Featured Nordhavn: N4748 Ghost Rider

I'm sad to report that Ghost Rider was lost due to an accident involving a rock jetty.  Over a period of several hours, it sank from complications resulting from the grounding.  Ghost Rider was recovered but has since been declared a total loss.  My prayers go out to the owners of Ghost Rider, Rick and Michelle Riordan.
This month's Featured Nordhavn is N4748 - Ghost Rider.  Owned by Rick Riordan and his wife, MIchelle, Ghost Rider represents their first foray into Nordhavn ownership.  Rick was kind enough to answer a few questions and share a bunch of pictures from Ghost Rider's pre-launch repairs (scroll to the bottom).  Thank you Rick and Michelle for taking time out to answer some questions!

Why Nordhavn and why an N47?

We spent two years researching and based upon the type of boating we wanted to do it came down to either Nordhavn or Kadey-Krogen. Both are very fine boats. Within our initial budget / size range (47’ to 55’) it was a very difficult decision. But when we finally narrowed it down to the 47’/48’ bracket, the Nordhavn won out on several characteristics that were important to us – pilot house design & ergonomics, stateroom layout, engine room , and the Portuguese bridge. 

What other vessels did you look at before making the decision to purchase Ghost Rider? 

Better question might be what did we not look at? Early on, before we got better educated on blue water voyaging, we looked at every trawler that made any kind of boat show appearance. But once we focused in on the purpose-built boat for long distance, blue water sorties, the picture became more focused. The final year before we pulled the trigger was strictly a fly-off between NH & KK. 

Is there anything specific about Ghost Rider that made your decision to buy it over another Nordhavn easier? 

Yes….former & original owners, John & Diane, took great care of the vessel, it was in excellent condition for an 8-year old boat, and it was very well equipped with some high-end options. Any boat is always some kind of compromise, and buying a brokerage boat even more so, but we were certain it was the best option for our interests, needs and budget. It had all the major features that we were seeking which could not be said of the other options on the market at the time. 

What repairs and retro fits did you do to Ghost Rider to get it ready? 

Well, that list is long (and ultimately pricey), but it’s best to divide them into three categories. The first would be some items that needed immediate attention, although to be fair there were not many given the great care the boat had received….some batteries needed refreshing, acid washing the keel cooler, servicing the chilled water system, new exhaust blanket, zinc replacements, things such as that…which are normal “wear & tear” items on a 8 year-old boat. The second would be things we wanted to add on – such as a ship’s PC with Nobeltec and WxWorx, a second radar unit, an additional MFD on the fly bridge, a stern thruster, a backup autopilot pump, and upgraded engine room fans. The third had to do with (many) things that related to our desire to start with a clean slate and known quantity….new belts, exhaust blanket and gaskets, main engine shaft, cutlass bearing, zincs, hoses, exhaust elbows, siphon breaks, davit line, stuff like that. 

If you could change one thing about Ghost Rider or add something that you saw on another Nordhavn, what would you change and why? 

That’s a tough question…we’ve modified quite a bit already. Deep down I sometimes dream about several more feet of LWL with the hull efficiency of the N50 or N57, and / or the cockpit space of the N52 and its additional fuel capacity. I say that partly in jest, but it is true that the a bit more hull speed and range would be highly desirable. 

On the other side of this same question, what is your favorite thing about the N47? 

I am amazed by the capabilities that Nordhavn has managed to pack into an ocean going trawler that measures only 47 LOD & 51 LOA. The entire package is my favorite thing about the N47. 

If you ever decide to upgrade from the N47, what is your first choice and why? 

Goodness, I don’t even want to contemplate that right now. After the time, energy & dollars we invested in finding and configuring this boat, our central thought is learning all there is to know about operating it safely, yet close enough to the edge of its envelope to maximize our investment and enjoyment.

I understand you are new to Nordhavn ownership. It seems to be common for new owners to have a special destination for the first long term trip planned. Where are you going or have you already been? What makes/made it special for you? 

Our most special destination thus far has been getting Ghost Rider to her home in Fort Myers (from Palm Beach, we went “outside” around the horn). After almost two months on the hard, and then another two weeks dockside to complete her retrofits, finally getting out on the water and cruising to our home was just so very satisfying. But our plans for the next year are modest – up & down the U.S. east coast as we continue to learn the boat and get her dialed in. The following year or two will be Bahamas, then the Caribbean. After that we may want to cross an ocean….a long time ago I remember posting on the Dreamer’s site that I’d crossed oceans in an ejection seat, and now wanted to do that in a Stidd chair. We’ll figure out which one once we know more about our boat and our capabilities. If health and wealth hold up, we’ll be at this for a while. 

What is your biggest worry when you are at sea? 

I find being at sea very relaxing. It’s during all the preparatory stages where some stress (and maybe worry) enters the picture. Certainly one has to be ready for all sorts of eventualities and contingencies while cruising, but that’s really the fun part. 

What about when you are at anchor? 

I absolutely love being at anchor. First of all the boat has a fantastic hook on her (a 100# Manson Supreme) that – if you set it properly – will hold in almost any condition. You get to pick your spot, there is nobody telling you where you have to go park the beast, or what you can or cannot do. In contrast, marinas are (excuse the language) generally a pain in the ass….regardless of the detail of your preparatory calls and reservations, they will put you in spots or have rules that antagonize the hell out of you. Don’t get me wrong – it isn’t about close quarters maneuvering…the N47 is a relatively simple boat to handle even in the tightest spaces. It’s all about the hassle (or lack of it.) 

