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General questions & comments
  1. Chris Barber says:

    Hi James,
    I wonder if you could offer your thoughts on power plant choice for Dirona (and by extension, her ancestor N47’s). Dirona has the 265 HP Deere engine which is clearly not the standard build for the N52 at least at that time. The 47’s and early 52’s seem to have gotten basically the same 165 HP as the much smaller N43; perhaps by now the 52’s are built with the more powerful engine but I don’t know. In any case I’ve heard it said that the 47’s seem underpowered and while I have no first hand experience, this does not surprise me and certainly does not bode well for a 52 with that power level. As a future Nordhavn owner thinking about 43, 47, maybe 52, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic – and of course if there is something you’ve written already please point me to it.

    Thank you for everything you’ve contributed to this community.

    • That’s a great question and it’s one we spent considerable time on. This is a write up of our thinking on engines for the 52 and why we decided to go with a 266 hp engine rather than the 163 that was standard at the time:

      The quick summary is the 163 HP engine that was standard at the time is intermittent duty so you can’t run 24×7 at that power level. The Deere 6068AFM75 is rated at 231 hp continuous and 266 hp for no more than 16 hours out of each 24. We chose to run using no more than 231 hp and, at that output, it can run like that 24×7 for the life of the engine.

      The good news is the 6068AFM75 is now standard equipment on the Nordhavn 52. For geographies that require Tier III power plants, they will be using the 6068AFM85 which is the Tier III version of that engine. The ratings are the same but the Tier III fuel economy is not quite as good as the 6068AFM75.

      If you are buying a new boat, you’ll get the same rating we are using. If you are buying a brokerage N52, most of them will be equipped with the 163 hp lugger. We prefer to have something north of 200 hp with a continuous rating but the 163hp engine will work fine and is what what of the N52s on the market will be using.

  2. Peter Lefroy says:

    We were in the U.K. for the Millenium and had the same experience that you had during the holiday. Whereas in North America the holidays are seen as a time to make money over there many businesses treat it as a holiday and are closed.

  3. Michael & Frances, N40 Coracle says:

    I wasn’t going to bother you while you are in the yard but I see you are still blogging and replying to comments so here goes. I looked up the ThinkVision L1900p monitors you use in the Pilot House and their brightness is rated at only 250 cd/m2 (nits). Have you found that sufficient even in the tropics? We are fitting a new nav system to our N40 at the moment and I wanted to use monitors with at least 350 cd/m2 brightness, but I can’t find any which have the ratio and resolution I want (16:9, 1920 x 1080).

    • Hi Michael. The Lenovo brightness has never been a problem for us during the day. At night they won’t turn down sufficiently so you will need a dark filter for them. We posted what we did and I can find it for you if you don’t find it (I’m on mobile now).

      • Michael & Frances, N40 Coracle says:

        James -wow, that was quick – a reply in 8 minutes!

        And that’s great news for me, I have been driving myself nuts trying to find small high brightness monitors.

        Concerning shading, I remember reading about your physical shades, but I looked for another solution and have installed a utility called Display Fusion to dim all 3 of our new monitors running under Windows Extended desktop (with the principal monitor duplicated to the flybridge). I’m sure you know there are lots of ways of dimming the principal monitor in a Windows-based system but it’s hard to dim the extended desktop monitors using software. Display Fusion doesn’t actually dim the monitors. Instead it interposes a shade or mask over the display to create (I think) exactly the same effect that your plastic shades produce. It’s working well at home, if you are interested I’ll let you know whether it works on our boat.

        • We’re on the taxi way in Paris CDG heading back to North America for the weekend so will drop off soon but, yes, I am interested in your success with your dimming solution once you have some use time with it. Thanks.

  4. Paul Wood says:

    You might be able to get better quality capacitors for your engine room fans from this place Cricklewood Electronics have a good supply of discretes and deliver very quickly

    Maplins is a national electronics retailer which has branches on the highstreet and, there’s a branch in Southampton. They do click and collect from the store.

    These suppliers are mainly Europe based but I do have a link for over the pond is you want it.

