Northwind 58 • An elegant, modern passagemaker from Spain’s premier builder gets a three-day test in blustery Mediterranean
The morning departure from Barcelona was hurried as we scurried around the North Wind boatyard in search of spare parts, provisions and a rigger to help us get the in-boom furling mainsail adjusted correctly. Our deadline was the 11 a.m. opening of the drawbridge that would allow us to leave the port and head out into the Mediterranean. With gear still unstowed and the tachometer almost redlining, we power the new North Wind 58 away from the dock and quickly motored her through the nearby bridge’s open spans.
So it was that in our hurry we had not paid close attention to the fact that the wind, which had been moderate thus far that November morning, had clocked to the southwest and begun to build.
Our original plan had been to sail straight to the Balearic Islands, an overnight passage away, but a ridge of high pressure and stronger breezes had flowed in from the North Atlantic that promised to give us 30 knots of head winds for the return. Since this was to be a cruise, windward sailing into that much wind was quickly crossed from the route list. So southwest we headed.
The new North Wind 58, designed by Sparkman & Stephens, displaces 54,000 pounds over a 47-foot waterline, so she feels large and stable underfoot. As we motored clear of the channel and met the chop that was rising on the southerly breeze, the boat surged forward without fuss as she carried her way through and over the waves.
Sailing with my son Tim and me were two young sailors from the North Wind yard, Carlos and Jorge. The crew had been assembled by the Ribot family which owns and manages North Wind Yachts in Barcelona for the trial of the new 58 and the cruise had been left open ended through the long Thanksgiving weekend so we could really get a feel for how the boat behaves under sail, power and as a floating home. Luckily, with changeable weather along that coast in November we were able to see the 58 in all her guises.
We hoisted the main from the Leisurefurl boom without trouble and then rolled out the 130-percent genoa. With the diesel turned off, the boat lay over onto the starboard tack and steadily and powerfully began to gain speed. The sailing instruments showed a true windspeed of 28 knots, an apparent speed of 34 knots and boatspeed of just under eight knots.
All afternoon we beat southward into the square chop that was building into larger waves with the main reefed to the second full batten and the genoa rolled to the second reef. The 58 kept her shoulder down and powered steadily onward. We occasionally got wet as the bow cleaved a larger wave, but we were never troubled by the wind or worried by the boat’s performance. This was her ocean.
In late afternoon, we relented and made for shore, finding refuge in the large man-made marina at the tourist village of Sitges. We and the boat were caked with salt but none the worse for wear and exhilarated by a day of cool Mediterranean sun and fine sailing.
DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
North Wind Yachts has been building high-quality, luxury cruising boats in Barcelona for a generation. The company was known for years as Ola Yachts but changed the name to North Wind several years ago as they expanded their sales efforts into Northern Europe and North America.
The current line of North Wind Yachts is designed by S&S in New York and ranges from 43 to 68 feet, with larger custom yachts available. The 58 we sailed in November falls in the middle of the range and is a great example of the quality and style North Wind builds into every one of their boats.
The 58 has a modern cruising hull with a long waterline, attractive bow with some flare but not a lot of overhang, and traditional transom. The visual effect is of a hull that has very fair lines and will ride easily through the waves—a point made fact by our bash south from Barcelona.
Under the water, the boat sports a large modern cruising spade rudder and a low aspect cruising fin keel. Wetted surface has been kept to a minimum with the underwater appendages, yet not to such an extent that the boat is fussy or skittish in any way. She tracks well and points high, even in a strong breeze. On our way to Sitges, we tacked regularly through 95 degrees, which is not bad in 30 knots of breeze. The boat will beat confidently off lee shores and will look after her crew in tight tacking situations.
The deck layout features a center cockpit, deck saloon design style yet with a very modern twist. In a boat of this size it is possible to lower the cabin profile, even the raised portion of the saloon, to make the cabin look streamlined. The 58’s hull and deck profile look balanced while the wraparound tinted windows of the saloon give the boat an elegant, European flare.
