Nor’West 33

Wondering what a Nor’West 33 cruising sailboat looks like?


When I first saw the listing for a Nor’West 33 for sale, in Mexico, I thought “A 33′ boat almost in our price range? That’s interesting. But what the heck is a Nor’West 33?”

Putting my google-sleuthing-skills to use, I set about tracking down every reference to Nor’Wests that I could find. If you’re interested, the links & references are all at the bottom of this page.

If you would rather let the pictures do the talking, turn up the volume, embrace the cheese factor, ignore the slightly fuzzy quality, and enjoy a very** quick walkthrough of Brio:

**The crazy part is I actually slowed this video down by 50%… note to self: don’t zip around with a camera, it makes everyone seasick later**

A Few More Pictures


First Sail


Enjoying the new hammock on deck


Interior shot looking forward — Port settee becomes a double berth. We eventually removed the table which DRAMATICALLY increased the feeling of spaciousness inside, but we also get that some people like having tables!


Jon with a glimpse of the nav table & quarterberth

References or Resources for Nor’West 33s:

1. Chuck Burns, the designer of the Nor’West 33, has a decent website with some scanned articles from her early launch days. His site also has the original Nor’West brochure which I personally found extremely interesting (reading about the thought process that went into her construction was one of the first things that sold us on this boat):

“The Specs” from Chuck Burns’ site

2. Tao, a sistership to Brio, and her owners Shawn & Chris are currently cruising the Pacific and they keep a very updated blog about their adventures. We’ve never met them personally, but I do occasionally bug them with random Nor’West questions (ie “how’s the head on your boat holding up?”) and I love reading about their travels & progress online!

3. Sailnet has a somewhat-upkept post on Nor’West 33s — I’m more of a user so I don’t know a lot about sailnet, but it is interesting to see that there are / have been active Nor’West owners out there!

4. An article written by the crew of Native Dancer, who sailed their Nor’West to New Zealand (and beyond?)

5. A short youtube video of a Nor’West under sail. Makes me want to upload more youtube videos myself!

6. A fast, shaky & somewhat blurry walkthrough of our Nor’West 33, Brio — will definitely clean up & try to do a better job of this next time!


List of Hull #s and Owners

Please feel free to send me updates or leave a comment if any of this information is out of date!

Hull # Name (Former Names) Current Owner + Location
1 Whither Thou Brad Orndorff – California
2 Hoqet Kent & Karen Towbridge – Florida
3 Illusion Jason Roberson
4 Frozzie (Daybreak, Sailor’s Joy) Tristan & Claudia – Australia
 5 Wind Dancer  ? – California
 6 Skye Daniel Pugh and Melissa Beck – California
 7  Imzadi  Peter Ouborg
 8  ?
 9  Catbird  Kris – California
 10  Ithaca (Tao)  Pud & Chiara Bussini – Australia
 11  Puffin (Terilo, Josephine)  David Harris – California
 12  Falcon  Fred & Margaret Fago – California
 13  ?
 14  Sunshine  Einer & Nancy Elbeck – California
 15  Details (Rebecca, Dipsy Doodle, Dreamcatcher)  Lory & John – Georgia
 16  Pippin  Ron & Kay Gammon – Washington
 17  Brio (Sula, Gee Whiz, Beefeater)  Leah Kruger & Jonathan Tetro – Maine
 18  Native Dancer (Renaissance)  ? – New Zealand
 19  ?  Archie Woodliff – California


Nor’West 33 — 62 Comments

  1. Your Norwest is a beauty! My Norwest 33 “Illusion” is currently for sale in Santa Cruz, CA. She has a brand new rudder, new mast step, and is in decent shape overall. Let me know if you know anyone who might be interested. Fair Winds!

    • Aloha Jason!

      We own Tao, hull #10 and just made landfall in Australia. Which hull do you own? We stopped in Ventura way back in 2008, were you there then?! Please e-mail me ( so I can update my Nor’West owner list with your information, or even pass it along to prospective buyers if you’d like.

