Featured Nordhavn: N6206 Gray Matter

This month's Featured Nordhavn is N6206 - Gray Matter.  Christine Guo and Mark Mohler, owners of Gray Matter, took a few minutes out of their busy schedule to answer a few questions about their N62.  I hope you enjoy this month's feature - the pictures that Christine sent over are fantastic!

Why Nordhavn and why an N62?

We had spent years sailing and completed a couple of passages from San Francisco to Los Angeles and back, and knew we wanted a pilothouse / inside steering.   When started to look further, traveling distances and having a boat to dive from with plenty of power and water - the long range trawler offered so much more.   We loved the look of the N62 with the aft pilothouse.

Did you look at other Nordhavn's prior to making the decision to buy/build Gray Matter?  If so, what other Nordhavn’s did you look at?

Originally we were set on the N50.   We liked the efficiency and lower profile, and we nearly made an offer on one N50.   We found Gray Matter (ex Feeling), which had some differed maintenance and felt if we could buy N6206 at the right price it would be worth putting the money in to make her seaworthy. 

Is there anything specific about Gray Matter that made your decision to buy her over another Nordhavn easier?

We liked the classic look of the pre-bussle N62s.  We also looked at Saumlaki at the time but felt Gray Matter was in better shape, and would be a good long term living situation for us.

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

We have added most of things Gray Matter didn't have that we coveted on other Nordhavns - upper deck bimini cover (with solar), fast center consol tender; I would say the one thing we might consider adding in the future is a smaller 6 - 8kw generator.   For now we run our 20kw about an hour day if we have a good solar day.

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

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

We love the look, and so many people ask us about the boat - wherever we go.   We also love the efficiency - with the Caterpillar 3306 - and rather conservative power / speed requirements - we just hum along at 8.3 knots 5.5gph.   We usually adjust the power to hold the 8.3k - which puts us right on 200 mile passage days.

If you ever decide to upgrade to another boat, what would be your first choice and why?

Everyone that has a boat always contemplates the next boat.   I think we'd give serious consideration to a newer N62.   We'd never use the space in the N76 and we'd complain about the fuel burn.  The N63 is nice - we've been on one and there are some nice improvements, but I think we'll be hard pressed to give up Gray Matter anytime soon.

Do you have a favorite destination you've been with Gray Matter? What made it special for you?

We have many special moments; Desolation Sounds, Sea of Cortez, Tuamotos, but if we were to go back to somewhere we've been - it would be Fiji.   Best diving, friendly people, nice infrastructure - hard to beat Fiji.

What is the longest single voyage you have undertaken?  Did you do anything special to prepare for this particular voyage?  If so, what did you do and why?

We spent 9 months cruising from San Francisco to Brisbane Australia.   We didn't have as much time as most to prepare, so we spent 3 months in Sea of Cortez before crossing the ocean, to make sure we knew the boat and we were comfortable with the systems.  When we met Ken Williams in Cabo San Lucas, while we felt ready, we knew we'd never know as much as Ken when we left for French Polynesia.   We were confident we had a good boat and we would learn as we went, and the trip was spectacular.

What is your biggest worry when you are at sea?

That's an easy one - main engine failure.   Second - stabilizer failure.   In our boat without the main engine we do not have the Naiad stabilizers operating from the wing engine - so it would a long passage without them.   Third - lightning strike.

What about when you are at anchor?

On our first time away from the dock, we met James and Jennifer Hamilton on Dirona in the San Juan Islands.   James always says - scope and more scope, and we usually anchor with plenty of swing room and 5:1+ of scope.   Obviously - wind shifting to a lee shore and anchor dragging is everyone's worry.  For us we have a bunk room in the pilothouse, and I'll just sleep up there where I can see the instruments and out all the pilothouse windows from the bunk.

What do you think has been you biggest mistake during your ownership of Gray Matter?

Finding people you trust to work on the boat, the right people will spend your money wisely, the wrong people will cost you a lot and not fix the problem.   We were lucky to learn this lesson early, and use the Nordhavn N62 network extensively when we contemplate having work done.

What about you biggest triumph?

The trip to Brisbane had many challenges, but overall that was an accomplishment that will forever change Christine and my perspectives.

Now that you have owned Gray Matter for awhile, what would you say is the best advice you could give to a potential first-time Nordhavn owner?

My best advice would be to not try to buy the perfect boat.   Buy a boat that is the foundation of what you like and then spend time (and money) to make it the way you like it.  Buying after the first part of the depreciation curve and investing seems to work for us.

Who are the owners of Gray Matter? Please tell a little about you.

Mark works in Silicon Valley at a large semiconductor company in a senior finance role.   His love for boats and boating came from summers on the Great Lakes.    Travel and adventure came from his parents who dragged the family all over US / Canada and Mexico.

Christine is a scientist doing research on the brain.  Her current work keeps her in Brisbane, but is flexible enough to travel to the US frequently.   Her love for the water started with swimming and growing up in central China miles from the ocean.   She has a passion for the ocean like no one else, and nothing beats a day on Gray Matter.

Who in the boating world has made the biggest impact on you?

Like many, we spent hours on Nordhavn Dreamers in the beginning learning about the boats, about the people and about the adventures.   We looked up to people like Ken Williams who so selflessly spends time educating those of use coming up the curve.  We have also grown to respect the many people that are out cruising their Nordhavns and just do it.

Has your website ever been recognized for anything like Nordhavn's Blog of the Month?

Our website (like many) was started mostly to keep our friends and family up to speed about our adventures.   We usually blog more about our activities than about the boat, but every now and then add some technical details.

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?  (Be creative - this is a fun exercise!)

Ok - going off script here....    there's no question Nordhavn changed the way we can see the world, they brought to all of us lucky enough to own one of their boats the opportunity to explore places in a way that includes safety and comfort only afforded a very few.   We are really intrigued with cruising faster.   We know that weather windows are often 3 - 5 days and the ability to cover 500 miles a day makes a big difference.   I would think about something to compete with FPB - efficient fast - I think this is the next paradigm shift.

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