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Old 03-10-2014, 07:56 AM   #21
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I'm slowly figuring this out too. Most people just take what's handed to them, not just in boats, but in pretty much everything. I'm always trying to figure out how to make it better. It's the engineer in me leaking out - I can't help myself - and I also enjoy it immensely.
There are builders out there who want to offer choices to an owner willing to educate himself a little with them. Early enough in the process, they are fine with customizing, even encourage it. The only reason for someone to get the exact same boat as the last one is they don't look through and choose other options. Nordhavn puts a tremendous amount of detail on their web site, but I'm sure going through and specifiying everything with them takes quite a while. I know with another builder, the list we were given of decisions we had to make and when was monstrous.
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Old 05-06-2014, 06:32 AM   #22
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We started talking about this in another thread, so, rather than hijack that thread, I thought I should revive this one.

The Nordie is dangerously close to being complete at the ship yard. I went to China one last time a couple of weeks ago for final inspection, and it's looking really good. It's scheduled to ship the end of this month.

Pictures from the latest visit are at www.MVTanglewood.com
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Old 05-06-2014, 09:00 AM   #23
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What a beautiful boat. It must take some control to contain the excitement.


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Old 05-06-2014, 09:17 AM   #24
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It's coming along great!! I can't imagine how excited you are.
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Old 05-06-2014, 10:53 AM   #25
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It's coming along great!! I can't imagine how excited you are.
PPP - Practically Peeing my Pants

But it's still a long way away. A month of shipping plus 2-3 months of commissioning, so I'm looking at late summer.
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Old 05-06-2014, 11:13 AM   #26
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2 beautiful boats. I like your taste. That N60 is like a small ship. Truly a different kind of passage making. Great blog. Please keep posting your adventures.
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Old 05-06-2014, 11:15 AM   #27
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PPP - Practically Peeing my Pants

But it's still a long way away. A month of shipping plus 2-3 months of commissioning, so I'm looking at late summer.

I could imagine I would be the same or worse. One day I hope to make it there a get a factory tour.
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Old 05-06-2014, 11:35 AM   #28
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PPP - Practically Peeing my Pants

But it's still a long way away. A month of shipping plus 2-3 months of commissioning, so I'm looking at late summer.
You're saying they take 2-3 months after it reaches the US? Or is the order in your post not significant and they do that before shipping?
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Old 05-06-2014, 11:58 AM   #29
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You're saying they take 2-3 months after it reaches the US? Or is the order in your post not significant and they do that before shipping?

By commissioning he means final electronics testing all systems and pushing them to find their bugs and let anything break, break during commissioning rather then at sea.
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Old 05-06-2014, 12:27 PM   #30
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By commissioning he means final electronics testing all systems and pushing them to find their bugs and let anything break, break during commissioning rather then at sea.
I know what he means. I was just shocked that it takes them 2 to 3 months. First I would have expected most of that to be done before shipping. But even if not, I just wouldn't have expected so long. Just comparing to builders I've dealt with. Now, nothing wrong with it taking longer if that's the way they end up with a good product and the buyer knows the time from the start.
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Old 05-06-2014, 01:30 PM   #31
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It is indeed a long time, and yes, it happens after the boat reaches the US. PAE will typically quote a shorter time, but from everything I've seen it takes 2-3 months in reality. But in PAE's defense, many times that's because the buyer piles on a whole bunch of other add-on stuff. For example, sometimes the electronics are pre-installed at the yard. They aren't fully wired up and aren't even powered on, let alone tested, but everything is mounted, wires are pulled, and some are hooked up. That makes finishing the electronics much faster once the boat is sate-side. Other boats have all the electronics installed after the boat arrives, which of course takes much longer. And throughout the process you are fighting for the time and attention of trades who have multiple, conflicting priorities. In that respect it's no different than getting any work done in a boat yard. Maybe I'll get lucky and it will all be done in 6 weeks, but I'm not holding my breath.

BTW, they do basic smoke tests at the yard, but no extensive run-in. There is a test tank, but the boat never goes in open water. The engines are fired, generator run, hydraulics tested. I think they run the Air Con, but am not certain. It's enough to find gross failures, but not subtle ones.
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Old 05-06-2014, 01:54 PM   #32
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It is indeed a long time, and yes, it happens after the boat reaches the US. PAE will typically quote a shorter time, but from everything I've seen it takes 2-3 months in reality. But in PAE's defense, many times that's because the buyer piles on a whole bunch of other add-on stuff. For example, sometimes the electronics are pre-installed at the yard. They aren't fully wired up and aren't even powered on, let alone tested, but everything is mounted, wires are pulled, and some are hooked up. That makes finishing the electronics much faster once the boat is sate-side. Other boats have all the electronics installed after the boat arrives, which of course takes much longer. And throughout the process you are fighting for the time and attention of trades who have multiple, conflicting priorities. In that respect it's no different than getting any work done in a boat yard. Maybe I'll get lucky and it will all be done in 6 weeks, but I'm not holding my breath.

