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April 13, 2011

Nine good reasons to buy a used Nordhavn 43 - now!

By Jeff Merrill

BREAKING NEWS - 4304 Calypso has sold since this article was published.

Many of the old “rules of thumb” hitchhiked right out of town when the market correction/economic collapse reset the game clock for selling boats. Pre-crash selling prices are a helpful reference in today’s market, but really don’t hold the weight they used to, and so comparable sales of used boats need to be divided into pre -2008 and post - 2008 for meaningful data evaluation. One phenomenon that seems to be “crash proof” is that once a certain number of boats come on the market from a specific model, it becomes a Buyer’s feeding frenzy and the critical mass seems to be about 10 boats and/or 20% of production.

Those who have been following the Nordhavn brokerage market will know that the Nordhavn 40 and Nordhavn 47 have both experienced these brokerage surges and purges. Dreamers wondered why so many boats were on the market and sat on the sideline while sharp Buyers saw the opportunity and took advantage of the numbers with so many choices and so many willing sellers. The first few people to submit acceptable offers walked away with the best bargains on those 40s and 47s. A couple of months was all it took to clear the boards on both models and a handful of potential buyers called to ask me why they had missed out. As with so many things, timing and the confidence to make a bold move can mean everything. If you are in a position to make a move, the market favors the buyer and the full selection is available to he or she who makes the first move.

The Nordhavn 43 is a personal favorite of mine as I have had the good fortune to sell quite a few of these and spend many wonderful miles aboard on training trips over the years. It’s not a hard sell, the design is so appealing and for many potential Nordhavn owners it fits my first maxim for Buyers, which is “Buy the smallest boat that is big enough to do the cruising you want to do”. Now this coveted model seems poised to repeat the “selling season history” we have previously seen on the 40 and the 47. I have been selling Nordhavns too long to try to pretend I know something that others don’t, but because I have been at this game for nearly a dozen years I can also easily see the trend and I am willing to venture that the mass of Nordhavn 43s you see on the market right now will be greatly diminished in a relatively short time. Several factors help to support my prediction: For those of us north of the equator we are coming into our spring / summer cruising time (prime boat buying season), banks are loaning money and interest rates are still low. A number of 43s have “ripened” on the market and are ready to accept a reasonable offer, especially with sellers keenly aware that a buyer has such a large variety to choose from and can quickly move on to the next boat if they can’t agree to terms. The resale prices of 43s have remained firm, low ball offers have been ignored, the 43 owners know what they have and no dramatic reductions in price have occurred, so the available market of 43s for sale has slowly grown. There simply is not another pure proven long range passage maker under 50' (note the Nordhavn 47 is 51' LOA) that has: two staterooms, two heads, a large pilothouse, fiberglass fuel tanks, minimum exterior wood …it’s all in the brochure and website so let me stop there… and that is as capable or as attractively priced as a Nordhavn 43. For coastal cruising (how about the Great Loop?) or ocean wandering (cross the Pacific?) by an active couple, you simply cannot do better.

The first 43 was delivered in 2004, so another big advantage is that there are no old boats on the market. The typical Nordhavn owner historically keeps their new boat for an average of five years, so what we are seeing is right in line with the normal progression of a Nordhavn product life cycle. Another reason I like the 43 as a buy right now is that (my second maxim to Buyers) “Your best value is always a used boat” and you have a nice variety to choose from – different layouts, different equipment, flybridge vs. non-fly, paravanes vs. fins, etc. Sure, we would love to build you a brand new 43, but with the base price starting at $775,000, even if you could negotiate a reasonable discount (you can), by the time you add on the essential factory options (like stabilizers, wing engine, generator, air conditioning, thrusters) plus your navigation, entertainment and tender, it is going to be difficult to stay below one million dollars, and you will have to wait at least 8 months from order date until you sail away.

The time is right, there are plenty of choices and whoever strikes first is going to not only have the best selection, but also be in the best position to negotiate since each seller knows that today’s 43 savvy buyer has several good alternatives. When you make a purchase like a Nordhavn 43 you need to have an exit strategy for how, where and when you will sell the boat. You shouldn’t be buying a boat as an investment to make money. Instead, you are trying to not lose too much and reaping the riches of the cruising lifestyle to sock away as many fun memories into your memory bank as possible. You make your money when you buy, not when you sell, and now is the time to buy. The available 43s are scattered all over the US and Australia, so you should be able to find one nearby to inspect. Your Nordhavn sales associate has access to all of the boats listed below (and the other two listed by outside brokers not affiliated with PAE/Nordhavn) and if you were hoping to read about 9 reasons in this article, there were actually more than that included…but here are the best nine reasons of all (listed by hull number).

Hull Number



Asking price



Island Magic



San Diego, CA


Rogue Manor



Long Beach, CA










Sidney, BC





Brisbane, Australia


Helen B



Long Beach, CA


Nola Girl



Portsmouth, RI





Seattle, WA





Palm City, FL

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