Offshore cruising without crash, bam, thud in the night

Crashing furniture.  Glass tinkling followed by crunching noises. Heavy thuds that require investigation.  Whacking doors.  The lovely sound of unidentified items sliding across polished teak surfaces.

Noises that create anxiety for sure.  “What was that??”  Followed by full boat scurrying trying to find the source of the noise.  Add some bigger seas and increase the possibility for strange sounds and seasickness-inducing noise hide and seek games.

When we were leaving Crescent City, CA for Monterey a few weeks ago, I was showing our friend Laura who was crewing with us what we do to prep the boat for being offshore.  For comfort, safety and of course, noises. Because afterall, I hate the noises in the night.  So we try to eliminate them altogether.  In chatting with Kevin, it seemed like it might be a fun blog post.  Here it goes!


We pretty much live in the pilothouse when we are on an overnight or a multi-night run.  Red Rover has both a day head and a captain’s cabin in the pilothouse, making food and a shower the only reasons to leave.  Snacks though.  We have snacks.  Behold the snack bucket filled with all kinds of things from Halloween candy to beef jerky to cookies to granola bars to pistachios and trail mix.  Eating keeps you awake.  Plus, who doesn’t love a snack?

Kevin considers a bag of penny candy (from Monterey) that was added to the snack bucket.
Zoe and Max join Kevin for a snooze in the captain’s cabin.

When we are offshore, we also position our ditch bag with EPIRB and dog life jackets right behind the helm chair in the pilothouse.  When we are in more protected waters these items live a few steps away in the captain’s cabin.  Our life jackets with our individual PLB’s inserted in them hang by the door to the cockpit, or are also in the pilothouse, resting on the stair rail.

The ditch bag and doggo life vests.  Matching.  Convenient.

We have three ELO touch screens in our pilothouse in addition to a Furuno MFD.  The large screens are built to be outdoor interactive screens, and aren’t specific to the maritime industry (in other words, they are much less expensive).  The screens are amazing, but at night they do not dim quite as much as we would like.  No problem!  Kevin developed a series of covers with neutral density film that we place on the large monitors at night, and hocus pocus, we have dim screens.  The film cuts the amount of visible light from the screens without changing the colors of the display.

The three large screens to the left, the Furuno MFD to the right.


The galley is the main culprit when it comes to noises in the night.  As we live on our boat full-time, we’re not willing to use all plastic glasses, plates, etc. and feel like we are camping.  We have “real” dishes and glass glasses.  As such, anti-clanking and anti-breaking measures are stepped up.  I have a throw pillow fixation – I just love a good pillow.  This addiction comes in handy when ensuring the mobile bar, glasses, plates and more will not break.  We have never broken a plate, a glass, a bowl, or any kitchen and dining element when underway.  The breakage comes from typical dumb maneuvers that could happen in any house.  In addition to the pillows, I line the sides of each cabinet with dish towels.  No noise allowed!

The glassware cabinet.  Stuffed!

While we can’t have broken dishes, we also can’t have broken booze bottles.  No way.  More pillows for the bar cabinet… plus a messy bottom shelf I now see as I insert the photo.  Ah well, we’ve been cruising the coast for over a month now.  That’s how it goes.

Liquor (and other things) cabinet with some more anti-rattling pillows.

We also have a super swell pantry.  It used to be a very dark and deep cabinet where food went to disappear and die.  Now it has really nice sliding shelves in it.  We were inspired to put these in place when we saw a couple of other Nordhavns with a similar set-up.  So Kevin installed them, and we loved them.  And then we left the dock.  Thunk. Thunk. Thunk.  Hmm.  New noise?  The shelves like to slide out and hit the cabinet door when the boat is in motion.  Bungee cords to the rescue!  What can’t you do with a bungee cord?

The source of the thunk.

In Seattle, we had some of our cookbooks and a dog treat tin wedged next to the cooktop.  They didn’t move for any trips in Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands, the Inside Passage or even the West Coast of Vancouver Island.  But for this more serious, much longer offshore trip, they, and every other potentially sliding noisy item have been moved, or in the case of the fruit, sitting on a very sturdy non-skid mat. The galley is pretty stark at the moment.

Galley without much on the counters.

The previous owners of this fine vessel (I think the second owners) did some cool upgrades.  One of the nifty changes was to add an “appliance garage” to the galley.  This is normally an open counter area on many 55s.  We not only have appliances in the garage, but also often other things that we don’t want to roll around.  Put it all in there and shut the door.

Appliance garage keeping things in place!

