Sturdy Little Sister
When the first Nordhavn 46 splashed in 1989, it created ripples that rocked the entire yachting industry. From the fledgling Pacific Asian Enterprises, which had been building beautiful Al Mason-designed sailing yachts, the first Nordhavn was proof of concept that you don’t need a sailboat to cruise long distances.
Since then, the Nordhavn line has grown in size as well as popularity, with the Nordhavn 41 now the smallest offering. It is a fitting replacement for the Nordhavn 40, which splashed in 1998 and completed the fastest circumnavigation by a production yacht. The new 41 lives up to that legacy and is a welcome addition to the line, which ranges all the way up to the N148.
Is the Nordhavn 41 an ocean crusher capable of speeding home at 40 knots? No. There are many so-called “fast trawlers” around, but the Nordhavn 41 is designed for a top speed of 9 knots. I truly believe that if you drove the N41 off Niagara Falls, it still would not exceed 9 knots.
On the other hand, if you dropped the speed back just a bit to 6.5 knots, you would have a 3,000-nautical-mile range. (It’s about 2,800 nautical miles from Fort Lauderdale to the Azores, or about 2,500 nautical miles from Los Angeles to Hawaii.) And, if getting there is as much fun as arriving at the destination, set the throttles for 5 knots and you can go from Fort Lauderdale right on past Gibraltar (4,400 nautical miles) and have about 2,000 miles left for cruising the Mediterranean with the boat’s 6,500-nautical-mile range.
During those voyages, cruisers aboard the Nordhavn 41 will be cosseted with a satin-finished walnut interior, Corian galley counters, and a foam mattress with a memory foam topper on the queen-size berth in the owner’s stateroom.
Two interior layouts are available: a single owner’s stateroom forward with a walk-in closet, a head with a stall shower and liveaboard stowage; or two staterooms, the second with crisscrossed berths and a head with a shower across the hall. Being slightly antisocial, I’d opt for the single stateroom, since sleeping-length settees are to port and starboard in the salon. This space would handle a third crew or pilot for long passages, and still leave generous accommodations for liveaboard long-distancers.
Another thing to note as you peruse pictures and specs for the Nordhavn 41 is that the standard-equipment list is long. It includes ABT-Trac 220 stabilizers with 6-square-foot fins, a Side-Power bow thruster, a Vacuflush head, a 7/9 kW Onan genset, a separate washer and dryer, an extra freezer, a Garmin GPSMap 8616 chartplotter and sounder with a 16-inch monitor, a VHF/AIS marine radio, an autopilot, an engine-room camera and an 800-pound capacity Nick Jackson stainless steel davit. The windlass is a Lofrans vertical capstan with 300 feet of chain, there are 400-watt solar panels on the salon roof to keep the batteries fully charged, and there’s a four-person Revere canister liferaft.
The few options that owners need to think about include a 10- to 12-foot tender for the davit to lift atop the cabin, a choice of watermaker, and a barbecue grill for torturing burgers in the cockpit. Make a quick stop at Costco, throw a dart at a world map, and the Nordhavn 41 is turnkey ready to shove off.
The basic design, by naval architect Jeff Leishman (brother of co-founder Jim Leishman), includes full walkaround side decks so owners can tie up along either side with line-handling and fendering vastly simplified. The sturdy cleats are recessed to save knees and skin, and the skipper has a dogging side door to the starboard deck, to lend some help when shorthanding. I like that this “skipper door” is Dutch, which means the top can be opened for a bit of breeze when desired.
Speaking of the helm, it’s designed for simplicity, with plenty of room for the dash abaft the slant-forward windows with triple pantograph wipers. The wheel is adjustable, the double-wide seat is bolstered for standing or sitting, and an overhead panel should help skippers keep track of all the systems.
Stainless-steel rails forward encircle the deck with solid middle rails (not intermediate wires) from just abaft the bow to the cockpit. There’s a third rail from the pilothouse aft. If I had to go forward to deal with the anchor on a wet night, this is exactly the rail I’d want. And the welding throughout the 41 is exceptional, including the rails overhead in the salon to make moving around safe.
Many Nordhavns have single engines, but not this one. A pair of Kubota four-cylinder turbocharged diesels punch out 74 hp each and have heat exchanger cooling, putting the torque into a 1¾-inch stainless steel propeller shaft that turns four-blade bronze 28-inch counter-rotating props. These props are protected by the full-length keel with inches to spare, including the rudders, in case they make contact in a shallow spot.
Are you thinking 74 hp—as in, what your lawnmower has? No, it’s what a lot of farmers around the world use. They swear that Kubotas run forever and that parts are widely available, even in the boondocks.
But this boat does not feel like the boondocks. Enter the salon through another dogging Dutch door, and you will find an L-shaped settee to starboard, a couch to port, and the helm forward. A removable panel allows a guest or member of the crew to stretch out fully to port, with feet tucked far under the galley counter.
That galley is tidy, with an induction three-burner cooktop (which can run two hobs off just the batteries) and an oversized sink. The 41 that I got aboard had removed a glass rack from under the overhead cabinet, to open the sightlines for the chef. It was a good call.
This boat also had the guest stateroom to starboard. It was pleasant enough for kids and small enough to discourage guests from overstaying their welcome. The head was to port in this layout with a stall shower that had 6 feet, 6 inches of headroom, was 33 inches by 27 inches in length and width, and included a seat.
The owner’s stateroom is essentially the same on both models, although the single-stateroom version has a larger head and adds a walk-in closet that will delight a clotheshorse.
For those who prefer to hoard machinery space, the engine room is ginormous. I’m 5-foot-9, and I had nearly full headroom with plenty of room to get around the Kubotas. There are also standard Delta T blowers, two baffled aluminum fuel tanks with sight gauges and a day tank, Vetus-brand fuel hose with reusable fittings, and Whale-brand water hoses. Each thru-hull is clearly labeled for its function. Two bilge pumps (3,700 and 4,000 gallons per hour) are backed up by a manual Whale Gusher 30 that can be operated from the salon. The inverter is a 3,000-watt Victron Multiplus, and the shore power has a SmartPlug inlet. Batteries? Six 255 amp-hour Lifelines should do the trick easily.
Underway, the Nordhavn is just plain fun. She handles like a ski boat, with the cast bronze airfoil-shaped rudders providing enough bite to turn her within a tiny radius. The steering is fingertip light. Open sea? She’s solid, dry and predictable, and I didn’t realize that the crew had switched off the stabilizers when we were in the Gulf Stream. Yes, I could see Gibraltar through the windshield.
The Nordhavn 41 is built in Turkey, and owners can opt for delivery overseas, then spend a summer cruising the Mediterranean. Some canals are an option (the mast folds to just under 11 feet). When the itinerary is complete, Nordhavn will arrange to ship her home.
If you haven’t guessed, I loved the 41. Solidly built, thoughtfully designed and outfitted by people who have actually crossed oceans, she is a must-see for anyone thinking about going cruising, looking for a liveaboard or just wanting a really great yacht.
LOA: 41ft. 4in.
Beam: 13ft. 11in.
Draft: 4ft. 6in.
Displacement: 43,300 lbs.
Fuel: 900 gal.
Water: 300 gal.
Power: 2x 74-hp
Betamarine 85T Kubota
Top speed: 9.1 knots
Have a closer look at the Nordhavn 41 in the gallery below.
All photos courtesy of Nordhavn Yachts