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.

Bill, the Seattle North Pacific rep, happened to catch me outside of Shilshole as I was single-handing Turtle to her new (temporary) home.

It’s been a busy fall. We moved to a new city and that’s been taking up most of our attention and energy. We also moved Turtle to a new marina, closer to our new home. We only have transient moorage until May – and it’s a 30A slip – but the owner of the marina assures us she can find us a permanent slip with 50A power. I didn’t think I would care about 50A, but it’s nice to be able to run the hydronic heat at the dock without igniting the diesel boiler. We also need 50A to do laundry. We can always run the generator, but it’s a nice quality-of-life upgrade to do everything we need on shore power.

We’re keeping our Shilshole slip for now. We have regular business over in Seattle, and it will be nice to have the boat over there as a local condo when we need to stay overnight. It’s expensive maintaining two moorages, but the waitlist for Shilshole is so long I’m hesitant to give it up. The new moorage is about half of what Shilshole is, so it will be nice to eventually move here permanently.

There was a long wait list here, as well. But, apparently having a shiny new boat bumps you to the front of the queue for private marinas. I feel a little bad about that – but not really. Especially considering how we’ve been treated by the sailboats and live-aboards.*

Anyway – mechanical updates!


We’ve started seeing our forward ELCI breaker trip. This happened sporadically up in Blaine during commissioning as well. So far it has only happened once, but it made us lose all the food in the fridge, since we don’t leave the inverter on when we’re away. There are no obvious sources of surges (no electric heaters, etc.) and the failure is infrequent. When we plugged power back in we saw a green flashing light which indicates: “...the tripping is due to an over current“. These things are super sensitive, so it could be anything. This one may be tough to track down. Now that the boat is closer, it’s easier to check in on it. But, I still want to know that I’m not going to intermittently lose shore power. North Pacific is helping troubleshoot – but I am also farther away from their usual boat mechanics, so the logistics could be a problem.

Hot Coolant Smell

One or both of the heater cores under the kid’s bed smells like hot antifreeze. If you’ve never smelled it, it smells like maple syrup or roasted chestnuts. There are no signs of leaks anywhere, but the smell is quite strong. North Pacific sent me a spare heater core and the local rep for ITR (the manufacturer) happens to be anchored outside our new marina (seriously, that’s a stroke of luck!). He’ll come troubleshoot on Tuesday. We need to get this addressed before our Christmas trip.

Salon Blinds are Done!

I’ve had piles of blinds sitting in the laz for months now. I finally bit the bullet and spent a day getting the rest of them in the salon. The valence hanging over the window makes these really hard to get in. A couple a tricks I found:

  • Use some poster putty to hold the clip in place while you get the screws in.
  • Get a really long extension for the power drill (and use the hex head, not the Philips head).

A couple of times I could not get the screws to go all the way in, the facing would pull away and the screw hit something (maybe the aluminum floor mesh?). But, for the most part they seem secure. I think they look really good…

Couch feet

Finally, this has been a chronic annoyance for a while. The couch doesn’t sit level (on a boat? really?) and the plastic pads scratch the floor. We tried little shims and felt pads, but they don’t work. So, I added some permanent felt feet that can be adjusted. Now it sits level and I can move it without scratching the floor.

One more thing. I picked up one of these Milwaukee portable shop vacs and they’re amazing. It makes cleanup of sawdust and other stuff super convenient. It’s also part of the whole “Fuel” line of tools that use interchangeable batteries. Though, there are differences you should be aware of before you decide to lock into their ecosystem. So far I have the shop vac, a drill, an impact drill, and a leaf blower. Been very happy with them.

*Let’s just say the tension between sail and power, and between marina live-aboards and monthly moorage, turns into full on class warfare when you have a new boat.

I’ve been using Numbers on my iPad to collect ship’s log entries. It’s working pretty well, so far. I have a template with some of the items as pop-up menus, and I can copy/paste the GPS coordinates from the Navionics app.

Lots has happened! Briefly, we went on a two week shakedown cruise through the San Juans. Turtle handled beautifully and there were only minor issues. General overview: we went from Sucia to Reid Harbor to Garrison Bay to Blakely Harbor to Bellingham to LaConnor to Blake Island to Shilshole.

I didn’t intend this as a cruising blog (it’s probably more of a “North Pacific 45 enthusiasts” blog), so I’ll spare the details there.

The boat handled beautifully in many conditions. Being able to make water and do laundry aboard is amazing. Fueling up, pumping out, docking, adding fresh water dockside – all are so much simpler than our old boat. I’m particularly surprised at how maneuverable the boat is at low speeds.

We’re in Shilshole for now while we find permanent moorage.

Meanwhile – a random gallery from the trip.

We’re done with commissioning. We met with Dave yesterday to go over things. The hydronic is done! We have unlimited hot water and five zone heat. It’s a beautiful unit.

Dave also worked out an innovative solution to get the hydronic hot water playing nicely with the 11-gallon domestic hot water tank and the engine heat exchanger loop.

We also made some quality of life upgrades.

The water maker is working and we made 50 gallons yesterday as a test. We replaced the undersized nylon line on the rode with 150’ of chain for a full 500’ of chain. The weight made no difference to how the boat rides in the water and there’s plenty of room in the chain locker. We also got some hoses for the washdowns and a thousands other small things.

There were several items on the commissioning list we didn’t get done – we just ran out of time. We never plumbed the BBQ and there are a few cabinet latches that need to be fixed. Lots of small things we can figure out once we get to a new home port.

We’re departing Blaine for the San Juans this morning. Still lots of stuff to get organized. But, we’re officially casting off for the next couple of weeks.

This blog is intended as a document of the nuts-and-bolts aspects of the boat – not as a cruising blog. But, some cruising stuff may leak over.

Shakedown was a big success. We spend the night in Echo Bay, took the dinghy to shore to explore the China caves, and had our tasty first boat meal. We got hit with wind directly out of the SE and there were some big rollers through the anchorage over night, but the Rocna held amazingly well and the kids slept right through it.

Stuff that worked well – the boat handles amazingly (we spent some time with a professional captain to learn how to handle a single screw. Thanks, Gerry!), the basic electronics are solid (we got the autopilot configured, charts, and radar work great), the amenities are really nice – hot shower, laundry, stove, etc. And, of course, our Rocna holding us solid through some big seas. The boat cruises and “lives” incredibly comfortably. The generator is really quiet and worked well to get a load of laundry done and heat some water for showers (the always-on hydronic isn’t working, yet).

We compiled our list of gremlins, as anticipated – the battery monitor is reporting nonsense, as are the blackwater tank monitors. There were several other minor annoyances that Dave will work on this coming week.

Lot’s more progress. We’re targeting Saturday for a shakedown cruise. Not everything will be done, but we’ll be seaworthy, with most of the Quality of Life stuff ready. We hope for 90% of the commissioning to be done by August 10th or so.

Also, just found out that I need to apply for my own MMSI number and Ship Station License from the FCC to get my AIS broadcast ID. As usual, trawlerforum has been super helpful.