August 3, 2012 is the day we closed on the boat. The process of finding and purchasing her started much earlier in the year, around March. Initially, we had only one goal, to buy another Nordhavn. So we considered every model our budget committee would approve, namely anything from an N40 to an N50. To find the right boat, we contacted Larry Geiselman at PAE in Dana Point. Larry is Nordhavn’s “oldest” broker, in that he was the first full time broker to join PAE when they built Mason sailing yachts. So he’s built and sold a few Nordhavns in his time, including many of the N50’s.
We flew to Dana Point and wore Larry out visiting different models. We boarded a 40, a 43, a 47, a 50 and, just for fun, a 55. While the 55s are beautiful boats, they are too much boat for us. If we lived aboard full time, like we did on the 46, we would have considered a 55 or, more likely, our dream Nordhavn, the 57. But, since we plan to spend at least half the year at Lake Tahoe, once Captain Ron retires from being Dr. Ron, we wanted something a little more manageable. So the search came down to a 47 or a 50. The 40 and 43 are great boats, but seemed a little small to us after the 46. We did briefly consider another 46, but having owned one, we now wanted something a little different.
The “newer” style Nordhavns, namely the 47, 52, 55, etc. are beautiful boats. Lots of headroom, state of the art galleys, etc. But we preferred the 50, for several reasons. First, the N50 is arguably the most efficient hull Nordhavn has ever built, for reasons no one quite understands. She is capable of cruising at 8-9 knots without effort, which gives her longer range at higher speeds compared to our 46. She is also able to slow down and cross an ocean. Our future cruising plans included both short jumps and really long hops, namely across the South Pacific, so the 50 gave us more flexibility.
The 50 also has most of what we wanted after selling our 46. Our “perfect” boat list included more speed, similar or greater range (the 50’s range is about equal to the 46), a stand up engine room, a helm chair, a fly bridge and fiberglass fuel tanks. While Captain Ron didn’t get a fully stand up engine room, he is a pretty compact guy, so he can almost stand all around Duet’s engine and is thrilled that he doesn’t have to crawl on the floor all the time. He also got a very large lazarette, which is a good thing, since he was out of space in the 46’s lazarette. The 50 has a helm seat, a fly bridge and fiberglass fuel and water tanks, so no worries there.
N50s have their master stateroom amidships, which is different from the 46, where our stateroom was forward. We liked the forward layout at anchor, as there is excellent ventilation. It is, however, useless in a seaway, unlike the midships stateroom, which is low down and presumably will be comfortable underway. The ventilation issue will either declare itself or not, and we will deal with it then. Right now we are cruising cold climates so the warmer the better, at least as far as Nancy is concerned.
The only issue with the 50 is that they weren’t built after 2004/05. So we would need to buy an older one. Not only that, but only 26 were built in the first place, so it was a pretty small population. Finally, to make it more complicated, 50s were built in all sorts of configurations, with wide body or walk around decks, fly bridge or no fly bridge, and dry exhaust or wet exhaust, being the primary choices. Prior to hull #16, no dry exhausts were built with a fly bridge. About half of the 50s were built with wet exhausts, and most were wide bodies, so that narrowed things down a bit. Finally, while we weren’t hugely particularly about where the boat was located, it would be a lot easier if she was on the West Coast, since that is where we are.
So Nancy, feeling more information is always good, developed a list of every N50 built, complete with details (where available) on configurations, location, etc. She started with a list another 50 owner kindly sent along. She also reached out to the Nordhavn family, which is incredibly helpful on many issues, including this one. So, by the time we found the 50 that would become Duet, we knew an awful lot about 50s.
We also developed a list of features that we wanted on the boat, some taken from the 46, and others developed over time. These included things like a dishwasher, at anchor stabilization, a davit with power rotation, etc. So we knew that we would be undertaking a refit, the scale of which would depend on which 50 we purchased. In addition, on older boats things wear out, so we expected to replace some gear on any 50 we bought.
Fortunately for us, N50#15, then named Loreley, came on the market in the spring in Anacortes, WA. She was a very clean boat, with two previous owners, both of whom had kept good records. The most recent owner had upgraded her, including adding a Datum electronic head for her Naiad stabilizers, which is a top shelf (and not incidentally, very expensive) bit of gear. So we flew up to Anacortes to see her. We were the first people aboard once she came on the market, and we made an offer within a week. As they say, the early bird gets the worm, and, after some reasonable negotiation, a deal was struck.
Survey day was exhausting, which is true of all five surveys we have ever done. Aboard during the survey were our broker, Larry, the owner’s broker, Frank Durkson (about whom we have nothing but good things to say), the owner (who was outstanding throughout), Ron and Nancy, the surveyor, Bob Senter (or Lugger Bob as he is known in Nordhavn circles) and Dick McGrew from Naiad. It’s a good thing the 50 has plenty of room, as she was packed!
Everything went very well, and everything worked as it should. The haul out itself had minor glitches, entirely the fault of the yard, which will not be on our go to list in the future. After nearly 12 hours of detailed review, everyone staggered home with completed paperwork and we had ourselves a boat.
So, after about 4 months of searching, we were the proud owners of a 12 year old Nordhavn 50. She is big and complex, but we weren’t daunted, as most of her systems were similar or identical to our 46, except in the 50’s case she has two of everything, where the 46 only had one. Captain Ron downloaded all her manuals onto his iPad, Nancy dug out the charts and we planned a 10 day cruise at the end of August.