the World in a 40-footer"
By Jim Leishman
February 2002 Sea
On November 3, a Nordhavn 40 began a six month, 23,000-plus-mile
circumnavigation of the globe. At the helm was Jim Leishman, vice
president and co-founder of Dana Point, California-based Pacific
Asian Enterprises Inc. (P.A.E), builder of the Nordhavn line of
expedition capable trawler yachts.
In his own words, here's how the idea for this cruise came about
and how those involved planned this record-setting adventure.
It had been a long, hectic and mentally draining day. I had been
on my feet at the Seattle Boat Show since early morning, and I don't
think we even broke for lunch - typical of so many days I've spent
showing Nordhavn boats at the various shows we attend annually.
Now, it was time to relax - and the cold beer tasted great as Ray
Danet, Phil Newton and I awaited dinner at Lake Union's Crab House
restaurant. Another round was ordered and we discussed the day's
events - and then the upcoming summer.
We were building a Nordhavn 40 that would be used as a demonstrator
boat and displayed the following spring and fall at this same Seattle
show. During the summer, we had planned to cruise to Alaska aboard
the new boat, with key company people aboard. Having our sales staff,
project managers, designers and office personnel experience this
type of cruising on the boats they build and sell has always paid
huge dividends for us, and it has led to dramatic improvement of
the boats and their systems.
After another glass of Hefeweizen, we all agreed that the cost
of the summer cruise would lie insignificant, relative to the knowledge
that we would gain. In fact, I announced we should do much more
of this. Why not take our little Nordhavn 40 around the world, for
the adventure of doing it and for the experience - which, as boat
builders and designers, we need to have and can justify paying for?
My suggestion was met with great enthusiasm - and the balance of
that evening was spent planning the adventure.
Upon returning home and receiving a favorable response from
my business partners, I began to look at the route and tile feasibility
of making this trip in one season. To my astonishment, it looked
After consulting Jimmy Cornell's "Cruising Routes of the World"
and speaking with friend and weather forecaster Walt Hack of New
Jersey, we found it would lie ideal to depart California for Hawaii
in November. Then, as fast as possible, we'd move west. Tile seasons
would open up with favorable conditions.
November is a good month to cross to Hawaii because the threat
of tropical storms has passed, yet it's too early for the midwinter
storms that appear in December and January. The Western Pacific
and Philippines are plagued with typhoons in September, October
and November; lint by mid December, the threat passes and the South
China Sea begins to feel the cooling effects of the northeast monsoon.
By mid-December, conditions are ideal for transiting south from
the Philippines to Singapore. By January, the monsoon's northeast
flow of wind and current provide favorable conditions for crossing
the Indian Ocean.
Moving northwest up the Red Sea in February is tolerable - and
although it would lie better to enter the Eastern Mediterranean
six or eight weeks later, getting there by early March is acceptable.
Transiting the Mediterranean and entering the Atlantic by the end
of March will require some caution but once the vessel turns south
and readies the Cape Verde Islands in April, the spring crossing
of the Atlantic to Antigua will be fine.
The Caribbean can be crossed and the Panama Canal transited, and
our boat will he heading north in the Pacific before the beginning
of the summer's hurricane season.
With a lot of hard running and a little luck, we should lie able
to circumnavigate the world in about six months: a record for this
size and type of motor vessel.
The total circumnavigation will require running over 23,000
miles - and the trip has been divided into five legs: Dana Point
to Singapore, Singapore to Greece, Greece to Antigua, Antigua to
Acapuleo and Acapuleo to Dana Point.
Five different captains and crews will be involved - all key employees
of Pacific Asian Enterprises.
The economic justification for the trip is the experience gained
by the crew, which includes all company owners and designers, three
different project managers, the engineer that writes all of our
operator's manuals and our key sales personnel. The knowledge gained
will be used to improve existing boats and will he utilized in future
A Totally Stock Vessel
By March 2001, We made the decision to proceed with our circumnavigation.
The boat was nearly complete, and we would undertake the voyage
in a totally stock vessel.
It was our intent to use the planned Alaska trip as a shakedown
cruise, and we didn't really do anything in preparation of the big
trip until after Alaska. The basic boat is designed for offshore
use to begin with, so preparation decisions only had to do with
added convenience and safety equipment.
In fact, gear that was added to the boat to enhance the Alaska
trip - such as a Hurricane hot water cabin heating system - might
not have been added if the vessel was to be used solely for the
circumnavigation. Some equipment that would be desirable primarily
air conditioning was not added. That's a decision I hope we don't
regret. The only structural additions were four acrylic storm plates
for the saloon windows. The standard boat includes includes welded
aluminum lugs to accommodate the panels.
Determining the Vessel's True Range and
During our circumnavigation, some of the long legs are in excess
of 2,000 miles, so lower speeds arc required.
I spent two full days doing sea trials off Dana Point, running
at 1,300, 1,400, 1,500 and 1,600 rpm, with the vessel full of fuel
and water and nearly fully provisioned. I needed to determine as
precisely as possible die exact fuel burn and boat speed at these
Our fuel system has a supply reservoir that is designed to allow
precise fuel consumption checks over 15 minute intervals. At the
conclusion of the tests, I decided to check the capacity of the
supply reservoir and found that it held five percent more fuel than
designed (this is reasonable, as the dimensions of the reservoir
can vary slightly with its fabrication)
Taking all this information into account, I developed ; performance
curve that is unique to this vessel, which gave me the accurate
information we will need to safely cross the ocean and manage our
speed and fuel consumption.
