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General questions & comments
  1. Paul Wood says:

    Hello again, glad to read that the gaiter worked out ok. My wife and I have quite an eclectic taste in music and have never really heard any of the BRMC’s music. It’s funny what a name of a band can conjure up in one’s mind, as we had it down as heavy metal headbangers music so never gave it a listen!
    That opinion has now changed, as Beat The Devil’s Tattoo, Spread Your Love, Little Thing Gone Wild (which is what our six-year-old grandson is currently bouncing around to as I type) sounds fantastic on our home HI-FI. A Spotify list has now been created!

    If you like Blues music check out the American musician Seasick Steve – he makes his own instruments, too!

  2. Rod Sumner says:

    James:

    Thanks for the acknowlegdement re gaitor for power cord!
    Any progress on the lifeline??:)

    • I’ve got a blog entry ready to go with an update on all the changes that we put in places as a result of “Alarms at 1:15am”. We’ve made a lot of changes and I like the results but we’ve not done anything on coming up with some sort of Jackline system. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Jeff & Cynthia Case says:

    Thank you both for letting us tag along on your wonderful adventures on beautiful Dirona. We have enjoyed every article and picture. Although the adventures we have in our 1974 Tollycraft Makara are a bit more modest and limited to the greater Puget Sound area, I think all who choose to cast off lines and watch the world unfold with a gentle or sometimes not so gentle swell underfoot, share many of the same life changing moments one can only experience on the water. Wishing you safe passages and look forward to sharing future adventures with you and Dirona.

    • We agree. Boats are both a constant pleasure and a constant education. Thanks for the note.

      • Gary says:

        I lik to think you calmly repair things on board, under way with the calm of the film “Jaws” Captain Quint (Robert Shaw), “we need a bigger boat”, upon actually seeing the shark finally. Your handy work, getting that pump in is impressive but Yoda rules apply in boats, “there is no try, only do”. Safe travels to you all!

  4. David Andrews says:

    Re locks check out Caen Hill Locks. I think you will be impressed. They are inland and not navigable by Dirona!

  5. steve says:

    HI james and jennifer i see your in Belfast now and i was wondering if you had any plans to nip across the North channel to the Isle of man ?
    I’ve been following you since you were in New Zealand and am amazed what the pair of you have done and your Nordhaven must of been through .
    i live in Douglas which is to capital of the island we do have a 24 hour stay afloat Harbour if your coming
    and if you are and need any help or advise about douglas you can e mail back and will be happy to help.
    yours sincerely Steve

    • We are thinking through ways to visit the Isle of Man. We plan to visit Liverpool immediately after Belfast so won’t have time on the way by. But will have some time in Liverpool so might just take the ferry over for a day. Another approach will be to stop off the at the Isle of Man before heading to Dublin. We’ll be in Dublin for a while so we might take a ferry from there to visit the Isle of Man. Still working on options but I think there is a good chance we’ll do the trip. Thanks for the offer of advice.

  6. April Hannon says:

    Hi James, thank you for your videos and site. Can you tell me how effective your kvh7 satellite is for Internet? I am going to be working from our boat and curious to other’s experiences. Best, April

    • Our KVH V7-ip (http://www.kvh.com/Commercial-and-OEM/Maritime-Systems/Communications/mini-VSAT-Broadband/TracPhone-V7IP-with-ICM.aspx) has been instrumental in making this trip possible. Without reasonably priced, high-bandwidth communications, there is no way I could work and the trip would have to be deferred until after retirement. We love the equipment and the world-wide service plans. We originally used the fixed price plans available many years ago. We reluctantly moved to one of the Open Plans (http://www.kvh.com/Satellite-and-Content-Services/Satellite-Communications-Service/mini-VSAT-Broadband-Airtime-Plans/Open-Plans-Standard.aspx) and eventually concluded the Open Plans were better. The fixed plans had difficult to throttling that was functional but a bit difficult to work with whereas the open plans are always high performing. We currently use the OP5k which includes 5G per month bu these plans are available in 2G, 5G, 10G all the way up to 150G per month. We might be better off with our consumption rates when we are in remote locations with the OP10k plan but the overage costs for both are reasonable so we don’t bother changing back and forth.

