March 5th 2012. By Tom Tripp.

Nordhavn 86: Still the Queen of the Fleet

An efficient cruise and an affluent interior make the 86 a mobile mansion.

For a little while longer this year–until the giant Nordhavn 120 is launched–the Nordhavn 86 is still the largest boat from this famous bluewater brand of trawlers. And in many ways, she is already a superyacht. At 400,000 lbs she has as much mass as many in the 120’ to 140’ class, so this 86-footer won’t leave you with a case of three-foot-itis.

Few yachts with the mass of the Nordhavn 86 can maintain a one mile per gallon cruise.

So what do you get in a huge Nordhavn? Well, if one of the “smaller” models, like the Nordhavn 78 , the Nordhavn 47, or one of their other models, is something of a moveable waterfront home, then the N86 is a moveable waterfront mansion. Everything about this boat is bigger–the salon, the staterooms, the heads, the galley, all the important spaces.

Also, unlike some of the other Nordhavns the N86 uses a wet exhaust, which makes even more room inside by eliminating the otherwise-necessary “chimney.” Together the salon and galley are 36’ long. The master stateroom and head use the full 24’ beam of the hull forward of the salon and galley, and below there are two guest cabins with ensuite heads. There’s a utility room forward of these lower staterooms with multiple washers, dryers and freezers. The captain has a private stateroom in the wheelhouse, and there are crew quarters with a head aft, with both exterior and interior entrances.

An ultra-luxurious interior comes standard, on the N86.

The captain has many stations from which to control the yacht, including pilothouse, helm, wings of the Portuguese bridge, and cockpit. As befits her nature as a small ship, the N86 normally has no steering wheels at the helm or other control stations. Instead, “jog levers” are used.

As an aft-pilothouse design it has a huge, relatively open foredeck, and can handle a 20’ tender and lots of smaller water toys. And most of these yachts are equipped with an Atlas universal AC electrical system that can condition/convert any international power supply to the ship’s needs. You might wonder why a yacht that carries 900 gallons of water would need a watermaker capable of producing 2,000 gallons per day—until you go up on the fly bridge and see the Jacuzzi spa aft of the bar area.

Is it a mere yacht, or is this a mobile mansion? You make the call.

The standard engines are twin MTU Series 60 diesels rated at 600 hp each, spinning 48” propellers through massive commercial-class reduction gears. At an economical cruise speed of just under eight knots, this yacht has a range of more than 5,000 miles while getting about one mpg, which is incredible when you consider this much mass—400,000 lbs, which puts the 86 in the same class as a Boeing 787 Dreamliner—moving smoothly and relentlessly through the ocean. Yet at wide-open throttle (2150 rpm), she will easily top 12 knots and has been run as high as 12.8 knots. Even then, the Nordhavn is only burning about 45 gph.

Nordhavn 86 specificationsThe N86 is the first ABS-certified (with +A1 Yachting Service rating for the hull and AMS rating for machinery and installation) yacht built in China; adding MCA certification to allow full charter use is straightforward. That’s one reason Nordhavn 86’s don’t stay on the used market very long, unlike some other yachts. Even the N86 that I walked through at last fall’s Fort Lauderdale boat show, which was outfitted more or less as a massive water-toy carrier with utter luxury, has already sold. In fact, as of this writing there is only one N86 openly for sale, the yacht Aurora, based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Aurora’s owner just happens to be the buyer of the first Nordhavn 120, and he’s owned a Nordhavn 62 and a Nordhavn 76. It seems that, whereas he was struggling with 10-foot-itis up until now, his case has gotten a lot worse. Fortunately, the N120 will cure even the most serious case of 34-foot-it is, if that’s what you’ve got.

Tom Tripp

Tom is the publisher of, a website about passagemaking boats and information. He is also a contributor to Chesapeake Bay Magazine who has been at sea aboard everything from a 17-foot homemade wooden fishing boat to a 1,000-foot-long, 96,000-ton, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.