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July 27, 2010

Mid-Summer Magic
Dana Point Open House draws big crowds

By Jeff Merrill

Over 150 Nordhavn aficionados took advantage of a summer Saturday to visit a fleet of seven Nordhavns gathered for the Southwest Open House this past weekend.  A notice on this website and a few mass emails to the faithful followers of our brand sent out  a casual invitation that created a much larger turnout than we expected.

Upon arrival visitors were greeted with pre-printed name badges and given a dock map with the slip locations of the boats on display.  There were breakfast rolls and snacks set up under the outdoor shade tent with tastefully decorated tables and chairs in the parking lot for relaxing and studying brochures.

Our good friends from West Marine were also on hand to add to the ambiance and they had a table set upwith various products including fender holders and the new Flir portable night vision viewer. (I tried it...looks like it will be a must-have gadget for serious adventurers.)

The PAE staff turned out in force I counted over 40 Nordhavn employees helping out on their Saturday – from the owners of the company, Jeff and Jim Leishman, (note: Dan Streech was out of town on a well deserved vacation) to project managers, marketing crew, commissioning team members and office administrators from all departments. It was a fun day at work for the Nordhavn team; not only did we get to talk Nordhavns on a beautiful sunny day, but it turned into a family-filled event – with wives, girlfriends, kids and even pets all pitching in.  Even the wives of the top brass – Sue and Nancy Leishman – worked the crowd. (Sue, who not only is Jim’s wife and mother to brokers James and Eric, but also Voyaging Under Power cover girl – could be seen running the inflatable around the harbor.) The low key approach – typical Nordhavn style – added a festive air to the event versus the stuffy “all business” approach many Open Houses seem to evoke.


PAE is certainly the most famous business resident in Dana Point harbor having delivered hundreds of new Mason sailboats andNordhavn trawlers (and motorsailers!) so the local community on the docks knew something was up with all of the hubbub, and we welcomed our dock neighbors to also come aboard and take a look at the beautiful boats they’ve been seeing coming and going over the years.

Amy Zahra who handles most of the west coast boat shows and is a key figure in our marketing department deserves a great big THANK YOU for organizing such an extraordinary event. Naturally Amy will deflect the credit and point to all of her wonderful co-workers who pitched in to decorate boats, set up tables and chairs, organize badges and fly banners – a team effort for sure, but under the detailed direction of Amy.

The boats on display were gathered for this one-day event with the intent of putting together a full product line display, something we have never been able to pull off since our boats are so nomadic and it’s hard to pin a Nordhavn down at the dock when it would rather be prowling the seas. But we did “capture” the following boats on Saturday (since not everyone reading this account was able to attend I have listed the web links for those boats on display that are offered for sale so that you can learn more about their specific details – please contact the listing salesman highlighted in the write-up directly to learn more).

Nordhavn 46 Alyconewas right along the seawall and one of the first boats people got to board.   The design that launched the Nordhavn brand is still as beautiful as ever and Alcyone is a fantastic late model 46 that is offered for sale and will be a super buy for someone who wants a well cared for 46 with low hours.  She is home ported and Long Beach and the Kavorinos family brought her down for the weekend so she could be on display – thanks you guys, she shows superbly. Larry Gieselman has the Alycone listing.

Nordhavn 47 Sua Sponte was right nearby and hosted by her broker, Paul Hutton.  Sua Sponte is a beautiful flybridge model with the optional bunks arrangement forward and has an innovative day head in the salon.  Sua Sponte is in great shape and Paul has had a lot of interest in her so far, she probably won’t last long.  She is now in Dana Point and available for viewing by appointment.


