Nordhavn 40 Around the World Voyage
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"Around the World in a 40-footer"
By Jim Leishman
February 2002 Sea

On November 3, a Nordhavn 40 began a six month, 23,000-plus-mile circumnavigation of the globe. At the helm was Jim Leishman, vice president and co-founder of Dana Point, California-based Pacific Asian Enterprises Inc. (P.A.E), builder of the Nordhavn line of expedition capable trawler yachts.

In his own words, here's how the idea for this cruise came about and how those involved planned this record-setting adventure.

It had been a long, hectic and mentally draining day. I had been on my feet at the Seattle Boat Show since early morning, and I don't think we even broke for lunch - typical of so many days I've spent showing Nordhavn boats at the various shows we attend annually.
Now, it was time to relax - and the cold beer tasted great as Ray Danet, Phil Newton and I awaited dinner at Lake Union's Crab House restaurant. Another round was ordered and we discussed the day's events - and then the upcoming summer.

We were building a Nordhavn 40 that would be used as a demonstrator boat and displayed the following spring and fall at this same Seattle show. During the summer, we had planned to cruise to Alaska aboard the new boat, with key company people aboard. Having our sales staff, project managers, designers and office personnel experience this type of cruising on the boats they build and sell has always paid huge dividends for us, and it has led to dramatic improvement of the boats and their systems.

After another glass of Hefeweizen, we all agreed that the cost of the summer cruise would lie insignificant, relative to the knowledge that we would gain. In fact, I announced we should do much more of this. Why not take our little Nordhavn 40 around the world, for the adventure of doing it and for the experience - which, as boat builders and designers, we need to have and can justify paying for?

My suggestion was met with great enthusiasm - and the balance of that evening was spent planning the adventure.

Weather Considerations
Upon returning home and receiving a favorable response from my business partners, I began to look at the route and tile feasibility of making this trip in one season. To my astonishment, it looked totally doable.

After consulting Jimmy Cornell's "Cruising Routes of the World" and speaking with friend and weather forecaster Walt Hack of New Jersey, we found it would lie ideal to depart California for Hawaii in November. Then, as fast as possible, we'd move west. Tile seasons would open up with favorable conditions.

November is a good month to cross to Hawaii because the threat of tropical storms has passed, yet it's too early for the midwinter storms that appear in December and January. The Western Pacific and Philippines are plagued with typhoons in September, October and November; lint by mid December, the threat passes and the South China Sea begins to feel the cooling effects of the northeast monsoon.

By mid-December, conditions are ideal for transiting south from the Philippines to Singapore. By January, the monsoon's northeast flow of wind and current provide favorable conditions for crossing the Indian Ocean.

Moving northwest up the Red Sea in February is tolerable - and although it would lie better to enter the Eastern Mediterranean six or eight weeks later, getting there by early March is acceptable.

Transiting the Mediterranean and entering the Atlantic by the end of March will require some caution but once the vessel turns south and readies the Cape Verde Islands in April, the spring crossing of the Atlantic to Antigua will be fine.

The Caribbean can be crossed and the Panama Canal transited, and our boat will he heading north in the Pacific before the beginning of the summer's hurricane season.

With a lot of hard running and a little luck, we should lie able to circumnavigate the world in about six months: a record for this size and type of motor vessel.

The Crew
The total circumnavigation will require running over 23,000 miles - and the trip has been divided into five legs: Dana Point to Singapore, Singapore to Greece, Greece to Antigua, Antigua to Acapuleo and Acapuleo to Dana Point.

Five different captains and crews will be involved - all key employees of Pacific Asian Enterprises.

The economic justification for the trip is the experience gained by the crew, which includes all company owners and designers, three different project managers, the engineer that writes all of our operator's manuals and our key sales personnel. The knowledge gained will be used to improve existing boats and will he utilized in future designs.

A Totally Stock Vessel
By March 2001, We made the decision to proceed with our circumnavigation. The boat was nearly complete, and we would undertake the voyage in a totally stock vessel.

It was our intent to use the planned Alaska trip as a shakedown cruise, and we didn't really do anything in preparation of the big trip until after Alaska. The basic boat is designed for offshore use to begin with, so preparation decisions only had to do with added convenience and safety equipment.

In fact, gear that was added to the boat to enhance the Alaska trip - such as a Hurricane hot water cabin heating system - might not have been added if the vessel was to be used solely for the circumnavigation. Some equipment that would be desirable primarily air conditioning was not added. That's a decision I hope we don't regret. The only structural additions were four acrylic storm plates for the saloon windows. The standard boat includes includes welded aluminum lugs to accommodate the panels.

Determining the Vessel's True Range and Speed
During our circumnavigation, some of the long legs are in excess of 2,000 miles, so lower speeds arc required.

I spent two full days doing sea trials off Dana Point, running at 1,300, 1,400, 1,500 and 1,600 rpm, with the vessel full of fuel and water and nearly fully provisioned. I needed to determine as precisely as possible die exact fuel burn and boat speed at these rpm levels.

Our fuel system has a supply reservoir that is designed to allow precise fuel consumption checks over 15 minute intervals. At the conclusion of the tests, I decided to check the capacity of the supply reservoir and found that it held five percent more fuel than designed (this is reasonable, as the dimensions of the reservoir can vary slightly with its fabrication)

Taking all this information into account, I developed ; performance curve that is unique to this vessel, which gave me the accurate information we will need to safely cross the ocean and manage our speed and fuel consumption.

