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N52 Owners

Nordhavn 52: Unusual boat for an unusual couple

By James H. Kirby, Contributing Editor, Circumnavigator


It might seem a little odd to call people so adventurous as James and Jennifer Hamilton “typical” Nordhavn 52 owners. Then again it underscores the fact there’s really nothing typical about the Nordhavn 52 or its owners—any of them.

The Hamiltons spend their free time aboard Dirona exploring the less frequented coves, inlets and anchorages of the great Inside Passage that lies between the south end of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and the Alaska border. They’ve written a book about their adventures: Cruising the Secret Coast: Unexplored Anchorages on British Columbia’s Inside Passage, and you can also follow their travels on their website: www.mvdirona.com .

They chose the Nordhavn 52 because it offered an unusual combination of capabilities: It’s just the right size for a cruising couple like themselves to handle and to get into those secret out-of-the-way places, and it’s big enough for living aboard year-round. The Hamiltons live on their boat in Bell Harbor Marina, on Seattle’s waterfront, commuting to their jobs as software engineers by bicycle and public transportation.

“There are worse place to live than downtown Seattle,” jokes James. “We really enjoy it,” adds Jennifer. “And this boat is wonderfully comfortable. It’s like a very luxurious condo.” Avid divers and outdoor people, they also love the Nordhavn 52’s large cockpit, swim platform and boat deck. The cockpit is unbelievably nice,” says James. “It’s a nice sheltered area back there that’s wide open, and you’re right down on the waterline. Because the swim step is so large, we can actually put chairs on it so that you’re sitting right out on the water.”

Both James and Jennifer were born in Victoria, B.C., and come from boating families. They met in college, married and rediscovered boating and diving. “We got into boating partly to do more diving,” says Jennifer. Once they started boating, they went at it in a big way, starting a blog about their adventures, writing their book and contributing articles to boating magazines.

At Trawler Fest they met Nordhavn owners and became convinced that it was the boat for them. “We fell in love with the 52 right away,” says James. “It’s got everything the 47 had plus additional length. You know, on displacement boats, waterline is your friend. And of course space—that lazarette is unstoppable! If we didn’t have that, it would really make it difficult trying to be live-aboards.”

For the present, the Hamiltons still work full time and can only get away on weekends and vacations, but they still manage to enjoy the rich and varied boating that the Pacific Northwest offers.

There are, however, long-range plans. “One of the things that drew us to Nordhavn was the flexibility,” says James. “The boat can go anywhere in the world. Long term, our goal is high-latitude cruising—Dutch Harbor (the Aleutians), Prince William Sound.”

“I want to see South Georgia Island where Shackleton is buried,” adds Jennifer. “And Chile, where (the Nordhavn 46) Egret went. I’d love to round Cape Horn. Right now, four dock lines and two jobs are the only thing holding us to Seattle.”

Long-range cruising, exploring, weekend getaways, living aboard . . . it’s nothing unusual for the Hamiltons and their Nordhavn 52.