BTW, they do basic smoke tests at the yard, but no extensive run-in. There is a test tank, but the boat never goes in open water. The engines are fired, generator run, hydraulics tested. I think they run the Air Con, but am not certain. It's enough to find gross failures, but not subtle ones.
Very interesting and thanks for sharing. It's interesting to see how different builders work. I know some who do everything possible before shipping and then take a month in the US. My only direct personal experience on building a custom or semi-custom boat has been a US builder and so doing what where was never a factor. The only non-US boat I've owned was a stock boat. I know a few importers who take a month or six weeks to commission. However, some of them definitely need to take longer based on the issues new boat owners have post delivery.

I think the experience of visiting the plant as they build your boat is very rewarding.
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Old 05-06-2014, 03:00 PM   #33
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Here's a quick list off the top of my head of the things that need to be done as part of commissioning, just to give a sense. This list will vary with every boat. In general, I think we have a particularly short list.

- Test every system, switch, light, indicator, alarm, plug, etc. Basically test, verify, and correct everything delivered with the boat.

- Electronics guys come aboard, figure out what the yard did, then go through one component at a time to complete the installation of each, setup and configure it, test, etc. This also includes installing any remaining items. On my boat that will include FLIR cameras (you can't ship them to China), KVH (too much $$ in a small fragile package to risk damage), NSO brain (not available until now), intercom/ohone system (wires pulled, but no equipment installed), TVs, AppleTVs, BluRay, etc., possibly a stereo system, tap, terminate, and connect the N2K bus, Configure the N2K bus, complete wiring of radars, sounders, etc., install and wire remaining monitors (one sent to yard so all holes can be cut), install, setup, and configure 2 computers, install monitoring cameras

- Commission the water maker, including checking/setting all the proper pressures, flow rates, etc.

- Complete the exhaust system for the diesel heat (partially installed at yard), pressure test plumbing, file, fire and test, fixing along the way as needed. Be sure heat exchanger to head domestic HW works correctly, and be sure heat exchanger to draw waste heat from main engine works properly.

- Adjust and set up the hydraulics. Various pressure and flow regulators need to be verified and tested, and the stabilizers need to be set up. Some of this might have been done as part of the yard testing, but it still needs to be sea trialed.

- Locate dinghy and mount chocks.

- Install life raft

- install kayak racks

- Have carpet made and installed

- Have shades/curtains made and installed

- Have storm plates made and installed

- Have boarding ladder/steps made and installed

- Install dive compressor

- Install utility compressor (inflatable fenders, etc)

- Install racks for dive tanks

- Figure out how we are going to contain and store all the supplies, spare parts, and personal crap

- Sea trial and sea trial trying to shake out problems.

- Go through and change all the light bulbs to LEDs

You can see it's a lot of stuff. My trips to the yard have surfaced a number of issue that, while easy to fix at the yard, would have been a major pain to deal with back in the US. Each of those will save time at commissioning, but I'm sure I didn't catch them all.
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Old 05-06-2014, 03:52 PM   #34
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You can see it's a lot of stuff. My trips to the yard have surfaced a number of issue that, while easy to fix at the yard, would have been a major pain to deal with back in the US. Each of those will save time at commissioning, but I'm sure I didn't catch them all.
Thanks for sharing it all. It's interesting to see how different builders do things. It struck me on several of the electronics being added in the US how they may very well me models that didn't exist three months earlier and most definitely models different than those when you started the build.

As someone whose career was in manufacturing, albeit a very different industry, I find the processes very interesting. I also find the control of those processes to be a major component of quality. I'm sure Nordhavn has figured out quite well over the years what is best done where.

Regardless of how small they might have been, I'm sure everything you worked out on your trips over would have taken far more time and cost later, if even feasible later.

There are a lot of semi-custom builders but they all define "semi-custom" slightly different just by the way they do things. Nordhavn customizes more than many while still maintaining the basic boat and working within their comfort zone. There's one builder that the running joke always was that their semi-custom meant you got to pick the color of the sofa fabric. Then one long time trusted builder who allowed a customer to customize to the point that it was far outside anything they'd done or knew how to do and the boat turned into a disaster and a law suit.

The building of a boat in this size range and type is on the most extreme edge of manufacturing in terms of complexity. Far more components than most anything. Automobile manufacturing is comparatively simple. Automobile is comparable to building an 18 foot runabout. Even the specifications on a house are less. The only industry that comes to the top of my head as comparable is the airplane industry. But even there they build many identical for each airline, so every single one doesn't vary. Some industries that call themselves manufacturers really do nothing more than assemble a few parts the exact same way thousands of times. Boat building is like home building on steroids or something. I remember the first time we saw just the check list of decisions we needed to make, my wife said a couple of choice words and broke out giggling.
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Old 05-06-2014, 04:24 PM   #35
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It took 2 - 3 months to complete the commissioning on my boat, and the list of work was comparable to yours. One mistake I made was to take the boat (not a Nord., although I came close to ordering one) before I was satisfied that everything was 100%. At the time, the thinking was that I would do a shake down cruise and make an extensive list of stuff that needs correction, then bring it back for "final" commissioning. I was also anxious to get the boat so it wasn't hard to talk me into that. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out the way I had hoped.
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Old 05-06-2014, 04:29 PM   #36
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Likening it to building a house is the best I can come up with too, but it's several times more complicated.

