North Pacific 38 Sedan

When British Columbia`s North Pacific Yachts began producing boats six years ago, its plan was to develop a line of stoutly built, well-priced pilothouse trawlers. With the introduction of North Pacific`s 28-foot trailerable trawler last year, the builder hit its target. But the company knew it wasn`t done.

In the last six years, company staff has talked to hundreds of boaters. “We found that many boaters wanted a boat with the salon, galley and helm on the same level and the more wide-open interior that general arrangement provides,” said Trevor Brice, North Pacific`s owner. “We also found the same boaters wanted covered, walk-around sidedecks. In short, they wanted a traditional sedan trawler, and our new 38-footer is the result of those conversations.”

Brice is quick to point out that North Pacific did not invent this type of trawler. He gives full credit to the CHB sedans of a few decades ago. The North Pacific 38 Sedan is 10 inches wider and 2 feet longer than the older CHBs.

North Pacific`s 38-footer follows the traditional sedan trawler design: modified- V hull, large deckhouse and standard command bridge. The proportions of the design elements are well balanced, giving the vessel a crisp, unified appearance – nothing looks like an add-on.

The transom treatment – a molded- in swim grid and a reverse-angle hull side shape – is different than traditional sedans. Boarding older sedans over a solid transom was often an adventure. North Pacific`s transom door, accessed from the swim grid with solid, convenient handrails, solves that problem elegantly, and it produces a modern-looking aft end in the process.

The hull, complete with molded-in plank lines, is hand-laid solid glass with a solid keel. The decks are cored with Nida-core, as are the upper works. The hull stringer system is solid glass. The glasswork throughout the vessel is fair and shows no print-through or haze. The use of vinylester resin on the outer skins, combined with a barrier coat below the waterline and top-quality antifouling paint, will help reduce wicking.

One structural feature of note is the use of a marine-grade aluminum grid that provides the base for the deckhouse and forecastle soles. This strong, lightweight material will not corrode in salt water and provides solid, stiff, non-flexing soles.

Access to the vessel is off the swim step into the cockpit or through port and starboard hull doors onto the sidedecks. All decks have molded-in nonskid surfaces that are sharp and deep enough to retain their nonskid quality even when wet.

The covered sidedecks are wide enough that big and small boaters can move easily fore and aft, and heavy-duty stainless handrails make moving around, even in a running sea, safe and easy. In a nod to tradition, the hull cap rail is solid, oiled teak and is the only wood on the vessel`s exterior.

With docking cleats fixed to the interior cockpit sidewalls, the cockpit sole remains uncluttered, a boon to all cockpit activities – from serious lounging to serious fishing.

The command bridge, complete with a hinged radar arch, is reached via a stainless ladder from the cockpit. As well as providing excellent visibility, the command bridge helm station boasts a stainless wheel, complete engine gauges, an anchor windlass and bow thruster controls, a propane locker, and plenty of seating and storage.

A traditional pilothouse trawler is laid out in three levels or sections: an aft salon (entered off the cockpit), a pilothouse (usually up two or three steps) and the forecastle space (down a step or two). North Pacific`s sedan trawler interior living space has everything on two levels or sections: a combined salon, galley and helm station all on one level, and a forecastle down and forward of the helm.

Upon entering the deckhouse from the cockpit of the North Pacific 38, the advantage of a sedan trawler is immediately apparent. The wheelhouse windows are about 17 feet forward, and there`s nothing to cut off the sight lines. Combined with windows all around the deckhouse, the open plan is bright and spacious. A skipper at the helm can easily communicate with anyone inside.

The interior woodwork is traditional, with solid teak or teak veneers over marine plywood. All teak surfaces are satin finished with, according to North Pacific, seven coats of spray varnish. The floors are teak and holly, and the fit and finish of all the woodwork is good.

The layout is fairly typical of most boats of this style: a sofa, fridge/cooler and helm station along the starboard side of the deckhouse, and a settee and galley along the port side. In our test boat, the galley – complete with a deep, stainless double sink, a propane stove with oven, and plenty of countertop space and storage – sits directly across from the helm station. Aft of the galley package is the settee.

