Mike and Lois Fannon used to sit on their houseboat listening to visiting cruisers talk about doing the Great Loop. At one point a few years ago, they looked at each other and said, “We should do this.”
Now they’re just about ready to go. The Germantown, Tenn., couple will cast off from Grand Harbor Marina early in the spring to begin their own three-year Great Loop odyssey. It’s a far cry from Mike Fannon’s early boating days, fishing in the High Sierras from a 12-foot aluminum skiff. “We’re very excited,” says Fannon, 65, who will retire this winter from Hilton Worldwide.
The wanderlust may have begun 14 years ago, when the couple bought the houseboat, a 42-foot Gibson. They owned it for 11 years, going out on weekends, making trips up and down the Tennessee River. “We would anchor out in the coves, tie up with other boats and have a good time,” he says.
For the Great Loop, however, they knew they needed a different boat. “We went to the Fort Lauderdale [boat] show and Trawler Fest, and we decided we liked the pilothouse trawlers,” Fannon says. “When the weather’s bad, you can stay inside.”
In time, the Fannons got a call from yacht broker Lenny Beck of United Yacht Sales (www.unitedyacht.com), in Beaufort, N.C., who had found an interesting boat for sale in the Norfolk, Va., area. “He said, ‘I’ve never seen one before, but you need to come look at it.’ ”
It was a North Pacific 42 Pilothouse, built in China for Surrey, British Columbia-based North Pacific Yachts. “I saw it and said, ‘Wow, this thing is great,’ ” says Fannon.
The couple did their research, read articles and spoke with an owner. “Everybody I talked to had good things to say,” says Fannon. “The survey came out great, and we decided to buy it.”
The price was $290,000, and the 2006 model was in near-perfect condition, though well-used. “The previous owner had it three years,” says Fannon. “He bought it to cruise up to Alaska and back.” It was also shipped to Florida and cruised to Nova Scotia. “He took very good care of it,” Fannon says.
“I liked the floor plan,” says Lois Fannon. “The boat is very easy to get around, very easy to get on and off, too.”
Mike is the cook, and the fully equipped galley-down has produced “some good meals,” he says with some pride. “It’s a nice layout with plenty of counter space and storage.”
Adds Lois: “I’m the dishwasher, and I can tell you it has a nice big sink and drain board.”
There’s plenty of storage throughout the boat, too. “It’s very well planned. I think there might have been a lady involved,” Lois says. There’s even a handy pantry under the steps between the saloon and pilothouse.
That pilothouse was another selling point. “It’s comfortable, and the visibility from the helm is very good,” she says. “You can really drive the boat in comfort from there.”
The Fannons have been very pleased with the North Pacific. “When we call the company, the telephone is answered by the owner, Trevor Brice, and he is quick to answer all our questions,” Mike says.
Power comes from a single 380-hp Cummins QSB 5.9 diesel. Cruising speed is about 7.5 knots at 1,700 rpm. At that rate, fuel consumption is 2.5 to 3 gallons an hour, or up to 3 mpg. With a 400-gallon fuel supply, the trawler has plenty of range. “It also holds 400 gallons of water,” Fannon points out. “That makes us pretty self-sufficient.”
Bow and stern thrusters make her “pretty easy” to maneuver around the docks, which will also be handy when it’s time to transit locks or canals on the Loop. Fannon has Raymarine c-Series electronics, with redundant systems. He’s added an Achilles dinghy and plans to install a KVH satellite TV system before the voyage.
The Fannons have mostly cruised close to home, their longest trip an 80- to 100-mile run up the Tennessee River. But the three-week shakedown cruise in 2009 showed the North Pacific’s qualities. “I picked it up in Stuart [Fla.] and we brought it around to Mobile [Ala.] and up the Tenn-Tom Waterway,” says Fannon. “It was about 1,800 miles, and I loved every minute of it.”
This fall, the Fannons headed for the America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association fall rendezvous to mingle with fellow Loopers. Then, in March or April, they’ll begin their trip. “We plan to take our time, see a lot of things, just bump along,” he says. “After that, who knows?”
One thing is certain: They’ve got the right boat for the voyage. “We’re really, really pleased with it,” he says.
The North Pacific 42 Pilothouse is a displacement trawler designed for extended cruising. The hull is based on the well-known CHB trawlers built at the Chung Hwa Boat Building Co. in Taiwan. It’s built on a solid fiberglass hull, 1 inch thick below the waterline, with a vinylester resin outer layer for blister prevention. Topsides are half-inch fiberglass, and Nida-Core is used in the deck and superstructure.
The flybridge and its steering station is accessed by side stairs that lead up from the wide walkaround decks. The pilothouse helm station is on centerline behind the three-pane windscreen, and there’s also a convenient watch berth. There’s a flat dash for gauges and an angled panel for electronics displays.
Just a few steps down from the helm is the saloon. It’s laid out with an L-shaped lounge, a coffee table and a chair. There’s a convertible dinette opposite with bench seating. The galley-up is to port and features a large island counter along with a stove top, oven, microwave and stand-up refrigerator. The master stateroom has an island double berth, an adjacent head and shower, lots of storage, bookshelves, hanging lockers and drawers. A second private cabin can be laid out as an office. Finished wood is used throughout, including teak-and-holly soles.
North Pacific Yachts is a relatively new face in the trawler world. It was founded in 2004 by the father-and-son team of John and Trevor Brice, who designed a 42-foot pilothouse trawler. (It was later upgraded to a 43 with a larger swim platform and other modifications.) The multilevel cruiser with a profile that’s a mix of modern and traditional was well-received, and North Pacific soon expanded its fleet to offer two more pilothouse trawler models — a trailerable 28-footer (designed by Karl Stambaugh) and a 39-footer — along with a 38-foot sedan. More than 60 boats have been delivered to date. North Pacific Yachts is based in Surrey, British Columbia, and the boats are built in China by Ningbo Fuhua Boat Building Ltd.
LOA: 43 feet
BEAM: 12 feet, 7 inches
DRAFT: 4 feet, 5 inches
WEIGHT: 31,000 pounds
TANKAGE: 380 gallons fuel, 350 gallons water
BUILDER: North Pacific Yachts, Surrey, British Columbia,
PHONE: (604) 377-6650.
December 2012 issue