We’re prepping for our big Christmas trip. We take one every year (except last year, when we were “between boats”). There’s still a long list of bugs to squash and small inconveniences to remedy. Onward!

Hot Coolant Smell

North Pacific has been working with me on the smell coming from the hydronic heat. First they arranged to for a visit by a tech from Seattle Boat Works (the local dealer for ITR, who makes our Hurricane Chinook hydronic system). In a weird twist of fate he was anchored just outside of our marina in Liberty Bay. Alex and I swapped out a couple lengths of hose and both of the heat exchangers under the bed, but the smell was still there. So, Trevor sent in the big gun: Dave Rasmussen, who did the original install, came down from Blaine to help troubleshoot. (Trevor has been adamant about fixing this before our trip). As Alex and I came to suspect, the smell was coming off the fiberglass wrapping around the exhaust elbow, which is just under the galley. There’s a fairly large air gap, which allows air from the engine room and bilge to flow into the space under the bed in the midship cabin; and, the fans on the heater cores were pulling in the air from the compartment with the exhaust elbow (not to mention some furnace exhaust, which was coming back into the engine room vent, along with some “bilgy” smell).

Dave replaced the insulation and gave me some preservation tape to seal up the air ingress points under the bed. He also cut a second intake port in the closet to make it easier to draw in inside air. The smell is totally gone now!

It’s too bad Alex and I replaced all of those parts for no reason (I liked the old blue hose better – it’s thicker). But, I’m glad we got it solved. Kudos to Trevor, Dave, and Alex (and Marcello from ITR) for getting this resolved before our vacation. I sent the old parts (still all good) back to North Pacific (but kept some spare hose).

I also love learning about the boat – and have a much better understanding of the Hydronic system, airflow, etc. We never did figure out why the wrap smelled that way. Hydronic boilers are often installed in the laz, so maybe they always smell like this but the air isn’t pulled into the cabin.

TODO: The preservation tape I used will last a year or two. If I replace it with something more substantial, it will last 4-5 years. Ultimately, I should get some door plank and screw it into the wall plywood to close off those gaps, and then caulk it for a more permanent seal.

Diesel Leak

I found about a teaspoon of diesel fuel under the site gauge on the port tank. There’s a cracked gasket on there which looks like the culprit. Since it’s on the outside of the ball valve, it should be easy to replace.

Loose Emergency Tiller Hatch

There is a round port in the swim step that allows access to the rudder assembly, so we can attach an emergency tiller, if we ever lose steerage. It came from the factory loose and sea water has been getting into the laz. There’s some rust on the rudder assembly and salt on the diamond plate. I cleaned up the hatch and tightened it down, but there’s still a little sand in there. I also didn’t use any lubricant, so the O Ring (which is really quite thin) may have gotten damaged when I tightened it.

The lazarette is filled with electronics, so it’s really important to keep it clean and dry.

TODO: (after vacation)

  1. Clean rust off the rudder assembly with FSR.
  2. Clean salt and corrosion off the diamond plate with Salt Away.
  3. Rinse and clean the deck plate and replace the O-ring. Tighten down with some lubricant. 
  4. Coat the rudder assembly with WD40.

Bubbling Dash

The material on the top of the dash in the pilothouse has some gaps beneath it, which are causing some discoloration. It looks like there is a problem with the adhesive. Fortunately, this is just cosmetic, so there’s no hurry to get it fixed. Unfortunately, it’s a fairly major job to remove this stuff and reapply it.


I got the last blinds installed in the master stateroom. They look great, but are a little awkward on the bottom (something only I will notice, I think). We weren’t able to fit blinds into either head or the kids room. They either blocked the ability of the portholes to open, or just didn’t work with the curve of the wall and the hull. For these, the XO is making some custom sunbrella covers we can pop on and off. The ones below are prototypes.


This is something that’s long overdue. We have stuff randomly scattered through the boat storage compartments without any logic behind it. There’s a lot of storage on the NP, but we’ve been totally wasting it. I brought home stuff we don’t need to keep there (the blinds that don’t fit, a sheet of extra teak, spare shelves for the refrigerator, etc.), sorted the stuff we do need to keep (dinghy spares, engine spares, tools, electronics, etc.), and started putting things in places that make sense, instead of whatever cabinet I happen to be standing next to (Binoculars at the helm!) We’re also making a bunch of small quality of life upgrades, like non-skid shelf liners, hose couplings for making the dinghy outboard flush easier, and a sun cover for the dinghy electronics.

I think we’re over the hump with the pre-trip maintenance. Now we’re moving on to provisioning. We’ll be out for 7-14 days and with the lockdowns, we’ll need to be a bit more self sufficient than usual. Really looking forward to our trip. It’s going to be a completely different experience than the Christmas Cruise on our Bayliner.

I love James and Jennifer. They’ve been an inspiration for me and have taught me a lot about planning, maintenance, and redundancy. But, I’m just going to admit that I’ll probably never carry a spare dishwasher spray wand aboard. I mean, 1) we don’t even have a dishwasher. And, 2) I guess at some point you’re dragging a whole spare boat along with you….

The holes on the original dishwasher upper spray arm (right) had widened over time, reducing the force of the flow and impacting cleaning effectiveness. We replaced it with a spare.

Source: Austfjorden

Some folks may be concerned we approached too close to the whales. We actually stopped a several hundred yards away (the cell phone is zoomed in, hence the grainy pics). We put it in neutral and were drifting. The Orcas were swimming back and forth (east and west) and were slowly approaching us. We repositioned once or twice to try and make room, but the Orcas kept getting closer. By the time they were within a hundred yards or so, we decided it was safer to just keep it in neutral and let them pass. This is exactly what the guidelines say to do.

I got the blinds installed n the pilothouse. The valence here isn’t as deep, so I was able to get a drill in there to create a pilot hole. In some places the screws are hitting fiberglass, which they can’t pierce, and so push the facing wood away (unfortunately, some of the blinds in the Salon I left like this.). For the pilothouse, I was able to drill into the fiberglass which allows the screws to set flush.

If the blinds in the salon don’t hold (because the screws didn’t pierce the fiberglass), I’ll go back and find a way to drill a deeper pilot hole.

The remaining blinds will go below. I’ve already discovered that, because of how the portholes sit on the hull (and how the valences are laid out), some of the blinds won’t work. So, we’ll probably sew some custom sunbrella covers with elastic sides that we can put on these windows. These would be in the heads and the kids’ room. I think the master suite blinds will work great, but we’ll need something for the bow hatch.