The fridge is the next area of focus.  Early in our ownership of Red Rover, in fact, before the boat closed, we went to hear Jeff Merrill talk about “Dialing in Your Trawler” at Trawler Fest, then in Anacortes.  Jeff was our broker for this purchase, and he was awesome.  He is also a huge source of information and helpful tips and tricks.  Such as this one – $1.49 curtain rods that keep everything in place in the fridge when you open the door.  And, they help pack the stuff in there to keep it from moving…and making noise.  Again, don’t judge my fridge.  🙂

Curtain rods.  In a fridge!


Similar to the galley, when we were living in Seattle, I had a bunch of other nice “things” out in our salon.  Photos of our family, Glassybaby votives, some books… things you might have in your living room.  Because of course, this is our living room.   All of that is packed in towels and bubble wrap and stuffed into cabinets and closets for the moment.  It will come back out soon.  At least some of it – I will museum putty some things in place!

We also like wine.  Well like might not be a strong enough word.  We love wine!  And we have a good bit of it stored here and there on the boat.  Prior to the Big Left Turn, we took the wine out of the wine cooler and wine rack in the salon and stashed it back with the other bottles in a much safer location.  We did have one trip where a few wine bottles shot right out across the salon.  Lesson. Learned.

This boat doesn’t look like anyone lives here right now.  Well maybe the fishing lures in the chair are a homey touch?
An empty wine nook.  Sad.


Max is a fan of his potty patch.  Zoe is not.  Generally Max has a small potty patch, but for this extended cruise we rolled out the lawn to entice Zoe to use it.  She apparently has a bladder of steel however, as she will wait over 30 hours to finally utilize the lawn.  And only after she is walked around the whole boat on her leash.  We’re hoping that we can decrease her timeline to oh say 12 hours.  Paws crossed.

The lawn.
The yards.

Speaking of the lawn, we do have a “yard” on Red Rover.  When we are in transit we put one of the “yards” in the cockpit sink so it does not become a floating yard.  The other “yard” is housed in a non-skid dog bowl so it tends to stay where you leave it.  As a yard should.

The anchor and chain locker

On our first offshore trip, well really our first trip ever in Red Rover, we had a learning experience.  The big seas during that trip tossed our anchor chain up and down and up and down.  When we headed for shelter one night, at 1 am, in the pitch dark, we found that our anchor chain was tangled in a giant ball full of knots.  There was a lot of swearing and some blood before that chain could be deployed. So now, we stuff fenders down into the chain locker before we go out into the ocean.  Not only do the fenders keep the chain nicely in place, they also keep the chain quiet!

Fenders stuffed in the chain locker stops a heaving chain in bigger seas.

We always secure our anchor when we are underway.  When we are in protected waters, all of the elements in the photos below are in use, except for the offshore version of our chain lock that you see here.  We have a less heavy duty version for protected waters cruising.


Anyways, that’s a bit of what we do to stop the “the thunk in the night!”

19 thoughts on “Offshore cruising without crash, bam, thud in the night

  1. Thanks, some great ideas. I particularly liked the fenders in the chain locker. I’ve had that same balled up chain problem on our last boat, a Swan 46. It never occurred to me to use the fenders. I’ll try that this coming week on our N55. I’ve also taken all your ideas and made a new check list for offshore departures!

    1. Aww! That’s a great compliment! Yep, we haven’t had that issue since the fender stuffing commenced. You are the new owners of formerly named Zoe, correct? Now Gray Wolf? Congrats and welcome to the Nordhavn family! We love our N55 and hope you will love yours too!

  2. Love your post and valuable advice to offshore boaters. You guys are great! Safe quiet travels.

  3. Here’s a great suggestion we learned from Bart & Julia on N55 “Vamos!”: For wind and liquor bottles, buy tube socks and put your bottles in the socks. Black socks for red wine, white socks for whites…(or whatever colors make sense to you. I have a decent collection of rums that we protected with socks – no more clinking and no more stuffing pillows and towels in the liquor locker!

  4. This is fantastic! Thanks so much for the great ideas! And for providing a reasonable explanation for the ridiculous number of pillows on ‘Set Free’! Happy to hear about the lawn, because the main thing I agonize over with regards to 24-7 ocean cruising is what to do about the dogs. Safe cruising! 🥰

  5. After clinking and clanking down the coast for a couple of days, Gwen made the rounds of local dollar stores around Brookings and bought small nerf (foam) footballs and basketballs to stuff into various galley lockers. We got the idea from an old Dirona blog post. We really learned to appreciate them yesterday when we had a stabilizer failure and experienced beam seas “au natural”.

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