It was not your typical day cruise on Florida’s Pine Island Sound. A frigid, 30-knot northwest blow lashed us from above, while angry seas boiled us from below with a confused chop and sloppy rollers. There was no lee to be had during our three-hour leg up the Intracoastal Waterway from Fort Myers to Captiva, nor did any other boats care to join us out there. On a normal January day, this route would have been littered with day cruisers, but today it was just us against Mother Nature. And boy, was she pissed.
“Worst conditions I’ve seen in here by far,” said the owner of Exhale, the first hull of the North Pacific Yachts 49 Euro version. “If you had wanted to postpone this a day or two, I would’ve understood.”
But, as any seasoned skipper can attest, there’s something inherently “trawlerly” about weathering a less than perfect day on the water. And the North Pacific 49 Euro is a trawler to the core—made to handle elements just like these, a fact that became clearer with each lumbering roller we tamed...
While the 49 Euro is in many ways a new model, the shipyard calls Exhale Hull No. 11 (or 4911) in North Pacific’s 49 Pilothouse line. The semi-displacement hull remains unchanged. The departure is more contemporary design and styling. With boat-buyer demographics skewing younger, the British Columbia-based brand wanted to appeal to buyers seeking a more modern look and feel, but with the materials and quality of a traditional trawler, according to North Pacific Yachts President Trevor Brice. As the purveyor of a traditional trawler magazine who happens to fit that target demographic, I was curious to see the 49 Euro with my own eyes.
Styling is courtesy of North Pacific Yachts’ Italian naval architect, Andrea Viacava, who for years has helped modernize NPY vessels within the boundaries of a traditional trawler. The first notable aesthetic derivation on the 49 Euro is a forward raked pilothouse windshield in lieu of the traditional reverse rake. The change adds enough volume to move the control panel forward, making the pilothouse feel at least a third larger than the one on the original version. A custom overhead ventilation hatch delivering refreshing natural airflow underway came in especially handy while I was on board. In the evenings, track lighting hidden by an unobtrusive ledge just below the headliner adds a discreet layer of luxury without the glare.
The solid teak wheel felt smooth and reassuring under my fingertips on our run up to Captiva. The 49 Euro’s semi-displacement hull exhibits good stability and economy at low-end speeds, while providing lift to allow for higher top-end speeds. Maximum speed varies by boat, depending on engine package and load. According to Brice, a twin 480-hp engines option will deliver up to 20 knots (twin 600s are also possible for higher speeds), though the standard package remains a single 355-hp Cummins QSB6.7 engine—same as on the existing 49, providing efficiency with a 7- to 10-knot cruise and a 12-knot top end. The owner of Exhale opted for a bigger single-engine package: a 600-hp Cummins QSC8.3, which the owner says provides around 14.5 knots on a normal day. With the trim tabs adjusted right, he says, she’ll even break a plane.
Exhale’s owner also chose the 600-hp Cummins because he wanted to achieve the same cruise-speed efficiency at 300 less rpm. It’s easier on the engine, and the additional 2 knots of speed at the top end push more water past the rudder—which, as anyone who has ever tried to maintain course or run an inlet on a slow boat in a following sea can attest, is a rather valuable (and marriage-saving) asset to have.
Typically, the owner likes to cruise her at around 6.5 knots, burning 2 gallons per hour. Our venture was more of an outlier for him. Running hard on a schedule, under full load, against a stiff current, with 30 knots of wind leaning against our superstructure, we made a respectable 7.3 knots and burned a shade under 5 gallons per hour. The next day, in better conditions, we ran her home at 1450 rpm for a 7.5-knot cruise, burning 3.2 gallons per hour.
The 49 Euro includes the same standard equipment as the existing 49, but, as with any North Pacific trawler, it’s highly customizable. Among the many customizations aboard Exhale is a Seakeeper 9 gyrostabilizer, the first on a North Pacific trawler. The Seakeeper is more a peace-of-mind amenity than a necessity; we didn’t really need it, or any stabilizer for that matter. I noticed only a slight improvement in the boat’s temper with the unit engaged—a testament to what a sure hull form with a hard chine and a full-length keel should deliver naturally in terms of seakeeping ability. But for owners like Exhale’s who want the feature, there’s ample lazarette space to accommodate it, an impressive feat for a 49-footer. The owner also opted to add a 78-gph FCI Aquamiser watermaker.
