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Latest Posts

  • Plymouth

    While in Falmouth, we made a day-trip to Plymouth to visit our friends Jean and Matt Findlay ...

  • KVH V7-HTS: Twice the Speed & More Coverage

    Frequent readers of this blog know we have become very dependent upon satellite communications. ...

  • Dublin to Falmouth

    We crossed 9,500 hours our John Deere 6068AFM75 main engine on the 243nm run from Dublin, ...

  • Dun Laoghaire

    Two massive piers, built in the early 1800s, create a huge 250-acre (101-hectare) sheltered ...

  • Return to US

    While in Dublin, we made a short return trip the US to attend the Amazon Web Services re:Invent ...

  • Howth

    The cliff walk along Howth Head Peninsula gives sweeping views south into Dublin Bay and the ...

  • Historic Dublin

    Trinity College, in the middle of downtown Dublin, was founded in 1592 by Elizabeth I. In 1661 ...

  • Dublin Fueling

    We’d been monitoring our fuel levels with the hopes of waiting until we return to Ireland ...

  • Exploring Dublin

    We spent our first couple of days in Dun Laoghaire exploring the area, including a visit to the ...

  • Fendering Take Three

    When you travel the world, the boat sometimes has to be docked in less than optimum conditions. ...

  • Dublin Arrival

    We returned to the Republic of Ireland at Dublin after four months in the UK. Conditions on the ...

  • Racor CCV

    I’ve never been happy with the RACOR CCV (Closed Crankcase Ventilation) system on our ...

  • Liverpool Marina

    Liverpool Marina was a great base for exploring the city and surrounding area—it’s ...

  • York

    York Minster, built mainly between 1220 and 1480, is one of the largest medieval cathedrals in ...

  • Diesel Engine Load Profile

    Electronic diesel engines track usage data to help engine manufacturers and service personal ...

  • Liverpool Cathedral

    Liverpool Cathedral is the largest church in Britain, and the fifth largest in the world. ...

General questions & comments
  1. Foster says:

    Baofeng UV-5R+, I love mine, the band coverage is amazing. Are you using Chirp to program yours? (And for some reason I thought you were a ham)

    • Yes, I’m using Chirp to program the Baofeng UV-5R+. It’s a really nice and easy to use program. Thanks to Andrew Dickinson who pointed me to both the Baofeng UVC-5R+ and Chirp.

  2. Rob Heath says:

    Hi Jennifer & James, Glad you seem to be enjoying London. We walked past Dirona on the evening of March 9th, she was looking great even though it was a horrible evening. For your information, the column in Trafalgar Square is Nelson’s Column, the statue being Admiral Lord Nelson not King Charles. Hope you enjoy the rest of your stay, and looking forward to following your travels this year.

    • We’ll get that changed. Thanks for the correction Rob.

      Since you are obviously in the area, if you would like to see Dirona on the inside, let us know.

      • Rob Heath says:

        Hi James,
        Thanks for the invite. We were in London for a seminar at the Cruising Association in Limehouse, we actually live in Leeds, Yorkshire. We had a good bar meal at the ‘Prospect of Whitby’ which also has a hangmans noose outside, overhanging the Thames. There is another quite good Italien restaurant near Limehouse, La Figa on Narrow St ( E14 8DN ). If you haven’t been there yet the Limehouse Basin is quite interesting, and quite a nice walk from St Katherines Dock. The basin connects the Thames with the inland canal system, and, as with St Katherines, has an odd mixture of seagoing and canal boats. If we are back in town while you are still in London we will be in contact – it would be lovely to meet you and Jennifer.

  3. Chris Barber says:

    On the reliability of your Maretron system – have you experienced any runtime errors/crashes? It looks like you’re using the integrated display units rather than their black box system with separate monitors. I’m presently building a system around their MBB300 and the unit I have is spectacularly unreliable. it reports hard drive problems at boot up, and when displaying a page with a chart it will run for at most a few days before throwing storage errors and asking for a reboot. I had really high hopes for Maretron until I actually got my hands on one.

