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A serendipitous Boat Purchase

May 15, 2007

By Amy Zahra

Some things were just meant to be. That’s how John and Debbie Marshall viewed their decision to purchase Nordhavn 55 hull#20, which they ceremoniously christened over the weekend in Dana Point, California, in front of friends and family.

When the Marshalls faced indecision about the way they wanted to spend their pending new life as retirees, fate stepped in and led them ultimately to their dreamboat, a brand new Nordhavn 55, one of PAE’s most popular models which typically is saddled with a two-year lead time prior to delivery. Yet, there she was, a new, unsold 55 seemingly waiting for them at the docks in Dana Point. Not ones to question their luck, they snatched her up immediately. It was Serendipity…literally.

Rewinding to approximately a year ago as John prepared for his retirement from Seagate (the largest manufacturer of hard disc drives), the couple thought they had their plans mapped out. An ongoing remodel of their Sequim, WA, home further solidified their need – if not their desire – to hit the road in a state-of-the-art 40-foot motor home recently purchased. But just a few weeks into their trip, they decided life on the highway was not for them. It was water, and not wheels, that they wanted under their feet.

John and Debbie’s entire boating experience included sailing school and bare boating sailboats one summer (taking numerous trips to the Channel Islands near Ventura), but had never owned their own boat, and had no previous experience on trawlers. John’s extensive research led him to Nordhavn, and he soon became sure that a Nordhavn was in the couple’s future.  Their first taste of Nordhavn was at the Poulsbo (WA) Trawler Fest where they fell in love with a brokerage 55, Last Mango, and met salesman Larry Gieselman.  After studying the market, they honed in on a few brokerage Nordhavn 47s in Florida, so they set the motor home on a course for Nordhavn’s southeast office in Stuart, FL. Further bolstering their decision to buy a boat in Florida were family members who lived in the area. It would be an ideal place for them to cruise and keep their boat.

They left Washington for the Sunshine State by way of San Diego. On a whim, they day-tripped up to Dana Point to visit Larry and see what models were available for viewing. At first, they looked at a Nordhavn 40 and then a 47, but to their surprise, the 47 just wasn’t right. Then Larry mentioned the brand new Nordhavn 55 that had just become available because the original buyer had opted to switch to an N40. Call it serendipitous, but as soon as they saw her, they knew it was the boat for them. It is uncommon to find a brand new hull available at one of our docks, and realizing this, John and Debbie jumped at the chance to have her. That very day, which John claims was his “official” date of retirement, they signed their deposit check…and cancelled the road trip to Florida.

When luck is on your side, you’ve got to roll with it. The Marshalls quickly recognized that being green motorboaters, the needed to hire some help to learn the systems of their new boat. And, as their luck would have it, they learned of an 85-foot Maiora called “Beach Condo” located just a few slips away, had just sold and its captain, Colin Richman, was seeking new work. Familiar with Nordhavns (having previously delivered N5501 Honu Kai to Hawaii from Dana Point), Colin met with the Marshalls and was practically hired on the spot.

Serendipity is defined as “the faculty of making desirable discoveries by accident.” And wasn’t that exactly what happened with each decision they faced regarding the purchase of their Nordhavn? There was no other name for their boat.


Over the weekend a large crowd, serenaded by a steel drum band, gathered at the Dana Point docks in front of Serendipity, her proud new owners John and Debbie Marshall and their family, including their son Eric, daughter Kellie, and their two Maltese dogs Porscha and Lotus, to celebrate the christening of the boat that will help take them into their new life.

The melodies of the steel drums embodied the sounds of the Caribbean where they plan to cruise in Summer 2008 and remain for two years before eventually heading down to South America. But their immediate plans are to explore the Pacific Northwest and display their boat at the Poulsbo Trawler Fest in June. Afterwards, they will head north to Vancouver Island, the Canadian Gulf islands and Desolation Sound, and possibly meet up with their friends, Buddy and Kathy Bethea, owners of Nordhavn 5521 Always Friday and whose boat shared commissioning time with Serendipity. In September, they plan on returning to Dana Point to join the FUBAR Rally to Mexico in November.

Even though it’s rare, sometimes things in life fall right into place, and that’s when you know it is meant to be.  That’s exactly how the Marshalls found Serendipity, and we are thrilled that the circumstances led them to their perfect boat and welcome them to the Nordhavn family.

With their cruising lifestyle presumably in high gear, what is to become of their motor home? John says it is up for sale in Southern California, and he is trying to convince Larry to buy it.  Talk about a role reversal!  Larry is currently contemplating it, since it is a beautiful coach and he is in the market for a larger one…another serendipitous moment? We’ll see…! 



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