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Nordhavn 120 Aurora

Trial By Water

The successful transpacific delivery of Nordhavn’s new flagship 120 convinced her owners they have a first-class passagemaker. [WITH VIDEO]

By Marianne Scott | Photos by Neil Rabinowitz


It took five years for Pacific Asian Enterprises to construct its latest and largest build, the Nordhavn 120, and a 6,500-nautical-mile transpacific passage for the yacht to reach her new owners, but that just convinced them they made the right choice.

Aurora worked,” says Bob Conconi, who owns the yacht with his wife, Diane. “She hummed. She chimed. She operated and steered flawlessly. The center of gravity, the ABS ratio of weight above and below the waterline was accurate. I don’t think the design can be improved upon.”

The expedition yacht was built at South Coast Marine, P.A.E.’s partner in Xiamen, China—one of four enterprise zones Beijing created to lure foreign investment. The financial crisis caused some of the build delay when the client who’d ordered hull number one cancelled his contract, but “wanting to do it right” also contributed to the lengthy construction period.

The Conconis, who progressed from a Nordhavn 86 (26.2 meters) to the 120 (36.5 meters), were seeking more space to entertain their four children and numerous friends.

“But beyond that,” Bob Conconi says, “some things can’t be explained. Maybe you want a new yacht because it’s possible.” He is convinced Aurora’s quality is due to the 400,000 hours of labor it took to finish her.

“We have followed Aurora since she was in a mold through to her launching,” he says. “Often there were more than 100 workers on her in every room doing every imaginable finishing touch.”

Nordhavn 120

Aurora is a full-displacement yacht weighing in at 848,944 pounds (424 tons) with a fuel capacity of 17,500 gallons. Running her twin MTU Series 2000 M72s at 1,200 rpm and cruising at a modest 8 knots, the yacht has a range of 6,000 nautical miles (including generator fuel). She got a chance to prove her mettle by cruising from Xiamen to Hong Kong—where she cleared Chinese Customs, an involved process—and hence to Vancouver, Canada, after passing through Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. Rough weather lengthened the journey and forced the yacht to travel as far north as Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

It’s rare that a new yacht of this size reaches home on her own bottom.

Fears of damage and removing the boat’s brand-new gloss usually prevent such a delivery. But dollars made this delivery option a no-brainer. Because of the yacht’s weight, shipping her on a freighter would have nearly quadrupled transportation costs. Moreover, as P.A.E.’s Jim Leishman explained, the delivery tested every system, worked out kinks, calibrated instruments and demonstrated the yacht’s stability in 50-knot winds and boisterous seas. Fourteen crew—including three engineers, Jim and Jeff Leishman, the Conconis, a chef and several others—took part in the delivery, which Jim Leishman calls “a first-class shakedown cruise.”

VIDEO: Click here to watch the amazing real footage of Aurora's transpacific voyage

The Conconis spent most of the 42-day delivery aboard Aurora, providing them with an excellent opportunity to learn their new yacht’s many complex systems. They helped keep watch and slept in their luxurious, spacious master suite, with its American cherry joinery, makoré inlays, his-and-her heads and individual cedar-lined, walk-in closets.

Aurora, 120 Nordhavn, Interior

Fort Lauderdale’s Destry Darr Designs handled Aurora’s interior layout and furnishings. The Conconis wanted clean lines, four guest cabins, elegant but comfortable furniture, plenty of coffee stations and several locations where friends and family could gather. Darr’s special touches are everywhere.

“I’m especially pleased with Aurora’s central staircase connecting the three decks,” she says. “The stairwell walls are clad in American cherry ribbed paneling—the wood we used throughout the yacht. To provide grip, woven leather wraps the chrome handrails.”

Off-white sofas and chairs grace the salon, complemented by custom tables and hand-blown glass sculptures that catch the light streaming through the huge windows. Bright paintings offer pops of color.

Aurora, 120 Nordhavn, Interior

Signs of practicality abound. To help protect the salon’s carpet, the entry from the cockpit displays creamy Calais marble inlaid with dark emperador marble. The same easily maintained Calais marble lies under the ebony dining table and its accompanying white leather chairs. Other entries are similarly clad with intricate marble mosaics.

