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General questions & comments
  1. Steven Coleman says:

    I use a lot of storage boxes on my service van. One I like is this style by Plano https://www.academy.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product_10151_10051_12167_-1?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI76ypmtvB2QIVF7jACh1coAnGEAYYAiABEgJR7fD_BwE. They come in a variety of sizes and the actual latch is perfect for my use. I’ve dropped and cracked them but I’ve never had one come open and spill. Probably the only drawback is the dividers are removable and can come out or shift letting small parts shift but superglue deals with that.

  2. James and Jennifer, I’m enjoying your blog very much. It helps to shorten the winter and brings the new season around a little faster. I just wondered where you are heading after London? Thank, Chris

  3. Tim says:

    James: Hope all is well. We are getting ready for our shake down cruise and I am trying to get the snubbers ready. What size lines are you using and what length.

    • For anchor snubber, we ordered an Ultra Chain Grab UCG13 with 30′ of 3/4″ 3 strand. I think we may be using a shorter snubber now but I’ve not measured it. Likely around 20′.

      Good luck with your shake down cruise Tim.

      • Tim says:

        James are you using one or two snubber lines. We received the UCG last week and I am trying to set up the bridle. Did you get/use the snubber rubbers?

        • We played around with using dual snubbers (a bridle) and ended up concluding that one line was adequate and it takes less time to set. We use only the stretch of the line without snubber rubbers.

  4. Brian Sutcliffe says:

    Ever thought of using an automotive style tire pressure monitor to let you know one of the inflatable fendors deflated? Seems like you could Bluetooth them to a Pi and have an alarm go off.

    • It’s a great idea but these systems are designed for tires that run at 10s of PSI whereas the fenders run at 2 to 3 PSI. If the sensor was sufficiently accurate it would work and is a good idea. Thanks Brian.

      • Steven Coleman says:

        Well, there are some available for motorcycle tires that are sensitive enough but you are talking 100 bucks for two. I’m not sure how they’d last in the environment either.

  5. Jamie says:

    What is the spherical structure forward on Libertijn of Alphen?

  6. Ron Sykora says:

    James, thank you for the muffler prices. Sounds like you got a good deal.

  7. Steven Coleman says:

    How did you think of having a door gasket and soap dispenser for a GE profile dishwasher on board as a spare?
    I don’t think I’ve ever had a similar problem to entice me to even think of that.
    Have you had similar trouble in the past, or read about people having trouble?
    Most manufacturers will provide a list of recommended repair parts if you dig deep enough but, I guess I’ve never really read the paperwork on our dishwasher.

    • The lower gasket had been cut early in the life of the dishwasher and a spare is under $9 so we decided to carry one. When we ordered the gasket we decided to go for the soap dish as well only because it looked fragile. It’s a bit more expensive at $56 but it seems worth it.

      • Steven Coleman says:

        So the gasket was an issue you knew could possibly turn up down the road, and the soap dispenser was a intuitive guess?
        I spent last night going through the parts list for several appliances that we own, things like elements or were a easy choice but without getting one of everything I would have had no idea where to start.
        Even things like belts I had to wonder as belts do go bad sitting on a shelf. They would get you going but service life could be much shorter if they were old enough.

        • I should be careful I don’t oversell my prescience. We had the dishwasher apart to change the damaged lower seal many years ago and were kind of amazed at how flimsy many of the parts where so we ordered the parts that looked mostly likely to fail. We don’t have the same level of backup for the washer and dryer which quite likely also have some weak components. On the refrigerator which we consider very mission critical, we didn’t need to take it apart but did a pass through the parts book looking for candidate parts that might fail.

          On home appliance you can get parts quickly and easily so there is less value in predicating failure and being ready. Even here in the UK, when we are spending some time in one spot, we can get parts fairly quickly from the US (but with customs and duty issues).

  8. Robert House says:

    Since you’re fairly close to it, I would recommend checking out a pub called “Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese.” It’s kind of hard to fine, tucked in an alley, but I believe it’s one of the oldest pubs in London, going back as far as 1538. My wife and I visited a couple years back and had a great time. If you do go, be sure to head down to the bottom floor, which I think is 3 floors underground. No windows, feels much like a cellar, super interesting atmosphere. We had some beer and meat pies which were excellent.

  9. Richard Koller says:

    Hi James
    My wife and I enjoy your blog immensely as a source of practical information as well as adventure. We are planning to purchase a Nordhavn 475 and wonder what minimum electronic package you would consider appropriate for this boat.

    We have also looked at a 2009 52 that we really like but it lacks a flybridge. How important do you find your flybridge?

