When most yachtsmen think of sport-fishing yachts, they likely conjure up images of long waterlines, flared bow sections, skyscraper tuna towers and planing-friendly undercarriages. Expedition-grade trawlers do not come to mind.
And for good reason. Expedition vessels are built for itineraries measured in days or weeks, not in the number of hours it takes to zip out to the canyons. Most expedition yachts struggle to crack the 15-knot barrier, a speed deficiency that most anglers cannot abide.
With Serenity, a heavily customized Nordhavn 100, the longtime builder of world-class expedition yachts sought to break those stereotypes. Serenity‘s owner worked with the California-based builder to create an expedition-grade sport-fishing yacht that’s as adept at wrangling pelagic species as she is at hosting elegant dinners.
I first spied her proud silhouette dominating the western skyline of Seattle’s Elliott Bay Marina last fall, but I didn’t fully appreciate her capabilities until I stepped into her steering room with Capt. Zach Gallagher. There, on the bulkhead, hung 30-plus custom-made fishing rods, each slightly different than the next but each painted the exact same Alexseal “Stars and Stripes” blue—perfectly matching Serenity’s custom-painted topsides—and handsomely engraved with the superyacht’s moniker. Gallagher also showed off dozens of reels, including serious-looking hydraulic setups, gaffs and fishing tackle, all organized and stowed in custom-built cabinets.
“If you think this is cool, wait until you see the fishing cockpit,” he says with a knowing smile.
Serenity is a stretched version of Nordhavn’s N96, which itself is based on the N86’s hull, adding a 10-foot extension to the “California deck” (Nordhavn parlance for the outdoor space abaft the salon). Serenity’s owner evolved this long-range cruising design for his angling ambitions by requesting an additional, low-freeboard aft fishing deck and swim step. Additionally, the owner worked with Destry Darr Designs to create five en suite staterooms and an enlarged galley with seating for four guests around an island.
“The owner wants to introduce his family to a full international cultural experience,” Gallagher says as we walk from the galley to the salon, which has a table with seating for 10 and a drop-down screen. The table’s after end leads to a carpeted seating area that spills out onto the California deck.
Climbing the spiral ladder and stepping into the pilothouse, I see a helm with a marble dash, two white leather Stidd seats, four Furuno touchscreens, and a combination of Furuno, Simrad, FLIR and KVH equipment for long-range navigation and security, as well as satellite communications and entertainment. Suffice it to say, this yacht can cruise far while staying in touch.
Serenity’s propulsion comes from twin 600 hp Caterpillar C18 Acert engines sitting atop vibration-absorbing mounts and spinning dual 48-inch propellers. DC power comes from dual Caterpillar C4.4 generators. An ABT-Trac stabilization system should enhance ride quality, while a pair of 50 hp bow and stern thrusters are installed for docking maneuvers.
Serenity is also equipped with four fuel tanks collectively holding 7,000 gallons of diesel, plus a 500-gallon centerline tank that serves as her day-use dromedary, and 100 gallons of gasoline for her tender. All told, Serenity has a 3,000-nautical-mile cruising range at 10 knots. She also carries a U.S. Coast Guard-approved TidalWave HMX waste-management system, allowing her crew to discharge safely and legally, further facilitating the owner’s off-the-grid ambitions.
“The N96s carry 900 gallons of fresh water, but we have 1,000 gallons,” Gallagher says, adding that Serenity’s two Dometic Sea Xchange watermakers each generate 1,800 gallons of potable water every 24 hours. “We have no daily water ration. We just carry extra filters.”
Serenity also carries a quiver of toys, including eight sets of dive gear, a dive-tank air compressor and an 18-foot aluminum-bottom RIB that’s hoisted via a Nautical Structures crane rated to 3,500 pounds. Additionally, Serenity sails with four surfboards, four stand-up paddleboards and two Jet Skis.
Gallagher guides me through Serenity’s master stateroom, just abaft the bridge, noting the custom Miele coffee maker and the room’s wraparound views. Stepping onto the owner’s deck, Gallagher lights the yacht’s fire pit, which is protected by a glass shroud and flanked by two deck chairs. I notice a box fitted to the starboard quarter rail and walk over to inspect a set of rudder, throttle and thruster controls.
“It was the owner’s idea,” Gallagher says. “All of [these] controls are mounted backwards because you’re facing aft when you’re using them.”
Next, he leads me to the flybridge, which has a second helm and a table with a leaf and seating for 10. “We’ve got a Wolf gas grill, a Miele teppanyaki grill, a sink, fresh water, refrigerators and ice makers here,” Gallagher says. “We can cook the whole meal up here.”
Abaft the flybridge’s protective coachroof sits a Jacuzzi with a custom awning and cushions. I glance over the rail at the water below, guesstimating the drop to be a solid 20 feet. Gallagher reads my mind. “The owner’s kids and I jumped from up here when we were down in the Sea of Cortez on the boat’s shakedown cruise,” he says, with a been-there-done-that smile. “They’re up for anything.”
The fishing deck is our final stop, and I can tell that Gallagher is keen to show off his boss’s brainchild.
“The owner is an experienced boater and is really drawn to fishing,” Gallagher says as we admire the side deck’s 30-foot teak runs. “Take an avid fisherman and multiply by 10, and that’s the boss man.”
This much becomes obvious as we step onto the open fishing deck. Gallagher points out the 10 inset fishing-rod holders mounted around the teak rail, as well as the receptacle that accommodates the yacht’s Bluewater Large Marlin fighting chair.
“The chair’s got a three-axis mount and a 360-degree swivel, an offset swivel, and 11 rod holders,” he says. “We have handheld and hanging scales for weighing fish, and we’re hoping to catch one that’s big enough to need to hang from the crane.”
The fishing deck also has portable livewells, along with tackle boxes and floodlights for nighttime work. Gallagher says landed fish quickly graduate from the rod to the kill box to the fillet table to the vacuum sealer to the custom cockpit freezer. Once frozen, the fillets are transferred to one of Serenity’s two deep freezers.
“I try to take all of the family’s interests into account when planning itineraries,” Gallagher says, adding that nonfishing activities have included paddling around icebergs, spotting grizzly bears and whales, and visiting mountain hot springs. “If it’s a guys’ fishing trip, the boat will be set up differently than if it’s a family cruise.”
Serenity’s owner took delivery in Dana Point, California, in June 2018, following a three-year build. He immediately started voyaging. There was a shakedown cruise to the Sea of Cortez that was followed by a cruise to Canada’s Desolation Sound and then a more ambitious third trip that took the boat from Campbell River, British Columbia, to Alaska’s Glacier Bay as well as Admiralty, Baranof and Chichagof islands before ending in Juneau.
These passages have been 10 to 14 days in length, but Gallagher says the boat is spec’d for world cruising. “Serenity can carry 13 people on board for 11 days without taking on provisions,” he says.
Granted, that’s not running at 30 knots, but Serenity—as her name suggests—offers the ability to cruise, fish and explore in style and comfort, sans the usual durational and latitudinal limitations. Most important, she’s equipped to cater to her owner’s love of hunting pelagic species and enjoying quiet, far-removed anchorages.
“The owner wanted to go anywhere and fish the whole time,” Gallagher says. “When he’s aboard, we spend zero time at the dock.”
Take the next step: nordhavn.com