Four suites can house two guests each. Cheerful glass tile or delicate stone mosaics manufactured by Ann Sacks line each of the cabins’ heads.

The galley, with its sizable granite island, can certainly supply plenty of sustenance to hungry cruisers. Miele manufactured most of the appliances except for the Sub-Zero refrigerator/freezers. Crew quarters capable of housing seven people are forward of the engine room and include a small galley.

Aurora, 120 Nordhavn, Interior

The engine room straddles two levels, making access easy to the many systems. Two 65 kW Cummins Onan generators and another of 40 kW power the large house loads, the two internal and external helm stations, the Opacmare hydraulic davit, the Aritex 506-pound anchors, Wi-Fi, the 12 Samsung televisions and other entertainment equipment. Fuel tanks and polishers, gray- and black-water tanks, the lube oil system, the FCI watermakers that fill the 2,800-gallon water tanks, the MTUs, the exhaust system, fire suppressors and sea chests fill out the spacious, immaculate engine room.

 Running her twin MTU Series 2000 M72s at 1,200 rpm and cruising at a modest 8 knots, the yacht has a range of 6,000 nautical miles (including generator fuel).

Running her twin MTU Series 2000 M72s at 1,200 rpm and cruising at a modest 8 knots, the yacht has a range of 6,000 nautical miles (including generator fuel).

The bridge’s helm console, flanked by twin Stidd chairs, contains four 19-inch Furuno screens displaying navigation software and radar. Two Böning screens monitor fuel and water levels, temperature, security, fire detectors and electrical loads. The screens are duplicated in the captain’s cabin and the engine room. All other equipment, including communications, the Farsounder FS-3DT forward-looking sonar, AIS, the TRAC 20-inch 100-horsepower bow and stern thrusters and the TRAC stabilizers are managed from the console.

From the bridge, with its 7-foot-wide, unobstructed windscreen—a 120 innovation—you can see two Novurania tenders. They measure 11 feet 9 inches and 18 feet 5 inches. They are secured to the foredeck forward of the massive Portuguese bridge, a Nordhavn trademark.

Aurora, 120 Nordhavn, Interior

Abaft the bridge’s seating area, a corridor leads to a well-found captain’s cabin with private head. Farther aft, an attractive sky lounge offers a congenial gathering place with wonderful water views. It houses a bar, leather corner sofa and games table.

The enclosed flybridge duplicates the bridge’s navigational equipment while providing another lounge with bar and seating area. This aerie offers an all-around view and leads to an afterdeck with a hot tub.

The Conconis were well-pleased by their yacht and her performance during the delivery.

“You have to experience the majesty and stature of Aurora,” Bob says. “She is impressive beyond my or Diane’s expectations. She exceeds every dream we have had.”


LOA: 120ft. 7in. (36.75m)
LWL: 108ft. 4in. (33.02m)
Beam: 27ft. 11in. (8.51m)
Draft: 9ft. (2.74m)

Construction: fiberglass
Displacement: 424 tons (short)
Engines: 2 x 965-hp MTU Series 2000 M72
Propellers: Hung Shen 5-blade
Fuel: 17,500 gal. (66,245 L)
Water: 2,800 gal. (10,599 L)
Speed (max.): 13 knots
Speed (cruising): 10 knots
Range: 6,000 nm @ 7.5-8 knots
Generators: Onan Quiet Diesel
Series 65QD and 40QD
Stabilizers: TRAC 20 in. (50.8 cm)
Classification: ABS
Naval architecture: Jeff Leishman
Exterior styling: Jeff Leishman
Interior design: Destry Darr Designs
Guest cabins: 5 (1 master, 4 guest)
Crew: 3
Builder: Pacific Asian Enterprises
Year: 2013

For more information: 949 496 4848,


Video courtesy of Doug Harlow / Nordhavn

Nordhavn 120 Delivery - China to Vancouver from Nordhavn on Vimeo.