Welcome to Nordhavn.com - Power That Is Oceans Apart
July 12, 2015
Tale of a brand new Nordhavn 40:
the adventure before the adventures
By Dave Balfour
One of the greatest
benefits of purchasing a new – or used – Nordhavn from PAE and its
staff of knowledgeable, experienced brokers, is the personalized service and
attention that goes along with it. Case in point: salesman Eric Leishman personally
delivered his client’s N56 Motorsailer to our docks in North Palm Beach,
FL, while salesman Dave Balfour brought his customer’s brand new Nordhavn 40
from Florida to Rhode Island and then up to Canada. (He reflects upon this trip
below.) This is yeomen’s work our staff provide, not only to serve our clients
but also to strengthen the Nordhavn Yachts sales team’s position as amongst the
best in the business.
There’s nothing like a little intercontinental cruise to
kick off a brand new Nordhavn ownership stint. It’s exactly what Nordhavn 40#69
had to do, amassing over 1,800 miles on her keel before she was officially
handed over to her owners last month. If anything, the owners should be happily
convinced that their tough little ship is well and purpose-built.
Since shipping from the South Coast factory in Xiamen,
China, last January, the N40 skirted up the entire eastern seaboard and traversed
through the Erie Canal, across Lake Ontario then through Lake Erie and Lake
Huron, finally winding up to Georgian Bay in Ontario – an impressive trek
for such a new boat.
Truth be told, the trip was never intended to be that ambitious, and in fact, around 800
of those accumulated miles were unplanned, but became necessary due to the
historic winter that happened in the northeast this year. The owners, who hail
from Quebec, Canada, had wanted to commission their boat at Nordhavn’s
Northeast office in Portsmouth, RI, where I am a salesman, putting them much
closer to the boat during the commissioning process. Unfortunately, record
breaking snows and low temperatures made offloading at the scheduled shipping
port in Baltimore an impossibility. Just five days before the scheduled
offload, the Corps of Engineers advised us that unloading elsewhere was
necessary due to ice conditions in the Chesapeake Bay and the closure of the C
& D Canal. The only option was to detour the delivery ship to Port Everglades and
begin commissioning in Palm Beach.
I: Florida to Rhode Island
With the hand-over location in the distant town
of Oakville, Ontario, commissioning crews were up against the clock in order to
try and meet the owners’ early June deadline to begin cruising on their boat
– what with the season up in that part of the world being more
abbreviated than typical.
So the game began: in February, I brought her up to our
office in Palm Beach where she spent three weeks getting the “quick and dirty”
commissioning special – finished out just enough to enable me to hop on
with my Iphone and some other basic temporary electronics. Cardboard covered
all the soles and plastic shielded the seating and bunks. My crew and I were in
pure delivery mode. We left on Easter Sunday and headed for open ocean through
the Lake Worth Inlet in Palm Beach.
I have sold a number of N40s, and the first thing that
caught my eye with this brand new 40 was what a difference-maker the fiberglass
stack makes. Until now, we’ve gone with a mast and boom configuration but the
owners have a number of low bridges to contend with so the stack was an
absolute must for them. Nordhavn’s Chief of Design, Jeff Leishman, was able to accommodate
their needs: standing at just 17’11” (significantly less than the 31-foot stack
on the average Nordhavn), it more than does the job for the 18-foot clearance
requirements. (As a side note, a hinge could be added to lay back the stack if
a lower air draft is needed.) I’ve got to say, in my humble opinion, the stack
enhances the boat not only in its purpose but also aesthetically. It’s a much
more modern feel and fits in well with the look of her larger sisters (Nordhavn
43,52 and 60).
Having travelled the ICW in other Nordhavns prior to
this, the addition of the FRP stack is a huge upgrade. The wait times at
bridges along the way (in Norfolk, VA specifically) can really hold you up. But
on this trip, we only needed to stop at two bridges that were ridiculously low.
We weren’t making them - stack or no stack.
Being on the water in April in Florida is great! Other than
some bumpy weather (25+ knot winds) going around Cape Canaveral, the weather
was pretty nice and we hit all of our waypoints on time. And the requisite sea
life accompaniment was so cool; first it was the porpoises, then a pod of
whales, followed by a couple of sea turtles.
