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Old 10-17-2013, 10:45 PM   #1
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In Search Of Nordhavn #3

The following post is provided to assist others who may be thinking about purchasing a used boat and may learn a thing or two from our journey. My name is John and my wife (Maria) have been fortunate to have owned many boats over the past 30 years with the last two boats being Nordhavn trawlers. We have written a small book about our live aboard experience and written a few magazine articles. We enjoy sharing our experiences with others in hope they can learn from our mistakes and experience great times on the water.

Unlike our first two Nordhavn trawlers this will be our first used boat. After 30+ years of boating we never purchased a large (above 30 feet) used boat and the journey so far has been interesting to say the least. While we prefer not to post specifics about the boat since the deal is not complete and anything can cause us to reverse our decision, I do want share our process as a learning experience.

After finding the boat (a story within itself which I plan to write about later) we finally scheduled a visit to see the boat with the owner present. Our Nordhavn representative (and good friend) Jeff Merrill and I spent a good 30 minutes in the engine room alone and walked away feeling we had found a diamond in rough. I can say with confidence after spending over a year looking for our next boat. One rule of thumb of I use when looking at any boat or boat design is that if the engine room is not clean and provides easy engine access then its best to keep looking. I could not imagine considering a boat that doesn't offer true engine room access through a dedicate engine room door regardless of the size. Opening up salon floor boards every hour to perform engine room checks spells poor design in our book. Not trying to offend any owners or designers but honestly where is the thought process for safe cruising which should include hourly engine room checks. Some may say I'm overkilling the importance of engine room checks but when you grew up around airplanes and flying, safety becomes first nature.

Next step in the process is to schedule and perform a sea trial and haul out inspection. I found it interesting that some people will not pay for the haul out and rely on an in the water inspection alone. We will pay extra to pull oil samples from all appropriate machinery to make sure everything is running as designed and been well cared for. The buyer normally pays for the haul out, inspection and an insurance amendment to cover this process. When we sold our last boat I paid for the extra insurance but this time around the owner is asking we pay for it which I agreed. Total cost of these items will be around $1.5K. A small investment when you are serious about purchasing any boat.

My next post will include how the sea trial and inspection went followed by the next steps in the process. I hope this is helpful to others. If anyone would like to contact us directly please feel free to do so at N4061@yahoo.com.

John T. (N4050 & N4061 - in search of N3)
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Old 10-18-2013, 12:53 AM   #2
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John ,
Glad to see that N3 is just about on its way.
Will be interested to see what takes you from dreamer to owner once again.
I won't take offence re the eng room access bit and as a marine engineer I don't do hourly checks in the eng room, I do a visual from my salon hatch and all my gauges work and my ears are good.
A buzz around the engine room, infra red temp gun in hand and with eyes and ears open every few hours is more that enough.

Congrats again, looking forward to hearing the rest of the storey re this new vessel.
Cheers
Benn
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Old 10-18-2013, 09:25 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by N4061 View Post
I could not imagine considering a boat that doesn't offer true engine room access through a dedicate engine room door regardless of the size. Opening up salon floor boards every hour to perform engine room checks spells poor design in our book. Not trying to offend any owners or designers but honestly where is the thought process for safe cruising which should include hourly engine room checks. Some may say I'm overkilling the importance of engine room checks but when you grew up around airplanes and flying, safety becomes first nature.

John T. (N4050 & N4061 - in search of N3)
Just curious if you lifted the cowling in flight or landed every hour to do you airplane engine checks?

Ted
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Old 10-18-2013, 10:48 AM   #4
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Thanks for sharing your perspective on this John T.. Being in the position to commit funds to two previous Nordhavns is, no doubt, instrumental to ones perspective. Speaking for myself, I'd have no problem committing to hourly engine room checks if I could simply "walk" into it...you bet ya. Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to following your process and picking up some tips.
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Old 10-18-2013, 10:49 AM   #5
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........ I don't do hourly checks in the eng room, I do a visual from my salon hatch and all my gauges work and my ears are good.
Same here but I have a camera aimed at the engine, drip pan and dripless shaft seal that I can check with my normal scan. I plan to change the camera out to one that that can scan the gauge on the primary filter and pan more of the ER.
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Old 10-18-2013, 11:04 AM   #6
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Same here but I have a camera aimed at the engine, drip pan and dripless shaft seal that I can check with my normal scan.
I'm installing a similar setup now with multiple cameras. But like Walt, my engine monitoring is often distracted.
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Old 10-18-2013, 11:14 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by N4061 View Post
the thought process for safe cruising which should include hourly engine room checks.
I agree, but --

