Nordhavn 72

All you need is a loaf of bread, a bottle of wine, a Nordhavn 72-and you're ready for anything.

Nordhavn 72

Eddie Berman

I was sitting comfortably yet attentively in one of two Stidd 500N helm chairs in the pilothouse of The Good Life, a Nordhavn 72 on its way from Mystic, Conn., to Newport, R.I., helping Capt. Ken Coffer keep watch. Actually, there wasn't much to see in the thick gray fog, though the radar screen showed activity now and then. Visibility was right at one-quarter mile.

We weren't alone in the expansive pilothouse. Adie and Dudley Coy, owners of The Good Life, were sitting at the raised dinette table behind the helm, keeping company with their daughter Valerie and her husband Danny White, both of whom were experiencing cruising, and running in fog, for the very first time.

Things were going fine. Thanks to the lack of wind this morning, the waters in the vicinity of Point Judith were more like three-foot slop than the larger chop you usually encounter in this area. Even so, the standard Trac stabilizers were working quietly to smooth them. Capt. Toni Coffer, Ken's partner in the operation of this Nordhavn 72 (both are experienced USCG licensed professionals, 1600-ton with additional ratings) sat on the portside pilothouse stairs that led up to the flying bridge, taking it all in while planning lunch and discussing our dinner options.

Suddenly I noticed Ken leaning forward and taking a hard look at the radar display. We'd seen a number of fishing vessels already, plus a handful of larger commercial craft displaying the Automatic Identification System information next to their triangular icons. But what caught Ken's eye was a fast-moving blob that was approaching from our port quarter, closing quickly on a collision course. Without hesitation, he reached forward, put the autopilot in standby, pulled back the throttles and hit the jog control to alter our course to starboard. A quarter of a mile away and just abeam to port, a fishing vessel emerged from the fog, its booms extended like massive bird wings with swinging trawl boards at the ends. There was no one in the pilothouse, no one on deck. Toni had the glasses trained on his transom but could make out no name as the dark commercial hull disappeared back into the fog. After Toni said she was sure that the fishing boat was towing no line of any kind from its transom, Ken put us back on course and speed.

A good-sized wake took us on the beam moments before we resumed our old heading. While it could have caused concern, Dudley Coy just laughed it off and reminded us all that The Good Life had taken a pair of back-to-back 14-footers on the beam at night during their trip from West Palm Beach, Fla., to Bald Head Island, N.C. The N72 had rolled down with the energy transferred by two powerful and closely spaced walls of water, then regained stability immediately and proceeded. No one was hurt, although there was a bit of damage in the saloon when an unsecured dining table went flying.

If anything, the experience had served to reaffirm the capabilities of the N72 for its owners and its crew. And considering where The Good Life is bound over the next couple of years, that kind of confidence is valuable.

I had joined the yacht at Mystic, Conn., a fine port of call for cruisers who want to mix shopping and reprovisioning with the delights of Mystic Seaport. While the rest of the crew explored Mystic, Dudley Coy and I shared a cup of tea and got better acquainted. His confidence in Nordhavn designs is well founded. He and Adie took their first cruiser, an N50, to Alaska and back on their own. As they are doing with The Good Life, they invited friends and family to join them along the way, to experience the joys of voyaging and cruising.

From these first experiences, Dudley began to yearn for more distant ports. This summer and fall, they plan to cruise the coast of Maine, explore the shores of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and then push northward to see the coastal wilderness of Upper Newfoundland and Labrador. Eventually, The Good Life will head south, explore more of the coast of Maine, make stops in the Chesapeake Bay and at Bald Head Island, and make the jump to the Bahamas when hurricane season settles down. Dudley told me he'd really like to visit the Polar ice pack, but can't round up enough votes among his family and crew to get that bit of legislation passed. If all goes according to plan, there's a transatlantic crossing in the works for next summer, with a long and leisurely exploration of the Med, followed by a voyage north to explore England, Scotland, Norway, the Faroes and Iceland.

With its well-proven modified full-displacement hull design and its ample tankage (a whopping 4,300 gallons), the N72 is more than up to a long-term, ocean-crossing voyage of this magnitude. Nordhavn's 40, 47, 50 and 57 models were the open-ocean testing facilities for this distinctive hull design, which features full stern sections to help minimize "squatting" and dampen pitching, as well as allowing lower placement of the engine(s) for increased stability.

