John Marshall

A Nordhavn 55 Delivery to South New Zealand

A Nordhavn 55 Delivery to South New Zealand

A New Nordhavn 55 Arrives by Freighter in New Zealand for Delivery - Photo PAE

A New Nordhavn 55 Arrives by Freighter in New Zealand for Delivery - Photo PAE

Nordhavn Australasia sales manager Peter Devers wrote recently on the Nordhavn website about a delivery he made of a new Nordhavn 55 to Picton, on the tip of New Zealand’s South Island. The new yacht was delivered by freighter to the Port of Tauranga on North Island where it was commissioned by a team from PAE, then Peter and three others sailed her down to Picton.

While PAE uses narratives like this to show off its capability and experience with challenging commissioning and delivery circumstances, it’s not only a good read but a good example of many of the things that need to be considered when planning for delivery of a new boat. All new yachts require a significant commissioning period to adjust and test all the major and minor systems aboard and to perform any custom installations specified by the customer. In this delivery, you will read the importance of a thorough and competent commissioning process, as the boat runs into some of the notorious wild weather off the New Zealand coast.

Earlier this year we wrote about outfitting a Nordhavn 55 with computers for navigation. N55 Serendipity owner John Marshall described in depth his philosophy and outfitting decisions.

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Construction & Technical, Cruising Under Power, Destinations, Passagemaking News, Powerboats
Writers on the Water

Writers on the Water

Okay, so it’s not quite as memorable (yet?) as “Riders on the Storm,” the 1971 hit by The Doors, but a new blog by writers Christine Kling and Mike Jastrzebski  called Write on the Water, is a place to talk about the intersection of writing and living and working on the water. I was the guest author there today and I’m thrilled and honored that they asked me to write something for them.

New Blog Write On The Water

New Blog Write On The Water

Chris is already a famous (to me at least) author of a great mystery series featuring the fictional tug captain Seychelle Sullivan. And Mike is a full-time writer living on his 36′ sailboat, Roughdraft. OceanLines’ own guest author Victoria Allman, who writes our “Sea Fare” series of recipes for the cruiser and who wrote “Sea Fare:  A Chef’s Journey Across the Ocean.”

I know from talking with readers of OceanLines that many of you are also writers. Remember, the definition of “a writer” is “someone who writes.” Don’t buy the stodgy nonsense that you have to have been published to be considered a true writer. Writers write. Period. And from what I’ve read, some of you are very good writers.

One definition of a good writer is someone who can tell a compelling story. Our community has those by the drove. People like Ken Williams, John and Maria Torelli, and others who have compiled their writings into books.  And others, like Milt Baker and John Marshall and a host of other current cruisers, tell great stories in their blogs.  Of course, there are also the classic “nautical writers” of the age of sail, like Melville, Conrad and Dana. They were all seamen before they were writers. Derek Lundy points that out in his great book “The Way of a Ship,” which is is a fantastic account of his ancestor’s passage aboard the Beara Head, an iron-hulled square-rigger, that took a load of coal around Cape Horn.

If you’ve written about your time on the water, we’d like to hear about it and share it with our other readers. Send us a link to your blog or a book you’ve written and we’ll put together a page with everyone’s links on it. I know you’re out there, typing away on some kind of keyboard. Let’s hear about it! And stop by Write On The Water when you get a chance.

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Boats, Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Industry News, Passagemaking News, People, Powerboats, Sailboats, seamanship

Second Great Technique for Dinghy Anchoring

Tuggy Products' Anchor Buddy Elastic Dinghy Anchoring Line

Greenfield Products' Anchor Buddy Elastic Dinghy Anchoring Line

Our recent piece by Jeff Siegel of ActiveCaptain about a novel dinghy anchoring technique stimulated quite a bit of discussion from readers and we even heard about another, possibly even better, technique from John Marshall, owner of the Nordhavn 55 Serendipity. Marshall discovered a particular product that makes the process of anchoring the dinghy off the beach but keeping it within reach even easier.  Best to read this in his own words:

“Securing a dink on a shore with big tidal exchanges and keeping it both floating and within reach is one of life’s challenges. My dink weighs 900 pounds, so if it grounds, I’ve gotta wait for the next high tide. Not fun if its raining and the next high tide is in the middle of the night and I didn’t put my rain gear in the dink. (Don’t ask!) All it took was one time of that nonsense and I bought an Anchor Buddy, and I started packing a dink bag with rain gear, space blankets and tube tents that would let me spend the night on shore in bad weather if needed.

