You could spend more on a 37-footer but not get more, certainly not such a high degree of customisation, performance and space. Northshore is to be commended.
Issue: September 2000
Manufacturer: Northshore Yachts
My beloved bottle of Grange Hermitage lay deep in the cool, dark cellar beneath my father's house, every year or so being carefully rotated to ensure the cork remained moist but otherwise remaining undisturbed. A gift from a friend, the Grange was given under the strict instructions "You are to save this until my 50th birthday". It had survived numerous drunken parties, a wedding, and the arrival of my first-born daughter. Finally my mate reached his half-century. After 13 years in hibernation my bottle was brought out, along with three others that had been similarly distributed.
As a variety of hearty casseroles simmered on the stove, the bottles were lined upon the table like Royal Guards. I was pensive. My little wine booklet listed the value at $500 per bottle and all day I'd been plotting how I could substitute it for a Long Flat Red and sell the real wine. My mates wouldn't notice the difference. I could barely watch as the corkscrew twisted deep into the bottle's neck... and withdrew nothing but crumbly cork. A second plunge brought up more of the same.
Some deft work with a kitchen knife by our host's 12-year-old son had the remainder of the recalcitrant cork cleared, with only 20 or so chunks left floating in the bottle. The wife's best pantyhose were then commandeered to serve as a strainer. A class act, this one. This process was repeated on three of the four bottles, only one cork extracting as it should, and finally the tantalising moment of tasting was upon us. Penfold's finest, nay one of the world's finest. A sip. A pause to savour. It tastes like, hmmm... smooth, spicy, flavoursome. A very nice red.
That was it. For all the hype and grandeur surrounding Grange, at the end of the day it is wine. Admittedly it left us with a wonderful warm, mellow feeling, and no one suffered a hangover, but unless you're a connoisseur or filthy rich I'd suggest a $50 bottle would've sufficed.
If there was a nautical equivalent of the $50 bottle in the production yacht world, it would perhaps be the new Northshore 370. Some upmarket European marques - representing the Grange Hermitages - may overshadow the Northshore in the prestige stakes but essentially don't offer that much more... only price. The 370 is a Euro-style design by Scott Jutson that is hand-made, indeed tailor-made, by skilled shipwrights and craftsmen at Northshore's NSW Central Coast factory. Its fibreglass hull is fully hand-laid (no chopper gun) to a mid-tech spec - balsa and foam, in thicknesses varying from 12mm to 25mm, are sandwiched by vinylester-impregnated mat. The keel is stainless steel with a lead bulb for stiffness, efficiency and longevity. The rigging is dieform, and the electrical wiring all coated. Harkens are the standard winches and there is a smattering of Spinlock jammers and turning blocks. Hatches are Lewmar and total 14. The mast is a homegrown Whalespar, keel stepped and superbly engineered. In other words, it is all world-class quality.
This is a significant boat for Northshore in more ways than one. Having rebuilt its name on the strength of its existing range of yachts, which date back to the '80s, it was a major step going for an all-new design. Northshore's previous designer, Hank Kauffman, is now a horse breeder so Jutson was chosen. He delivered a modern yet moderate cruiser/racer hull form, one that's long on the waterline, reasonably beamy (3.72m), well-balanced and easily driven, while also having ample interior volume. Displacement is 4750kg, of which 1450kg is lead ballast, and the standard keel draws 2.20m. Atop this is a relatively high but well-rounded coachroof that arches back into the coamings. In two-dimensional sideplan view it doesn't look so pretty; in life-size 3D it's fine. The high coamings create excellent seating positions adjacent to the companionway, offering shelter and a comfortable backrest... one could almost get away without a dodger.
The cockpit is long (at least by European standards) and wide. Since both the traveller and primary winches are atop the cabin, the cockpit is devoid of ropes and interruptions. This means that at least eight people could sit for drinks, while only two are needed to sail her. There is a huge amount of storage space beneath the cockpit floor for fenders etc. You can even drop down to service the Edison CD-i steering quadrant. Gas bottles, meanwhile, fit neatly into lockers incorporated in the swim platform, with the lids doubling as seats. For'ard, a rugged stainless steel bowroller leads to a large anchor locker containing a Muir windlass. The Harken headsail furler sits above deck, one of my pet hates because the genoa tack is high and the drum breaks the deck's clean lines.
Also somewhat cumbersome were the chainplates, being mounted virtually in the middle of the sidedecks - the headsail sheets inside the shrouds, allowing the cabin sides and chainplates to be pushed out. It was possible to pass either side, or even through the two stays, but they were inconvenient nonetheless. No such intrusion exists down below. Jutson is tall so when you ask for full headroom he gives 6ft8in (two metres)! It creates a tremendous sense of spaciousness and airiness throughout the saloon, as well as enhancing access to the twin aft cabins and for'ard stateroom. In all three cabins you can stand and pull up your trousers.
Through the use of handcrafted teak cabinetry, and with little in the way of fixed internal mouldings, the saloon layout can be customised to the owner's demands. Boat 1 was conventional, with an L-shaped galley to starboard, nav station to port, then parallel settees with a large drop leaf table between them. The solitary shower/head compartment was for'ard of the bulkhead.
Boat 2, which we tested, employed a similar arrangement to that of the Beneteau 40.7 - that it works at 37ft can be attributed to cabin's height and width. It has twin heads, the second being adjacent to the starboard-side aft cabin. It also had a longitudinal galley instead of a settee; a bolster seat slides out from beneath the dinette table to increase seating to five or six. The nav table faced aft, using the rear seat of the dinette settee.
Galley storage, particularly for crockery and cooking ware, was lacking in both instances. But owners can have more built in if desired, and therein lies the beauty of the modular cabinetry system. The engine, a three-cylinder 29hp Nanni diesel, resides inside a moulded cover, over which a three-step companionway ladder slots. There's also an odds-and-ends locker, accessed by reaching through the top rung.
The diesel, incidentally, has a saildrive with two-bladed folding prop, perhaps not the first choice of bluewater sailors but perfectly suited to a yacht that will sail the pants off most long-range cruisers. In current Jutson form, the 370 has a powerful high-aspect fractional rig with twin swept-back spreaders and adjustable backstay, negating the need for runners. The mainsail carries the bulk of working sail, 40sq m as opposed to 30.5sq m for the 107% headsail.
In 5-10 knots of breeze the Northshore slipped along well, creating minimal disturbance along the hull sides and from the transom. It could also be pointed quite high if needed, although it felt better with freed sheets. The steering was fingertip light and positive.
The mark of a true sailing yacht is the ability to perform in light airs, and the Northshore did well. A seabreeze of 12-15 knots then kicked in briefly and the 370 began to dance over the swells at around six knots. The deep, fine-entried bow cut a merry swathe and the ballast kicked in early to minimise heel.
Unfortunately I was taking photographs at this time but colleague Barry Tranter was on the helm: "As we reached the open sea the breeze filled in and the boat began to pick up speed. She encountered the ocean swell with an easy motion and you could feel that, because of the long waterline, this 37-footer is quite a big boat and is capable of generating a lot of power. It should be capable of going places pretty fast and in considerable comfort."
My summation ? A very nice boat. Smooth, spicy, flavoursome. And one that should do well with ageing thanks to the integrity of its build. And at around $250,000, as tested, it is right on the money. You could spend more on a 37-footer but not get more, certainly not such a high degree of customisation, performance and space. Northshore is to be commended.
Story & Photos by Mark Rothfield