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"The New Nordhavn 40"
By Bill Parlatore


Since Pacific Asian Enterprises first introduced the Nordhavn 46 in 1989, they have maintained significant market presence in our ocean motorboat niche. The 46-footer quickly asserted itself as a capable world cruiser, and over sixty of these boats are today cruising the world's oceans.

For those wanting the capability of a full displacement, ocean-crossing passagemaker, few production boats exist to satisfy that demand. But P.A.E. remains focused on this kind of vessel, and over the years has expanded the Nordhavn line with larger models, developing the rugged Nordhavn 62, then the more contemporary Nordhavn 50 and 57. All Nordhavns combine luxury accommodations with bluewater ability, and the Nordhavn name has become synonymous with world cruising. The boats inspire dreams of adventure in comfort.
The Nordhavn 46 is still the most popular, in terms of number of boats launched, and they vary from solar-paneled KISS cruisers to goldplated yachts. For many, the Nordhavn 46 defines passagemaking.

As you recall, last year we got a chance to witness the tank testing of a new, smaller model, the Nordhavn 40 (see PMM Fall '98). The N40 was intended as an alternative for those looking for a smaller boat, but with the range and strength to cross oceans.

Well, it has arrived.
The Nordhavn 40 is no shrunk-down version of her big sisters, but an all-new design drawn by the creative and talented hand of Jeff Leishman. Jeff is the naval architect responsible for all of P.A.E.'s Nordhavns.

Taking a blank sheet of paper, and mindful of owner feedback obtained after sea miles in other models, as well as significant staff experience delivering the boats around the world, Jeff took the project in a new direction, away from traditional overhangs and bountiful teak exteriors.

He intended the boat to be a full-displacement, ballasted ocean crosser for two people, with accommodations for occasional guests. The boat would have its own look and personality.

Expecting to see something of the N46 in her, I instead found the Nordhavn 40 more like the rugged, commercial look of the Nordhavn 62. Perhaps it is the almost workboat look of the boat from certain angles. In fact, stand on the pier next to the hull amidships, and it is easy to envision a high-tech commercial vessel. Fit and finish is absolutely yacht quality, but the look is decidedly no-nonsense. The rigging of the paravane system helps that image.

Different From The Start
There are several aspects of the Nordhavn 40 that set it apart from other Nordhavns. The most significant is that it is built by Pacific Seacraft in Fullerton, California, rather than in the two Taiwan yards responsible for the other boats. Pacific Seacraft has long been known as a builder of great cruising sailboats-rugged, safe, and comfortable. The company is a world-class operation, and their boats are strong and tough.

Fullerton is only a short distance from P.A.E.'s office in Dana Point, and the relationship between the two companies has quickly formed into a very positive alliance. The success of the new boat has much to do with this excellent relationship.

I spent some time aboard Hull #2, owned by Dan and Jane Conley of San Francisco's Bay area. Like many of us, they are ax-sailors. Their last sailboat was a Perry-designed Islander Freeport 36.

The Conleys bought the Nordhavn 40 in anticipation of a trip north to the Pacific Northwest, and eventually on to Mexico, the U.S. East Coast, and Europe's canals.
A very nice itinerary indeed!

Let's tour this new Nordhavn, and see how well it fits as the newest member of a bluewater family.

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The Nordhavn 40
This boat is tall, even more so than the drawings would indicate. The high freeboard is quite noticeable, and the mind must adjust to it as you walk up to the boat. It is almost like a caricature of a bigger vessel, slightly compressed. Perhaps that's another reason for the businesslike look of the Nordhavn. If some boats resemble a long, slim arrow, the Nordhavn is a .45-caliber bullet. Short, wide, and packing a punch.

Jeff Leishman told me the height was necessary to fit the required layout into a hull that is only 39' 9" long overall. Rather than compromise the layout plan, he made it taller. But the A/B ratio is still only 2.3:1, and I quickly got used to the profile.

To further accentuate the rugged attitude of the exterior, there is absolutely no exterior teak. No brightwork whatsoever. No caprail to varnish, no teak decks, no eyebrow around the deckhouse. Nothing, just fiberglass and stainless steel.

And one big monster rubrail that rings the perimeter of the hull. It's three inches wide, and, according to P.A.E.'s Jim Leishman, is constructed of UHMW, a plastic rubber material commonly used in fishing boats. It is indestructible, and looks it.

A second rubrail runs down at the waterline, just inches off the water, from the stern forward to about 17 feet amidships. (The length of the rubrail was cut back after tank testing indicated the rail would transmit noise into the boat as waves slapped the hull in certain sea conditions.)

