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Old 09-03-2010, 12:42   #1
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Selene vs Nordhavn

I am hopeful that one day (in the not too distant future) to be able to choose between buying a lightly used 47-53 foot Nordhavn or Selene. I'm looking for opinions. The layout of either choice is fine (I'll choose an amidship master berth). The intended use is for fulltime liveaboard. Wife and I. Occasional short term guests (say 1-2 weeks). I doubt that we'll attempt to cross the Atlantic or Pacific. However, we may cruise as far as 150-120 nm from shore when traveling long distances. Initially. we'll probably want to spend 'summers' May(ish) to September(ish) in the PNW and Mexico in the "winter' (after hurrricane season). We have no offshore experience. We may get confidence to then travel further afield and go through the Panama Canal to the Carribbean or along Central America. Here's what I undersatand are some of the Pro's and Con's of my choices (please correct me if my conclusions seem wrong).

1) The Nordhavn is initially more expensive. However, it seems to retain its value better than the Selene so one day should we be unable to or unwilling to continue cruising the extra cost of the Nordhavn will likely pay off on sale. I deem this a neutral factor.

2) The Nordhavn seems to be of superior build quality. The weight of similar sized boats seems to be greater and its built more solidly (nice thick windows etc...). We hopefully won't be in any heavy seas - but if that happens (and it probably will), I'd like to be in a great safe boat. This factor tends to lean towards the Nordhavn.

3) We like to restrict the use of our generator. I like having dual voltage refridgeration (which seem to be easier on batts) and prefer to run off of solar power and a large battery bank, cooking with propane as much as possible and using the genny to charge up as infrequently as possible. Every Nordhavn I know of has fairly high generator needs and none (that I know of) have dual voltage appliances. This factor favours the Selene.

4) Assuming both boats have a wing engine (they both have this as an option) their choice of engines seem fairly comparable and this is not a deciding factor. But I have very limited knowledge about this. I'm assuming that the engines on both lines of boats will happily run for thousands of hours (say 10-20,000) without major issues or a MOH. I'm also assuming that both lines of baots are equally easy to service by an owner (save and except major issues where a pro will be needed - hopefully infrequently). I'm also assuming access to parts is equal between the lines. Am I right?

5) I'm also assuming that both are about equally seakindly - and the comfort underway is equal.

Any help or comment would be appreciated. To make this dream happen - we'd have to sell everything - I do mean everything - so I want to choose wisely (I'm assuming we'll then actually be able to afford to cruise ).

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Old 09-03-2010, 15:08   #2
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Both very nice boats...

Both the Nordhavn

and the Selene

look to be very nice boats.
Have you considered the Kadey Krogen?

The Nordhavn could have a smaller engine and larger fuel capacity, but otherwise the boats look very comparable.
For myself I'd seriously hesitate to sell what might be might be sound assets in today's illiquid market to buy something that was depreciating and high maintenance unless I had very serious skills to return to the workforce with.
Some of the smaller older Kadey Krogens and even Marine Traders look to be in acceptable condition and may be acceptable for many cruises. A surveyors report would be essential, but the price could be a quarter of the above.
Buying a second hand boat the survey, mechanical and electrical reports together with the equipment level might be more important than the manufacturer.

I'm also interested as just getting my wife onto the boat for a motor is an interesting exercise, sailing is several levels of complexity away still.
I'm thinking in terms of something like a smaller, older Kadey Krogen that I could maintain myself once the current plans are complete.

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Old 09-03-2010, 17:51   #3
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These are all fine boats (I'd also look at the Kadey Krogen as a third option). So here are some comments:

Do you want a flybridge? I personally find the Nordhavn's very "closed up". Great if you are cruising the Arctic (or the PNW) but less great south. Do you watch the sunset?

What are your expectations about "rolling"? For many people the amount these boats roll comes as a nasty surprise. The active stabilizers help a lot but are expensive to buy and fix when they break. Less than 50' it's an expensive option many omit. The other solution is to drag stabilizer "fish". Do not buy one of these boats until you (and your wife) have spent several hours in a beam sea. Some people think it's fine. Others go buy a sailboat.