Our first stop was in Charleston, SC. There we met up
with other clients-turned-friends of mine who purchased their new N40 in 2012. With
the boats side by side, it gave the perfect opportunity to compare the new
stack style vs. the mast and boom rigging. They both look great; the stack and
davit offer a modern flair while the mast and boom configuration is ideal for
The following morning we headed out again with Beaufort,
NC in mind. Thirty hours later, following a couple of great sunrises, we
arrived in Moorhead City.Here we
performed the 100 hour service before heading further along the coast.
At this point we decided to stay inside for a couple days
and do a little sightseeing along the way.We travelled along in the Intracoastal aimed toward a small
marina in Belhaven, NC, a quiet little town where we did some provisioning and
enjoyed a night off the boat.
The following morning we headed out again and planned to
stop at the Coinjock Marina.It’s
a spot known for its cheap fuel prices as well as an on-site restaurant that
serves great prime rib.It was an
easy decision to go there since we had previously decided not to run theditch
at night. Many sections of the Intracoastal are not very wide and are lined
with hickory stumps.We had been
warned by other boaters about the hazard. With the electronics yet to be
installed and no depth finder we took it easy through this stretch.
Monday morning we headed out again and went offshore at
Norfolk. It was a couple days later - soon after crossing into Virginia - that
we realized we were leaving the warm temps behind us. The type of cool air I’m used to in April enveloped us, but
it wasn’t a worry since the 40 is equipped with a well-working Hurricane
Heater. There was even a switch in sea life: instead of porpoises we were
greeted by seals as we neared Montauk Point.
Ten days after leaving Palm Beach, we were safely tied up
at our dock here in Rhode Island to finish with the commissioning prior to commencing
with “Part Deux” of the trip. All told, the delivery to this point was very
uneventful and we arrived on schedule in order to have commissioning completed
with enough time to get the boat up to Canada in early June.
II. Commissioning in Rhode Island
The six-hour car ride from Magog, Quebec, to Portsmouth,
RI, was no problem for the owners who made the trip nearly every weekend. Each
Friday through Sunday in May, they oversaw work on their boat. They say their
N40 Spirit Wolf is the culmination of
a 10-year dream so they wanted to be involved in every aspect of it.
Each time I step on a new boat, I think it is even nicer
than the last. And usually, it’s true, only because our builders and engineers
learn just that much more each time they create a new boat. Plus most owners
are so thorough in their research, they have honed a precise vision of how they
want their boat laid out. Of course, you can’t get everything you want and Ithink ultimately, the owners know that. There have to be some compromises
somewhere. N40#69 had a few custom features other than the FRP stack
arrangement. Those included the removal of a port settee in the saloon making
room for additional storage cabinets as well as room for a couple of handsome
comfy barrel chairs. Another nice touch was the oversize Dutch door aft
that features larger upper and lower tempered glass windows in each
panel. This allows for more light in the boat and makes the settee feel
larger. (Both these ideas were taken from our N56 Motorsailer, on which
the owners spent a lot of time; hull #9 is currently for
sale at our dock.)
The first weekend in May, N40#69 was the star of our
Northeast Open House held at our docks alongside a few other Nordhavn brokerage
models. Even in the middle of commissioning, she was still a showstopper. It
was clear my clients realized this – I got a real good glimpse at the
pride of ownership coursing through them. They talked freely and happily about
the choices they made in putting together their beloved Spirit Wolf as well as their Nordhavn buying journey.
It took approximately six weeks for the complete electronics
suite, watermaker and other items to be installed and the boat to be appointed.
On May 29th, we were ready to bid adieu to Rhode Island and begin
the rest of our trip north. Gone was all the cardboard protecting the surfaces.
The boat was shiny, new, comfy and set up with the latest and greatest
navigation gear. You instantly knew this was going to be a much easier trip.
III. Rhode Island to Canada
We shoved off on a blustery day in Portsmouth –
probably the roughest part of the 610 nm trip was getting out of Narragansett
Bay and out into the Block Island Sound. Despite the unseasonably warm temps
New England had experienced this May, the water was still chilly thanks to
aforementioned brutal winter. Spirit Wolf was often a lone wolf cruising solo out in the ocean – save for the
odd freighter or tug and barge.
Our route to Canada was via Long Island Sound through the
East River and into the Hudson River at New York City.We ran overnight up the Hudson and
arrived at the first lock of the New York Canal System in Troy, NY shortly
after breakfast.Once past the
first lock in Troy we took a left and headed into the Erie Canal which
stretches across the entire state.