There is a neater way to do this that’s very popular in the Pacific Northwest…using an Anchor Buddy.

Basically, is a large woven line with surgical tubing inside it that curls up small when not in use, but stretches out about 50′. It’s also very strong. You attach whatever size anchor is appropriate, drop it about 50′ from shore, motor in to shore stretching out the Anchor Buddy until you ground. Then, when you get off, you let it pull the boat back out to the anchor until you need it.

We use a 100′ of thin line on the bow as the retrieval line. Even with our big tides up here, it generally keeps the dink floating.

The two key advantages over the approach you cited is that you can use a bigger anchor, even one that could hold in a gale, and you are setting and retrieving it directly over the side of the dink where its easy to work. The second advantage is that the strong elastic actively pulls the boat back to the anchor, even in a stiff wind. It also cushions the shock on the anchor so its harder to pull out if you do get caught in a gale.”

Marshall uses an eight-pound Danforth-type anchor, which is pretty stout for a dink, but according to Marshall it fits under his seat. “I don’t like the folding grapple-type anchors, as they have failed me a few times. Good in rocks, but lousy in mud or sand. So far, the Danforth is 100% on any kind of bottom,” he says. Also, the surgical tying is inside a wide-weave tube of poly line, basically a hollow line, says Marshall. “So when it’s fully stretched out, it’s very strong. The elastic isn’t what provides the holding power in a big blow, although I think it would take a gale to stretch it out, even with a heavy dink.”

Here’s a link to the product page at the original company that developed the Tuggy Product line (somewhat loud narration on this page), and here is a link to the current manufacturer Greenfield Products, which also shows a lighter weight version of the Anchor Buddy.  The Anchor Buddy and related products are sold through many marine suppliers and chandleries, including at West Marine which shows it on this webpage.  Many thanks, as usual, to reader John Marshall for his generous contribution. And thanks to Wes Pence at Greenfield Products for the photo.

Any other suggestions out there?

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Boats, Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Gear & Apparel, Industry News, Passagemaking News, Powerboats, Sailboats, Sailing Gear & Apparel, seamanship, Technology

Outfitting the Nordhavn 55 with Computers – Part 2

John Marshall's Nordhavn 55 Serendipity - Photo Credit: CJ Walker

This is Part 2 of our new series on outfitting the Nordhavn 55 with computers instead of, or in addition to dedicated marine electronics such as chartplotters.  In the first installment we covered the boat itself, along with some comments about the boat from an actual owner, John Marshall.  In this article, John gives us his thoughts on the subject of computers aboard. John has some definite opinions, but they’re grounded in hard experience and are worth listening to.  Particularly note John’s views on keeping his computers isolated from potential outside infections and instability-causing “updates.”

Q&A with N55 Serendipity owner John Marshall

1.    Do you use any PCs or Macs onboard Serendipity?

We have five computers on Serendipity, with four in active use and one as backup.

2.    What are their roles?

-Two Macbooks, my wife’s and mine, are for personal use, email, web browsing, etc. We mostly use cellular data cards for internet connection as its more reliable than Wifi (and we have one of those Syrens bridges and internal AP).

– Primary Navigation: One desktop-style PC (120v) with Win/XP is dedicated to running Nobeltec.