      Good Luck,
      Shawn and Chris
      s/v Tao

    • Jason,

      As the former owner of hull # 5, I have long been a vocal advocate for the wonderful qualities of the NorWest. One of my crew is looking for a boat in the NorWest size range. I would love to get you two together. Can you provide contact info?
      My friend and I both sail out of Santa Cruz every Tuesday night and see your boat each week.

  2. Hi Jon and Leah,

    Great website…I just stumbled upon it this morning. Lots of great information and good vibes. Thanks.
    Can I add a link to it in my website?

    Do you have any information/stories about your Canal transit? I am contemplating sailing my boat (Topaz ) from New Hampshire to California next year and any little bit of information/advice is welcome. I brought her east in 2003 on a truck and that is very unromantic even if it is less expensive.

    Cheers and smooth sailing,

    • Hi Chuck!

      So nice you found our little site! I feel like we’re in touch with a legend now — we love our Nor’West so much! You can of course add a link to our site, we’re happy to share our experiences!
      Haven’t done the canal yet — Brio is in Mexico, so we’ll be going through around March. We’re actually in Maine (where Jon is from) until we head to the boat, so if you’re ever up this way we should have coffee! Then you can settle the question we always wonder: did the early Nor’Wests get overbuilt and the later ones had corners cut, or did they figure out their mistakes on the early boats, and make improvements on the later ones? (asked tongue-in-cheek, as owners of a later hull!!).

      Fair winds,

      Leah & Jonathan

      • Hi Leah and Jon,

        Where in Maine? For how long?
        If it is possible to get together I’d love to talk about your boat…regardless, I don’t think they ever cut corners on them unlike some of the Farallon 29s which were still very sturdy.


  3. Great fact it convinced me to purchase a Norwest 33! I just purchased Hull #11, Puffin. She was mostly day sailed in San Francisco Bay. Do you have any plumbing schematics for the boat?

    • Congratulations! We’d been watching that listing, wondering when someone would snap up a nice looking NorWest! Sorry we don’t have a plumbing schematic — our boat has a few generations of plumbing haha so we’re a bit light in orderly plumbing! Anyways we love to keep in touch with other NorWest owners – very helpful when anything goes wrong! – so please let us know your plans! And we’d love to hear of any unique ideas that your hull has, or help with anything else you might need! Happy sailing!

      • Thanks so much. I’m bringing her home to “Alameda” on Saturday and will report back then. I think there was some plumbing customization..especially in the head…the PO was very aggressive on the height of the vented loop in the head compartment..I suspect that the original vented loop would have been run in the locker under the v-berth. It would certainly look neater that way! A small detail..Puffin has beautiful lines and I can’t wait to take her out this weekend!

        • Hi David!

          Welcome to the Nor’West family! We own Tao, hull #10 and just made landfall in Australia. Please e-mail me ( so I can update my Nor’West owner list with your information.

          Happy Sails!
          Shawn and Chris
          s/v Tao

        • Hi David, I was the second owner of #11. I had her for 13 years and did extensive work on her. For example the fuel tank was removed, it looked like swiss cheese due to water being trapped in the bilge. All the other owners’ solutions to problem that I saw didn’t make sense to me so I built a fiberglass tank along with the help of Carl Peterson, a local boat builder of Stars and Lasers.
          Her original name was Terilo, named after the owners’ two daughters. I renamed her Josephine after my grandmother. I sold her ten years ago. If you have any questions about her feel free to ask.

  4. Hi all,
    just thought I would join in the chorus of gratitude to Chuck Burns for creating such a great boat (NorWest 33). My wife Lisa and I owned Wind Dancer (hull # 5) shown in your copy of the original brochure from ’89 to ’96. We bought her from Dick Honey (uncle to the well known and now Rolex Sailor of the year, Stan Honey). We kept Wind Dancer in Channel Islands Harbor and loved exploring the islands abourd her w/ our then young kids. We are local to the Bay Area now and can offer some guidance to David Harris on his restoration of Puffin if he’s of need. Currently enjoying the restoration of the S/V Ecco (Cal 39 MkII) on San Francisco Bay.