Nordhavn 56 Ata Marie is hull number two of our motorsailers and she was located at the end of our commissioning dock by the 57 Bagan and the 62 Saumlaki, what a fitting location to see these three Nordhavns.  Ata Marie features the forward sailing cockpit and has just returned to Dana Point after a one year shake down so should be trouble free and ready to set sail. Eric Leishman, the listing agent was aboard to show people through and he even hopped in an inflatable to take some of our guests across the harbor to see 5608 – a non-forward sailing cockpit motorsailer that he sold and is presently being commissioned in Dana Point for her new owners

Nordhavn 57 Bagan, the famous 57 that has not only enjoyed tropical days in the south Pacific but earlier this year completed the brave journey across the top of North America to complete the Northwest Passage, has settled into Dana Point looking to find a new owner.  Bagan is a lovely Nordhavn 57 that does not betray the wear and tear you might expect from her travels – she looks exceptionally well and is ready to go carve through many more swells.  She is listed for sale by Larry Gieselman.


Nordhavn 57 Senjero was over on the far dock and out at the end, a bit of a hike, but worth the dock walk to see her.  Senjero is one of the last 57s built and after 5 years and over 1700 hours of engine use she actually looks better than the day she was delivered. Her owners, Neil and Elaine Williamson – along with their faithful beagle Cody – joined us for the Open House and did a great job of playing tour guide and answering questions about their time aboard including tips on care and they spent whatever time anyone wanted to spend talking about Nordhavns, thanks you guys!   Senjero is one of my listings, so contact Jeff Merrill if you would like to know more.

Saumlaki is Nordhavn 62 hull number one, the Nordhavn design that many people imprint in their brain when they think of a Nordhavn.  She has been very carefully maintained and remained an active trawler throughout her days.  It was particularly impressive for many of the Open House attendees to see an admittedly older boat, hold up so well after all of these years.  If you would like more details on Saumlaki please contact Larry Gieselman.


The largest Nordhavn in the harbor right now is Rick and Debbie Heiniger’s beautiful new Nordhavn 76 Eliana.  After a two year build process they are now only a couple of weeks away from finally being able to take off and enjoy the Nordhavn lifestyle.  I have seen Eliana literally grow up, during visits to the yard in Taiwan and during her commissioning in Dana Point, but I have never seen her uncovered (all of the cardboard protection that is attached to avoid unintentional scratching was removed for this event) and she is gorgeous!  Seeing her in her true form after all of this time was certainly something that Rick and Debbie were thrilled with and they were marvelous hosts to allow so many people to tour through their boat.  (Note:  Eliana is not for sale, she was graciously “loaned” to us for the day – thank you Rick and Debbie!).  If you would like to learn more please sign up for their blog –

It was also fun to see several different current Nordhavn owners stop by to check out the event and join in the multiple conversations.  I have always felt that the best sales person for our product is a happy owner and we had a great bunch on hand who were unabashedly enthusiastic about their boats.  Among the owners whom I met or heard were about are:  Larry and Mary Mason who own a Nordhavn 57 and Per Hellstrom, another Nordhavn 57 owner.  John Graham and Susan Felton who own a Nordhavn 56 motorsailer. John Newport a 46 owner and Don and Paulie Grover who also own a 46. Plus Nordhavn 43 owners Jeff and Michelle East…and I apologize if I missed any other owners who were in town.  It was a remarkable opportunity for potential buyers to converse with the people who are out there doing it, so much more informative than just walking around at a boat show where you are really only interested in looking at one or two boats anyway.

As the morning moved into afternoon the hospitality tent shifted from breakfast to lunch and there were cheese and crackers, chips and salsa, mixed nuts and an assortment of cold drinks on ice. 

All of the southern California Nordhavn sales staff was on hand and moving about the various boats – Gerry Edwards, Larry Gieselman, Paul Hutton, Eric Leishman, James Leishman and Jeff Merrill and we were also fortunate to have Don Kohlmann travel down from the Seattle office so that we could match up one sales person for each of the boats on display – seven on seven.

The summer has been busy for all of the sales people Nordhavn has worldwide. We have a number of new boats being commissioned literally all over the world and the brokerage (used) boat market continues to be active.  At the risk of turning a celebration into a commercial I would just like to say two words, “Buyer’s Market”.  This message rang loud and clear and even though the economic shuffle has dealt some unplayable cards, there continues to be a increase in the number of people who have their sights set on pursuing the wandering cruising lifestyle that is best enjoyed aboard a Nordhavn.  Don’t forget, you can always log on to www.nordhavn.com for details on all of our boats, both new and used.

