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Old 28-12-2011, 13:18   #1
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Drawn to the Dark Side: A Life-long Sailor Buys a Trawler

I began this post over on the Powerboat Forum, but the true confessional is here on the Sailboat Forum where I have lurked for years and whose stalwart participants are best able to judge my actions. And so, this post is really my introduction to all on the Forum. My name is Kim.

I've been a sailor for 40+ years, dinghy racing first, then ocean racing, and later cruising on a variety of wonderful sailboats. My favorite has to be Pathfinder, our Hinckley Bermuda 40; she has seen us racing through the Gulf Stream, gunkholing in Biscayne Bay, skirting offshore hurricanes (twice), and frequenting numerous anchorages from the Bahamas to the Marquesas. An older boat (she was built in 1968 and then went through a massive refit at Hinckley South Harbor a few years ago), for years she has been a magic carpet that safely and comfortably delivered us wherever we asked.


s/v Pathfinder

I've learned that boats like Pathfinder don't change so much as their owners do, and it was on my last trip that my attitude towards sailing shifted several degrees. Sailing in the Keys with a couple of friends, we encountered unseasonably cold and fierce weather for the entire trip (e.g., a high of 55 degrees in Key West), resulting in one crew member coming down with pneumonia. It was quite a let down from our expectations of a warm subtropical cruise to the Dry Tortugas. Foul winds, forty-degree temperatures, and cramped quarters were the rule. Unfortunately, work commitments meant the imposition of dastardly deadlines, and so we found ourselves motoring into headwinds much of the time, shivering all the while.

On my return I did some calculations based on many years of cruising for a week or two at a time and came to realize that, because we worked and faced deadlines, we historically used the engine about 75% of the time! We used it exclusively about 25%; motor-sailed almost 50% of the time; and cruised under sail alone only 25% of our trips. That was an epiphany for me.

While very much your average 'give me a sailboat or give me death' chauvinist at that time, it dawned on me that both comfort and passage times would improve - as would our ability to achieve our itinerary goals given our usually limited sailing time - if we were to have a powerboat. (Boy, even writing 'powerboat' bothers me.)

Of course, the thought was immediately repellant and my wife suggested that instead of a new boat perhaps I just needed some therapy. But after doing some research, we found that the Nordhavn could provide us with true blue water, transoceanic capability in a sound, comfortable, and commodious trawler. Factoring in things like an ice maker (!) standup SubZero refrigerator and freezer (!!) and central air-conditioning and heating at anchor (!!!) made the transition frighteningly appealing.

And so it was we bought a Nordhavn 40 that we christened Tropic Explorer. Her sistership circumnavigated the globe in six months, so this is no 'coastal cruiser' but rather a full-fledged passagemaker. She boasts 3,000+ nm range on 950 gallons of diesel; 6.0 - 7.5 knots into headseas; she sips 1.75 - 2.0 gph of fuel; has tankage of 250 gallons of water; has great stability and seakindliness thanks to both active (stabilizers) and passive (paravanes) gear; has a Yanmar wing-engine that provides a separate prop, shaft, and even fuel tank that serves as a 'get-you-home' backup to the main Lugger engine; and she has enough room to where we have to make a concerted effort to find our nine-year old. And she looks salty as hell and I'm not embarrassed to be seen in her (oh, the vanity of men). Admittedly she is occasionally mistaken for a shrimp boat, but I can live with that.


m/v Tropic Explorer


m/v Tropic Explorer in Everglades City


m/v Tropic Explorer's Helm


m/v Tropic Explorer's Wheelhouse

We have already made several forays to the Bahamas in our new 'expeditionary trawler' (sounds better than 'powerboat' doesn't it?), as well as a circumnavigation of Florida via the Okeechobee Waterway a great trip that's highly recommended. And while a circumnavigation of the Caribbean is coming in a year or two, we are now making many weekend and week-long cruises where weather and seas are a secondary concern.

For those of you contemplating a similar move to the dark side whether due to age, health, changing cruising goals, etc. for us it has been an easy and fun transition. I'm told that the majority of Nordhavn owners are former sailboat owners, and like with our Bermuda 40, we get lots of interest and kind comments on our boat, most often from sailors! It's been so successful that, while I never would have believed it, my beloved yawl is now for sale (see the CF classifieds if interested).