    I’ve been trying to work this through their tech support but not making much progress. I’m only posting about this here because I’m curious about your overall experience as a reference point. Mine could be an anomaly.

    • I use N2kview on a PC as the primary display for NMEA2000 data with IPG100 as the server and the combination is rock solid, never blips, never crashes, and never fails. I also use the DSM250 and DSM150 and soon will have a DSM410 in use. None have ever locked up or crashed. I use N2kview on numerous Android devices and, again, it’s solid and reliable without crashes or hangs.

      I have no direct experience withe the larger displays or the black box but I have heard reports that these systems have less capable processors so displays as complex as I use on my N2kview displays may not work on these devices.

      Based upon the level of frustration I sense you are having, I would try N2kview on a PC. I’ll just about guaranty you’ll have a good experience and will like it. This will allow you to know that the system can do what you want to do. Then you can scale back what you ask of the MBB300 to what it can reliably deliver without issue.

      Overall, I’m super happy with Maretron so, based upon the severity of the problems you are experiencing, I would suspect that you are either asking more of the MBB300 than it can deliver or you have a problem unit. I recommend trying a PC running N2kview and an IPG100 as a way to see the system running without issue and then you can work on the MBB300 specifically and narrow down the problem knowing the rest of your system is working well. The system on Dirona is stable, doesn’t crash, doesn’t hang, and there is a lot of gear interconnected. On that basis, I’m pretty confident you can get your system the way you want it.

  4. Lucky Read says:

    We currently live on our Spindrift 43 sailboat. But, do to my wife’s back problems, which are exasperated by constant healing. We are seriously considering exchanging our beloved Chrysalis for a trawler. We especially love the Nordhavns.

    Not that any of that has anything to do with this comment.

    Anyway, I just wanted to tell you how much I love your informational posts. So clear, easy to understand and thorough.

    Really enjoyed your latest Fender Post.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and insights, and your logical “WHY’s” behind how you approach and solve problems.

    Keep up the good work.

    • Sorry to hear that it’s a medical issue that leads you to lean you towards considering a trawler but, whatever the reason, our experience has been that a Nordhavn isn’t a bad choice and we have ended up covering a lot of “ground” and really enjoying it. Thanks for the feedback on the blog and good luck on your “next boat” selection.

  5. aniruddha apte says:

    Hi James & Jennifer: I stumbled onto your site when reading about aws datacenters. Great writing, great courage and great seamanship !!

    The link text:
    “The economics of sea freight” pointing to “http://localhost/MVDironaBlogTestSite/2013/12/21/TheEconomicsOfSeaFreight.aspx” on page is broken.

    All the best,
    aniruddha apte

  6. Colin Rae says:

    Hi James and Jennifer,

    Can you remember how much fuel was in Dublin when you filled up last year please?

    Many thanks,


    • The fuel was sold by Karen Brady of Campus Oil ( and delivered by truck to a commercial dock. They produced the best price by far in the region and delivered good, clean fuel on time. Karen is at Fuel prices swing all over the place over time and taxation position but, back when we made this purchase, we paid something just under 0.60 euros per liter. I recommend checking in with Campus Oil.

  7. Erik Jacobson says:

    Hi James
    Thanks for your advice on how to add Maretron Temp monitoring of the hydraulic fluid reservoir.
    A couple of other queries, how and where did you attach the TRK3 probe to the reservoir. I see the sensor cable is 10ft and that adding an extention cable to get to the pilothouse where the TMP100 is will affect the accuracy of the probe at upper temp range. How did you address this issue or is adding 25ft more feet of low impedance cable not going to make much difference to the high end temp.
    Lastly, I will fit a maretron display (just a small one as dont have much console room left) that is always on due to the importance of data like this temp reading. Are the DSM150 and the DSM250’s rock solid in reliability in your experience.
    Regards erik

    • We ran a NMEA2000 cable through the boat and have Ts spread throughout the boat: 1) at the back of the ER, 2) front of the ER, 3) hallway between staterooms, 4) PH, 5) fly bridge, and 6) bottom of stack. I put the sensor/actuator units close to what they are operating upon. In the case of TMP100s I have 1 at the back of the ER and one at the front (only need two because I’m using all the channels). If you put it in the PH, you might need to run 8 wires to support the 4 sensors on a TMP100 (and more if you are using the thermal couple connections). I wouldn’t recommend runing 25′ of cable down to the hydraulic reservoir.