Entry onto the boat is through a 16" by 20" hinged door on the starboard side of the hull. The outboard edge of the built-in transom swim platform is not wide enough (only four inches) to be a reliable means of getting aboard from a dock, although nimble-footed crew might perform such gymnastics. But transom access is great from a dinghy, and there's a nice big transom door.

The 4' 6"-long aft cockpit is full beam, and the boat deck extends partially overhead. There are two hinged lockers that store fenders, lines, and propane bottles, and they are excellent seats as well.

Center on the aft deck is a 25" by 31" hinged and dampened hatch into the huge lazarette. The 14' 6" beam is carried well aft on the Nordhavn 40, so the 36"-deep lazarette will accept all kinds of storage items. The space is really quite enormous. A hinged battery box (for engine and genset starting batteries) makes a good step and seat in the storage space.

The boat was designed with a full-beam saloon, so side decks are only nine inches wide, similar to a sportfishing powerboat. It isn't difficult to move forward on these narrow side decks, but is clearly a compromise made to gain more interior volume.

A large, dogged watertight door on the aft deck provides access into the interior. It's made by Diamond Sea-Glaze of British Columbia, as are all windows and doors, and it is a beauty. The door is 33 inches wide and 66 inches high, and secures tightly with the dogs shut.

In addition, the door is mounted well off the aft deck, so crew must step over a ten-inch sill to gain access into the saloon. This is a good feature for a vessel with offshore intentions.

The saloon galley area measures 12 feet wide by 10' 8" long, and the interior is open and light as a result of six Diamond Sea-Glaze windows, each measuring 27" by 27". Visibility is excellent. (Storm plate fittings are on all windows for use in extreme conditions.)

Headroom in the saloon is 6' 3", and there are handholds within reach when you move around the saloon.

The standard sole treatment is carpeting, which is a nice, contemporary touch on cruising boats these days. It is totally practical, given the protection of the high door sill. While there is talk about offering a traditional teak and holly sole, I would caution against it. The reality of cruising is rough on high-maintenance finishes, and nowhere is this more relevant than flooring. A varnished teak sole isn't all that cruiser friendly, especially when you travel with pets, children, or are prone to dropping tools and other objects on a regular basis.

On the port side of the saloon is a 14"-wide shelf that runs six feet forward to the galley. Under this shelf are two cabinets with double-doors, and each extends out to the hull, giving 24 inches of depth for television and entertainment equipment.

Opposite on the starboard side is a settee and fixed teak table with double stainless steel supports. It is not a high/low table, and won t convert into a berth. As a result, it is solid and is a good thing to lean against under way.

There are useful storage bins behind the settee cushions.

Because of the full-beam width of the saloon, a comfortable swivel chair would fit nicely on the port side, without any sense of closing in the interior.

The Nordhavn 40 project is still evolving, as Pacific Seacraft and P.A.E. evaluate the first several boats. Jim Leishman explained that, in the case of interior finishing, it is likely they will use more light-colored laminates with teak trim in future boats, replacing all-teak interiors. That goes for bulkheads, vertical surfaces, even tabletops. A brighter interior fits the modern look of the boat better, and is easier to keep clean.

The galley is fairly compact, with the dry exhaust stack and overhead cabinets separating the galley from the rest of the saloon. There is a nice Corian counter with twin, 8"-deep 12" by 13" stainless steel sinks and Grohe faucet, and fiddles runs the perimeter of the countertop.

A Force 10 Mariner 3-burner propane stove is standard. Hull #2 has a trash compactor, a GE microwave oven in one of the overhead cabinets, and a Norcold 12VDC/120VAC refrigerator/freezer.

Pantry space for bulk supplies is somewhat limited in the galley area. However, there is ample storage throughout the boat, so the cook will be quite able to cope with long-term provisioning. (As in the case of the Krogen 39, against which the Nordhavn 40 will invariably be compared, it is a good case for KISS galley work. Leave out the Kitchen Maid mixer, blender, and bread machines!)

Another example of the boat's refinement by P.A.E. and Pacific Seacraft is how they plan to reclaim galley space by eliminating the portside stairs up to the boat deck. Changing these molded-in steps for a ladder (and keeping the stairs on the starboard side) still provides boat deck access on both sides of the boat, but the large box to the right of the galley stove can be made much smaller, resulting in more usable working space in the galley.

Across from the galley is an Italian Splendide 2000 washer/dryer combination unit. Jim explained this too may be relocated to allow a dedicated freezer option.