  5. Paul Wood says:

    “Black ears,” I spent ages looking amongst those parcels thinking Jennifer had treated herself to a pair of those fashionable ear warmers that hipster types wear 😀

  6. Rod Sumner says:

    What service do you do on the keel cooler?
    Questioned prompted by a heater core blockage in my daughter’s van – a similar closed loop system. Cured by flushing with CLR for 3 hours and then refill with new coolant

    • For this trip, we don’t have much planned for the keel cooler. Every 5 years, the coolant is replaced in the engine with a good quality premix diesel coolant. When in the yard the growth is cleaned off the cooler. In our case, we “break the rules, and keep our cooler bottom painted. Our theory is the insulation qualities of paint are less than the insulation provided by marine growth. It seems to work.

  7. You guys need to get to Pretty close to you and just what to need after a hard day under Dirona!

  8. Drew Hunter says:

    I have similar Kiddie detectors as the ones you have but mine have built in carbon monoxide detectors as well as smoke. You may want to check because I think they had a recall on them. They were designed to go off once they expired and those are the ones that were recalled. The replacements also go off once they expire but you can silence the alarm until you can get new ones.

  9. Timothy Daleo says:

    Good luck today. I cannot wait to see pictures!

    • We’ll were out of the water, and blocked in place ready for the work to begin. I usually take the thruster props off but they have been installed with a lot of red Loctite and aren’t coming out. I suspect they are going to require some heat, some patience, and a lot of skill. Overall the bottom looks great. Everything is in good shape. The Prop Speed is so good I feel like it’s almost a waste to replace it but we will. I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning both props and and removing all the zincs. Zincs need a change but none are good. The engine alignment from when I changed the engine mounts a year and half back is so good the prop will keep turning after you spin it.

      Overall everything looks unusually good. The work done at Cracker Boy in Florida appears to have been excellent.

      I’ll be feeling better when I see the prop shaft out. Hopefully it’s in good condition. Another big job for this yard visit is replacing the muffler. It’ll be nice to see that work coming together as well. We’re also taking the rudder down to inspect the lower bearings but, other than that, mostly routine work that needs to be done well but isn’t really complex or risky. We’ll take lots of pictures and get them up as fast as we can.

      • Rod Sumner says:

        Tried to find the file on pulling very very stubborn thruster impellers off MV Rover (N62) in 2003. (Multiple computer upgrades etc. making it hard to find!)

        Basically I fabricated a puller using the retaining bolt holes to hold the carrier and then another bolt pushing on the thruster shaft (after removing the ‘nose cone’. With the thruster under tensiuon a small amount of heat finally popped them free.

        Hope this helps

      • Timothy Daleo says:

        I am sure the bottom looks great as you are never anywhere long enough to accumulate growth 🙂 Where are you staying while you do the work?

  10. Stephen Balicki says:

    Hi James,
    Can you tell me how you do the live updates to Google maps? Is there a separate transponder with auto update or do you manaually transfer the track from the chart plotter.. tks

    • There are two chart plotter systems. One for the boat and one for personal tracks when we head out for trips off the boat.

      The boat tracks come from the larger automation system that does many things including power load shedding, recording all data, alerting, alarming, generator auto-start, weather fuel levels, and tracking. It takes all data off the NMEA2000 bus and stores in a relational database every 5 seconds. This data includes location and other data that is part of the track system (location, weather, and fuel levels).

      The personal tracks come from an Android packaged called My Tracks. Originally supported by Google but they open sourced and removed support. We picked up the open source code and built our own version but any fitness app will do fine. We hand transfer the tracks so no tricks there.

  11. Steven Coleman says:

    Actually, using fresh water to clear out the salt and other minerals from ocean water doesn’t seem crazy at all to me. I did it more times than I can remember during my time in the U.S. Navy.

