Nordhavn 43 — By Richard Thiel —
There’s 26,000 miles of experience behind the Nordhavn 43.
For me, stepping aboard a Nordhavn is like going to school—I always learn a few things. Maybe that’s because, due to the constraints of this job, I’m not a bluewater cruiser. But the people who design and build Nordhavns are, and you see it in their boats. These little ships are full of neat systems and solutions that could only have been conceived by people who’ve actually made long, open-ocean passages. The new 43 is a perfect example, incorporating much of what the company learned when a crew of Nordhavn employees took a 40-footer on a 170-day, 26,000-mile circumnavigation back in 2002.
Judging from this boat, Nordhavn went to school, too. Take her fuel system, a pair of 600-gallon fiberglass saddle tanks that gravity-feed a centerline 50-gallon welded-aluminum supply tank. A complex manifold system and pump provide a virtually unlimited supply and return options among the main, wing (auxiliary) engine, and genset, plus the ability to move fuel between tanks. Or you can just set the system once and forget it.
The day tank is below the main tanks, so you can run them dry and still have more than 15 hours of running time at the 43’s 7.5-knot cruising speed. It also has a sump into which water and sediment settle (before it reaches the fuel-water separators), which is easily drained via a petcock. A water sensor in the sump activates a warning light at the helm when draining is necessary. There’s a duplex Racor 75-900 for the main and a single 900 connected to the transfer pump so you can polish fuel while dockside or underway.
Each of the three fuel tanks and the three 300-gallon FRP water tanks has its own sight gauge; the supply tank’s is graduated in tenths of a gallon so you can measure the fuel consumption of any diesel with a stopwatch. In fact, that’s the way we took our fuel-flow readings for our test.
All this is in an engine room slightly aft of amidships and with 5'6" headroom—a major accomplishment on a 43-footer. How did they do it? By bubbling the hull on either side of the keel to create “maintenance strakes,” which lower the sole enough that someone of average height can stay off his knees. Tank testing indicates that this modification exacts no significant penalty in speed or drag.
Such innovation is a Nordhavn tradition, as is simplicity, which is a prerequisite for reliability. For instance, main-engine keel-cooling eliminates the sea strainer, raw-water pump, and a host of through-hulls and hoses, stuff you don’t want failing 1,000 miles from nowhere. Stainless steel dry-stack exhaust eliminates more through-hulls, including a big one in the transom. An optional, slightly off centerline, 27-hp Yanmar diesel powers a folding propeller that can push the 53,500-pounder at 5 knots in flat water should the Lugger main die. Eight-, 10-, and 12-kW Northern Lights gensets are also optional, but with a three-burner LPG stove and oven standard, they’re only necessary to run the air conditioning. All other electricals are handled by a standard Heart Freedom 30 charger/inverter, supplied by three 255-amp-hour AGM house batteries that are replenished by a dedicated 140-amp main engine-driven alternator.
This article originally appeared in the January 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.