Friday, December 29, 2017

N6837 Basics

Our Nordhavn 68 will be hull number 37, so in common shorthand, N6837.  Here are basic specs, and some of the things that we have done differently.  Later posts will dig into this in much more detail, but for now we can cover the basics.
  • First I should say that our prime objective was to optimize for how we use the boat 90% of the time.  That means the salon, galley, master stateroom, master head, pilot house, and engine room.  Other space matters, but not at the expense of the primary space.  We had to remind ourselves of this a couple times during the process, and will probably have to do so again before we are done.
  • We picked the wide-body, or asymmetric layout.  That means there is a walkway down the stbd side of the boat, but not the port side.  Instead, the salon extends the full width of the boat on the port side.  The alternative is a walk-around, or symmetric layout where there are walkways on both sides, and a correspondingly narrower salon.  The walk-around is convenient for boat handling on the port side, but we have an alternate solution to that challenge that you will hear about in a minute.  Recalling the prime objective, we felt that more space in the salon was more important, so wide body.
  • We are going with the aft pilot house configuration.  Almost all the 68s are aft pilot house, but there are a handful of forward pilot house variants.  Again, it's about optimizing for the primary space that we use day in and day out.
  • Once again we are going with a single main engine plus wing engine.  There are lots of good arguments in the twin vs single debate, and I don't think any right answer.  We have had both, and each has its benefits over the other.  For us, a little more space in the ER, plus a little better fuel economy leading to longer range were the deciding factors.
  • This time we are going with wet exhaust rather than dry.  Like with twins vs single, there are lots of good arguments in favor of both.  On the 68, we prefer to sacrifice ER and laz space for exhaust piping rather than interior space, so decided to go wet this time.
  • Like on the 60, we are adding the extended swim platform.  We use the 60 platform extensively for kayak launching and temporary storage, and want to do the same on the 68.
 We are also doing a few things that are deviations from the norm.  Some are just important to us personally in how we use the boat, and others I think represent trends in the boating industry that are destine to be the new norm in time.
  • We are building a large inverter system (13kw) that can carry large loads, and can do load assist and load leveling for a generator.  This allows for smaller generators than are normally used since the inverters can aid in powering short-term loads that otherwise exceed the generator capacity.  This allows the generators to be sized for sustained heavy loads rather than momentary peak loads.  It also allows for a wider range of appliance use while underway and at anchor when a generator is not running.
  • We will be using Lithium batteries for the house battery bank.  LiFePO4 batteries, to be specific, with the exact brand and capacity still to be determined.  But I am certain these are the future for house banks, so we are taking the plunge.
  • The 68 normally does not have any direct access from the cockpit up to the pilot house level deck.  To get up there, you either go through the interior and out a pilot house door, or you walk around the starboard side walkway up to the fore deck, then back through to the Portuguese bridge and around to the deck.  It's not really conducive to quickly walking the port side of the boat for various boat handling operations.  A narrow body boat with walkway solves the problem, but you don't have that on a wide body.  Our solution was to borrow from the 60, and add a staircase from the cockpit up to the pilot house deck.  With that, you can walk the whole length of the port side without having to stop and backtrack around the other side of the boat.  The staircase also creates a large storage locker which is very useful.
  • The fly bridge on the 68 is normally accessed from the interior of the pilot house up a flight of stairs.  Instead we wanted exterior access.  So we have another exterior stair case (open this time) from the PH deck up to the fly bridge.  This also opens up a bunch of space in the PH.
  • Initially we had a captain's cabin behind the PH, but we found ourselves struggling to make space for the cabin, and struggling to make space in the PH.  Then we remembered the prime object.  When underway, the pilot house is like the proverbial kitchen in a house - it's where everyone gathers.  What we really wanted was a spacious, comfortable pilot house with great visibility.  So we ditched the cabin and opened up the pilot house.  There is still a day head and a little jump bed for reading and napping, but that's all.  And we now have neatly 360 deg visibility which is a huge bonus for taking in the sights.
  • For the main engine, we are going with a Scania DI-13 instead of the more common John Deere.  More on this later, including the other alternatives considered.
I think those are the highlights.  More to come over time....

Building a Nordhavn 68

It's been really quiet here for the past 6 months, hasn't it.  Sorry about that, but between cruising and the title subject, I've been really busy and, frankly, distracted from the blog.  For well over a year, we have been casually interested in a Nordhavn 68.  It all started when I walked off our boat and onto our friend's 68, Kya.  I was just stunned by the difference in space.  You wouldn't think 7' more length would make such a difference.  Our 60 is 65' LOA, and a 68 with similar extended swim platform is 72' LOA.  But the difference is huge, all because of the increase in beam.  Then, a few months later at the Ft Lauderdale boat show, I ran into Dan Streech (PAE President) one evening, and over a few drinks we solved many of the world's problems.  As part of that discussion, we talked about our interest in a 68, and that resulted in a pile of drawings and spec sheets.  All this got us thinking, but it wasn't until this summer that we got serious.

We had been on the boat for 4 straight months, and with our guest bunk piled high with storage stuff, we were reminded that some more space would be nice.   Then we looked back over the 4 years we have had the 60 and realized that we are on board at least 6 months out of the year.  When spending half your life on board, it's nice to have it be like your home.

Meanwhile, all the counter thoughts were running through our heads.  It was a lot of work to build our 60, and a lot of work to get it dialed in and working well.  Did we really want to go do that all over again, especially now with the 60 working so well?  The past 2 years have been pretty much trouble-free.  And the 68 is a lot more expensive than a 60.  In fact, that's why we never took it seriously when we built last time.  But I also didn't appreciate how much more you get, not only in space, but in systems and features that are standard on the 68, and optional in the 60.  Finally, towards the end of our spring/summer cruise as we were departing Prince William Sound, we made the call.  "Dan, do you remember our solve-the-world's-problems discussion as FLIBS?   We want to move ahead with a 68 build."

Ever since it has been a whirl wind of activity.  We spent the next month cruising from Prince William Sounds down to San Diego in preparation for the fall CUBAR cruise to Mexico, made a trip to Dana Point for a few days discussions with PAE about boat details, back home to catch up on the rest of our lives, continually intermixed with boat drawings, specification, research, etc. as we developed the specs for 6837.  Then another month cruising from San Diego to La Paz Mexico.  Now back home with the holidays behind us, we just finalized the contract on 6837.

There is a healthy build backlog currently, and our boat won't go to mold until June 2018, with completion at the factory by the end of 2019.  And we should be commissioned and done sometime in the 1st quarter of 2020.  That's a long time, but it will afford us the time to pay proper attention to the build, and an opportunity to catch up on some land activities.

As for our 60, we plan to cruise Mexico until April or May, then sell her.  Actually, she is for sale now, though not formally listed, and we have a few people who seem pretty interested.  In a perfect world, where Tanglewood goes next after Mexico will be guided by her new owners.  It could be south, north, east, west, or stay right in Mexico.  The planet is the limit.