– Backup Navigation: One notebook PC with Win/XP is my “hot backup” Nav system (also with Nobeltec). It can be plugged into the main instruments and GPS via a USB cable, but also has its own hockey-puck GPS. This is also my satellite communication PC (Inmarsat Fleet 55 running MPDS and Ocens email) as the OS needs to be stripped down to avoid to much background traffic. (*More on that later).

– One backup desktop PC that runs on 24v that’s configured with Nobeltec and can be used to replace the Primary Nav computer if it dies. This computer is stored, disconnected, in a metal case down below waterline.

3.    How did you select them?

PCs were selected given that’s what Nobeltec and my comm software ran on. So basically, the application software drove the selection.

Macs because we love the OS and Apps… we’re Mac people who suffer Windows because we have to. Unfortunately, none of the Mac-based navigation software is up the Nobeltec standard, at least IMHO.

 4.    Would you be comfortable with a computer-based nav system as your primary system?

Absolutely and I am. But… the caveat here is that I have two Furuno NavNet2 BB systems with chart plotters, and backup PC’s. I use the Furuno’s as read-only displays, but I know I can navigate the boat from them if needed, but I don’t like the interface for routes, etc. But the Furunos and their networked sounder, radar, plotters are wonderful as read-only instruments.

I also like having more than one chart source running, and I tend to keep one Furuno chartplotter zoomed down to 2 mile range so it shows great detail, and sometimes overlay radar on the chart, and then use Nobeltec for big picture and route planning as well as my autopilot interface for route following. 

A PC (running any of the available Nav applications) is infinitely superior to any chartplotter I’ve ever seen for route planning and route management.

 5.    If you have a PC aboard, does it serve any other roles, such as entertainment, ship management, etc.?

No, unless you count my iPod that’s hooked into the Bose system.

One thing I am a big believer in is minimizing the single points of failure. For instance, I would never consider putting my nav computer on a network or have it running background tasks. I don’t trust Windows that much. So I’m not a fan of a “wired, networked” boat, and prefer simple computers with an inactive backup computer. If lightning or viruses kill or disable my Nav computer, or the hardware just dies, I know I have a clean, backup machine kept in a Farraday-shielded box that I can quickly plug in and get running.

Also, I’ve only been able to gain confidence in Windows-based computers by stripping them down. No auto-updates, no antivirus, etc. Stripped down to just the base OS and Nobeltec. Then they are very reliable. But of course, in that mode, I can’t expose them to the internet, except to access Nobeltec or  Jeppeson sites for software and chart updates, in which case I use a USB cellular card.

*Background traffic: I’ve found the Windows OS and its applications (anti-virus being the worst) generate a lot of background traffic looking for updates or whatever, even when the user-configurable auto-update features are turned off. When I pay dearly for bandwidth, not connect time, as I do with Inmarsat and MPDS, that background traffic can be 10x or even 100x my actual email traffic. Even if I was paying for connect time, but had severely limited bandwidth as is the case with Iridium, the same issue applies. So stripping as much of that junk out as possible is key. I’m also experimenting with a third-party firewall that should let me block the OS from looking for updates. The built-in firewalls always trust the OS to communicate with its own trusted sites so you can’t keep them from talking.)

In the next installment in this series, we’ll publish the “Request for Proposals” detailing what we’re asking the computer companies to address with their suggested installations for an N55.  We’ll also have an extensive set of documents and drawings to share with you and we’ll start to get into the details of computer installations aboard.  Follow-on articles will each have the response from an individual computer company.  Stay tuned.

