March 4, 2010
Good Nordhavn, Good Karma
By John Torelli
(Ed. note: We’ve been told before by our customers that their Nordhavns have served as their good luck charms…in the name of protecting them in harrowing seas or affording them to meet certain people. In this month of celebrating St. Patrick, we received news about another lucky turn of events that happened to one N40 owner. Call it “luck of the Nordhavn”!)
The following is a true account that occurred this past weekend.
It's Friday morning and I'm leaving work for the short 15 minute drive to Maria Elena (N4061) docked on Harbor Island, San Diego, CA. I make it a practice to check on the boat every three to four days when my wife, Mary, and I are not aboard. Upon arriving at the marina I realize the calm before for the winter storm out on the bay (OK most people wouldn’t call one inch of rain a storm, but in southern California the weather people treat it like it’s practically a dang hurricane). It had been over a month since we took the boat out for a run and that goes against my preventative maintenance schedule of keeping systems running so as not to let them sit. So I checked my schedule on the Blackberry and realized I had just under two hours until my meeting with the new company president (some of us Nordhavn owners still have to work for a living) and decide that was enough time to take Maria Elena out for spin. One nice thing about the N40s is the ability to single handle them.
So after a 20-minute warm up and pre-check, the lines are casted off and I'm cruising down the fairway. After five years of Nordhavn ownership I still find something special about being aboard and cruising in the pilothouse. Within a few minutes I'm clear of the marina and heading out into the bay for a ½-mile run. A check of the Lugger and generator gauges shows normal. I listen to the sounds and beat of the Lugger and all is good. Ten minutes later I make the sharp turn back to port and feel the stabilizers work to keep us level. About a minute later I hear the sound of a siren and look outside the pilothouse starboard door to see a USCG 28' RIB pulling up. First thing’s first and I scan the horizon and then put the boat in neutral before walking out the starboard door onto the Portuguese Bridge. The six crewmembers of the RIB take their position as one young officer asks what I'm up to. I explained about the quick run just to keep the systems functional. They ask when was the last time I was boarded by the USCG to which I responded it had been some time (like 20 years ago). The officer notifies me that they will be conducting a safety inspection and coming aboard. I start to get nervous about my time constraints and the meeting I need to make at the office but remained composed and asked what they would like me to do. They advised to remain in neutral and they would move closer in. I ran to the back of the boat to hand them a line and two officers came aboard. Then it happened. They asked for my driver’s license (no problem) and current registration (ouch!) After five years of consistently keeping all records onboard (copies at home) I had removed the owner’s manual, USCG Registration and insurance papers earlier in the week to make a copy and left them in the car at the marina. So I start to explain to the crew and told them that if they would follow me back to the marina I would prove it. Then they ask to see the hull number permanently marked on the boat. Dang, I knew there was something I forgot to do a few years ago. I played the "I think Nordhavn marked the stringer in the lazarette" card and opened the hatch. The six foot tall crew member took one look down and decided to take my word for it. Back to the registration, I pleaded for them to let me prove I was not making up the story and they agreed to follow me in.
So there I am worried about getting back to work and thinking about how long this would take and what it was going to cost me. One crew member is standing in the pilothouse with me with his gun and the other advises he is going to perform an inspection as the RIB with triple 300HP outboards shadows me. I almost laughed out loud wondering if these guys thought I might make a run for it in a Nordhavn. I started to chat with guy standing over me and he loosened up. He started to compliment the boat and asked about its range. He went on about the pilothouse and how nice the Nordhavn was compared to most all boats they board. After about five minutes the second crew member comes up to the pilothouse to announce that everything was fine below and what a nice boat. It was then I felt like asking them to remove their boots but thought better. (If Mary had been on board she would have had a fit…worse yet Daisy would be barking her head off). The trip to the marina took ten minutes and I asked one of the guys if he would like to drive as deployed the bumpers. He enjoyed taking control of the Nordhavn and mentioned he had a single screw boat back home in NY. Yes, another connection that I played as hard as I could. One thing led to another and I asked the guys if they read Sea magazine and that I had an article published this month based on the boat. They were not aware of the magazine but thought it was cool I had written an article and a book of which I had a copy on board. Once on the dock I asked one of the guys to walk to the car with me. The officer in charge came over and said no need and to “just sign here”. Ouch, here it comes…$500 or $1,000 I'm thinking to myself. I told the guys no, that they had been so professional and polite that I owed it to them to prove I was not lying. So off we went to the car and I showed them everything. As we walked back to the boat I told the entire crew that I planned to write an article about my experience and how professional they were. They responded by saying they would welcome the positive press and provided me contact information with the PR office. Then as I signed the citation the office tells me it will not cost me anything. Just provide a copy of the registration when I get the notice in the mail. Then the officer asks if I would like to spend a day with them on the water so I can see firsthand what they do to help with the story. Wow, a free ride on a RIB with 900HP, I would think so. I thanked them all as they started to board and leave. Back on Maria Elena I stopped them again as they drove by to handed them a copy of my book Life is a journey why not live aboard a trawler.
So, turns out what I thought might be bad experience wound up being very pleasant. While I always have held the Armed Services in the highest regards, I now have a little additional appreciation and respect for these young professionals. If you are ever boarded, I would suggest you do what they say and be respectful as they are only doing their jobs.
P.S. I made the meeting with the boss!
John Torelli is a two-time Nordhavn owner. He has spoken at several Trawler Fest events on the concept of living aboard a trawler and has written a book Life is a journey, why not live aboard a trawler, which can be purchased by clicking here.