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Latest Posts

  • Barbados Arrival

    Barbados Arrival

    We arrived into Barbados 25 days and 3,689 nm after leaving St. Helena. We’re told this is the longest ...
  • 500 miles to Barbados

    500 miles to Barbados

    By January 31st, we’d covered another 1,500 miles on our 3,650-mile journey from St. Helena to Barbados and ...
  • Changing the Hydraulic Actuator

    Changing the Hydraulic Actuator

    Stabilizers are used on ocean-going vessels to remove the discomfort of ocean swell. Generically they come in two ...
  • Oil Change at Sea

    Oil Change at Sea

    Earlier this week, we brought the boat up on the wing engine and shut down the main engine to change the oil. ...
  • 3,650 to Barbados

    3,650 to Barbados

    We departed from St. Helena on our longest non-stop run so far: a one-month, 3,650 nautical mile passage to ...
  • St. Helena Island Tour

    St. Helena Island Tour

    On our last day in St. Helena we cleared out in the morning for a weekend departure and spent the rest of the day ...
  • St. Helena Museum and Munden’s Point

    St. Helena Museum and Munden’s Point

    On our fourth day at St. Helena, we learned more about the island’s history, geology and ecology at the ...
  • To Change or Not to Change? That is the Question.

    To Change or Not to Change? That is the Question.

    Oil changes at sea get pretty close to a universal response from boaters I know. Everyone says loudly ...
  • In and around Jamestown

    In and around Jamestown

    On our first three days in St. Helena, we handled the country arrival overhead, spent some time exploring in and ...
  • Managing Fuel Economy

    Managing Fuel Economy

    We currently are underway on a 3,650nm non-stop run from St. Helena to Barbados. Prior to this passage, our longest ...
  • St. Helena Arrival

    St. Helena Arrival

    We arrived into St. Helena after an 11-night, 1,713nm passage from Cape Town. Conditions were somewhat rough for ...
  • 2015 Summary

    2015 Summary

    We started and ended 2015 in two world-renowned international cities on two different continents and oceans: ...

Recent general questions and comments

  1. Gary Gaunt says:

    About fuel and tankering.

    Is fuel cheaper in the island chain than mainland US and is running min fueler economy measurable.

    In aviation terms we have a formula.

    1. Fuel Cost Ratio is the cost per gallon of the fuel at the optional point of
    refueling divided by the cost per gallon at the departure point.
    2. The optimum break-even fuel cost ratios are applicable for cruise at
    optimum altitudes, all ambient temperatures and any tankered fuel or
    payload amounts.


    It is profitable to tanker fuel (any amount) when the actual fuel cost ratio exceeds
    the break-even fuel cost ratio from the above table. To determine the tinkered
    fuel cost savings, subtract the break-even fuel cost ratio from the actual fuel cost
    ratio and multiply the difference by the amount of tinkered fuel (in gallons) times
    the departure point cost per gallon.



    Cruise Mach = 0.80

    Wind = 0 kt

    Flight Time = 6 hours

    Departure Point Fuel Cost = $3.05 per gallon

    Destination Point Fuel Cost = $4.17 per gallon


    Break-even Fuel Cost Ratio = 1.225 (from table)

    Actual Fuel Cost Ratio = 1.367 ($4.17 ˜ $3.05)

    Cost savings per gallon = actual fuel cost ratio minus the break-
    even fuel cost ratio, multiplied by the departure point fuel cost per
    gallon = (1.367 ñ 1.225) = 0.142 X $3.05 = 43 cents per gallon

    When all said and done the heuristic cost factor is around 2% of the “extra” fuel carried. Say 2 gallons per 100. ?

    Just a thought.

    • Gary, thanks for relaying your experience from the aviation world. As usual, similar factors are in play in the recreational marine world but the data is quite as well studied or available in the marine world. Also, the cost of an airplane tankering a 1,000 gallons is quite material since you need to generate enough lift to carry the fuel. But, in a boat, you get free passive lift and only need to pay for the slight increase in wetted area caused by adding 5% more weight in the example above. Our cost to carry 1,000 gallons extra is fairly light.

