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General questions & comments
  1. Greg Ireland says:

    Hi James, I would like to ask you if you could provide me (us) with an overview of your Maretron system on Dirona. As a fellow Maretron user I am interested in your configuration such as is N2K running on a Black Box or PC, how far have you gone into digital switching for DC and AC circuits, and do you rely on the alerts system for monitoring critical events?
    Being located in Darwin, Australia which as you are aware is a relatively remote location I struggle for technical support and there seems to be no real support on the web either. Have you done any formal training or learnt as you went along? I have been having a few issues along the way, I am on my fourth fuel flow sensor (I run 4 sensors on twin engines) as they just stop working and my WSO100 failed after a few weeks. Unfortunately my engines do not report any data so I need to collect it via engine interfaces.
    I am aware that you get into some pretty advanced programming that would be out of my league to reproduce but I do like the idea of virtual devices such as DCR100 so I could create buttons to show the status of tasks to be done, much like pre take off or landing checklists on an aircraft. Do you think that type of thing would be possible for a local programmer if I was able to time them a few basic instructions?
    Thanks for your time and I enjoy reading about your travels.

    • That’s a good idea Greg. We’ll post a run down on the NMEA2000 installation on Dirona in a future blog. The short run down is the system has an IPG100 at it’s core, there are around 50 sensors spread throughout the boat, and I monitor it all with N2kview running on the Windows navigation computer.

      I don’t have direct experience with the fuel flow sensors but do have and like the WSO100 and the DCR100 you were asking about. Both seem accurate and haven’t been maintenance intensive. As you know we have a lot of Maretron equiment installed on Dirona and we’re pretty depenedent upon it. Generally, we’re fairly big Maretron fans. Good price/performance and N2kview does a great job of displaying the data clearly.

  2. Steve & Jenny Ransfield says:

    Hi James and Jennifer
    This is Steve and Jenny from NZ. We have been following your blog for some time now. We are currently in Florida looking at buying a Nordhavn. We are planning on coming up to Boston and would like to catchup with you guys if it works for you?

    • Steve and Jenny, it sounds like you are very close to becomming Nordhavn owners. Congratulations.

      We’re currently in Seattle and will be here until end of month. We haven’t made final plans but our current thinking is that once we get back to Boston, we’ll get underway and will cruise offshore to Newfoundland. Then we’ll work our way slowly south enjoying coastal cruising and exploring. On those plans, we may not overlap in Boston but we will be returning south along the eastern seaboard and we hope our paths cross sometime over the course of the this year.

  3. Timothy Daleo says:

    $2.15 for diesel is a good price on the water.

  4. Timothy Daleo says:

    6202 Bonne Vie was right after Saumlaki and had the first bustle. I think the bustle made the 62 look complete. I bet they do not worry about the dark colored hull ๐Ÿ˜‰ I pass by Seahorse every other weekend and can never get enough of them. I am jealous you come across so many Nordhavns!

    Hope Jen is completely healed and Spitfire is doing well.

    https://www.pinterest.com/pin/427912402076604604/

    • I agree the Nordhavn 62 is an incredibly attractive boat.

      Jennifer’s shoulder is healing surprisingly slowly so the pin is still there and will likely have to stay in until the fall. But, all is working well and no evidence of the nerve problems remain.

  5. Hi James, Great meeting you and Jennifer.

    I was the gent who pulled up in the Charlestown Marina in BOS in the 20′ bow rider, who somewhat surprisingly asked if you were an Amazon Exec.

    I never actually introduced myself. I’m RobertSiciliano.com Welcome to our great city! Pleasure hearing about your wondrous life journey! Thanks for sharing!

  6. While you are in Bean Town.

    Check out the No Name restaurant. Great seafood. It is at the pier just past the World Trade Center.

    Also the Computer Museum & Children Museum, both are next to the Boston Tea Party Museum. I have yet to get back to Boston since they finished the Big Dig.

    Say “Hi” to Old Ironsides for me as you go past her.

    • We end up walking past old Ironsides every day or so on walks downtown, to the ferry terminal, or to the restaurants in the area. Thanks for the recommendation to check out No Name at the World Trade Center.

  7. Andy Biddle says:

    I watched on TV a beautiful fireworks display on the Charles River. Did you see it live?

    • Absolutely! It was probably less exciting to be here on the 4th of July than when we were anchored in Sydney for their iconic New Years display but it was close. It’s very cool to be Boston for the 4th and the display was impressive

  8. Timothy Daleo says:

    I noticed that Jupiter went with the “squared” modern look, similar to the Coastal Pilot. Very nice. Twins and a jacuzzi too. How did the stairway to the pilot house work out?

