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June 2, 2010

Special Delivery Despite many challenges, Nordhavn 55 gets safely home

Stage 1 – The shipping
Every new Nordhavn delivery is different, but the delivery of new Nordhavn 55#48 to her owner in New Zealand was rather unique in a couple of ways.

Firstly, her owner had purchased her without having previously seen a Nordhavn. And secondly, the destination for delivery to her new owner threw up some challenges for the team at PAE.  The sales contract called for the new boat to be delivered to her new owner in Picton, a most picturesque town in the heart of the spectacular Marlborough Sounds on the tip of New Zealand’s South Island. Picton is the stepping off point for travellers crossing back and forth across the notorious open waters of Cook Strait on the regular roll-on roll-off ferries. It’s also the starting point for tourists from all over the world, heading to the nearby famous Marlborough Sounds wine region.

So back to the factory in Xiamen, Southern China, where the stunning white hulled N55#48 awaited shipping

The GFC had certainly impacted on the Shipping Companies’ schedules, and there were several false alarms, and a long and frustrating wait for both PAE and her new owner. The difficulties encountered by PAE in finding a suitable ship and schedule meant that the nearest offload port to Picton was the Port of Tauranga, some 540 miles north on the East Coast of New Zealand’ North Island. Finally, a berth was confirmed on the MV Diamantgracht. She was loaded in her cradle at the port of Xiamen, home of South Coast Marine which builds some of Nordhavn’s range of boats, and she crossed the Taiwan Strait where she was transhipped again at Kaoshiung, Taiwan. After a further delay, she headed on the long journey down to Port of Tauranga, New Zealand, but not before taking a scenic tour of most of Australia’ capital city ports. Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide dock workers all got a chance to see her as she passed through on her long and zig-zag journey. After leaving Adelaide, a final ETA was established for the Port of Tauranga NZ and logistics were put in place to prepare for her arrival. There being no local New Zealand coastal ships available, it was decided to run her down to Picton on her own bottom for handover and training to her new owner. This required that the boat be commissioned in Port of Tauranga. She had not been fitted with any electronics at the factory, save for the depth transducers. The trip from Port of Tauranga to Picton down along the North Island’s rugged and remote East coast, would require that she be fitted with a skeleton electronics package to undertake this next stage of the journey, and her new owner graciously agreed to ship these basics to Port of Tauranga for installation.

Once a confirmed ETA update was received, I arranged to fly over to NZ and offload the boat, drive her to her commissioning berth in readiness for the PAE team who were to fly in from California a few days after the offload. I flew with Andy Wadham, Nordhavn Australiasia’s Captain and commissioning guru, to Auckland, and we drove down to Port of Tauranga via the stunning Coramandel Peninsula, taking in the spectacular country and ocean views along the way.  Port of Tauranga is one of New Zealand’s biggest and busiest ports. And it lies right alongside the iconic little holiday and surfing community of Mount Maunganui  www.mountmaunganui.co.nz . It had been thirty years since I’d last visited Mount

Maunganui, and although there’s been remarkable change to the Port of Tauranga, now the fastest growing town in New Zealand, and huge development of the township, the small town Mount Maunganui has not lost its holiday beach town feel. The town and Port entrance are guarded by the conically shaped steep slopes of the Mount itself. Sheep graze on its slopes, while on one side ships, pilot boats and trawlers come and go, and on the other side, holidaymakers, tourists and surfers enjoy the fine sand beaches, and the many cafes and restaurants.  The narrow entrance to the Port skirts close to the base of the Mount on the north side, and opens into a broad waterway lined with shipping terminals, flour mills and gasoline storage facilities. Strangely, the presence of large industrial complexes all around the harbour doesn’t detract from the beauty of the local area. 

We had booked a berth for the commissioning at the Tauranga Bridge Marina, www.marina.co.nz where we had also booked accommodation for the PAE commissioning team of Russell Barber and Justin Jensen. Soon after arriving in Port of Tauranga, we were advised that the ship had been delayed by bad weather across the Tasman Sea. There was little to do but wait several more days for her arrival, and in the meantime, the PAE commissioning team arrived in Tauranga, so they were able to assist with the offload.