    • Hi Jeff,

      Always great to hear from other owners! Now that you have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, any advice you’d like to pass back? Do you know who owns Hull #5 now?

      Happy sailing!


      • Killing some time in the Hong Kong airport this morning, so I thought I’d get back to you.

        We sold Wind Dancer to my brother in-law (Buzz Dean of Mountain View Ca) who sailed her for probably another decade on SF bay, then he donated her to the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo CA. Do not know what they did w/ her (used in their programs or resold). Very sorry to have lost track of her.

        One tip I could offer is the boat handles great in moderately heavy air (20 to 25 knots) sailing under jib alone. We flew a 135 % (no main) very comfortably up to 25 knots w/ very little fuss and at or near hull speed. Not many boats will stay balanced under that plan but the NorWest is very happy there. Raising the main under those conditions might get you another 1/2 knot boat speed, but would really put you on your ear.

        Really enjoy your blob Leah, keep up the great work and enjoy.

  5. Great website guys. I am the former co-owner of Native Dancer, which my ex-wife and I sailed from California to New Zealand, arriving in 2000. Native Dancer is now in Australia under new ownership. I don’t know anything about the new owners. I concur with the other comments, Norwests are wonderful sea-kindly boats. I understand that they original owners of Native Dancer (then Rennaissance) rode out a hurricane at sea off Mexico.

    • Hi Simon,

      Great to hear from you! We read an article you wrote about your trip a long, long time ago (when we were first looking at buying the boat) and think it’s awesome you guys sailed your Nor’West across the Pacific! Quite interesting that the Nor’Wests seem to sell so well “down under” too 😉

      Did you make many custom modifications to Native Dancer? I’d love to hear more about anything you tweaked on the boat!

      Leah & Jon

  6. Hi, I see it’s been some time since any posts but I really enjoy reading about your travels. We just recently purchased a 1978 Nor’west 33. We have the CG doc. # but don’know what hull #we have. Is there any way to figure this out. We are located in Alameda, Ca. and spend our time sailing in the SF bay area. Love to hear more of you experiences.

    • Hi Mark,

      So nice to hear from you! We saw that Nor’West 33 go on the market and wondered who might snap her up… now we know! This is the one with a green hull right? I have an excel tracker that someone else started with the Nor’West hull numbers and owners, I’ll email it to you to see if we can figure out which number you have! Always super fun to connect with other Nor’West 33 owners!!


  7. Hi guys,

    Happy that I stumbled across the website!!
    My wife and I purchased ‘Daybreak’ a few months ago which I believe is hull #4, we live in the Brisbane, Australia. She was sailed from the USA by past owners Mathew and Megan. We are still getting to know her but so far we impressed with how she sails! Would love if anyone could pass on any information to us about other owners etc?

    Thanks in advance!
    Tristan and Claudia

    • Hi Tristan,

      Great to meet you! We love knowing other Nor’West 33 owners, and had heard that Megan and Matthew sold Daybreak but weren’t sure who the new owners were 🙂

      I’ll email you the excel list I have of all former/current owners — and don’t hesitate to reach out if we can help in any way!!!


    • I grew up sailing on Daybreak and have very fond memories of cruising the San Juan Islands every summer. My father Vern Day was the original owner and kept her at the Des Moines, WA marina where he ran the Block & Tackle Boat Yard. He loved that boat and even won some single handed races with her I’m told. We sold it when he died nearly 20 years ago and I wasn’t old enough to take care of it. If you ever thing of selling her, please look me up. It’s great to she’s still sailing and has made it half-way around the world!