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Forward Cabins
Despite the shorter overall length of the boat, I noticed that everything is full size, for real people. All passageways on the boat are a healthy 24 inches wide, with plenty of stainless steel handholds. Moving around the boat does not require twisting and turning through narrow accommodations, and crew will find it very pleasurable to move about.

Down five steps from the saloon brings you down 48 inches to a 5' 6" passageway to the head and cabins.

The boat has a single head, but it is a large one. The doorway into the head is 20 inches wide, and with this door latched open, this head seems even bigger. The separate, enclosed shower has 6' 4" headroom, and there is even a 26"-wide by 16"-deep teak seat for showering under way. An adjustable Grohe shower fixture is a nice luxurious touch. You won't feel like you're camping on this boat!

A large, gasketed locker behind the shower seat will hold a large supply of toiletries and there are several other lockers and drawers in the rest of the head compartment.

There are two 6" opening ports (one is in the shower). Together with the ivory laminate and teak trim, the head is bright and very clean. The countertop in the head is 53 inches long and 16 inches wide, and there is a single deep sink.

This head will satisfy anyone.

It was here that I began noticing some of the little touches that Pacific Seacraft brings to the Nordhavn equation. With their many years of experience in building bluewater sailing boats, Pacific Seacraft knows a great deal of what works and doesn't work on vessels heading offshore. And they've added their own twist to this Nordhavn.

For example, they put little placards around the boat to remind you about leaving this seacock or that valve open or closed. It's a very nice touch. And when you look at those seacocks and valves, you see big, heavy Groco plumbing, all nicely secured with double hose clamps. The seacocks are not the screw together type, but are through-bolted together for additional security.

Forward of the head, up two steps (each is hinged for storage), brings you into the master stateroom.

The original Nordhavn 46 featured a midships master cabin, a location that offered the least motion in certain sea conditions. Most owners however, found a forward cabin more desirable, with better natural light and ventilation. The forward cabin arrangement also proved to be quite comfortable in a stabilized vessel except when running into head seas. So the Nordhavn 40 has a forward master cabin.

On top of a sturdy platform is the island berth, surrounded by the very tasty teak finish. The construction and finish of this cabin is solid, and pure Pacific Seacraft. (If you've been aboard a Pacific Seacraft before, you'll know this interior instantly.) Teak strips line the hull, and there are cabinets and lockers throughout the stateroom. I saw two cedar-lined hanging lockers, four drawers, and no less than twelve large lockers in this cabin-not to mention a stand-alone bureau with its own set of three large drawers.

Headroom is at least 6' 4" in the master cabin. Despite the extensive use of teak, the large (20" by 20") overhead hatch and two opening ports bring in lots of light. Even the carpeting seems to add to the luxurious feel of this cabin.

The island berth (which is 58 inches wide and 79 inches long) is hinged at the forward end. The entire bed lifts (with hydraulic dampeners) to uncover the bow section of the hull, where the house batteries and 8-hp bow thruster are located. The space is deep enough to climb into if necessary.

Forward of the bed is a single chain locker, big enough to hold a world cruiser's all-chain rode.

Back out in the passageway, opposite the head, is the guest cabin. The stateroom has upper and lower bunks, and the lower bunk pulls out to be 44 inches wide at the head and 32 inches wide down at the foot.

The cabin is 6' wide and 6' 8" long. There is a hanging locker, a four-drawer bureau, and two large drawers under the lower berth. Not a place to live permanently, perhaps, but more than enough for occasional guests, or children.

Even though there are only two opening ports, and no overhead hatch, the use of light laminate really brightens up the cabin. I wouldn't mind escaping here to read a book or take a little nap under way. It will be a very comfortable stateroom.

The planned alternate location for the washer/dryer is an additional cabinet mounted outboard of the hanging locker on the forward bulkhead.

Engine Room
On the aft bulkhead of the guest cabin is an access door into the engine room. The heavy, sound-insulated door has two dogs to maintain the watertight integrity of the bulkhead. (This 18"-wide by 37"-tall door could be wider for easier entry into the engine room. I understand a wider door might block the lower berth from being able to pull completely out when the access door is opened, but I'd rather slide the bunk in to gain access into the engine space than be limited by a narrow hatch.)

The engine room on the Nordhavn 40 is a big improvement over other under-saloon-sole engine rooms-made possible by the use of P.A.E.'s novel maintenance strakes. These two large blisters in the hull create meaningful pockets of additional standing room on both sides of the center-mounted engine. There is almost 5 feet of headroom, which is only possible because of the maintenance strakes. Otherwise, you'd be crawling around on hands and knees, which seems pretty silly on any expensive cruising motorboat.