  12. Steven Coleman says:

    About 8 years ago I really started noticing I was replacing more start and run capacitors that I had in the 20 or so prior years. Coupled with the fact capacitors were the one part that has gotten significantly cheaper over the years I started investigating.
    It turns out when I first got into my trade, manufacturers would do a test lot on every production run. They would run them at 110% of rating and if any failed pull the entire run. Since I was unable to find any manufacturer that still followed that process, that is probably large one factor where cost is concerned.
    Another is the removal of PCB’s as a coolant, the methods employed today while safer for everyone, are simply not as effective. Combined with lack of testing, I believe the mystery solved at least to my satisfaction.
    I would suggest you order extra capacitors as spares, the new ones are probably not going to last as long. I have found capacitors reading low out of the box, it is simply cheaper for them to replace under warranty than bring back testing.

    • I’ll bet you are right Steve and production quality issues are a common problem. Another factor is temperature — capacitors fail early at higher temperatures.

      I would love to find a higher quality part and would happily spend more for it. If anyone knows of a high quality source for CBB66 capacitors (small square units) rated at 2.5uF, 250V I’m interested.

      • Steven Coleman says:

        That is an odd voltage for a motor capacitor. Normally I would expect to see 370V or 440V and the CBB66 is only a class rather than a specific shape. As you know a capacitor will only store so much and the voltage rating is what the capacitor can be exposed to.
        The biggest problem is finding one that is compatible with the existing method of mounting. I carry rolls of perforated metal strap to deal with 99% of the issues I run across.
        A 2.5uf 370/440 capacitor might be a solution if you can mount it. If I had a picture of how the capacitor was mounted I might come up with something.

        • Steven Coleman says:

          Never mind, I looked at the picture of you testing and saw what I needed to see.

          • Steve, I have enough space inside the fan hub where the capacitor is tucked away for a larger capacitor but, sticking with the same form factor, what would you think of this one:

            It’s at 450V capacitor rather than 250V but they are both 2.5uF. It seems like higher voltage just means better insulation in the capacitor. Do you know of any reasons not to use a 450V capacitor in a 120V application that was previously using a 250V capacitor? This one is rated for up to 158F (70C) so is fairly good on the temperature front as well. The one that is installed by the factory doesn’t appear to even have a temperature specification and I suspect that’s what is leading to the somewhat short operating life.

            • Steven Coleman says:

              That actually might solve your issue with short lifespan. No there is no reason you cannot use a higher voltage capacitor it’s the 2.5uf that is the issue. The capacitor is still only going to have a storage capacity of 2.5uf which will be at 120V since that is what is being applied, it’s simply capable of being exposed to a higher voltage due to it’s insulation.
              That is a Films capacitor and they are notoriously sensitive to heat, probably anything with a high enough temperature rating on it would also be an option, if you find for some reason that won’t fit.

  13. Paul Wood says:

    That increased galvanic corrosion could simply be caused by the increased salinity of the sea water and its temperature, or stray electrical current whilst on shore power.

    You’re currently sailing in cooler seas which may be the reason for the increased life of the anodes?

    To be honest, I wouldn’t worry about it! As trying to find stray electrical current is a very costly endeavor and you might as well invite a priest on board to carry out an exorcism.

    Happy New Year

  14. Rod Sumner says:

    It would be interesting to compare pH change of the coolant over time and also compare these numbers to fresh coolant. pH test strips are inexpensive.
    Another thought would be to use distilled water to dilute new coolant, assuming that is what you do.

    • Hi Rod. The hydraulic heat exchanger uses sea water as a cooling medium. It’s an oil to water heat exchanger so there isn’t a falling PH as you might have in some closed cooling circuits. It’s just sea water flowing through this unit and I don’t have much influence over sea water acidification although it does appear to actually be happening.

      • Declan says:

        Are you not just travelling in cooler seas?

        • Possibly the cause but during the first 2 years of the boats life it was in the Seattle area and it just burned through Hydraulic cooler zincs then. But it was bonded at that time. I’ve since debonded it and it might be the case that debonded and cold water is the cause of the improvement. It seemed that it has just slowly gotten better for a long time but it is far from a scientific observation and your explanation on water temp is the best theory so far. Thanks,

          • john says:

            It seems that the life was way shorter than would be imagined. I was thinking salinity variance too but that just doesn’t seem right. Could there be some other small electrical problem What have other owners had to say?

