are a bit of an eyesore. Below, Neptunus made the expansive dash beneath the windows at the lower helm matte black. I understand the motive to cut down on glare, but I fear that on sunny days this area might get uncomfortably warm, even with powerful air conditioning.
Some features will help this couple keep cool and calm while handling the 56 by themselves, most notably a standard 10-hp Vetus bow thruster for easier close-quarters maneuvering and thigh-high rails from cockpit to bow for safety. I was especially impressed with the standard hydraulic swim platform, which makes launching and loading the RIB stowed there far easier than with a davit.
Did such a vivid experience on this Neptunus revolutionize my view of Canada? Well, remember that the builder is actually headquartered in Holland. And the folks I hung out with on my visit were Neptunus' Dutch vice president Jan Willem de Jong, who is originally from South Africa, sales manager Ray Thompson, and, of course, the Louisianans Herb and Judie. At this rate when will I ever learn?
Yachts Phone: (905) 937-3737. Fax: (905) 937-9144.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.