What do you think has been you biggest mistake during your ownership of Ghost Rider? 

So far the dumbest thing I’ve done is turn on the air conditioning system without opening the corresponding sea cock. The system has a shutdown protection mechanism that prevents damage when there is no water flow, but it’s generally not a good idea to test that sort of thing, especially when it’s 90F degrees outside. The restart option was buried deep in a menu system that took us a whole day to figure out, and only after a few phone calls to much smarter people than I. 

What about your biggest triumph? 

That was just getting to this point of owning her & having so much fun with her. Not embarrassing myself while training with Captain Bernie was also a selfish highlight. 

Being Ghost Rider's new owner, what would you say is the best advice you could give to other first-time Nordhavn owners? 

I don’t think I’m one to be giving advice….we’re far too new to this for that. But there are two moves that in our situation have served us well. The first was to engage an experienced buy-side broker to help educate us further on these specialized vessels, represent our interests, and also guide us through the evaluation and purchase process. (That was Jeff Merrill, who is a real gem.) The second was to hire an experienced instructor for the first few weeks of ownership and operations; while a N47 is the low / simple end of the Nordhavn line, it is still a complex beast that requires order and discipline for the learning process. We hired Captain Bernie Francis….we got outstanding bang for the buck, and he was absolutely instrumental in building our knowledge base and confidence very quickly.

Click below to view previous features!
ADWORLD                      INFINITY
GHOST RIDER                PENDANA

Who is Rick Riordan? Please tell a little about yourself. 

I worked as an auto mechanic when I was earning my way through college, so I’m not totally inept when it comes to mechanical aptitude, but I’ve got a lot of catch-up training to plow through when it comes to diesel powerplants. My first job out of college was as a USAF pilot, flying a variety of combat aircraft for about 10 years, primarily B-52’s (also a complex beast), with an occasional stint as a go-fast pilot in smaller aircraft. After my separation from the service I got into the Information Technology arena (30+ years), so I am comfortable and fairly fluent with computer hardware & software. My biggest accomplishment and joy – apart from raising three wonderful children -- was meeting Michelle fairly late in life and building a terrific life together. While I get bored easily when not on an adventure of some sort, she is even more of an adventurer than I am, and, I might add, just as good operating and maneuvering boats as I. In that regard, Bernie Francis told me “you have no idea how lucky you are.” Actually I do know. 

Who or what would you say made the biggest impact in your decision to buy an adventure cruising class vessel? Why would you say that person has made an impact on you personally? 

In the pre-purchase stage that would be my soul mate, Michelle. Her passion for this particular adventure was infectious and the resultant dreaming and anticipation was huge fun. 

Right behind that, however, I’d need to mention Jeff Merrill. His wise, experienced and objective advice was instrumental in reinforcing and encouraging our ideas, while also educating us on some very key differences between various models and option packages. I don’t think I can over emphasize the importance for first-time buyers to have an advocate in their corner who can also help you navigate the maze of the purchasing process. Finally, he also provides more post-purchase training as part of the deal, wherein he imparts years of accumulated wisdom from the larger Nordhavn owner community. 

Do you have a blog or other website for talking about your adventures on Ghost Rider? If not, would you please share an interesting story involving a place you've been with Ghost Rider? 

No web site or blog just yet, but that’s in the plan – mostly to keep friends and family apprised of where we are and what we’re doing. We purchased a domain name (MV-GhostRider) for that purpose, and eventually will give that whole web site thing a shot. 

So I’ll also toss in an “interesting story”. On our first solo mission after getting the boat over to Fort Myers, we took the boat up the coast to Useppa Island and anchored out for the night. The next morning we sortied down to Captiva and South Seas Resort / Marina to enjoy a long weekend with our old Grady-White boat club. They tucked us in close to a sea wall, and at low tide later in the afternoon our keel was sitting on the bottom. So we may be the first Nordhavn ever to go aground for the first time while docked at a 5-star marina. Thankfully it was barely touching and we moved it the next morning with no further issues. In the end it was my fault for not checking the depth vs. the tide charts. 

For my last question, let's have a little fun: You are CEO of PAE/Nordhavn for a day with full authority and any decisions you make are guaranteed to be completed - what would you do? 

One item probably would be changing up some things around the commissioning process. While it did not affect us – we couldn’t afford a new build – I’ve heard some feedback that indicates it is often a long and somewhat painful and frustrating process. In contrast, Kadey-Krogen owners that we’ve met mostly praise how it’s done there. Am betting there are some lessons to be learned there. 

From a quality perspective there are a few areas that I would change up – in particular the main engine shaft should be an Aquamet 22 stainless, not the 17-grade that we replaced. Along the same lines, the grey and black water panels and switches seem downright finicky, if not brittle…there’s no quicker way to torque off the Admiral and ruin your whole ownership experience than to have malfunctions with your sewage systems. 

Thank you for your time! Best of luck in your future ventures! 

It has been my pleasure. Michelle and I wish all the Dreamers the same good fortune as we’ve experienced.

Rick has offered to chat and answer any questions, one-on-one, with anyone looking to turn your dream into reality.  Please Click Here and I will get you in contact with Rick by email.
Rick and Michelle have since started a blog site.  The site is in it's infancy but is a great start:  http://www.mv-ghostrider.com
Rick also shared a bunch of pictures of Ghost Rider detailing access to various systems throughout the boat, shown below.
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