      I use both DSM150s, DSM250s, and I’m about to start using the new DSM410 that has replaced the now discontinued DSM150. All have been reliable. I strongly recommend that you put a IPG100 in your network. With an IPG100, for no extra charge you can run N2kview on mobile devices and, if you chose to at extra cost, you can run n2kview on your navigation computer.

      I attach the TRK3 to the hydraulic reservoir by unscrewing a single bolt holding a fitting to the tank and putting the TRK3 under the bolt and washer to get a good mechanical connection for accurate temperature sensing.

      • Erik Jacobson says:

        Ahhh, your idea of placing TMP’s close to where they are needed is a good idea and i wish that had happened on my boat alas, it didint so now I will have to workout how to deal with this. I have a NMEA2000 backbone down the length of boat so no problem there and I see a maretron labelled box in engine room whidch I have yet to open and see what that does but it isint a sensor termination box. Adding another TMP100 to the engine room as you have done solves this issue.
        I have an IPG100 and using a Samsung 10″ tablet with N2KView and it works great but I also like the idea of the dedicated maretron displays in critical places like PH and one in master cabin. Less to go wrong than with a PC. I looked at specs of the new DSM410. From what I can see, they do the same as the DSM250. Why would you go with a DSM410 over a DSM250 James?

        • Evan Bauman says:

          For what it’s worth, I have both the DSM-410 and the DSM-150 displays. Other than the size, there is very little difference. The DSM-410 buttons are not traditional buttons and their tactile feel is a bit less than satisfying. The DSM-250 is a bit larger than the 410 and quite a bit more expensive. Not sure the price difference is worth it.

          • I bought the DSM-250s before either the DSM-150 or the DSM-410 came available. I agree the DSM-150 is better value and it’s a nice overall easy to use package. I just got a DSM-410 that I intend to use in the new tender so I haven’t yet any hours on it but screen looks very nice. I think it’ll work well.

            • Erik Jacobson says:

              Thanks guys. That help me make my decision on what to order.I thought the DSM 150’s looked good value too but difficult to find now so may have to contend with the 410.

              • Good plan. I have 2xDSM250s and 2xDSM150s on Dirona and I just bought a DSM410 for our new tender that we’ll be getting soon. We’ll soon have some experience with the DSM410.

  8. Steven Coleman says:

    I have often wondered when I see charging adapters plugged in for your electronic devices why you don’t install some of these, or something similar. I’ve always wondered if they weren’t as good an idea as I think they are. I’ve got some Leviton receptacles in the house that “seem” to work fine for the cellphones (Android) and the I-Pad used for work. They aren’t cheap, probably more than an adapter, but I installed them in our master bedroom so I could charge our devices without giving up one of the duplex outlets on the receptacle.

  9. Richard Koller says:

    Hi James
    I’ve reviewed your electronics diagram and am impressed by your redundancy. I have a couple of questions. One in regard to your choice of a class A AIS given the price difference. The other is how to contact your electronics person. Finally, do you have an SSB radio?

    • Emerald Harbor Marine in Seattle did the original electronics installation on Driona back in 2010. It’s still operating well today. Contact Larry Schildwachter (cell phone 206-793-7950, and feel free to ask questions here.

      We chose a class A AIS rather than class B primary because these targets are paid attention to whereas class B is sometimes, hopefully rarely, ignored. In busy ports some commercial operators only display class A targets. It’s not a huge concern for us but, for a small added bit of protection, it felt worth getting the class A.

