Lord Nelson 41 Review: Medieval Cruiser

Lord Nelson 41 Cutter Sailboat
Lord Nelson 41 Cutter Sailboat

Alton Brown has a TV show on Food Network. On this kooky show, Alton uses colorful and zany props to get across cooking concepts in a memorable way. When needs a powerful tool or sharp knife, he goes to the dungeon keeper in the basement of his house. “Yes, master” grovels the Dungeon keeper to Alton and seeks out the torturous tool he needs. I find the show and in particular this character hilarious. If the Dungeon keeper was a boat, he would be none other than a 41 Lord Nelson.

In 1980, Loren Hart went to the Seattle Boat Show and was inspired by the Nordic Tug 26. Two years later in 1982, he and his wife Lani Hart founded Lord Nelson Yachts headquartered in Seattle, Washington. While Loren’s inspiration was tugs, Loren began by designing a line of sailboats. These yachts included 35 and 41 footers. They contracted Tommy Chen who ran Hai O Yachts and Ocean Eagle Yacht Building in Taiwan. Soon, they moved onto tugs designed by Jim Backus along with guidance from Loren Hart. These tugs included 37, 41, and 49 footers. The Harts ran the company until 1988 when Lan Finley bought them out. Soon later, Tommy Chen, the yard owner bought out Finley. While most of the production was done in the 1980’s, Chen built tugs on a limited basis until at least 1999.

First Impressions
The 41 Lord Nelson is a medieval styled cruiser. From the bulwarks to the bowsprit, she is lined with fine Burmese teak. Later in production, Taiwan illegalized harvesting such teak from the 200 year old trees. The bowsprit is a 6 foot long 4 x 4 of allegedly some kind of African wood, yackel according to one owner. “The stuff is incredibly dense and larger than 4×4, especially at the base. I swear if it had fallen off the dock…it would have sank.” It is an old fashioned look with bronze fastenings and the old world wood. Her extreme sheer is like the that of the tug boats that they went on to build. The beam is amidships with moderate freeboard. The spoon bow with bobstay broadly expands for a spacious foredeck. The looks exudes character.

Underneath, she has a long full keel with attached rudder – a slow design but a stable, soft one at dock or in heavy seas. I would prefer at least a cutaway forefoot to slightly decrease the wetted surface. Inboard outer deck edge mounted shrouds and a single back stay support the single spreader cutter rig. A teak boom gallows and topping lift with traveler on cabin trunk are usual. The cabin trunk has 5 bronze portholes each side, 4 cowl vents on top. The trunk cabin nestles nicely into her curvaceous sheer. A molded rub rail with bronze cap protects her side.

The windlass particularly stuck out to me from the dock on the one I recently previewed. The windlass was mounted on top of the yackel log bowsprit. It used another log for support. The amount of wood was extraordinary. Besides the massive beams, the windlass itself looked from a museum. The windlass was maybe an 6 foot wide by 4 foot tall giant box with gypsy and wildcat port starboard. What an oversized beast she seemed compared to the windlasses of today.

Construction and What to Look For
Lord Nelsons are heavy, overbuilt cruisers nearing 30,000 pounds displacement. The teak decks and interior weight her down along with the bronze chainplates, portholes, chocks. The hull-deck is a bulwark style inset and planked with teak on the outside and screwed down through a genoa track. Stanchions mount to the inside of the bulwark. The mast is surprisingly deck stepped with a heart of Rosewood compression post. The compression post is oblong, shaped like the mast so that it seems like a covering. It is a characteristically odd feature on this odd boat. The ballast is encapsulated cast lead.

The deck layup is unusual. According to one owner, the deck has alternating longitudinal lengths of solid fiberglass and balsa cored fiberglass. The teak decks are fastened into the solid glass stringers. Says one owner, “The word on the deck itself, as I currently understand it, is that there are solid fiberglass stringers that accept the deck fasteners, with core in the areas between the stringers where there are no fasteners.” The cabin trunk is all cored. One owner found this out the hard way. He notes that a particularly vulnerable spot is the teak panels embedded in the cabin trunk. While the fasteners in the deck screw into glass, the fasteners on the cabin trunk screw into wood. After purchasing his LN 41, he had to take up the teak panels and dry out the cabintrunk because water seeped through the fasteners and soaked the core.

