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N4303 Endurance makes her maiden mini-voyage

Kurt Antonius and Steve Stroud are the envy of many of their friends. Soon, they’ll be the envy of hundreds of strangers who share their passion.

Kurt and Steve grew up in the midwest as best friends who both developed a keeness for boating. There’s nothing better than being able to share a hobby with your buddy and these two took it one step further. They went in together on a brand new Nordhavn 43 and earlier this month took her out on what is likely the first of many joint cruises to come.

Kurt and Steve, along with their wives Susan and Carol, waited a long time for this day. They purchased Endurance nearly 2 years ago – sight unseen - when the 43 was just a line drawing. But they told me they had faith in Nordhavn’s reputation for building quality boats and were willing to take the plunge.

So there we were in Dana Point one hazy October morning. The boat arrived from Taiwan in late August so the commissioning process was nearly complete and Endurance was ready for a shakedown overnighter to Catalina Island – one of the Channel Islands off the Southern California coast. The PAE commissioning crew (deserving kudos for staying late on a Friday night) had just finished installing the dingy chocks and local outfitter Outbound Yacht Services attached the at-anchor flopper stoppers to complete preparations for the trip.

With an unfortunate last minute business commitment leaving Susan ashore, Kurt, Steve, Carol and I headed west 245 degrees to Avalon, Catalina’s only town. Before departure, we conducted the necessary checks including a 2-hour discussion of the engine room where the men identified all the components and got familiar with the heart of the boat. Then I held a basic systems orientation and operations run-through for my 3 crew mates. After that, it was anchors aweigh!

Avalon is about 30 miles from Dana Point, so we had roughly five hours ahead of us – a great opportunity to try some different rpm/speed settings, open up lockers and sole boards, tweak the electronics and contemplate the digital display read outs… generally just explore the boat. Essentially, a new Nordhavn is one great big new toy, and like kids on our birthdays, we had lots of fun “playing” with it. With calm seas (1- to 2-foot swell) and no more than 10 knots of breeze, conditions were conducive to our research: we were inside, outside, forward, and aft – excitedly checking it all out.

The boat runs great and I was particularly pleased with the great job done on sound attenuation (noise reduction) by the South Coast factory. Sound numbers are the primary purpose for the below chart and were recorded using my dB meter on A (65 is the sound level of normal conversation) and holding it at counter top level:

RPM dB Master SR dB GSR db W/H dB Saloon
1600 66 58 62 70
1800 67 60 63 69
2000 67 62 63 71
2200 67 63 66 72

While in complete awe and admiration of PAE’s recently completed Nordhavn Atlantic Rally, Kurt and Steve intend their boat to primarily be a West Coast cruiser for the first couple of years, so the electronics package was more simplified than what you’d see on the Rally boats. Courtesy of Alcom Marine Electronics, the top notch cache of components perfectly complimented Endurance as a more local boat and includes: two Raymarine 10.4” Pathfinder color display screens with chart plotter/running data (depth/speed/heading/time, eta, etc.) and radar on split screens; a Simrad AP 20 autopilot; an Icom M602 VHF hailer (side note: the hailer also serves as the receiver so the banter back and forth was at times hilarious); a Davis Instruments Vantage Pro weather station, and a separate Raymarine wind indicator. Kurt was pleased with the MARPA feature which uses a cursor on the radar to acquire a target and then identifies its speed and direction so you can keep track of multiple happenings and ensure a proper distance of targets is maintained. A closed circuit camera display also allowed us to monitor each other taking turns doing engine room inspections on the hour. The XM radio brought us 70s rock’n’roll classics and sporting news.

After fully reviewing the electronics, we sat back in the pilothouse to enjoy the movement of the boat. As I sat, I marveled at how well the 43 cut through the water. You definitely feel high above the sea and our Trac stabilizers easily kept us steady and upright. These stabilizers benefit from PAE’s relentless pursuit to make things perfect and use our proprietary keel cooler design (recessed into the hull). During engine room inspections I never saw the cooling oil above 120 degrees. We had discussed what to do on an E/R check before taking off and now were taking turns on the hour getting familiar with all that goes on in there. We didn’t have a thermometer in the E/R, but with the blowers running it was only moderately warm, easy to stay in for 10 minutes without getting sweaty – this is a good thing! The Leishman fuel system uses two huge fiberglass diesel tanks which gravity feed a supply tank reservoir forward. There really isn’t a lot to think about: you supply to the main and generator and return to the supply tank. Of course you can transfer fuel around in every possible combination, but the evolution of this fuel system has developed into a very simple and effective fuel delivery operation.

Back on watch I was thrilled with the visibility the pilothouse provides. The 43 design was conceived on our 2002 ATW Nordhavn 40 circumnavigation and in analyzing what we could do to make the 40 better, we felt that a larger wheelhouse (big enough to accommodate a helm chair) would be a big plus. Endurance will have a Stidd helm chair which will be one of the last things installed.