    • Eric says:

      Tim,

      The staircase works great. Gives a full beam wheelhouse and additionally a full shower up stairs. It was funny to see my boat almost built and then see the 59 come along with a very similar interior that I had chosen. In the end, we all copied Eleana from back a few years.

    • Yes, I love the look of the square port lights. Jupiter is a really well executed design.

  9. Rod Sumner says:

    James:
    As always impressive write ups on maintenance. I bet 99% of people would live with the oil leaks and not track down the cause

    1. What is the instrument you are using to measure the pressure?

    2. Assume that replacing the air sep filter is now on your regular maintenace schedule on a more frequent basis?

    3. Do you have engine oil analysis performed? Regularly?

    Keep enjoying Boston. I have always liked the city – when I frequented the city the ‘Big Dig’ i.e. I95 was the construction that interfered with everything!

    • The instrument used to measure the crankcase pressure is a manometer. You can easily construct one out of a U-tube, calibrated in inches, and partially filled with water. We chose to buy an electronic manometer since they are fairly inexpensive and easy to use. In a past career as a mechanic, I used manometers to adjust multi-carburetor systems on exotic cars so I kind of like them. This is what we bought to use on Dirona: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00N3PPZZY/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o07_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1.

      You asked if we will replace the Airsep filter on a regular basis. To my knowledge, there is no Deere recommended replacement period or, if there is, I haven’t been able to find it. I’m not sure what replacement period I would use. I think I’ll just check crankcase pressure every 6 months and watch for it to start to ramp up and replace on pressure increase. It’s a clean and quick test.

      Oil analysis is another of these issues where most people I talk to really believe in it and do send oil out for analysis on every change. I have quite a bit of experience with oil analysis and find it interesting. When we raced cars, we were sponsored by Quaker State and they supplied oil and weekly oil analysis for us. One season, we were pushing the engine too hard and blew up 7 engines in an 11 race season but most years we had pretty good longevity. Oil analysis didn’t help us avoid any of these failures but there are possible engine failures we didn’t see where oil analysis might chave helped.

      Working on exotic cars, some customers chose to get regular oil analysis since some of their cars are old, rare, and difficult to service. Frequently customers would get into a panic about a slight increase of some substance in there engines. This led to lots of money spent on diagnosis, nothing found, and the problem self corrected. I didn’t get a chance to see oil analysis save any customer money but it did seem to cause some lost sleep.

      In the marine world, we have operated 2 Cummins engines for 4,100 hours and the current Deere engine for 8,000 hours. That’s 16,200 hours without any fault. I could have done oil analysis the entire time. Arguably it doesn’t hurt but I’m not sure the trouble and false alarms are worth it.

      I have many friends that do oil analysis on their marine engines and there are far more stories about readings that raise concern but were later determine to be “fine” or not directly actionable than there are about oil analysis results that saved an engine.

      In the boat brokerage business, I’ve heard about oil analysis ending up scuttling a sale where there is no other evidence of engine problem. On these its hard to know if the problem was real or not but, based upon the other experience above, I suspect that many if not most were not.

      Overall, oil analysis is data and more data is almost always good. I have a fair amount of experience with engine failures that were not predicted by oil analysis and over 16,000 hours without problems that oil analysis would have helped with. So, I’m personally not 100% convinced that the hassle to reward ratio makes oil analysis worth doing. The only debate is whether the time and hassle of oil analysis is best spent on oil analysis or some other preventative maintenance. I lean towards the latter. There is always more you can be doing on some other dimension. Clearly it is possible that next week, we may suffer an engine fault that oil analysis might have helped with but, in 16,200 marine main engine hours, we haven’t yet seen a fault where it would have saved the engine. I suspect there are other additional preventative maintenance steps I can take that have more positive impact.

        • Based upon the lone reference to the oil analysis firm Blackstone, I’m guessing Steven Coleman wishes we would give oil analysis a try. I can see some of the value of oil analysis and if running extended oil change periods using bypass filtration or related technology. But, on Dirona, we just change the oil on the manufacturer’s recommended time and keep going. Oil is easy to get around the world whereas sending oil back to the US from remote areas is both hassle and cost.

          • Steven Coleman says:

            No James, I just thought that FAQ was humorous. If you read far enough you got the straight scoop on which oil to use from people that test oil.

            I have mixed thoughts on both oil analysis and vibration analysis. From what I’ve seen, there are both advantages and disadvantages.

            Generally it is my opinion that unless you already have or suspect a failure oil analysis is not really going to tell you much. As an example suppose your test comes back with a higher than normal lead content.

            What that means is you had a particle wipe the surface of a bearing. The situation has already occurred and the bearing surface is marred. If the next several tests show lead decreasing then whatever wiped the surface is gone, and more likely than not you have a bearing that has been wiped, but is probably not going to cause problems.

