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Nordhavn 46

Illustration by Jim Ewing

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In 1963 a retired Naval officer and World War II aircraft carrier veteran took off on a global voyage in a long-distance yacht of his own design. A dozen years and 60,000 miles later, Capt. Robert Beebe penned his story in Voyaging Under Power. The book ignited the imagination of would-be passagemakers everywhere. The idea of a recreational trawler, a boat that could circle the world for fun and adventure, was born.

In 1989, the Nordhavn 46 was introduced. Designed by naval architect Jeff Leishman of Pacific Asian Enterprises, which was known for its Mason bluewater sailboats, the husky 45-foot, 9-inch trawler rode a full-displacement hull and was built in Singapore. She was powered by a single 140-hp diesel and carried 1,000 gallons of fuel, for a range of as much as 2,000 miles at 8 knots. The luxury interior had master and guest cabins, each with its own head, and a galley loaded with domestic-style appliances. It was finished in teak and spruce.

The boat’s distinctive features — a Portuguese bridge, bulwarks, a forward raked windshield — defied the contemporary styling of the day. But bluewater adventurers flocked to the design and the idea behind it: long-distance voyaging under power.

These are some of the passages made in the Nordhavn 46: Florida to Greenland; from the Mediterranean, across the Atlantic and around Cape Horn to the Pacific, then on to New Zealand; and from Florida to the Canaries and around the globe back to the Canaries. The builder says no other production boat has had as many successful circumnavigations or ocean crossings as the Nordhavn 46.

The editors of Power & Motoryacht magazine, in an article on game-changing designs, said “this saltiest of the salty lookers really cranked up the passagemaking craze.” Today the Nordhavn fleet ranges from 40 to 120 feet.

April 2015 issue