            • It could have been stray current from nearby boats. For sure that was an issue in Seattle when the heat exchanger was bonded. All zincs where failing quite quickly back then whereas they now seem to last forever. The other big change is the cooler water mentioned by Paul and Declan. Now that the heat exchanger is isolated from the boat bonding system, stray current doesn’t seem like a possibility. Whatever the cause, I’m happy with the current zinc longevity.

  15. Declan says:

    Just saw 85.3knoks off Portland Bill. Glad to see you are tucked up safely. It’s a good marina; I spent a few days there this summer.

    • The marina is good and very strong but, wow, the winds are incredible. We saw gusts to 72 kts last night. The worse we have ever seen in a marina. The storm we saw in Richards Bay South Africa ( was very similar but the peak wind speeds were less than this one. We always tie the boat off super tight and it’s now so loose that 2 of the fenders have blown up onto the walkway. The power is out in our area probably caused by our power cord being hammered by waves and so full of salt water that the super sensitive dockside RCD system has tripped. The wind is still never under 30 kts and often up over 50 kts and it’s been like that or worse since the big gusts around 3am. The waves are so big in the relatively sheltered marina surrounded by breakwaters that the docks have a wave pattern in them with the dock hinges creaking back and forth. It’s time like this that I really like our 1″ dock lines.

      • Declan says:

        Portland got a mention on the national news this morning due to the high wind speeds there. Its really well protected there so hard to imagine those big pontoons moving like that. Are you in the “U” shaped area just past the fuel dock? Have you spotted the Mulberry Harbour there?

        • We are on T-doc, the same float as the fuel dock in Portland marina. On shelter, it’s a pretty flat area and there doesn’t seem to be much between us and the winds whistling across the English Channel.

          We might have time to stop in Mulberry Harbour after our yard work in Southampton. Thanks for suggesting it.

          • Jennifer points out that the “Mulberry Harbour” you mentioned is likely not the harbour near Southampton but, instead, a temporary portable harbor. Cool, I hadn’t heard of them before.

            We might have seen one between Portland Marina and the commercial docks but I’m not 100% sure.

  16. chris landry says:

    Hi james and jenifer, i live in bodmin (cornwall) so if you guys need another ride whilst your here give me a shout and im sure i can sort you out!

    Hope your enjoying cornwall (its nicer in the summer, honest!)

    All the best

    • Very kind of you to offer Chris. We actually got underway at 10:17pm last night and we’re about 3 hours out of Portland at this point making excellent time at 9.7 kts. The engine is performing beautifully with no fault codes. The Injector change we just did seems to have fully addressed that issue.

      Thanks again for the offer of a ride. Much appreciated.

  17. Dear James and Jennifer,
    Happy new year.

    I have just read the first half of your book and article on generators, thank you for both.
    This has me thinking of suggestions for less traveled ports:
    Dover. This port is the most formal on the south coast. It is often overlooked because it is still a busy ferry terminal. This does not take away its history or charm.
    Boston. I noticed you traveled to Plymouth and stood at the Mayflower embarkation point. Boston was the first pick up on the Mayflower’s route. My grandmother’s friend Nelly used to tell me her ansesters joined the Mayflower at Boston. I will state the church’s in Boston are spectacular. Arrangements will have to be made with the “Port of Boston” if you choose to undertake this trip. Boston is a full drying port unless you can dock in the commercial port or access the grand sluice to the inand-waterways. I can confirm you will not reach or pass the grand sluice due to height restrictions.
    I hope this helps. You have certainly enlightened me of the BC coastline. I shall make plans to visit BC and our Canadian relatives.
    Robert and Julie

  18. Steven Coleman says:

    Hello James,
    This is not a real good meter, but it’s not bad and relatively inexpensive for what it does.
    And a megohm meter works a lot better for finding current leaks than a multimeter. A megger will tell you before it goes bad, a multimeter only finds it after it is.