Standard power is a Lugger L668D diesel engine with Twin Disc MG5050 marine gears. This 143-hp diesel has proven very successful on the Nordhavn 46, and, while it is somewhat larger than necessary for the smaller and lighter N40, the folks at P.A.E. know it is bulletproof. The Lugger is keel cooled and has a dry exhaust.

Straddling the Lugger are two fiberglass fuel tanks, for a total capacity in excess of 900 U.S. gallons. The tanks were built so that a person can actually climb inside each tank for inspection and thorough cleaning, a comforting thought before heading around the world. Clean fuel is happy fuel.

It is 68 inches between the two fuel tanks, so there is more than enough room to move around the inline, six-cylinder engine. Both tanks have protected sight-glass gauges for accurate fuel level monitoring.

Hull #2 has Nordhavn's popular wing engine option, a Yanmar 3GM30F with V-drive to a Martec folding propeller. It is enough to drive the boat at 4+ knots at sea.

The boat also has a Northern Lights genset, which fits nicely across from the wing engine, and there is a Seaward 11-gallon hot water heater outboard of the genset near the starboard side of the hull.

The floor of the engine room is removable in sections, and access to the traditional stuffing box is excellent. The entire engine room floor is non-skid, and perforated metal surrounds sound-deadening material on the sides and overhead of the engine room.

It is a very clean-looking compartment. And I understand future plans call for a one-piece, all-fiberglass molded engine room pan, making the Nordhavn 40's engine room even easier to keep clean.

Tool storage is limited, but a large tool box can be safely secured between the genset and wing engine, just aft of the Lugger.

Dual Racor Model 75/900 FGX fuel filter/water separators are mounted just forward of the white diesel, so it's a simple matter to switch from one to the other when necessary.

The boat's fuel manifold system is located on the forward bulkhead in front of the Racors. It is a gravity-fed and self-leveling system, drawing off the low point in each tank.

Although the system works great, Jim Leishman told me that, beginning with Hull #4, they will be replacing this fuel manifold with something even better-a two-gallon "supply reservoir" (a day tank) with all valves integrated into the tank. The small tank will be located below the level of the two main fuel tanks, eliminating the possibility of air in the fuel supply if there is a leak somewhere in the system.

The day tank will have permanent marks in 1/lOth-gallon increments, to allow accurate
measurement of fuel burn under way, without having to compensate for load, sea conditions, or other factors. This is something every trawler and cruising motorboat should have.

Three 24" double-tube 110VAC fluorescent lights light up the engine room, and there are also six additional 12VDC dome lights.

A large overhead hatch lifts out from the saloon, and there is another small hatch for reaching the bilge pump.

Speaking of that, the bilge pump on the Nordhavn 40 is a large, diaphragm Edson pump located at the aft bulkhead of the 12'-long engine room. This is a real workhorse of a pump, and will quickly empty the bilges when manned by an excited crewmember. It puts those little weenie pumps to shame.

In every way, this engine room is an improvement over the original N46 engine room. The headroom, fuel storage and delivery system, and general layout reflect years of experience at sea.

I would like to see some beefy handholds just inside and outside the engine room access door. With the location of the narrow door, you must contort a bit to get in and out of the engine room, and there's nothing to grab to help maintain balance. And grasping a hot engine block isn't a good thing to do!

While only 40 feet long, in many ways the Nordhavn 40 seems bigger than her bigger sister Nordhavn 46. But if there is one location on the new boat that is noticeably smaller, it is the pilothouse.

Up three steps from the saloon and galley, the pilothouse is just eight feet wide, allowing 20"-25" for side decks outside the pilothouse doors.

Headroom is over 6' 6" in the pilothouse, and visibility is excellent due to the large windows.

The settee in the wheelhouse is just 6 feet long, but there is a 6' 4" watch berth behind it, so off watch crew can snooze in the wheelhouse.

The pilothouse will also evolve as the boat gets sea miles under her keel. But what I saw in Hull #2 looked very commercial and salty, with dark charcoal laminate above teak surfaces. The Diamond Sea-Glaze windows are tempered safety glass, and the forward-facing windows are 3/8-inch glass.

Chart storage is limited to placement under the watch berth cushion, and there are plans to add an instrument drawer for all those little things that need a home.

There isn't much room for a Stidd chair or other solidly-mounted helm seat, but that too will be addressed as the boat gets cruised. Perhaps a swing-up seat, or simply driving the boat from the settee with an autopilot remote.

The two pilothouse doors are heavy, four-hinge, gasketed Dutch doors with upper and lower locking dogs. These doors are ABS-certified, and they look serious.

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Outside the pilothouse door brings you onto wide side decks and the Portuguese bridge, the center of which is 40 inches high for protection. It's very secure moving about this boat from the pilothouse forward.

