Ed. Note: Each of Pacific Asian Enterprises (PAE)’s three ownership partners are taking two weeks each to work on a research mission disguised as a vacation (or vice-versa). The mission, besides enjoying a step back from their daily grind at Nordhavn, is to experience what ownership of the brand new Nordhavn 59 Coastal Pilot Motoryacht is like, take notes and apply their time aboard toward bettering the design and performance of future Nordhavn CP yachts. Here is my Q&A with PAE President Dan Streech who commandeered the boat in mid-March:
Jennifer Stern (Nordhavn Marketing Director): Dan, you are a very busy guy and it seems things at the company are as active as ever right now. How did the idea for a two-week trip to the Bahamas on board the Nordhavn 59 CP come about, and who convinced you to do it?
Dan Streech (Nordhavn President): After the Miami boat show, Jim (Leishman, Nordhavn Vice President) suggested that each of the PAE owners take some time on the N59 in the Bahamas to get familiar with the boat. I was first to use it. None of us had actually used the N59 in real life conditions and this was a good opportunity to experience the boat and “make a list”. It’s currently a company-owned boat so we knew this opportunity was fleeting.
JS: How was the trip? Is it possible to explain “briefly” what you did?
DS: Simply said, it was wonderful. Magical.
We picked the boat up in Nassau at the Atlantis marina. My four grandchildren LOVED Atlantis and would have stayed there the entire time playing in the water park and enjoying the aquariums, but we had islands to see and pigs to pet.
Off we went across the Yellow Bank with the first stop being Exuma Park, a lovely National park with pristine and crystal clear water and great snorkeling. Actually, the first stop was when we were crossing the Yellow Bank out of sight of land in 7 feet of water. For a Californian who rarely has to think about water depth, it was downright creepy to be cruising along with two feet of water under the keel in water so clear that you feel like you could reach out and touch the bottom. We stopped the boat and went for a swim. A very surreal experience.
Next stop after Exuma Park was Compass Cay http://www.compasscaymarina.com/ . This is winter headquarters for the N76 IVANHOE owned by Tokkie Elliot. Tokkie is the “Mayor” of Compass Cay and helped us get a prime spot. Compass Cay is run by Tucker and his seven sons and is home to the famous “swim with the sharks” attraction, which the children spent hours doing! IVANHOE is equipped with a big slide and Tokkie patiently allowed the kids to slide down it about a thousand times.
With the N59 based in Compass Cay, we hired a guide (Tucker’s son Ozzie) and a 20-foot center console to take us to the swimming pigs, Thunderball grotto and the iguana beach where the children played with and fed the iguanas.
With our time finished at Compass Cay, we decided to go to a completely uninhabited island called Allens Cay. Cutting through the channel (sometimes with only inches under the keel), we ran “outside” so that my son Trevor could get some lines in deep water. My 13-year-old grandson had by this time taken over the Furuno screens and set up a route with many waypoints that took us along the 600 foot contour line. We were rewarded with a gorgeous big Mahi which found its way to the BBQ that evening. We anchored in 7 feet of water in a perfect little cove at Allens Cay and of course it wasn’t long (less than a minute) until the children were in the water again.
From there it was back to Nassau. The trip back across the Yellow Bank was bumpy, but happily the N59 is packed with DNA from the long range Nordhavns and we handled it easily in stabilized comfort.
JS: Was it hard adjusting to a semi-displacement boat? After all, you have spent the last 30 years aboard traditional full-displacement Nordhavns. How did this experience differ?
DS: I love that boat! I truly didn’t know how I would feel about it but now I know. Now I “get” that boat. We had 9 people aboard – five adults, four kids – and we all lived in great comfort. We used the 3 staterooms for the adults and the kids slept in the salon. The flybridge is wonderful and huge but the best social spot is the aft deck which is the perfect size and gives great visibility. Also, the height of the aft deck was just right for getting off and on the boat while tied up to the fixed height docks in the Bahamas. Food storage and freezer/refrigerator space was perfect, sound levels were comfortable and the bright open visibility of the salon/galley made it a pleasure to be in. I didn’t know if I would like the lower helm station, but turns out that I love it. It was a very comfortable place to sit while cruising along, and with full access to your screens and controls. Also, I loved the large engine room and the easy access from the swim step. The engine room was a great storage place and a good place to hang the wet beach towels. AND, we used it to store all of the luggage out of the way. Boat owners should always ask their guests to arrive with soft duffel bags so that their clothing can be put into drawers and their personal items can be stashed into their assigned head and the duffel bags stored out of sight. But of course, they don’t comply. What then to do with the bulky luggage? The engine room of the N59 gives the perfect answer.
JS: How was it knowing you could go double the speed of a full-displacement Nordhavn?
DS: At times, I ran the boat at 18 knots but mostly, I ran at 9-10 knots and it felt just like any other Nordhavn.
JS: Who is the Nordhavn 59 CP the ideal boat for? Clearly it seems to be the ideal boat for anyone wanting to cruise the Bahamas.
DS: The ruggedness of the N59 together with the fact that Jeff designed in rudders that are larger than normal for a semi-displacement boat make the N59 ideal for cruising anywhere and everywhere between Newfoundland and Juno, Alaska and the equivalent coasts in Europe and Australia. Having said that, it is definitely the perfect boat for the Bahamas. It is sometimes said that the draft of Nordhavns makes them unsuitable for the Bahamas. Not true! Yes, I complained about water depth in my narrative above, but that was mostly just “depth shock” of a California boy not used to shallow water. There were larger and deeper draft boats everywhere that I went; including larger Nordhavns. A lot of Nordhavns.
There are still fewer than 600 Nordhavns in existence but it seems like they are everywhere when you are out cruising. We saw and talked with the Winklers aboard “Olaf” (N6072) and met the new owners of N6311, “Bluewater”. From a distance, we saw an N76 and an N50. Also, N6301 “Silver Spray” was in the area. (Owner Nigel no doubt busy on board working on his video for the Nordhavn Film Festival.) We saw the N68 “Great Adventure” twice at Atlantis and an N46 in Nassau, and N96 “Lacey Kay” at Staniel Cay.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE IN THE BAHAMAS ON THE CRUISE? Compass Cay. I love that place. It is straight out of central casting for the Bahamian out island get away spot. It conjures up the lyrics and melody of the Beach Boys song “Kokomo”.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE MOMENT OF THE TRIP When my 9 year old Granddaughter Amelia (aka “The Shark Whisperer”) tugged at my sleeve and said, “Papa Papa Papa… I don’t want to go home; can we stay here forever?”
WHAT IS YOUR TAKEAWAY FROM THIS TRIP? My takeaway is more personal than relative to the boat. We all know that Nordhavns are great. There are thousands of pages of narrative raving about Nordhavns and that doesn’t need to be discussed more. What doesn’t get talked about enough is Jimmy Buffett’s message in “Lovely Cruise”: These moments are shared by few. It was expensive and complicated to organize this trip. It would have been easy to give up and just say, “next year”. In hindsight, that would have been WRONG. Memories were made that are priceless and there may not be a “next year”. Nordhavns are designed for fun and adventure and “carpe diem” is embedded in our marketing message. I preach that message every day here at Nordhavn and my Bahama cruise reaffirmed why we (and Nike) say: just do it.