      We did exactly what you are describing on the the run from Cape Town from here. Cape Town has the cheapest fuel we have seen for years while Saint Helena has the most expensive. We need less than 1,200 gallons to go Cape Town to Saint Helena at the speeds we were going. But we carried, 2,700 gallons. We tankered 1,500 gallons to Saint Helena — this is the first time we have carried fuel to save money but, in this case, it was thousands of dollars and well worth doing.

      There is deffinitely some cost to carrying 1,000 gallons for 1,700 nautical miles but, in tracking the miledge closely with that load and without it, the difference is lost in other larger factors like wind and current. It’s hard to measure fuel consumption and seperate out environmnental factors with enough precision to see the difference so we always fully fill tanks and sometimes even carry deck fuel to maximize our options. It will cost a fraction more but, the more fuel we are carrying, the more options we have. I also believe the boat is probably slightly more stable with 1/2 tanks than it is with them down near empty.

  2. Gary Gaunt says:

    What Rod Summer said. :)

  3. Gregg Testa says:

    Could you comment on your fender use at dock side in Port St. Charles marina and how they differ from the northwest docks at home.

    • We use the same fenders everywhere but we are set up for very rough water againts rigid cement docks. To have space for the really large fenders that prevent damage in rough conditions, we use inflatables that can be stored flat and then the fenders are inflated for use. Most super yachts take the same approach mostly becuse any other approach just takes too much space to be practical and you will end up being tempted to use too few fenders and not size them as large.

      This is one of the rare cases where the first product we bought really didn’t work out. We first bought Aeres inflatable fenders. They use incredibly heavy material and I’m sure would wear well if they could hold air. But, they just don’t stay inflated. We bought different fenders at different times in different states so they were certainly from different batches but 100% them leaked within the first year and some leaked the first day.

      The Aeres fenders performed very poorly and I wasted a ton of time regluing seams and chasing leaks. They were rarely fully inflated. A couple of years ago we switched to Pro Stock Marine. These fenders are made from a slightly less durable material but the seams are welded and just don’t leak at all in even very heavy load. Pro Stock Marine just nailed the design and produced a light weight, easy to handle, but durable product that doesn’t leak.

      We gave the fenders a good workout when we fueled in Saint Helena. The fueling was done from a large steel barge in 4′ swell and the boats were moving a lot. With good fenders, it becomes a non-issue and you just don’t have to worry about it. The Pro Stock Marine fenders get abused aboard Dirona but 2 years only, they continue to wear well and have never leaked.

      This is a super yacht marina so the docks so it probably is not typical of the Carribean. Port St. Charles uses fixed cement docks with very large commercial ballards. Our dock is 100′ so much larger than we need. Because the dock is cement, it’s particularily important to be well fendered. It’s pretty well sheltered but occaisionally a gentle swell moves through making good fendering important.

  4. Timothy Daleo says:

    I think it is amazing how PAE and the owners keep contact with each other. What a great extended family. I assume you took a taxi down there to see them?

    How does it feel to have both your decks and your land legs back? How is Spitfire enjoying the lack of movement 😉 Now that you are on land for a few weeks I will get back to working on my lil’ boat. I look forward to seeing your Barbados experiences soon!

    • Timothy, PAE doesn’t have offices here in Barbados. Their closest office is Florida. Doug flew in from the California office.

      As long as the water is smooth, Spitfire doesn’t seem to care if the boat is moving or not. On our last boat, we noticed that after days on the boat, land felt strange due to the absence of swell. But, that doesn’t appear to happen on Dirona. I suspect the stabiliaers dampen the motione enough or perhaps that combined with the weight of the boat. I generally don’t feel a noticable difference between land and sea.

      One difference we really enjoyed was watching the Super Bowl last night. We were on the beach last night at Surfside resteraunt who had set up a massive projection screen and a great sound systems. That’s the first time we have watched the Superbowl on the sand with the surf rolling in just down the beach. GREAT!

