Nordlund's 108-foot (model 106) expedition yacht Rushmore is designed to go the distance without scrubbing coral.
By Jerry Stansfield
For all its natural gifts, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas enjoys a well-earned reputation as a favorite among the world’s premier cruising venues. One challenge, though, is the region’s prevalence of shoals, flats and banks that deny access to owners of deeper-draft vessels. For one such couple, years of exploring the Bahamian hinterlands led to considerable frustration and the resolve to seek an alternative design. While conforming to their mandate for an offshore-capable, long-range vessel, the couple launched an exhaustive search that ultimately brought them to family-owned, Tacoma, Washington-based Nordlund Boat Company.
Concurrent with their choice of builder for what would—technically—become 108-foot (32.92-meter) Rushmore was the selection of R. Edwin Monk naval architecture, itself a family operation spanning two generations and author of nearly every design to emerge from the Nordlund yard. Tim Nolan Marine Design, another veteran of multiple Nordlund projects, was recruited for structural and marine engineering. The Monk-Nolan alliance offered a consortium of experts in proven design and construction methods, but also eager adapters of advanced technologies, and therefore was an appropriate resource to meet the multifaceted design brief.
The owners considered a variety of hull forms, ultimately settling on a slightly rounded shallow-V displacement monohull configuration with hard chines, a bow bulb and a nearly full-length keel. Dual foil rudders were kept relatively short so as not to extend below the keel’s depth. Similarly, the yacht was fitted with an ABT active stabilizer system whose four fins are shorter—and therefore shallower—than those a dual-vane system would require. (Propellers turn within the protective confines of pockets recessed well into the bottom.) Together, these features and components limit Rushmore’s draft to a scant 5 feet 3 inches, more than 3 feet shallower than that of the owners’ previous yacht, a sub-80 footer.
Augmenting the hydraulic stabilization system and specified primarily for at-rest roll attenuation are twin Frahm tanks built into the transom just below the waterline. This arcane piece of hydrodynamics was introduced in the early 20th century and applied in a variety of forms, primarily in larger commercial vessels. For Rushmore, Nolan developed a variant comprising the two internal compartments. Each opens to the sea in a manner that lets it fill and drain out of sync with the rolling motion of the hull. The alternating load and buoyancy diminish roll. “As a completely passive system,” the owner said, “there’s no power requirement, so we don’t have to run generators or drain batteries in order to ride comfortably at anchor.”
As prominently as Bahamas cruising may have figured in the owners’ brief, they also anticipated the need for unlimited access to the Intracoastal Waterway.
“In our previous boat, we often had to detour outside the ICW to avoid shallower stretches, which at times meant we’d have to put up with a rough ride or wait for a weather system to clear,” the owner said. “Now we can stick to the inshore route when we’re heading north or south, with no delays and no need to put up with discomfort in heavy seas.”
Notwithstanding Rushmore’s shallow-water credentials, the yacht’s design, robust scantlings and cored composite construction render her equally at home offshore; her range at 9 knots (calculated using onboard speed and fuel-flow readings with a 10 percent fuel reserve) exceeds 4,000 nautical miles, plenty for ambitious passagemaking.
Alone or in the company of family and friends, the owners are equally happy acting as a short-handed crew of two to their captain, so while defining their preferences, they remained mindful of the considerable attribute of simplicity. Rushmore has an easy-to-operate dual anchoring system, port and starboard docking stations and a tankage system fitted with a 3-inch crossover line to allow fueling from either side without losing trim. Built into the after bulwark of the covered California deck is a cabinet for stowing docklines and fenders exactly where they’re needed.
Ironically, the price of simple operation may be a little complexity in design. In the case of Rushmore’s onboard data systems, the Nordlund team installed an array of NUCs (Next Unit of Computing) by Intel, on the theory that multiple smaller computers are less vulnerable to a system-wide failure than a single, larger unit. As part of an interconnected network, each NUC performs one or more discrete functions while retaining the ability to communicate data and share tasks with each of the others. Rushmore has no fewer than 17 active units (plus two spares) managing a variety of vessel operations including navigation, communication, weather, entertainment, monitoring, lighting and five Internet sources.
Even among expedition yacht aficionados—a subset widely reputed to use their vessels more often than others—the owners of Rushmore plan an ambitious agenda that ultimately may include a northbound odyssey to the Canadian Maritimes, a return trip southward to the Greater and Lesser Antilles, and thence to Mexico and Alaska, with possibly a lengthier crossing to the South Pacific. Given their diligence in planning their yacht’s design and construction, they should meet few obstacles to the closest of encounters at any destination.
For more information: 253 627 0605, nordlundboat.com