You have everything that goes into building, furnishing, and decorating a house.

Plus you build the electric utility, inter-tie to other utilities (shore power), and battery-backup the whole thing.

Plus you build the water works for a place with no freshwater.

Plus you build the sewer utility system and treatment works.

Plus it needs to be able to move itself every day to a new location, including rigorous shake, vibe, and drop testing.

Anything else while we are at it?
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Old 05-06-2014, 04:34 PM   #37
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It took 2 - 3 months to complete the commissioning on my boat, and the list of work was comparable to yours. One mistake I made was to take the boat (not a Nord., although I came close to ordering one) before I was satisfied that everything was 100%. At the time, the thinking was that I would do a shake down cruise and make an extensive list of stuff that needs correction, then bring it back for "final" commissioning. I was also anxious to get the boat so it wasn't hard to talk me into that. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out the way I had hoped.
Yes, I've been cautioned about that by others as well. It's such common sense to not close the deal until your are fully satisfied, but I can see how irresistible it would be to just get going. I have several notes to myself as reminders not to do that. We'll see how well I resist.
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Old 05-06-2014, 07:20 PM   #38
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Yes, I've been cautioned about that by others as well. It's such common sense to not close the deal until your are fully satisfied, but I can see how irresistible it would be to just get going. I have several notes to myself as reminders not to do that. We'll see how well I resist.
Which people also do on houses. Builder says, "Oh just a little bit of touch up and landscaping. Won't take any time at all". And builder never seen again.

Now, honestly, I wouldn't expect issues like that from Nordhavn. Still I'd resist full acceptance. Assuming you are not having a surveyor? That often is a controlling point in the process. Even with new boats we have had surveys.

But there are some horrific stories and sizable lawsuits on boats where the initial problems never got corrected. One in particular was sold with a guarantee of Veritas Unrestricted and that wasn't done nor done ever by the builder. Never would pass Veritas standards. It is my understanding the purchaser did eventually get it but not sure. Purchaser also won a sizable suit.

Still, you've chosen a builder who has an excellent reputation in that regard. They don't have a reputation of delivering a problem free boat, but do have one of addressing any issues and that's the important thing. Worst thing is a problem shows itself a month or six weeks later and the builder tries to say it had to be something you did or send you to the equipment manufacturer.

That's why on any new boat it is so important to choose the builder well. That's what separates one from the other, far more than design. Do you know the builder builds quality boats and do they stand behind their product. Nordhavn purchasers seem to be Nordhavn fans forever. Speaks well.

Always interesting to check the used boat market when getting ready to buy a new one. If there are recently built boats for sale, the question is why. With a few builders such as Nordhavn you find it's to get another Nordhavn or it's age or death. Always a good sign.

I do believe purchasers of new boats need to be more aware of their builders reputation, any legal entanglements, and how their business is going both operationally and financially. A lot of people ending up owning builders because it was the only way to get their yacht finished. In today's world so much information is out there. And if after finding out about their questionable ethics or honesty, you still choose to buy from them, don't be shocked when it happens to you. If they're struggling to stay alive, don't be surprised if they cut corners.

I'm not a Nordhavn owner and doubt I ever will be as not they type that most interests us. However, I loved reading the very open, honest article they wrote about how they handled things when the bottom dropped out of the market. Also recent rumblings about personnel changes in Dana Point but I have no reason to believe that is material to their operation.

I think you'll love your boat. Don't all your Nordhavn people. lol
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Old 05-11-2014, 08:04 AM   #39
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It's such common sense to not close the deal until your are fully satisfied, but I can see how irresistible it would be to just get going. I have several notes to myself as reminders not to do that. We'll see how well I resist.

Not handing over that last 5% or 10% gives amazing leverage , the seller will hang on your every word , and even take notes.

After you pay for it , the sellers phone may only take messages .
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Old 05-11-2014, 10:08 AM   #40
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I know what he means. I was just shocked that it takes them 2 to 3 months. First I would have expected most of that to be done before shipping. But even if not, I just wouldn't have expected so long. Just comparing to builders I've dealt with. Now, nothing wrong with it taking longer if that's the way they end up with a good product and the buyer knows the time from the start.
I spoke with a N62 owner in Mexico last year... it took them 2 years to work out all the bugs in commissioning.. and that is with a Nordhavn.. I cannot imagine a lesser company and all the hassles.
Needless to say he was pissed.. but the boat looked great.

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