  8. Hi All:

    I have purchased hull #2 from Kent and Karen Trowbridge in 2014. Currently my friend Chuck Greenslade and I are slowly working through repairs. We came upon the boat while she was in a cosmetically challenged condition due entirely to a debilitating illness that Kent Trowbridge developed and which prevented him from setting foot on the boat for 2+ years prior to the time we purchased it. Chuck and I have had extensive sailing and boatowning experience and while picking through the boat, recognized the extreme robust build, and liklihood that the boat would be fast for a fullkeel design. We are in Gulfport, Florida and the 4’9″ draft is an advantage in the shallow west Florida waters. Have had many interesting experiences with the boat during our rehabilitation of it. Kent had done considerable work on the boat before he became ill and we have continued and added to his projects. Any ideas what type of used 135% genny we should be looking for; any suggestions as to a source for such a sail. Will stay connected through this blog. Cheers to all. Jim

    • Hi Jim,

      Great to “meet” you! Did you buy the boat in Florida? What’s her name? I’m so happy to hear there’s another Nor’West on this side of the canal! We definitely thanked our shallower draft the whole way up the ICW — we spent one kind of worried night anchored in 5’8″ of water, feeling smug / terrified that we’d managed to find a spot to spend the night!

      As far as genoas go, we’d 100% recommend — we bought our brand new, fully battened, heavy-duty, three-reef mainsail from them for $1800 (incl shipping), and plan to buy a genoa from them this year (if I remember correctly the quote was around $1600 for the genoa).

      Would love to see pictures of the boat and projects if you’re willing to share! Our email is

      Thanks for reaching out!

      Leah + Jon
      s/v Brio

      • We bought the boat in Florida. I think the original owner had the boat transported to a lake in Colorado and the Trowbridges bought it there 15-20 yrs ago. We are just doing some coastal sailing. Current big project will be to install new flooring. I would be interested in any suggestions. Thanks for the tip on the sailmaker. Pictures to come. Jim

  9. I am looking for info on types of propellers that owners of NW 33 have used and the sizes of the inboard engines in the different boats. we have a two bladed prop and a 3Y3M yanmar diesel. I think we need a three bladed prop to move ARIA. Thanks. Jim Marron

    • Jim,
      Kind of looking on internet for people with Nor wester 33 . We own hull 15 built in 1977 her name is Details. You mentioned propellers and we have a 3 blade 14″ with a 1″ bore available for $50.00 We repower 3 years ago with a 30 hp Yanmar.
      Also a main, 135 genoa and drifter for sale in good condition $ 500.00 for all.
      We love our boat and have had it for 10 years Details is docked in Jekyll Island GA. She may be for sale?
      This month we are in the Caribbean.

  10. Good Day,

    We just found this site. We own hull #15 her name is Details. She is currently in Jekyll Island, Georgia. Her home port is Provincetown, MA. We brought her down the ICW this fall. She is a great boat. We have had her since 2007 and are the fourth owner and her fourth name. She was originally in San Francisco as Rebecca, then Texas as Dipsy Doodle, on to New Orleans as Dream Catcher, sailed to Provincetown where we bought her in a most neglected state. She has been completely restored, well not completely. But she looks pretty good and sails really well. She has Harding sails, a newly installed (3 years) 30 HP Yanmar engine, auto-pilot, and new roller furling.

    • Hi Lory and John,

      SO nice to meet you!! We had heard that there was a Nor’West on this coast, but didn’t know any details. I’m so sad that we missed you in MA — what are your plans now? Would be great fun to connect somewhere on the east coast 🙂

      And are you keeping a blog? We’re always desperately curious to see other Nor’Wests and how you’ve got things set up! And especially would love to hear more about the 30hp Yanmar, since we’re currently mid-repower!

  11. Hello All,

    I am Warren and I recently purchased Hull #15 from John and Lory of Provincetown. It is in good condition but needs a few upgrades and maintenance work which is currently being done. I have her in Stuart, FL and will be keeping the current name which is ‘Details’. I am interested in connecting with any folks what own one of the hulls and any pointers you may have on maintenance items which may be particular the boat. My mast step is in excellent condition. I am thinking of doing a bit or remodeling work on the interior and any thoughts would be most appreciated.

    • Hi Warren,

      Great to meet you! We wondered who might end up with this Nor’West 🙂 Were in Maine in Hull 17 – Brio.

      The only other Nor’West specific maintenance item that we’ve run into is the rudder and rudder post — it seems like they changed the construction a few times over the course of the boats, and we had to have quite a bit of work done to ours as it had developed a substantial amount of play.

      Would love to see more pictures of your boat if you have any!

