The guys at Pacific Asian Enterprises in California thought they had a pretty good trawler in the 40-footer they took off their production lines and cruised in Alaskan waters.
But they wanted more adventure, a chance to get the designers and sales teams more familiar with the boat, and, oh, OK, "some promotional benefits as well," says PAE vice president Jim Leishman.
So they set out last November to cruise their Nordhavn 40 around the world, 26,000 miles in 26 weeks with rotating crews. They went non-stop from Dana Point, Calif., to Hawaii, hid from a Pacific Ocean typhoon in Malaysia and slipped through the Red Sea, between Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, three months after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
They were "real nervous about the Middle East," says Leishman, the director of the voyage and captain for two legs. So nervous they thought about scrapping the trip, or trying to run around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa during typhoon season. But when they got to the Maldives in the Indian Ocean they realized their "concerns were completely unfounded."
The waters were crawling with U.S., British, French and German warships and the skies were blanketed with their aircraft. A British naval officer told them there "had never been a safer time to transit the whole region," Leishman recalls.
The boat made it through the Suez Canal without incident, weathered heavy storms in the Mediterranean, then crossed the Atlantic, transited the Panama Canal and headed home, becoming the smallest off-the-shelf production boat to circumnavigate the globe.
Since then, it was exhibited at the Newport, R.I., Boat Show and at Trawler Fest, an annual gathering of trawler owners and manufacturers in Solomons. It is arriving in Annapolis for the U.S. Powerboat Show, which opens Oct. 17.
After that, they will take the boat to a show in Fort Lauderdale and finally turn it over to a buyer in November.
The Nordhavn 40, which costs between $450,000 and $500,000, depending on options and accessories, is one of six PAE models that range in size from 35 to 62 feet. It's not particularly fast - a top speed of 8 knots - but it's heavy and takes to rough weather better than lighter boats its size.
PAE has been building the Nordhavn 40 for three years, yet they called this voyage the "ultimate sea trial."
"We learned more about the boat than we could have if we just took it out of the harbor and into the ocean for a while," says Leishman.