"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
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
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
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.