      Leah, Jon & Zephyr

  12. Hi folks, we’ve had our Nor’west 33 for almost 12 years and though work has too often gotten in the way of sailing, we love her like part of the family. She’s beautiful and a fine ocean boat. The previous owners took extraordinary good care of her and with the exception of a new Yanmar 30hp diesel, few major improvements have been needed.

    Skye – Null #6 Owned by Daniel Pugh and Melissa Beck in California.

    • Hi Daniel – Great to hear from you guys! We always wondered what happened to #6 🙂 It’s fun to keep track of these boats, especially as different owners sail them to different oceans!

  13. Hi, Maybe I am the missing link here… I have a norwest 33 here in the Petaluma marina, named Laizze Faire. If anyone is interested, it is seriously for sale as my health won’t allow for sailing g anymore.

    chris bergstedt
    707 775 7395

    • Hi Chris,

      Nice to hear from you — if we come across anyone looking for a Nor’West we’ll definitely send them your way! Is there a listing online anywhere?


      • hi leah,

        hoisting yet, but this site has gotten me motivated to get.something going.
        thanks.for.the response!

        chris bergstedt

  14. Hi Guys, Warren Sheaffer here and I purchased Details (hull #15) from John and Lory Santos about 15 months ago. I currently have her on the hard in Indiantown, FL and will be doing some maintenance and upgrade work on her over this fall and winter. Right now I am sewing new canvas for the boat and am planning to recondition and reinstall the portlights in December. There are two sizes of portlight on the boat. When I put the boat on the hard I left my measurements in FL and don’t plan on traveling back until November. I have located what seem to be replacements and would like to order a couple more of them if I could be sure they are the correct size. Do any of you know the outside dimensions or rough opening size of the portlights? I would be very grateful for your help.

    As I work through my projects I will post notes and pictures to share and I am very appreciative of Leah and Jon for offering to share their knowledge and experience.

    Kind regards,

  15. Pingback: A new boat for the Brio II trio! (in Rose Haven, MD) | With Brio

  16. Hello,

    My name is Adam W.I purchased Catbird (Hull #9) from Kris in Dec. 2019 and sailed her to San Pedro, where she currently resides. We are prepping her for extended cruising and plan to leave in 2022.

    • Adam
      Still planning to go cruising next year?
      I’m located in San Diego and in the market for a NW-33. Let me know if your plans change.
      Em B.

  17. Hi – Simon here. I’m a former owner of Native Dancer (formerly Renaissance) which was sailed to Australia in 2004 and was sold some years later. I’m not sure whether she became Thalia. It’s the last NW33 with a forward head across the width of the bow and a central double berth in the cabin. My ex and I sailed her from California to NZ and she carried on to Australia. Great open water boat.

    • I have taken a look at Thalia……a strange arrangement with the head on the bow……would be possible to rearrange that and move the head and put in a V berth ?
      I am really interested on the boat….

      • Gawd I love that arrangement with the forward head and the pilot berth! Buy it and meet me in the Marshall Islands and we can swap straight across LOL! Anything is possible, but I suspect rebuilding the interior of the boat to that degree would be cost/headache prohibitive. It’s actually a better layout for a liveaboard/cruising couple in my opinion.

  18. I just gave a new home to what I believe is the long, lost hull #8 (or at least the ID # ends in 8!) in Napa, CA. Would be very interested in connecting with any other owners in the SF Bay Area/Northern California to get some ideas and information for some upcoming renovation work. Super excited as I’ve been lurking on this site for months, but now kind of feeling like the dog that caught the car!

    • Hello guys. I’ve been the new owner of hull number 8 for a year now. The funny thing is I bought the boat to fix up and flip for a bigger boat. in love with this boat, the time I put into it its a part of me now. Have any questions

      • Hi Calvin, I’m curious to know how you know your hull #, I was only using elimination to determine mine since it ends in “8” but it could indicate a build year of “78” as well since its 330071278. Now I’m just starting to wonder if it is #7 built in 12/78. It was also not named “Imzadi” when I bought her but “Good Hope”..I sent you an invite if you’d like to join our little facebook group as well.

