This month’s used boat report features the Nord Star 28 Patrol, a sturdy all-weather boat from one of Finland’s oldest brands.
In build: 2004 – present day
Price range: £70,000 – £200,000
Star quality: A rugged, multi-purpose, go-anywhere boat
Nicknamed “The Land of 1,000 Lakes”, (although the actual count is nearer 188,000), Finland is officially the Happiest Country on Earth according to a UN-sponsored survey.
Could that be because having all that water around gives the Finnish people ample justification, if ever any was needed, to go out and buy a boat?
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We suspect so, and given that a substantial number of Finns commute to work by boat, it comes as no surprise to learn this northerly nation with a population of just 5.5 million has more than its share of highly respected builders of ruggedly-constructed vessels.
Arguably one of the less well known of these, to UK boaters at least, is in fact one of Finland’s oldest: Nord Star. Started 101 years ago by Silvert Lindkvist, a builder of small wooden fishing boats, the company remains in the hands of its founding family to this day.
Over the years the firm progressed into the production of larger work boats, followed by day cruisers. In 1984, the first fibreglass boat was added to its portfolio and four years later the manufacture of Nord Star moulds began.
It would be another two decades before the subject of this review, the Nord Star 28 Patrol, made its debut. Introduced in December 2004, the 28 was part of a drive which would see the company launch a total of four vessels – 24, 26, 28 and 31 – in the space of just three years.
One remarkable aspect of the 28’s success is that since its launch there have been very few changes to its basic design – the model in production today is much as it’s ever been.
Apart from revisions to the hull strakes, the only other noteworthy change concerns the introduction of a cunning hidden access route into the aft cabin, which we’ll explore later.
So what is the Nord Star 28 Patrol for? With limited commuter application opportunities available over here, the company’s UK distributor, Hamble Point-based MCC Marine, tell us this gutsy little pilothouse craft is something of a Swiss Army knife – a multi-purpose all-rounder that’s great as a day boat, a weekender or, for that matter, longer trips away.
While our eyebrows raised at the “longer trips” suggestion, they soon dropped back into place when Jack Acres, owner of the example featured here, currently on sale with MCC Marine for £159,950, assured us the 28 Patrol is perfectly fine for lengthier tours of duty – he and wife Lesley regularly live aboard during trips of several days duration.
Prior to purchasing Suomi Maid, their Nord Star 28 Patrol, Jack and Lesley owned a Nimbus 380. “We were looking to downsize and opted for the Nord Star 28 as it’s beautifully designed and engineered,” Jack reports.
While the model ticked all the boxes for the couple at the time, they have come to feel they perhaps went a little too far and are now looking to upsize to a Nord Star 31. Nonetheless, as fans of the Nord Star brand, they speak enthusiastically of the 28’s numerous features and benefits.
“It’s a wonderful sea boat; a workhorse with the performance of a sportscruiser – sure- footed and with excellent sea keeping,” says Jack. “We purchased Suomi Maid just under two years ago with 200 hours on the clock, and we’ve almost doubled that since with no
major problems or issues.
She has a single 330hp Volvo D6 sterndrive engine which gives a top speed of 30 knots. Cruising speed is 25 knots and we’re up on the plane at 15-16 knots.” Although a single-engined boat, manoeuvring is no problem as it has the optional bow thruster fitted.
Other engines offered on the 28 Patrol include single Volvo Penta, Mercruiser and Yanmar inboard options spanning a range of power outputs from 320hp to 400hp, and twin Volvo Penta or Mercruiser installations offering from 440hp to 700hp.
Twin 300hp outboards, although something of a rarity on 28s, can also be specified. Overall, single engine options are the most prevalent.
Inside and out there’s no doubting the quality as, in common with other products from this neck of the woods, Nord Star boats are built to cope with the rigours of the Scandinavian climate.
Accordingly, they are robustly constructed to a high standard with durable materials used throughout; the interior woodwork, for example, will be either teak, walnut or varnished oak.
In terms of creature comforts, Jack’s boat is fitted with a Webasto heater, which keeps the entire vessel snug and warm – ideal for us softies living in the UK’s allegedly temperate climate!
Another Scandinavian trait in abundance here is safety. First and foremost, the Nord Star 28 Patrol has a walkaround deck flanked by reassuringly sturdy, large diameter handrails.
A mid-access gate on either side makes for easy access and the pilothouse sports roof-mounted grab rails. At the bow, while the dolphin-nosed pulpit viewed from the foredeck might look like Tom Daley’s springboard, it too is securely bounded by metalwork on both sides.
“All of this makes the 28 a very safe and easy boat to move around on,” says Jack. “One thing we particularly like about the walkaround deck is that you never have to take the fenders off – we just lift them up and tuck them on the walkways.”
Serious little ship
The pilothouse gives the Nord Star 28 Patrol its tough looks and rugged appeal, with the rearwards-raked, triple-pane windscreen adding to the vessel’s serious little ship appearance.
While three wipers are fitted, an overhang running around the roof keeps any irritating drips well away from the windscreens.
Sliding doors on either side provide unfettered access to and from the pilothouse and, as Jack points out, aids single-handed operation. That view is echoed by fellow 28 Patrol owner, Paul Gill.
“The side access is a real help,” he agrees. “There’s a mid-cleat just outside the starboard door, which means I can easily get a line onto the pontoon by myself. Add to that deep bulwarks and high guard rails, and you’ve got a very safe boat.”
