Built for far-flung fishing adventures, Nordlund’s latest launch has the comfort and stability to expand her owner’s already broad horizons, Mark Masciarotte discovers...
On this crisp, windless September morning, the distant, snow-topped peak of Mount Rainier and broad stands of golden aspen are mirrored flawlessly in the harbour’s glassy surface. Against this magnificent backdrop, Cazador floats motionless, a silent hunter lying in wait
For her builder, Nordlund Boat Company, Cazador (Spanish for “hunter”) is the latest launch in the company’s almost 60-year history. For her owners, she represents 11 years of planning a replacement for Tigress, their 28.3 metre Nordlund/McQueen yachtfisher that has logged 370,000 nautical miles since her delivery in 1998.
A comparison of the two boats is a subject that arises early in a conversation with her captain, Jason Machovsky, who has worked for the family for 20 years. With an overall length of nearly 37.1 metres and a beam of 7.6 metres, Cazador is about as large a boat as Nordlund can launch with its existing equipment. Machovsky says that according to Cazador’s tonnage certificate, she represents a three-fold increase in volume over the older boat.
To the owner’s way of thinking, this result is simply a matter of natural progression. “Well, as you know, [once] you start boating, they get bigger and bigger and bigger,” he says with a grin. “I bought my first boat when I was 18… a race boat. And after that it was just one boat… then another… then another. And every one – every single one – got bigger than the last.”
This evolution, he confesses, also included his lifelong need for speed. “With my first race boat I kept putting bigger engines on it until I blew the transom out of it and then fixed it up and traded it for my next boat. I always wanted to go faster when I was younger, but I’ve changed a lot since then. I still like fast cars but I’m 80 years old now. I shouldn’t be going fast. I’ve finally slowed down a little bit.”
Walking around the new boat with Machovsky, it immediately becomes clear that despite her spacious and beautifully appointed interior, Cazador is a serious, purpose-built fishing boat designed for longer, more far-reaching cruising than her predecessor. The arrangement and outfitting of her expansive cockpit and the adjacent California deck foretell the many hours the owner and crew plan to spend there.
This said, comfort and safety were watchwords throughout the project. Having been battered a number of times by severe weather and sea conditions offshore, the owner wanted a yacht that not only had the range and seakeeping capability of an expedition boat but provided an even more stable platform for his angling pursuits.
Over the several decades that naval architect Ed Monk and structural engineer Tim Nolan have worked with the Nordlund family, the company’s boats have earned a reputation for delivering a comfortable ride and the capability of providing a generous turn of speed. With the owner’s concern for seakindliness, stability in all operational phases was addressed in two ways. First, as might be expected on any large boat these days, Cazador is fitted with fin stabilizers with active-at-rest capability. In addition, Nolan specified Frahm tanks, a system that he has included in a number of the pilot boats that Nordlund has built over the last few years.
“Frahm tanks provide passive roll-damping and also limit the running trim and pitch-damping,” Nolan explains. “They always oppose motion in pitch and roll, and they reduce the tendency to squat. [Cazador] is a semi-planing boat, so when the water separates at the transom, the water runs out of the tanks, and that gives us a couple of thousand pounds of lift. This reduces the running trim, which in turn reduces the resistance.” The owner praises Nolan’s engineering ability, saying that he was instrumental in morphing some of Nordlund’s existing tooling with new moulds to create a fuller forward hull section and bow.
“Tim’s design gives us the volume we were trying to achieve,” he says, “a boat that is comfortable enough for my old age where I don’t have to walk up and down a lot of stairs. And to build one with a [sizeable] cockpit and to be able to fish [well] is kind of a unique design… and that’s what I wanted.”
He also points out construction details that were incorporated to increase safety as passengers move throughout the boat, chief among them the mandate that the soles on each of the three decks be flush to help prevent falls. “Another thing I decided,” the owner says, “was that in my old age, with two knee replacements and [other considerations], we should put an elevator in. That was very important. My wife runs up and down the stairs like an antelope, but I’ve enjoyed it even during construction.”
