Saturday, April 2, 2011

Northern Marine 64

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If you have watched the discovery channel series, The Deadliest Catch, you had to be appalled by the horrendous conditions that the crab fishermen endure on a daily basis while fishing the Bering sea. fierce winds, towering waves, and bitter cold are the norm. 

if you didn't turn away from your television thinking, "Boy, am i glad i'm not out there in that stuff," well, you weren't paying attention.

So, it was particularly appropriate that my first sighting of the Northern Marine 64 Long Range Cruiser was while she was sharing a pier with Sea Star, the 104-foot crabber seen regularly on The Deadliest Catch. 

It was a most amazing contrast, because there were as many similarities between the vessels as there were differences.

Sea Star is a working vessel, bearing rust stains and scars from voyages in the North Pacific. Her topsides were dulled and her roughly welded pipe rails were coated in layers of chipped paint.

The Northern Marine 64, on the other hand, is clearly a yacht. Her topsides sparkled in the pale Seattle sunlight and the teak caprails gleamed to perfection.

But while one seemed to be wearing oily coveralls and the other was in a Dior suit, it was clear that they were sisters under the skin. Both were intended to go, as John Paul Jones said, "in harm's way." There is no way to catch crab without facing the brutal Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska. 

There is no way, even with modern weather forecasting, to do any serious cruising without catching the brunt of Mother Nature at some point.

There are many yachts on the market that claim to be "expedition cruisers" but few, if any, have the lineage of the Northern Marine 64. Her lines were clearly descended from those husky crabbers. But the real genesis for these yachts came in 1997 with Spirit of Zopilote, Bruce Kessler's 64-foot Northern that built a reputation for ranging far and wide in all conditions. 

Since that time, Northern has continued to refine the concept in yachts from 57 feet to 86 feet, all bearing a look that stands out in any marina.

The tall, bluff bow is obviously meant to cleave green oceans and, from a floating pier, it seems impossibly high. When the seas are running to 40 feet, however, you'll thank the crabbers for their foresight. Everything about the exterior of the Northern 64 reflects the focus on all-weather cruising. 

The teak-planked side decks have high bulwarks and stairways have well-spaced risers and sturdy, welded stainless steel handrails. And every deck has oversized scuppers to get rid of water quickly.

Boarding gates on each side deck make access to and from piers convenient, and the wide swim platform is perfect for reaching floating docks or tenders. Huge stainless steel hinges secure the transom door because, who knows, a rogue wave might just slap the stern hard. 

Centered in the transom is a massive, watertight Freeman door that opens to the lazarette and engineroom but, when closed and dogged, it might as well be a solid transom.

Whether you're cruising the tropics under a burning sun or northern latitudes in steady drizzle, you'll appreciate the protective overhang above the afterdeck. In fair weather, there is outdoor seating and a console that can be fitted as a wet bar.

It's clear that the 64 LRC was designed for an experienced couple to handle by themselves, and you can move fore and aft on either side for line-handling. There's no Portuguese bridge, but the pilothouse opens directly onto the foredeck level, with stairs leading up to the boat deck and then down to the afterdeck.

Northern Marine, (360) 299-8400;

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