After a long wait, and several false alarms, the MV Diamantgracht finally emerged on the horizon off Mount Maunganui. To get a better view of the ship as she entered the picturesque harbour, Andrew and I climbed a way up the Mount, where we were able to see the N55#48 for the first time in NZ waters.  As she entered the narrow entrance, and passed beneath us in the channel, we were surprised to see that the N55#48 was the sole cargo on the vessel. She had come across the Tasman Sea sitting lonely but proudly on the deck. A Special Delivery indeed!

Soon she was docked alongside the Port of Tauranga wharves in readiness for offloading.

The offloading team joined the shipping agent Dev Dhanjee on the deck of the MV Diamantgracht, where we accompanied the NZ Customs and

Quarantine officers on the tour of the N55#48. Suitably impressed, and with the thumbs up, they gave her the all clear to be offloaded in her cradle, directly into the water. This process is always a time of trepidation for all concerned, however the Ships Master, and the Port of Tauranga stevedores were patient, obliging and professional, and with tide limitations, and darkness approaching fast, they carefully lifted her up and over the side of the ship and lowered her into the water. While she was still in the cradle, the offload team then scrambled aboard, carried out the numerous systems checks, started the engine and gently eased out of the cradle and onto the harbour proper. With the Tauranga Bridge Marina work boat standing by, we headed her back up the harbour to her commissioning berth, where the many interested locals were able to get their first close up look at the Nordhavn 55.


STAGE TWO – The Delivery Trip
Port of Tauranga to Picton

The boat now having safely arrived in New Zealand waters, the commissioning team from Dana Point, California, flew across to New Zealand to carry out the numerous tasks required to ready the boat for the next and final leg of her journey to the destination of Picton, the picturesque port in the centre of the spectacular Marlborough Sounds. This commissioning process requires engineering skill, experience and patience, and these attributes would become clearly evident later in the trip. After a solid ten days work, she was ready to undertake her first passage. This was to take us from Port of Tauranga, on the east coast of New Zealand ’s North Island, east across the Bay of Plenty, rounding East Cape, and then South South West across Hawkes Bay and along the rugged coast, past notorious Castle Rock, around Cape Pallister on the South East corner of the North Island, then West and across the Cook Strait and into the fiords of the spectacular Marlborough Sounds. This area of coastline is well known for its quickly changing weather patterns. And at this time of the year, strong winds and often gales regularly develop in the Southern Ocean and move quickly up the East Coast. Local knowledge is invaluable in navigating
this region, as is a source of reliable weather forecasting. An emerging window of good weather appeared, so it was decided to depart as soon as possible. I flew in from Australia to join the delivery crew for the 540 mile voyage. Being a Nordhavn salesman, I do get invitations to join owners on their travels from time to time. With work always pressing, it ’s not often that I can take up these offers, however a chance to join the crew for this trip was just too tempting! The crew consisted of experienced Captain and owner of a 102’ luxury charter yacht, Peter Stewart, experienced Kiwi mariner and marine engineer Drago Loncar, Kiwi boat builder Richard Clausen, and myself. A quick calculation of crew experience totalled 160+ years!

I arrived at the dock at 1800 hours, and after a great dinner at the local Marina office, during which we made final arrangements, passage plan and crew watch allocations, it was off to bed in readiness for the 0500 departure. Up early, and after farewelling the commissioning team and a small group of marina locals, we edged out of the berth in darkness, and headed down the harbour towards the entrance and the open sea.  The sun rose as we skirted beneath the spectacular Mount Mauganui at the entrance, and as we turned east headed for East Cape, the sight we left behind was one to remember.

The first day out, the weather was great, the seas were calm and all looked good for the first part of the journey. We passed White island, an active volcano, with steam and ash arising from its cone on the port side, and not long after dark rounded East Cape. All aboard were in good spirits as we settled into the routine of the trip. I’m always trepidatious when setting off in an untried boat, but we had the start of a good weather system for the first 36 hours, we had a good boat, a good crew and we had time to do multiple checks on all of the systems over those first watches.