  5. Rod Sumner says:

    J & J:

    Daily Boating ‘Fix’

    Taking the liberty of speaking for all others who read Dirona’s blog: what do we do now for our daily (if not hourly!) updates about sea conditions, speed, fuel management, blog discussions, etc., etc.

    Looking forward to the next installment when you leave B’dos.


    • We’re not underway but there is a bit happening on Dirona. Yesterday Doug Harlow from PAE came in to do a video interview and Monday he is planning to get some arial shots of Dirona via Drone. I’ll post references to them when Doug’s work is available.

      Last night we had dinner with the crews of Starlet (US N46) and Southern Star (New Zealand N47) aboard the well prepared Starlet. It’s not often that three Nordhavn’s end up in the same location and, believe it or not, the last time we saw Southern Star was in Fiordland New Zealand.

      Not sure at this point when we are leaving Barbados but I would guess it would be a week or two.

  6. david ibarra says:

    Barbados!!!! That is awesome, quite an accomplishment even in 2016. No matter what, if you think how many of us live on this planet and how many of us have been able to see and experience all that you have, I think we are talking of 0.0001%.
    One item from your trips I noticed you’re water temperature measurement over 100F and forgot to comment if these were typical reading for the currents in your passage or were these incorrect readings.

    Enjoy some Rum now!!!!

    • Your right David. We have been very lucky to have been able to do this trip. It’s been an incredible experience.

      On the water temperature, it appears to have been a long running water temperature sensor problem rather than 101F water. Enough people asked “are you sure?” that I dipped a bucket and measure the surface temperature and it was 86. It appears the temp sensor we have been using has been reading 15F. It’s not the end of the world but it’s a bit unfortunate that I didn’t catch the error earlier.

  7. Dave O'Donahoe says:

    Congratulations on completing the passage and thanks so much for taking us along for the ride. Lots of great information that is particularly useful to me as I am actively shopping for a passage making powerboat.

    • Thanks Dave. It’s good to hear you are looking for a passage making powerboat. It’s getting easier and safer every year to cross oceans and, at least for us, there is nothing better than being able to go anywhere in the world and get to chose day to day which direction to head and when to go. We really enjoy it.

      • Karen says:

        Glad you made it! If you are exploring the Eastern Caribbean and make it to SVG, look up our friend Heather Grant. She runs Erika’s Marina on Union Island. Congratulations to you two from us two, currently in Wellington NZ.

        • Your in “Windy Welly!” — we ended up going there twice while we were in New Zealand and really loved it. We were in the Marina downtown and couldn’t resist evening walks along the harbor and checking out a new resteraunt each night. It’s a really cool city.

          While in New Zealand, I hope and Gord can spend some time on the South Island. We spent much of our time in New Zealand in Firodland, Stewart Island, and Marborough Sounds. Incredible natural beauty. If you can find the time, Stewart Island off the southern tip of the South Island is particularly good.

          Last night here in Barbados we ate dinner on the beach at Surfside resteraunt and then watched the Superbowl on a giant projection screen from our tables. Hard to beat that.

  8. Steve says:

    Looks from the map that you have arrived. Congrats and thanks for bringing us along.

    Where are you off too next?

    • Thanks Steve! Where next? Working our way up through the islands on path to Florida and the land of Amazon Prime shipping. We usually do 1 or 2 major shipments a year and it’s been more than a year since the last. It’s time to stock back up for more adventure!

  9. John says:

    Thanks so very much for allowing us to follow along vicariously on your wonderful journey…it’s been truly wonderful and I and surely many others are looking forward to your stay and the next leg of your journey!

    • Thanks John. Like many milestones, when we looked forward to it, it looked hard. But, having done it, we had plenty of fuel completing the trip with 307 gallons and the boat performed well for the whole trip. It actually ended up not much more difficult than any of our much shorter ocean crossings and in some ways better. We had excellent weather for much of the trip.

      • Bruce Beckman says:

        307 gallons. I have to say that is astounding. You had planned on 400 gallons, decided to use 100 gallons of those and came in right on the money. Your run by the numbers (nm/gal – gal/nm) has well proven itself here. Congratulations.

