Q&A with Dan Streech, Pres­i­dent and Co-Owner, Nord­havn Yachts

What was the im­pe­tus be­hind Pa­cific Asian En­ter­prises’ be­gin­nings?

Passage Maker - - Shop Talk -

Our ear­li­est days at PAE in­volved used boats (bro­ker­age) of all kinds, but typ­i­cally sail­boats. We then be­gan im­port­ing CT sail­boats and the Transpac 49 from Tai­wan—about 75 boats in to­tal. We were im­porters only, and didn’t de­sign or de­velop those boats.

In 1977, we com­mis­sioned Al Ma­son to de­sign a 43-foot sail­boat for us. Copy­ing what a few oth­ers were do­ing in those early days of boat build­ing in Tai­wan, we owned that de­sign out­right and com­mis­sioned a Tai­wan builder (Ta Shing Yacht Build­ing Com­pany) to build the molds, which we owned. By own­ing the molds we were able to “brand” the boats as ours and con­trol the mar­ket­ing, dis­tri­bu­tion, qual­ity, and ser­vice. Af­ter the suc­cess of the Ma­son 43, Al de­signed three other mod­els for PAE (the M63, M33, and M53). Jeff Leish­man joined the com­pany in 1982 as a ju­nior de­signer and up­dated each of the orig­i­nal Ma­son de­signs to the “4 se­ries” mod­els. Over a pe­riod of 18 years, we built and sold 212 Ma­sons. Nearly all of those boats are still in ser­vice to­day and have be­come beloved icons. The Nord­havn 46 was de­signed in 1987, with the first boat be­ing com­pleted in 1989. At that time, it was com­monly be­lieved that the only way to cross oceans was on a sail­boat. Af­ter years of mo­tor­ing sail­boats around, es­pe­cially our largest Ma­son, the M63, we be­gan to un­der­stand the dy­nam­ics of fuel burn and the open ocean be­hav­ior of a long-keel bal­lasted, heavy boat, which was pow­ered at dis­place­ment speed. This then made the teach­ings of Robert Beebe as put forth in his book, Voy­ag­ing Un­der Power, per­fectly un­der­stand­able, and the light turned on.

It is now clearer in hind­sight than it was at the time, but Jim Leish­man just con­nected the dots that were in­vis­i­ble to oth­ers and the N46 was de­signed by Jeff as his first com­plete de­sign and the Nord­havn line of boats be­gan. Lit­tle did we know at the time that we were

chang­ing the course of his­tory. The N46 was built by South Coast Marine which sub­se­quently, along with Ta Shing, be­came the builder of many of the Nord­havn mod­els to fol­low. Twenty-nine and 39 years later, re­spec­tively, those two builders are still our trusted part­ners. They only build for PAE and we only buy from them. Those re­la­tion­ships are trea­sured by both sides and are rare (maybe a record?) in the mer­cu­rial world of boat­build­ing. The first cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion aboard a Nord­havn was com­pleted in Oc­to­ber 1995. The boat was N46 #10 named Sal­va­tion II, owned by Jim and Suzy Sink. Even then (6 years af­ter hull #1 was built), it was still not com­monly un­der­stood that small power­boats could cross oceans. That cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion was a huge leap for­ward in the aware­ness. You re­cently re­turned from the Nord­havn2AK Rally, in which over 30 boats con­vened in south­east Alaska for sev­eral days of sem­i­nars and so­cial­iz­ing. What was your big­gest take­away from at­tend­ing this event? I was hum­bled and burst­ing with pride. I was there as the Pres­i­dent of PAE, but in fact, I was a mi­nor player in the event, which was owner-planned and or­ga­nized. The power of the “Nord­havn world” is im­mense, huge, and now much big­ger than PAE it­self. We started it, but it has taken on a life of its own. The so­cial network amongst Nord­havn own­ers is very pow­er­ful. The own­ers are won­der­ful and pas­sion­ate and ded­i­cated to a life­style that their Nord­havns have made pos­si­ble for them. With 537 Nord­havns now built and cruis­ing the world, ev­ery day is a boat show with friendly own­ers around the world show­ing off their boats and demon­strat­ing the life­style that has been made avail­able. I have al­ways preached that it is dif­fi­cult to have money, good health, and time, all at the same time. To­day how­ever, many peo­ple have ac­com­plished that at the very same time that Nord­havns have come of age with mir­a­cle prod­ucts built in: su­perb com­mu­ni­ca­tions, safety, lux­ury, and com­fort that ex­ceeds what many of the own­ers en­joy on land. It has fu­eled a rev­o­lu­tion.

Dave, I wish it were that sim­ple. There are so many vari­a­tions of cop­per-based al­loys that it be­comes dif­fi­cult to draw clear de­lin­eations. You are cor­rect that the ba­sic dif­fer­ence be­tween brass and bronze has to do with tin vs. zinc, but you can’t count on the ter­mi­nol­ogy. Take man­ganese bronze, for ex­am­ple, which might con­tain 25 per­cent zinc or more. De­spite the name, it is tech­ni­cally a brass. And sil­i­con bronze, the gold stan­dard of cop­per al­loys for use on boats, has no tin but may have up to 1 per­cent zinc present in the al­loy. Your state­ment about the dan­gers of brass be­low the wa­ter­line is right on the mark, but keep in mind that even bronze al­loys can suf­fer and should be pro­tected with sac­ri­fi­cial an­odes and proper bond­ing (wooden boats are an­other story).— Steve Zim­mer­man


Read­ers may find these two tales of elec­tronic chart prob­lems of in­ter­est along with an­other story that pre­dates GPS and elec­tronic charts.

About 10 years, ago we took our boat, Ranger, a Kadey-Kro­gen 70, from Seat­tle to the west coast of Van­cou­ver Is­land. My wife, Carol, and I were the crew. Af­ter get­ting to Barkley Sound we poked around for a few days and then an­chored in Pipestem In­let.

The water was per­fect an­chor­ing depth, water tem­per­a­ture about 70¡, ea­gles were fly­ing, black bears were around, the sun was shining, and all was right with the world. But, ac­cord­ing to the raster

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