I've been on countless Nordhavns with all too many having "ambience" covers hiding some critical parts and only crawl space for access. Witness the low ER headroom on the much revered 62 or pristine appearing ER on a 55/60 with all sorts of stuff requiring a quick peek - covered.
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Old 10-18-2013, 11:24 AM   #8
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Oh man that is funny!!!!

I needed a good laugh today!
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Old 10-18-2013, 11:24 AM   #9
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I'm installing a similar setup now with multiple cameras. But like Walt, my engine monitoring is often distracted.
I could post some pics of videos that my NorthStar can process but I would be kicked off the Forum.
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Old 10-18-2013, 12:44 PM   #10
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I could post some pics of videos that my NorthStar can process but I would be kicked off the Forum.
If you PM"d 'em to us we wouldn't kick you off!
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Old 10-18-2013, 02:18 PM   #11
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While we prefer not to post specifics about the boat since the deal is not complete and anything can cause us to reverse our decision, I do want share our process as a learning experience. )
John, good luck and looking forward to hearing about it. Went down a similar path last year.

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Old 10-19-2013, 04:05 PM   #12
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In Search of N3 - Update

Thanks to everyone who has responded both openly and directly to my original post. It appears I have been somewhat successful in generating some great discussion and sharing of opinions. I also learned a few things along the way. I'm very impressed with the camera set-up that Walt shared and plan to look into such a system in the future. This will not break my habit of hourly engine room checks since sound, smell and temperature can not be realized unless you are there in person.

A quick note on why I'm so hung up on engine room checks. Over the past few years of coastal cruising (average distance between ports on the west coast is about 60 miles) we had two instances where our frequent engine room checks prevented a bad situation from becoming worse. One was the beginning of the stuffing box to overheat rapidly. If not for both the inferred gun and hand touch this would not have ended with a simple adjustment and continuing our 10 hour cruise. The other was an exhaust leak from the dry stack exhaust system which was spotted through the window in the engine room door. Imagine if we were to have opened the salon floor hatches and all that exhaust went throughout the boat - not a good picture. Having the door with a window provided time for us discuss the potential problem, establish a plan and then execute the plan without incident.

Enough on engine rooms and back to our journey. Last week was busy finalizing the sea trial and out of water inspection. With the help from PAE we were fortunate to hire an inspector who specializes with Nordhavn's allowing for a short learning curve. Cost is around $17/ft plus oil samples for the size boat we are inspecting. Haul out costs are $280 which I'm responsible. Then there is the insurance amendment for the haul out, another few hundred dollars which the seller demanded I pay for. This cost may be something many people overlook. When we sold our second N40 I called the yard to confirm the level of insurance he had in case something really bad occurred during the haul out and found out the yard as well as most of the marina's in area carry very low limits on their coverage (keeps premiums low) thus the owner better have coverage. A call to my insurance broker confirmed my coverage did not include haul outs and I had to pay around $300 for a one time coverage. A lot of money for one day but did sleep better that night.

We also spoke with our attorney who assisted with our last two boat builds and discussed if another LLC was in order. Even though we will not be performing an off shore delivery and not taking the boat to Ensenada, Mexico (70 miles south) for one year to beat the state sales tax (ouch!) we decided to go with the LLC. The cost is around $2K and in our opinion worth it.

We also touched base with the bank (B of A) and found out that they are no longer lending on boats and planes. A quick call to the loan broker we used last time took care of this and we are back on track. This is a good time for a little more insight for those dreaming about buying their first boat. Even though we are looking at our third Nordhavn which are not the least expensive boat out there we are NOT wealthy. In fact I put us on the bottom of the typical Nordhavn owner wealth scale. We justify the cost of owning such a boat since we use it as a part time live aboard in San Diego where I work. 200 mile daily commutes from home can get old so we need a second place for a night or two during the week. Again, without going into details we do not plan to spend as much time aboard this boat as we did with the previous boats but it will serve multiple purposes.

