An introduction by Jeff Merrill
The perfect yacht is every boat builder’s goal and if you believe advertising, it has been accomplished quite a few times. Tradeoffs and compromises, the eyes of the beholder and personal preferences make perfection an elusive target. While the Nordhavn 35 may not be the perfect boat, it does have a single minded purpose and discipline of build that we feel is untouched in the under 40-foot “anything that floats” category.
Sadly, the business realities of today’s trawler market did not allow us to continue building the 35 forever as I had always hoped and now the only way to obtain one is through the brokerage (used boat) market.
The 35 was our answer to numerous Nordhavn owners’ requests for a couple’s cruiser with: just one stateroom, protected steering and cockpit, luxury yacht comfort and quality, slightly faster speed capability, easily accessed yet out-of-sight stowage option for ship’s tender, an exterior requiring minimal maintenance and stout enough to handle rough sea conditions encountered in any coastal passage.
This is a market niche most builders can’t afford to enter. How many people are there who want to pay $400,000- plus for a 35 footer? If you eliminate the Hinckley Picnic Boat from consideration (no comment), then I guess you could say it’s a pretty narrow target market. (If you compare the Nordhavn 35 to the Nordic Tug and American Tug – both well marketed brands - and do a true “apples to apples” comparison I’m sure you will be surprised to see how closely all of these boats are priced).
So instead of building the 35 to meet a price point, we designed and outfitted the 35 with the most and the best. She is handcrafted by the same yard that builds our largest Nordhavns, the 57, 62, 64 and 72 (the 35 shares the same skilled workers and a lot of the same hardware). Our Nordhavn 35 owner profile is an adventuresome couple who are moving over from sail, or downsizing from a larger power yacht. People who are used to – and can appreciate – the best. The value of a boat can only be truly measured by the price it brings at resale. A couple of years back I listed and sold my second 35 to come on the brokerage market. It was announced on the Internet and closed within thirty days. Both of the first two 35-footers I listed sold within percentage points of their asking prices. The used boat market is always changing, but there is always going to be a 35 that will be a great deal. You just have to look around and ask your broker to help you.
I was the original project manager for the 35 and put a lot of time and effort into producing the best possible boat. Some of my original thoughts follow:
In putting the 35 together every equipment decision was based on what is best for two people, and what are the most appropriate brands to select so that buyers won’t feel they need to upgrade anything. Cantalupi lighting is an obvious touch, but even behind the scenes items like the Whale Gulper shower sump pump that doesn’t require a strainer (who wants to mess with that?) remind you that every detail has been evaluated. Corian countertops, richly varnished teak cabinetry and solid stock teak and spruce soles are obvious statements of quality.
The basic equipment package includes an electric bow thruster with joystick control, electric windlass with foredeck foot buttons and pilothouse remote (including a 60-pound anchor and 400 feet of chain), tilting mast and boom with electric boom winches (dinghy davit), inverter/battery charger, fresh water electric head with odor free hose and all necessary galley appliances – three burner stove/oven, microwave, refrigerator and freezer.
One couple = one stateroom. Evening accommodations are forward with an island berth positioned athwartships that makes getting in and out of bed a dream (couldn’t resist that). A nice reading seat forward and access to the chain locker from that same location (no crawling over your bed to check on your rode). And remember, we’re expecting you to be docked or anchored at night. Included in the stateroom are half-height hanging lockers, shelves and drawers, bed stands and a bureau. With two dorade vents, an opening hatch and two opening windows –the ventilation and light is excessive.
This boat was not marketed as a live aboard, but the owners of hull number one have been doing just that for the past six years in the Pacific Northwest (and their reverse cycle air conditioning has kept their temperature just right, year round). Other owners are spending months aboard at a time and truly enjoying this special lifestyle.