The company responsible for the yacht’s interior outfitting, Westhoff Interiors, integrated abundant but discreet handholds and rails, a once common feature in motor yachts that has all but disappeared over the last few decades. The interior and exterior stairs also were designed in such a way that the rise and run result in a gentle – and safe – step.The reasoning behind this mandate becomes clear when the owner, his wife and their captain provide a chronology of their trips aboard Tigress: cruises from central Alaska to Maine, spending multiple seasons in the Caribbean with their requisite Panama Canal transits, and so many trips to Mexico that they have lost count.
The builder and designers note that the owner, a mechanical engineer and owner of a successful manufacturing company, is a gifted designer in his own right and one of the most engaged clients they’ve worked with.
“There were daily conference calls with the owner,” Westhoff recalls, “some lasting hours. He knew exactly what he wanted in the boat. “I remember one meeting at the yard when he began to describe a door handle design that he wanted; he pulled out some paper and a pencil while he talked about the curve he wanted, the stitching… After a minute or two, I realised that he was drawing a lever handle upside down, so that we could see it easily from our side of the table, and I said to myself, ‘Oh my gosh, [this guy is] at a different level.’ He was like that all the way through.”
Using the interior of Tigress as a template, Westhoff has updated the overall architectural design while adding sophisticated joinery details throughout the boat. Much of the cabinetry is built of figured sycamore, with Peruvian walnut, wenge and mappa burl used for contrast and to heighten interest. Interior designer Mary Flores recommended soft goods and stones that are luxurious while remaining relatively easy to maintain on a boat that is fished nearly every day that the owner is aboard. In addition, the design and placement of built-in furniture has, almost without exception, merged comfort and utility.
“It’s really a family boat,” Flores explains, “even when it comes to the crew. They’re very close with Jason and treat everybody the same, so having the saloon and the galley open is really important. [The owner] really loves to cook. If he’s not doing it, he’s probably sitting there watching it. So, he was very involved in the galley layout and pantry storage, [even things] like the spice cabinet.”
“He has very, very good taste,” Westhoff adds.“You always have to balance the line between maintaining a budget and making it cost-effective, while taking all of the client’s requests, working them out and designing them into the boat. “This is where we ended up.”
To aid in the pursuit of pelagic fish, most offshore boats have some kind of tower or structure to allow a higher point of view for a lookout or operator. Fitting Cazador with such a structure would have been relatively easy were it not for a requirement that the boat be able to pass under a fixed bridge near the owner’s residence in Southern California. Even a folding tower would not have been too difficult had it not been for the large semi-enclosed control station, called a “bucket,” that is integral to this particular tower.
“It’s got big forces,” Nolan says. “About 3,000 to 3,500 pounds. So, it’s got a pair of big [hidden] hydraulic rams that raise and lower it. It’s got some carbon and glass and foam, and then it’s got some aluminium, stainless and bronze internal structure. All of it was CNC’d and precision-made outside the boat, then installed.
“And because of the bridge, there’s nothing mounted on top of the boat. Everything’s on the mast and goes down with it. It’s quite sophisticated…the most sophisticated we’ve done.”It will have to be. The owner has fished all over the world and Machovsky says that “he would like to be in Nova Scotia in August of 2019, transit the Saint Lawrence, come back down over the fall of 2019, and then we’d have to figure out the [following] winter. As to 2020, that’s still out there.”
The owners have visited Greenland and say, “it wouldn’t really be too far to go when we come back from our trip to the Great Lakes. We could possibly go over to Greenland and spend some time in the ice and the fjords over there. They’re just beautiful.
“Another thing we talked about was Iceland and Bear Island. There are a lot of places to go, of course. It’s just [a matter of] how far you want to [expose yourself to the elements].”No matter the final itinerary, Nordlund has delivered what appears to be the perfect boat for it. As one would expect from such a highly respected builder, the design is robust and handsome, the fit and finish exceptional, and the details both clever and beautifully executed.
Asked whether Cazador is similar to the old boat, the owner answers with the dry deadpan delivery for which he is known. “Well,” he replies, “it’s similar… it floats.” Grinning at his joke, he adds, “Tigress is a fishing boat, designed to fish in Alaska and down south, and that’s specifically what I designed it for… and what she does very well. Cazador is quite different.”
Imagery courtesy of Neil Rabinowitz