Which boat is driest underway? (I don't know). It's no fun to be out in a beautiful sunny day but have to keep the windshield wipers on the whole time.

The engine is likely to outlast the tanks. Ask about the tank construction. What sort of surgery is needed if a tank needs to be replaced or repaired?

I agree with your preference to not always have a genset running. Besides things like a propane stove, go with a larger battery bank and lots of charging capacity. Fit a really big alternator to the engine and 3000+ watts or so connected to the genset. Be sure to have a hot water heater that can be heated by engine heat.

I think all of these boats have pretty good build quality. Weight is not a good guide because heavy stuff - like concrete and iron - is pretty cheap. The glass is a reasonable thing to look at (especially the frames holding the glass - windows can "pop out" of too skinny frames ) but it's fairly easy to fit plexiglass storm shutters for that "hope it never happens" storm.

Since you are new to handling a boat like this, I'd give a long thought to docking. These are all big, heavy boats with a lot of windage. While the Nordhavn's huge bow is seaworthy, it can be in the way when you're trying to come in to a dock. Worse - many of the Nordhavn's do not have side decks around the entire boat. This can make handling lines extremely difficult.

And don't cut the money too close. Part of the fun is getting the boat the way you want it - and there are always some expensive surprises in the first year that have to be put right.

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Old 09-03-2010, 18:42   #4
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Hi Boracay and CarlF and thanks for your replies. I have considered the Kadey Krogen and perhaps I'm dismissing it too early. However, it seems to be the least bang for my volumetric buck. I hate to admit it - but despite my respect for the boat and the builder - I find it the least attractive of my choices. Yup, I definitely want a flybridge as does the Admiral. I wouldn't buy one without chartering and comparing both a Selene and a Nordhavn - but odds are I won't be able to find adequate beam seas to get a sense of how these boats perform in such conditions. I'd prefer both stabilizers and paravanes as back up (and flopper stopper). I wouldn't buy one without both bow AND stern thrusters - or I'd retrofit a stern thruster (most come with both or at least a bow thruster). I'm fairly confident about handling - famous last words - I know
I plan on doing at least 2-3 years of research on these boats before making any kind of move. In reference to budgeting - I know how much my current boat costs and I've researched on this forum (and other forums) how much full time cruising costs - the answer seems so elusive. I'm not free wheeling with money nor a spend thrift. We like anchoring more than docking. I'm going to assume that a budget of $50,000 a year (with a $15,000 cushion for more major items) is sufficient. Much more than that and I get fearful. Actually, we should be able to cruise for less than that - I'd like to leave the kids an inheritance but not too much of one. Any other info would be greatly appreciated. Cheers,
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Old 09-03-2010, 18:56   #5

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Originally Posted by Bill Lee View Post
We have no offshore experience.
I think the quote above is the most important thing you wrote. There's nothing wrong with not having offshore experience. None of us were born on the high seas. But the boats you're considering are both significant offshore boats, especially the Nordhavn. Before you look to spend a million or more dollars, both you and your wife should spend some serious time in different weather conditions offshore. Charter, hire a captain, bum a ride...but get out there and make sure it is what you want.

I'm not saying that it isn't what you want. But there are other types of coastal cruising that are just as enjoyable and might lead you to a different boat choice.

I guess I'm suggesting to not start with the boat. Start with the type of cruising you both know you want to do. The right boat usually finds you after that.