        • The fuel system does seem to be tracking the fuel load fairly precisely. In this case, we probably would have come in with a bit less fuel but we slowed down for much of the last day and drove to deadline rather than fuel. We set the system to drive to a 7am arrrival since we didn’t want to arrive at night to a new lcoation. It brought us in right on schedule to the entrance to the Marina and we were shut off at the dock by 7:10am.

          With a detailed view of fuel laod and redundant checks using the Maretron pressure sensing tank level system and the calibrated site guages, we can safely run with smaller fuel reserves or do long runs where there is greater risk if unexpected fuel consumption without adding risk.

  10. Oliver Sessa says:

    Congratulations James & Jenifer!!! Can’t wait to see ya’ll in Florida.

  11. Malcolm Dale says:

    Congratulations on a successful voyage, Jennifer & James.
    Must be a great feeling when all the planning & preventative maintenance result in such a great result.
    Malcolm Dale Melbourne Australia

  12. Gary Gaunt says:

    It also occurred to me as I am sure you likewise that the data logged, currents, ocean temperatures etc on your latest and I guess previous oceanic journeys would be of interest to the oceanographic industry.
    It should be no biggie for guys of your or their computer skills to render the information in a form that could be read by their programs.
    Just saying.

  13. Gary Gaunt says:

    I am in awe.

    Congratulations on what by any definition is an epic voyage.
    Slocum and Beebe would be proud of you both.

    I am sure you are aware, there are a bunch of Nordys in Barbados waiting on your arrival having just completed a similarly uneventful Atlantic Crossing.

    I have been “worrying” this long range issue on speeds v range in headwinds and the best article I have found on it is written by a Commander of Air Force One. The physics should be the same and I suspect if you substitute the water line length formula for Angle of Attack you may get some correlation.

    Save it for when you have a lazy day at anchor with good wifi. :)

    In the meantime enjoy and I look forward to hearing of your safe arrival and the fine food and beverages.

    PS, if I had nightmares whilst yacht racing, often a 24/7 pastime, it was about shipping containers, as we are on a lee shore of the Indian Ocean and not far north of the Roaring Forties. Massive Nordy hulls seem to be a start v the lightweight racing yacht, but I have often considered forward looking sonar, maybe too heavy for yachts but a Nordy would eat it. I would be interested in your thoughts on this subject.

    • I agree Gary, floating containers are the nightmare situation. A very large number of containers are lost each year. Fortunately, some are heavier and water and sink fast. Most leak and sink soon after. But, some stay at the surface and, even with a strong boat, a container could easily be the end. Containers have large flat surfaces so there is a good chance that, if much is still showing, you will able to detect them on RADAR. But, the nightmare situation is right at the surface. Invisible to RADAR but right there at the surface with sharp edges ready to take a boat down.

      Forward looking sonar had my attention when we rigged the boat but from talking to folks that were equipped with them, the biggest critisism after “very expensive” was they only give enough warning at very low speeds. The consensus was they work fine for entering shallows if careful and slow but would not be effective to avoid the container risk.

      I expect prices will fall and peformance will continue to improve. When reports get more positive, we probably will equip Dirona.

      • Brian Smith says:

        What about FLIR? A couple friends have it on their boats – one being a big center console fishing boat that runs in the 40 kt range when coming back in from a long day of tuna fishing. Having sat at the helm for long stretches looking at the FLIR screen, I feel confident a container would be very visible, and obvious, at night.

  14. Charles A says:

    Awesome 25 days + at see well done what an achievement, amazing boat, the two of you and spitfire… (how’s he doing?) Amazing weather as well..

    I bet it will be good to get out and have a meal of the boat.
    Apart from the issues that you have talked about has there been much ware and tear over all on the trip that you can see. The boat seems to be doing very well.

    All the best have a nice well earned meal..

    • Spitfire is doing great. When conditions are rough, he works hard to find places where he can wedge in and not move like the master stateroom sink. But, when conditions are as nice as they currently are, at the dock or away is pretty much the same for Spitfire.