The 58 can be built in several configurations. One of the choices a new owner will have to make is whether to build the single or double cockpit plan. The single cockpit configuration is fairly standard, with the wheel aft
and a large table fitted in front of the binnacle.
The aft cockpit design is unique and useful. The helmsman sits at a wheel in a small foxhole cockpit aft of the main cockpit to which all running rigging is led. One sailor, using the autopilot and electric winches, can sail the boat in just about any conditions from this command center, which is exactly how we sailed during our bash south to Sitges. The benefit of the twin cockpit design is the crew can sit in comfort in the main cockpit while underway without having to deal with a tangle of sheets.
Down below, the 58 is roomy and very attractive. North Wind has created two distinct interiors for the boat, one a fairly standard raised deck saloon with the galley aft to starboard and the other a divided deck saloon style that places the galley and a small dinette forward of the saloon and down two steps.
In the custom 58 that we sailed, the saloon is wide and airy with a large dining area to port and a smaller dinette to starboard that includes the nav station. Forward there are two double cabins, each with a head, while aft lies the master cabin with a center-line double berth and ample storage and hanging lockers.
The layout of the boat’s engineering under the main saloon floor makes routine maintenance and repairs on machinery relatively easy and accessible. We were impressed with the quality of the equipment used aboard the 58 we sailed and the thoroughly seamanlike installations.
North Wind builds its boats the old-fashioned way—each one being a semi-custom creation for each new owner. The interior and deck joinery have the fit, heft and polish of fine furniture, while details such as fabrics, overhead liners, lighting and door fixtures have the elegance and quality you would expect in a yacht of this style and expense.
Yet the builders also have embraced modern hull building techniques. The 58’s hull and deck are vacuum-bagged fiberglass and foam-sandwich pieces that are both light and strong. The decks are overlaid with teak that is fixed to the fiberglass with polysulfide. Under the water the hull is covered with two coats of epoxy to prevent blistering and osmosis.
Because North Wind is not yet well known in North America, it is fair to offer comparisons to better known brands. In design and construction, the 58 we sailed and the other models we inspected fall into the same category as the best larger cruising boats on the market, albeit with a decidedly European flair.
We had three days of sailing to find out how the 58 performs under sail and power. In the blustery headwinds of the first day, the boat acquitted herself extremely well. The decks were wet, and we took the occasional saltwater bath in the cockpit, but the boat’s motion was solid and the ride soft as she stood up to the breeze. Occasionally, we would fall off the back of a wave and the bow would crunch down into the trough sending a deep shudder through the boat. But aside from one hinged mirror cabinet in a forward head that we had neglected to dog down securely, the boat rode through the rodeo without any damage to rig or gear.
Handling sheets through tacks and jibes from the aft cockpit, as noted above, was a one-person task as long as the autopilot, a Raytheon 7000 in this case, was handling the steering. The massive electric Lewmar winches meant one person could release the leeward sheet and trim the new sheet without standing up—or breaking a sweat. Even the job of rolling in a reef in the genoa could be handled by one person, although you have to plan the maneuver and be careful not to over crank the furler’s control line with the powerful winches. Only when rolling in a reef in the main was it handy to have a second pair of hands since the halyard and furling gear control line were led to an electric winch on the cabintop next to the companionway, which was 10 feet from the helm and the mainsheet.
The upshot of the sail plan and deck layout was that a solo watch-stander could feel very comfortable handling the boat by him or herself.
By any sailor’s standard, the 58 is large for a couple to manage and could be a handful should something go wrong, so the prudent use of electric winches and modern roller-furling sails, and a cautious approach to reefing early, will mean that the boat can offer the speed and comfort of a large yacht while being controllable by a small crew.
Under power the 58 was able to maintain seven knots into a chop and could surge ahead to almost 9.5 knots in flat water. Around the docks the large rudder was a real boon, as we had to perform a few pirouettes and K-turns to get her in and out of tight Med-moor situations. A bow thruster in a boat of this size, especially if sailed by a couple, will be a valuable aid.
