The debut model of Vancouver, British Columbia-based North Pacific Yachts, the 43′ Pilothouse, represents both a tremendous value proposition with its price far below comparable competitive boats, and a model of practicality, as a design that began with a family project to “fix” what was wrong with then-available boats. The company is run, practically single-handedly by Trevor Brice, a pilot, boater and entrepreneur, who together with his family, set out to design a pilothouse cruiser that would really work for them. What they ended up with is a boat that sets a new standard for return on investment. Here’s how it got that way.
Trevor Brice is the 27-year-old son of John Brice, China trade expert and entrepreneur from Vancouver, British Columbia. After finishing his commercial pilot training, Trevor decided that, as much as he loved flying, it wasn’t the right career choice. Coincidentally, he and his father had been doodling a design for a new cruising boat for their family. One of the Brices’ pet peeves was how so many of the available boats seemed to be designed by people who didn’t have to use them or maintain them. A specific bee in the Brice bonnet came from the fact that many of the typical boat’s systems were simply inaccessible and hard to work on. They knew they wanted a pilothouse design for the extra visibility, and a full-beam salon and covered aft deck so the inside spaces would be as comfortable and inviting as the exterior when the weather turned sour.
While imagining their “ideal” boat, the Brices planned-in complete access to all systems, including wiring and plumbing. At some point, the family “fun project” turned more serious and they began looking for a builder. Trevor was looking for a new career path at the time and he discussed building not only the family’s new boat but starting a company to do so, and to continue selling a new line of cruisers designed around that theory of practicality. John Brice eventually agreed to put up the seed money for the company and to use his experience in Asia to find the right builder. His only conditions to Trevor: “Don’t lose too much money and don’t sell the demo boat!” The first turned out to be easy to do; the second he failed.
The 43′ Pillothouse
The North Pacific 43′ Pilothouse is a stout fiberglass trawler built on the original CHB 38 hull, which John had located in China. The Brices enlisted a naval architect to turn their notional general arrangement into construction drawings and CAD files and to ensure the seaworthiness and stability characteristics. The overriding philosophy of the design is that if a system can break or has to be maintained or repaired, it should be easily accessible. Access panels are everywhere on the 43′, with things like wiring both numbered and color-coded for simplicity in troubleshooting, and hinged electrical panels.
The hull features three layers of Micron Extra outside of two coats of Micron Epoxy. The two outer layers of composite are laid up with vinylester resin for blister-proofing and the rest of the schedule includes hand-laid layers of cloth, matting and roving. At and below the waterline, the hull is at least one inch thick and approximately one-half inch above the waterline. The deck is also hand-laid and features Nida-Core for stiffness and lightweight construction.
Have a look at the 43′ Pilothouse photo galleries at the bottom of this article.
The value proposition of North Pacific Yachts comes from the remarkably low prices of its boats — a direct result of experienced, lower cost Chinese shipbuilding and, probably more importantly, a nearly zero-overhead sales and marketing operation. There are no commissions-based sales people; no expensive boat show displays and exhibits, and only extremely well-focused advertising. The company maintains a commissioning and service company in Oak Harbor, Washington, from where it delivers its West Coast boats. A delivery to the East Coast of the U. S. is approximately $12,000 extra, but North Pacific will fly its commissioning crew to the boat at no extra cost, according to Trevor Brice. He said an East Coast boat, with its typical air conditioning and reverse-cycle heating, takes significantly less time to commission than a West Coast boat, which normally will require installation of a full-blown diesel heating system.
Another part of the value proposition is that the boats come very well equipped with a generator, bow thruster, diesel forced air heat, 3000W inverter/charger, Vacuflush toilet, windlass and anchor package, fresh/sea water wash down, and much more (see Specifications). Customers usually need to add only electronics. All the equipment is purchased in Los Angeles — brand-name North American and European equipment for easy service and repair. The NP43 cruises comfortably at 8- 10 knots, produced by the yacht’s single 230 hp Cummins diesel engine (twins available).
So what does it cost? Try $369,000, delivered to Seattle. Any way you slice it, that’s an amazing price point for a boat built like this and with that level of equipment. Of course, you need to try one on for size. But at that price, you can afford to fly to Seattle to get aboard one. With more than 50 delivered now, you can also find them on the East Coast. Check in with NPY to connect with a current owner through the North Pacific Yachts Owners group.
The company has other models available, including a 28-foot boat that is a true (8.5′ beam) trailerable, and a 39′ pilothouse that sells for $299,000. OceanLines will have a feature on the 28′ shortly, which some might find an attractive alternative to the Nordic Tugs 26 and other small pilothouse trawlers.
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