Late on the on the second day we had weather reports that there was an approaching gale from the land, so we doubled our efforts in checking over all the systems, in preparation for a fun ride. As it happened, we were past the point of returning to a safe stop-over, so we kept to our plan, feeling very confident of the boat and crew. Then, as expected, the approaching gale moved over us. The wind rose from a 5-10 knots seabreeze to a solid 50+ knots off the land within no more than 20 minutes. Our position was approx. 45 miles off the coast in Hawkes Bay, on the rhumb line from East Cape to Cape Pallister. And soon we were experiencing 5-6 metre seas on the starboard beam. We eased the throttle back to 3 knots SOG, changed heading to veer closer to the coast to get under the cliffs in the lee, and once there, we settled in for a long night. It was at this point that we were grateful for the thorough commissioning which the PAE guys did back at Mount Maunganui. The boat kept running sweetly, the ABT

Trac stabilizers operated superbly, and the harder it blew, the more confidence we gained. The only problem encountered was at about midnight when amongst the sounds of the gale, we heard an almighty crash. Looking out into the darkness from the port side Pilothouse windows, we saw bits of white stuff flying around. The door on the Flybridge fridge had become unlocked, and the full bucket of ice dislodged and spilled out and crashing around above us. Whew! What a relief that it was only ice! Not much sleep was had on the boat that night, but by mid-morning the next day the system eased,

and we had a good run down the coast, across and up the Cook Strait 60 miles to Picton. We were incredibly pleased with the way she handled the worst of the conditions. It was the first time Captain Peter had been on a Nordhavn, however he is now totally convinced of the benefits of powerboating in a purpose built passagemaking vessel. It was a great trip from my point of view too, as up until then I’d only encountered fair sailing conditions in an N55. I can now speak to my customers with absolute conviction about the sea-keeping abilities of the N55, and I can see clearly why Nordhavns engender much confidence in their owners.

We approached the channel leading to Picton through the beautiful Marlborough Sounds in perfect calm weather and sunshine. A run of three hours through this most spectacular of fiords, and we closed on the port of Picton, where we found our berth right in the heart of the downtown Marina.

Her owner had been receiving regular updates on the trip, and was pleased that his new toy was at last safely delivered to his slip. It’s perhaps a little unusual that he purchased this beautiful Nordhavn 55 without ever having stepped aboard another Nordhavn. Maybe that speaks volumes for the worldwide reputation of our fine vessels. And after finally getting to see her first hand, after a rather long and “Special Delivery”, he is certainly one happy camper!

My thanks to the PAE team for persevering with the difficult process of getting this boat to Picton, and a special thank you to her new owner, whose generosity and patience in particular I have come to admire…



Peter Devers is the sales manager for Nordhavn Australasia and can be contacted by e-mail at

June 20, 2010
Nordhavn 55 Debuts in Australia

Nordhavn 55 "MV SKIE"

THE NEW NORDHAVN 55 HAS FINALLY ARRIVED. Underlying this innocuous heading is a story of great expectations, grinding boredom, uncertainty and elation that only a Nordhavn owner waiting for his new boat could experience. Just like a baby grey elephant, born after a long gestation period, Peter and Margaret Sheppard's new grey baby has finally been delivered to the new Nordhavn base in Brisbane. But unlike a baby elephant, with wobbly legs and an uncertain future, Peter and Margaret's new baby has arrived ready to take on the oceans of the world. She is big, uncompromisingly bold and beautiful.

The Commitment

Peter and Margaret have named their new baby SKIE (Spending the Kids Inheritance Early) which may have met with mixed reactions from their grown-up children. Peter and Margaret have experienced a broad range of emotions, since signing the contract in Dana Point California exactly one year to the day before she arrived. This is their first 'big' boat. Peter enjoyed a successful foray into keel boat racing in earlier times, before business and other pursuits took priority. Peter has handed the reins of his business on to his family, and now has more time on his hands. He wanted to find a safe and robust boat on which he and Margaret could spend time together, and experience the joys of long term cruising in style and comfort. Also high on Peter's agenda was finding a vessel which protected his investment, by having as high a resale value. On the recommendation of a much respected old sailing buddy, Peter decided to investigate the Nordhavn range. And when he saw the drawings for the Nordhavn 55, he knew he'd found the 'right boat'. What immediately appealed to Peter was the N55's versatility, offering a strongly built hull with a high prow, economical operation and vast interior accommodation spaces, combined with a practical and private layout.

