The story of one couple’s Nordhavn Journey
The Journey As I reflect on the journey of Rob, Monica and Ithaka, a Nordhavn 63, the poem “Ithaka” by Constantine Cavafy, a modern Greek poet, comes to mind. “Ithaka” the poem is based on Homer’s account of Odysseus’s journey home to Ithaka. Below is a snippet from the poem;
Ask that your way be long.
At many a Summer dawn to enter
with what gratitude, what joy –
ports seen for the first time;
Have Ithaka always in your mind.
Your arrival there is what you are destined for.
But don’t in the least hurry the journey.
Better it last for years,
so that when you reach the island you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to give you wealth.
Ithaka gave you a splendid journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
Step 1 – Find a broker: I got a call from Monica. She asked if I would be their broker. “Of course,” I said, “it would be my honor”. I asked how they found me, being the new kid on the block at Nordhavn and the only woman sales broker. They did their research and picked me out of a line-up so to speak. Rob wanted Monica to feel comfortable and included in the buying experience and thought I would be a good person to work with.
Step 2 – Find the right model: After looking at Nordhavns for some time, Rob and Monica determined that the N63 was right for their needs. It had the room they wanted and lacked a flybridge, which they didn’t want. The Nordhavn 63 has an interesting history. Back in 2007/2008 an owner of another Nordhavn wanted to upgrade to a new N62. It checked of all the boxes he and his wife wanted in a new boat: aft pilothouse, not too many steps, a two-cabin layout, and a more open plan. But the N62 was too beamy to fit through a narrow channel that led to their home port. Together, the owners and PAE came up with the perfect boat to meet their needs, and thus, the N63 was born.
As it so happened in the latter part of 2019 when we began the search for Rob and Monica’s perfect boat, there was only one brokerage N63 available for sale (in North America) – Ithaka, based in the Pacific Northwest. I sent them the details on the boat. We made plans to meet at the Ft. Lauderdale boat show, put faces to names, see a few Nordhavns and discuss Ithaka.
After lots of conversation, Rob and Monica were very clear that they respected everyone’s time and resources and would only make the trip to Victoria, BC if they were serious about purchasing that boat. A couple of days later they decided they were ready to see the boat and make the journey to Ithaka. Schedules were coordinated, flights booked and hotels confirmed. Now the fun part…
Step 3 – Seeing Ithaka in person: It was a chilly morning in late November when we arrived at the marina in Victoria, BC. There we were met by the owner of Ithaka. We boarded an aluminum work boat and took a short ride out to the island where the boat was docked. We were welcomed aboard and given free rein to explore. The boat was in very good condition, one could see she had been well maintained and cared for. Over the next 3 or 4 hours we went over the boat stem to stern, looking in every nook and cranny and studying drawings and manuals. The owners were great about answering all questions and talking about their many adventures. Ithaka is set up for being off the grid for months at a time. She holds the record for the most southern latitude sailing of any production boat. She has a lot of miles under her keel and has seen every kind of weather condition, including 80-foot waves!
Later that evening at dinner we celebrated Rob and Monica’s wedding anniversary and the fact that they probably had found their new boat.
Step 4 – The Dance: After the Thanksgiving holiday Rob and Monica made their offer on Ithaka. There was the anticipated dance of offer, counter, offer, deal that sometimes happens, but an agreement was eventually reached. Somewhere in the middle of that was the discussion of placing an order for a new Nordhavn, but that’s another story.
Step 5 – Survey and Sea Trial: When a contract is written there are standard timelines as part of the terms. Typically, you have 45 days to complete the survey and sea trial, obtain financing, sign the closing documents and transfer the vessel. Given that all this was happening during the year-end holidays made for some scheduling challenges.
I recommended a couple of surveyors who had Nordhavn experience. Rob gave his approval after doing his customary due diligence and I lined up a yard for the haul-out. Dates were set for early January.
Then back to Victoria, BC for the two-day survey and sea trial. Winter in British Columbia can be interesting, especially out on the water. The first day was planned for the survey at the owner’s private dock on the small island just a short ride from the marina. This was to be an all-day affair. In anticipation I packed a catered lunch for the crew, so we had plenty of time to cover everything without interruptions. The surveyor was extremely thorough, which is what you want when you’re buying a small ship. I checked in with him as the day progressed to see if there were any surprises. He was impressed with the boat and really had not found anything of significance up to that point.
The following day was the sea trial. Checking weather that evening, it looked like we were in for a blow. Rain was forecasted as well as gale warnings for winds in the 34 to 45 knot range. Early the next morning I got a call from the surveyor. He thought that maybe we should reschedule the sea trial since the weather was already inclement and the breeze was freshening. I told him I would call the owners/ captain and get their thoughts on the matter, but in my mind’s eye, there were no better conditions to test the capabilities of a Nordhavn. After all, this boat did go around Cape Horn twice, so a little gale would be manageable and go to further serve Rob and Monica’s confidence. Plus, I really didn’t want to cancel the sea trial since we had all traveled from great distances to be there. As I dialed the number to call the owners, a quote I’d heard long ago from a sailing friend came to mind: “if you want to make the gods laugh (when boating), make a plan”. When the owner answered he said, “Oh, the weather is fine here.we Ithaka did go around the Cape twice, this is nothing”. Enough said. We were going for a boat ride.