I am not aware of any offers happening during the Open House, but I was involved in and overheard several deep discussions taking place – surely this event lit the fuse for several people and this really was a great experience for all involved. Speaking from the PAE/sales side of things we could not have been more pleased with the overall quality of everything associated with this event.

One of my potential Nordhavn clients is a couple from northern California named Michael and June Jones. Michael and I have emailed back and forth and chatted on the phone on many occasions, but this was the first opportunity to spend time together with the Joneses and for them to get aboard a Nordhavn.  Michael is an active participant in the Nordhavn Dreamers web group and (I hope you don’t mind Michael, but I have lifted some of your feedback from your posting after the event as just like I think our best salesperson is a happy owner I think the second best advocate is someone who is in the market and has a great experience) here is an edited summary of what Michael had to report,

“Nice employees, sweet owners, pretty boats, and interesting prospective buyers. It was a 100% positive experience for us.

One highlight for me was seeing Eliana in detail. Much is different from the General Arrangement on the Nordhavn website –

1. The deck/sole heights were adjusted slightly to remove the small step between galley and saloon. This creates a continuous space from the aft entry doorway to the forward refrigerators. The effect is extremely nice. They must have paid a price for this somewhere else but in our opinion it was a good trade. This is a defining improvement for the N76.

2. The wooden finish in Eliana is elegant. It has grain aligned horizontally, in light/medium tones, with the result of lengthening the apparent sizes to expand the sense of space.

3. June and I met the owners who were charming, open, and thoughtful. They would be wonderful to share an anchorage with and get to know better, which seems our general sense of Nordhavn boat owners.

We also explored Senjero, an N57 available now in brokerage through Nordhavn.  Again, nice owners who were warm and great to meet. (There was a third owner, who like Ken and Roberta Williams' Shelby, is a dog. He was nice to meet as well.) June and I had interesting and strong positive reactions to the 57. 

1. We both thought it was much bigger inside than expected. (Much like a 1950-1960 UFO movie where the space ship is clearly small outside yet the inside is vast without limit ;-) While this seems true of Nordhavn in general, this was the smallest one with passageways generally wide enough for my shoulders so it felt reasonably roomy in the square footage sense and reasonably comfortable in the personal space sense.

2. The flybridge, though crowded slightly by the big captains chairs, was spacious. For a cruising couple it was perfect--both in the chairs when underway or both at the table when dining at anchor.  The commanding view was nice but best of all for me was the short, visually open connection between bridge and flybridge. The closeness (half a deck rather than a full deck in height difference thanks to fore/aft setbacks rather than stacking) is a personal design preference and my favorite aspect of the new N78 design. In fact I revisited the N57 and walked back and forth through this space to confirm my views about this. Nice!

3. Senjero had a side door in the galley (apparently an option when the N57 was new) and that seemed good to us.

We saw the other boats as well. They were nice but I did not have reactions to design or layout that add significantly to what is already reported above. We had a great day and enjoyed everything about it. “

The Open House was supposed to end about 4pm and hangers on or late arrivals probably left the docks about 5pm.  As we packed up and put things away there were many conversations about how powerful this event was to allow so many people to see so many Nordhavns with all of the resources to help guide them through the boats all in a quick six hour session.  We know that the attendees had a great time and we know that the employees also enjoyed this much more personal approach to showing our boats.  The cross section of products available to view and the enthusiastic rapport amongst all of the potential Nordhavn buyers mingling with each other, hanging around on boats and talking to PAE employees about their dreams really left all of us singing on a high note.

I think the Nordhavn Open House is the wave of the future...don’t be surprised if quite soon you see an announcement for the next Nordhavn Open house. And if you missed this one, be sure to make the next!

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