    THanks

    • The 2009 52 would be Stella Maris. The previous owner took excellent care of her and it’s a nice boat.

      On electronics packages, there really isn’t one choice and there are a wide multitude of opinions out there. On our previous boat we had Raymarine and they were OK but the service in the Seattle area wasn’t great. Most of the professional fishing boats sailing out seem to use Furuno so we decided to go with them on Dirona. Simrad is another reasonable choice but we decided that we wanted to go with what was most common on commercial boats that depended upon their gear to be able to make money. I would prefer to go with individual components rather than integrated systems since integrated systems don’t allow you to chose the best in each component but all the electronics companies make integrated solutions and, although it’s possible to use separate components, they make the integrated solution so much more cost effective you are just about stuck going that way.

      Our pragmatic approach to dealing with the problem of integrated electronics was to buy the current Furuno NavNet3d system knowing that warranty will solve problems in the early days. As the system aged, I bought a used one to use as a spare that was being replaced with the latest and greatest so we now have a full spare on board as well. This is important on aging systems where parts prices are high.

      You would think that if you bought an integrated system everything would “just work” but, no matter what you chose, you will find some teething problems and it’ll take time to get the system stable and working well. Once you do, it’ll likely stay that way but you will almost certainly see early problems.

      We chose to use standard computer monitors rather than marine monitors because they are far better price/performers: http://mvdirona.com/2010/05/night-running-monitor-covers/. We been pretty happy with these monitors and have 6 in use.

      We want redundancy so we have one MFDBB controlling two monitors and a PC driving two other monitors. If you use Furuno, you can run Time Zero on the PC and they can share the same navigation data. Chart data can be expensive if you range long distances so sharing is very nice. Either system is capable of showing all data and we have spares for both.

      For RADAR, we really like high quality systems so we spent bigger than strictly necessary there and bought a Furuno 25kW 6′ open array that we just love. We are also big believers in AIS so have a class A system (Furuno FA-150).

      Overall the system has performed very well and 8 years later we still aren’t longing to upgrade it.

      • James got focused on electronics and missed your flybridge question. We wouldn’t view a flybridge as a showstopper, but were we to buy again we would get a flybridge. We like having it. On our previous boat we used the flybridge heavily, particularly for docking, but only dock from the pilothouse in this boat. We generally use the flybridge for entertaining and sometimes for riding up top in beautiful views such as in Alaska or for fun when out in the middle of an ocean. We do really like the storage space in the brow though—it’s quite large on the 52. The second picture in http://mvdirona.com/2010/11/really-useful-boxes/ shows the port side.

        Jennifer

      • Jeff P. says:

        Hi James and Jennifer – is your NavNet system sending NMEA 0183 position data to a VHF radio? If so, what brand/model, please? We have your system on N4066 but our Standard Horizon radio is not receiving position data. As usual, thanks for the adventures.

        • We use Icom M604 VHF radios. In our case we use a Furuno NMEA2000 to NMEA0183 multiplexer to send the needed data to the Nav computer, both VHF radios, and to one of the input channels on the AIX. All but the VHF are fed position data in other ways and I use the multiplexer as a backup channel.

          Sending NMEA0183 from the NN3D MFDBB requires that you go into configuration mode on the MFDBB and enable position data to be sent out on the NMEA0183 connection.

          When working with NMEA0183 from any device, you can configure a laptop to read NMEA0183. It’s a hassle to setup but, once you have it working, it makes debugging 0183 much easier. Get a serial connection to USB accessory plugged into your laptop. Take a serial connection pigtail that you can plug into the USB serial interface. Take the send and receive wires and put aligator clips on them. Connect them to a known good NMEA0183 connection (polarity matters) and using a terminal interface like Putty, you can read the NMEA0183 data. It’s a bit messy to set up but the configuration makes debugging 0183 much easier.

          Ideally, you should just be able to go into the MFDBB setup program, enable position data to be sent on the appropriate NMEA0183 interface, connect that to your radios and be done. Make sure you look up the expected baud rate (transmission speed) your radios expect and set that appropriately.

  10. Drew Hunter says:

    If you enjoy steam engines, you could check out the Crossness Pumping Station while you are in London. It is quite impressive!
    They used to power up one of the steam engines but seems to only be open for tours now.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossness_Pumping_Station
    http://www.crossness.org.uk/

  11. Horst Brochhagen says:

    Hello Jennifer and James,
    Is there another Nordhavn in front of you at St. Katharine Docks?
    Best Regards

  12. KarlT says:

    Hi James,

    On your time zero you show the CPA with the blue crosses. I am surprised the 2 crosses ahead of you appear well north of your track as you will never be in those positions? is this because the sytsem is using heading data rather than track data? I did wonder if the system was showing where you need to be to achieve your 2nm CPA but this does not correlate to the closer 2 crosses.