The wind was blowing about 37 knots and gusting to 45, seas were substantial at about 8 feet. The surveyor put Ithaka through her paces. I was really impressed with how well the TRAC stabilizers leveled out the boat. The captain briefly turned off the stabilizers and we really started rocking and rolling with the sea on the beam, but with a flip of a switch all was level again. We made our way toward the marina and meandered through the narrow causeway toward the lift. Given the wind and extremely tight conditions Rob, Monica and I were a little concerned about the ability to get the boat to the lift without dinging anything. We all exchanged glances in the pilothouse and held our breath as the captain handled the boat expertly using the hydraulic bow and stern thrusters to perfection. As Ithaka glided into the lift straps unscathed, there were high fives and smiles all around. Well done Ann! I always say “a woman’s place is at the helm!” The haul-out went well and it was impressive to see the boat out of the water. As we walked around the hull of the N63 checking out the keel coolers, fins, huge prop and rudder, Monica stood next to the prop that was almost as tall as she was. Photo op, hold that pose!
The survey was complete, we would hear back from the surveyor in a few days. We all flew to our respective homes, encouraged by initial feedback from the last two days. It appeared that Rob and Monica were closer to their dream of owning their Nordhavn.
Step 6: Let’s make this happen: The clock was ticking. While waiting for the survey results, a lawyer was selected to handle the closing documents and the issue of flagging. A boat can be flagged in the USA or foreign flagged. There are tax implications for both options and a decision either way depends on one’s own personal situation. In this case Ithaka was originally foreign flagged. The import duty tax was paid when the boat was purchased by the original owners, so a US flag was selected. A complication arose when the lawyer determined that the duty might not be intact, which would mean a significant payment of just over 25% of the boat’s selling price. Nordhavns are built to be world class voyaging yachts, this one was no exception. Ithaka had traveled for many years and was out of the country for years at a time. It now had to be proven that the owners had not intended to leave the US permanently and seek domicile elsewhere. Fortunately, we had a great lawyer with experience in this area and he petitioned the USCG to determine the duty paid status. Meanwhile, the date for closing was rapidly approaching. It was decided that if duty was intact, the closing would take place offshore in US waters and if it was not intact it would take place offshore in foreign waters, which would mean a very long boat ride. Every day we waited to hear news from the USCG. No news plus a ticking clock equals a little bit of stress for all parties involved…
The closing date was to be on Valentine’s Day. Rob was to fly to Seattle and then take the last flight out to Victoria, BC. Early the next morning he would meet the boat, head offshore and close. Rob excitedly boarded the flight in Seattle. But shortly before landing in Victoria an announcement was made that due to mechanical difficulties they would not be landing as planned. The plane turned around and headed back to Seattle. There were no more flights to Victoria that night. Things were not looking good. An omen, perhaps? One of the unique things about the beautiful Victoria harbor are the seaplanes that come and go throughout the day. Some of those fly back and forth from Seattle. This boat purchase was meant to happen, and with luck following suit, Rob was able to book a seat on the first seaplane to Victoria the next morning and make it in time to meet the boat in the harbor.
The next morning Ithaka headed offshore, the closing went smoothly, funds were exchanged, documents signed and Ithaka was now officially Rob and Monica’s. Congratulations!
Ithaka’s first journey was to Anacortes, WA with a stop in Friday Harbor to clear customs since they were coming in from Canada. Rob approached the customs officer and handed over all the ship’s papers required for entry. It’s always a little unnerving when you’re standing in front of the customs officials, this time was no exception. The officer asked Rob how long he had owned the vessel. “About an hour” he replied! The officer looked at him, stamped the documents and they were out and on their way.
The road to ownership of Rob and Monica’s dreamboat was long and a little bumpy, but exciting. A few weeks after closing, the COVID-19 crisis started. Fortunately, they were able to spend time on the boat in Washington just before lockdown. Late one Friday night my phone rang, Rob and Monica were sitting on their newly named boat, Almost Heaven. They had just completed a few days of training and were in love with the boat. Monica told me they were trying to figure out how to transport me to Washington so I could “social distance” with them on the boat! That’s the best offer I’ve had in a long time!
One of the things I enjoy about this business of messing about on boats is the friendships I have made along the way. I’m grateful that I, with the assistance of the Nordhavn team, was able to help Rob and Monica negotiate the twists and turns we encountered at the beginning of their journey. I’m confident that it will be smooth sailing going forward and I’m really looking forward to joining them in Alaska this summer!
Valerie Weingrad is a yacht broker with Nordhavn located in the N. Palm Beach, FL office. She will be happy to be your guide on your Nordhavn journey. She can be reached at Valerie.firstname.lastname@example.org.