I do have a crush on Scandinavian boats and boatbuilding philosophy, as you may know: Be it X-Yachts, Luffe, Hallberg-Rassy or Arcona Yachts, all of these brands have one thing in common and that´s the passion for real sailing and the no-compromise-attitude of some of them which is clearly something setting Scandinavian yachts apart from the large production boats companies. This year´s ancora Yachting Festival was a big showcase also for Scandinavian boats as well and this time I´ve chosen a specialty: The Nordship 380 DS.

That´s 38 feet of pure volume and long.range sailing capability

No, she is definitely not a comparison for a long stretched Luffe or a lightning-swift sailing rocket like the Arcona 465, this boat is a classic. Nordship is known for manufacturing one of the finest deck salon yachts in the small- and mid-size range with a very heavy emphasis on classy design and a ship like feeling. In this, the 380 DS inspired me to the subtitle of this post: She might be a Mini-Oyster for the Baltics (and even beyond). Let´s have a look though.

Meet the Danish interpretation of a classy deck salon yacht

The Nordship 380 DS comes with handy measurements: She is a true 38-footer with 11.60 metres length over all and max beam of 3.75 metres. She will have a draft of 1.80 metres – perfect for the shallow picturesque Danish harbours and is equipped with a 28.40 square metres self tacking jib and a 43.20 square furling mainsail. That´s 71.60 square metres of upwind sail area – a Dehler 38 with comparable measurements has just 8 square metres more. Well, of course, with 9.000 kilograms of displacement (of which 3.400 kilograms are ballast), the Nordship is carrying way more weight than the Dehler 38, that has 7.5 tons. But don´t compare apples to oranges …

The helmsman is separated from the guests – but mostly autopilot will steer anyway

The Nordship is a classy design from mast top to keel. Her most outstanding feature is the deck salon and the aft-cabin owner´s layout with on deck comes with the most appreciated center cockpit design. On the Nordship this cockpit is divided into the steering area where the helmsman is sitting (when there´s no auto pilot steering) and before the large single steering wheel the guest-area is situated. As known from other center cockpit boats, this means a snug, narrow and well protected cockpit – but barely space compared to the wide and open spaces that even 35 feet-yachts with aft-cockpits offer.

Center cockpit with single steering wheel

The main comes with a small mainsheet traveller which, the boat is of course equipped with finest Anderson winches. Besides, right here in the cockpit one gets an impression of the fine quality of the building of this boat: That´s a load of massive Teak here, no – I mean really! – no cheap thin veneers at all can be seen on the yacht. I liked the high coamings which will be perfect protection in heavy weather high over the water line (the boat has a huge freeboard) and near the pivotal point of the yacht.

High coamings: Safety at see and headroom below

That´s a tribute to the deck salon configuration because what makes the coamings from the outside is the walkway to the aft cabin inside underneath. That´s not different in the Nordship. This yacht comes as a two cabin boat with two bathrooms. The owners will be lodging in the aft cabin, guests or children in the fore cabin.

Duarble quality: Windows aren´t flush, but rigid

Can you see the similarity to other deck salon classics like the Oyster? I instantly thought that this small pocket-luxury cruiser might be a Mini-Oyster, optimized for long journeys especially in the Baltic Sea or the Scandinavian countries. Let´s have a look at the inside – and  believe me, she is a true beauty under deck!

A sensation of endless volume

One enters the salon and I was instantly overwhelmed by the snug atmosphere and the classy looks. “This is a ship!”, my colleague was shouting out looking at what Nordship had done here: There is not a single spot visible in this boat where you would see bare GRP. Not a single spot! The roofing panels are a work of art, so is the wooden interior. With a price of just around half a million Euros (!) This boat packs a real blow in terms of building quality!

Look at this view!

To the port side the raised salon is fitted with a large dining table. When sitting here people have a great view over the boat and out of the windows. The overall layout of the salon is simple: Port side the dining area, a bit recessed on starboard side there´s the navigation station and forward in the walkway to the fore cabin the large galley.

So much room in here – the deck salon of the Nordship is big time!

Around the table in the dining area I would say 5 to 6 people can sit down on the voluptuous cushion that is so comfortable that I didn´t even wanted to get up again. What struck me was the fact that everywhere some tiny little practical stuff was integrated, like grab handles. It shows that this boat is made for real sailors by real sailors.