            Either way whatever damage is going to be done, is already done.

            Now if you are an over the road trucker running pure synthetics, and want to gain the longevity benefit of that product you have to do an analysis to know when to change your oil. They look for additive breakdown and at a certain point, it’s time to change.

            A friend of mine runs synthetics in his trucks and while the amount of cash it takes to change the engine oil with synthetics would “choke a mule”, he averages 100,000 miles between oil changes. Thatโ€™s a big consideration when you have to keep your equipment moving to make a living.

            If you are going to establish a maintenance interval like you have, I really see no need for performing an oil analysis unless you suspect a problem and want to know if it’s something you need to deal with. Since you need to see multiple tests, if it is catastrophic, youโ€™ll know long before you’ll get those test results.

            When it comes to vibration analysis, if you have a benchmark test on a machine you KNOW is within specifications, the frequency of any change can pretty much pin point where the problem is at.

            On the other hand, I saw a vibration analysis done for the first time on a centrifugal chiller that was inconclusive when I could have told them from inside my service truck, that the high speed shaft bearing was getting ready to โ€œgrenadeโ€œ.

            I believe there are times and reasons for both however, for the most part I still believe you gain as much if not more, by a good scheduled maintenance program.

            • I read the Blackstone FAQ this morning. Interestingly, the mobile version of their website doesnt display the FAQ. Many companies chose to show a different and usualy far less usable web site to mobile customers.

              The FAQ is an amusing read. Your example of an over-the-road trucker extending changes out to 100k miles is an interesting one. Everytime I contemplate the choice of pushing expensive synthetic oils out to longer change intervals via oil analysis and bypass filters, I find it a hard path to chose for a single engine operator. If I had a fleet, putting one engine at risk and carefully measuring the result would be worth doing. But without only one main engine in our “fleet,” it doesn’t feel like it’s worth the risk.

              • Steven Coleman says:

                I’m not a fan of synthetics mostly for their ability to suck up and retain moisture from the humidity of ambient air.

                I’d be the first to tell you “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it”.

            • Steven Coleman says:

              Really the only test I would recommend for you is, from time to time maybe yearly or every two years, maybe even longer is a Saybolt viscosity test on a sample of oil you’ve changed.

              Face it, with 8000 hours if there was any defects with the Deere they’d have already reared their ugly head. Since I seriously doubt anything is going to break the only thing left to deal with is normal wear and tear.

              Fuel dilution of your oil will show up probably before anything else indicates it’s time for an overhaul.

              • I agree that, well before 8,000 hours, the manufacturer defect problems will have worked their way out and the engine is likely to continue to operate well until wear out. I’m still super careful around some components of the engine where part failure can lead to internal engine problems. The accessory drive system is a good example of an area where low costs parts that really have nothing to do with the engine condition can still end things early. if a drive pulley fails, the coolant pumps stops turning and there is risk of rapid spot over-temperature damaging parts (e.g. cracking a head) before engine over-heat is signaled. In my opinion, avoiding over-temperature problems on a diesel is one of the best ways to have the engine live a very long and productive life. Once every 6 to 9 months, I take the belt off and check belt and bearing conditions on both alternators, all the idlers, and the water pump.

                Keeping the outside-the-engine rotating equipment in good condition is a good way to ensure that the main engine runs until it wears out. We are currently due for a torsional damper change. On most Deere 6068s, these are normally changed every 4,500 hours. But, on our 6068AFM75 rather than using a rubber isolated vibration damper, they use a silicon torsional damper. The upside is the change interval is 8,000 hours but the downside is that it’s a $500 part. We ordered one early last week from the local dealer and, in discussion with Cascade, the Deere distributor that originally supplied our engine, they let us know that the front pulley on our engine has been recommended for replacement by Deere and it can be changed at no cost. Impressive service. This morning R.A. Mitchel a local Deere dealer will come to the boat and change the front pulley and damper without cost. Deere continues to impress me overall and I’m super impressed with the service quality from Cascade Engine.

                I’ll post pictures of the damper and accessory drive pulley change operation.

                Another potential issue that can end things early are turbo failures. These can lead to metal part injestion. A remanufactured turbo is only $1,700 so I keep an eye on it and, if it shows signs of bearing wear, compressor or turbine blade contact with the housing, or other operational problem, I’ll change it.

                Valve train is another low cost area where faults can lead to engines needing to be opened up early. I adjust the valves on our 6068 every 2,000 hours and do it as a two step process where I first measure the clearance and then set it to spec. If, prior to adjusting them, I find an excessively wide or narrow clearance, I’ll dig deeper. So far, they always measure just about exactly the same as the last time I set them so there is no evidence of valve train wear at 8,000 hours.

