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.
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 central air-conditioning and heating
(!!!) 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
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!