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Lurssen Northern Star: A Study In Escapism

The North Star, Polaris, is only visible in the northern hemisphere, but the 75-meter ice class Lürssen Northern Star is headed for faraway places beyond. Designer Espen Øino gave the yacht a rugged look to match extended cruising plans and Pauline Nunns created a comfortable nest for long periods at sea.

The North Star, Polaris, is only visible in the northern hemisphere, but the 75-meter ice class Lürssen Northern Star is headed for faraway places beyond. Designer Espen Øino gave the yacht a rugged look to match extended cruising plans and Pauline Nunns created a comfortable nest for long periods at sea.

Photos by Klaus Jordan

If you say British Racing Green, every Jaguar buff knows what you mean, and if you say Endeavour blue, every J Class aficionado understands. According to Captain Craig Franks, the hull color of the new 247’ Northern Star is most decidedly Endeavour blue. This is a motor yacht built by owners with the souls of sailors. Northern Star’s owners swing both ways when it comes to being on the sea; that is, they enjoy sailing as well as motoring. In addition to their new Lürssen, they also own the exquisite 170’ gaff-rigged schooner Meteor, built at the Royal Huisman shipyard in 2007.


Captain Franks met these owners when he was working as an engineer in the British Virgin Islands. Admiring a 64’ Baltic sailing yacht at anchor, he swam out to take a closer look and struck up a conversation with the owners. That was 23 years ago and he has been involved with them and in the evolution of their yachts ever since.

Northern Star’s owners hail from Canada and run North America’s largest commercial fishing fleet. Naturally, the ocean is a part of their everyday life. They are knowledgeable yachtsmen who know what works for them and what doesn’t. With their latest Northern Star, they have achieved exactly what they envisioned. This is their second build at Lürssen’s Rendsburg yard in Germany. Their previous 208’ yacht, now sold and called Polar Star, was similar but their newer yacht has 30 percent more volume and more advanced systems. The team that put the first Northern Star together also worked on this new build: yacht broker/contract manager, Rob Moran of Moran Yacht & Ship; naval architect, Espen Øino International, and interior architect Pauline Nunns.


“This owner is not a South of France kind of guy. He likes to go to far-away places such as Labrador, Greenland and New Zealand. He wanted a vessel capable of a 9,000-mile range [at 12 knots] without worrying about refueling and or re-supplying the boat,” Moran said. “The boat burns 120 gallons an hour at cruising speed. I have a sportfishing boat that burns more than that!” The broker went on to enthuse about Northern Star‘s hull shape and fuel efficiency. He credits Espen Øino and Lürssen for marrying the right propulsion with the right hull shape.


Øino today is one of the world’s most acclaimed and accomplished superyacht naval architects. His yachts are both innovative and efficient. In designing Northern Star, Øino and the engineering team at Lürssen took their cue from naval ships and destroyers that sport bows with a fine point of entry and can slice easily through water. The ice-class Northern Star has a massive bulbous bow, enormous bow and stern thrusters and an electronic anchoring system that keeps the yacht steady without dropping its anchor—a perfect solution for environmentally sensitive areas such as the Galapagos. It also comes in handy when the water is simply too deep to anchor.

After a year in the Caribbean and the Med, the plan is to take the yacht to Greenland. In order to enable it to travel off the beaten track and sustain many days at sea, the shipyard implemented a number of accommodations. For instance, the yacht’s refrigerators and freezers are twice the size and capacity of the ones generally found on yachts. And while Lürssen is known to build everything big, these even exceed the shipyard’s norm. The cold garbage storage unit is also double-sized. Systems with a nod toward green technology also were incorporated. For instance, the yacht has special trash compactors and a glass crusher that pulverizes glass into the finest sand, which can be poured into the ocean in all impunity (It is nice to know that copious bottles of wine can be consumed with no repercussions.) This yacht also is the first to incorporate a Hug exhaust system invented for Swiss locomotives, which burns exhaust particles so hot that by the time they exit the stack, there is no black smoke or soot.


While touring the yacht’s underbelly, the captain was proud to point out the easy access to all the machinery, the redundancy of all major equipment, and the size of the generators. While there are four generators, Northern Star can run most of the time on the main one. This saves significant energy, plus makes the yacht quieter. The profound thought that went into creating the hull design and mechanical plant of an efficient, long-distance cruiser was expended equally on the deck and interior design layout. Captain Franks was quick to point out the extra-wide walkways. The owner did not want to play follow-the-leader around the side deck. He wanted to be able to take a promenade around the decks arm in arm just as you might do on a cruise ship. Another novelty for this boat is the amazingly tall headroom in the living areas. As part of the design brief, the shipyard installed all the wiring and ducting parallel in the overhead, rather than stacking it up, saving precious room.


There are six decks: tank deck, crew deck, main deck (guest accommodations), owner’s deck/skylounge, bridge deck, and sundeck. Each of the decks has been well space-planned to achieve the most room and comfort for 12 guests and 22 crewmembers. Unlike the first Northern Star, there is a garage with side doors that swing open to allow the guest tenders to be craned easily into the water. Aboard are a Hinckley T29R, a Zodiac, dive equipment, Jet Skis, a Laser, sea kayaks and mountain bikes. The crew’s tender lives on the foredeck. The crew area is spacious and features a large commercial galley facing a crew mess, an Internet café and a gym.


