35 Coastal Pilot — By Capt. Bill Pike
— December 2002
|This gold-plater makes midrange coastal cruising more fun than ever.|
Over the past year or so, I've spent a fair amount of time aboard Pacific Asian Enterprises' (PAE) Nordhavn 35 Coastal Pilot, first skippering the stout, little semidisplacement beauty through the Berry Islands in the Bahamas (see "Don't Worry, Be Happy," July 2001), then giving her a more scientific wring-out on Lake Worth, south of Palm Beach. Each experience was as educational as it was fun. The ten-day cruise through the Berrys, which featured sea conditions from mellifluous to mangy, spotlighted the boat's comfort quotient and seaworthiness. Indeed, for a cruising couple, there's no finer vessel on the market today in my opinion. Testing on Lake Worth showcased the 35's operating efficiency and versatility: a top speed of 17.9 mph that offers genuine get-home potential in an emergency and slower displacement speeds that conjure range figures in the thousands of miles, portending virtual epochs between fuel stops.
Let's check out the cruise first. Last February, with the 35's fuel and water tanks topped off and enough stores stowed to sustain a pack of ravenous gourmands for a month, a couple of friends and I left Miami Beach Marina en route to Great Harbor Cay, a distance of approximately 120 NM. The deep-water portion of the all-night passage across the Gulf Stream went smoother than a hound dog's nose, with nary a hint of a roll, and a glorious sunset for entertainment. Not long after we sniffed the shallows of the Great Bahamas Bank, however, a storm sprang up and began slamming us with six- to eight-foot head seas. In response, I pulled the Morse single-lever control back from 1500 to 1000 rpm, as much to ensure a daylight arrival in Great Harbor as to smooth the ride, and we slogged on valiantly, taking big slugs of water over the bow and up the foredeck every now and again and pounding mightily each time we plunged into a deep trough.
I loved every minute of it. Keeping tabs on other vessels from the teaky helm station was a snap, thanks to the large, commercial-grade Diamond Sea Glaze windows that circumscribe the saloon/helm area. Moreover, the convenient layout of instruments, gauges, and related equipage on or above the steering station was a testament to the sea-savviness of the folks at PAE, a company that's been designing and building highly efficient, displacement-type ocean-crossers for years. Without stirring appreciably from the helm seat, I could see and/or adjust everything I needed to: the Furuno CRT-type radar, the Ritchie compass, the gauges for our single 370-hp Yanmar diesel, the Icom VHF, the beelining Robertson autopilot, and the Compaq Presario laptop, with Nobeltec electronic cartography.
And I was totally comfortable. Fresh, fragrant air wafted past, entering via the slightly opened Lewmar hatch in the overhead and departing through the Dutch-type door at the rear of the saloon, the top half of which we'd latched open for ventilation. The hooded Furuno swept a reassuringly sharp picture at the 6-, 12-, and even 24-mile range. (Nordhavn maximizes radar performance by mounting the scanner high on a standard, Awlgrip-painted aluminum mast.) The sound of the Yanmar beneath my feet was smooth, confidence-inspiring, and muted, thanks in part to a three-inch-thick noise-nixing fiberglass engine-room door with commercial-type dogs and an equally thick jacket of sound-stopping insulation within the engine room itself, every bit of it nicely paneled with anodized sheets of white perforated aluminum.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.