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"California to Micronesia"
Around The World On A Nordhavn 40
By George Sass, Jr.
March 2002 Yachts International


As Tropical Depression number 31 tightened the noose around the small boat, Harlow steered back into the head seas and away from the shelter of Lelu harbor on the Micronesian island of Kosrae. Unwelcome thoughts of spending another night at sea raced through the minds of the weary, salt-soaked crew as the entrance vanished behind them. Harlow, who works for PAE, the company that builds Nordhavns, decided to go around again and make another attempt, and this time he found the marks and navigated the boat into Lelu Little did he know that this Western Pacific paradise would be home for several days longer than expected. From the beginning of the trip they had encountered a mixture of weather, but this leg between Majuro and Kosrae proved the most challenging to date in a voyage that began with the departure from Dana Point in California on November 3, 2001. Final destination: Dana Point, after sailing westbound around the world. Time allowed for this unprecedented journey: 30 weeks.

During the first leg from California to Hawaii there were days filled with cool breezes and others with blustery gale force winds that created large seas, but despite the odd spell of nasty weather, PAE Vice President and crew member Jim Leishman reported that the first leg was uneventful. The Nordhavn 40 performed as expected.

Fourteen days out, with Honolulu 380 miles to the west, Leishman wrote: "We've decided to increase our engine speed to 1600 rpm, which is giving us 7.2 knots. The weather is beautiful with air temperature now at 77 degrees and water about 75 degrees. The wind is still on our port beam but only at nine knots (no easterly trades)."

The 2,345 miles from Dana Point to Hawaii were covered in just over 16 days, at an average speed of 6.04 knots. Leishman calculated the total fuel burn, including 20 hours of generator time, at 860 gallons.

The only mechanical problem was the failure of the secondary alternator used to charge the main engine starting battery. To remedy this, the parallel switch was flipped on to allow the larger main alternator to charge the battery. The Nordhavn crew dipped into their comprehensive spare parts kit when they reached Hawaii and changed the defective alternator and belt. Leishman and other members of the PAE staff are using this voyage to test design and installations as well as to provide more hands-on experience for its already seasoned employees. Among other findings they will be able to report on the performance of flopper stoppers versus Naiad stabilizer fins, both of which systems are fitted to the boat. The first (and longest) leg of the voyage also allowed Leishman to put his fuel consumption calculations to the test. Spending half a year at sea, the company believes, is a far more direct and practical method of testing the product than conducting customer surveys. It also means that a potential buyer at a boat show can talk to a Nordhavn broker/crewman who has just spent weeks or months at sea (crew members serve on a rotating schedule) on the same boat that is now all dolled up for the show.

The second leg from Hawaii to Majuro consisted of a succession of sunsets, good food, trade winds and a few squalls-a typical Pacific passage. The stop in Majuro was only brief because of the boat's ambitious schedule. However, anyone who has been at sea many days on end knows the overwhelming desire to go ashore for a spell, take in the scenery and sit back and spin a few yarns. Soon enough this desire is equaled only by the desire to get back to sea again.

The next leg should have been from Majuro to Pohnpei, but after the crew had thanked King Neptune for all the perfect sunsets, fresh fish and relatively calm conditions they'd experienced, Tropical Depression 31 came a-calling and the itinerary had to be changed. TD 31 followed an erratic course that apparently had one objective: to torment the Nordhavn 40.

On December 13 Dave Harlow wrote: "It's been pretty rough the last couple of days. Our progress changes by the hour. Yesterday we were headed for Pohnpei. It now looks like a typhoon is starting to build in that area again. So once again we have changed course for Kosrae Island."

Once anchored in the haven of Kosrae's Lelu harbor the crew decided to stay put. They would wait until TD 31 (which became Tropical Storm Faxai) veered away from their course. Two days after dropping the hook Nordhavn broker/crew member Ray Danet wrote from Lelu: "Tropical Depression 31 is getting to be an old friend. You know the type-they come to visit and never go home. For the last two days we were unable to leave the boat due to lots of wind and rain. We are getting ready to move again."

Eventually they did make it to land and enjoyed the warmth and friendliness of the people of Kosrae. They later learned that the locals had heard them on the radio during their first approach, their hearts dropping when they saw the Nordhavn abort the entrance and turn back into the big head seas.

As is the case in many of these tiny, beautiful Pacific islands, the population was relatively poor but, being islanders, this is no way diminished their welcome. During the stay in Lelu, which lasted almost a week, the good people of Kosrae showed every hospitality to the crew, unexpected visitors to their remote paradise.

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