    • As an owner for many years, I can say that you can access the chainplates from a inside cabinet. The boat is made well!

    • As Chris mentioned, the cap shroud chainplates are accessed though the cabinets just aft of the central bulkhead- quite convenient. For the fore and aft shrouds up to hull #8 (mine) the chainplates are right on the side of the cabin roof. Easily accessible but merit reinforcement down below (at least in my case unfortunately). If anybody has any further info. on how they were reinforced in other boats or where exactly they were relocated to that would be great!

  19. Hello Chris and Jim, thank you very much for replying. Re-reading my initial post, I should apologize for the lack of context – I’m thinking about making an offer on a Nor’west but with Covid travel is difficult and a show-stopper would be the inability to access/replace the chainplates. My understanding is with a vessel of this vintage, it would be wise to replace the chainplates when replacing the standing rigging. Do you guys have any thoughts on this? Both the general necessity and the level of difficulty?

    • I’d say the chainplate access on a NW33 is more a positive than a negative. I’ve inspected mine, but have no ambition nor feel no need to replace them for several more years until we rerig in preparation for cruising. An important note: if it is one of the earlier (1-8) boats and the fore/aft shroud chainplates are located on the sides of the cabin, it should probably be reinforced if doing more than coastal cruising. I intend to eventually have a rigger evaluate it, but may move them to the outer hull. The cap shroud mount looks so beefy I’d be loathe to move it.
      P.S. If the boat is in Northern California, I’d be happy to go look at it for you.

  20. This is all second hand (at least) ….. Renaissance/Native Dancer/Thalia (?) 1981 the last Norwest 33 was apparently sailed through a hurricane in Mexico by the original owners. I believe Bernard Motissier’s boat ended up on the beach with all the rest during that storm. The original owners wanted to save their new boat so headed out to sea but said afterwards that it was the dumbest thing they had ever done. The boat and chainplates held up. I do not know whether the chainplates were moved in later boats. What a battleship. Not slow. We raced a modern Canadian aluminium 35ft sloop from the Minerva Reefs to NZ (7 days) and were never behind.

    • Having just read Lin and Larry Pardey’s account of the Cabo hurricane in Capable Cruiser, they did exactly what Larry said they should have to save their boat. I’m sure it was no picnic out there, though. Many boats got their props entangled by the mooring mess trying to motor out, I wonder if the enclosed aperture in front of the rudder is what helped save it. Fascinating to know there was a NW33 there that made it!

  21. Have just seen the listing for Thalia when for sale in Brisbane, Australia. That is Renaissance/Native Dancer. Epic boat. We sailed from California to NZ. Formerly sailed through a hurricane (I’m told).

  22. Thank you for the chainplate replies and the interesting information about how tough the Nor’Wester33s are. I can see the potential problem with the earlier boats and that this was addressed later. Are the chainplates encapsulated or are they exposed? I guess this is a key to how difficult it would be to replace them. Also, has anyone gone with Dyneema instead of stainless wire?

    • No, they are not encapsulated. I’ve done a bit of reading on Dyneema but don’t have any firsthand knowledge of it. Seems it is getting better and better, just needs to be done properly. Chafe is the biggest downside. I will certainly at least consider it when I rerig.

  23. Thanks Jim. I’m in Australia otherwise I’d certainly take you up on having a look. I note your comment on the forward head configuration in some versions – I agree it makes sense for short-handed passage making.

  24. Just want to leave a quick note that might benefit someone in the future: the headsail dimensions for our NW33 and those of a Catalina 30 are very similar, to the point that many jibs/genoas cut for Catalina 30s will fit with little or no adjustment. So instead of sail shopping for one of the rarer boats ever made you can look for one of the most common ever made!
    I just picked up a 135% Genoa (which is about a 120% on our Nor’Wests) in practically new condition for an extremely good price. I expected to need to have it altered slightly but hoisted it and it’s perfect! This is on a Schafer roller furling.

    Also, have been considering starting a (very) small, private Facebook groups for Nor’West owners/interested parties. Would there be enough interest?
    Nor’West #8 “Prancing Cloud”

Leave a Reply