Jim and Martha Lyle first gained their Nordhavn claim to fame after they were featured in a Nordhavn ad back in 2008. Spotlighted in the ad was the couple’s 10-month cruising itinerary from Florida to New Zealand and the ensuing boost it gave not only to their love for each other but also their love for life. “We didn’t want to leave,” Jim had said of their Nordhavn 43 Special Blend. “We fell in love with the stress free life our Nordhavn gave us.”
The South Pacific has served as their “home base” for most of the duration of their Nordhavn ownership (they took delivery of Special Blend in 2006) – not really a surprise when you consider Jim’s childhood passion for the area and his lifelong dream to someday explore the region. And explore they did, visiting French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, Tonga, New Zealand, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands and Australia. The four years they spent there were done so by getting into the nooks and crannies of life down under – doing extremely cool things such as snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef, touring John Kennedy’s famed PT-109 boat, swimming with leatherback turtles, experiencing smoke-spewing volcanoes, and jumping rope with the Fakarava locals. Breathtaking scenery and surreal National Geographic-scenarios aside, it was the people who they encountered that made the stay so special. “The best part of all this has been the camaraderie of the cruisers and the wonderful local people we shared meals and stories with,” said Martha.
So it was with a heavy heart that they made the decision to leave the eastern hemisphere and have Special Blend shipped back to the States. The South Pacific turned out to be an amazing life experience for the couple, but ironically, people played an integral part in their decision to head back to Florida. Said Martha: “If there has been a worst part of cruising, it’s been being away from our family.” Now back in Florida, the couple can be closer to their kids and grandkids.
We caught up with the Lyles in February at the Miami International Boat Show – not long after they arrived home. And it was obvious that they were adjusting to life as full-time Floridians with an element of bittersweet. “It does seems strange not to be getting ready to head back to Australia and the South Pacific, it was always exciting,” said Martha. “But we did miss Florida. The time just seemed right to [come] back.”
“Home” is where the Lyles’ Nordhavn adventure actually started back in 2006. They ran up and down the Florida coast to shake her down, and would take family vacations to the Dry Tortugas and the Keys for some relaxation but also to get comfortable with the boats’ systems and living aboard in general.
Before they embarked on their big adventure, Martha initially had hesitations about being able to live comfortably on board for several days at a time – and whether she and Jim could survive so much time together in such close proximity. But as she explains in the testimonial ad, the boat passed her test with flying colors. “I wanted to be comfortable…,” she said. And she certainly was during the 15 countries visited, four bodies of water crossed (including the Pacific Ocean), 44,000 engine hours amassed and 25,000 total miles traveled.
For now, Special Blend is living Stuart, FL where she’s received some much needed TLC from the Nordhavn Commissioning team including new bottom paint, some tweaking to the stabilizers, a few repairs to the windows and a good scrubbing of the engine room. The Lyles also plan to add some seating and canvas to the flybridge. She’ll be ready to go soon, at which time the couple will get back to cruising after a nearly 6-month hiatus. But they’ll keep the extreme cruising on hold. “Our plans are just to play in our backyard for a while,” said Martha.