Nordhavn 40 Review
Reviewed Sep 2016
To review any boat, it is probably necessary to provide some history toward what prompted the buying decision. I started into boating with a 3.5-metre-long aluminium dinghy back in 1968. It was my pride and joy. With a 10 HP Mercury to power her along, we would zip to our favourite dive locations then zip home again with a quota of crayfish (Lobster to the mainlanders). The dinghy distance limitations due to potential wind conditions was limited, so we traded up to a 4.7 metre marine ply with a 40 horse power engine. This was a massive step up in performance and distance possibilities. In 1981 to 1991 there was a boating hiatus, as my employer transferred me to USA.
Upon my return I discovered quickly that the crayfish were becoming extremely difficult to locate, so another upgrade to a 6.3 meter-long, and our first glass reinforced plastic (GRP) boat, a Bahia Mar, with 100 horsepower. This was my introduction to inboard-outboard legs! Boy they are maintenance hungry in salt water.
Life and the bank balance were improving, and the kids were now doing their own thing, consequently as someone who spends his money on booze and boats and wastes the rest, another upgrade to a 9.8 meter, GRP, Bayliner with twin 125 horsepower engines was made. This was the first non-trailer boat, and with it came the berthing costs and the necessary planning to drive for 30 minutes to perform any maintenance necessary. As a mechanical engineer, I have always performed the majority of my own maintenance or identified what the problems were prior to engaging a specialist. The Bayliner was what I would term a boat-show-special. It was under-powered, by twin petrol engines, which detest raw water cooling, but she provided the opportunity to stay away for a few days on board with relative comfort. Business pressures were now building as I had started my own company and the Bayliner was not receiving the care and use profile necessary for my enjoyment. An opportunity arose to buy into a half share of an 11-meter GRP Markline with twin Volvo 245 horse power inboard outboard drives. Consequently, we sold the Bayliner. Our trips now were less frequent, but with the ability to cruise in flat water at 30 knots, we soon found new dive locations that were within reach of our two-day business free weeks. The inboard-outboard legs were more maintenance hungry than the Mercury version, and in cross winds, being a fly bridge cruiser especially when berthing she was very hard to control. In very rough seas, taking green water over the bow, all aboard were not comfortable. So the search began for something that might tick all the boxes.
After narrowing the list to Kady Krogen, Nordhavn and Selene, a business trip to the west coast of USA provided me the opportunity to visit some of the huge marinas there and compare boats. I mentioned earlier my profession, and upon viewing the Nordhavn, also GRP construction, with a non-crawl engine room and superb quality of the wiring loom I was hooked. My inspection, plus the added fact that the Nordhavn management had put their money where their mouth was by crewing aboard a Nordhavn 40 on a 170-day, 26,000-mile circumnavigation of the globe back in 2002, confirmed our decision.
Now came the exhaustive process of what to add or eliminate in the specification list.
The first was to make sure I had listened to the Admiral of the fleet. The two most important items arising from this were a comfortable ride and no-yelling during berthing. This mandated stabilization and a bow thruster. After discussing passive stabilizers (Para vanes) with local Tasmanian professional fishermen, their ease or otherwise of deployment, the lack of weed catching ability, the result was to select active stabilizers.
For me, the main engine and transmission were paramount. A simple single engine with shaft drive would eliminate the expensive issues associated with the previous bad experience with inboard-outboard legs. The non-crawl around engine and excellent access were a distinct bonus.
After all the grief with raw water cooled engines, having a keel cooler is superb. A quick learning curve the second season the boat was slipped, witnessed the removal of anti-foul paint from the exchanger, resulting in a 4-degree C drop in engine temperature. An added bonus was the ability to access the engine room via the guest cabin, as opposed to having to remove panels in the salon floor. This avoided the necessity to have passengers adopt a knees up position whenever entry for inspection or filter changes are required. The dual Racor primary fuel filters allow rapid change during travel should that be necessary.
I should caution potential buyers of “displacement speed” boats that if you are time poor, as I was prior to buying the Nordhavn, then the 7 knot cruising speed will restrict your enjoyment. However, with the prior two fly-bridge boats we had noted when the weather turned nasty, boat speed was limited to 8-10 knots. The Nordhavn has experienced 55 knot winds, and with some course adjustment, life was still tolerable.
The Nordhavn 40 has a symmetrical cabin unlike the larger models in their range. However, the side gate to access the berth from the rear cockpit is superb. People with less than perfect mobility can easily step aboard, and the swim platform being only 0.2 meters from the water surface is so easily accessed by divers, we seldom drop the platform ladder. Two people can easily berth the boat and frequently this function is performed by one person.
The deep draft and 1.8 tonnes of lead in the keel make the vessel very stable and after eight years of ownership, “no yelling” at berthing has been accomplished every single time, even in unfamiliar jetty or berth locations. If there is any criticism here, if it becomes necessary to berth in reverse, vision for the skipper is quite restricted. The helmsperson can dart through the port or starboard doors in the wheelhouse for a better view, but then nobody is steering!
Apart from the lead ballast, the two fuel tanks have about eighty percent (80%) of the volumetric capacity below the normal waterline. The engine is gravity fed until fuel level approaches fifteen percent (15%) remaining.
As a resident of Tasmania, with cold weather almost as bad as Melbourne ( ☺ ) we wanted an efficient heating system. The boat is fitted with a hydronic, diesel fired furnace. This burns about 1.2 litres per hour, and instead of attempting to route warm air through large diameter, space-consuming ducts, each area is serviced with a supply and return hose of hot fluid that runs through a small heat exchanger. A small 12-volt, computer style, low amp draw, fan then blows across the heat exchanger and supplies warm air to the area. The winter temperature was also the reason that no fly bridge was selected. This decision reduced the inherent sail area as well which contributes to low speed handling during high cross wind berthing.
The Dutch doors in the pilot house (Split horizontally for upper only or all door opening, enables superb ventilation through the wheelhouse and saloon during the summer months.
We had noted during the ownership of the two prior fly-bridge boats, that when underway, people aboard would congregate at the helm to check out the arriving views. The Nordhavn 40 has an athwartships bench seat comfortable for three, and can seat four.
Since purchasing Westwind, a Nordhavn 40 in 2008, she has completed over 30,000 nautical miles and our confidence level in her ability to tolerate seas and be a comfortable home away from home has only increased. The galley is a “U” shape, and allows meal preparation during travel. Similar boats with bench galleys mandate food preparation prior to a long trip.
The ease that new electronics can be added or replaced by routing wires over the “Velcro” fastened headliners and the in-hull cast wiring conduits is superb.
In conclusion, for a semi-live-aboard, enthusiastic long distance traveller with no time constraints, the Nordhavn 40 is the near perfect boat.