By Dennis Lawrence
When Tim and Bonnie Carter celebrated their 17th wedding anniversary, they did it in style. There were two bottles of champagne involved - one for pouring into plastic cups to toast their love, the other to smash over the bow of their boat. See, this anniversary was more than just a milestone in their marriage, it was a milestone in their lives: it was the day they took delivery of their Nordhavn 47, Migration. And it had been a long time coming. After waiting over a year, hull #20 was offloaded in Miami last May and later brought to Nordhavn's Stuart, Florida yard for commissioning. By the time October rolled around, the boat was nearly finished, but the Carters had to share her with hundreds of people at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show before getting to claim full ownership . After five hectic days, the show was finally over, but the fun was just beginning. As displays were breaking down all around them, Bonnie and Tim took a moment to mark the occasion. Along with PAE Vice President Jim Leishman, a few friends, a handful of PAE boat show staff, and me, their salesman, the couple raised their cups of champagne to commemorate all they had been through, and most importantly, drink to the good times that lie ahead.
The following day, one of the PAE Commisioning team members helped Tim and Bonnie bring the boat down to Miami where they took on fuel and let the electronics tech complete some last-minute testing. With all equipment in check, I arrived in Miami to accompany the Carters on their maiden cruise down to the Keys. Forecasters called for beautiful weather, effectively confirming that this was the right way to celebrate the dual-occasion.
We left at noon that day and aware that the winter light would be fading rapidly, decided to anchor behind Soldier Key. With the sunset as a gorgeous backdrop, Tim, Bonnie and I sat in the cockpit and began going over the 18-page "check-off list" (which outlines operational systems and procedures) that all PAE salesmen are required to complete with owners before they leave with their new boat. It might not seem the most romantic way to celebrate the first night of their anniversary/new boat cruise, but for the Carters, waxing prolific over monotonous details like fuel transfer systems was great fun. The romantic atmosphere had been somewhat blemished by my presence (although, Bonnie and Tim will admit that I was loads of fun!), so they focused on their passion for the boat.
After a few hours of systems discussions, Bonnie headed to Migration's spectacular gourmet galley complete with huge SubZero refrigerator and freezer and Thermidore oven. Taking a cue from a favorite recipe by Emeril Lagosi, she whipped up a scallop dinner which the three of us enjoyed with a lovely bottle of Pinot Grigio.
Early to bed, early to rise. The crew got up and we immediately began tackling the check-off list again until late morning. A mere peak of my head outside the pilothouse door told me our calm conditions had dissipated and the wind had picked up pretty good. We opted to stay the inside course, but in order to do so had to guide our way back toward Miami and make a cut that lead them out to Hawk Channel. It had been a long day, but we reached Rodriguez Key off the southern tip of Key Largo just before dark. Bonnie returned to the galley to make yet another scrumptious meal while Tim and I tackled still more operations procedures. At 10 pm, we were all beat, and turned in.
We got off bright and early the next day with the intention of making it to Key West by nightfall. The wind was still honking, but nothing the boat couldn't handle, and before we knew it we were tying up front and center at the A& B Marina. Now the thing you have to understand about Nordhavns is that compared to a lot of other boats down in Florida, they are still considered a pretty obscure breed. No matter where you go, Europe, the Northeast, the West Coast, there is something about a Nordhavn that turns heads. So new buyers beware...and be prepared to answer a lot of questions!
There's a great little restaurant at the A & B Marina, and Tim watched as diners' heads turned to peer at him make his way to his slip. Anchored just across from the marina were Stu and Deb Hamilton on board their Nordhavn 57, Diversion, waving the 47 on. By my account, practice made perfect and Tim expertly maneuvered the boat into her spot where a dozen or so onlookers were ready to help catch lines, then pick our brains about the boat. Several who were there on sportfishers were surprised to see a boat come in - in light of the weather. Questioning their decision to stay put, the other boaters re-considered heading out, but a quick tour of Migration and a feel for the weight she carried under her, her solid doors and windows, they realized why this boat could handle such conditions.
All nestled in to their slip and relishing a job well done, I gave the couple a last congratulatory hug before leaving the next day back home to the Stuart office. Meanwhile, Bonnie and Tim continued their week-long celebration by going out to attend the "Parrothead" convention that had taken over Key West that weekend. No doubt Jimmy Buffet would have been proud.
I love my job and my customers. Taking this time with the Carters to ensure they were comfortable with their new Nordhavn was very satisfying. Their beaming smiles were a testament to their happiness while the practical knowledge they had gained from our little trip was obvious and proved their willingness and desire to master the complex systems of the boat. It is this comprehension that will surely keep those smiles flashing for years to come. If you are considering a Nordhavn, please let me help guide you to your own boating dreams. If you have any questions on Nordhavns or the level of customer service you can expect as an owner, please feel free to contact me.
Dennis Lawrence is a salesman at Nordhavn's Southeast office in Stuart, Florida. You can contact Dennis by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on his cell phone at 772-263-0136.