Welcome to Nordhavn.com - Power That Is Oceans Apart
November 8, 2011
Sandstone charter a great experience for future Nordhavn owners
By Jeff Merrill
The Nordhavn 47 is,
for many cruising couples, the perfect offshore trawler. With the raised
pilothouse configuration behind a tall freeboard foredeck and fronted by the
protection of a Portuguese bridge it is an easy boat to operate safely in a
variety of sea conditions. The living accommodations are ideal with the master
stateroom aft underneath the pilothouse and located to offer quick, easy access
to the engine room. The forward guest stateroom allows for guests to join you
while cruising. Nordhavn offers two guest cabin arrangements – the
standard layout features a double wide berth to port with an office desk to
starboard and we also can build two sets of outboard bunks – providing
four sleeping berths with or without a centerline bulkhead. The salon and
galley are on the same level just forward of the aft cockpit withlarge windows
providing excellent visibility and a huge open feel.
Nordhavn owners fall in love with our designs, but most can’t consummate the
relationship without first plunking down a million plus for the privilege…unless
they can hitch a ride to taste the experience and savor the lifestyle. Or
better yet spend a few days to a week or more on a charter.
Voyages Northwest is
a charter boat organization headquartered in Seattle with a specialty fleet of
Nordhavns available to sample and over the past couple of years their bookings
have increased to the point where advance reservations are a must to lock in
the dates that best work with your calendar/schedule.
Doug Smith, managing
director of Voyages Northwest has done a great job of promoting his Nordhavn
fleet and one day after meeting with him in his office on Lake Union the light
came on for me that he could be holding an incredible sales tool. Hold that
I was contacted by a
potential Nordhavn buyer from South Africa who was interested in one of my
Nordhavn 40 listings in California. After several emails he agreed to fly out
to California to meet with me to view the 40 with the intention of making an
offer. We spent a day aboard and he was hooked on Nordhavn, but he was
uncertain if the 40 was the right size for his family. We took a brokerage 47
out for a sea trial the next day and he was convinced that the 47 was the ideal
size. After reviewing all of the Nordhavn 47s on the market worldwide and
trying to determine the ultimate cost to get any of them home to his native
South Africa we started talking about a new build as an option to save on
shipping…and get all of the latest developments included.
I showed him drawings
and photos of the new Nordhavn 52 and he knew that building a new boat would
take a bit more time, but not only could he order a Nordhavn with exactly what
he wanted, he could also have it shipped to Capetown for commissioning and take
delivery at home.
We met for a day
reviewing options and negotiated a deal on a 52 that we had started in
production without a buyer, but as close as we got he still wanted one final
concession…something that would add value to the entire purchasing/ownership
experience and better prepare him for cruising on his own. I suggested that
spending time aboard a similar sized Nordhavn with his family would help his
entire family buy into the dream and suggested a charter on the Voyages
Northwest Nordhavn 47, Sandstone.
We made the deal on
the new Nordhavn 52 and reserved a week charter aboard Sandstone to fill some of the time while his new boat was
I spoke with Doug
Smith from Voyages Northwest and Mark Knoll, the owner of Sandstone, to organize a fun cruisingitinerary in the Puget Sound.
Voyages Northwest normally only offers captains charters, but my extensive
Nordhavn experience qualified me to skipper and met their insurance
It was a rainy day when
I met the family in Seattle and they were a bit jet lagged when we hopped
aboard Sandstone for a walk through
to assess the equipment and living spaces before going out shopping to
provision. It was going to be a full boat, husband and wife with son,
grandparents, a family friend and me for a crew total of seven.
We drove our rental
van to the Whole Foods market about 10 minutes from the Elliot Bay Marina and
had a field day filling up shopping carts. The ladies had outlined a rough
menu withbreakfast, lunch, dinner and snack items and were excited to be able
to prepare most of the meals aboard using the stove, oven and microwave. I
like to get lots of snacks - pretzels, chips and nuts and my kids love string
cheese so I though their son would too – surprise, they’d never had
string cheese before! One of the many culinary discoveries to be enjoyed in the
We spent the night on Sandstone after reviewing our charts
and discussing the various harbors we would visit. I wanted to make one short
trip each day with the goal being to spend a couple of hours underway
practicing navigation and reviewing systems operations and arriving in a
community to tie up at the dock by late afternoon so we could plug into shore
power and stroll through town in the evening.
The first day was a
quick trip from Elliot Bay (where Sandstone is based) to Poulsbo. I love the town of Poulsbo and while mom and grandmother
made sandwiches for lunch, the men folk –dad,grandfather, son, friend
and I all talked about how wonderful it was to be out on the water and what a
wonderful family vacation this was going to be. It was a two hour trip,enough
for us to get our sea legs and have a nice rest that evening.
The following day we
went on a six hour haul to Port Townsend, another favorite sea port of mine.
There we ran into Thomas and Klaus Loehr (long time friends, Klaus and his wife
Elizabeth own a Nordhavn 40), then on to Roche Harbor (5.5 hours) in the San
Juan Islands. We did engine room checks and we passed the 47 Boundless Grace on the way and had a
quick chat on VHF.
I had never been to
Roche Harbor before and it is a great destination resort, living up to its
reputation as an idyllic getaway. We tied up at our slip and went up to the Hotel
De Haro to make dinner reservations when a familiar voice shouted out my name.
What a treat to run into Nordhavn 43 owners Kurt and Susan Antonius who had
flown up from Southern California to one of their favorite places to celebrate
Kurt’s birthday. We all got together for dinner that night and talked about
the extended Nordhavn family. Kurt offered some ideas on how they have their 43
set up and I took notes on ideas that wemight incorporate into the 52.
We hiked, shopped and
ate for the remainder of the week dodging ferries and enjoying stops in
Anacortes (a 5 hour run including a lunch anchorage to launch the tender and
play around) and Edmonds before finally delivering Sandstone back to Seattle. We timed the tides to skim through
Desolation Pass and ran down the length of Whidbey Island watching a bunch of
sailboats in a race slowly travel by in the opposite direction.
The entire week was a
blur of conversation about boating experiences and ideas enjoyed by all seven
of us on the 47. Our itinerary was easy to accomplish and a nice blend of timeunderway to make meals and enjoy travelling as well as an easy stop each night
to stretchour legs and walk into town. We also happened to have an incredible
run of sunny days and calm weather with the beautiful Pacific Northwest
revealing her incredible beauty and making many strong memories for all of us.
The opportunity to
live aboard continuously for several days served to whet a substantial appetite
for cruising on the new 52 back home in Capetown, South Africa. We gained all
kinds of insights into this marvelous lifestyle based on firsthand experience.
It really was an incredible way to prepare for ownership and gain experience in
operating a Nordhavn.
Chartering a Nordhavn
from Voyages Northwest is a fantastic way to “try before you buy” so much so
that even after delivering the new 52 to Capetown we booked a second week
does not have a formal business arrangement with Voyages Northwest and there
are a small number of other companies that offer the ability to charter a
Nordhavn, but VNW has really worked hard to develop a Nordhavn fleet that iscontinually expanding what is available. I encourage all seriously interested
future Nordhavn owners and Nordhavn Dreamers to look into the various opportunities
to get some time aboard. From my experience this is a “game changer” that is a
You can contact
Voyages Northwest directly to find out more about Nordhavns to charter
including rates and availability.