We just passed 100 hours on the main.

I’m not sure when the official one year anniversary is, since the way we did the financing we actually owned her before she landed. She splashed on 17-Jun-2020 and I first boarded her in Blaine on 20-Jun-2020. Commissioning was complete on 11-Aug-2020. Regardless, 100 hours in eight months ain’t bad for two people with kids who work full time.

Now that Turtle’s not a new boat any more, it’s time to turn my attention to the potatoes* of boat ownership – maintenance. I decided a long time ago to embrace boat maintenance (I still reserve the right to whine about home maintenance). I’ll quote myself from the manual I wrote for my old boat:

“The two happiest days of a boat owner’s life are the day they buy it and the day they sell it.” 

I hate that saying. Yes, boats need maintenance. The sea is relentlessly pulling her apart and it’s your job to make sure she stays together. How you address the need for this maintenance will determine whether you enjoy owning a boat or whether the old saw becomes true. You can either perform maintenance yourself, which requires time and patience, or hire someone to do it for you, which costs money…. But, ultimately, you’re the owner – and it’s not always easy to find someone to do the work. Someday you will be stuck somewhere with something broken (hopefully it’s something minor) and there will be no one around to fix it. Your goal should be to learn how do to as much as possible yourself.


This is part of why I fell in love with the NP: Everything is designed for maintenance. If it’s not stainless steel, it’s accessible and serviceable. Now, every NP is custom, which is really nice for BS-ing with other boat owners (“what’s she powered by?”). But, it also means they don’t really come with a manual. In fact, they come with several:

Note the stylish handbag…

Boat maintenance is a journey, not a destination. The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. I still make stupid mistakes all the time (last weekend I spent five minutes troubleshooting the outboard, only to realize I hadn’t put the clip on the auto-kill switch). This beginner mind is humbling, but it also leads to over-cautiousness and probably far more anxiety than it should. But, so far my approach of “do your best and ask for help” seems to be working.

So, what to do for maintenance? I have some experience with this on my old boat, but it’s hard to know when to follow the recommended intervals and when to disregard them. Cummins, for example, recommends checking the gear oil daily. The engine oil change interval is 250 hours or 6 months, whichever is sooner. So, these guidelines are clearly for a motor that is being used every day. But, the intervals can and should be different for one that sits for weeks at a time. This is one place where I feel like North Pacific could be a little more structured in what they prepare for owners. Even if every boat is unique, having some kind of guidelines – something like the book people prepare for putting a boat into charter – would be incredibly helpful.

Since that doesn’t exist, I’ll have to write it.

As with most big hard problems that I don’t know how to solve, the best place to start is probably with a simple list. For each system, I’ll crack the included manuals and leverage the community to figure out what the real interval should be (though asking for advice on trawler forum can be like asking a bunch of pre-schoolers who the best Avenger is…). I don’t expect I’ll ever be “done” with this. But, I expect in a few years it will stabilize.

  • Main Engine
    • Oil and Filters
    • Primary and secondary fuel filters
    • Inspect / replace pencil anodes
    • Re-torque engine mounts (there are no factory specs for this – any suggestions?)
    • Re-torque shaft couplings
    • Change gear oil
    • Flush coolant
    • Inspect belts
    • Flush aftercooler
    • heat exchanger (?)
    • Raw water pump (impeller)
    • fresh water pump (?)
  • Generator
    • Oil and filter
    • primary and secondary fuel filters
    • zincs
    • flush coolant
    • belts
    • heat exchanger (?)
  • Water Maker
    • clean /change media filters
    • change high pressure oil
    • change membranes (~10 years)
  • Dinghy
    • Change oil and filter
    • inspect prop (need spare pin)
    • charge / change battery
    • change plugs
    • anodes (there must be some in there)
  • Hydronic system
    • Fuel filter
    • Clean inside unit
  • Bottom
    • Inspect and replace zincs (2-3 x year)
    • Bottom cleaning (2-3 x year)
    • Bottom paint (~2 years)
  • Misc
    • Change fresh water filters
    • Inspect through hulls (open and close, look for rust)
    • Test bilge pumps
    • Test / Replace batteries
    • Thrusters (?)
    • Propane (fill and inspect)
    • Grease steering coupling
    • heads (?)
    • Grease windlass
    • Wax hull

*as in “meat and…”