    • Steven Coleman says:

      And what I mean by “not a real good meter” is it’s not something I would carry for everyday use. I have a rather expensive FLUKE for that.

      • Super interesting. My Fluke multi-meter is a pretty good general meter that did find 3 megaohms on on the shore power lead I tested in Kinsale Ireland but a megaohmeter looks useful and I’ll definitely get one. Amazon has the one you referenced (up to 100 megaohms) for $85 or I can get a low end Fluke 1503 (2,000 megaohms for $468 or a Fluke 1507 (10,000 megaohms) for $539. Given that modern shore power RCDs will trip at often as little as 30 milliamps, being able to find super small current leaks would be very valuable. I lean towards getting a Fluke but let me know if you don’t agree. Thanks for yet another great Steve Coleman tip!

        • Steven Coleman says:

          I like FLUKE products so I would recommend them to anyone. It’s all a matter of how you plan on using them and for most people the 85 dollar one would work however, you are going off a light rather than an actual reading.
          I myself would buy the 1507 however the 1503 would do anything you would ever need it for on Dirona.

          • I just placed an order on Amazon for a 1507. My thinking is modern residual current sensors are super trigger happy these days. Often down at 30mA or even below. Even the smallest current leak can be very frustrating to deal with. I’m going to get the 1507 and use it to keep an eye on all my conductors and systems. I decided not to get the NIST certified version :-).

            Thanks again for the help and if you are ever anywhere even hinting at close to Dirona, you have to drop by. You’ve had a lot of influence on our systems over the years.

            • Steven Coleman says:

              Hello James,
              I do appreciate the offer and yes if looks like I am ever going to be anywhere close, I will try to contact you and make it happen. I’d love to meet you two (three I do like cats, have three of my own) and tour Dirona.
              I think you’ll like the FLUKE 1507 even though it’s more capable than you need. On the 1503, anything above 2000 megaohm’s simply reads infinite. But if it actually started out at say 5000 megaohm’s (just a random value) and started dropping with the 1507, you would see it much quicker and hopefully long before it is a problem.
              Various items have various “safe values” the best advise I can give on that is, benchmark something when you know it’s good and look for a continuing change in subsequent testing.

              • Makes sense Steve. We are currently in a massive storm where the winds are constantly over 30 kts and often up over 50 with gusts as high as 72 kts (83 mph, 133 kph). Two of our fenders have blown up on deck and the waves rolling over the dock are sufficiently big that the shore power is down probably due to salt water in our shore power plug causing the dockside RCD to trip. Now that many marinas are starting to go with super sensitive RCDs, the ability to chase down very small current leaks and failing insulation is becoming pretty important.

                We’re warm and inside with the generator running when needed but when the winds go down, I’ll try to get the shore power back operational but at this point there is so much salt water flying around it’s probably pointless to try to get it back operational.

  19. Hi James, I’ve also considered installing a 3rd bilge pump like the Rule 3700 in Dirona. My question is how did you route the plumping? Did you install a new through hull or simply tie into an existing deck drain?
    Thanks, Keith Olaisen N47-23 Acqua Dolce

    • Oops, never mind, I just scrolled down a little further and saw all of the pictures and how you very cleverly used the manual bilge pump pickup.
      Thanks for taking the time to document your many experiences. I’ve really enjoyed following your many travels and hope to see you someday in some corner of the planet.
      Happy New Year to both you and Jennifer !

  20. Peter Lefroy says:

    I have followed you for many years as I live in Vancouver B.C. and am a long time subscriber to Pacific Yachting. I see that you dropped off Spitfire with Deborah Lefroy whose name popped right out at me as my name is Peter Lefroy and all Lefroys are related somehow! I love reading your blog and look forward to each installment arriving on my computer.

    • Debra took excellent care of Spitfire while we are were back in the US. That worked out super well. Glad you are enjoying the blog — we’re having a great trip but we do miss our annual Christmas stop in Vancouver. It’s a great city and after a month in the wilds, all the restaurants of Granville Island are really fun.

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