Boats like the North Wind 58 are not usually owned by weekend sailors. A blue-water boat like this has been designed and built to cross oceans and travel far in style, comfort and speed. And it is meant to be lived aboard
for extended periods both at sea and on the hook.
With that in mind, the 58, like the other boats in the North Wind stable, offers her crew large sleeping cabins with wide, comfortable berths and plenty of storage. Privacy will rarely be an issue aboard, even with a full complement of six crew. Each cabin has its own en suite head and shower.
The galley on the standard 58 (and on the double deck saloon model) is large enough to prepare a three-course meal if so inspired but tight enough to work in while at sea.
The main saloon was big enough for three couples to tango at the same time, something we didn’t try. The L-shaped dinette to port was equipped with a nifty pneumatic table that performed as a coffee table while underway and then could be raised with a whoosh to become a dining table. Captain’s chairs were stowed in the aft passage to allow seven adults to sit at a formal meal.
The nav station to starboard, which doubles as a small dinette, was fitted out with the latest onboard computing gear, electronic charting software, a stand-alone chart plotter and modern high-seas radios. The table itself had a hinged top that opened into a sundry drawer on one hand and a large chart storage drawer on the other. If we had one issue with this otherwise excellent nav station it was simply that the seat did not allow a person to wedge himself in while on the starboard tack. Once we were jettisoned from the seat and onto the saloon floor. A seat belt or folding arm brace would solve the problem.
One of the details that caught our attention was the pneumatic companionway hatch. The heavy Lexan hatch, stowed in a pocket behind the companion stairs, could be raised and lowered with the push of a button. During our wet ride to Sitges, the ability to close the companionway up tightly was a real boon to comfort below decks.
The master cabin aft was large and comfortable. In the double cockpit model, the steering cables are routed through two bedposts so the big double berth is effectively a four-poster. The aft cabin is a good seagoing space with plenty of handholds, comfortable places to sit and plenty of stowage.
With 260 gallons of water plus a watermaker and 210 gallons of diesel, the 58 carries enough essential supplies and fuel to be entirely self sufficient for weeks on end. The three-cabin plan works well for a family of four or a couple who enjoys cruising with one or two other couples.
North Wind prides itself on building high quality semi-custom cruising boats that are capable of taking their owners wherever their dreams lead them. The 58 we tested was a thoroughly modern and graceful ocean-crossing boat that sailed well and handled easily. You can picture her stern to the quay in Portofino with her crew enjoying a lobster lunch under the broad awning. Or you can picture her sailing hard under reefed main and staysail through the williwaws of the Beagle Channel. She can do both.
The boats are constructed and commissioned in Barcelona so trips to Spain are part of an owner’s process of building a new boat. For sailors who want
to cruise Europe, this will be no hardship. For those who want their boats delivered to North America, the North Winds normally come across the Atlantic on their own bottoms, so when you take delivery you have a boat that has been thoroughly sea tested and the inevitable new-boat kinks ironed out. For those with time, a transatlantic shakedown will be the best way to really get to know the new boat.
The North Wind 58 is a truly modern semi-custom passagemaker and liveaboard home that comes with a generation of boat building tradition and a family’s pride built into it. You see North Winds cruising everywhere in the Mediterranean and, we suspect, we will soon see them all along the coasts of North America.
LOA 57’4” (17.48 m.)
LWL 47’6” (14.50 m.)
Beam 16’5” (5.02 m.)
Draft 8’8” (2.65 m.)
Displ. 54,000 lbs. (24,620 kg.)
Ballast 18,768 lbs. (8,513 kg.)
Aluminum Rig 1,448 sq. ft. (134.5 sq. m)
Carbon Rig 1,506 sq. ft. (139.92 sq. m)
Water 264 gals. (1,000 ltr.)
Fuel 210 gals. (800 ltr.)
Base price $1,150,000
North Wind Yachts Inc.
2170 SE 17 Street, Suite A
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33316