How Rick Ginsburg and Mary Silverstein of Fort Myers, Florida, ended up with North Pacific’s latest trawler model is a long story, but a short version goes like this:
Rick learns to boat in his native Ohio where he cruises Lake Erie on multiple Carvers. Mary boats with a fisherman father in Alaska. They meet in California, marry, move to Florida, and buy a new 2015 28-foot center console with twin 250-hp outboards. Mary hates the boat because it’s too fast, too uncomfortable, and too exposed. Their Maltese poodle Maddie Sue hates it even more and expresses her displeasure by throwing up on it. Within six months, they sell the center console. They look at a lot of trawlers and buy a new 2016 North Pacific 49 Pilothouse and take it to the Keys, the Bahamas and around the Great Loop. They love the trawler life. So, in December 2020, Rick and Mary take delivery of a new, contemporary-style North Pacific 49 Euro Pilothouse and in April 2021 head for Maine.
When Rick picks me up with their dinghy, Inhale, at the top of Mount Desert Island’s Somes Sound, the fog is thick. Exhale, their 49 Euro, is barely visible at her mooring. This is Rick and Mary’s first boat trip to the Pine Tree state, and although Rick doesn’t particularly like dodging lobster buoys and he isn’t crazy about Maine’s unseasonably cold July weather, they’re enjoying themselves. They’ve rendezvoused with friends from their Florida yacht club, they’ve found Mainers very friendly, and because they’ve logged some serious cruising miles over the years, the big tides don’t bother them.
Mary likes Maine’s scenery and wildlife, and she particularly enjoys the cool summer weather. “We don’t run the AC,” she says. “I love it. We eat in the cockpit every night. I enjoy the natural sounds. We see the seals, but we hear them, too. With AC, you don’t.”
Rick gives me a tour of Exhale and explains how the new 49 Euro Pilothouse model came about. As he tells it, North Pacific Yachts President Trevor Brice saw buyers were getting younger and weren’t necessarily interested in traditional trawler interiors. He asked Rick and Mary if they were interested in a more contemporary design, and the couple said they’d order a 49 Euro if they’d get input on the design.
North Pacific Yachts builds its semi-custom boats to order in China, and Rick likes North Pacific’s business model. “Trevor buys most of the major components in the United States, ships them to China and has the manufacturer install them,” he says. “Cummins installs the engine. Garmin does the electronics. It gives you a wide world warranty, so if you have a problem, you call them directly and you’re covered.” The couple gives Trevor a lot of credit for his willingness to consider owners’ ideas. “Trevor worked with us, and he’s been very accommodating,” Mary says.
The 49 Euro uses the same semi-displacement hull as North Pacific’s traditional teak-laden 49 Pilothouse, which is still in the builder’s line, but otherwise Exhale is significantly different. “The hull is about all they have in common,” Rick says, noting that besides the builder’s redesign, he and Mary made more than 150 additional changes.
The 49 Euro is the first North Pacific that doesn’t have a reverse-rake pilothouse. The forward windows pitch aft, the salon windows are now enormous, the hull windows for the cabins have been enlarged, and instead of a single door aft, the couple’s boat has a double sliding glass door that spans almost 9 feet. Even when moored deep in fog, light pours into the boat.
Cabin changes are also significant. Instead of a traditional teak interior with a teak and holly veneer sole, Exhale has a light ash interior with wenge accents and natural, solid oak floors, which brighten the space even more. “We can refinish them,” Rick says about the floors.
The galley is now all the way aft, making it a social center between the cockpit and the salon. Mary had strong feelings about the galley’s layout. She wanted the sink and not the stovetop by the port window. “Who wants to clean grease off the windows all the time,” she says. She also went for one large sink instead of two smaller sinks, and she had the original counter design, which she felt had too many levels and was too tall, simplified.
Rick demos the ingenious coffee station, which makes good use of the dead space in the corner of the L-shaped kitchen countertop. At the push of a button, the plumbed coffee machine rises, and with another push of a button lowers. He opens a door at the end of the counter and shows me the centrally located liquor cabinet. “It’s part of the work triangle,” he quips.