An interesting point is that, during our performance testing, we ordered an alternate three-blade propeller (our standard propeller is four-blade). We knew from experience that a three-blade prop would increase our cruising efficiency by up to 10 percent.

After the above-mentioned tests were completed, we repented the process with the new propeller. We did experience the improvement in performance we had predicted; however, we also picked up a mild amount of vibration characteristic of most three-blade propellers.

I agonized over the dilemma - speed and range in exchange for added noise and vibration. The standard boat runs so smoothly and quietly that I could not bear the idea of spending the next six months listening to the noise, as mild as it was.

The next morning, I reinstalled the old propeller. If I were outfitting another Nordhavn 40 identical to this one, I would still feel compelled to run the same series of tests, recognizing that propeller draw can vary from boat to boat due to propeller inaccuracies. I'd also want to check the capacity of the supply reservoir.

Essential Equipment
We equipped our boat with both Naiad active fin stabilizing and TPS ("Hopper stopper" stabilizing), to reduce roll off shore. Either one of these systems would have been adequate for the voyage; however, because we would have many guest crewmembers join us on different legs of tills cruise - and because of the popularity of both systems - we decided that both would lie included.

An auxiliary 27 hp Yanmar engine was also installed. We call this a "wing engine" - and most Nordhavns have been equipped with this option.

The wing engine has its own starting batten', transmission, shaft and folding propeller; and it operates off its own separate fuel supply. In the event of a total engine or drivetrain failure, the wing engine will give us about 5 knots of propulsion in calm water.

It will be routinely used to keep the boat on course, stable and moving forward during main engine fluid checks and maintenance.

Another piece of equipment we considered important to the voyage was a water-maker. It is very important to us that the boat can be kept clean, the laundry can he done and the crew can shower and use water without restraint.

We felt that a 110v AC water-maker could not always lie used on the long passages, as the added fuel consumption of a running generator might not be acceptable. We selected a large 12v DC unit manufactured by Spectra, because it can produce 400 gallons of water per day while operating off the main engine's continuous-running DC alternators.

We installed the latest electronics at the helm - including primary and secondary radar, GPS and video depth sounder units. In addition, we equipped the boat with a large-screen chart plotter, wind instruments, an autopilot, a VHF radio, an SSB radio and two satellite telephones for worldwide telecommunications and e-mail. (Next month, Sea will take a closer look at the electronics installation aboard this boat - and why these gear selections were made.)

Safety First
Onboard safety was a major concern for us. Knowing that we would have no more than four people aboard during any one leg of our cruise, we felt a six-man open ocean life raft would be adequate. We installed a Switlik canister model with hydrostatic release.

An ACR EPIRB was interfaced with the onboard GPs and hard-mounted on the front of the wheelhouse - also with a hydrostatic release.

Additionally, we included an abandon ship bag - stowed in the wheel-house - with another ACR EPIRB with a built-in GPs We also included a hand-held GPs, a VHF radio, an antenna and battery pack for the Iridium phone (we can pull it from its docking station), two gallons of fresh water, a handheld PUR water-maker, fishing gear, flashlights and flares. We also decided to carry four immersion suits for cold water.

The life raft is mounted an adequate distance from the ship's dinghy (in case of fire), and our plan was to try to launch both in an emergency.

A Para-Tech sea anchor could be deployed off the how, in case of an emergency engine failure or if we needed to ride out a storm while conserving fuel. We also decided to carry a Para-Tech drogue, which could be deployed astern in very heavy weather to enhance direction control and slow the boat down.

Spare Parts
Recognizing the potential for problems and the need to keep moving or lose our weather/time windows, it's important that we minimize delays. For that reason, an extensive supply of spare parts has been brought aboard.

The usual parts necessary for a long voyage - including spare freshwater pumps, bilge pumps, engine belts and niters - have all been included. In addition, we're carrying a spare main engine starter motor, an injection pump, injectors, injector tubes, a fuel lift pump and alternators.

We also carry a spare steering pump, a steering ram, an extra tiller arm, an extra Naiad hydraulic pump and fin actuator rams, spare hoses for steering and stabilizer hydraulics, an autopilot head, an autopilot brain box and motor with hydraulic pump, and an extra stabilizing fin, tow line and Cow chain, in case we lose one of our ''flopper stopper" rigs.

For the average boat owner to carry all these spares, it would represent a significant expense - and if it were not absolutely necessary for us to minimize delays I'd leave 75 percent of this stuff at home. Spare parts can be shipped quickly and efficiently to just about anywhere in the world.

Politics and Security
After we finally had our cruise itinerary firmly in place, we announced our plans to the press. Then came the tragic events of September 11, which gave us a couple of weeks' pause and reconsideration.

We had planned to be passing through the Philippines and Malaysia, and we would have to enter the Red Sea through its 20-mile-wide southern entrance - with Somalia to our south and Yemen to the north. We also planned to take on fuel in Djibouti and then would run 1,000 miles - with the Sudan and Egypt to port and Saudi Arabia to starboard. Then, we would pass through the Suez Canal, before entering the perceived safety of the Mediterranean.

Despite our concerns, we believe it will lie safe to cruise this route - and with great enthusiasm, we are going ahead with our plans.

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Nordhavn 40 Around the World Voyage