There you have it. We'll always be sailors, whether it's bareboating in the BVIs or sailing with friends in a local regatta. So, scoff if you will, but remember not to laugh when you pull up along side us in the Abacos asking for a bucket of ice. Oh, and knock hard on the hull as the a/c may be running!
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Old 28-12-2011, 13:38   #2
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Re: Drawn to the Dark Side: A Life-long Sailor Buys a Trawler

Looks a very comfortable boat, although I can see how you might be taken for a shrimp boat! have you thought about some nets?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tex Fandango View Post
.... we historically used the engine about 75% of the time! We used it exclusively about 25%; motor-sailed almost 50% of the time; and cruised under sail alone only 25% of our trips.
That was pretty much our experience with a monohull "sailboat" too. I guess we went in the opposite direction - to a sailboat that actually sails.

Congratulations on your new boat!
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Old 28-12-2011, 13:48   #3
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Re: Drawn to the Dark Side: A Life-long Sailor Buys a Trawler

If you are happy, comfortable, safe and on the water, you win Both beautiful vessels. Congrats!
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Old 28-12-2011, 14:11   #4
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Re: Drawn to the Dark Side: A Life-long Sailor Buys a Trawler

Cool, congratulations. I've liked those ever since one on an around the world trip parked beside me in Mexico. They seem very sturdy.

When I was in the Sea of Cortez I often thought-- this place is made for trawlers.

But what will you do at sea if there are no sails to fiddle with?

Do folks with boats like that take a Jordan drogue, as a backup for stormy weather if the main engine goes out?
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Old 28-12-2011, 14:31   #5
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Re: Drawn to the Dark Side: A Life-long Sailor Buys a Trawler

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But what will you do at sea if there are no sails to fiddle with?
In their absence I can always be fiddling with margaritas, the thermostat, and of course my wife.
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Old 28-12-2011, 14:42   #6
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Re: Drawn to the Dark Side: A Life-long Sailor Buys a Trawler

Congratulations on your success and achievements. Spend it before the "wealth distribution" folks get it. You're only a step away from the "corporate jet fat cats", you realize.
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Old 28-12-2011, 14:43   #7
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Re: Drawn to the Dark Side: A Life-long Sailor Buys a Trawler

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In their absence I can always be fiddling with margaritas, the thermostat, and of course my wife.
Whatever you do while underway, DON'T link the autopilot to the chartplotter!
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Old 28-12-2011, 15:11   #8
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Lovely Nordhavn pulled up next to us in Mackay. Beautiful boat only 2 years old. Owner was quite angry with the Nordhavn company because part of his exhaust stack had been made from mild steel. Totally rusted out.
Company happy to replace the section with another mild steel one which they say is standard. Getting it out was a major job costing thousands which the company will not cover.
Very strange in a boat that cost over $1 million. All other sections of the exhaust are stainless. So watch out for rusty flakes appearing in your immaculate engineroom.
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Old 28-12-2011, 15:25   #9
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Re: Drawn to the Dark Side: A Life-long Sailor Buys a Trawler

Congrats! It looks like a sweet boat. My wife and I have often discussed that when we get too old to cruise comfortably in a sailboat, we'd move to a trawler. I don't think it's that uncommon. Reminds me of a the debate between William F. Buckley (who I had the pleasure to meet) and his son regarding whether power or sail were intrinsically better. The conclusion they arrived at? All that matters is that you are afloat!

Cheers,
Scott
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Old 28-12-2011, 15:35   #10
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Re: Drawn to the Dark Side: A Life-long Sailor Buys a Trawler

Great boat. I just keep going back ond forth depending on where I want to crusie. Some places are better suited to sail and some to power. In either case the boat has to be self sufficient and able to hang on the hook forever!!
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Old 28-12-2011, 15:39   #11
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Re: Drawn to the Dark Side: A Life-long Sailor Buys a Trawler

Lovely boats! Oh, how I wish I could afford all the boats I am in love with!

Cheers,
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Old 28-12-2011, 15:39   #12
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Re: Drawn to the Dark Side: A Life-long Sailor Buys a Trawler

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Originally Posted by s/vPainkiller View Post
Congrats! It looks like a sweet boat. My wife and I have often discussed that when we get too old to cruise comfortably in a sailboat, we'd move to a trawler. I don't think it's that uncommon. Reminds me of a the debate between William F. Buckley (who I had the pleasure to meet) and his son regarding whether power or sail were intrinsically better. The conclusion they arrived at? All that matters is that you are afloat!

