Red Rover Refresh

When Red Rover had her pre-purchase inspection this past June, we understood that she would need to have many of her systems looked at and serviced.  We didn’t have anything that wasn’t working.  It was more the combination of a 11 year-old vessel and a very good surveyor that created a lengthy work list for Red Rover.  We wanted her ready for any adventure as well as it was a good opportunity to look at each system on the earlier build 55s and update them to current build specs when it made sense. 

We chose Larry, Brad and team with Emerald Harbor Marine to carry out most of the work.  Emerald Harbor is Nordhavn’s choice in the PNW to outfit new Nordhavns delivered up here as well as to do their warranty work.  Many other Nordhavn owners come to them for service.  As such, the team knows the boats inside and out.  In fact, they have been on Red Rover several times with her prior owners.

I was a little surprised to learn that there are not many yards with Travel Lifts large enough for us in the Pacific Northwest.  Not that it really mattered, the only logical choice for us was to haul at Delta Marine.  Their yard is literally a one minute drive from my office.  Fortunately, Delta Marine’s Big Bob, their 400-ton Travel Lift, was just able to get us out of the water.

Scott, with EHM, joined me for the trip from Shilshole to Delta the afternoon prior to hauling out.  This gave me an opportunity to show him a few things that are easier to explain underway.  We knew that we would need to open the South Park Bridge, probably a quarter mile downstream from Delta.  We knew that it stayed closed for rush hour, thinking it mirrored the ship canal’s hours of 4pm to 6pm.  We arrived at 3:40 only to learn their closing hours are 3:30pm to 5:30pm.  We hung out for almost two hours…  ugh!  We finally made it to Delta’s dock and tied up for the evening.  Alison arrived shortly after and we settled in for our last night on Red Rover for nearly three and a half weeks.


Red Rover the night before


Promptly at 7am, the yard at Delta came alive.  We had a crew of 10, including a diver, to assist in the haul out.  They are used to hauling much larger boats!  We looked like a baby hanging in those straps….  At a mere 130,000 lbs!  It was a well-orchestrated and easy haul out.


Big Bob!
Just a few of the haul out crew


Is there a boat in the Travel Lift?



Shortly after being blocked, Brad and Scott were there to start pulling the stabilizers and Delta’s team was pulling the propeller.  Delta’s team was in charge of tuning the propeller, bottom paint, speed prop and replacement of missing spur cutter parts.  We also had them replace the stainless steel kelp cutters (deflectors really) with fiberglass units.  The SS fasteners of the existing cutters were corroded and needed repair.  Adding the fiberglass deflectors became a permanent solution.  EHM’s team was in charge of the balance of exterior work and all the work completed on the interior.

The most dramatic exterior change was the bottom paint color.  Alison and I bounced around the idea of red bottom paint for months.  We didn’t want it to be “of course” choice for a boat named Red Rover.  But at the end of the day, we “of course” had to have the red paint!

When the propeller was pulled, it was found that the key was “taller” than it should have been and did not allow the propeller to fully seat on the shaft.  The key was machined enough to allow for full seating upon reinstall.  The cutlass bearing was checked and the missing parts of the spur cutter were ordered.

Here is our list of projects.  Like many projects, they tend to grow and items added as you dive in and see what you have…

·        Bottom paint


·        Main propeller tuning



·        Speed Prop on main and wing propellers plus keel coolers



·        Stabilizer servicing.  We had a list underway and it was found that the port stabilizer had lost its sense of “center.”  So this service took care of this issue!



·        New zincs all around

·        Rebuild of the thrusters.  Going into the project, we knew that the bow thruster was leaking and needed attention.  When pulled, the sealant was nearly gone.  I decided to pull the stern thruster, although we were not having issues with it.  It was good that we did as the sealant was close to giving up the ghost.  It was rebuilt as well.




·        Sea chest rebuild.  This was rebuilt from port to stern.  New hoses, clamps, hardware as needed (if it didn’t clean up).  Strainers were rebuilt.  New acrylic top for the chest was fabricated in my shop.  We added a bleeder valve to allow any air out if it builds up underway.

Sea chest tear down
New parts from hull to chest
Fresh sea chest!

·        Manual bilge pump rebuild.  The seals were crusty and needed love (read replacement).  When pulled apart, we found that the hose to pump adapter was plastic and cracked.   A stainless steel adapter was used when it went back together.


Was it supposed to go there?  Yes!


