FLAG­SHIP 2.0

Test­ing the North Pacific 45

Passage Maker - - Contents - P eter A. Rob­son

It’s not of­ten that I get to sea trial a new yacht that has al­ready been put through its paces, but that was cer­tainly the case with the North Pacific 45 I tested ear­lier this year. It had just re­turned from a three-month shake­down cruise from Seat­tle, Wash­ing­ton, to Glacier Bay, Alaska. Dur­ing that time, own­ers Patti and An­drew Atkins had racked up 4,000 miles and 500 hours on their sin­gle diesel—with­out any sig­nif­i­cant is­sues.

To be per­fectly hon­est, I don’t usu­ally like to sea trial yachts when the own­ers are aboard. Own­ers are likely to ob­ject (per­haps rightly) to a re­viewer run­ning their pre­cious pos­ses­sion at full throt­tle, mak­ing abrupt ma­neu­vers, and so on. How­ever, in this case, who bet­ter to come along than the peo­ple with the most ex­pe­ri­ence aboard this par­tic­u­lar yacht?

The Atkins are no strangers to boat­ing. They spent nearly seven years cir­cum­nav­i­gat­ing the globe on a sail­boat and owned and op­er­ated a full-ser­vice boat­yard and ma­rina in On­tario, Canada. Their pre­vi­ous yacht was a North Pacific 43, so for them to choose a North Pacific 45 af­ter re­search­ing all the other of­fer­ings on the mar­ket meant that the boat checked all the boxes.

DE­SIGN AND CON­STRUC­TION

In 2004, North Pacific Yachts was founded by Trevor Brice in Sur­rey, Bri­tish Columbia. To date the com­pany has pro­duced more than 120 trawler-style yachts that range from 38 to 59 feet. The suc­cess of North Pacific is largely due to their prac­ti­cal de­sign, fuel-ef­fi­cient dis­place­ment hulls, clas­sic teak in­te­ri­ors, high-qual­ity con­struc­tion, fine fin­ish­ing, and com­pet­i­tive price point.

The North Pacific 45 re­places the NP43, which was the first— and most suc­cess­ful—of the com­pany’s of­fer­ings, with 63 built to date. The NP45 in­cor­po­rates many of the at­tributes that made the NP43 so pop­u­lar: a sin­gle diesel, a full keel, fuel econ­omy, a full-beam sa­loon, two state­rooms, a raised pilot­house, a cov­ered aft deck, and a low-main­te­nance ex­te­rior.

The pri­mary de­sign dif­fer­ences be­tween the NP45 and the NP43 in­clude a more-or-less plumb bow on the NP45 that adds three feet to the wa­ter­line. Ad­di­tional buoy­ancy was built into the af­ter end of the hull by in­te­grat­ing the swim plat­form into the hull mold, which al­lows for higher top speeds (aided by the longer wa­ter­line). The spray chine was moved higher up the hull to re­duce that an­noy­ing wave slap. The beam was in­creased by 13 inches, which, com­bined with the ad­di­tional space af­forded by the plumb bow, adds a sig­nif­i­cant amount of ex­tra vol­ume to the in­te­rior. The wind­shield of the new model has a slight re­verse rake, which not only im­proves the over­all look (in my opin­ion), but also helps keep the rain off. That rake also helps keep things cooler in the pilot­house on those hot sunny days and re­duces in­stru­ment glare at night.

The en­tire hull is solid, hand-laid fiber­glass with outer lay­ers of vinyl es­ter resin to pre­vent os­mo­sis (pretty stan­dard th­ese days). The su­per­struc­ture in­cor­po­rates Nida- Core (hon­ey­comb) cor­ing and resin-sat­u­rated ma­rine ply­wood where ad­di­tional re­in­force­ment is re­quired. Alu­minum back­ing plates are used for cleats and stan­chions. The decks and in­te­rior floors are built on a sturdy alu­minum grid to elim­i­nate flex.

ON DECK

The NP45 can be boarded via the swim plat­form (with sta­ple rails for safety) or via a star­board-side bul­wark gate. The cov­ered cock­pit is rel­a­tively small, but it has room for a fold­ing ta­ble and fold­ing chairs, which of­fer more flex­i­bil­ity than fixed seat­ing. A

lad­der leads up to the fly­bridge.

