Nordic 40: The Belle of Bellingham
Fast, weatherly, and comfortable, this fine cruiser still lives up to its billing. From "Classic Plastic" in our March 2009 issue.
When, in the early 1980s, Nordic Yachts launched the Robert H. Perry-designed Nordic 44 and, shortly thereafter, the Nordic 40, the boats caught my eye. Ten years later, I began my quest for a new sailboat and, after a lengthy search, found a 1984 Nordic 40. My surveyor commented, "When these were built, nobody in the United States was building a better boat."
Indeed, the standard Nordic equipment was top-notch: Navtec rod rigging, a Navtec hydraulic vang and backstay adjuster, and full hull insulation throughout the interior. By 1987, market pressure had forced cutbacks (from rod to wire rigging, for example), and around 1992 or so, the Bellingham, Washington, company closed, a casualty of the luxury tax.
I quickly realized that I had both a great sailing boat and a great cruising boat. Impulse is roomy and fast, the deep-draft fin keel gives her superior windward ability, she carries ample water and fuel, and she has lots of storage space throughout the interior.
The cockpit is just about perfect, with high seatbacks, wide coamings all around, and large primary winches within easy reach of the helm. All halyards and reefing lines run aft to the cabin top. The raised bridgedeck is a significant safety feature offshore, as are the numerous padeyes for attaching safety harnesses. On Impulse, the instruments, located on the bulkhead beside the companionway, and the radar, mounted at the navigation station, are viewable from the forward corner of the cockpit. When offshore, we can monitor them from the shelter of the dodger while the autopilot steers.
Interior layouts in the Nordic 40 varied. On Impulse, at the base of the companionway to starboard and open to the saloon are the nav station, a hanging locker, and a comfortable quarter berth. Opposite, to port, is a U-shaped galley with a pair of deep stainless-steel sinks, plenty of counter space, and a three-burner propane stove and oven. The huge icebox is very well insulated. (On Impulse, it's equipped with an excellent Seafrost engine-driven/110-volt refrigerator/freezer.) Forward of the galley is an L-shaped settee with a bulkhead-mounted fold-down table, a leaf of which extends to meet the starboard-side settee. Both settees make excellent sea berths and have large storage spaces outboard. Forward of the saloon, to port, is a large head. At sea, we use its separate stall shower as a wet locker. Opposite the head are more cabinets and storage, and in the bow there's a conventional V-berth cabin.
Ventilation is plentiful, with two large opening hatches, four dorade vents, and 10 opening ports; the insulated hull really helps when trying to heat the boat in cool weather.
The hull of the Nordic 40 is solid fiberglass. The deck is balsa cored, with solid glass under deck hardware, which is through-bolted with backing plates. It's bedded and through-bolted to an inward-turning hull flange. The rudder is hung on a stout skeg that's built around a stiffening plate through-bolted to the hull.
In 1999, we discovered a partial delamination of the rudder and had it rebuilt. Recently, because of a leak at a welded-on bracket, we replaced the 24-year-old aluminum fuel tank.
In 2000, to change the antifouling, we had the bottom stripped. When tested with a moisture meter, it proved to be completely dry-a good sign in a boat that was then 16 years old.
Nordic Yachts built about 40 Nordic 40s, and they appear on the market at prices from $120,000 to $150,000.
Gordon F. Meigs and his wife, Darlene, have cruised Impulse extensively on Chesapeake Bay and sailed her to the Caribbean for the 1999/2000 winter.
LOA 39' 9" (12.11 m.)
LWL 32' 6" (9.91 m.)
Beam 12' 5" (3.79 m.)
Draft 6' 4" (1.93 m.)
Sail Area (100%) 756 sq. ft. (70.23 sq. m.)
Ballast 7,091 lb. (3,216 kg.)
Displacement 18,000 lb. (8,163 kg.)
Water 120 gal. (455 l.)
Fuel 56 gal. (212 l.)
Engine 44-hp. Universal 5444
Designer Robert H. Perry