Once I was confident that we had things in hand, I spent some time with Carol to ask about how two families combine to select gear on a partnership boat like Endurance. Kurt and Steve did most of the factory options selections and delivery equipment purchases (dinghy, electronics, etc.) But the women took over on the interior hardware and decorating. Carol did a bit of outfitting from the Welcome Aboard catalog and a lot of the galley gear was purchased from Williams-Sonoma. Carol says that she and Susan really like Charlie’s Locker in Newport Beach, CA and that it is the best boat store for housewares. Coffee mugs with built in non-skid and two great rattan wastebaskets were among her favorite finds. Endurance also has a set of Tommy Bahama china (but we primarily used paper plates on this adventure). Thankfully, the couples have similar tastes, so there weren’t many debates over color palettes. And the women say compromise is the key to keeping the boat pleasing to all (and keeping a good friendship in tact!) A very helpful hint: prior to outfitting the boat, the women spent time measuring drawers and lockers to make sure items such as wastebaskets and liners fit perfectly. (The galley drawers have perfectly fitting catch-alls that were found at a store called Organized Living.)

As the trip got out into deep water, the swell became more consistent. We stayed perfectly upright with the stabilizers finning us about and the only real motion was the up and down as we went over the top of the undulating seas. Moving about is effortless as there are plenty of good low handholds throughout. Even when my hands were full, I found it quite natural to time my steps and lean into a bulkhead.

Upon arrival late Saturday afternoon we checked in with the Avalon Harbor patrol and were assigned a buoy in the open water fronting Hamilton Cove. After picking up our mooring we deployed our port side flopper stopper to dampen the rolling motion and then coordinated our efforts to launch the dinghy. The 43 is set up with a real nice mast and boom equipped with electric boom winches to take care of the heavy lifting. This can be a bit of a fire drill the first couple of times as you try to remember which button to push and get a handle on how much swing and heel will throw things out of balance. The team did a great job of manipulating our controls and soon we had the 11’2” Avon planing around the mooring field. Most stunning was the purring of the 20 hp Honda 4-stroke. I had to double check that it was running – talk about quiet!

Steve had fired up the stove burners on the way over to check that they worked, but our BBQ rail mount and low pressure propane connection was still on the ‘to-do’ list so we went ashore for dinner and had a great Mexican meal. It was terrific eating enchiladas while recounting the myriad of new experiences we had just undergone. The first mini-voyage under their belts had been a rousing success. And we all raised our margarita glasses to toast PAE for such a great new boat.

A funny side note: prior to tendering into shore, we briefly discussed a back-up plan for dinner. Fortunately it ended up not being a requirement…we had set a pull cage trap baited with stinky mackerel hoping to retrieve some lobster. But all we got was a smelly clean up. It was quite comical.

6:00 am, the light of day comes right in to say hello - a BIG hello - with curtains and blinds yet to be installed. Kurt soon had coffee brewing and we were all up and about ready for a few more hours at anchor before heading home. After a quick breakfast, we took turns running in the skiff trying to capture on film how beautiful the setting was and how stunning the 43 looks riding at anchor.

Later that morning, we were off. A few miles out to sea, a pod of porpoises came to play in our bow waves. A lot of traffic was returning to the mainland so Kurt and Steve got wrapped up in MARPA madness and once a target was acquired; we all had to guess its speed. I decided to give the engine room a wash down. The engine room is almost entirely fiberglass so should last forever and be very easy to keep sparkling.

After my chore I checked out the forward shower – quite comfortable underway, plenty of room, good exhaust, good ergonomics… just plain functional. It really seems that every part of the 43 benefits from the thousands of miles at sea that the collective Nordhavn world has accumulated.

At one point on the way home Sunday we had Neil Young blasting on the stereo – Steve and Carol were dancing in the pilothouse while I drove comfortably perched on the helm bench. With the chair installed, the dancing will be limited but a team of four will be able to hang out in the pilothouse just like everyone seems to gather in your kitchen at home during a party.

Time flew by on the return trip and after just a few short hours we found ourselves piloting back into Dana Point and tied up at the slip. To the casual observer, there was nothing really extraordinary about this overnighter - it was a very smooth first outing. But for Kurt, Steve and Carol, it couldn’t have been more thrilling.

For me, it was a reminder of why I became a salesman for PAE: exceptional boats with extraordinary owners. Seeing the Stroud-Antonius team embrace Endurance with enthusiasm and joy is what it’s all about. I thank both couples for letting me help them fulfill their boating dreams and wish them many years of fun-filled adventures.

Post script: If you are contemplating a new trawler and the Nordhavn 43 is on your short list, I would encourage you to actively find out more. This new design is going to be an evergreen for PAE and there is a long waiting list of people eagerly awaiting their own 43. The production schedule for the Nordhavn 43 is booked solid through hull number 19. There are still a few openings available between 20 and 30. Please be advised that base pricing increases are to be expected for future hulls. If you think the 43 might be your ideal cruiser, please contact your Nordhavn salesman today and make arrangements to get aboard and learn more about how this outstanding new Nordhavn design would fit into your power cruising lifestyle. Please check the calendar of events on our website to find out which boat shows will feature the Nordhavn 43 or to find one being commissioned at an office closest to you. If you have not contacted Nordhavn before, please feel free to email me at

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