The full-width sa­loon means there are no side decks. In­stead, port or star­board slid­ing doors in the pilot­house al­low for ac­cess for­ward. Other than the an­chor­ing gear, the main fea­ture of the bow area is a comfy molded bench seat with back­rest. Ac­cess to the fly­bridge is via the cock­pit or ex­te­rior stair­ways to port and star­board aft of the pilot­house.

A fixed hard­top is stan­dard and cer­tainly looks bet­ter than a can­vas bi­mini. All win­dows are framed in pol­ished stain­less steel, which again looks much nicer than the less-ex­pen­sive al­ter­na­tive (alu­minum, in this case). In ad­di­tion to the stan­dard du­pli­cate helm con­trols and in­stru­ments, the own­ers of the test boat had cus­tom­ized the fly­bridge with a mas­sive fold­ing-leaf ta­ble built to fit be­tween the fac­ing set­tees aft of the helm where there’s enough room for 10 or more guests. This ta­ble was clearly de­signed to be the cen­ter of ac­tion when the boat is at rest. The back por­tion of the fly­bridge held stor­age for a 10-foot RIB and a Nick Jack­son elec­tric davit.

IN­TE­RIOR

The sa­loon is en­tered via a heavy slid­ing door from the cock­pit—a nice im­prove­ment over the hinged door on the NP43. There’s an im­pres­sive amount of head­room (6’ 11”) in the sa­loon. Tra­di­tional teak and holly floor­ing and book-matched teak cab­i­nets (many with lou­vered doors) and wall treat­ments give the en­tire in­te­rior a warm, cozy feel. A closer look at the wood­work shows a pretty well flaw­less fit and fin­ish that goes the ex­tra mile by in­cor­po­rat­ing bent and lam­i­nated teak fid­dles and cab­i­net cor­ners, in­stead of stan­dard miter joints. Just above the cabin sole, rope light­ing hid­den be­hind valances adds to the warmth.

A dinette to port dou­bles as a bed, and the test boat was fit­ted with two plush elec­tric re­clin­ers to star­board for the ul­ti­mate in loung­ing com­fort. The U-shaped gal­ley fea­tures a full-size re­frig­er­a­tor/freezer, propane stove and oven, over­head vent, dou­ble sinks, and gran­ite coun­ter­tops. As with the rest of the NP45, there’s am­ple stor­age in the gal­ley for ex­tended cruis­ing.

At the for­ward end of the sa­loon is a stair­way up to the pilot­house and an­other that leads down to the ac­com­mo­da­tion area. The pilot­house is fronted by an un­clut­tered cen­ter helm con­sole with twin 12-inch Garmin touch­screens (which can be con­nected via Blue­tooth to an iPad) and a sin­gle lever throt­tle/ shifter, in ad­di­tion to the usual switches and gauges. Vis­i­bil­ity from the sin­gle helm seat is very good. Un­like on most pilot­house trawlers, here it’s pos­si­ble to see the stern of the boat by sim­ply glanc­ing back through the com­pan­ion­way open­ing. The two slid­ing pilot­house doors pro­vide ac­cess for­ward and al­low for good vis­i­bil­ity when dock­ing.

On ei­ther side of the helm are flat coun­ter­tops, per­fect for lay­ing out pa­per charts. The AC and DC switch­ing pan­els tucked un­der the con­sole are eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble. Aft of the helm is a pi­lot berth that does dou­ble duty as a set­tee. A small hinged ta­ble swings out of the way when not needed.

The com­pan­ion­way to the ac­com­mo­da­tion spa­ces has plenty of room for a sin­gle or stacked washer and dryer. Hatches in the sole pro­vide gen­er­ous stor­age for gear or food totes. The bow master is sig­nif­i­cantly larger than on the NP43, thanks to the plumb bow and added beam. The queen berth is lined in teak with plenty of stor­age in over­head cab­i­nets (with smoked glass), nicely crafted book­shelves, and hang­ing lock­ers to port and star­board. For those want­ing a sec­ond head, some of the cab­i­net/drawer space to port can be con­fig­ured with a toi­let and sink.