A hinged section of the bridge swings up for access to the foredeck. It's about 16 feet from the bow to the front pilothouse windows. One-foot high bulwarks are found on the foredeck, with double lifelines mounted on top of the bulwarks for 31-inch lifeline protection. Two built-in foredeck lockers handle line and fender storage.

The bow is about seven feet from the water. Double anchor rollers are standard. Hull #2 has a Maxwell 3500 electric windlass, and a 110-lb. Bruce for her primary anchor, which fits very nicely on the bow roller. When it comes to anchors, bigger is always better!

The slight rise of the deck just aft of the windlass keeps mud and gunk contained in a small area with two drains. There is a washdown faucet right where you need it.

Farther aft, two dorade vents bring fresh air into the forward cabin.

Walking back to the pilothouse, you must step up into the pilothouse, as the door is set 12 inches off the deck. Moving past the pilothouse doors brings you up five steps onto the boat deck, which measures ten feet long by twelve feet wide. It's possible that a flybridge might be available at some point, but there is no current plan for it.

Under Way
No other Nordhavn has been as extensively tank tested as the Nordhavn 40. So it is no surprise that she handles well under way, and that the hull is seaworthy, balanced, and will perform well at sea. Despite the fact that she is three feet shorter on the waterline than the N46, the Nordhavn 40 will probably be a better sea boat.

Steering control is excellent, and the boat's large rudder allows you to spin the boat in a very tight circle. Even the wing engine does an admirable job of moving the boat forward, though it is well off center. In fact, the little Yanmar makes hardly any noise or vibration while powering at speed.

Speaking of noise, I measured the following noise levels in the boat at eight knots
(1,800 rpm):

  • Saloon/Galley - 71 dB
  • Master stateroom - 67 dB
  • Guest stateroom - 70 dB
  • Engine room - 104 dB
  • Pilothouse - 66 dB.

At a more relaxed cruising speed of seven knots (1,550 rpm) I measured 65 dB in the master cabin and 67 dB in the guest cabin. Efforts to reduce noise levels have obviously paid off.

The paravane system developed for the Nordhavn 46 is the exact same system offered for the Nordhavn 40. Given the lighter weight and smaller size of the 40-footer, the flopperstoppers will make the boat rock solid while running offshore. The size of this system is still quite manageable by a two-person crew, and has evolved to be an outstanding method of roll reduction on the Nordhavn 46.

Passion Above All Else
These days, the people at P.A.E. are very busy. Schedules are full, commissioning is a constant activity, and sales are good.

But in addition to the frenetic activity of building five boats in three yards, I see a renewed sense of enthusiasm and passion in the people behind the Nordhavn story. And it doesn't seem to be about one boat, either. When I walked the Dana Point docks with members of the P.A.E. team, I saw the enthusiasm again and again.

You see, now that production in the yards is under control, and each Nordhavn model now a known entity with a track record, the people at P.A.E. can concentrate on refining what they build, making changes and subtle improvements to make the vessels even better. Getting those last percentage points towards a perfect 10.

Dan Screech walked me through a new Nordhavn 62, a beautiful and rugged mammoth of a trawler yacht. The biggest change has been the development of a stern bustle to improve overall performance. It is such an improvement that it's even being considered as a retrofit option for earlier boats.

Up on the foredeck, Dan then showed me some improvements to the soon-to-be-installed dry exhaust system that would never be seen by the new owner. Dan was really quite excited to finally have the opportunity to tweak some little things that he knows no one is ever going to know about, but that will give him tremendous personal satisfaction.

Joe Megan beamed with pride while giving me a tour of a Nordhavn 57, his personal favorite for a do-anything, go-anywhere passagemaker. Joe also showed me changes that will go unnoticed by the new owners, but he was thrilled to explain how these subtle tweaks would make the boat better and safer.

And so it goes with each of the boats. Not just to change, but to become better. It's nice to see this kind of passion. And it is passion.

The Nordhavn 40 is a worthy new addition to the Nordhavn line. It has the range and stamina to cross oceans, and will prove to be a comfortable and safe voyager for its owners. The look is decidedly Nordhavn, and the details of the boat reflect a lot of experience in what goes into a passagemaking vessel.

The Conleys can now live their adventure, with confidence in the boat they will soon call home. It will take them as far as their dreams.

P.A.E. continues to lead the way in world-cruising production motorboats, and it is easy to see why they are in that position.

Just two words define such leadership, and it is as fitting now as it was a decade ago when the Nordhavn 46 was first launched.

"Follow Me!"

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