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The Nordhavn Advantage
Part II
Part III

Ed. Note – This is the third in a series of articles written by PAE staff detailing the Nordhavn Advantage, that which sets the company behind the boats apart from the rest of the marine industry.

Part III – Knowledge is Power

By Jennifer Stern

At Nordhavn, we pride ourselves on our superior product, and we are particular about each component that goes into it. We have made our mark in this industry with quality being a top goal. We demand superior performance and service not only from ourselves but from the companies we partner with – from the factories that build our boats to the manufacturers of the doors, windows and engines that go inside each vessel.

Long-time partner Alaska Diesel Electric (ADE), which makes the Northern Lights generators as well as the stalwart Lugger engines that power most Nordhavns, illustrates the exemplary service a Nordhavn owner can expect to receive once they’ve purchased their boat.

Nordhavn 57, Goleen, owner Chris Samuelson and PAE
Commissioning tech Rick Girard perform a last minute engine room check.

As is typical with many of these companies that we team with, ADE conducted an orientation session for our salesmen so they could become more aware of the operation of the new generation of Lugger diesel engines (which are regulated and administered electronically) and thus, be better able to serve our customers and answer their questions. Following the success of the Nordhavn salesmen’s orientation, it was decided that Nordhavn owners themselves could benefit from partaking in a similar program. The folks at ADE put their heads together and came up with an agenda aimed directly at Nordhavn owners to acquaint themselves with the basic systems of their electronic engines, interpret monitor equipment, properly diagnose problems, and ensure overall operation awareness. “We’ve always encouraged owners and Nordhavn sales associates to contact us regarding any questions they may have,” said Steve Sholz, director of marine marketing for the Pacific Rim region (which includes the west coast of the U.S.) at ADE. “And we’ve arranged one-on-one sessions here in the area when requested.”

Last month, a group of six Nordhavns all berthed at a Sidney, BC marina took part in the 2-day training session conducted by ADE Training Manager Bob Senter. Focusing on Lugger Electronic Propulsion Engines and Northern Lights Generators, “classes” were held on Jim Cooper’s Nordhavn 57, Pastime, which is powered with a Lugger L1276A2 as well as Peter and Su Faklis’ N43, Posada, which runs on a Lugger L1066T.

PAE Project Manager Justin Zumwalt checks the vacuum gauge of the fuel
filters while underway.

The first day was devoted entirely to the electronically controlled main engine while the second day covered basic wing engines, generators, and minor maintenance/trouble shooting of those units.

Bob Senter gives a brief overview of the days: Following introductions and a brief question and answer session, we covered basic operation of the Lugger electronic engines with extremely heavy emphasis on preventive maintenance, fuel, lube, cooling and electronic control systems, basic trouble shooting and a thorough hands-on demonstration of “easy four-minute fuel filter change and bleeding”. All three L1276 owners were greatly relieved and confident that this job is relatively quick and easier than they thought. They appreciated the Lugger quick disconnect bleeding tool (53-50005) and understood the process well. Some of the L1276 equipped yachts have been supplied with a quick disconnect fitting/hose assembly for the diagnostic port, but most seem to have been built with a straight hose barb instead of a 90-degree elbow which allows the bleed hose to clear the flywheel housing – unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to use and prone to making a fuel mess because it has no shut off valve.

We spent a generous amount of time in the afternoon discussing, in not too technical terms, basic electronic engine diagnostics and the numerous features and configurations built into the ESP/Powerview gauge. Everyone learned how to change the data displayed (for example, to read instantaneous and total fuel consumption), understand the warning lights and read trouble codes. We also explored how CAN data is read at the ESP/Powerview and sent to the instrument panel gauges, including minor trouble shooting. Dean Heathcote, owner of a Nordhavn 55, later commented that portion was very helpful to him as he had experienced some connection related problems attributed to damaged wires. Every owner received complete engine workshop and fuel system diagnostic manuals in digital (CD) and hardcopy format along with a short exploration and navigation of the manuals.

As a side note on the CAN data/instrument wiring concerns, I observed that the RS485 data pair cable’s shield wire on the B terminal of the primary Powerview in Jim Cooper’s yacht was barely connected, just by one or two strands of bare wire where it appeared to have suffered mechanical damage from being pulled – it was stripped bare near the connector for about 1/2”. However, there is plenty of slack in the wiring harness, suggesting it may have suffered some unknown handling damage during the build. Dean Heathcote described a similar situation with his yacht, although he has repaired it so there is nothing to see, now. This would easily explain intermittent instrument panel data problems.

Salesman James Leishman changes the oil filter on the engine of a Nordhavn

On day two, we spent a good deal of time in the engine room familiarizing the group with the wing engine and generator, with heavy emphasis on maintenance and minor trouble shooting. Although the content is admittedly a bit more technical, the group enjoyed watching the “Don’t Drown Me” and “There is Logic to DC Logic” DVD videos. These were presented not as training videos, but as handy technical tips and trouble shooting information instantly available if needed when cruising far from home and skilled technicians. With that understanding, it was especially interesting to see how well the group seemed to grasp the most important points, as compared to observing dealer technicians viewing the same videos. Everyone seemed to really appreciate the extreme simplicity, reliability, ease of maintenance and simple diagnostics designed into their Lugger engines and Northern Lights generators.

Darrel Vail, a sales rep supporting ADE customers in British Columbia as well as overseeing the dealer network in BC and southeast Alaska, arrived late the second day and I briefly introduced him to all of the students who attended, (except for Dean Heathcote, who had returned to Seattle). My impressions of the feedback we received was entirely positive, enthusiastic and favorable. Providing this seminar aboard a Nordhavn in a somewhat small, intimate group setting seems especially conducive to a relaxed, enjoyable, excellent learning environment. When asked about suggestions for improving this type of presentation, the group seemed to feel that the material was about perfect for their needs and two days was just right. Somewhat surprisingly, no one expressed that the content was too technical.

If similar future seminars are planned, the N55 and larger yachts are perfect platforms for this type of event. A similar sized group presentation is completely feasible down to about the N47; smaller Nordhavns are better suited to a one on one hands-on learning situation. As usual, this opportunity to work closely with Nordhavn owners was another great experience.

Striving to make the Nordhavn owner’s cruising experience as positive as it can be is what fuels the exemplary customer service provided by PAE and our vendors. It is one of the many Nordhavn Advantages that sets our company apart from the rest of the marine industry.

If you are a Nordhavn owner who is interested in organizing a similar training seminar on your Lugger engine/Northern Lights generator, please e-mail us. (NOTE: Group sessions require enough interested people with similar-type engines.) To learn more about Alaska Diesel Electric, visit their website at




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