The guest state­room is larger than most, with bunk beds. The up­per berth folds up out of the way when not needed and the bot­tom bunk is wider. As else­where, there are am­ple draw­ers and a large hang­ing locker. Across the com­pan­ion­way is the head, with large sep­a­rate shower stall, gran­ite coun­ter­tops, rich teak cab­i­netry (lots of it), and a Tecma quiet-flush toi­let.

EN­GINE AND SYS­TEMS

Ac­cess to the en­gine (and as­sorted gear and sys­tems) is ex­cel­lent. The pri­mary ac­cess is un­der the com­pan­ion­way stairs, and the

sin­gle en­gine means there’s plenty of room to move around the en­gine com­part­ment. All wiring is tinned cop­per and neatly laid out with color-coded and num­bered wires. Wiring chases can all be ac­cessed through ei­ther ceil­ing pan­els at­tached with vel­cro or be­hind wood pan­els with screw caps. Power is a sin­gle 250-horse­power Cum­mins QSB 6.7L diesel driv­ing a four-blade prop via a straight shaft. A hefty 160-amp al­ter­na­tor pro­vides plenty of charg­ing power. The 12-volt elec­tri­cal sys­tem in­cor­po­rates seven 220-amp 8D AGM bat­ter­ies. There are three for the house bank, two thruster/wind­lass bat­ter­ies, and one each for main en­gine and start­ing for the 6kW North­ern Lights gen­er­a­tor. Es­par forced-air heat­ing is stan­dard and much more prac­ti­cal than re­verse cy­cle air, which draws a huge amount of power. The test boat was fit­ted with a low-main­te­nance Spec­tra wa­ter­maker.

UN­DER­WAY

Pro­por­tional Side-Power bow and stern thrusters make it a snap to ma­neu­ver in tight quar­ters. We were test­ing the boat out of Ca­noe Cove Ma­rina in Sid­ney on Van­cou­ver Is­land. It was a sunny day and the wa­ters were busy with boaters tak­ing ad­van­tage of the beau­ti­ful sum­mer weather. The only down­side was that it was calm, which makes it tough to do a thor­ough test. How­ever, with the own­ers hav­ing just re­turned from Alaska and re­port­ing hav­ing gone through gun­wale-to­gun­wale seas with­out in­ci­dent, one can feel con­fi­dent there are no per­for­mance is­sues.

We found the 250-horse­power Cum­mins was well suited to the NP45, pro­vid­ing good ac­cel­er­a­tion (for a trawler) with no cav­i­ta­tion, a tight turn­ing ra­dius of less than two boat lengths, no slip­ping in hard turns, re­spon­sive steer­ing, and very good straight-line track­ing. Our top speed was just un­der 13 knots. (We were light on fuel and wa­ter.) The own­ers found that a com­fort­able slow cruise was at about 1800 rpm (8.6 knots), while a fast cruise was at about 2200 rpm (10.4 knots). At a slow cruise, fuel econ­omy was ex­cel­lent, at 2.6 miles per gal­lon (3.3 gal­lons per hour). At a fast cruise, fuel econ­omy de­creased but was still a very rea­son­able 1.2 miles per gal­lon (8.7 gal­lons per hour).

CON­CLUD­ING RE­MARKS

I’ve al­ways been im­pressed by the North Pacific brand and the NP45 is no ex­cep­tion. It is ex­tremely well suited to both long-dis­tance cruis­ing and liv­ing aboard as it boasts a mas­sive amount of stor­age. The fit and fin­ish is ex­cel­lent, and all the ameni­ties and sys­tems have been well thought out for com­fort and ef­fi­ciency. The fuel-sip­ping sin­gle en­gine of­fers slow cruise fuel ef­fi­ciency higher than any trawler I’ve tested. The own­ers’ three-month shake­down trip to Alaska and back—with no sig­nif­i­cant is­sues—is fur­ther tes­ta­ment to the qual­ity of the over­all pack­age and to the NP45’s sea­keep­ing qual­i­ties. The North Pacific 45 in­cludes pretty much every­thing needed to go cruis­ing, ex­cept a dinghy.

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While the full-beam sa­loon elim­i­nates side decks, it does al­low for sig­nif­i­cantly more in­te­rior room.

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