Mikelson 59 Nomad

Thanks to smart design, this yacht is as well-suited for fishing as she is for bluewater cruising.

October 4, 2007

Every new build is interesting, but a yacht that has been built for a successful boatbuilder is particularly intriguing. In many ways, the result serves as a degree from a lifetime education. That’s exactly the case with the new Mikelson 59 Nomad Long Range Cruising Sportfish. The charter for this particular yacht is intended to combine the best of offshore cruisers with the specific needs of a serious war wagon.

For Dick Peterson, this yacht was a long time in coming but, at the same time, one that came sooner than expected. Peterson and his partner, Pat Sullivan, are the principals of Mikelson Yachts, a company that has carved a niche for itself in the sportfishing world in less than two decades.

They are, first and foremost, seamen with hundreds of thousands of miles in their logs. When they launched a company to build boats designed for West Coast fishing, the yachts were decidedly unusual. With slippery lines by Tom Fexas and an abiding rule to keep all systems simple and easily maintained, the duo found themselves selling boats as fast as they could build them.


Peterson always planned to build a yacht for himself and, in the process, started discussing his needs with Fexas. Peterson knew exactly what he wanted-a yacht just as capable of exploring the world as she was backing down on a blue-so it wasn’t long before a rough set of plans was on his drawing board. And that is where this tale goes into fast forward.

No fewer than four Mikelson clients happened upon the drawings, and after surprisingly short negotiations, each said, “I’ll take one. Peterson’s dream yacht was about to be born a decade ahead of schedule. Like the parable of the blind men describing an elephant by the various parts they can touch, each angle of the 59 Nomad brings a different understanding of this multi-purpose yacht.

Stand on the dock as the high bow looms overhead and it’s obvious that this is an offshore exploration yacht intended to shoulder aside the worst seas. Stand on the stern platform, where capacious fishboxes could each easily swallow a 6-foot wahoo, and gaze over the teak-planked cockpit, past the two huge bait wells, toward the tackle lockers and bait-prep station, and there is no question this is a serious sportfisherman. Inside, the comfortably sumptuous accommodations belie both descriptions; the 59 Nomad is clearly a luxury motoryacht.


She is, in many ways, a yacht that can be what you want her to be. She’s small enough to be easily handled by a couple, yet large enough to absorb a cockpit full of fishermen or a weekend house party of family and friends.

Just above the water-level fighting cockpit is the California deck, fully protected by the overhang and capable of enclosure. With a comfy settee and a day head to port, it’s a pleasant area.

Inside the sliding doors is the saloon, with the galley tucked to port and an L-shape settee to starboard. The chef is cosseted behind a curved breakfast counter with twin stools, and with the day head outside, a home-size refrigerator/freezer fits perfectly in the after corner and opens forward for safety while under way.


The pilothouse is notable for a spacious settee and dining table to port, while a small settee to starboard, added as an afterthought, has proven to be one of the most popular seats on the yacht. The helm is offset to port with twin Stidd chairs and a tall dashboard (future 59s will have a lower version) that leaves space for a large chart table amidships.

A portside door leads to the Portuguese bridge with wing controls on each side, and Peterson added foldout seats so he can sit next to each control. A green water door in the bridge coaming opens directly onto the raised foredeck, making it easy to handle anchoring or docking chores while protected by triple life rails.

Blindfold a few visitors, lead them into the master stateroom under the pilothouse, and ask them what size yacht they are aboard. Guesses would probably start at 80-plus feet, but when they catch sight of the spacious full-beam head (it can be configured as a his-and-her head if desired), the numbers will jump into the 90-foot range.


This is more master suite than master stateroom, with a private entry and centerline berth under a padded headboard. Ample headroom accentuates the spaciousness, and sliding pocket doors to the head both conserve space and open the area. Hanging lockers and drawers are sized for liveaboard needs.

The two guest cabins are forward and down from the pilothouse, and both are unique. The forward cabin would traditionally have a V-berth, but aboard the 59 Nomad, two full-size berths have been fitted with stowage lockers underneath and plenty of standing room for dressing.

The port cabin is equally unusual, with a conventional double berth and athwartships single above the foot of the double, allowing a flexibility of sleeping space to fit any need. The forward cabins share a spacious head that includes a comfortable-size shower with hidden drains.

Certainly one of the more unusual features, or lack of one, is the absence of a classic flying bridge. Rather than enclosing the deck above the pilothouse with a coaming (and adding to the visual “height), Peterson finished the area with a double stainless-steel rail with a wind cloth. Behind this wind protection is a wide bench seat that is a delightful place from which to watch the world slide past. Just aft are a compact helm and a short tower with another bench seat. A plug-in remote unit provides engine controls from the tower. A future owner is building a 59 with a conventional flying bridge.

Regardless of how the bridge area is used, the boat deck, which stretches from the pilothouse aft, is expansive and capable of handling an 18-foot tender.

The doorway from the fishing cockpit, leads to the engineroom, however, before the machinery space is a full-size crew cabin with washer/dryer to starboard, gear stowage and a single bunk to port.

Consistent with Mikelson’s philosophy, the engineroom is a delight, with full headroom, a large workbench forward and complete access to all the seamanlike systems. A pair of Isuzu gensets, 9kW and 16kW, is tucked in sound shields, and the mains are a pair of Cummins QSM11 diesels of 660 hp that give the Nomad a surprising 21-knot speed in spite of 80,000 pounds of displacement. More important is that the yacht has an efficient mid-range cruising speed of 12 to 15 knots that can gobble up the miles.

Under way, the 59 Nomad is best described by a word rarely used on cruising yachts: fun. Whether you’re parked on the bridge bench seat or tucked behind the coaming of the Portuguese bridge, this is a yacht that makes it fun to be out in the breeze enjoying life. Of course, the pilothouse has great all-around visibility when the weather turns too hot or too cold to be outside, but “fun is a word that pops up regularly aboard the Nomad.

With Wesmar stabilizers, the Nomad has a solid feel far beyond her overall length, yet the Sidepower bowthruster slips her nimbly into tight marinas. Of particular note is the very low sound level, measured in the combined helm/saloon area, which reached only 79 decibels at full throttle.

Mikelson clearly struck gold with the 59 Nomad, combining sensibly seamanlike construction and clever design features in a yacht as likely to be used for offshore voyaging as for sportfishing.

Contact: Mikelson Yachts, (619) 222-5007; For more information, contact: (866) 922-4877


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