The Waiting Game

The long wait started on that afternoon in California, and after the first excitement of committing to the building project started to wane, Peter and Margaret gradually realised that it would be a long and frustrating wait for their new baby. They joined the Nordhavn owner's blog, and started to communicate with other Nordy owners already out there cruising. While this helped them to learn much about their new chosen lifestyle, it sometimes increased Peter's frustration not being out there on the water. Peter and Margaret had chosen a slight variation to the layout of Skie by converting the office space to another large bunk for grandchildren, and they had ticked off a very complete options package. And during the long gestation period, there were numerous minor changes and additions along the way.

While Peter and Margaret were at home in Melbourne waiting, sometimes patiently, sometimes impatiently, their new grey baby was slowly but surely beginning to take shape. The master craftsmen and women at South Coast Marine in Xiamen, southern China were swarming over her every day, gradually transforming a bare hull into a nautical masterpiece. Their dedication and commitment to Peter and Margaret's dream was most obvious by their attention to detail and superb individual skills.

As "Skie's'" completion date got nearer, Peter and Margaret's excitement levels began to rise again, and after months of waiting, their new grey baby was almost finished. So the time had come for PAE to arrange a ship to bring her to Melbourne. This turned out to be a difficult exercise. By carrying Skie as break bulk deck cargo, her sheer mass meant that she displaced scores of containers. No shipping company would take a booking. Many frustrating weeks were spent searching for a ship willing to take Skie on her delivery to her new owners, whose emotions had now taken another turn, from high anticipation to nervous anxiety and disappointment! Would they ever get to see their new baby?

Decision Time

Timing was now critical, as Peter and Margaret had graciously offered to display their beautiful new grey baby at the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show on 24th -27th May, to allow all the other Nordhavn devotees in Australia to see her close up, before they sailed away on their adventure. The plan was to offload in Melbourne, commission her there, before a big launching party for all of Peter and Margaret's family and friends. And then set off north to Sanctuary Cove. As the cut-off date for getting her to Sanctuary Cove drew near, Peter and Margaret took the unbelievably generous decision to forego the launching party in Melbourne to allow PAE to secure a spot on a ship direct to Brisbane. This kind gesture will always be appreciated by all at PAE, and especially by the Nordhavn Australasia team. This breathing space allowed PAE to find a ship, and also allowed Peter and Margaret's anxiety levels to dissipate a little! A ship was finally booked, and an arrival date in Brisbane was confirmed. This new plan would give PAE time to commission Skie, give Peter and Margaret time to add their personal touch to interior soft furnishings, and give Nordhavn Australsia time to arrange the detailing and final preparations for the Boat Show.

Australia Bound

Skie was finally loaded onto the container ship OOCL Sydney on 13th April and sailed at 0800 hours bound for Brisbane, via Perth Melbourne and Sydney. Upon hearing that the ship was to sail via their home town of Melbourne, emotions were on a high again, and Peter and Margaret made plans to be the first in Australia to see their baby. They visited the wharf area were the OOCL Sydney was docked, and after some negotiations were able to peer through security wire, and see Skie sitting proudly on the deck, dwarfed by hundreds of huge containers which seemed to close in around her. The ship was about to depart for Sydney, so Peter phoned all of their friends on the Mornington Peninsula, and told them to take their binoculars to the nearest headland, where they too could get a glimpse of her, as the ship sailed down the channel and out through the bay heading for the 'rip'. More mixed emotions-sadness that Skie was so near and yet so far, and mounting excitement that she would soon be theirs.


