Expeditions and Expectations

Expeditions & Expectations

Rare port calls and cold-climate cruising? Just another week in the life of Northern Star, which goes where other yachts dare not tread.

By Diane M. Byrne — May 2006

Courtesy of Lrssen

 More of this Feature

• Part 1: Northern Star
• Part 2: Northern Star
• Specs
• Northern Star Photo Gallery

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• Feature Index

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• Lrssen

You know you're on no ordinary yacht when you approach a door and see a sign that reads, "Beware of Attack Engineer."

It's a joke, of course; he won't really tackle an approaching person (well, perhaps one of his fellow crewmembers if the coffee room adjacent to the crew mess isn't fully stocked). Even though most guests aboard Northern Star will never see this sign, as it's located at the entrance to the engineer control room, it speaks volumes about the exceptional spirit of the yacht-indeed, of her owner, too.

Certainly, due to the very nature of her being a custom yacht, she's not ordinary. But it can be argued that most owners render these vessels, which are intended to be individualistic, rather common by conveying similar desires when they sign their contracts: to own a palatial private cruiser that will mostly ply the sunny and warm Caribbean and Mediterranean, never venturing too far from a major port, and with the only ice in sight clinking around the bottom of their glass. Northern Star, on the other hand, was born to navigate extensively throughout both the Northern and Southern hemispheres with the owner's family and friends aboard, particularly in cold climates and even in ice-laden waters. Not only that, but she was also designed and engineered to be self-sufficient for extended periods.

It makes sense, considering she sprang from the imagination of an experienced ocean-racing and cruising sailor. It also makes sense that he turned to Lrssen to build her. Look at the list of deliveries this German yard has made over the past several years-Rising Sun, Octopus, Pelorus, and others-and you soon realize that none of these is tied to a dock for long.

Northern Star is up to that challenge in a few ways. Her full-displacement steel hull is fitted with a bulbous bow for improved efficiency and seakeeping. (A camera inside the bulb additionally feeds footage to various TVs throughout the yacht.) Given her intended cruising grounds, which include Greenland and Newfoundland (in fact, she's already been there), Northern Star also complies with Lloyd's Register's ice-class rules, specifically Ice Class 1D. This means she can navigate through slush-like ice with a thickness of 0.4 meters (approximately 1'3"). Her forward sections are strengthened for this purpose, featuring an "ice belt," consisting of thicker plating in areas that contact the ice. For example, the bulbous bow has a 22-mm-thick stainless steel plate, and there's closer framing space in the forward third of the hull. In addition, struts, stabilizers, and other appendages are reinforced; even the zincs have ice deflectors welded in front of them.

This choice of Ice Class 1D came straight from the owner, who has more than casual knowledge of the classification. According to Capt. Craig Franks, who served as the project manager, "The owner has a fleet of fishing vessels, some of which operate in Arctic waters; therefore he understands what stresses can become on a ship." He adds that the yard was up to the challenge: "Lrssen researched many items to handle this class requirement, and we had many discussions to ensure we were not over-engineering many of the systems because of the cold waters the vessel would be operating in." In addition, Franks says, the owner's naval architects, Espen ino and Borge Nakken, as well as Lrssen's in-house department were invaluable, as was extensive tank testing.

A yacht that has been putting her 6,500-nautical-mile range (at 121 /2 knots) to the test has a big need for extra stowage space, and not just for food-there's the added trick of stowing garbage, plus keeping it from emanating less-than-aromatic odors. A temperature-controlled rubbish room is therefore aboard, conveniently located steps away from a shell door in the hull for loading (and unloading) stores. And as for the edible stores, there are individual industrial-grade freezer and refrigerator rooms (yes, rooms) and dry-stores rooms, all on the tank-deck level.

Next page > Part 2: Northern Star > Page 1, 2, 3, 4

This article originally appeared in the July 2006 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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