      We’re hoping to get checked in this morning, perhaps get an oil change done, and then head out for lunch. You are right, it’s been a while.

  15. Rod Sumner says:

    J & J:

    As I have said terrific trip planning. Congratulations on a great passage.

    All of those of us who are kiubitzers have enjoyed ‘the ride” and learnt a lot.

    I can gaurantee a very smooth passage from Bridgetown north (unless there is a suden wind change)

    At Paynes Bay one can snorkel with the leatherback turtles Rod

    • We’re looking forward to arriving tomorrow morning, getting checked in, and then heading out for lunch.

      It’s very smooth out here as well. We’re looking at a tiny swell, the boat is hardly shifting, and the wind is running around 5 kts. Very nice easy lope into Barbados.

  16. Tim Kaine says:

    I am a bit curious now that you are closing in on the end of this run and this question is for both of you………

    To me the thrill of the adventure is the journey getting there so I enjoy the operations of the boat and all that goes into it.

    So my question is, do you have more fun overall while underway or sitting at anchor/marina enjoying the tranquility?

    • Tim asked “do you have more fun overall while underway or sitting at anchor/marina enjoying the tranquility?” For us it’s about the adventure. We don’t spend a ton of time relaxing in marinas. The best times for us have been exploring amazing areas like New Zealand’s Fiordland, Tasmania, the Kimberly region of Western Australia, The Touamotos in French Polynesia, hiking in Reunion, visiting a game park in South Africa, attending the Formuala 1 race in Melborne, the World Moth Sailing Championship in Sorrento, seeing the start of Sydney/Hobart sail race, seeign New years eve in Syndney, watching most of America’s Cup Team Oracle practice Moth Sailing on Lake Macquarie in Australia, anchoring in Farm Cove beside the iconic Sydney Opera House, and looking down into an active Volcano in Venuatu. It’s been an amazing trip.

      We have nothing against relaxing in a marina and certainly do some of that but that’s not the excitement that has made the trip so much fun. We have also had some good times at sea but, generally, we go to see to “get to the other side” rather than because we really love being out there. It’s the list I started to enumerate above that really makes the trip special.

  17. Timothy Daleo says:

    It looks like today is your arrival date in Barbados. Thank you for letting us follow you on this leg and for the quick responses from the middle of the Atlantic! Let us know what your next leg is and how Dirona has held up once you get a chance to stop and relax!

    • Our plan is for arrival in Barbados tomorrow morning. We can’t get in before nightfall this evening and, generally, we don’t like going into new locations at night unless there is some compelling reaons. On the current plan, we expect to tie off an hour or two after day break tomorrow.

      You were asking about out future plans. We’ll work our way Nnorth through the Caribean and plan to be the Contenental US in a couple of months. We haven’t done a yard trip for 2 1/2 years so we need to do that sometime over the next 3 or 4 months. After that, we’re not sure but think the most likely thing is for us to head north up the eastern seaboard.

      • Timothy Daleo says:

        When you head to the North end of the island (per your website map) the navigation system uses a way point off the South end to calculate path and distance right?

        Florida has no shortage of boat yards and docks. Heck, you can even dock right across the street from the Nordhavn Florida location!

        • Yes, the navigation system is running a course we have plotted around the south end of the Island and the distance to go estimates are using that course.

          It’s been 2 1/2 years since the bottom was painted so I expect it going to suddenly start growing things but, so far, it’s not a problem. We are due for some large maintainence items like stabilizer shaft seals so, if we can wait until we are back in the US, it’s easier to get the parts we need there. Florida isn’t the least expensive area to lift a boat but there is upside in having all the skills and parts readily availabale.

        • Timothy Daleo says:

          2/3/2016: Barbados now is visible on radar 30 miles away.

          Did you just pick up the island at 30 miles? I would think with the radar up as high s you have it (22ft?) you would have seen it around 40 miles away.

          • Jennifer was on watch at the time but the most likely answer is we were only “looking” 24nm out. The normal at sea scan range we use is 24nm. The RADAR itself is a 25kW unit with a 6′ open array so it’s pretty capable and likely could have resolved the island from farther away in the clear weather we are current experiencing.

