After the much-heralded, and well-deserved fanfare, Hull #1, christened Aurora, begins her journeys by setting out on a crossing from Hong Kong to Vancouver, Canada.
By Capt. Ken Kreisler
When last we checked in with Nordhavn, builder of the kind of cruising yachts that are designed to travel oceans, it had completed comprehensive and exhaustive tank testing on a 120-footer, its largest build to date. The massive yacht culminates five years of concept and construction by Pacific Asian Enterprises. Its VP, Jim Leishman, served as captain along with co-captain brother Jeff, the company’s chief of design on the shakedown trip. Also along were engineers from the factory.
The company has come a long way since its inception in 1973 in Dana Point, California, beginning first as a dealership and then, a year later, evolving into a small brokerage. In the first years, the business was comprised of general yacht brokerage and the importation of the venerable CT boats from Taiwan. In 1976, the now PAE began importing another line of boats from Taiwan called the Transpac 49. Over an eight-year period, the company imported, sold and delivered 35 Transpacs.
By 1977, a trend had emerged that saw two classes of boats coming out of Taiwan. The better boats were being provided by the yacht developers whose talent, skills and fortitude would enable them to control a yacht from conception to design, marketing, sales and service. The developer would own the all-important molds and tooling while the Taiwan builder would act as a sub-contractor and builder only to the yacht developer. This allowed the developer to set and control the specifications, quality, pricing and marketing program.
In 1978, Jeff Leishman, Jim’s younger brother, joined PAE’s sailboat business as a part-time employee. Still in high school, Jeff helped with new boat commissioning, deliveries and with the occasional drawing and sketch needed for the factory. Jeff’s natural talent for drawing and drafting was already apparent and was further developed in his high school and college drafting and design courses.
By 1988, the demographics were changing away from the cruising sailboat market and towards powerboats. As baby boomers were aging, they were becoming intolerant of the rigors of sailing, and PAE was thinking about importing powerboats and was even considering becoming a dealer for the products of others. It was then a discussion was undertaken to introduce Jeff’s school design, a 46-foot long-range cruiser as PAE’s next project, and soon Jim became convinced that building the powerboat was the right decision.
Since PAE was founded, nearly 850 new boats have been delivered, and about twice as many brokerage boats to customers of all ranges of experience, age, background and nationality. And now, the Nordhavn 120.
She comes equipped with an impressive ships complement of outstanding features including a full-displacement hull for efficiency and seakindliness, standard bulbous bow, solid fiberglass bottom with a network of full-length, longitudinal and transverse stringers, a custom designed and engineered electrical system to suit all the boat’s requirements, hydraulic power for the windlass, bow and stern thrusters, active fin stabilizers and high-capacity bilge pump operations, as well as a host of redundant and safety items that any serious long-range passage making vessel must have.
Her specifications are as follows:
DRAFT: 9’0″/2.74m (full load)
DISPLACEMENT: 848,994 lbs./385.07 LT (full load)
FUEL: 17,500 gal./66,244.7L
WATER: 2,8000 gal./10,599.2L
POWER: 2 x 965-hp MTU Series 2000/M72
Aurora arrived in Vancouver on August 30, 2013, 44 days after setting out from Hong Kong and making a stop in the Aleutian Islands. And this is just the beginning.