The Erie Canal is very picturesque as we travelled
through many of the small towns along the way making our first stop in
Amsterdam, NY. The canals vary between the Mohawk River and the actual canal
that brings you through the locks and around the dams on the river.
The lock system is only open during daylight hours (8am
to 6pm) so we pushed on and ended up tying up at a park at Lock 20 in Marcy,
NY.This was a peaceful place west
Day three on the Erie Canal brought us across Lake Oneida
and put us on the Oswego River for our final push to get through the lock
system and into Lake Ontario.We
spent another night “locked” between locks so finished this part of the trip
the following morning. Traversing the historical Erie Canal and its lock system
was pretty nifty. Our only complaint was that the Canal closes in early evening
forcing an abrupt end to your day. There are many spots and small towns for
people to explore which is nice – if you are not in delivery mode as we were.
Once clear of the locks we got to Oswego, NY where we
cleared out with U.S. Customs prior to heading out onto Lake Ontario. It was
glass-like for most of our trip but with water temperatures hovering around 39
degrees and air temps not much warmer, we spent most of the trip watching the
radar in fog.
Early the next morning, as the sun warmed the lake, the
fog lifted and off to our north we could see Toronto on one side and Niagara
Falls, ON, to the south.We
arrived in Oakville, ON, where we, personally, cleared into Canada; the boat
had to stay put until Monday for it to be formally imported into the country.We did celebrate the arrival of the
boat with a closing ceremony and a nice dinner.
On Monday the boat was cleared in and the new owners were
able to head off to their homeport in Georgian Bay, Ontario.It required negotiating one more canal,
the Welland Canal, which is a major ship canal.
The Welland Canal connects Lake Ontario with Lake Erie
and has big time commercial traffic. We encountered locks that lifted us
approximately 50 feet at a time with the exception being the last lock.The total difference in height between
the lakes is 326 feet! The biggest difference between the Welland and the Erie
Canal was the height of the locks and the current that was encountered. (Also, the
Erie is recreational while the Welland is heavily commercial.)
Once through the Welland we stopped at the Sugarloaf Marina
which is where I said goodbye to the boat. The owners headed off through Lake
Erie to Lake Huron and then to her new home on Georgian Bay where she will be
In total, this second trip was 620 nm from Portsmouth, RI to
Oakville, ON. It took 11 days (although, three of those were spent waiting for
importation paperwork to be finalized.)
As I rode the bus home from Buffalo, I sat and reflected on
the trip from Day One. Lots to enjoy and experience, though enormously
uneventful, which is really all you hope for on these deliveries. One
interesting event did happen one evening with the sudden appearance of a green
running light that seemed to have come out of nowhere. We sat for a few
minutes, perplexed. Perhaps this was some sort of alien ship! As it went from
green to white we realized - with some light from the opposing shore - that
this was a submarine surfacing less than a mile from us.
Something else worthy of noting is the huge switch in your
environment once you get through New York City.I always find it amazing that you go from hustle, bustle,
keep-you-on-your-toes boating traffic to serene riverboat cruising in a matter
of a few miles. It’s another world past the Big Apple.
Which brings me to the realization that this was a tale of
two delivery trips – quite literally. On trip 1, we were an offshore
cruiser on a mission for the most part and while the weather gods were fairly
reasonable with us, it was still so nice to have this stout passagemaker
For the second trip, it might have seemed a bit overkill to
be in an ocean crosser. Still, that’s the versatility of the N40, this one
especially – she could adapt to the situation: go outside and face wind
and waves or stay inside, pass under low bridges and through locks. We saw
sailboats in the Erie Canal and it just did not look fun. We had no mast
to take down, luxurious accommodations, a heated pilothouse, hot showers and
plenty of great food onboard. We knew at the outset that the transition to a
river/canal cruiser for a few days was going to be a good one. Having
sold two of the last Nordhavn 40s built, I can say with some authority that the
Nordhavn 40 is a very agile, all-season, go-anywhere boat. She handles
great around the docks as well as on the open ocean. The ability our
company has to build semi-custom boats in the 40-foot size range is a huge plus
and one not done by many boat builders.
Dave Balfour is a salesman in Nordhavn’s
Northeast Sales office. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or in the office at 401.293.0910.