In lieu of the standard 535 hp Detroit Diesel Series 60 engine, which has predicted service life of 25,000 hours, The Good Life is equipped with a pair of 400 hp DD-60s, a nod to the inherent safety of having one engine to keep you going at hull speed should the other go out of service. This is possible because during the 18-month period of tooling and mold building at Ta Shing in Taiwan (a longtime partner of Nordhavn and its parent company, Pacific Asian Enterprises) allowances were made to change the hull mold to integrate twin skeg keels that protect the shafts and props offset on both sides from the centerline. Initial projections based on tank testing and Detroit Diesel data for these engines predict a 6,214 nautical-mile range for the N72 at 7 knots, burning 4.5 gallons per hour. A top speed of 11.4 knots is predicted, but consumption rises to 35.9 gallons per hour and range drops to 1,280 nautical miles. Pulled back to 9 knots, the predicted fuel burn drops to 9.9 gallons per hour and the range triples to 3,664 nautical miles.

If you've had an opportunity to inspect a Nordhavn of any size, you'll undoubtedly remember the impressive exterior finish, the result of painstaking mold making and maintenance and the application of leading-edge fiberglass products. Beneath the glossy gelcoat surface, the solid fiberglass hull below the waterline starts with three layers of isophthalic gelcoat and vinylester resins for optimal protection against osmotic water damage. Aside from the multiple heavy-duty laminations that follow, the N72 has 10 full-length stringers to provide strength and rigidity, with additional stringers for specialized uses like engine beds. The hull-to-deck joint is bonded with 3M 5200 sealant and mechanically fastened with 3/8-inch stainless steel bolts on 8-inch centers. This is the kind of construction the owners of over 500 Nordhavn and P.A.E. oceangoing yachts have put their confidence into as they have ventured off soundings.

Nordhavn didn't even think "compromise" when they equipped the N72. On the foredeck, you'll find two 300-pound Airtex plow anchors sitting in a massive custom double anchor roller, each equipped with 400 feet of 1/2-inch high-test chain linked to dual Maxwell VWC 4500 hydraulic winches. Chain lockers are accessible through watertight Freeman storm hatches on deck, and include plenty of stowage for more ground tackle, lines and fenders.

In the massive Portuguese bridge bulwark protecting the pilothouse you'll find the expected storage lockers, plus two wing stations with complete controls for the main engines and the American Bow Thruster units bow and stern. An identical control station can be found in a covered locker on the aft deck. A sheltered starboard side deck leads aft past one of two Freeman watertight doors serving the pilothouse (the other is to port), down a flight of stairs to the main deck level where you pass another Freeman door leading to the electrical control board and galley, and on to the after deck. For easier docking, twin Maxwell VC2200 capstan winches port and starboard are standard, a feature that will come in handy when The Good Life begins to tie stern-to in the Med or other overseas ports.

A 345-square-foot boat deck aft of the flying bridge will accommodate tenders up to 17 feet in length, and it includes as standard equipment a Marquip 2,500-pound Hydraulic/240-volt davit that will extend outward up to 21 feet and is capable of launching or retrieving tenders on the port side or off the stern. Notably, Nordhavn's designers have included an 80-gallon gasoline storage tank with its own electric pump to replenish the tender's tank.

If this all sounds a bit too ship-like for you, I should mention that the N72 is elegantly finished, particularly inside where the talents of Scott Cole from Ardeo Design in Bainbridge Island, Wash., are thoughtfully applied to blend gorgeous teak woodwork, crown moldings and cabinetry with comfortable furniture, leather upholstery and stunning granite surfaces. The ultra-wide main saloon derives its spaciousness from the sheer volume and 21-foot beam of this design, which also allows enough floor space in the galley to accommodate topnotch appliances and a stand-alone cabinet with cutting board top.

Accommodations are luxurious by any definition, with a full-beam master set low beneath the pilothouse, a guest cabin just off the companionway leading up to the pilothouse, plus two spacious guest cabins in the bow. All have private head compartments, lined hanging lockers and abundant drawer storage. I passed two peaceful nights in the starboard forward stateroom, and only regretted that my time aboard was abbreviated. There is so much to see and understand about this yacht, I could have stayed a week.

Before we ended our cruise to Newport, R.I., we passed a pleasant afternoon in the heated, commercial-sized pilothouse watching for down-bound and up-bound traffic in and around Narragansett Bay. Ken chatted with the captain of a 450-foot freighter emerging from the Bay about the same time we were making our approach. The freighter passed us starboard to starboard, one-half mile away according to our radar-and we never saw it. If you're thinking about voyaging, and you'd like to make that cruise with great confidence in your yacht and in luxurious style that makes you feel more than comfortable, you owe it to yourself to investigate the Nordhavn 72.

Contact: Nordhavn, (949) 496-4848; www.nordhavn.com.