      The only negative is the polar regions are not covered and there are some large uncovered areas where commercial shipping traffic is sparse: South Atlantic (Central and North Atlantic is fine), South Indian Ocean, and the Southern Pacific region. It’s been a couple of years since we were in one of these “blind spots” — these aren’t common. The next one we expect to find is next summer in Norway where some of the Fjords will likely not have connectivity due to the lower elevation angles to geosynchronous satellites and the heights of the nearby mountain ranges.

      Overall, it’s a great system. It’s not inexpensive but, for those still working and needing constant connection and good bandwidth, it’s an excellent option. In fact, we have become so dependent on the system that, if I was to retire today, we would stay with the same plan. We really like 24×7 connectivity and it makes the trip more enjoyable for us both.

      • There is more information on our satellite connectivity at: http://mvdirona.com/2015/08/communications-at-sea/. It dates back to 2015 and so we should probably update the article but it still does a pretty good job of covering the options that we investigated. Aboard Dirona, we use WiFi when it is available, the terrestrial cellular radio, and use a KVH V7-ip as our primary satellite system. As backup satellite systems we use Inmarsat BGAN and Iridium but these latter two are only used when outside of the KVH Mini-VSAT satellite footprint or during a system outage. It’s been 2 years since we have used either but we test them annually.

  7. Paul Wood says:

    I’ve never sailed on a river or canal so I’ve never experienced the Bank Effect. I have heard about your experience of the water appearing to be lower and flowing faster past the boat. In the instance I heard about the boat ran aground, almost as if the boat was sucked down and had to be towed off. Probably down to hydrodynamics, like boat shape or a combination of different variables of speed and displacement?

    • Yes, hydrodynamics. The water is being displaced by the hull passing through it and it has to pass by the boat. With the bank near, the water being displaced by the bow and trying to go between the hull and the shore will push the bow away from that near shore. At the stern, the water rushing past the hull needs to fill the space left behind by the boat passing through the water. Because the hull is near to the shore there is resistance to the water freely flowing back into the void left by the hull underway. This causes a low pressure area develops at the stern that pulls the stern towards the near shore.

  8. Dear James & Jen
    I hope you are both well. I have in attached my wind speed reference at the bottom of this message. The telematory from Dirona showed winds of 122.8kts. The record for the UK at sea level is 123kts. Watching you boat is more nerve racking that the latest Hollywood film.
    I have been up several times in the night to check on your position.
    I would love to cruise around Scotland but will need a bigger boat. My wife and I generally don’t go out if the wind is above force 3.

    Rgs
    Robert

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_weather_records

  9. Gary says:

    Last few days, post Ophelia, a relief it passed has been great reading….thought the “EE” acronym was “time to be an electronic engineer”, and the nice lunch break at the Castle Tavern for me would be followed by “Nap Time”, after seeing those lovely pints! Entrance to Inverness like is beautiful! Safe travels….!

  10. Greg says:

    10.202017
    Hi James
    Truly magnificent photography an historical treasure !

  11. Lukas says:

    Are you planning to see more of Europe? Like the Netherlands

    • Yes, absolutely. WE plan to go to Norway next year and on the way north will stop in Amsterdam for a while. Likely in the April time frame. Looking forward to it.

      • Rob Heath says:

        Hi James & Jennifer,
        If you are in the Amsterdam area around April, check out the Keurkenhof gardens – they are absolutely magnificent when the tulips are out. Also the bulb fields all around are a fantastic sight, and the smell of the Hyacinths is almost overwelmingly strong.
        Regards
        Rob

    • Great set of data and, of course, this is why recreational SCUBA diving is such a big industry in the Orkney Island area. There are a lot of ships (and other debris) on the bottom.

