Author: Roger McAfee
Since North Pacific Yachts splashed its first boat 10 years ago, it has delivered more than 100 vessels. All have been well-built, sturdy, tough, single-engine trawlers that provide great value.
With the new North Pacific 49 Pilothouse, the builder has upped its game — a lot.
Expected (and Unexpected) Finds
The new North Pacific has a great “dock presence.” As I approached the vessel, down a long dock, it stood out among all the other boats even though a number of the other boats were longer. As I got closer to the vessel, I noted North Pacific had continued its traditional hull style treatment: molded-in plank lines. It’s a styling feature that adds an element of elegance to the new vessel. The fiberglass work was excellent. It was fair and without gelcoat haze or print through, which is not surprising considering the factory that does North Pacific’s glass work has produced thousands of boats over the years and become very good at it.
A quick glance at the upper works of the NP49 reveals another upscale feature. All the window framing is highly polished stainless steel rather than the aluminum framing used in the other vessels in the North Pacific line. The upgrade adds to window-frame strength and is visually appealing to many boaters. A quick rubdown every once in a while with a good stainless polish will keep the frames looking great for a long time.
The NP49 sits on an efficient, well-designed, tried-and-true semi-displacement hull that provides good stability at rest and has proven to be solid and comfortable underway. Seacocks are fitted on all through-hulls both below and above the waterline. Cockpit cleats are fixed to the cockpit sides, making for a cockpit floor without the toe-stubbers traditional deck-mounted cleats become, a feature that’s a boon to fishermen and makes cleaning the cockpit easier.
The vessel designers — in a nod to boaters who want to spend a lot of time on their boat, either cruising or living aboard — opted for a full-beam main salon. Doing so eliminated sidedecks, which means that access from the cockpit to the foredeck is either through the vessel and out a port or starboard pilothouse door, or up a ladder from the aft deck, forward over the deckhouse roof and down a set of built-in steps to port or starboard.
As is North Pacific’s custom, the NP49 hull is solid hand-laid glass from keel to gunnel. Vinylester resin is used to bond the outer two layers of hull glass to help reduce water wicking through the glass. The deck and upper works are cored. In keeping with what is becoming the new standard in hull construction, the stringers are all glass, without any wooden coring, which experience has shown can rot as a vessel ages.
Owners Will Love…
North Pacific designers are clearly boaters and understand that ongoing exterior maintenance can take time and energy and cost money. Therefore, the exterior of the 49 is wash and wear — not even a sliver of exterior wood.
The vessel has a fully integrated bow pulpit and swim platform. All decks feature a molded-in nonskid surface that is aggressive enough to provide good footing even when it’s wet. Beefy stainless handrails provide good security for people moving around on deck.
Another feature I like is the extensive use of aluminum in the structure of the vessel. Manufacturers of mega-yachts long ago learned how effective aluminum can be as structural components in otherwise all-fiberglass boats. Very few builders of smaller boats use the material, so North Pacific is an exception. The interior floor joists and hatch frames are made of marine-grade aluminum, which provides solid floors that do not loosen, sag or squeak over time. The engine-room flooring is checkered aluminum walk plate, which adds to the vessel’s structural strength and enables a boater to wipe up any accidental spills thoroughly and quickly.
Access to the vessel is via port or starboard bulwark gates or through a transom gate. In either case, the entrance is almost exactly at the height of most docks. This means quick, safe and trouble-free access for boaters with children or a family member who isn’t very agile. Another excellent feature at the entry gates is a stainless steel cap over the gate sill. It protects the glass from excessive wear, scratching and scraping as people get on and off the vessel.
Entry to the vessel deckhouse is through a large, sliding door that opens wide enough to easily load in full-size home appliances and furniture. The top half of the door is glass, allowing folks in the salon to clearly see the action on the back deck — a boon to fishermen stalking Pacific Northwest salmon, halibut or tuna. To port, our test boat has a large, comfortably padded bench-type dinette/settee with a high-low table that converts to a double berth. The table, when set for dinner, easily seats six.
Forward of the dinette is the galley, with more storage cupboards and drawers than most land-based apartments. The galley features an electric glass-topped stove complete with an oven. A propane stove is an option. An exhaust fan over the stove vents to the outside. A double, deep-bowled stainless sink with a pull-out faucet, a nine-cubic-foot AC/DC refrigerator/freezer and a microwave shelf complete the galley. Once again, countertop prep space is more than what’s found in many apartments.