    • Your first guess is correct, the system is taking speed and heading data to extrapolate where the CPA will be. It would be better if they were using course made good rather than heading. In most cases it doesn’t matter but, in the the picture, the strong currents against us are causing the autopilot to head to the north in order to maintain the desired course made good path.

      The approximation of just looking at where the course line crosses the dark blue CPA indication lines is a pretty close to the CPA.

  13. Walt N says:

    I believe you mean the Tower Bridge. The Tower of London is the royal residence north of the river, NW of your berth.

  14. Jim Addngton says:

    Your post regarding your ProStock fenders was timed perfectly for us. We are tired or lugging around are large standard fenders and are going to switch to inflatable fenders. At this point, would your recommendation be the Aere or ProStock fenders?

    I think we would be looking at the same size as you have – 18″ x 42″. Our boat is a 54′ Choey Lee LRT (about 42 tons fully loaded).

    Thanks,
    Jim and Rosy Addington
    M/V Sea Venture

    • On fenders, four recent incidents over the last two months have caught my attention and caused me to feel less confidence using only inflatables: 1) A super yacht in Falmouth had all of it’s fenders blow up on dock in 53 kts winds. The boat was saved by the Marina staff installing large conventional Polyform fenders that really weren’t that big but, since these non-inflatible fenders are much higher mass to area, they didn’t blow up on dock and protected the boat, 2) in the same 53 kt wind in Falmouth, we had our stern-ward fender blow up on dock but were saved by other fenders along the same side, 3) we had the double fender failure in Dublin where two side-by-side fenders failed. In this case the boat was saved by the size of all the other fenders just barely keeping Dirona off the dock in around 35 kts of wind, and 4) in 73 kts of wind in Portland, we had the front three fender all blow up onto the boat walkway. In this case, the boat was saved from damage only by the fact that the wind was blowing off the dock rather than on.

      One technique I’ve heard works well is to weight down the inflatable fenders. Another is to get a couple of large Polyforms to augment the inflatable set. We’ve decided to do the later and have ordered two Polyform F8s to augment or inflatable fenders. It’s easy to to store two non-inflatables but storing the full set would be a challenge so we will stick with mostly inflatables.

      On deciding what inflatables to use, we’ve not really found the right answer yet but here is what I’ve learned so far: Aere in the early days used a very heavy fabric that would last forever. I don’t think anything would wear through the Aere fenders fabric. It is at least twice as durable as the material used by Prostock. But, the Aere’s wouldn’t hold air. The glued seams leaked and, for all their fabric durability, they wouldn’t stay inflated. Aere sent repair materials and was very nice but, in the end, it didn’t work. Attempting to fix them was a waste of time and never stopped so we replaced them after 2 years and having spent $2,000 with Prostock Marine. The Prostock Fenders have dangerously thin material but with welded seams that shouldn’t leak. The good news is the Prostocks don’t leak but the bad news is the material is quite thin and, after three years, we have had 2 fabric failures and it looks like more failures are coming soon.

      The cost of sending back either an Aere or Prostock marine fender for warranty service and getting it back from a world location makes the warranty, if they are willing to stand behind the product and Prostock isn’t impressive on the customer support end, effectively useless. It cost as much to send a fender two ways as it does to just replace it. We really need fenders that work and, if you are away from North America, it’s not cost effective to send them back for warranty service. Given the cost of a set of inflatable fenders is around $2,000, replacing them every 3 years doesn’t seem cost effective and, so far, we have gone through more than $4,000 in 5 years so we are looking for a better solution.

      Aere has moved from a welded seam from the previous glued seams that didn’t work so that product probably now works. I’ve seen the new Aere in use on super yachts and it appears they are back to competing with a solid product. Without having tried Aere, I suspect they are now as good as Prostock Marine and you could chose either.

      Given I spent $2,000 for 2 years of Aere use and $2,000 for 3 years of Prostock Marine use, I don’t feel like either makes good economic sense so we’re looking for other answers and will write up what we find. Our current plan looks like this: 1) buy 2 Polyform F8 for high wind conditions where inflatables fly away (could also weight down inflatables) and for very high load and high abrasion where Prostock’s don’t have the fabric thickness to give good durability, and 2) we’ll start sampling lower cost inflatables on the argument that, if there really is no warranty on Aere or Prostock and neither is sufficiently durable to last the 7 to 10 years we would like, then buying a lower cost product and replacing more frequently might be the right answer.

