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April 22, 2016

Earth Day special:
Nordhavns and owners help create environmental awareness

Today is Earth Day and while motoryachts aren’t exactly at the forefront of eco-friendly machines, Nordhavns are probably amongst the best there is if you’re trying to keep a green mindset while out at sea under power.

A Nordhavn’s full-displacement hull limits the speeds one can achieve resulting in blatantly reduced fuel burn; this, in turn, significantly minimizes a powerboat owner’s carbon footprint. An example of the efficiency of a Nordhavn was illustrated in an interview with N68 owner Ken Williams a few years back who commented that, while designed for a single 400 hp engine, his yacht, Sans Souci, reaches her displacement speed at just 1,350 RPMs, using only 220 hp. “For a 97-ton boat, she is unbelievably efficient,” Williams said.

Many Nordhavn owners, however, don’t stop at hull form when weighing ecological consequences versus powerboat operation. Some have proceeded with significant behaviors, modifications, and actions to promote an earth conscious attitude. Here are snapshots of three different owners and the completely diverse paths they have taken toward preserving the globe while simultaneously cruising around it.

Peter and Laurie Hayden, owners of N60#62 Tanglewood

The Haydens have always practiced efficiency at home and wanted to take a similar approach when they built their Nordhavn two years ago. Being disciplined in practicing resourcefulness while still choosing and doing things that achieve desired levels of comfort is a major part of the eco-equation for the couple.

“We wanted to be environmentally friendly as much as possible in the context of a luxury yacht. Most of our focus was on electric power consumption because we like to anchor out and we don't want to run a generator all the time. The less generator run time the better was/is our goal. It's less fuel, less noise, and less stink.

“Energy efficiency was a clear priority in picking appliances and equipment, but not to the extent that it compromised comfort and convenience. So, for example, we have a dishwasher and laundry and are aren't afraid to use them. But we got appliances with good energy star ratings.

“The Sub-Zero is another example. They are great performing fridges, but everyone bellyaches about how much power they consume. It turns out they are actually quite efficient given their size, and nothing uses less power without also being smaller.

“Then there are some counter-examples of devices that most people leave on all the time, but that are enormous power hogs. Satellite TV receivers are a good example. My KVH system, if left on as recommended by the manufacturer, consumes considerable MORE power than the Sub-Zero. It is actually the biggest power hog on board. So I leave it off and only turn it on when needed.”

  • Specific examples of enviro-friendly, energy-reducing components the Haydens selected for Tanglewood include:
  • 750w of solar panels on the fly bridge hard top
  • careful selection of appliances, but without compromising comfort and convenience
  • diesel heat rather than electric
  • heating using waste engine heat while underway rather than diesel
  • carefully checking where all our power consumption goes so we know what needs improving, and how we should behave.
  • use of LED lighting wherever practical.

Diligence, combined with making small changes, makes for surprisingly big impacts. And, says Hayden, is proof you can have comfort and efficiency at the same time.

James and Lynda Frantz, owners of N52#71 Albedos

Jim Frantz took delivery of his second Nordhavn in Spring 2015, and almost immediately afterward began experimenting with trimming stabilization gear. Frantz asserts that by tuning the dampingequipment in a creative way, range and/or speed can be increased while burning less fuel. “When any drag is eliminated, diesel engines work less, and as a result, they burn less too,” he said.

Frantz has been experimenting with what is known in the art as "zero degrees angle-of-attack from zero lift," which comes about by allowing the damping or stabilization fins to be set free to rotate. "In this freed position, the fins’ net lift is zero, thus their induced drag is least,” explains Frantz. “The free angle becomes the new fin center position, about which the damping equipment rotates – resulting in more efficiency and effectiveness. The new fin center angle becomes the zero degree angle-of-attack from zero lift."

Albedos will be utilizing the method making its way to the Nord2AK or Nordhavns to Alaska rendezvous. Frantz and wife, Lynda, are spearheading the event along with Douglas and Gerry Cochrane, owners of Nordhavn 57 Orion. One of the featured discussions at the Rendezvous will be a forum aimed at captains who are interested in finessing their stabilization gear which will include how to properly document results. Frantz’s expectations are that his empirical data is able to be applied and repeated to more Nordhavns and eventually become the standard for the entire fleet as a means for advancing environmental and efficiency goals. Ernie Romeo and Dave Wright of ABT-TRAC along with Nordhavn owners Peter Hayden and James Hamilton, as well as Pacific Asian Enterprises’ Chief of Design, Jeff Leishman, have been supportive of these experiments.

While efficiency is the primary result, there are other potential benefits to making stabilization gear trim adjustments. It eliminates the need to haul the boat in cases of Nordhavns equipped with intelligent fin control systems like ABT TRAC. There is also the possibility of picking up another 100 nautical miles or more in range and/or a tenth of a knot or two in speed which makes a dramatic difference.

“Since Nordhavns conjure up visions of long-range ocean crossings, any increase in efficiency is significant,” says Frantz. “Not only does the environment benefit but also the skipper and owner spend less on fuel. Wear and tear on equipment is reduced, too. This contributes to the earth friendly design of Nordhavns.”


Jurg and Ruth Beeli, Nordhavn 63#08 Kokomo

Jurg Beeli has incorporated his Nordhavns in yet another earth-aware way, one which promotes ocean life. Beeli, an avid nature photographer specializing in underwater photography and videography has used his Nordhavns as a platform for reaching far off places where most people are unable to see what lurks beneath the sea.

As the former chairman of Sunfish Productions, a media company providing underwater photos and reportage, Beeli was able to expose the public to incredible shots of marine wildlife. It was a task made easier with the help of his boats.

From their first Nordhavn, a 55-footer called Starfish, Beeli and wife Ruth traveled to remote islands in an effort to capture oceanic creatures – a particular favorite being Hooksty Reef, an atoll in the southern Bahamas. “It’s a really remote area, nobody ever gets there. You’re really in the middle of nature,” said Beeli in a video interview, explaining that other than the 500,000 birds that inhabit the island, the crew of Starfish never encountered any other visitors during their stays there. “It’s a wonderful experience we wouldn’t have been able to have without a boat like [the Nordhavn 55].”

As they did with their N55, the Beelis chose to outfit their Nordhavn 63 with specially-designed areas for SCUBA tank storage and lockers for dive equipment enabling them to engage in their epic underwater hunts. They continue to delight the public with images of marine life which serve as a reminder of all that is affected by human behavior and treatment of the world’s waterways.



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