Easily single handed during close quarter maneuvering (3.5 turns lock to lock on the steering and a single lever engine control) from your perch on a wide helm bench which also gives you plenty of room to relax (or snuggle) when tracking along on passage. The 35 is easy to cook aboard with an amazing galley. (Don’t be fooled into thinking you don’t want to own a galley-down until you see this one.) The galley and head are also purposely laid out to be simple to clean. The engine room is fitted out with all necessary fuel and engine related equipment easy to service and maintain. Wait until you see the amount of room under the cockpit in the lazarette! One ‘complaint’ I’ve had from many owners is that there is too much storage and they are buying more stuff than they need (I’ve also taken flack that the air-conditioning is too cold…with criticism like this I know we succeeded). Another two- person priority example - all of the seating areas are comfortably upholstered with angled seat backs and seat bottoms with knee rolls (even the dining area which can convert to an overnight double berth has the priority of being a seat 99% of the time and is just comfortable enough for your overnight guests to get a full night of sleep).
Features like the unencumbered pilothouse visibility through practically bulletproof Diamond Sea/Glaze windows and the digital display meters on the electric panel will show you that we are interested in making sure you see the big picture and the little details.
Since we sell all of our boats direct we spend considerable time aboard. This allowed us to insure we include the amenities and features that we require to make boating more enjoyable, such as; a galley pass through shelf that will transfer a full size dinner plate, a fold down chart table that is ideal underway for spreading out a chart, two deep navigation chart drawers that will accommodate an extensive library of charts and guide books, and no fiddles on the salon table so you can comfortably rest your forearms while dining.
The hinged mast makes it much easier to do the “Great Loop” trip up the ICW and down the Mississippi. One 35 couple has already completed the Loop – three times! A ‘soft rig’ option was developed using 1 x 19 standing rigging in lieu of the forward struts for faster mast lowering. We have even built a custom spar arrangement to get into a low boathouse and/or to eliminate the delays incurred when facing those 15-foot bridge clearances.
What more do you need, really? This is a very complete boat, which had just enough choices to let each owner personalize to suit their needs. You will be amazed at how she handles underway (see the enclosed performance results underway comparing information details like speed, noise levels and fuel consumption). Our owners are reporting 14 knots top speed in light “weekend” load, and fully loaded for an extended adventure she will easily power along in the 10-knot range. And though the turn of speed is a nice ‘extra gear’, most owners are taking it easy and enjoying the view while cruising quietly in displacement mode running in the low 2,000 rpms range, traveling between 7 and 8 knots.
We have really had two different “generations” of the 35, allow me to explain. The first several hulls were “overbuilt” by Ta Shing and came out very solid, but were too heavy to get up out of the water and achieve the higher speeds we had predicted. The robust construction didn’t bother people too much, but we wanted to build the boat as she was designed and so made several modifications which were all in place by hull number 9. These included lay up to the originally designed lamination schedule and a “propeller tunnel” in the aft section of the hull to allow for a larger propeller. We also changed the transmission and altered the down angle of the shaft so that it was straighter and less angled. These improvements allowed us to get 15 knots, but remember, even with the second generation adjustments you can’t get top speed with a full set of fuel tanks, the planning and management of your trips is very important. If you want to go long-range fill up and go slow. If you want to travel 100 – 150 miles in a day put in less fuel and run in “light mode”.
One Nordhavn 35 couple, who have become close personal friends of mine, recently reported a very nice compliment - they were informed that they possess a very rare 35-foot “Stradivarius” …music to my ears!
As our business has grown, so has the size of the boats we are offering. The 35 as a semi-displacement boat and being under 40 feet no longer fits within our business model and sadly we discontinued production after building hull number 24. The tooling has since been destroyed, so there will be no more 35s (and no copy cats!).
We only produced a handful of 35s each year over a 5-year run. This relatively limited production rate insured continued top quality construction and has so far assured excellent resale value when a nice one becomes available.
My involvement as the project manager of the 35 for the first three years of production may make my impressions a bit biased, but I am extremely proud of how this wonderful little ship evolved…
Jeff Merrill is the former project manager of the Nordhavn 35. He is currently a sales representative in our southwest sales office. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org