Cheers,
Scott
Thanks for the kind remarks. I also had the privilege of meeting Buckley on several occasions and recall that, despite being on a very capable sailboat, the 'iron jenny' was almost always running whether off shore or sailing along the coast. Why? The scourge of those still working: The deadline.
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Old 29-12-2011, 09:19   #13
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Re: Drawn to the Dark Side: A Life-long Sailor Buys a Trawler

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If you are happy, comfortable, safe and on the water, you win Both beautiful vessels. Congrats!
Yes, I must compliment you on your taste in boats, although realistically the Hinckley had about the same usable interior space as a modern 33-34 footer due to the beautiful overhangs. The Nordhavn has always impressed me as a "best in class" trawler, along with the Monk line. It looks well-proportioned and not grotesquely top-heavy like "powerboats" or "made of Lego by a kid with ADD" like the PDQ cat cruisers.

Ugh.

You have only yourself and your diesel seller to please here. Many "sail" sailors transition (to use that word as a verb) to trawlers because of health, time allocation or cruising ground considerations, and fair enough. If you are going eight knots for 48 hours at a stretch, and can do so comfortably and not at a ruinous cost, I wish you well and will happily wave at you from my motor-sailing, as we are in part kin in our water-borne life choices.

So I consider trawlers as being more shade than shadow. The dark side are planing powerboats that roar at 25 knots on the plane leaving a four-foot wake when I am trying to steer on a broad reach, a inconsideration that could cause me a broach, gear damage and even smashed skulls. Either through ignorance, indifference to others or both, such people are a menace, and I wish them a future as the scary part of an artificial reef.

Jetskiers? Not even in my species. They are the water equivalent of the goof that runs a "crotch missile" sport bike at 80 MPH between lanes of traffic-jammed cars. My hope for them is a bubbly end before they've had a chance to spawn with the "Jersey Shore" females usually riding pillion.

So enjoy the trawler. The likes of you and I have little to argue about and you likely have a bigger bar.
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Old 29-12-2011, 14:21   #14
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Re: Drawn to the Dark Side: A Life-long Sailor Buys a Trawler

I am actually moving the opposite direction, I am a former power boater that wishes to sail. Don't worry I spent many miles on a power boat is was just as enjoyable as sailing except for a few points.

1. What direction of wind does a power boater use? ...on a power boat the wind is always on the nose....even if he does a 360.
2. What do power boaters do with all the free time a sailer uses to adjust the sails? Work on the engines.
3. Space formerly occupied by sailbags, ...now by fuel tanks.
4. Running both AC's, the full sized fridge, the ice maker, the big screen TV,...the entire voyage.
5. Hot and cold, ...pressurized, running water, in a walk in shower, ...with a tub.
6. Can travel under most bridges, ...without raising.
7. A bad day sailing? I blew out a sail,...A bad day powerboating, I blew out a gasket.
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Old 29-12-2011, 14:45   #15
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Re: Drawn to the Dark Side: A Life-long Sailor Buys a Trawler

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Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
Lovely boats! Oh, how I wish I could afford all the boats I am in love with!

Cheers,
b.
+1!

That Nordhavn is a real beauty! And all that lovely machinery to play with!

Concerning motoring all the time in your sailboat: I felt the same way in my previous boat, a long-keeler like yours. Because of the effect of apparent wind, the apparent wind is going to be ahead of the beam more than 50% of the time in any case. So if your sailboat doesn't go to windward well you really can't sail much of the time. In my previous boat I am sure that less than 25% of the miles were made under sail alone.

My present boat has a bulb keel and totally different abilities upwind from my old boat. So now I make at least 75% of my miles under sail alone. It makes an enormous difference -- if you're going to have a sailboat, I submit -- have one with good upwind performance. Otherwise, what you've got is really a powerboat with auxiliary sails (a good description of my previous boat).

That being said, I agree wholeheartedly with the poster above that the details of how you make propulsion are much less important than simply being afloat. Quiet and efficient motoring is also a great joy. Last summer I did a 100 mile passage in a dead calm under motor alone -- not once raising a sail -- and absolutely loved it. It was a wonderful day on the ocean.

You should post more photos of your Nordhavn -- interior, engine room, decks -- this crowd is always eager for some new boat porn.
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