Modifying an existing hull costs less than from-scratch innovation, so it’s no surprise that the very popular Nordhavn 47 has been stretched a few feet to create the new Nordhavn 52. What is surprising is that a little length and some reconfiguration based on owner feedback has created a sleeker and faster vessel, one that’s likely to garner at least as much interest as her predecessor.

nordhavn 52

Because so much of the N 47 worked so well, with the 52, Nordhavn decided to improve on an existing hull by focusing on three main areas: aesthetics, comfort and practicality of use.

According to Nordhavn, the N 47 broke records when a dozen orders were placed just based on line drawings. Eventually over 50 hulls were built, many of which crossed oceans and cruised in far-flung destinations. But by 2010, the design was considered by many to be a bit dated. The N 52 still looks like a Nordhavn, but the added hull length helped the design “grow into itself” with the same beam (16’ 1”) and a reshaping of the pilothouse and flybridge. The flybridge is now one integrated piece with sleeker angles that work together with the pilothouse roof and a deck extension, leading all the way aft over the cockpit.

The trademark Nordhavn Portuguese bridge is still there, as is a very workable foredeck that includes a Maxwell vertical windlass, a dual bow roller, a Freeman chain locker hatch, and plenty of room for anchoring work. The elongation added a facelift that took years off the initial design.

When it comes to comfort, the extra five feet added significantly by extending the aft cockpit as well as the protective flybridge overhang. In fact, you could argue that now there actually is a cockpit—since before it was mostly a small entryway to the saloon. That means dinner may be enjoyed outdoors even if there’s rain or howling wind up top. This extension of the exterior living space, whether used for lounging, dining, or stowage of wet gear, adds much to the usability of the boat.

The interior is similar to the 47. A very stout-looking single door leads to the saloon, with a dinette to starboard and an L-shaped settee to port. Just ahead and on the same level is the galley with stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. It’s a very attractive as well as functional space, except for the odd choice of having the large microwave embedded in cabinetry high overhead. I’d be nervous managing a bowl of hot soup out of that elevated space, especially in a seaway.

A few steps lead down to the cabins where there’s some room for interpretation, with various layouts available. Two or three cabins and two heads are possible. The hull I tested had two cabins; a midship stateroom with across to the day head. The master was forward with a centerline island queen berth and an en-suite head. The nice thing about this layout is that there’s only one set of stairs from the saloon to get to both cabins, rather than adding steps down from the pilothouse.

helm station

The pilothouse has twin chairs and a dash that’s like a movie set from Star Wars. Three large multifunction displays, a destroyer wheel, and switches for just about every system aboard form the nerve center.

At the helm, visibility is good forward but pretty much nil aft, since there's not only a bulkhead but also a dinette and a captain/off-watch crew bunk that occupies the rest of the of the bridge area.

Aesthetics and comfort aside, it’s the practical changes that sell new trawlers today. The added hull length provided room for an extra 200-plus gallons of fuel. Additionally, the engine was changed from the 165 HP single Luggar to a 265 HP single John Deere. With the larger engine and longer waterline, the N52 is a bit faster and has greater range than the 47. Yes, the design gained 5,000 pounds, but on an overall displacement of 90,000 pounds, that’s only six-percent.

Nordhavn sells most of their models with a “wing” engine, which is usually a much smaller Yanmar offset to the side with its own running gear, so it can be put to use immediately in case of emergency. Per the builder, these “get you home” engines get little use, but most owners like the peace-of-mind of redundancy. Another belt-and-suspenders benefit of this second engine is that it provides yet another alternator (one of four) to charge batteries in case the main engine is down.
Draft (hull)5'11"
Displacement90,000 lbs
Fuel capacity1,740 gal.
Water capacity400 gal.

With the two-cabin layout in which the master is forward, there’s a separate door accessible from the saloon that leads directly into the engine room. It’s convenient in that you don’t need to enter the master, or crawl down into the machinery space via the sole.

Finally, that flybridge deck that was extended by two feet can now accommodate a bigger tender, which is definitely among the most practical pieces of gear you can have when cruising.

The N 47 is no longer in production, but pre-owned trawlers are available. There are about 15 hulls on the water or in production of the Nordhavn 52, and counting. If you’re looking to leverage the benefits of five years of feedback and some good re-jiggering, you may want to “stretch” your reach all the way to the new 52. You’ll be glad you did.

Other Choices: Those interested in a bit more speed may want to see the Nordic Tug 52. If you’re drawn to powercat trawlers, the Aquila 48 delivers interesting trawler-like interior and performance, with space equivalent to that of a significantly larger monohull. And if your budget simply doesn’t allow for this much LOA, take a look at Five Affordable Trawlers Under 40 Feet.

For more information, visit Nordhavn.