            • Timothy Daleo says:

              I see you have a new neighbor in Barbados. 150′ Four Jacks according to the AIS. Hopefully it will not block your view.

              • Yes, Four Jacks is a pretty amazing boat with a crew of something close to 8. They slipped into this fairly tight harbor, dropped two anchors in a V out in front, backed down into the slip, tied off, and then washed the entire boat. They have a high quality and efficient crew.

                For the best tricks on Four Jacks, they have an amazing hydrualic passeral that powers out of the stern, across the 20′ gap to the concrete dock. And, the seconc design feature that I really like is the entire stern of the boat can be hydraulic lifted to open up a garage underneath. No helicopter though :-).

  18. Chris Hallock says:

    So have you thought about building in the power washer and putting connections around the boat to plug into? I know a few others have done that and it seems to work out pretty good.

    • Chris asked “So have you thought about building in the power washer and putting connections around the boat to plug into?”

      I did give that some thought. You know we like to make things easy and really focus on automation to make the boat easy to operate for two people. We first tried a portable, high-quality power washer and found that it really wasn’t used much becaues it was so big and such a hassle to use it. 20 min to set up, 2 min to use it, and 20 min to tuck it away. It really didn’t work.

      After that I just decided to not bother with a power washer but they do a wonderful job of conserving water when cleaning the boat at sea. I use a power washer to clean the hull at and below the waterline with great results. It’s good at saving time and giving a quick clean between real scrups. There are enough advantages to a power washer that we really do want one on board and, knowing that the hassle and time of deploying and putting it back away was preventing me from using it, I considered two options: 1) built in as you have suggested, and 2) a tiny system that is super fast to deploy and stow.

      I found the AR Blue Clean AR118 and it caught my interest. It’s not very heavy duty but it’s only $100 on Amazon and you can carry it in one hand. It’s only a bit more than cubic foot. Cheap, tiny, effective, and I can deploy it, use it, and stow in in minutes. It won’t last forever but it’s only $100. It’s been working out super well and it’s less expensive than built in and building in is a substantial install. My conclusion is small and protable is a pretty nice solution and, so far, it’s been working out pretty welll.

      In some ways, the question reminds me of built in clean and waste oil tanks. At first blush, it seems obvious that you will need clean and waste oil tanks. But, what ends up working better is to have convienent storage for 5 gal/20l buckets and use them for clean and waste oil. You just load the buckets and don’t have to trasfer to the storage tank. On the other end, you just return the full containers now with waste oil for recycling rather than first having to pump out.

      Sometimes the easy and fast solutions work better than built in.

      • Ed Claunch says:

        James, I think your thought process is spot on with the power washer and the oil change. Besides, a built in will introduce more points of failure!

        • That’s a good point on new failure modes Ed. I typically err to the side of automation but, on this one, I feel like we have a pretty good solution in a super small power washer that is easy to move around quickly.

  19. Jeff Moore says:

    The two of you are literally hours away from a massive achievement. I’m really impressed with Nordhavn boats and the owners who buy them. It’s amazing to me that two ordinary folks (average Joe’s sort of) from the PNW can purchase a boat and then set their sights on going around the world…on their own boat!! Truly boggles the mind. I know you and your wife are not the first but I love reading these stories about people who are pursuing their dreams. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Pre-congrats on your achievement!

    • Jeff, you are right. The world has really changed. The thought of taking a small power boat around the world 30 years ago would be one of innovation and daring. Today, there power boats completeing ocean crossings so frequently that it’s hardly noticed. It’s really not even news these days.

      There have always been hardy souls willing to take great risk to accomplish a goal. But times have changed. We’re traveling around the world while working over a satelite connection in air conditioned comfort. As with any international travel there is some complexity and some overhead. And, when 1,000 miles from land and any likelihood of help, it still is important to make good decisions and to have a well prepared boat but it can reasonably be done these days. Not only can it be done these days but it’s really not that hard.

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