Later, having tied up at Captiva’s South Seas Marina—a protected gem of a stopover point—before our sunrise photo shoot the next morning, I settled into the boat’s living space for the evening. While a traditional dark-wood trim package remains available, the new palette is a contemporary fusion of ash and wenge woods, and black Italian veneer. The ambience is light, airy and elegant. Countertops on Exhale are Meganite, a high-performance acrylic solid surface designed for variable environments, with a variety of color options. Exhale’s owner went with cremo Carrara and galaxy mist.
In terms of layout, Exhale introduces a galley-aft arrangement to the North Pacific Yachts brand, with larger sliding glass doors and windows throughout the boat, and a bigger cockpit with integrated seating. I’ve always been a fan of the galley-aft positioning, which is accessible to both the cockpit and the full-beam salon, and, in my opinion, creates the ultimate indoor-outdoor social area. Upgraded GE appliances, Magma cookware and a Summit fridge/freezer sized for an apartment were installed at the owner’s request. I found the placement of the galley appliances interesting. The standard arrangement has the stove to port with the sink and counter facing the salon. On Exhale, the owner swapped sides. He placed the cooking area closer to the conversation zone, and gave “dish duty” a deluxe view to port. His choices make a lot of sense.
The question of whether my host was a coffee or tea guy was answered when he pushed a button, and I watched as a custom coffee station ascended from a cutout in the elbow on the galley countertop. Neat. That idea was conceived after the owner and Brice pondered, What can we do to maximize this corner? Collaborative conversations like this, and a builder’s willingness to accommodate new ideas, are what can make a good boat a great one.
Similar thought went into the social zones. Between the beamy flybridge, the enlarged pilothouse and cockpit, the reconfigured galley/salon and the foredeck bench seat, Exhale has plenty of areas for a large family or several guests to spread out. I’d love to see an option to complement that foredeck area with a pedestal table and a bimini top for alfresco entertaining on the hook, which I expressed later to Brice, who was outwardly enthusiastic about the idea. It would hardly be the first time this builder has put owner feedback to good use.
For accommodations, the original layouts with two or three staterooms are available, or owners can choose a new amidships master stateroom layout with a forward VIP stateroom. Exhale has the latter. Spreading out in the forward stateroom for the night, I melted into a plush, queen-size berth where I would have expected a basic V-berth. Large ports and the nearly 7½ feet of headroom eliminated any sense of claustrophobia. The day head was easily accessible, and there was enough stowage to head around the Straits of Florida and off to the Caribbean for a few months—which is exactly what the owner intends to do. Of course, he and his wife will have even more space in their full-beam master stateroom with a queen-size berth, ensuite head and large windows. The natural light really brings out the contemporary color palette, giving the living spaces an air of elegance and modernity.
Most trawler owners want to slow down and watch the world go by, safely and in comfort. The real test of any trawler is how well those creature comforts can still be enjoyed when the going gets tough. Even in rough weather, the North Pacific 49 Euro left me feeling as if I’d had a glorious time. And with its bold tack toward contemporary styling, I can see this particular trawler life appealing to a whole new demographic in a big way.
LOA 51ft. 4in.
Beam 15ft. 4in.
Draft 4ft. 10in.
Displacement 28.5 tons
Fuel 500-920 gal.
Water 200-250 gal.
Displacement 35,000 lbs.
Engines (standard) 1x 355-hp Cummins QSB6.7
Engines (optional) 1x 600-hp Cummins QSC8.3; 2x 480-hp/600-hp Cummins
Photos by Jim Raycroft
PHOTO GALLERY: INTERIORS/EXTERIORS
PHOTO GALLERY: RUNNING SHOTS