  12. Drew Hunter says:

    You should be glad all your anchor snagged was a chain and not a torpedo!
    http://gcaptain.com/tanker-pulls-up-unexploded-torpedo-with-anchor-off-england/

  13. Paul Wood says:

    If you enjoy maps like I do, then you may enjoy this interactive wind map of the world. Wind speeds are in real time, too!
    It’s 88km/h where I am at the moment.
    https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/surface/level/orthographic=10.13,58.23,196/loc=9.748,31.764

  14. Gonzalo says:

    Hi from Chile, nice videos…thanks

    Whats the crane brand you use to download the dinghy?

    Gracias

    Gonzalo
    Puerto Natales
    Chile

  15. Leif johansson says:

    Hi, you have heard About hurricane Ophelia? looks as it Will pass northen Scotland!

  16. Karen says:

    Plockton/Loch Duibh…before your time, but this was the setting for the great Hamish MacBeth series with Robbie Carlyle. We spent our time there scouting the shooting locations. Great to see it again!

  17. Vassilas Mihalis says:

    You are very nice couple..with a way to use your life who is perfecr!!!! Actually this is my dream but i’m still working here in Greece and i wait the day i stop. If you ever visit our waters let me know…I’ll be proud to meet you and yours best boat ever!
    Best wishes guys!

  18. Flocerfida Benincasa says:

    How do you guys create your map/track?

    • We display the maps using modified WordPress blogging software with custom software driving Google maps. We collect the data on Dirona as a side effect of a far broader central control system that captures all NMEA2000 data on Dirona and acquires data from some other non-NMEA2000 connected devices as well. This data is stored in a relational data base and is used to the drive alerts, alarms, email notification of problems, generator autostart, power load shedding, and a variety of other tasks. A tiny subset of that data is uploaded to our website on Amazon Web Services for display.

      The personal tracks that we create when off-boat walking, biking, Taxis, train or other forms of transit are created using a discontinued application called My Tracks. Google removed support for this app and no longer maintains it but they open sourced an earlier version of it. We took the earlier version and continue to use that app side loaded on whatever phone we happen to be carrying.

      • Eric Patterson says:

        Are all your posts and website driven by WordPress? Do you recommend a hosting service? Btw my wife and I are in process of building a N60. Taking delivery in early spring 2019. Thanks for the site and maybe we will cross paths

        • Yes, the web site and posts are all done through WordPress running on Amazon Web Services (aws.amazon.com). There is some custom code used for the maps section where Google maps is embedded in word press and the boat position and track is shown but the rest is just standard WordPress. Generally, we’re quite happy with WordPress. It’s a nice solution.

          We hope our paths do cross. If they do, drop by and say hi.

    • Paul Wood says:

      Hi Flocerfida,
      If you want to create trip tracks like James & Jennifer with GPS data logging. I use an app on my phone called Geotag Photos which is available on Android. It’s a user friendly solution which works very well for cameras that don’t have GPS technology built in. It records your trip as a GPX file which you can export and load into Google maps.

  19. Jake D says:

    Hi James & Jennifer. Long time reader/follower(fan!!) of your blog (I think I ended up here once, years ago when Ken Williams linked to one of your long South Pacific passages). I love (and am jealous!) of what you guys are doing, but am eternally grateful for how well you share it. I’m finally commenting after a few questions came to head…
    Re: dinghy/tender replacement. I have noticed in some of your pics (dating back several years, too) the rust stains/leaks from the small bits of hardware on the current tender. While not mission critical, the staining and rusting of those parts isn’t ideal. I am sure it all boils down to the bottom line ($$) but my basic understanding of alloys is that most of this could be avoided (304 vs. 316). What is your take on the Tender OEMs “missing” in this arena? I even wonder if they offered it as an option/package for higher grade bits on these parts, what percent of buyers would opt-up? Seems to be a small price in the relative scheme of things for a long term improvement on cosmetics and durability.
    Windshield wipers- how often do you use them? Do you replace the wipers on a schedule, or just keep spares (your parts inventory is beyond impressive. I love reading your blogs and seeing a part that you replaced and thinking “woah, how did they have *that* on hand?!?!”) and replace as necessary?
    Solar- while I understand you are *big* power consumers, as the solar technology improves in cost, efficiency, and reliability, have you considered any size of array to supplement your power needs? Or is it not realistic with the size of your battery bank, high power use, etc?
    A more broad question: Rewind a few years, you’re in Seattle, boat-less, ready to do this trip again, but with all the knowledge/experience you have at this point. On a high/macro level, what are some of the big changes/differences you would do if you could start again? Boat/plan/equipment/etc.
    Thank you so much for everything you share on here, it’s incredible.