      We originally intended to get a SSB radio but eventually decided not to. What pushed us towards not bothering is we have a business need to be connected all the time so we have a KVH V7hts mini-VSAT system that is connected 24×7. If it is blocked, out of range, or develops a fault, we fall back to Inmarsat BGAN as a backup. As a third level of defense, we have an Iridium handset as well. With all this satelite gear we felt well connected and, friends of ours have had lots of trouble getting electrical interference problems solved on their SSB — modern boats can produce a surprisingly large amount of interference. It’s all solvable but it can take work and, in the end, we just felt we had the connectivity we needed without SSB or HAM radio so we ended up not installing a HF radio.

  10. Paul Wood says:

    A wee bit of useless trivia regarding the freezing conditions. In February 1814 the river Thames froze and the ice was thick enough to hold a frost fair on the river. They even had an elephant walk across the frozen river at Blackfriars Bridge!

  11. Andy Biddle says:

    James & Jennifer,

    Looked at the weather for London because my son is headed there with his university class. Wow…cold and snow. Looking forward to some pictures.

    • David Andrews says:

      With reports of sea ice at Cowes on the Isle of Wight and frozen canals elsewhere in London, I wondered if you have had ice forming in St Katherine’s dock?

      • No ice around here but lots of snow. The water is 43F (6C) and the air temperature is 29F (-1C). The combination of low water and air temperatures has our reverse cycle heat systems on the verge of not operating. A couple of the 5 units won’t heat the air until the air temperature in the boat gets up into the 60F range. Once they “catch” they work fine but they aren’t reliable first thing in the morning so we switched to the diesel furnace.

        This morning we took the tube to Kings Cross station planning to take the Virgin train north to Leeds and then continue to Carlisle. We thought it would be a great trip with all the snow on the ground but the train was canceled. We could have made the next train work but the weather report continues to deteriorate so we decided to put the trip off until the snow stops.

        As I write this, it’s lightly snowing at St. Katherine Docks and we’re surrounded in snow. It looks just great.

  12. Mark McGillivray says:

    I was advised by the first (inept) Yanmar mechanic I had work on our boat that the reason for the black smoke and oil pushed out from our Yanmar wing engine, a 3GM30FV, is that it is overpropped. However, I have asked a propeller specialist to size a propeller for our boat with this engine and he essentially has calculated what we currently have. Our engine specs are: ​Cont Rating 17.7 KW @ 3400 rpm, Max Output 20.1KW @ 3600 rpm, Transmission is a KanZaki, Model KM3V, ​Gear ratio 2.61.
    At revs lower than 2500 rpm the engine sounds and performs great. Because the engine produced copious amount of smoke and oil slicks, at revs above 2650 rpm, we limit our revs to 2500 rpm. As the engine appears to be able to rev higher I suggest that changing the prop would be premature and that we should have the engine looked at.
    Before I enlist another diesel mechanic to look at our problem, could you suggest what areas could be responsible.

    • The easiest test is to see if you can turn above rated RPM at full load in gear. In this case, that would be 3600 RPM based upon what you have said above. You need to be able to attain at least 3600 RPM in gear and you would prefer to see a bit more. If you can’t get this RPM, you are likely over-propped. On Dirona, we have a lot of gear on board so we reduced pitch in both our main engine and the wing engine to be able to achieve full rated RPM.

      In what’s above I said “likely to be over-propped” because it is by far the most common problem but, to be complete, there are many engine problems that can prevent full output. For example a plugged air filter, restricted fuel system, or a stuck turbo. If the engine is operating correctly and you can’t get full rated RPM in gear, it’s over propped. Boats usually get heavier as they get older and engines can slightly lose power over time so it’s quite common to need to reduce the pitch of a prop during the life of the boat. I did it twice on our previous boat and it’s been done once on the current one.