                • Rod Sumner says:

                  James:

                  What factors do you consider when ‘keeping an eye on’ the Turbo?

                  • Rod asked what to look for on the turbo. The turbo is such an important part of the engine that any issue there tends to show up in overall engine problems. I look for black smoke under load, lack of boost, lower than normal boost at a given power level, or overall reduction in engine power at a given RPM are all signs to dig in deeper.

                    When digging deeper, check for excess turbo bearing play or any evidence of compressor or exhaust blades touching the housing. Another sign of possible trouble is excess crank case pressure under load (leaking turbo bearing oil seals allow turbor boost to pressurize the crankcase). Other issues to check for are the obvious leaks of coolant or oil outside of the turbo or white smoke from coolant leaks into the turbo or unexplained loss of coolant.

                  • Rod Sumner says:

                    More specfically how do you monitor the three issues you mention?

                • Steven Coleman says:

                  I agree, and consider everything you’ve mentioned as good scheduled maintenance.

                  Ancillary equipment failure can always change things but, it seems you’ve got all that under control and I would expect the Deere will be operating up until you finally decide it might be time for an overhaul.

                  I read, heard, dreamed (can’t really remember) that those engines run 20,000 plus hours with no major issues. Who knows how long they last if someone is taking care of them.

                  When I was in the Navy we had one of our D399 Cats fail around the 23,000 mark however, when we looked back over it’s history it had been dropped from approximately 6′ onto a concrete pier during installation.

                  As far as I know the other three were still in operating condition up until they decommissioned the ship and cut her up for scrap 31 years later..

                  • Steven Coleman says:

                    Well I suppose they all were, we of course did replace the entire engine assembly on failure.

                    That was an evolution you’d probably find interesting. Obviously it the bare block was larger than any point of access. That is one advantage to a steel hull and superstructure. You can pretty much cut and repair any hole you need relatively easy.

                    • On Dirona, I made sure the engine can actually be removed since we can’t just cut a hole in the side as you pointed out is common on steel boats. It wouldn’t be easy but there are hatches in the floor and support beams that come out revealing a opening large enough to lift out the Deere. But, it wouldn’t be easy so I hope this engine last forever.

                      In generator applications, I’ve heard of some 6068s over 30,000 hours and, in propolsion, I’ve heard of many in the mid-20,000 range. I’m banking on 15,000 and hoping for more than 20,000 hours before the bottom end needs to be opened up.

  10. Tim Kaine says:

    Looks like you took a short boat trip. There has to be a god story. ๐Ÿ™‚ Unless of course you map went crazy and had you walking out in the Atlantic. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Frank Ch. Eigler says:

      Any luck spotting whales?

      • Frank nailed the reason for the boat trip. We were out whale watching and we hit the jackpot. 7 to 10 Humpbacks playing at the surface in a couple of groups with a juvenile. If we ever catch up from all the adventuring we have been doing, we’ll get some pitctures up. It was a very cool trip.

  11. Timothy Daleo says:

    They should add a sign on the lock that tells boaters not to go through sideways… ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Alan S says:

    Sounds like you’re having a good time in Boston. I am curious- did you use any particular tools or data sources to stay in the fastest part of the Gulf Stream to speed up your trip north? Or did you just travel along a route that it typically follows?

  13. Tim Kaine says:

    It’s very easy to pick Dirona out in photos even when clustered up with a lot of boats. Those satellite domes stick out like a light house.

    That’s actually a good thing in my opinion so will put that down on my list of stuff learned. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Timothy Daleo says:

    That N50 looks real good in grey. It was one of the last N50’s built and has sure gotten around. You saw them years ago in Portland right? Is it still the same owner?

  15. Tim Morris says:

    What is J cleaning the ss with? Looks like wet ‘n’ dry, but I’m sure not!

  16. Gregg Testa says:

    I have noticed in the engine room that there is a yellow handle or lever near the fuel tanks. What does it do and when did you have it installed and why?

    • Observant question Gregg. The yellow handles on the bottom of all the sight gauges are often referred to as CE handles. Normally Nordhavn’s have small screw closures on the site gauges top and bottom. Most owners leave them open but some open them and close them as needed with the advantage that broken or failing site gauges can’t drain their tanks. The disadvantage is these small rotary closures are a bit fussy and sometimes leak.

      European boats often need CE certification and this apparently requires that the the sight gauges by auto-closed by spring action. Dirona is not a CE certified boat but we like the auto-closed valves that allow checking the sight gauges by just pressing on the yellow handle for a second while the fuel in the sight gauges matches the tank level and then releasing so they are sealed off again.

  17. