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A Nordhavn tale of thanks and giving

December 22, 2009

5263 Seattle Arrival – Dirona makes a splash!

Eight years.  That’s plenty of time to dream, plan and finally realize both.

Two weeks.  An eternity to wait…once you know your brand new Nordhavn has left the yard enroute to your home port.

James and Jennifer Hamilton have just witnessed the arrival of their brand new Nordhavn 52 and the result is spectacular.  I’ve been involved in dozens of new builds over the years and each Nordhavn we craft has the unmistakable signature of her buyer imprinted within.   And for the Hamiltons, their new 52 will also be home.

5263 is the first bona fide Nordhavn 52 – not just a stretched cockpit 47. This is the first of what we expect to be many more 52s ushering in a raft of perfect couples’ cruisers designed to travel far in great safety and comfort.  I place the 47 as the largest of our “small” boats when I discuss our product line and since the 52 shares the same hull mold as the 47 she is now the biggest of the little. We’re speaking relatively here, of course: a 52 is not a tiny boat by any accounting; in fact, she is over 54’ long stem to stern.

The 52 evolved over the last couple of years as a logical extension of our thinking (pun intended) to refine the looks and include many of the popular options.  The following are optional on the Nordhavn 47 and standard on the 52:
*Fiberglass exhaust shroud
*Generator (Northern Lights 12 kW)
*Davit (Steelhead SM1500R)
The LWL on the 52 is 48’3” (almost 5’ longer than the 47), she displaces 5,000 more lbs., carries 200 more gallons of diesel for a total of 1,670 gallons (the extra waterline and extra fuel increase the range accordingly) and, following another popular trend of the last couple years, we have fitted larger oval portlights in the master stateroom. 

Saturday, December 5th, the sea freighter Ever Ethic pulled into the port of Tacoma, WA. It was a cold and foggy morning, not unusual for a winter day in the Pacific Northwest.   James and Jennifer got up early and navigated to the terminal in their new dinghy (practicing for when she is officially installed as their 52’s tender) and it was a tricky trip in the fog and logs, but they arrived on time and were on hand to enjoy the moment when 5263 Dirona was gently lowered into the harbor. 

Don Kohlmann, manager of our Nordhavn Northwest office was on board to drive her home…but there was a catch – literally!   The slings somehow snagged the stabilizer fins and after repeated unsuccessful attempts to clear them, Don got creative.  I don’t know what the water temperature was (you pretty much don’t have ANY swimming season in the PNW, let alone December) but before anyone knew it Don slipped over the side and using his favorite Benchmade (Griptilian 550HG) knife cleared the slings.  A mere mortal would not have attempted this or

  1. lasted so long in the water…but Don is simply incredible and gets my vote for the 2009 Nordhavn “Most Dedicated Employee” award

Dirona made her way to our new sales and service docks in Elliot Bay by mid-afternoon and remains at the docks undergoing commissioning. 
Nordhavn 52 project manager, Jeremy Henderson and I flew up to Seattle to meet with James and Jennifer aboard Dirona to inspect the boat, review the order and develop a work list of items to be addressed in the coming weeks. We were joined by Larry Schildwachter of Emerald Harbor Marine who is managing the commissioning for PAE and also working with the Hamiltons on several delivery additions including watermaker, diesel furnace and nav/com entertainment electronics.

We are all extremely pleased with the quality of work done by our South Coast yard in Xiamen, China.   Jeremy, Jennifer, James and I (the 4Js) all flew to the yard in August to do a pre-completion walk through/inspection and the few items that we asked to be corrected as a result of that trip all appear to have been successfully performed. Visiting the yard when your boat is nearly ready to ship is extremely valuable in helping shift your preparation for ownership by helping you adjust from thinking about a project filled with change orders, photos, questions and ideas…to realizing the boat is done and it’s time to finalize details to make her ready for sea.

In Seattle we walked through the boat bow to stern and top to bottom.  All the time unable to wipe the huge grins of satisfaction from our faces – this really is one extraordinary trawler!   At the end of Tuesday we took her out for a quick spin – just to see how she felt underway and to test the hydraulic thrusters (a great upgrade) and get a feel for the specially ordered John Deere 6068AFM75 main engine.  A short ride certainly won’t substitute for a proper training trip once everything is completed, but our collective elation with the project gained even further momentum by the time we returned to the dock.  It was interesting to be on the water and I lost count in the high teens trying to calculate how many Nordhavns are moored in Elliot Bay.  We traveled past the Northwest Passage journeying 57-foot Bagan and something tells me Dirona will have a similar incredible journey or two in store for her in the coming years.

James and Jennifer Hamilton are authors of Waggoner Cruising Guide’s Cruising the Secret Coast and very experienced boaters (I could call them seasoned boaters, but then I’d need to emphasize “off-season” as they go to remote places when most people have put their boats away for the winter).  They have chronicled a lot of their adventures, ideas and philosophy in photos and stories that are available for you to read by going to their blog There you will find a wealth of information on their adventures and many interesting details about the build process for 5263 Dirona.
So, the first part of their wait is over. Their new Nordhavn is home in time for the holidays.  In a few weeks we will complete our commissioning and I’ll be joining the Hamiltons again for a shake down training adventure.  What a great way to wrap up 2009 and what a wonderful thing to look forward to in the New Year!

Photos courtesy of Don Kohlmann, James and Jennifer Hamilton, Jeff Merrill

Jeff Merrill is a sales representative for Nordhavn based in the Dana Point, CA office.  5263 is a highly customized Nordhavn and Jeff would be happy to share with you many of the ideas that were included in this project. Contact Jeff at You can also follow him on Twitter – merrilljeff.







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