The teak decks are likely wearing down and need work. The one I saw had most of the teak removed except in the cockpit. Removing the teak takes away from her charm but is the logical move in southern climates. In the Pacific Northwest or New England areas, the deck may be better preserved. Refinishing a teak deck can cost up to $100,000 more than many 41 Lord Nelsons are worth on the used market. With all her teak, this is a high maintenance yacht. Even without the teak decks, all the trim and the interior will need your attention.

41 Lord Nelson Sailboat Layout
41 Lord Nelson Sailboat Layout

On Deck
Without cars along the side decks, I enjoyed walking along the traditionally skinny sides. Instead genoa tracks are mounted on the bulwarks and another set on the cabintrunk for the staysail. I noted diesel access port and starboard with two water tanks to port and another to starboard. There is not a cockpit locker forward only the windlass and the yackel bowsprit. There are not any deck lazarettes either. The foredeck is broad and dry easily fitting a dinghy. Teak boom gallows are in front of the cockpit. A traveler track is there as well. These are cutter rigged with ease of singlehanding. The one I previewed had belaying pins amidships with a teak fixture mounted on the cabintop. Belaying pins are in essence movable cleats and not often seen these days. You fasten halyards to the pins like you would with cleats.

The aft cockpit lined with teak is uncomfortably seaworthy. The rather abrupt seat angles, cramped legroom, and high combings are not the best. The benches are not long enough to lie down on. For the helm, you sit on a storage box lavished in teak. The steering wheel had a wood rim and teak binnacle on the one I saw. Lazarettes are along the backside of the teak cockpit. Some seemed frozen shut on the below average conditioned Lord Nelson I previewed. Two screened large circular portholes are port and starboard the companionway. The companionway has a long trunk top with two teak louvered swing doors.

Down Below
When I walked below, the first thing I saw was plaque mounted on a teak grate sole that said “Dungeon.” That triggered my thoughts about Alton Brown’s character. The interior has two berths aft. The starbardside berth is a stateroom with a plaque that says “Master” keeping with the medieval torture room motif. Throughout the interior is lined with teak like a Cabo Rico. A galley is portside from the companionway with the navigation station starboardside. For seating at the navigation station, you sit on a straight settee forward. A fixed table and U-shaped settee is port in the saloon. Forward portside is the head. Forwardmost is a portside double in the forward stateroom. It is a great layout.

Lord Nelson Engine Access
Lord Nelson Engine Access

Engine and Underway
The engine was unusual, a 50 HP BMW. Most LN have been repowered, and if not, you might want to budget that into your purchase as these BMW’s are reportedly undesirable. The access is from the companionway and a lazarette aft. It was dark and getting late…and I just did not dive back into the port cabin to check out if there is side access. The companionway structure or “stair puzzle” is bulky and complicated to take off and store while looking at the engine front.

A poster on Cruiser forum writes the Lord Nelsons are “very well built, well-designed boats, but are no major performers. They sail OK and have lots of room aboard.” With their full keel-attached rudder and 30,000 pound displacement, Lord Nelsons are ocean going tanks, and I would expect them to be slow in light airs. But a stout boat is nice in the trades.

Like Alton Brown’s dungeon guy, the Lord Nelson has medieval torture room flair. You cannot find teak like the Burmese that lines these classic yachts. On the used market, these sell for around $100,000 and are beautiful when maintained with an open checkbook.

2 Replies to “Lord Nelson 41 Review: Medieval Cruiser”

  1. I have lived aboard (full time) my Lord Nelson for 28 years and I am still in love with her. Its like the plump girl with a pretty face at a dance…..you pass her by for the first hour or two and when you finally dance with her she floats in your arms.  A  good set of sails (North) raises her level of performance, once you find where  to buy BMW parts the engine is super reliable (mine has way over 10,000 hrs).  Yes the teak decks leak….buy the tool and a caulking gun and use it, when the weather  is nice sit on top of  the lazarette doors with your legs in the cockpit and when its cold and wet enjoy the closeness and protection of the cockpit.

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