Nordhavn, which is Norwegian for North Harbor, builds trawler-styled motor yachts ranging in length from 40 to 148 feet. Founded in 1974 by Jim Leishman, Joe Meglen and Dan Streech and branded Pacific Asian Enterprises (PAE), these rugged, ocean-going passage makers are affordable, reliable and built to withstand rough seas. They rival any superyacht built today, hold more world records than you can count and, 40 years later, PAE still has the original owners at the helm.
Headquartered since day one in Dana Point, Calif., with sales and service locations in several U.S. cities, Europe and Australia, PAE, as the name implies, has ties to Asian boatbuilders: South Coast Marine in Taipei and Ta Shing in Taiwan. To date, PAE has delivered 850 new boats and about twice as many brokerage boats to customers all over the world.
Building Long-Distance Cruisers
As changes in technology and boating trends forced the inevitable, PAE gradually retired several models, including the N35CP, N40, N43, N46, N47, N50, N55, N57 and N62. While these models are no longer being built, they are still circling the globe and are highly popular with long-distance cruisers.
Over the next two decades, PAE introduced 20 bigger, more advanced models to its lineup. The latest and greatest Nordhavn models are the N41, N475, N51, N52, N56MS, N59CP, N60, N625, N63, N64, N68, N71, N72, N75EYF, N76, N80, N86, N96 and N120. Nordhavn’s new flagship –– the N148 explorer yacht –– is the brand’s largest yet. It made its debut at the 2019 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.
The History Behind the Legend
In 1974, three friends –– Jim Leishman, Joe Meglen and Dan Streech –– opened a small yacht brokerage in Dana Point, Calif. In 1976, they named the company Pacific Asian Enterprises (PAE) to reflect their association with Asian shipbuilders. The partners drew on their engineering and boat maintenance backgrounds and worked with Taiwanese craftsmen to improve the design and build quality of their vessels.
Because they had the knowledge and skills to take a boat from blueprint to blue water, the trio proposed a different way of conducting business: PAE would own the molds and tooling and hire the Taiwan builder as a subcontractor. Another savvy move was to sell Nordhavns directly to the customer via salespeople. Foregoing traditional dealer networks enabled PAE to keep overhead down and pass the savings on to the buyer.
PAE started out producing a line of sailboats named after the designer, Al Mason, in 1977. By 1988, the demand for cruising sailboats was changing to powerboats. Jim, Joe and Dan shifted gears and switched too –– from sail to power. They fashioned their powerboats after North Sea fishing trawlers and named the line Nordhavn. However, they weren’t prepared for the resistance they encountered from the marine industry and media, which often referred to Jim’s proposed 46-foot powerboat as a “tugboat.” In fact, the Taiwanese builder refused to build it. The trio forged ahead anyway, found a new builder, South Coast Marine in Taipei, and launched the first N46 in 1989.
A Peek at Three Popular Models
Eventually, the now-retired N46 developed a following of former Mason sailboat owners, and pretty soon PAE had a backlog of orders. Two years later, Nordhavn completed the N62 design and delivered the first hull in ’93. Next, came the N50 in ’95 and the N57 one year later. And, the rest, as they say, is history. Today, 40 years later, PAE “tugboats” are in greater demand than ever.
Nordhavn Yachts N41
Small, but mighty and totally seaworthy in tough conditions, the N41 is the ideal couple’s boat. Introduced in 2019, it’s loaded with standard options that read like a who’s who in the marine industry (Kubota diesels, Garmin electronics, ABT Trac stabilizers, Revere life raft). Your one big decision is whether you prefer the single or double stateroom layout. The N41 has a Category A CE Certification, which very few yachts in this range can achieve.
Nordhavn Yachts N475
You’ll find the N475’s extra six feet in length and 15-foot beam have the greatest impact on the cockpit, flybridge deck and the living quarters below. Up top, the increased space adds more room for socializing and relaxing. Down below, the master suite is large enough for a queen-size berth, head with separate shower stall and three hanging lockers; the guest cabin has room for a twin berth and a single. The U-shaped galley, with the latest appliances and below-counter storage, makes food prep convenient and efficient.
Nordhavn Yachts N51
Since the N41 is one of Nordhavn’s most sought-after passage makers, the powers that be didn’t see any reason to reinvent the wheel, so they added a few extras customers wanted –– a flybridge, another head, and more room –– and built the N51 on the N41 hull. Even though the N51 is a more production-oriented build, every inch of it lives up to Nordhavn’s long-range cruising heritage of safety, performance and luxury.
Innovative, yet practical, thinking like that, along with a commitment to constant improvement, is what keeps Nordhavn at the top of its game –– and on every seafaring adventurer’s wish list.
A Few, Among Many, Amazing Statistics:
More than 150 Nordhavns have crossed the Atlantic, Pacific and/or Indian Ocean.
Eight Nordhavns have circumnavigated the world.
Four Nordhavns have rounded Cape Horn multiple times.
A Nordhavn 40 holds the world record for the fastest circumnavigation by a production power boat of any size.
- Founded: 1978, Dana Point, California
- Founders: Jim Leishman, Joe Meglen and Dan Streech
- Type: Ocean-going, trawler-styled motor yachts, 40 to 148 feet
- Models: N41, N475, N51, N148, N120, N63, N52, N56MS, N76, N64
- Construction: Full and semi-displacement, fiberglass composite hulls laminated with vinylester resin; steel and aluminum (N148)
Have a bit of wanderlust in your soul? Interested in spending weeks at sea without giving up the comforts of home? Want to make sure you’re safe while criss-crossing oceans? Then you might want to explore our yacht MLS listings to find just the right Nordhavn
for your next adventure.