      For sure we are going with 2 Polyforms and feel good about that decision. On our plan to buy 1 low cost inflatable fender and see how it does, it’s a low cost experiment. I can buy a low cost inflatables of the same dimensions as the Aere or Prostock fenders that have failed for less than 1/2 the price. Let’s see if they work and last as long and we’ll write up what we learn. Generally, our goal is to either not replace the fenders in 3 to 4 years or, if we do, not to spend $2,000 each time. All we know for sure at this point is we have not yet found the right answer but we have 2 Polform F8s on order and the first low cost inflatable fender experiment is on order as well. We’ll post what we learn.

  15. Andrea Molinaroli says:

    Welcome to London

  16. Timothy Daleo says:

    It looks like you made it just after dark?

    • Yes, just after dark and with a couple of knots of current running from astern to keep us on our toes as we docked Dirona. We’re right on the river and the ferries speed past us with gigantic wakes but, one of the advantages of heavy boat, is even big wakes aren’t that big a deal. We had a great night and slept well. Pretty amazing to be docked with the Tower of London only a few hundred feet ahead. Great view.

      This morning, when the lock at St. Katherine Dock opened, we went into the Marina. Very nice and, wow, what a location!

      • Timothy Daleo says:

        Glad you are there safe. Vibration not an issue? Spitfire all good?

        • No noticeable vibration. The Packless Shaft Seal collar is moving a bit more than I like but it’s not leaking and it may be the case we can get it moving less after the final alignment. All seems good and, yes, Spitfire appear to be 100% recovered and just as energetic, curious, and vocal as ever.

  17. Malcolm Dale says:

    Good Evening from Melbourne, Australia,

    I see that you are entering the Thames heading for St Katherines & thought you might be interested in a short You tube drone video posted by Braun Jones ( Ocean Pearl ) back in 2014.

    Can be found at “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jB-mlEnEUbE&feature=youtube_gdata”.

    Regards

    Malcolm Dale

  18. Steven Coleman says:

    Hello James,
    You must have gotten the shaft run out problem fixed. That looks like more than a sea trial 🙂

    • Yes, I decided that prop shaft alignment perfection was for boaters that don’t want to visit London. The prop shaft is slightly out of true or there is an alignment issues. I’ll check the alignment in London. Technically, it’s slightly out of ABYC specs but it’s close and we bought the boat to enjoy the world rather than the yard (which was very nice but a month was enough). We’ll align the engine and check runout again in London.

  19. Mark McGillivray says:

    Hello James,

    I hope that you may be able to assist. I would like to refresh the oil in our Niaid stabilizers. Niaid recommends “quality SAE10W-40 motor oil” . I would prefer to drain only the reservoir, not the hoses etc, so I do not need to bleed the system

    The dilemma I have is that I cannot find 100% mineral oil, all 10W-40 is at least partially synthetic. Do you think a partially synthetic oil would be a problem?

    • High pressure hydraulic systems self bleed so no need to worry about that. The air clears just about instantly as the system comes up to full pressure.

      On oil quality, you could confirm with Niaid but, if all they specify is “quality SAE10W-40 motor oil” I can’t see a problem using the semi-synthetic blends common in the multi-grade engine oil market these days. All modern oils of that grade appear to meet their specification.

  20. Tim says:

    I have a few questions.

    A. What do you use for an anchor snubber, we have 400 feet of chain on a 150lb Rocna anchor?
    B. What are you using for a backup anchor system?
    C. What type of flare package are you carrying?
    D. What are you using for a towing package?
    E. What are you doing for an emergency hull breach kit?

    • Good set of questions Tim. You asked:

      A. What do you use for an anchor snubber, we have 400 feet of chain on a 150lb Rocna anchor?
      [jrh]We use an Ultra Chain Grab UCG13 and about 35′ of line (didn’t record the length).

      B. What are you using for a backup anchor system?
      [jrh]We are using an Danforth style anchor on the argument that the Rocna works well in all conditions except very light silt and greasy but strong vegetation both of which are managed well by the large surface area and sharp edges of a Danforth style anchor. Because we don’t have room on the bow for a second anchor of any type and especially not a Danforth style, we keep it flat on the bow deck. To support moving by hand, we used the largest aluminum anchor I could manage and ended up settling on a Guardian G85.

      C. What type of flare package are you carrying?
      [jrh]We went with parachute rockets because we like the long hang times. We also have day/night hand flares and daylight smoke flares.

      D. What are you using for a towing package?
      [jrh]Do you mean, what provisions have we to be towed or what provisions have we made to tow other boats. We have the optional bow tow hook that would allow Dirona to be towed. We have no special provision to tow other boats but, in an emergency, would use the center transom cleats.

