The cruising dream is a powerful one. Far horizons beckon with new ports of call, new people to meet. There’s the challenge of running the boat and becoming familiar with it. And the moments of sheer pleasure, just being on the water.
But there are hard realities and tough questions: Where to go? For how long? Live aboard? Then, there’s the boat. New or used? Big or small? Faster or slower?
Don and Jill Bernard chose a used 43-foot Nordhavn for their planned cruise into retirement. But selecting the boat was only the first step in making their dream a reality. The 11-year-old passagemaker has been given a refit to bring it to “like new” condition. Seaborne launched this past spring, and the Southern California couple spent the summer getting acquainted with their passagemaker.
“The thought process was to take a great boat, go over all systems — mechanical, electrical, plumbing — and make everything a priority,” says Don, a 56-year-old hospital CFO. “The end objective was to have a state-of-the-art 2005 boat with 2016 technology that was cosmetically perfect, both interior and exterior.”
PASSION FOR CRUISING
The Bernards are lifelong boaters; their most recent vessel was a Beneteau Swift Trawler 42, which replaced a 35-foot Silverton convertible. Their cruising grounds covered Catalina, the Channel Islands and various Southern California ports. They’ve also chartered bareboats in the Pacific Northwest and the Caribbean.
“I love the freedom and complexity that the ocean provides. It is always a challenging pallet,” says Don, who grew up in Newport Beach, California. “I have a love for all types of boats, with a passion for trawlers.” Jill grew up in Nevada, boating on Lake Mead.
So for this couple, moving up to the 43-foot Nordhavn, which the Powerboat Guide describes as a “beefy, go-anywhere trawler,” was perhaps inevitable. As Don says: “It was more of a natural progression that we acquire a boat that would enable us to travel long range. The passion has always been there for us.”
LOA: 43 feet • LWL: 38 feet, 4 inches • BEAM: 14 feet, 10 inches • DRAFT: 5 feet, 3 inches • DISPLACEMENT: 60,000 pounds • HULL TYPE: modified full displacement • PROPULSION: single 170-hp Lugger diesel • AUXILIARY PROPULSION: single 30-hp Yanmar diesel • TANKAGE: 1,200 gallons fuel, 300 gallons water • RANGE: 2,500-3,000 miles • Contact: Pacific Asian Enterprises, Dana Point, California, (949) 496-4848. nordhavn.com
WHAT THEY WANTED
The list of parameters was simple. Their ideal boat would have two staterooms, two heads and a pilothouse, and provide a livable common area with a galley up. The length overall was to be less than 50 feet so the couple could pilot the boat without other crewmembers on a day-to-day basis. There would be room for guests and additional crew as needed.
The Bernards looked at Defever, Kadey-Krogen and various other manufacturers before choosing Nordhavn. Familiarity was one reason they went with the California-based builder. “Many of our friends have owned Nordhavns, and we have spent a considerable amount of time on them,” Don says. “We have always wanted to have a Nordhavn, so it was not a difficult decision. We love the Nordhavn concept.”
Resale value was also important. “We thought it was [a] prudent [choice] for trading up or eventually getting out later in life,” he says.
Seaborne’s saloon has the galley up, with a three-burner stove/oven combination unit, two refrigerators and a deep freezer. The raised pilothouse is roomy enough for a table, a chart area and a bunk “to help make night passages a little less lonely,” Don says. The layout below has an amidships master stateroom with an attached head. The guest stateroom is forward, also with its own head compartment.
It’s powered by a 170-hp turbocharged Lugger diesel that gives the boat a cruising speed of 7 to 8 knots. Matched with a 1,200- gallon fuel supply, the Nordhavn 43 has a working range of 2,500 to 3,000 miles.
In sum, Don says, Seaborne is a perfect couple’s boat that can accommodate occasional guests while providing a structural platform that their lives can depend on. Broker James Leishman Jr., son of Nordhavn president Jim Leishman, found the 2005 model for the couple in the Seattle area.
“We flew up to see it and loved the boat,” Don says. “It was exactly what we were looking for.”
The first thing that caught his eye was the shine of the gelcoat, a sign that the boat had been cared for. “It was clean, [well] maintained and had a good infrastructure,” he says. “But the boat was 11 years old and needed to be refreshed to bring it up to more modern technology.”
That called for a refit.
KNOW THY BOAT
The term Wild West could apply to the Pacific coast as well as the prairie. The world’s largest ocean presents the cruising mariner with strong currents and violent storms, a dangerous coastline with a dearth of harbors and, in far northern waters, few facilities. Self-sufficiency is important.
Don and Jill wanted to have confidence in every aspect of their cruising home. That meant looking at everything, from the bilge to the masthead light. “I have always relied upon my boat to safely transport us by providing proper and timely maintenance,” Don says. “My strategy is to know my boat better than anyone else. My goal [with the refit] was to go over every system on the boat to ensure that it met my standards.”