Which marina to keep the boat at is a subject we are still debating. Unlike 2005 when we couldn't find a slip in San Diego, today there are plenty of slips available so we are taking our time to decide.

What to name the boat is another fun decision and something we have narrowed down to a few names but need to make a decision soon.

I think this covers most of the activity last week. The big day for us is next Thursday - sea trial and inspection. I will let you know how that went and the next steps in our adventure.

Thanks for everyone for their inputs!

John T.
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Old 10-19-2013, 05:34 PM   #13
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Great stuff, John, and thanks for posting it.
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Old 10-19-2013, 06:11 PM   #14
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I believe there are many ways to slice the proverbial tomato but we just returned from a good 4 day trip and are getting ready to head south later this week.

I dont mind lifting the hatch in the galley to climb 4 steps down to the engine room to do my 90 min engine checks with IR gun, flashlight and earmuffs on.

My wife can see me on the chartplotter engine room camera and I also have that on my favorite with sounder and active chart on screen most of the time.

Would I prefer a door off the master etc yes I would but for me its all about cost and benefit I would not spend 100K more on a boat just because it came with an engine room door.

We all know that you never get everything you want in a used boat so its a matter of choice and for us the adventure of living aboard and cruising is more important than owning a boat we have to make payments on and cant afford to leave the dock.
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Old 10-19-2013, 06:19 PM   #15
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Greetings,
Names? How about Oui 3 (Yes 3). A window in the ER door is on the to-do list. Saves having the Admiral walk into a potential conflagration. Yes, she's the one doing the hourly checks. Bought her her own IR gun and the rest is history. At some point, cameras as well.
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Old 10-19-2013, 07:49 PM   #16
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IR guns... engine room cams... I must be behind the times. I take a looksee through the engine room door port hourly and trust my gauges. The ear muffs only go on and the door only opens if something is questionable.

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Old 10-19-2013, 09:28 PM   #17
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Greetings,
Mr. magic. Installation of a camera(s) would not be so much to monitor gauges/conditions but to keep an eye on the Admiral when she's in the ER. On occasion, it's a bit bumpy during her checks and I want to make sure she doesn't come to any harm. Replacing an engine can be done. Replacing the Admiral...not so easy, in fact, impossible.
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Old 10-20-2013, 01:20 AM   #18
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John T,
I hope it all goes well with the sea trial and the final inspection.
May the force be with you.
Cheers
Benn
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Old 10-20-2013, 11:21 AM   #19
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I don't know if you are using a broker...but like that other thread, a broker would be doing a lot of this legwork if there was one involved. I don't mean any disrespect, but what you are going through with this purchase is nothing different than what most people go through when purchasing a boat...regardless of brand.

I have always dreamed of owning a Nordhavn. As my career "progression" and retirement plan has changed through the years, "my Nordhavn" keeps getting smaller!!!!....
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Old 10-20-2013, 11:59 AM   #20
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Baker Team, no doubt the process I'm sharing purchasing a used Nordhavn would be similar for anyone purchasing a used boat say above the 30' range. The intention of my post is only to provide a relatively short (three week) look into the process for those who may be new to this site or possibly getting ready to make purchase soon and can benefit from a real time example. Again, nothing special about this being a Nordhavn.

In reference to your comment about a broker doing most of what I wrote about, I'm not sure a broker can fill out a loan application, set up an LLC, and secure insurance. My broker in this purchase is Jeff Merrill of PAE Nordhavn whom we have known for 12 years, sold us our first two new builds, helped with a semi-custom designed Nordhavn which we decided against building earlier this year and located the boat we are in process of purchasing. There isn't anything he wouldn't do for us including surveying a number of boats on his own in different states prior to us flying out of state to see a boat. He is one of the most trustworthy and reliable sales representative / broker in the business and many people will agree. No disrespect to you / your company or other brokers but I think I'm in good hands.

One additional note for readers behind the sharing of our experience (as simple as we hope it is) is that this purchase is intended as an interim boat for a few years until I retire and we build / purchase or next boat for what we hope will be a multi-year excursion. We are using this purchase in part as a learning experience to help us decide which direction we will go on the next boat - new versus used after understanding all the benefits, trade-offs and costs. Again, we welcome all comments and opinions to help everyone learn a little more about boating.

John T.
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