·        Bilge pumps, floats and brackets.  The pumps/floats were so far down in the bilge, the surveyor could not reach them to test operation.  He recommended building a bracket to hold these items and then can be pulled up as needed for future testing/servicing.  When we really started looking at the overall bilge pump system on the boat, we decided to add to our scope of work.  We have a belt driven pump that is housed in the laz (with a pickup hose running to the bilge) that takes care of the usual pump needs – washing down the bilge, drips from the shaft, etc.  Then there is a high water pump (3800 gph) that is mounted higher in the bilge.  This is what would evacuate water in case of a burst hose or, god forbid, a breached hull.  Other than the manual bilge pump, that is all Red Rover had on board.  We added a second 3800 gph pump in the keel bilge plus we added the same pump to the forward “basement.”  The basement is the area below the forward stateroom that houses mechanical systems and provides storage.  There is an 1.25” drain from the front of the boat to the engine room bilge pumps.   If we had a major water intrusion forward, it could easily overwhelm the drain aft.  A new through hull was added for this bilge pump.  We also found that the float for the original high water bilge pump was not working….  So this was replaced as well!

Manual bilge pump to be rebuilt


New basement bilge pump waiting to be wired up
New SS bracket for keel bilge pump/float switch

·        Fresh water system.  It started with only the replacement of the accumulator tank (as the rubber diaphragm had failed), which is located in the basement.  When we reviewed plumbing/placement of the pumps and accumulator tank, we decided to make some changes.  As the accumulator tank was behind the water heater, we moved it to the port side so that it is easier to check/add pressure/service.  We also moved the two water pumps and simplified the plumbing system.  This allows for straightforward switching between pumps and give better access to all of the components.


Accumulator tank


Newly plumbed


·        Grey/Black water systems.  While most of the work involved the beloved black water system, it did involve the grey water to a degree.  When overboard pumping of the black or grey tanks is needed, both sets of hoses are “Y’d” together before going to one through hull.  We separated the two systems by adding a new through hull (this is done in newer 55s/60s).  In the forward head, the Y valve from the head (one way to the tank, second overboard) was broken and was replaced.  Also, the two hoses from the two head overboard hoses were “Y’d” together.  Another through hull was added to separate the hoses.  The control card for the flushing lever on the master head was replaced.


Y valve to be replaced
Boats should not have holes in them.



·        The watermaker’s two membranes were replaced, oil changed and the prefilters replaced.  Now working seamlessly!

·        We had leaks in the forward head sink and shower drains.  These were rebuilt.

·        Wing engine exhaust muffler relocation.  Bob Senter, aka Lugger Bob, visited Red Rover this summer.  His biggest recommendation was to lower the muffler from its existing height.  When we purchased RR, the height of the exhaust output on the motor essentially matched the input of the muffler.  Under certain conditions (extreme pitching), water from the muffler could flow back into the resting motor and compromise it.  Not good.  He recommended lowering it 4 inches.  The vessel had made it 11 years as built, but we decided to modify it and sleep easy at night.  It required cutting out of the pad that it sat on and accomplished easily.


·        Another dozen smaller tasks were either on the list or found during the three weeks.

 I must say that Brad (our lead for Emerald Harbor) and his team of Scott and Jeremy have been amazing!  Great knowledge of Nordhavns.  Brad was wonderful with bouncing ideas back and forth and coming up with great solutions.  Thanks guys!

During this work, we stayed in a furnished apartment downtown.  The accommodations were fine but we were very anxious to get back home!  We asked Emerald Harbor/Delta to complete the “below the waterline” work and anything else that can be accomplished during that timeframe and then splash Red Rover as soon as possible.  Any outstanding items can be completed in the slip.


Red bottom paint!

The splash went smoothly and we don’t know who is more excited, Alison and myself or Zoe!






For added fun, before we left, James with Pendana arrived to get his turn at Delta!



7 thoughts on “Red Rover Refresh

  1. Thanks Kevin,
    This is a great account of the actual projects that can come up, when buying a boat. Those little things, all add up.

    1. Absolutely Graham. All things that come up from time to time, obviously when a boat is purchased or throughout one’s ownership. In Red Rover’s case, it was all at the same time! Silver lining – we know many of the systems have been looked at/touched at the start of our guardianship which brings peace of mind…

  2. Good read! I remember those days of the big haul-out’s. We’re working up to another one ourselves. We’ll chip away at projects while in NZ, & probably hit our next big haul-out in Thailand.

    1. Yes, looking forward to have the list done “for now.” But I know that list grows as time marches on. Actually looking forward to having time in the future to do some of this myself!

  3. Congrats on your purchase and the start of an amazing adventure. We are where you were 8 years ago. Dreaming of selling it all and becoming full timers. We have 2 preteens still at home and 10-15 more years of careers. The N55/60 is our dream boat. We look forward to future updates!

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