Nord Star 31 Patrol

The Nord Star 31 is a great all-weather cruiser.

We Say: This boat is part of a microtrend of Scandinavian all-weather cruisers now hitting the American market. Its defining character, as with the others, is its midship pilothouse and protected, wraparound decks. You ride inside, with no outdoor cockpit in the traditional sense. Forget wet bars and sun pads. But inside you get dieselfired heating, air conditioning, a head with shower, a full galley and two twinberth cabins with an extra berth in the pilothouse. Europeans like company, so there's creative use of every square millimeter of living space, which may feel a little too cozy for super-size crews.

What the boat is really about is getting there, no matter what. In Europe it is rated “B-offshore” for use in winds up to 46 mph and waves to 13 feet. Its moderate 18 degrees of deadrise aft is offset with a fine bow to give a smooth ride. The V is carried aft enough so that the boat leans sharply in turns. It's fast but could be faster with a different propset, as our test engine didn't reach its maximum rpm.

Yes, it's pricey. But it's beautifully built, has a long list of standard gear and will keep you on the water yearround — amortizing its cost over more in-use months.

Who'd Want One: Any boater in the Pacific Northwest, Great Lakes region or north of the Carolinas on the eastern seaboard who never wants the season to end.

Another Choice: The Minor 31 is another all-weather cruiser from Finland, with pilothouse and aft cockpit — $256,000 with similar power.

Bottom Line: $356,000, www.nordstarusa.com