      E. What are you doing for an emergency hull breach kit?
      [jrh]We have a wide variety of different options here: 1) a wide assortment of conical wood wedges for through hull or hose failures, 2) larger foam cone wedges, 3) Navirex hull repair kit, 4) a canvas piece with ropes that can be dragged down over the outside of the hull to cover and plug (via water pressure) a hull breach, and 5) fast set spray foam. I’ve heard of large commercial boats using cement for emergency patching and a bag of cement isn’t that hard to carry but we haven’t elected to do it at this point.

      • Tim says:

        James:

        I noticed that you were using the Guardian vs. the Fortress, is there a reason why. Our captain has recommended the fortress. Further , you are using a 47 lb. anchor that is a step above the recommended for the boat. I am assuming that you made this decision based on the comment to get the largest anchor that you can reasonably handle.

        The Ultra Chain Grad is a UK product. Is there a reason that you went with that one versus a stat4eside product which is similar?

        • The Guardian is less expensive than the Fortress and slightly less nicely finished but, otherwise, identical. Either will work fine.

          I chose the 47 lb anchor wanting to get the biggest we could reasonably handle. Having used the anchor several times, I would not recommend smaller for a boat 50+ ton boat.Generally when it comes to anchors, we like to go big and sleep well. Our main anchor for a 52′ boat is a 70kg (154lb) Rocna for much the same reason.

          We chose the Ultra Chain Grab on the basis of liking the product and company. Most of our purchasing decisions are made on the basis of product quality and their customer support reputation rather than where the parts are built. On Dirona, we have components from all over the world.

      • Tim says:

        James:
        1. I ordered the UCG13, but I have 3/8 chain not 1/2, will that be alright?
        2. Ordered the G85 from Defender.
        3. Towing Package is for towing the boat not the tender. I have the tow hook as you do. I purchase 100ft of 3/4 Line.
        4. We have an ALX Alumina – 12 ft. with a 30 hp Yamaha. I think you were looking at these. If I can be of help let me know.
        5. Our boat will be used mostly for coastal cruising for the next few years. We will be using Wheelhouse for maintenance, their spares are enclosed in containers when they ship. Given that, what would you consider a good starter bin package for our 52. In the engine room we have a Northern lights diesel generator, Yanmar 40HP wing, and a JD 265 just as you. In the laz we really don’t have anything special. Just the normal set up.

        • Tim asked:
          1. I ordered the UCG13, but I have 3/8 chain not 1/2, will that be alright?
          [jrh]We use 7/16″ chain on Dirona. The 13 in UCG13 is for 13mm which is about 1/2″. Your 3/8″ chain is 9.5mm. I would recommend asking the manufacture if you can use the UCG13 on 3/8″ in line but it seems a bit big in my estimation.

          2. Ordered the G85 from Defender.
          [jrh]It’s a nice anchor. We have two of them.

          3. Towing Package is for towing the boat not the tender. I have the tow hook as you do. I purchase 100ft of 3/4 Line.
          [jrh]We would use the secondary anchor rode if we had to tow. As our primary anchor rode, we have 500′ of 7/16″ chain. For a secondary anchor rode, we have around 50′ chain and 450′ of 1″ rope. We would use the 1″ rope if we needed to tow and we would work hard to avoid towing if there were any options. These are big heavy boats and towing in rough seas is difficult.

          4. We have an ALX Alumina – 12 ft. with a 30 hp Yamaha. I think you were looking at these. If I can be of help let me know.
          [jrh]We played around with ABs ratings for these boats and, although we wanted aluminum for a lighter and easier to handle package, we ended up electing to stay with Fiberglass. We took the HP to weight ratio of the 30hp on the 12ALX and compared it with our 12VST that is rated for 40hp and it is a faster boat. So, going to a 12VST would slow us down. In addition, AB has changed the ratings on the 12VST to 50hp so it’s now much faster than a max rated engine on a 12ALX so we ordered another 12VST.

          5. Our boat will be used mostly for coastal cruising for the next few years. We will be using Wheelhouse for maintenance, their spares are enclosed in containers when they ship. Given that, what would you consider a good starter bin package for our 52. In the engine room we have a Northern lights diesel generator, Yanmar 40HP wing, and a JD 265 just as you. In the laz we really don’t have anything special. Just the normal set up.
          [jrh]We prefer to do our own spares and spare management. We use and really like these boxes: http://mvdirona.com/2010/11/really-useful-boxes/. To track maintenance, we use this spreadsheet: http://mvdirona.com/2015/03/maintenance-log/. We have a similar spreadsheet for parts inventory where we track where everything is so we don’t lose things.

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