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC

Posted by Tom in Boats, Cruising Under Power, Electronics, Passagemaking News, People, People & Profiles, Technology

Outfitting the Nordhavn 55 with Computers

Nordhavn 55 Starboard Running -- Photo Courtesy of PAE

With this article, we are beginning a new series that illustrates how the Nordhavn 55, one of the most popular of the globe-girdling Nordhavns built by Pacific Asian Enterprises, might be equipped with computers for navigation and other chores.  Earlier this year, OceanLines ran an extensive series of articles on outfitting the Kadey-Krogen 55′ Expedition with a full marine electronics suite.  In this new series, we look at the alternative to dedicated marine electronics — the PC.  There are several companies in this market, including some that manufacture or modify their own components and some that are systems designers and installers.  We’re asking them to submit full proposals for navigation, monitoring and entertainment solutions. As we did before, we’ll dedicate a separate article for each manufacturer to highlight its proposal for the N55.  Today’s article is the first of two introducing the series. Part 2 follows tomorrow and offers a dedicated Q&A on the subject with a current N55 owner.

The Nordhavn 55 was developed as a logical follow-on to the 47, but is obviously substantially larger in all the spaces. The N55 has a standard flybridge and single engine, although N55 Project Manager Mike Jensen says 7 N55s have been delivered with twin engines. The N55 has a new sister ship with the advent of a 5-foot hull extension creating the N60. The extra length shows up in the cockpit and extended boat deck overhead.

Nordhavn President Dan Streech suggested we use the N55 as the subject for this series since it represents the classice Nordhavn trawler, in form and function. Not surprisingly, N55 owners agree with that sentiment.  John Marshall owns N5520, Serendipity, and says, “I view the N55 as the largest of the ‘simple, little boats’. It’s really not much more complex than an N40 (same numbers of systems, one main engine, one wing, one genset, same stabilizer design, etc. etc., just beefier) so it’s just as easy to maintain as the littlest Nordhavn. For instance, it’s no harder to maintain a 300 hp diesel than a 120 hp diesel.”  Here’s more of what John Marshall has to say about the N55:

It’s the ultimate couples boat as its big and roomy but still simple, but has extra staterooms for guests when needed. We use the upstairs Captain’s cabin mainly as a reading room, for instance, given the great light.

That said, you could make an N55 complex by adding twin engines, full hydraulics, dual generators, etc. etc, but most of the N55s I’ve seen are closer to the N40 in complexity. (The only place where the N55 is inescapably larger is when you have to wax it!)

Once you step over that size threshold, Nordhavns, like most boats, get far more complex. While the bigger boats aren’t necessarily harder to operate, the maintenance chores can overwhelm many couples. The larger boats mostly come with twin engines, twin gensets, complex hydraulic and electrical systems, etc. Bottom line, even a mechanically adept owner of the larger boats may want a captain or boat manager just to keep on top of everything, otherwise you become a slave to boat maintenance. As I see it, the bigger boats are really very seaworthy pocket superyachts than traditional trawlers.

I suspect that might be what Dan is referring to when he says the N55 is a “classic trawler”, given that designation implies (to me!) a boat that is simple enough for an active and resourceful owner to maintain and operate without difficulty, and has the seaworthiness of a traditional trawler.

The topic of this series is installing computers in the N55, so I asked Mike Jensen about recent trends.  Using a computer — as opposed to a dedicated chartplotter — for navigation is becoming more ubiquitous on this type of yacht. Jensen says about 75 percent of N55 customers are using computers for navigation, with perhaps half also using them for entertainment. Anecdotal research suggests that when they are used for entertainment, they are likely to be dedicated to that function. John Marshall’s setup is an example of the philosophy behind that “separation of church and state.”  In tomorrow’s installment, you can read a Q&A with John about the computers installed on Serendipity.

(Read Part 2 in this series here)

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC

Posted by Tom in Boats, Cruising Under Power, Electronics, Gear & Apparel, Passagemaking News, Technology