Paul, a former sailor who is now on his second 28 Patrol, having moved up from a used example to a new one, also cites the balance Nord Star has achieved between accommodation and boat length as a key reason for choosing the brand.
“Size versus space is always a compromise, but I do feel they’ve done a great job on the 28,” he says.
A tour of the boat confirms Paul’s view. At the aft lies a surprisingly spacious outdoor seating area with a bench seat plus two individual seats at the rear quarters, beneath which are storage lockers, with the portside one housing the batteries.
The pilothouse roof extends back to partially cover the rear deck to which Jack and Lesley have added a custom-made bimini to provide greater protection. The bathing platform is also generous, and features a locker for the boat’s gas bottle.
All this exterior accommodation comes at a cost so space inside the pilothouse is at a premium. Priority has naturally been given to the helm, which is well thought out with controls logically placed within easy reach.
An all-round view is a defining feature of pilothouses and here the 28 Patrol scores highly. The helm seat has a bolster, and Jack assures us both the helm and passenger seat remain comfortable on longer journeys.
The Nord Star 28 Patrol has a Category B RCD rating for eight passengers. With a full complement aboard, the pilothouse would be something of a crowded house.
However, the horseshoe-shaped rear seating area does feature a clever pole-mounted table which raises to the roof to provide extra breathing space underway.
The galley lies three steps down through the companionway. This also leads to the heads and the forward cabin as well as a hanging locker.
While all are bijoux in size, Nord Star is an accomplished exponent of the boat builder’s art of packing an awful lot into a confined space. Nowhere below the forward deck feels unduly hemmed in – compact, yes, but claustrophobic, no.
The galley has an oven, hob, sink and storage space, but its cosy dimensions mean there’s no room for a fridge, which is fitted under the helm seat instead. Suomi Maid has Nord Star’s optional hot water system fitted.
While there is a sump for a shower, no shower head is fitted to this particular boat: “That would have been a job for next winter had we not been selling,” explains Jack.
The forward cabin features a V-berth with comfortable headroom above, and the hanging locker adjacent to the heads provides a reasonable amount of garment storage space for a vessel of this size.
Having now toured the boat, we were left with one question: where was the second cabin? With no obvious point of entry visible, we were left wondering if we had missed a doorway on the rear deck.
Not so, Jack revealed all by hinging the passenger seat up and over to reveal a hidden stairway. It is pure Alice in Wonderland stuff – a rabbit hole of an entranceway if ever there was one.
Down below, a full-size double bed awaits. Headroom in this aft cabin is limited but that aside, this is a second and perfectly usable sleeping space in a modestly sized boat which punches well above its weight.
The appeal of the Nord Star 28 Patrol is more than skin deep. Its no-nonsense heavy build and hull form make it a popular choice in Finland and Sweden.
The pragmatic design, robust finish and attention to detail should give this craft enduring longevity and help prop up values for years to come.
The hull form is quite deep-vee and the single engine rated maximum of 520kW with duoprop outdrive gives a healthy cruising speed of 20-34 knots.
Consumption at approx 26 knots should be around 45lph. These planing hulls provide speed, stability and a fun, sports boat feel.
Safe walkaround decks with high gunwales and handholds are a hallmark of this boat. The opening side gates and doors make for ease of use if single-handed.
The quality of original build is very good and prices should remain high for a well-kept example. Things to consider when buying are as follows:
- Check for evidence of blooming on the gelcoat, particularly any dark blue areas. It can usually be polished or compounded out, but if it is too far gone, this will be a constant annual chore.
- Carefully check the engine servicing history prior to purchase, not forgetting heat exchanger cleaning and crankcase breather filters etc. Again, a thorough sea trial will usually highlight potential issues here.
- All DP outdrives require strict maintenance routines, so check service records and anode wastage rates. When were bellows and seals replaced?
- Check the previous use of the boat. If it was used commercially, look for stress crazing in decks, gunwales and coachroof moulding.
- Ensure all the opening door, window and hatch slides and seals are clean, and regularly lubricated.
These are robust and powerful cruising boats. Provided you have a good relationship with your service agents, and you are happy with an outdrive-driven craft, she should make you a sound boat and a good investment.
– Chris Olsen MIIMS, Olsen Marine Surveying
Nord Star 28 Patrol specification
Designer: Nord Star
Hull type: Planing
RCD: B for 8 people
Current value: £70,000 – £200,000
LOA: 9.5m (31ft 2in)
Beam: 3.1m (10ft 2in)
Draught: 1.1m (3ft 7in)
Air draught: 3.6m (11ft 10in)
Fuel capacity: 400 / 585 litres depending on year (88/129 gallons)
Water capacity: 135 litres (33 gallons)
Performance: 1.8 litres (0.47 gallons) per nautical mile at 26 kn (manufacturer figure)
Cruising range: 260nm at 26kn with 20% reserve
Annual marina mooring on the Hamble River (UK) downstream of Bursledon bridge: £5,757
50 hours cruising at 25 knots would consume 1,800 litres.
What’s on the market?
Engine: 330hp Volvo Penta D6
Contact: MCC Marine
Engine: 370hp Volvo Penta D6
Location: St-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, France
Engine: 370hp Volvo Penta D6
First published in the December 2021 issue of MBY.
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