      The tables that allow a prop expert to tell you the pitch that should work are a good starting point but they are only a starting point. The reasons why props often need repitching is the tables are only a starting point. It’s not uncommon to find these estimates off by a 1/2″ of pitch and even more is possible even when working with a very experienced prop shop specialist. In the end, the “right” pitch is the one that allows the engine to reach full rated RPM underway in gear when the engine is in good tune (clearly if the engine isn’t running properly, repitching isn’t going to help).

      That’s the quick summary. More data here:

      I’ve got a picture in this article that you might recognize:

      It’s super important that you get this condition fixed before extended operation. Black clouds from a diesel are often the precursor to large repair bills.

      • Mark McGillivray says:

        Very good reference articles James, thank you. Our existing 18″ 2 blade propeller has a 9″ pitch. This is already getting very fine. Although one engineer recommended a 18″ x 9.75″ (larger pitch), another has recommended machining the blades to 18.5″ x 7″. However, I am hesitant to change until I can have someone look into the oil, not just the black smoke, that is being thrown out above 2650 rpm. One engineer I spoke to thought that a seal or gasket could be leaking at these higher revs and pressures.

        • I just about guaranty you are over-propped if the boat still has the original pitching. However, as you are thinking, getting the engine right is the correct first step.Once you have the engine running well, you can do the wide open throttle test, find the pitch needed and make the change. I was able to get the blades on our Gori prop repitched by Kruger Props in Seattle rather than having to replace the individual blades of the folding prop. They did an excellent job.

          Tell me more about the oil being sprayed out. Is the oil comming out in the exhaust water or leaking from somewhere on the outside of the engine?

          • John says:

            oil or fuel oil? Sounds like the injector pump might be a problem?

          • Mark McGillivray says:

            Definitely, oil coming out with the exhaust leaving an oil slick beside/behind the boat. Finding a good diesel mechanic that is available is proving very difficult. I spoke to Martec In the states and as a result, I will get the blades set to 17.5″ x 7″ and work from there.

            • You will get a bit of oil on the surface of the water when some diesels are cold and, in some engines, there is always a small bit of fuel on the water at idle. Lots of fuel on water indicates the fuel is not fully burning. It might be over-fueling caused by overload or there might be an engine problem like a bad injector or a bad cylinder. I would make sure the engine can turn up to fast idle (full RPM without load) and, if it can, I would put the engine under high load (doesn’t have to be wide open) when under way when under way and check the temperature of each exhaust runner. What you are looking for is to ensure that each cylinder is contributing and around the same temperature. A dead cylinder will read cool. This is a rough test but it’ll tell you if all cylinders are firing and contributing.

              • Paul Wood says:

                A film of black carbon on the transom/surface of the sea with rainbow staining is likely to be partially burnt particulates and unburnt fuel, indicating an overloaded engine.
                An easy way to check for engine overload is to slowly increase the throttle, if at some point the engine revs cease to increase but you still have some movement (forward or reverse depending which gear you’re in) left on the throttle then the engine is overloaded indicating a prop / engine power band mismatch. Possible causes are fouled bottom affecting hull speed through the water, partially blocked engine breather, air filtration or exhaust. If the exhaust is clogged with sooty gunge due to the engine being run at half load for a prolonged period (like a bus going uphill throws black smoke under heavy load) this may show as temp increase, I’d wager it could even throw an alarm light. James has covered the injectors but I’d check the simple stuff first.

                • Mark McGillivray says:

                  Thank you James and Paul,
                  With the information you have provided, now, I feel much more confident in the diagnostic avenues to take. The blades have been sent to Sydney, NSW for machining. I expect them back late next week. I will keep this blog posted.

  13. Steven Coleman says:

    I use a lot of storage boxes on my service van. One I like is this style by Plano 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.

    • We have a few Plano boxes on the boat and like them. They seem durable and work well. The one you pointed us to is pretty low cost as well. It’s about 1/2 of what we paid (things are a bit more expensive here in the UK) and it looks a bit stronger. As always, thanks Steve.

  14. 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

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. Jamie says:

    What is the spherical structure forward on Libertijn of Alphen?

  18. Ron Sykora says:

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

  19. 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).

  20. 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.

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