During the two-year construction phase, Capt. Frank and his engineering and systems team (Simon England, Tom Corness and Donnie Hefferman) were on hand at the yard to ensure particular design plans and details were executed. They worked closely with Lürssen’s ace build manager, Thomas Winterboer, and Project Manager Dietrich Kirchner. Jodie Mori was the yacht’s overall interior coordinator. Mori, who previously worked on Paul Allen’s Octopus, managed all levels of the interior design, created by Pauline Nunns.

Nunns, who resides in Wales, first came to the owners’ attention 20 years ago, when they fell in love with her work aboard the yacht Leander. They hired her to do their home in Canada as well as their previous Northern Star. Nunns says she worked closely with the owners, “to achieve a true home away from home.” She describes the overall feel as English Country, perhaps from the Georgian period of grand manor houses replete with Hepplewhite and Chippendale furniture and painted tables. The common areas are filled with puffy duck-down sofas. This is not a boat with hard edges or any sort of minimal approach. Stainless steel is relegated to the galley. The floors are a reclaimed old oak wood


Nunns refers to the ambiance as “shabby chic”, but there is nothing shabby about the bright and fresh Northern Star. In fact, after only a few days aboard, some recent charter guests were so in love with the yacht that they called the owners and begged to have eight more weeks this year and four weeks next year.

There is much to love. All five of the guest staterooms are in a prime location on the main deck forward of the main salon. A cylindrical glass elevator accesses all the decks and adds to the bright feeling of the interior. The elevator is located in a central atrium separating the guests’ and owners’ accommodations from the communal living areas. “The owners wanted natural light everywhere,” Nunns says. The windows are very large and a skylight in the stairwell adds more light. The corridor leading to the guest cabins is extra wide and provides a gallery space for the owners’ copious paintings and works of art. The owners are big collectors of Inuit art and photographs. But they also have primitive works by Canadian artist Maud Lewis melding with maritime oils, Asian blue-and-white ceramics and quirky mirrors and lamps crafted with seashells. Of the five guest cabins, there are two VIPs that can be merged into a family suite, and two of the twins can be converted to queen-size.


Nearly all the paneling is raised-and-fielded limed oak or is hand painted to match the décor. The stately main salon has Bordeaux-colored couches and armchairs grouped around a working fireplace. Recessed in the white tongue-and-groove ceiling is a hand-painted panel of cherubic angels. The British artist painted it in situ, lying on her back atop the scaffolding, à la Sistine Chapel. A Steinway player piano offers musical entertainment and an adjacent coffee table opens up to reveal a roulette wheel. Something for everyone! Showcased in the salon are two glass-encased ship models: the owners’ schooner Meteor and a 19th century steam yacht. The formal dining area is unusually placed aft of the salon, so that you walk from the aft deck directly into it. In reality, most of the dining takes place, unsurprisingly, alfresco. The indoor dining table may get more use in Greenland or other cold climes, but when special occasions call for added space, a dance party for instance, the table leaves can be removed and stored in custom-built cupboards.


The next deck up features the master suite. A proper library with red-tufted leather couches, a bar and an adjoining small office precede the panoramic sleeping quarters located forward. The owners can use port and starboard doors to access the outside foredeck seating area. Aft is the bright and airy skylounge, decorated in white and cornflower blue. German artist Mary Baumeister handcrafted the large coffee table. The table’s glass top allows guests, accommodated on a surround of comfy couches, to admire a seascape of pebbles and shells. A Delft-tiled fireplace is another great focal point in the skylounge.


The aft deck on this level is the most popular spot for dining and lounging. The bridge deck mostly is the captain’s domain, but there is a guest gym aft and the larger of the yacht’s two spa pools is also located on this level. The sundeck has a smaller spa pool, a glass-protected seating area forward and sun loungers aft. There are so many rooms and nooks, the 12 guests aboard conceivably could get lost in their own spaces and never run into each other. There is even a beauty salon and spa room with massage table permanently set up.

Guests occasionally may visit the tank deck where a cinema is located. Featuring dark mauve walls and tiered seating, it’s an inviting spot to view one of more than 1,000 films offered via the Kaleidescape system. It’s a dark nest perfectly suited for escaping.

But then having such a self-contained little ship as Northern Star is a study in escapism…you could run away to sea for months at a time and lack for absolutely nothing. ■

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LOA: 247’ 4”(75.4m)
BEAM: 44’3” (13.5m)
DRAFT: 12’6” (3.8m)
ENGINES: 2x 2,682hp Caterpillar 3516B
GENERATORS: 3 x Cat C-18;1 Cat C-9
MAX SPEED: 18 knots
RANGE: 9,000 nm @ 12 knots
FUEL CAPACITY: 63,420 Gal. (240,000l)
FRESH WATER CAPACITY: 10,094 Gal. (4000l)
STABILIZERS: 2x Quantum Zero Speed QC-1500E/QC-2200
BUILDER: Lürssen/2009