The couple chose Raven Marine in North Saanich, British Columbia, to do the work. “Raven has a history of providing quality work and has been used on occasion to outfit new Nordhavns,” Don says. “When I approached [general manager] John Nassichuk about the project, he felt very comfortable with Nordhavns. He really wanted to show off the staff at Raven. He was available, friendly and willing to go the extra mile.”
Nassichuk recognized that he had a knowledgeable, detail-oriented client. “I met the Bernards while doing a mechanical inspection of the boat as part of the purchase of the vessel,” he says. “A lot of people have a dream about what they want to do with their boat. Don was different. It was not just a dream; he had been planning this for some time. He had it fixed in his mind what he wanted and what would be the result. He’s rare in that regard.”
The initial project was estimated at four months; it ended up taking about twice that long. “This was due to additional findings and projects added,” Don says. “Everything gets a little more complicated than it originally looks.” The total cost of the boat and refit was just under $800,000, he says. “To get a new 43, it would be approximately $1.2 million.”
Ninety-seven items to addresss were on the Bernards’ final list. They included:
- Add Propspeed antifouling bottom paint, perform hull survey
- Service generator, main engine and get-home engines, correct survey items
- Rebuild stabilizers, change bearings and seals
- Install additional Simrad radar, GPS, forward-looking sonar and AIS; rewire Furuno system
- Install Wi-Fi amplifier, antenna and Internet hub
- Replace old dinghy with 11-foot center console; mount Weaver removable chock system, mounting and tie-down system
- Install three 315-watt solar panels on pilothouse roof
- Refinish paravane “fish” with cold galvanizing
- Replace galley microwave and kitchen stove
- Rebuild water filtration system
- Install 11-gallon water heater
- Install new Viking six-man canister deck-mounted life raft
- Install canister-style EPIRB
- Install high-definition Glomex Polaris antenna
The biggest project involved eight windows on the Nordhavn’s superstructure. They were removed so the frames could be sandblasted, rebuilt and refinished, then rebedded and reinstalled with fiberglass repair work and final joinery. Raven Marine also serviced the trawler’s keel coolers, replaced all the hoses and performed standard maintenance servicing. “It was all to get things as close to new as possible,” Nassichuk says. “That’s the standard that Don and Jill established.”
The Lugger diesel was serviced. The boom for the tender was inspected, and new winches were installed. A cooling system for the engine room and bilge was added. Even the Nordhavn’s mast got some attention: new paint and spreader and masthead lights.
“There’s nothing on this boat that hasn’t been touched,” Nassichuk says.
For the Bernards, the refit was an enlightening experience. “The main emotion was excitement about the project,” Don says. “At times, impatience and then a period of frustration. The frustration was minimal, but at times it was like pulling a piece of yarn on a sweater and having it unravel.”
The constant question? The extent of the project.
“The major form of uncertainty was how far and deep to go,” he says. “The goal was to touch every system on the boat. We ended up replacing certain items that were not yet failing but toward the end of their useful life. Safety was the key; [we] needed to trust the boat and systems 110 percent.”
The result has been “unbelievable,” he says. Don retired in May, and he and Jill spent this past summer cruising the Canadian Gulf Islands and the San Juan Islands. They have Alaska in their sights for next summer.
“This is a new boat that I would feel comfortable taking around the world,” Don says.
About Raven Marine
Raven Marine began more than 20 years ago as a yacht management company, overseeing pleasure craft in the Vancouver, British Columbia, area. Today, the full-service facility handles yacht maintenance and repair, as well as taking on major projects.
“Very extensive refits … that’s what we do,” says John Nassichuk, 62, the yard’s general manager. Areas of expertise include mechanical and electrical systems, diesel and gas engine installation and maintenance, plumbing and sanitation, and ancillary items, from watermakers to outboard engines to dinghy booms.
Refits are popular these days, Nassichuk says. “We see people from their 40s on up, people who have a real heart for a particular kind of vessel and want to outfit it as their own.”
Price is one reason. “A person can buy a good used boat and bring it up to the standards they want, a boat that’s close to new for a fraction of the money they’d pay for a new one,” Nassichuk says. “Some want to enjoy the years as they approach retirement. By the time they do retire, they will have the boat they want.”
Major projects are not always easy. The Nordhavn 43 refit, which took eight months, was “intense, detailed,” he says. But the relationship between the owners, Don and Jill Bernard, and the Raven Marine staff saw the concept through to completion.
“It became very close; you could see it develop,” Nassichuk says. “The staff shared the Bernards’ vision. The attention and care when the staff is connected to the owners goes far beyond that where it’s just another job. And the Bernards were wonderful people who respected the energy we put into the project.”
He adds, “I am thrilled with the result.”
Raven Marine, North Saanich, British Columbia, (250) 655-3934. ravenmarine.ca
This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue.