The most unexpected pleasure we have gotten from sailing and cruising the Nautical 56 is the unsolicited compliments from fellow cruisers and people who sail by and motor up to Dream Lover to tell us what a beautiful ship she is. The bridge tender on Casey Key yelled, “Don’t see nothin’ there but good!”
Our vision of Dream Lover was conceived on the shore of Sarasota Bay, in Sarasota, Florida, where we began looking for a sailboat that we could live aboard, easily cruise as a couple and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. The cruiser would need to draw less than six feet for Florida waters, navigate under most bridges and get us home safely. The Nautical 56 fit our vision.
The Nautical class of boats was born in Tampa, Florida in 1969. The first mold and frames were designed by Stephen Seaton and built by him and his wife in an old WW2 hanger at the Tampa Airport. That first boat was built and launched at George Steinbrenner’s Tampa Shipyard and sailed to the Mediterranean where it remained a fixture at the Royal Docks of Monaco for five years. The owner’s wife was a high school chum of Princess Grace Kelly. Stephen told us that 25 years later Prince Rainier called him to say how much he had enjoyed that sailboat. Our boat looks much like her.
We met our Dream Lover in Seabrook, Texas, and it was love at first sight. When Kay put her hand on the gleaming coaming of the cockpit, we knew she was ours.
Built in 1980 of solid fiberglass – lots of it – before the price of oil rose out of sight, the boat is almost bulletproof. Dream Lover is configured for short-handed sailing; all sails are roller furling, the genoa and main sheets lead to the cockpit and are easy to adjust with the portable electric winchdriver. The staysail and gennaker are hanked-on separately.
The first thing we did was to find a competent project manager in Seabrook who would be on site to head up the refit project. We found the perfect person in Ben Miller (BM Boatworks); all around brilliant boat guy, knowledge and experience aplenty. He brought on Casey Bergin and his crew (Mockingbird Marine) for technical assistance to install the bowthruster and rebuild the steering hydraulics, refrigeration and electrical systems.
We found the dinghy we wanted in Snohomish, Washington and named it Bad Dog. Besides being my favorite nickname for Captain Cook, we wanted to create the “baddest” looking dinghy in the harbor – no glam here - a boat that could carry four adults and their gear a mile or two in a seaway. Taking Tom Neal’s advice on a dinghy, we contacted Larry McPhail (Duroboat - The World's Finest Aluminum Fishing Boats) and talked him into NOT painting the 12-foot aluminum dinghy in order to give it the old weathered look from the get-go. Adding a 25 HP Yamaha gave it the muscle desired.
Because of Dream Lover's high freeboard, John Schwartz (www.sailboat-dinghy-lifts.com) installed a hydraulic dinghy lift on the stern for Bad Dog that can bring everyone and their gear up from the water to deck level at the push of a button.
We replaced the entire drive train through to the prop and rudder. Gregg Runkel (Runkel Diesel Marine) meticulously handled the job of installing a new 139 HP Ford American Diesel engine and the Twin-Disc transmission. The increased horsepower dictated we change the prop as well. At the same time, we had Foss Foam build a new rudder since a rudder inspection revealed some major structural weaknesses.
Reconfiguration of the walk-in engine room included a vented Splendide washer/dryer, a Catalina 300 watermaker, a workbench with vise and grinder, a galvanic isolator, a Flo-Scan diesel fuel meter system as well as mounting the raw-water strainers on the wall for easy access.
At the nav station, we upgraded the electrical system to include a Link 2000-R battery monitoring system. We also added a cellphone booster antenna, a wi-fi booster antenna and a new Garmin chartplotter receiver at the helm. Other electronics include: Simrad/ Anritsu Radar, Robertson Autopilot with rudder angle indicator, Simrad Shipmate GN30 GPS, ICOM VHF/ Hailer radio at helm, Flo-Scan Diesel fuel flow meter, Simrad digital depth/knotmeter with distance log with repeaters, ICOM handheld VHF, Simrad digital wind speed and angle, Sony AM/FM/10-disc CD player, Viso flat screen TV with remote, Sanyo TV with remote, ICOM HF IC-M710 Marine Receiver with link to laptop computer, TV amplified antenna, DVD player, and Globalstar satellite phone with Internet.
Besides the Link 2000-R battery monitoring system, Dream Lover's 110 volt AC and 12 volt DC systems include: Freedom 3000 watt battery charger/ inverter, Kohler 8KW generator, three AC reverse cycle air conditioner/heaters, 110 volt ground fault outlets throughout, 110 volt hi-intensity and 12DC lighting, eight fans, galvanic isolator, four wet-cell house batteries, four wet-cell starter batteries, two electric toilets, Isotherm AC/engine hot water tank, and 50 amp shore power cord.
55 Dream Lover has five new bilge pumps – one forward to handle the washdown flow from the anchor, two immersible pumps in the amidships sump and one high-water pump and one manual Whale Gusher 30 pump in the aft bilge. Forward there is a high-pressure washdown pump for the anchor and chain that uses either fresh or saltwater.
Her anchoring system consists of a Plath Windlass and four anchors – a 75# CQR with 300’ of 3/8” chain at the bow, a 65# Bruce with 165’ of 3/8” chain and 200’ of nylon rode also at the bow. There is a 23# Fortress with 150’ of nylon rode at the stern and a 55# Fortress as backup.
We opened up and repacked the Beaufort six-man liferaft which was installed in a fiberglass canister and mounted it on deck in front of the cockpit.
As far as creature comforts go, Dream Lover has two Ekornes Stressless chairs and ottomans in the salon in camel colored microfiber, and butter yellow microfiber banquette cushions with lots of down pillows covered in a French Country print. She has a great deal of storage space and sleeps six comfortably in three cabins. There are two heads and a spacious stall shower forward and a separate stall shower in the aft head. The galley is superbly equipped for cruising and includes: Grunert cold plate top loading refrigerator and freezer, double stainless steel sinks with pressure hot and cold water, WAECO built-in wall-mounted refrigerator for quick access, Sharp Carousel built-in microwave convection oven, single lever faucet, manual water pump and overflow, Broan trash compactor, Taylors’ two-burner with griddle and gimbaled stove, fresh water filter and propane shut-off switch.
Dream Lover's deck areas are spacious with both stainless steel bow and stern pulpits with double lifelines and three boarding gates. There is a comfortable center cockpit with fold-up table and drinkholders. The closed cell cushions have been replaced with new open cell foam cushions which are much kinder to the derriere, and lots of colorful pillows for back rests. Nonskid teak cockpit flooring, starboard opening, and binnacle wheel steering with single lever control and a helm seat are included. There is also an emergency 23-lb. Fortress stern anchor ready to go and a Force 10 propane barbecue.
Safety equipment aboard Dream Lover includes five smoke detectors, two carbon monoxide detectors, ACR satellite 406 EPIRB, fourteen life preservers, five fire extinguishers, five new bilge pumps, the Beaufort sixman life raft, one Lifesling man overboard preserver, man overboard pole, two horseshoe preservers, and two throwable preservers. All below waterline sea-cocks have been replaced and there are grates on all seawater intakes. Dream Lover is an exceptionally beautiful, comfortable, safe home on the water ready to sail anywhere you wish to go and fulfill what dreams may come.
Year built: 1980
Hull material: Fiberglass
Builder: Nautical Development Corporation Designer: Stephen Seaton
LOA: 55’ 9” LWL: 44’ 5” Beam: 15’ 7”
Displacement: 52,000 lbs
Mast Height: 63’
Engine: Ford-American Diesel 139 HP
Generator: Kolher 8KW 3HMFL/U
Fuel: 200 gallons Water: 420 gallons Holding: 70 gallons
This article was brought to you by...