    • Lots of good questions Jake. Your first was on the tender noting that, as it aged, it developed rust stains and other cosmetic problems. It’s true, one of the sources of the rust were the locks I use on the lockers. They are not stainless and I just replace them after a couple of years but it would be better if I found a stainless part that was easy to lock/unlock. One component of the Honda motor has rusted badly and it leaves ugly streaks down the back of boat. Everything else around the Honda has no paint flaws and no rust. I’m not sure why they would have selected a ferrous metal for this one bracket. It was a poor choice. However, none of the rusty components have failed so it doesn’t appear to have impacted durability. Certainly it is a negative on the cosmetic side. Beyond that, there were parts of the tender that rusted that were stainless. Perhaps 304 vs 316 stainless steel as you suggest or it could just be age and weather. If you don’t polish stainless occasionally, it will “stain less” but it will not be without stain. The tender is often pretty muddy on the boat deck, the tubes are often marked with tar or other dirt from the large commercial docks we often tie to. Ideally we would carefully clean and polish the tender but we end up treating it like a working boat and we maintain it well but don’t wax and polish it. Perhaps we should — we do on Dirona.

      We usually have two spare sets of windshield wipers on Dirona. We change them when needed and that is usually every 12 to at most 24 months. We use the wipers fairly frequently to get salt water off before it drys on and to clear rain. On our previous boat the wipers didn’t work well so we used Rain-X which works well. On this boat, I haven’t applied RainX in years and the wipers seem to get the job done. The windshield sprayers are a bit unusual in that they are plumbed into the boat pressure water systems so they never run out and never need filling.

      As you guessed, it’s hard to add enough solar to make a material difference to our power consumption. We unapologetically run the boat like a small apartment with washer, dryer, entertainment, dishwasher, furnace, etc. We use a lot of power. But you are also right that some solar would help. Less so in the current cruising area in Scotland than in the South Pacific but I agree Solar would help. The only install locations we have available that don’t look super ugly would be to replace the bimini that covers the fly bridge with a frame supporting panels. We enjoy having the fly bridge able to go either open or covered with the bimini, don’t love adding more weight up high on the boat, and it hasn’t felt like a project we want to take on. If I had a great solution that looked good and knew it would contribute enough, we would add solar. It’s a project that hasn’t felt like good enough price/performance but we honestly haven’t really researched it out carefully.

      We do have a lot of spares on board and what that buys us is the trip never gets redirected to wait for parts or service. We can just keep going but, for sure, there is a massive cost in all the spares and they all have to be inventoried and kept clean and dry so it’s a substantial investment. We love the freedom it buys us.

      You asked what we would add to the boat if we were to start the trip again. Generally, they way the boat is now is pretty close to that point. For the most part, the changes can be made after the fact so, if we felt like we needed it, we just made the change since we intend to be using the boat for years and many thousands of hours. Each thing we found we needed, we added or changed as we learned more. Some of the major systems we knew we needed when we left but there were some we discovered later. Here’s a few of the changes that we think were were important that came since Seattle: 1) 240V inverter that can run any appliance on the boat and 9kw of alternator on the main engine essentially making the main engine our backup generator and the sole power producer when we are underway (http://mvdirona.com/2014/08/a-more-flexible-power-system-for-dirona/), 2) longer passerel (gang plank used for Med Mooring), and control systems auto-start the generator when needed, shed less important loads when power draws near maximum source power, we have alerts on potential system faults, we send email for some problems that need attention, and we display all this data using Maretron N2kview (much of the control systems have Maretron at the core). The power system changes covered in the article referenced above made a massive improvement to the boat and the power system changes and control system additions have been key to making the boat “just run itself” and help us run it safely without only two people on the boat. Simplicity of operation and fool proof is important to a lightly staffed boat. In fact, that’s an interesting point. For many folks, our system look complicated. We’re fine with complicated to install as long as it makes the boat simpler to run since that’s where we spend our time.

