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Most recreational trawlers, like the Nordhavn 40 featured in this film, use hydraulics for steering.

The system needs to be checked regularly; hoses must remain intake, fittings tight and the entire assembly regularly reviewed for reliability.

Since many owners rely on their autopilot the majority of the time and rarely hand steer, it is easy to forget and overlook the reservoir.

Part of your pre-departure routine should be to check the reservoir for air pressure and oil level. Look for any oil drips and also go to the lazarette to inspect the plumbing lines, the steering ram and all related hardware.

The Hynautic brand has a cylinder reservoir which has a threaded fill cap, a Schrader air pressure valve (bicycle inner tube type) and viewing windows to monitor oil level.

We recommend you test your steering at the dock before departing. It’s easier to fix a problem if you are still tied up.

The independence to travel remotely in a trawler requires self-sufficiency and some hands-on skills.
Every successfully completed chore builds more confidence and you will become more proficient each time you repeat a lesson you have learned before.

The JMYS team is comprised of experienced boaters, many own or have owned trawlers and we like to advise our clients on what tools they should carry in case something goes wrong or something needs attention.

This video was filmed aboard the Nordhavn 40 Sea Trek while moored in East Greenwich, RI. Drew McGovern is a very capable owner operator and during his time aboard he has learned a lot about all of his ships systems, what to look for and what he needs to complete various tasks.

Go to and visit our Trawler Skills section to learn more.

Thank you for watching, we have more Trawler Skills videos in development and always appreciate your suggestions and feedback. Please feel free to include your comments below. Better yet, please email your ideas to and put “Trawler Skills” in the subject line, thank you!

Jeff Merrill Yacht Sales, Inc.