By Jeff Merrill
The fall season in Dana Point, CA has become an annual ritual of triumphant returns where seasoned Nordhavns come home to roost for a few weeks.
Many 'freshly minted' Nordhavns head north each spring after commissioning to explore the San Juan Islands, British Columbia and Alaskan cruising grounds. The northwest summer season is spectacular for a wandering yacht like a Nordhavn - clear water, Orcas, bald eagles, mountains of pine trees and even the occasional Grizzly bear. Oh, and at Nordhavn pace, you can troll for salmon and catch your fill.
It can be a rough trip up the west coast, but we believe it is the best shakedown cruise a new Nordhavn can undertake and the trek north (which usually begins after May 1 st for the optimum weather window) often sees small pods of Nordhavns traveling in tandems. Heading north is typically straight into the wind and waves and can be quite uncomfortable at times, but this is a great test of seamanship and equipment - which not only builds confidence, but also provides experience in rough seas (all the while within reach of safe harbor if necessary).
There is no better way to immerse yourself into the Nordhavn lifestyle than by living aboard for weeks and months on end. You learn the nuances of sounds, familiarize yourself with every system installed - all of this while traveling around in your own luxury home soaking up the beauty of your waterfront surroundings.
Two beautiful Nordhavn 47s, Kellie Anne, 4710 owned by Alex and Deborah Haase, and Oso Blanco, 4715 owned by Eric and Annie Bloomquist (with two year old son Robert aka 'Bear'), have formed a traveling bond and enjoyed some great buddy boating over the past several months. The Nordhavn 47 owners as a group are a tight knit clan (they even have a members only web chat room) and incredibly helpful to each other in terms of support and advice. This camaraderie extends far beyond emails and telephone conversations; these owners enjoy sharing adventures and spending time with each other.
Over the past year and a half I have witnessed both of these boats arrive fresh off the ship in Los Angeles, get commissioned at our headquarters in Dana Point and then head off to sea. In fact, just this past June we were all together at the Poulsbo, WA Trawler Fest. This multi-brand trawler rendezvous and seminar event kicks off the summer trawler cruising season up north. Kellie Anne was the featured Nordhavn on display and I had the good fortune to be the Nordhavn salesman on board to show her off. Oso Blanco was also in attendance, and after Poulsbo these two 47s took off to explore together.
Both 47s shared anchorages, freshly caught salmon, spare parts and most of all many wonderful memories before returning south to visit us in Dana Point. Their lives have been enriched and their command of their vessels complete. Coming back into Dana Point is a pause that refreshes - a time to take stock, upgrade equipment, reload on spare parts and let the PAE crew attend to minor warranty issues which have surfaced during their travels. At PAE/Nordhavn we view these "pit stops" as a time for us to gain more insights into how equipment is performing and to glean first hand details on how our products can be improved.
Three weeks ago both boats pulled into town. Alex added a stern capstan on Kellie Anne for line handling in his cockpit and had us correct a few minor issues. Eric didn't add a thing and laughed when he told me he already has too much stuff on board Oso Blanco , but we did correct a problem with his steering system. Combined, both boats have nearly 2,000 engine hours and close to 10,000 miles under their keels - which in "Nordhavn Years" means they are done cutting their teeth and can now take off confident that they are fully founded and broken-in, ready to go anywhere.
With their work lists complete and departure imminent, it was time to celebrate this visit and bid both boats a hearty bon voyage. A Friday night dock party was organized at our commissioning docks and a strong crowd of PAE employees, fellow Nordhavn owners, friends and associates were invited to share stories and toast the crews with libations and snacks. The event featured a two-boat open house: Oso Blanco and Kellie Ann e were side by side, stern-to and draped with matching light strands on their cockpit canopies. They sparkled in the night sky and added a festive touch.
Both the Bloomquists and Haases took time to meet and greet the gathered clan - really an extended family. They thanked everyone for all of the hard work and support - from the local boat washers to the entire PAE management team. I'm trying not to sound corny, but these send offs contain an emotional level that always makes them a moving experience. We are not saying goodbye to customers, we are bidding our good friends farewell with the promise of keeping in regular communication.
While all of the dock mingling was going on, I gave a tour of each boat to a potential Nordhavn client. We both marveled at how brand new each of these boats look and, not surprisingly, we had a nice chat with both Eric and Alex who couldn't be more proud of their yachts. It was fun to compare and contrast both boats - the electronics packages, layouts (different stateroom and saloon arrangements), equipment selections, etc. Both engine rooms were spotless and you could not smell any diesel or see any oil or belt dust. Both of these 47s are flybridge models with the fiberglass stack and davit, so from the outside they look almost identical, but each family has added their own special touch to the interiors. It is this personalization that really characterizes how special each Nordhavn is.
The evening rolled into night and as some people hopped in cars to drive home for the weekend while others banded together to go out for one last drink on the town.
As this report is posted both boats are in Mexican waters heading south to transit the Panama Canal. Soon they will again migrate north, this time turning up to visit the US east coast. Keep in touch you guys, we already miss you and value your friendship. Enjoy this wonderful lifestyle and send us a digital post card (photo and email) every once in awhile so that we can be vicariously traveling with you!
Jeff Merrill is a salesman in our West Coast office. He can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.