An interesting point is that, during our performance testing, we
ordered an alternate three-blade propeller (our standard propeller
is four-blade). We knew from experience that a three-blade prop
would increase our cruising efficiency by up to 10 percent.
After the above-mentioned tests were completed, we repented the
process with the new propeller. We did experience the improvement
in performance we had predicted; however, we also picked up a mild
amount of vibration characteristic of most three-blade propellers.
I agonized over the dilemma - speed and range in exchange for added
noise and vibration. The standard boat runs so smoothly and quietly
that I could not bear the idea of spending the next six months listening
to the noise, as mild as it was.
The next morning, I reinstalled the old propeller. If I were outfitting
another Nordhavn 40 identical to this one, I would still feel compelled
to run the same series of tests, recognizing that propeller draw
can vary from boat to boat due to propeller inaccuracies. I'd also
want to check the capacity of the supply reservoir.
We equipped our boat with both Naiad active fin stabilizing
and TPS ("Hopper stopper" stabilizing), to reduce roll off shore.
Either one of these systems would have been adequate for the voyage;
however, because we would have many guest crewmembers join us on
different legs of tills cruise - and because of the popularity of
both systems - we decided that both would lie included.
An auxiliary 27 hp Yanmar engine was also installed. We call this
a "wing engine" - and most Nordhavns have been equipped with this
The wing engine has its own starting batten', transmission, shaft
and folding propeller; and it operates off its own separate fuel
supply. In the event of a total engine or drivetrain failure, the
wing engine will give us about 5 knots of propulsion in calm water.
It will be routinely used to keep the boat on course, stable and
moving forward during main engine fluid checks and maintenance.
Another piece of equipment we considered important to the voyage
was a water-maker. It is very important to us that the boat can
be kept clean, the laundry can he done and the crew can shower and
use water without restraint.
We felt that a 110v AC water-maker could not always lie used on
the long passages, as the added fuel consumption of a running generator
might not be acceptable. We selected a large 12v DC unit manufactured
by Spectra, because it can produce 400 gallons of water per day
while operating off the main engine's continuous-running DC alternators.
We installed the latest electronics at the helm - including primary
and secondary radar, GPS and video depth sounder units. In addition,
we equipped the boat with a large-screen chart plotter, wind instruments,
an autopilot, a VHF radio, an SSB radio and two satellite telephones
for worldwide telecommunications and e-mail. (Next month, Sea will
take a closer look at the electronics installation aboard this boat
- and why these gear selections were made.)
Onboard safety was a major concern for us. Knowing that we would
have no more than four people aboard during any one leg of our cruise,
we felt a six-man open ocean life raft would be adequate. We installed
a Switlik canister model with hydrostatic release.
An ACR EPIRB was interfaced with the onboard GPs and hard-mounted
on the front of the wheelhouse - also with a hydrostatic release.
Additionally, we included an abandon ship bag - stowed in the wheel-house
- with another ACR EPIRB with a built-in GPs We also included a
hand-held GPs, a VHF radio, an antenna and battery pack for the
Iridium phone (we can pull it from its docking station), two gallons
of fresh water, a handheld PUR water-maker, fishing gear, flashlights
and flares. We also decided to carry four immersion suits for cold
The life raft is mounted an adequate distance from the ship's dinghy
(in case of fire), and our plan was to try to launch both in an
A Para-Tech sea anchor could be deployed off the how, in case of
an emergency engine failure or if we needed to ride out a storm
while conserving fuel. We also decided to carry a Para-Tech drogue,
which could be deployed astern in very heavy weather to enhance
direction control and slow the boat down.
Recognizing the potential for problems and the need to keep
moving or lose our weather/time windows, it's important that we
minimize delays. For that reason, an extensive supply of spare parts
has been brought aboard.
The usual parts necessary for a long voyage - including spare freshwater
pumps, bilge pumps, engine belts and niters - have all been included.
In addition, we're carrying a spare main engine starter motor, an
injection pump, injectors, injector tubes, a fuel lift pump and
We also carry a spare steering pump, a steering ram, an extra tiller
arm, an extra Naiad hydraulic pump and fin actuator rams, spare
hoses for steering and stabilizer hydraulics, an autopilot head,
an autopilot brain box and motor with hydraulic pump, and an extra
stabilizing fin, tow line and Cow chain, in case we lose one of
our ''flopper stopper" rigs.
For the average boat owner to carry all these spares, it would
represent a significant expense - and if it were not absolutely
necessary for us to minimize delays I'd leave 75 percent of this
stuff at home. Spare parts can be shipped quickly and efficiently
to just about anywhere in the world.
Politics and Security
After we finally had our cruise itinerary firmly in place, we
announced our plans to the press. Then came the tragic events of
September 11, which gave us a couple of weeks' pause and reconsideration.
We had planned to be passing through the Philippines and Malaysia,
and we would have to enter the Red Sea through its 20-mile-wide
southern entrance - with Somalia to our south and Yemen to the north.
We also planned to take on fuel in Djibouti and then would run 1,000
miles - with the Sudan and Egypt to port and Saudi Arabia to starboard.
Then, we would pass through the Suez Canal, before entering the
perceived safety of the Mediterranean.
Despite our concerns, we believe it will lie safe to cruise this
route - and with great enthusiasm, we are going ahead with our plans.