Skie Arrives At Last

About a week later, on Thursday 3rd May, the OOCL Sydney docked at P&O Terminal No. 4 at the Port of Brisbane. Peter and Margaret had decided that the offloading phase of the delivery would be better left to others. The Nordhavn Australasia team met with PAE's shipping agent at the Terminal, and accompanied the Australian Quarantine inspectors on board the ship for a routine inspection, while the P&O stevedores began making preparations to lift Skie off her heavy steel cradle, and lower her into the water. Pleasure boats are not designed to be slung high into the air on a couple of slings. Their place is 'on' the water and not above it. So the job of preparing slings and carefully lifting her high above the ship and into the water is always one of great concern to all involved. Perhaps this is why Peter and Margaret decided to keep their stress levels in check, by staying in Melbourne until Skie was safely tied up at her dock! With the quarantine inspection completed, the Nordhavn Australasia team were escorted off the ship and made their way down to a waiting SeaTow tender, to standby to board her once she was 'splashed'. The stevedores took a long time to set up the slings, and the Nordhavn team were beginning to wonder what was wrong, as they couldn't see Skie from the little tender on the water. After almost two hours of anxious waiting, and several false starts, (just as well Peter and Margaret were a thousand miles away!) the massive container crane began to slowly, and carefully haul Skie up over the ships huge load of containers. The crane driver deftly but gently moved Skie inboard over the dock until she was clear of the ship, lowering her until she almost touched the ground, and then with sirens sounding, the crane began to move along the dock towards the front of the ship. Accompanied by an army of stevedores, he slowly edged her past the front of the ship until there was room to once more lift her and extend her out over the water. With shrill whistles, and subtle hand signals, the crane driver held Skie out over the Brisbane River, and ever so slowly lowered her until she was just centimetres over the water. With the tide running swiftly, and with no control from the stevedores ropes now, the next stage would be the trickiest of all. Once the tender had transferred the Nordhavn team on board Skie, tow ropes were made ready to tow her clear of the slings, and the main engine started ready for the run up the river. With one final signal, Skie was lowered into home waters, and the tender took up the slack on the tow rope. A few anxious moments as the slings were uncoupled on the port side and dropped into the river, and a few more until the tender had her clear of the ropes and slings, and then a huge sigh of relief, and lots of shouts of "You Beauty!" and "Thanks guys" across the water to the stevedores lined up on the dock.

Then, after checking the engine room, and ensuring that the lineswere all clear, Skie began her proud first passage up the river to her new home at Rivergate Marina. Time at last to make the call to Peter and Margaret, to let them know their baby was home! And time for Peter and Margaret to at last celebrate with a quiet drink and reflect on a very big year.

Peter Devers is the sales manager of Nordhavn Australasia. Contact Peter at peter@nordhavn.com.au.

August 23, 2007

Sydney International Boat Show Roundup

skieThe doors close on another successful showing at the Sydney International Boat Show, which this year celebrated its 40th anniversary with unusually perfect weather and surging crowds.  Darling Harbour was bursting at the seams this past August 2-7 with thousands flocking the harbour to view the spectacular site of the hundreds of elite boats that lined the docks.

We were proud to showcase the ever-popular Nordhavn 47, and several devotees booked appointments weeks in advance.  This particular N47 was available for sale by the owners Derek and Julie Townsend who are looking to upgrade to a larger model Nordhavn. Viewings were by appointment only and we had hundreds of enthusiasts lining the dock for a chance to view the vessel.  Most had heard of the Nordhavn brand and its passage making qualities and took the opportunity to come aboard and have a look around.  None could believe how beautiful and spacious the boat was on the inside and left the vessel imagining the seafaring capabilities she displays when not locked into a slip at a boat show.  A number of visitors came back for second looks, bringing partners, friends, and children, keen to share their unique find and ponder the exciting possibility of their own offshore voyages.  The Nordhavn 47 was recognized as best in its class at the 2007 Motor Boat of the Year Awards in London and the scale of interest in this vessel at the Sydney International Boat Show reflected this.  

We are indebted to Derek and Julie Townsend for their generosity in allowing us to show off their beautiful Nordhavn 47 at the show.  Julie was up at the crack of dawn every day cleaning off many a greasy fingerprint and sprucing up the vessel ready for another day. 

Many thanks also to Graham and Margarita Weir who generously gave us some of their time to show visitors around the vessel.  Graham and Margarita are counting down the weeks until their very own Nordhavn is delivered and were keen to climb aboard and talk up the Nordhavn brand.

If you missed out on the Sydney International Boat Show this year and would like information on the Nordhavn 47 or any of the other Nordhavn models please email sales@nordhavn.com.au and we will be more than happy to send you out information, arrange a viewing, or have a chat about the Nordhavn range.  The Nordhavn 47 on show at Sydney is still available for sale.  If you would like to arrange a viewing contact Peter Devers on 0419760258.



The team at Nordhavn are tossing around the idea of a rally up the east coast of Queensland for August 2008.  The rally is aimed at Nordhavn owners and may extend to owners of similar makes.  Initial ideas include stops at Tangalooma Island, Bundaberg, and Hamilton Island.  PAE is excited about the idea and expect the rally will gain wide media coverage.  We are open to suggestions so if you would like to put some ideas forward please email nicole@nordhavn.com.au.  If you are interested in sponsoring the event wefd love to hear from you.