Lessons learned building a semi-custom trawler

The seminar schedule for Trawler Fest in Anacortes, WA has been posted. This year we’ll be presenting on Thursday May 20th at 10:30am on our experience in purchasing, configuring and building a Nordhavn 52.

We attended our first Trawler Fest back in 2001, and began a trawler shopping process that culminated earlier this year in the delivery of a Nordhavn 52. It’s the first fully-configured Nordhavn 52, and hull #1’s always bring lessons. We have heavily customized the boat based upon our experiences cruising year-round in the Pacific Northwest for the past decade, with plans for world cruising. In this talk, we’ll describe lessons learned in going through the selection, configuration and build process, and provide advice for those considering a purchase.

For those interested in a more detailed view, PAE will be displaying 5263 throughout the show.



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9 comments on “Lessons learned building a semi-custom trawler
  1. Great question, Jackie. We bought the boat because we wanted a safe vessel with ultimate flexibility. Its exciting to know it can go anywhere in the world. If we never leave this area, its still a wonderful boat for us. Its great being out in small craft advisory weather and simply not notice. We love not having to fill the fuel tanks all the time.

    I can’t ever get more than 4 weeks off work in a year so going to Alaska is really difficult. With the new boat, we’ve decided that this year will probably make the trip by running 24×7 for just over 4 days. If we want to bring it around to the east coast, we can do that easily whereas our last boat just didn’t have the range. I had all these crazy plans of going super slow and having two hundred gallons of diesel bladders. But, in this boat, instead of it being a crazy or difficult trip, we can do it any time.

    Even when we’re not traveling during the work week, its enjoyable. The Sub Zero fridge, dishwasher, washer and dryer, heating system, entertainment system etc. make it a really great place to call home.

    Flexibility to go anywhere is the appeal but all of its use so far is in this area and we’re loving it.

  2. Jackie Schmidt says:

    Given you have all these changes taking into consideration the PNW waters, I am wondering if you feel you have had to compromise at all on design given you are introducing the idea of taking it out on the open ocean. In other words, one of the things my husband and others have said is that the Nordhavn is designed for Ocean crossing and is "overkill" for someone who just plans to stick around the PNW/B.C. waters.. maybe Alaska. For example …Nordic Tugs or American Tug… are much more OPEN floor plans with wider walk around, etc. I find it very interesting that you have guide books and are tremendously experienced in this area and ended up with this boat. What if you never ended up "Passage making", would you still be happy you went with a Nordhavn? Some concerns… smaller windows… smaller side decks… more up and down… gosh, wish I was attending your seminar! :-)


  3. Good hearing from you and thanks Jeff. For other shots on the water, these ones were done on a nice day: //blog.mvdirona.com/2010/03/23/ShakedownCruiseNisquallyFlats.aspx. We’ll look forward to anchoring off your place in the islands in the future.


  4. Jeff Henshaw says:

    Congratulations on the new Dirona! Beautiful ship, James. The photo of her in the slings under the giant cranes is amazing. Looking forward to more shots out on the water.

    If you’re ever near Lopez Island and want to drop in for coffee, give me a ring. We’ve got a mooring buoy ready.

  5. The cat is great with the new boat. More places to hide, longer distances to run,and more stable in rough water. Two paws up from Spitfire.

    We made several hundred change from the "stock" boat, some incredibly small and some quite substantial. So far, we’re very happy with the outcome. As we gain experience with the changes, we’ll post the details here.

    We’ve living aboard for a year and a half now. For us, its incredibly good. We live down in the core of Seattle. From a lifestyle perspective its unbeatable. We enjoy the city during the weeks and get out on the water most weekends.


  6. Jackie Schmidt says:

    BTW, how has your cat adjusted to the new boat? And I’m specifically interested in the changes you made based on your PNW cruising experience. And how you are enjoying living aboard…


  7. Jackie Schmidt says:

    I too am bummed I am unable to attend your seminar. Please do post info on your blog. :-)


  8. Absolutely. We will be posting to the blog descriptions of many of our choices and how they are working out over time.


  9. Yair says:

    Hi Jennifer and James,
    For those of us who cannot attend the presentation but are anxiously awaiting the details of your commissioning process and design/option choices, will you at some time provide that insight on your site or as a ‘package’ in a book – we’d be willing to pay. Happily! Cheers,

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