Rick prefers household appliances because they are less expensive and easier to get serviced. A large fridge sits to starboard, opposite the galley. Exhale also has two freezers and a microwave. They are a significant draw on the electrical system, but because of a large alternator, 450 watts of solar panels and 800 amp-hours of battery power the couple doesn’t often run the generator. “We’ve gone eight days without the generator or plugging in,” Rick says.
The couple likes to entertain so they had the transom cut out and a bench seat permanently mounted on the aft end of the cockpit and pushed back onto the swim platform, which is still plenty large for line handling and dinghy access. They now have a gate to either side of the bench seat instead of just one at the center of the transom. The cockpit also got an expandable teak table. “We had eight people in the cockpit for dinner,” Mary says. “And everybody was comfortable,” Rick adds.
On the flybridge, they added Flexiteek to make that space feel more luxurious, and to dunk their dinghy to port, starboard or aft, they chose a Nick Jackson Co. extendable davit with power rotation.
North Pacific offers multiple layouts for its models, but instead of the master suite in the bow, Rick and Mary always wanted a midship master stateroom. To make that happen, the companionway to the staterooms was moved from the salon to the pilothouse.
On Exhale, the forward cabin is for guests. The bow stateroom is about 18 inches shorter than the master on the traditional 49, but with an island queen and plenty of stowage it still feels like an owner’s cabin.
The new midship full-beam master suite features another true queen-size mattress with hull windows to port and starboard, and an en suite head to port. A washer and dryer are hidden behind cabinetry inside the master stateroom.
The new companionway location now means a trip from the salon to one of the heads involves going up to the pilothouse and down to the staterooms, and the helm is now offset to starboard, but Rick feels neither is a problem. They eliminated the bed conversion on the pilothouse bench seating and had the seatback made less upright and more luxurious. “We wanted the seats on the bridge to be more like home,” Rick says.
Rick liked the look of the reverse-rake windows on their first 49, but he is happy with the aft rake on the Euro. It allowed the helm station to be moved forward and made the pilothouse feel more spacious. They opted for a double-wide Stidd helm chair (they also put a Stidd on the flybridge) and they had the electronics lowered so Mary could reach them. “She runs the boat,” Rick says, to make it clear Mary can hold her own at the helm. “She’s just as competent as I am.”
For power, they chose an optional single 600-hp 8.3-liter Cummins over the standard 6.2-liter diesel model. They selected the larger engine because it turns at 300 fewer rpm and burns less fuel at hull speed, but also because it gives them extra power when they need it. “Ever gone up the St. Lawrence, or into a Florida Inlet?” Rick asks. “Or gone up the Mississippi?” Mary says about a long slog they once took up America’s biggest river while delivering a boat from New Orleans to new owners in Illinois. “Until you’ve experienced them and had the crap scared out of you…” Rick adds.
Those experiences informed other improvements on Exhale. Rick likes the variable-speed bow thruster, which is quieter and gives greater control than the
previous single-speed model; the remote fuel-transfer system that allows him to perform that function from the helm; and the Vesper Cortex-M1 hub with the H1P portable handset that provides AIS, VHF, GPS, cellular and WiFi connectivity and alarm notifications.
But the couple is particularly enthusiastic about their Seakeeper 9. “We love, love, love our Seakeeper,” Rick says. “We are the first North Pacific to have one. We no longer roll in beam seas.” They also no longer swing all over the place when they’re moored or anchored. “The Seakeeper gives a calmer experience,” he says.
As the fog lifts and the sky begins to lighten, Rick and Mary fire up the engine and drop off the mooring. In a near dead calm we motor down Somes Sound at a leisurely 5 knots. While Rick steers, Mary spots seals and Maddie Sue sprawls out on the pilothouse floor. It’s a calm, lovely ride, on a cool Maine summer day.
Does Rick miss the center console that Mary and Maddie Sue hated so much? “It was a great boat for day cruising and getting offshore quickly for fishing the Gulf,” he says. “It just was not a great comfortable boat for Mary and Maddie. My dream was always to buy a trawler.”
This article was originally published in the October 2021 issue.