Boat Review: Norstar 40

The Robert Perry-designed Norstar 40 began life as the classic Nordic 40 and is still one of the best mid-size cruisers ever built.

Gary and Steve Nordvedt are second generation boat builders in the Pacific Northwest who have seen designs and styles of cruising boats come and go. For the last 20 years they have been building high quality power cruisers suited to the weather and cruising conditions of Puget Sound and the Northwest coastline.

But in the early 1980s and through that decade, the Nordvedt family built the Perry-designed Nordic 40 and Nordic 44, both considered by cruising boat lovers to be two of Perry’s best designs and two of the best mid-size cruising boats ever built in America.

When the price of diesel peaked at about $5 per gallon, Gary Nordvedt began looking around for a sailboat to build and discovered that the molds for the Nordic 40 and 44 were available and in excellent condition. And with sailing clients Karol and Carl Weston ready to build a 40, Gary and his brother decided to relaunch the design with many modern upgrades.

The Norstar 40, with its rakish bow and reverse transom does not look like a 30-year old design but it does have a classic yacht style to it. The hull is 32-feet on the waterline and has a 12-foot, six-inch beam, so the shape is moderate. Unlike more modern production cruisers, the 40’s stern sections are narrow, which has the effect of making the stern slightly less buoyant and slightly less likely to slew around in big following seas.

The deep keel and fairly tall rig combine to give the boat very good sailing characteristics that will produce comfortable daily runs and a pleasant motion at sea. The 40 was designed before the spade rudder vogue took over cruising boat design so it has a semi-balanced rudder that is mounted on a full skeg. This is a strong way to build a rudder since the blade is protected from flotsam or while sitting on the bottom when aground.

The boat’s T-shaped cockpit is fairly deep and secure. The cockpit seats have high backs for comfort and protection and the bridge deck forward keeps water out of the cabin when things get wet on deck. The wheel is large enough to allow the helmsman to sit to windward or leeward while driving.

Down below the new Norstar 40 will have a fairly traditional interior and will be fitted out in Bristol fashion with oiled teak cabinetry accented with off-white panels. Doors and drawer fronts will be solid wood and all will have high quality stainless steel positive latches. The floors are teak and holly veneers.

The saloon has the nav station to starboard of the companionway and the U-shaped galley to port. The galley has two large sinks, a four-burner stove and a large top-loading fridge-freezer. The chart table faces aft and has storage for working charts and places to mount all of the electronics modern cruising boats seem to require.

The L-shaped dinette will seat three on the port settee and two or three more on the starboard settee when the table leaf is extended. The two settee benches will make good sea berths.

The private quarter cabin to starboard has a double berth and a large hanging locker while the forward cabin has a V-berth and an even larger hanging locker. These two cabins make for comfortable accommodations for four people and extras can bunk down in the saloon.

The Norstar 40’s head is large and useful. It has a good amount of storage space for hygiene and medical supplies and has an adjoining separate shower stall. Finished in white Formica and trimmed out with teak, this a traditional and attractive head.

The 40 carries 120 gallons of water and 54 gallons of fuel, so it has a fairly long range capability. The addition of a watermaker will mean you can shower whenever you want to.

The Norstar 40 comes with a trusted and proven pedigree. The design is that of a modern classic while the build quality and finish work make the boat one of the best built cruisers in North America. It will rank with Sabre and Tartan in quality and may have a small advantage in price. Any serious cruiser who wants a true cruising boat that can be built to order and modified within reason to his needs should take a serious look at the new Norstar 40.

Norstar 40
LWL             39’8”
LWL      32’6”
Beam         12’5”
Draft               6’6”
Displ.         18,000
Ballast         7,091 lbs.
SA                 756 sq. ft.
Water         120 gals.
Fuel                 54 gals.
Waste         45 gals.
Engine         40-hp.Yanmar

Norstar Boats
Bellingham, Wash.
360-223-2399
www.norstarboats.com

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