A Philosophy of Adventure

John Marshall's Nordhavn 55 Serendipity - Photo Credit: CJ Walker

John Marshall's Nordhavn 55 Serendipity -- Photo Credit: CJ Walker

The following paragraphs were written by a dedicated cruiser and passagemaker, John Marshall, who is the owner of a particularly beautiful Nordhavn 55 — Serendipity.  John has expressed his view of one of the biggest opportunities for cruisers — the ability to get extremely close to elemental nature, yet be able to retreat to the warmth and comfort of home, courtesy of his luxurious expedition yacht.  I thought John’s writing was particularly eloquent and asked him if we could share it with OceanLines readers.  He agreed and here it is, together with a gorgeous photo of Serendipity at wide-open-throttle, taken by John’s brother-in-law, CJ Walker. By the way, I saw John’s description on the Yahoo Nordhavn Dreamers message board.  It’s a fascinating mix of owners and potential future owners, well-run by chief moderator (Dreamer in Chief) Callum McCormick.


by John Marshall
Nordhavn 55 Serendipity

 The remarkable thing about cruising on a Nordhavn is that we can go to  truly isolated places and enjoy nature in its rawest, most primal and  most beautiful forms, and still have every comfort of home. Sometimes when I step outside the warm, bright confines of my boat at  night and stand out there just listening to the wild, with the boat  completely silent beneath me, the contrast of inside to outside gives  me goose bumps. Inside is 5-star elegance, warmth and light and every  comfort known to man. Outside is the wild; the cold, primal,  uncompromising wilderness. It’s a very bizarre but wonderful kind of  transition that occurs in seconds when I step out the door, allowing  me to savor as much of either world as suits my mood at the moment. I’ve often turned off the TV after watching a movie with the HD plasma  screen and room-shaking sound system delivering a performance that’s  as good as any theater, and gone out on deck to find myself standing  in that absolutely silent wilderness, without another human being  around for tens of miles, and sometimes no road or settlement within a  hundred miles. An untouched and trackless wilderness of wolves and  bears and uncaring nature barely a hundred yards from where I stand on  deck. A place where often enough, neither my VHF nor my Satcom nor  cellphone or any other communication device can establish contact with  another human being. A place where we are truly and completely on our  own. 

It’s this strange mixture of perceptions and images and sensations,  both modern and ancient and primal, that carry me away every day we’re  out cruising these northern waters. I’ve journeyed many places in the  world, I’ve lived in far-away lands for many years, traveled in RV’s,  backpacked through the Rockies, climbed many peaks in my younger  years, and the closest analogy to this feeling was when I was an avid  backpacker and could carry my “house on my back” — a snug tent and  warm sleeping bag. Inside my tent, reading a book with a flashlight, I  was largely protected from the elements that might be raging outside.  Yet one step outside my tent, and the wilderness I had to walk through  to get back to civilization was uncompromising. There was no 9-11 to  call if I got in trouble. No one to help carry me off the mountain.  Many times, no one who even knew where I was. 

What is common between wilderness cruising in my Nordhavn and those  earlier backpacking days is that despite all the comforts and the  gadgets, you can’t let yourself forget that you are on a little boat  in a big sea and a deep wilderness far from anyone who could help you,  and that piece of chain that leads to the bottom is never completely  secure. 

On a boat, we are always voyaging, even when we’re anchored in a snug  cove. We might turn off the DVD and shut down the cappuccino maker and  go to the comfort of our warm bed, crawling under the down blankets  for a quiet night, but toss in 40 knots of unexpected wind, fog and  driving rain at O-Dark-30, and combine that with a dragging anchor,  and that DVD and the plasma TV and every other gadget suddenly becomes  a completely meaningless toy. 

Now its engines and rudders and windlasses and working on deck in the  violent conditions and you are suddenly a seaman fighting the cruel,  uncaring sea for your very survival, just as sailors have done for a  millennium. 

We have awoken more than once from being cradled in 21st century  luxury to find ourselves in the midst of such an adventure, and only  our skills and courage and those of my mate or crew will take us to  safety. As master of the vessel, there is no one else for me to turn  to, nobody to call, no source of knowledge or experience other than  what I already possess. 

I truly believe that its adventures and unexpected challenges like  these that keep us alive and young at heart.

Which is why I so love the adventurous kind of cruising.


Copyright © 2009 by OceanLines LLC

Posted by Tom in Boats, Destinations, People