Dining area with a perfect view

The nav station is exemplary. In times when more and more the chart table gets moved to the weirdest places, it´s a great relief to see that some brands still favour the seamanship of real skippers doing real skipper´s work. No matter how effective the tablet-PC and Navionics have supplemented the good old paper chart, I think a proper boat still needs a proper chart table. And here we are!

A nav station by the book, chapeau!

Allthough against all good seafaring tradition positioned starboard, I found the galley just adorable. There´s more than enough stowage for pans and pots, for pottery and stuff. The ship´s cook will find a safe stand wedged in here and because the galley is deep down and near the pivotal point of the boat he will be able to deliver a hot meal even in harshest conditions.

Huge galley. All aboard to feed the crew properly.

The aft walkway to the owner´s cabin at first appeared a bit awkward to me: On your way back aft there´s some 3 metres where – at first – I thought the yard was out of ideas and stuffed it with seats. Well, now, some days later, I understood that this area is a great place. It´s deep down below as well – compared to the lighty dining table, down here two captain´s chairs and a small seat facing each other are very cosy and inviting to have a glass of Rum and enjoy some pages of a new book. It´s a contrast to the salon, and a nice idea.

Captain´s chairs in the walkway aft

Here´s also the “engine room”, which in fact is a large massive wooden casing with proper sound insulation. Taking away the casing is a dream for every mechanic because the Volvo-Penta powerhouse is made fully accessible from all sides. Especially on long trips this makes maintenance very easy and a no-brainer.

Maintenance made easy

I really loved this layout as I instantly could imagine myself on a long journey here. The boat, although just 38 feet long, appears so big, so full of usable space. The rooms and areas all are different, there´s an interesting angle of view from and to every point of the boat. The Nordship 380 DS certainly is way, way, way bigger than all other boats of this size seen before. Really, a mini-Oyster in the best sense of the word!

This is 38 feet – can you believe it?!?

This of course as well comes with so many possible places to store stuff. Underneath the floorboards of the raised salon there´s easly 40 or more centimetres in height for stowing away stuff. By the way, I could very clearly see the steel cage and the massive counter plates of the keel here – again a sign for best quality of a boat like this.

Look at the huge stowage underneath the floorboards

Yes I know, 500.000 Euros is a big sum and Nordships are definitely rarely seen here around. This yard isn´t producing for the mass market, these boats are made for special people with a special vision. She is – so one of the yard representatives told me – the perfect boat for a longer journey and this not just refers to the miles sailed but to the years enjoyed. Owners buying a Nordship will be staying with the boat for much longer than skippers on, let´s say, the ordinary yachts from the big production companies. I can see why this is the case.

Two cabin luxury for long, long sailing trips

The best for last. Visiting the aft cabin I was reminded of a classic Clipper-tale more than of a yachtsmen´s story. The big voluminous aft cabin resembles more that of a proper ship than that of a GRP-sailing boat. It´s certainly not Oyster-style but more a reminiscence to the good old times. Again, so much stowage can be found here.

The aft cabin reminded me of a Clipper

I liked the fact that Nordship refrained from fitting island beds here. First there wouldn´t have been enough space for this for sure, but secondly I would say that island beds are fine in harbours but terrible when sailing heeled. In the Nordship the sleeper can lean on the closets to either side, no matter how hard the boat is heeling. The same applies for the fore cabin that is smaller, of course, but again a very classic design.

This not exactly, but mainly how my own fore cabin will be looking like soon

The only thing I disliked here was the fact that the forepeak did not offer a porthole window for at least a bit of natural light. Apart from the escape hatch in the roof this cabin could have very well deserved a window in the hull. That is no problem at all with modern GRP-hulls and should be a thing to consider for future iterations of this fine boat.

The pocket Oyster for the Baltics?

Yes and no. The Nordship is no Oyster and definitely does not want to be one. She is a kind of her own with her own character and style. But in a way she carries along with her so many properties which I as well love on the Oyster – this feeling of long distance sailing, this vastness of space, the luxurious interior and the focus on practicality and offshore sailing comfort. I could perfectly envision people sailing this boat for long trips and long times.

Have to sail one of these!

So in the end I say Goodbye to the Nordship and I am pleased to being invited to come and see the production – and maybe sailing one of these as well. As they said: “The boat may not be looking like, but she is sailing fantastic!” Well, they should know – for as the Nordship boats are made by the same company that is also building the fine Faurby Yacht. Stay tuned!


You might also like to read about these Danish yacht brands:

The Faurby 363E – classy upwind sailing Danish style

A day at Luffe yachts

Meeting X-Yachts CEO Kraen Brinck Nielsen