Issue: April 1999
Manufacturer: Northshore Yachts
A quick way to get an idea of a boat’s attributes (or shortfalls) is to talk to the owner, who has lived with his craft for some time and has become familiar with its foibles.
The owner of the Northshore 460 we spoke to had started shopping among the 40-footers, as he figured that was the upper limit of what he and his wife could handle together for recreational sailing.
Friends would be available from time to time but, as we all know, friends aren’t always there when you decide on short notice that you have time for a sail. You are often thrown back onto whatever crewing resources the family can provide.
Cockpit size was also to be an important factor in his choice. Until relatively recently, production yachts were judged according to their ‘caravanability’ – the number of berths relative to overall length. In our climate, no one goes below in a yacht, while day or weekend sailing, unless he or she has no choice. The Northshore 460 avoids the caravan factor because it is big enough to be comfortable both indoors and out, so no compromise is demanded in either sphere. Of course, discussing size brings up the unfortunately closely-related subject of pricing. This boat can be ordered with a near-custom interior (within reason, says the builder) for a base price of $384,000, or around $400k with a few options, which makes it strong value for money, and places it right in that 40-footer territory. To my mind, yachts fall naturally into the following size categories; up to 25ft, 25-30ft, 30-38ft, and over 40. When you get to 46ft, the size of the Northshore 460, you are well into the realm of the big boat.
Big boats do things differently – they go faster with less fuss, they generate an atmosphere of real power (I’m referring to the boat here, though it often applies equally to the owner) and there’s a lot of room down below. That’s why people aspire to big boats. That’s why some people even aspire to maxi yachts; when a maxi starts to gather speed the atmosphere of sheer grunt overcomes all reserve and presumably wipes from the owner’s memory the cost of the last blown-out spinnaker or the latest rule-inspired hull modifications. The Northshore 460 was designed by Hank Kauffman some 15 years ago now, following the then Northshore house style of conservative, timeless hulls with relatively slender proportions, modest displacement and concession to no rating rules. This style was set by the 38 and then the 33, both of which are still benchmarks for club racers and weekend sailers in many parts of the country.
The 460 is a conservatively-styled yacht, with a modest hull profile and dimensions, and an all-teak fitout below, brightly-finished and avoiding the wood-cave atmosphere an all-teak fitout can create. Perhaps this is because the headliner is white, while the floor is of a near-white ash with teak splines, but the biggest factor may be that the boat’s interior carries no less than 19 opening hatches throughout, augmented in the coachroof by fixed windows. As mentioned earlier the layout below can be varied by the owner but the boat we saw had three private cabins – two in the stern quarters and one in the bow, all of them BIG. You know you’re on a big boat when you realise that, in addition to the cabins, there’s room in the layout for two bathrooms, and opposite the forward bathroom, against the starboard hull side, is a bonus sleeping area, two berths in a stacked bunk arrangement. The base of the upper berth folds down so the area can be a sailbin, as the forecabin occupies all the space up front.
The galley is down the starboard side, difficult to work while sailing, but surely day-sailing (this particular boat’s primary role) involves no more than boiling the billy when at anchor. The builders have created a neat bit of space utilisation by placing on slides the small dining seat near the centreline; when not in use it pushes under the table. Everyone has their own answer to the handling problems set by the need to sail large boats short-handed.
The Oceanis 411 I sailed recently was set up for the role of leisure sailing, with no competition planned, so it combined an in-mast furled mainsail with furling jib and electric sheet winches. The Northshore has a furling headsail, a boom stowage and lazyjack arrangement for the main, and an electric main halyard winch. The Lewmar headsail winches are manual, but in a pinch the headsail sheets can be led to the halyard winch, which is mounted on the coachroof. I have never lived with a furling headsail (the time is approaching rapidly) but I guess it is easy enough to reduce sail until you can handle it with the manual winches, without slipping a disc. Or roll it away altogether and start the engine (on this boat, 50hp Yanmar Saildrive, with optional Hydralign feathering prop).
Certainly the boom stow and electric halyard winch combination is an idea that works, and offers the advantage of allowing you to chose the mainsail shape you want (if you are so inclined) rather than one compromised by the mechanical requirements of the furler. We sailed the Northshore 460 in only a light nor’easter, when it behaved as a 9500kg boat should when driven by 92sq m of sail. This hull should have a moderate wetted surface, and the 11.90m of waterline (39ft) helped her move easily and with grace in light airs. More than that I cannot tell, but the hull has a seakindly shape that should not betray its crew when the weather is less benign than on our test sail. I come back to what I said earlier about big boats. In light airs this Northshore felt subdued, but the instruments, or a glance over the side at the wake, confirmed that it was moving at good speed. This is what the 460 is about – providing plenty of speed for the dollar, and in a style that is uniquely Australian. This latter observation came as a bit of a shock; I didn’t know we had one …
Words by Barry Tranter.