      Things that we haven’t done but would have liked changing: 1) move from a 40hp wing to 50 to 70 hp, 2) move from 7 1/2 sq ft stabilizer fins to 9 sq ft, and 3) autostart for the main engine. The last one sounds silly but here’s what’s driving our interest in auto-start on the main. If the generator ever failed to start or shut off due to a system fault while we are not on the boat, the batteries will discharge. It turns out that a high power consuming boat like ours needs to run the generators 24×7 or have gen auto-start. You just can’t be on the boat to run the gen when the batteries need it so it’s best left to control systems. The 12kw Northern Lights generator has been rock solid for 5,000 hours but there will come a time when it can’t run for some reason. Our backup is the main engine that can produce 9kw of power generation. We want the control systems to be able to start the backup generator if the primary fails. The best answer is a second generator but it’s hard to find space for another generator so we use the main engine. It’s working out so well that we want the control systems to be able to start it if needed. The interest is driven by a battery bank being worth $6,000+ and the best way to prolong the life of the battery bank is to never deeply discharge them. We can add autostart to the main engine for under $1,000 so we will make that change. It won’t often be used since the main gen is so reliable but it’s good insurance.

      If we built again, the boat wouldn’t change much from what we currently have. Solar power might be part of the new build, two gens, a larger wing would be nice but not vital and, in a larger boat, we would go with twin engines despite the tiny loss of operating efficiency.

      • David Andrews says:

        I see here:
        http://www.nordhavn.com/news/headlines/improved_52/
        that Nordhavn have announced a new version with a stretched saloon and boat deck. Nordhavn say ” “We’re confident 52 buyers are going to love this change.”

        • Nice to see. It’s not a big change but, as much as we love the big cockpit, giving up a bit to get a bit more boat deck and interior is a great improvement. It’s a really good looking boat.

      • Peter Charles says:

        Hi James. Have followed the site for some time and regret not coming to say hi when I saw Dirona in the Hawkesbury Australia 12/2014. I’m still a sailor but working towards a trawler around 60ft in length. I’m interested in your comment that you’d go with twin engines in a larger boat. I’d appreciate your reasoning and at what length you would consider twin engines.

        • We loved the Hawksbury and Sydney region. Definitely one of the trips highlight areas.f

          You were asking about twin engines. First, if we like twin engines why did we buy a single? To get twins into a small boat, you need to give up few to allow sufficient space for two engines and two engines are just a tiny amount less efficient. In a 52, we didn’t feel we had anything to give up. However, in a 60 to 63′ boat we would go twins on the argument that boats of that size can carry all the fuel needed for even quite long crossings and the tiny loss of efficiency isn’t really material. We really like the redundancy of twins, we like the handling of twins, and I like having two identical engines when working on why something isn’t working properly on one of the them. Generally, I prefer two small diesels to one large one just about every time unless the package is too small to have two without giving up fuel capacity and range.

          On the handling front, a single with thrusters hasn’t been a problem so that factor is arguably a pretty small factor. Singles are used on boats all the way up to very large ocean crossing container ships mostly because it’s a bit more efficient. Here’s an article on us visiting the Hanjin Oslo container ship: http://mvdirona.com/2012/06/on-board-the-hanjin-oslo/. On the other side of that decision still up at the very large end of the boating spectrum, oil tankers care just as much about container ships about efficiency but I’ve noticed many new builds are going with twins for redundancy in an effort to reduce the risk of collision and potential spills.

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