Along the starboard side of our test boat salon is a comfortable seating area, featuring a built-in cabinet and a pair of upholstered armchairs. A lamp on the cabinet made the area a cozy reading nook. The fit and finish of the salon is as good as in vessels of any size or cost.
One attribute stands out. A number of the flat surfaces have beautifully milled teak, about 1 inch square, as edging or table lips. Corner joints are not the ordinary sort — miter-cut and glued. Instead, the surfaces have rounded corners, the teak edging of which was steam bent to fit around the corner. I have recently been aboard a number of large yachts, costing up to $15 million, and have not found that attention to detail. The above-and-beyond edge treatment is used in a number of places on the NP49, not just in high-visibility areas.
The staterooms are forward and down, with the en suite master in the forepeak. It features an island queen berth with under-bed stowage, two reading lights, frosted glass–paneled cabinets to port and starboard on both sides of the bed, a large hanging locker and eight drawers. The cabinets have LED rope lights installed inside, and the glass panels in the doors allow a muted light to spill into the stateroom. The master head features a freshwater-flush Tecma toilet, a separate shower stall with a frosted-glass door, an exhaust fan and opening, screened portholes.
Our test boat is the two-stateroom model (a three-stateroom model is available as an option), and the second stateroom hosts a pair of single berths and a drop-down third berth. The two singles can be pushed together to make a queen berth against the port hull. The head has the same features as the master, and the quality, fit and finish in the guest stateroom are as good as in the master.
A full-height linen closet, a must for liveaboards and a luxury for long-term cruisers, opens off the companionway to the master suite.
Double Your Driving Pleasure
The pilothouse is up a few steps from the starboard side of the main salon. Doors to port and starboard provide access to the foredeck, the chariot-style flybridge or aft over the salon roof and down to the cockpit. Visibility is excellent, with almost no bow vision “shadow.” The pilothouse settee and table provide a comfortable, relaxing arrangement for the guests to keep the skipper company, and it converts to a comfortable berth.
The flybridge features a dual helm seat, an L-shaped seat and table with under-seat storage, and a full set of controls and gauges. Our test boat has a hardtop, but a hinged radar arch is also available. As one would expect, visibility all around is excellent.
Our test boat, hull #1, is equipped with the Cummins 5.9L (360-cubic-inch) diesel, which produces 305 hp. Since that engine no longer passes the required emission standards, all future NP49s will have the Cummins 6.7L (408-cubic-inch) 355 hp engine standard. We fired the engine, and it started without smoking, hunting or rattling.
With Trevor Brice, North Pacific’s CEO, at the helm, we eased out of the marina at idle, 650 rpm, making 3.1 knots and burning 0.4 gallons of diesel per hour. Our noisemeter, positioned on a counter directly above the engine, gave us a reading of 64 decibels. Once we cleared the marina, we upped the rpm to 1000 and made 5 knots. Fuel burn was 0.8 gph. At 1500 revs, we burned 2.1 gph while making 7 knots. That speed is about speed/length ratio 1. When we tapped the throttles to 2000 rpm, we burned 6.2 gph at 8.7 knots. At 2200 rpm, with a fuel burn of 8.4 gph, we made 9.4 knots. Wide-open throttle gave us 10.8 knots and a fuel burn of 14.5 gph.
Range at 7 knots, with the optional 930-gallon tank and a 10 percent reserve, is calculated to be 2,432 nautical miles.
The North Pacific 49 Pilothouse trawler sets a new standard for this type of boat, regardless of the size or cost of the other players in the market segment. The quality of all fittings is first class. The use of structural aluminum, combined with good building practices and clever design, gives this vessel a good shot at lasting for many years. The efficient hull and good engine choice mean a lot of time on the water without having to take out a second mortgage for fuel. Because of North Pacific’s experience building solid, effective trawlers, it is able to bring features to this 49-footer that few builders can match. “We’re now building the next generation of North Pacifics,” Brice said. “They are beautifully and luxuriously finished, but they are still strong, honest boats.”
Our test confirms he’s right.