This sedan trawler can be commissioned with one or two staterooms down and forward. The master, in the forepeak, has a queen island bed with drawers under it. The room also has a hanging locker, a bookcase and more than 6 feet, 4 inches of headroom. It boasts twin portholes and an overhead hatch, all of which can open and are screened.

In the single-stateroom configuration, the head and shower spaces are separate, with the head to port and the shower to starboard at the bottom of the forecastle steps. Experienced boaters will appreciate this layout, since someone taking a shower does not occupy the head space. In the twin-stateroom version of the vessel, the second stateroom is installed in the head space, and the head is moved into the shower space, creating a more traditional head/shower combination. However, even with the combination unit, there is a separate shower stall.

As with most other boats of this size, the engine is located beneath the deckhouse floor, in a crawl space. That space usually includes various tanks and other machinery, such as generators and heaters. It also houses water pumps, seacocks, fuel and water filters, bilge pumps, and the like. Servicing the machinery in this space can become a real challenge.

By design, the NP 38 has an enormous amount of space below the deckhouse. While the height of the engine space won`t allow adults to stand upright, it is more than 4 feet tall, which allows for relatively comfortable movement. Servicing the machinery and equipment is easy; you don`t have to climb over one thing to get at something else.

We fired up the Cummins QSB 5.9 liter diesel and let it warm up. This common-rail, six-cylinder, electronically controlled engine emitted no smoke on startup. In fact, except for the water exiting the exhaust, a passerby would not have noticed the engine was running.

With Brice at the helm, we maneuvered away from the dock. The engine speed varied from around 600 to 1000 rpm at idle, but the engine and installation were so quiet that my decibel meter – positioned on a port galley counter, directly above the engine space – showed 71 dB. Normal conversation is about 70 dB.

We were docked on British Columbia`s Fraser River, and we had both current and wind to fight, yet, because of the vessel`s large rudder and Brice`s judicious use of the bow thruster, we backed our way precisely between two lines of docked vessels into the river fairway.

At 1000 rpm, we were making 4.5 knots and burning 1 gph. At 1200 rpm, speed was 6.43 knots and fuel burn was 1.4 gph. With the throttle wide open, 2600 rpm, we made 10.7 knots and burned 10.4 gph. The noise meter recorded 82 dB – less than a Pathfinder on the freeway.

The engine “sweet spot,” however, is 1600 rpm. The hull and engine are well matched at that speed. We made 8.2 knots and burned 2.6 gph: 3.15 n.m. per gallon – excellent fuel consumption for this vessel. Noise at that speed was barely higher than the volume of a normal conversation.

Boaters have different views on what constitutes an engine`s sweet spot. I view it as the engine rpm at which maximum torque is produced. In modern computer-controlled diesels, when combined with a well-designed hull and drivetrain, the sweet spot is also very close to the engine speed that gives the best fuel economy. When the engine speed on the NP 38 was increased to 1800 rpm, speed increased by only 0.5 knot, whereas fuel consumption went up by 1.2 gph. Range on 100 gallons dropped by 65 n.m.

As we continued our test, the vessel responded precisely and quickly to the helm with no shudder or wander. At one point we stopped completely, threw the helm hard aport and slowly advanced the throttle to wide open. The vessel leaned slightly to starboard and then, as engine rpm picked up, it flattened out and stayed that way until WOT. There was no cavitation, skipping, skidding or shuddering. The hull behaved just as well-designed hulls are supposed to.

The new North Pacific 38 Sedan is a well-designed, well-built trawler that will suit long-term cruisers and weekenders. The use of marine-grade aluminum floor grids in the deckhouse and forecastle is becoming more widespread among larger vessels, and it`s nice to see a builder of less expensive boats embracing the same technology. While this new offering from North Pacific is technically up to date, marine tradition is maintained with the varnished teak interior. And the $275,000 price tag may feel like a bit of a throwback.


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