Just my 2 cents...
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Old 09-03-2010, 19:55   #6
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Avoid Selenes. The build/design quality is not there. Certainly when compared to Nordhavns.

my opinion
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Old 09-03-2010, 21:11   #7
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All good advice and appreciated. Our goal is to explore more than the PNW our 'backyard'). Having that goal will require some offshore cruising. Part of our resarch and planning will be a charter expeperience. Perhaps rather than a local charter of a Nordhavn or Selene (and thanks for the warning regarding build quality) we should charter further south and actually go offshore for a bit. All great points. Thanks.
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Old 10-03-2010, 03:38   #8
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I see that you are going to spend quite a bit of time researching. That can only be a good thing in my book. Probably the most important bit of research you can do is actually go on board as many Nordy's and Selenes as you can manage. Look around, assess the build quality and talk to owners. Join a forum like the Yahoo 'Nordhavn Dreamers' group and I believe there is a Selene group as well.
Whichever boat you buy, don't expect that the boat will hold it's price well. Nordhavn's did very well when the economy was booming but a look at the Nordhavn brokerage site will show you that massive price cutting is commonplace. A 62 recently had it's price reduced by $600,000. It depends what you expect the economy to do in the next few years but I wouldn't bet my financial stability on expecting to get a very good price for ANY vessel in the next ten years.
I own a Nordhavn so I'm probably biased but off shore, my boat out performs a Selene, hands down. That said, if you want a mainly coastal vessel with the ability to occasionally make off shore passages in carefully chosen weather windows, a Selene is safe enough.

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Old 10-03-2010, 05:25   #9
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Thanks for your comments fishwife (a sentence I never thought I'd ever write). You're leaving me hanging here...What kind of Nordhavn? Did you have a chance to try out a Selene in reaching your purchasing decision? What were your observations of the major differences. As to holding prices - its all relative. I do plan on buying the smallest boat for our needs. That's likely an N47 or 53 Selene...Thanks for the forum suggestions. Cheers,
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Old 10-03-2010, 14:53   #10
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I second the opinion from fishwife to go to owners forums and ask the owners what they think of their boats.

PLEASE go on several long charters on powerboats before you sell everything and move aboard -- go on captained and on bareboat charters . The money you spend will be peanuts compared to the knowledge you will gain about whether full time cruising is for you, what type of boat is best for you and so forth.
Your cruising grounds require a seaworthy boat to make the passage from PNW to Mexico A Selene should handle that without a problem, . A Nordhavn will ready for any weather you encounter, but unless you intend to cross oceans I might choose the boat based on how the boat works for you in terms of day-to-day living aboard at anchor and in marinas. Ask owners how much time they are moving versus in port and you may be surprised at how little time is actually spent on passages.
Good luck!
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Old 10-03-2010, 15:47   #11
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check out the diesel duck I believe there are made up in the PNW and are great boats.
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Old 10-03-2010, 15:48   #12
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If you haven't already, you might think of joining the Nordhavn Dreamer's group on Yahoo. There is lots of information there in the articles, lots of input from owners and suppliers.
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Old 10-03-2010, 16:23   #13
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If you go with a Selene, check out the tanks very carefully. A couple of years ago we were doing our annual haul out at a yard that was a warranty station for Selene. Three pretty new ones were there, all for bad tanks. Two were fuel, one was holding, all resulted in major messes. (I'm sure you can imagine.) Nice interiors, though, that's for sure.

I'm curious, have you considered a trawler-type power cat? PDQ 41's PDQ 41 Power Catamaran are very nice, spacious, blue water capable and much easier on the fuel bill, and no need for flopper-stoppers.

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Old 10-03-2010, 16:44   #14
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All great advice - and part of our research will be to charter the boats we're considering. The diesel ducks are great - but I've discounted them (and the Seahorse) as the layout isn't what we like. Its also more bare bones - I agree they're solid boats - but its a personal preference. Already scanning the Yahoo groups (and a member of the Dreamers group - thanks). As to PDQ I'm somewhat concerned that PDQ was in financial difficulties recently. In any event, from the research I've done, cats aren't the best vessels to be in when rough seas are encountered. Also, moorage (given their beam) in the PNW is an issue.... Thanks all - great opinions. Cheers,
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Old 11-03-2010, 14:46   #15
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Originally Posted by Bill Lee View Post
In any event, from the research I've done, cats aren't the best vessels to be in when rough seas are encountered.
I'd be interested in what research this has been.

The fact (in Australia at least) that the vast majority of search and rescue vessels are catamarans and the same with commercial passenger vessels would tend to see that assertion as false.

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