This weekend we completely filled our fuel tanks for the first time. We had called around to get pricing for taking on 1,700 gallons:

  • Shilshole: $3.02
  • Poulsbo: $2.88 (up from previous week of $2.75)
  • Port Orchard: $2.81
  • Kingston: $2.79
  • Tacoma: $2.99-$0.20 (for over 1,000 gallons): $2.79 (we were told $2.66)
  • Ballard Oil: $2.73
  • Covich-Williams: $2.69 cash & $2.80 credit

The prices were slightly cheaper inside the locks, at Ballard Oil and Covich-Williams, but the hassle and time to go through offset that somewhat. We chose Tacoma as the prices were competitive and good anchorage was nearby in Quartermaster Harbor.

We left Seattle late in the afternoon, and arrived in Quartermaster after dark. We were heading south into steady 25-knot winds on the nose, but the boat rode so comfortably that we eventually stuck our head out the window to see if it really was blowing 25. The opening door was hard to hold against the wind. It really was blowing that hard but, in the pilot house, we had no spray or other evidence of wind other than watching the waves.  Not noticing a small craft warning is a big difference from the previous boat.

We were able to run comfortably from the pilot house along the east side of Vashon in the dark. We’ll still want to get some kind of light dimming screens for the nav monitors—even with the screen brightness turned down and the chart plotter in night mode, the screens still were pretty bright. (We have 4 Lenovo ThinkVison L1900ps.) Buoys and crab traps litter the entrance to Quartermaster Harbor, so we ran from the fly bridge to enter the anchorage. Visibility from up there was excellent.

Saturday morning we arrived early at the fuel dock and waited for them to open up. We’d drained the side tanks completely so that we could accurately gauge our capacity, and were down to only 15 gallons in the supply tank, with fuel barely showing at the bottom of the sight gauge. That’s under 1% of the capacity of the boat. We’ll bet we never choose to run it that low again.


We stretched a length of tape on the sight gauge level marking card and then added 50 gallons to each tank, marking off on the tape in 50-gallon increments. We hit the top of the sight gauges at 600 to port and 650 to starboard, and continued filling until fuel just bubbled up to the top of the fill pipe. We’d fuelled for about three hours, and the port tank took 834 gallons while the starboard tank took 831 gallons. That gives us 1,665 in the side tanks. Adding the 70 gallons in the supply and the 10 gallons in the day tank, we have 1,745 gallons usable fuel.


After fueling, we returned to Quartermaster for the night. We spent some time setting up the auto pilot—tracking is improved but more work is still needed. On Sunday, we had a nice easy run back to Bell Harbor with lunch underway. We didn’t notice a major difference in handling with the full tanks other than the boat is a bit more stable and doesn’t lean out as much on turns, but we’ve not had much of a chance to play with the boat yet to compare. We’re entering the final stages of commissioning, and while there still is much work to do, the boat is coming along wonderfully. We’ll be heading out for a week-long shakedown cruise starting this weekend, and will continue to settle in and learn more.


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7 comments on “Fueling
  1. Good hearing from you John and, by the way, thanks for the tips during the commissioning of Dirona. Its still a week or so from being fully commissioned and operational but we’re happy with how its coming to life. We appreciate the ideas you have sent our way.

    I agree that Nordhavns handle weather remarkably well. Last Friday night we were heading south in our first night run in the new boat and the anemometer was reading 25 gusting to 30. It just seemed high given how the boat was handling it. I wondered if the wind instrument was in error. Jennifer opened the pilot house door and the wind on the bow was nearly strong enough to tear the door out of her hands. It really was blowing 25 kts out there and we could hardly tell from the pilot house. Love it.

    We’re looking forward to learning more about how the new boat handles more difficult weather conditions over the next few months.

    Friday we’re heading out for a week long shake down cruise. During this period we’ll continue to unpack boxes and continue the moving in process while we enjoy using the boat. Its definitely starting to feel like home.

  2. Thanks for the blog feedback Mark.

    Mike, you were asking if we requested more fuel in our build. No, we took the standard 52 tankage. The supply tank and the day tank are the same size as the 47 and the side tanks are 100 gallons more in each at 800 gallons a side. We were told the actual tank capacity is a bit more than the specified amount.

    However, the theoretical size of the tanks on any boat is irrelevant. The number that matters is how much fuel is there between the pickup point and the top of the fuel filler. That’s the number we measured last weekend. We put 834 gallons into the port tank and 831 gallons into the starboard tank. I’m sure the side tanks hold slightly more 1665 is the usable capacity and the one we’ll use in our calculations.

    We’re pretty happy with a 1,745 gallon capacity. That’s a wonderful volume of fuel for a boat this size.


  3. Jamie, you asked why three types of tanks. Good question. This is one of the strengths of Nordhavns. The supply tank is where the main engine and generator draw their fuel. this primary purpose of this tank is to allow you to tank on a new fuel load into the main tanks and to polish that fuel while running on the old and clean fuel in the supply tank. Fuel that is pumped from the side tanks to the supply tank is pumped through a large fuel transfer fuel meaning all fuel can be scrubbed before being moved to the supply tank and will be filtered at least once before going into the supply.

    In the case of a transfer pump failure, you can gravity feed from the supply tanks and not filter.

    The wing engine has a separate 10 gallon day tank that we fill from the supply tank meaning that fuel going to the day tank will be filters yet again. And, fuel is never transferred into the day tank until its known good by use in the supply tank. This is an added layer of insurance. In the unlikely event that bad fuel makes it to the supply tank and you have main engine problems, the day tank is still clean and the wing engine will still run.

    We’ve also changed the plumbing slightly to allow us to scrub the fuel in the supply tank and installed a larger fuel transfer and filtration systems. We’ll post details on it in a future blog entry.

    James Hamilton

  4. John Marshall says:

    We noticed the same thing relative to weather on our N55… small craft warnings are no longer interesting because even at their worst, the boat is fairly comfy. But we still pay close attention to gale warnings, especially if the tide is against the wind. The boat can handle falling into the holes in the ocean that open up under those conditions without complaint, but we’re not a fan of the roller-coaster grade ride of gale winds against current. We’ve buried the bow a few times under those conditions of short, steep waves with 15 foot holes in between them. But a gale without adverse current isn’t so bad. We’ve cruised through 40+ knots winds a few times, waves on the beam, while sipping cappuccino in the pilot house, amazed by what the wind meter was showing and not feeling it all that much. The stabilizers took almost all of the roll out.


  5. Mike Lindskog says:

    James and Jennifer – Thanks for the update. I admit I was very curious about the fuel load after the statement from PAE that they thought the capacity was higher than advertised. It sounds as though the capacity is pretty close to design. Did you asked for more fuel capacity from PAE during your build?

    Looking forward to your fuel consumption performance numbers when you have had the chance to work them up, and your other impressions. Truly an exciting time for you both!

    Regards, Mike

  6. Mark says:

    Greetings from Ireland! I absolutely LOVE this blog James, I’ll probably never own a boat as splendid as the Nordhavn, but with the detail you go into here and the pics it’s the next best thing. Please don’t ever get tired of posting updates.

    Looking forward to your new adventures,


  7. Jamie says:

    Curious: Can you expand a bit on the tank setup? Why (if I’m reading it correctly) three different kinds of tank?

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