If your nautical fantasies include nudging an iceberg to gather thousand-year-old ice for your drinks, pushing up a steamy jungle river or traversing the expanses of sea between those destinations, then the Northern Marine 57 may be the yacht of your dreams.
She's an honest and serious expedition trawler for a husband-and-wife team. The word "honest crops up regularly when discussing this yacht. Unlike many of the faux expedition yachts attempting to capitalize on the market for adventure travel, the 5700 Series Expedition Trawlers are the real thing. From the bulbous bow to the array of antennas on the radar mast, everything aboard this yacht is done to make her rugged, seaworthy and easy to maintain. There are no styling touches, no gewgaws and no frills.
At a garden party of pretty white yachts, the Northern Marine 57 would be the one with the 101st Airborne Division tattoo on its arm and its T-shirt sleeves rolled up. The rugged exterior, however, doesn't mean you'll be camping out. The interior is fitted with all the amenities that make sense on a yacht such as this-sophisticated electronics, entertainment systems and the latest appliances. You won't find suede headliners or blown-glass chandeliers aboard a 57, but that is not because Northern Marine is incapable of such flash. Clients who make the trek to the Northern Marine plant in Anacortes, Washington, want a serious voyaging yacht, not a Las Vegas penthouse.
The sort of yachtsman who appreciates a Northern Marine 57 is one who knows that there are two kinds of yachtsmen: those who have run aground, and those who are about to. For that reason, each 57 gets a steel shoe on the bottom of the full-length keel. It's a husky 11/2 inches of reassuring protection when the 100-year-old charts in some remote destination prove to be hopeful rather than accurate.
Because this 57 may also bump into things harder than ice, the stem band that stretches from the trademark Northern Marine breastplate to the bulbous bow is a 21/2-inch prop shaft cut in half. Even the rub rails are solid 11/2-inch stainless steel.
Northern Marine has become synonymous with rugged offshore yachts, though the company's reputation was built in just a few years. The first trawler from Northern Marine was Spirit of Zopilote, a replacement for the 70-foot Zopilote, a Delta-built yacht that achieved celebrity status among cruising yachtsmen for her globe-ranging voyages. The company made headlines again when it built the 76-foot Starship, which served as the mothership for a documentary film crew on a 76,000-mile three-year circumnavigation and is now owned by actor Gene Hackman.
Despite the molded composite hulls, previous yachts in Northern Marine's 75- and 80-foot series have been essentially custom yachts. The 57 is designed to offer production savings while remaining semi-custom.
Raven, the Northern Marine 57 photographed for this article, is clearly intended for voyaging. Still rounded like her larger sisters, the 57's hull is flattened aft and has slightly more rocker for stability down sea and in turns, while the sturdy keel has a more streamlined shape. According to the builder, attention to fairing results in an 11-knot top speed and a comfortable cruising speed of 9.5 knots at just six gallons per hour.
The saloon on Raven is paneled in mahogany finished with tung oil for a pleasant look that requires little maintenance. Comfortable is a word that comes to mind. There are panoramic views through the large windows. To simplify service in faraway ports, household appliances complete the galley. A flat-screen TV swings down from the overhead to conserve space in the saloon.
Staggered accommodations and the bluff bow give the 57 some ups and downs that can be off-putting at first, but she offers complete privacy for two couples and a comfortable layout for cruising.
The master suite is down from the saloon and simply furnished with a king-size berth, a settee to port and a bureau that doubles as a desk. Absent are the usual headboard and overhead treatments, and the result is a serene and comfortable getaway. A large head with a faux wood sole and a spacious shower completes the master.
The VIP stateroom is forward, accessed from the saloon by going up to and across the pilothouse, then down past the day head (which also serves the stateroom). The cabin is simple but comfortable, with two ports, an overhead hatch and an exceptionally large walk-in hanging locker.
The pilothouse is seamanlike, with a Stidd helm seat, a simple black instrument panel with space to lay out charts, and a settee with table against the after bulkhead. The windows are set a bit high for good views while standing, but this will be remedied on future 57s. The pilot berth folds out of the bulkhead, which allows two people to stay in the pilothouse on long voyages, with one sleeping while the other keeps watch. A rack that hangs charts behind the settee prevents the navigator from struggling against the curl from rolled charts.
The usual watertight door to the side deck is on the starboard side, but the port side is unusual with the door leading into a vestibule that is open to the deck and includes the stairs to the flying bridge. This not only provides weather protection, but creates an easier way to get food to the bridge from the galley.
The split-level upper decks are immense. The bridge has a simple fiberglass helm pod ahead of an L-shape settee and barbecue, all surrounded by coamings high enough that a windscreen is unnecessary. The boat deck, which extends over the lower side decks, is so large that the Zodiac RIB and Brower crane seem lost on its 21-foot length.
Voyagers will delight in the engineroom's full headroom and-thanks to the single 330 hp John Deere 6081 diesel-wealth of space. The 17.5kW Onan generator has a power take-off, which, at the touch of a button, can provide a 6-knot cruise without the main engine, according to the builder.
Even better, the get-home system has full Mathers shifting, and it can be used for economical slow-speed operation. Because the John Deere main is a slow-turning diesel, the Onan also provides hydraulic power for the bowthruster. With 2,500 gallons of fuel, the 57 has long legs at cruising speed.
Other systems aboard Raven include a Kabola furnace that uses hot-water radiators, CruiseAir a/c, a Sea Recovery 600-gpd watermaker and a 5.5kW Fischer Panda genset for night use. A large sea chest/dump chest reduces the number of holes in the hull to three.
Northern Marine has a reputation for go-anywhere yachts with outstanding systems, and this 57 is a fine example of that philosophy.
Northern Marine Inc., (360) 299-8400; www.northernmarine.com.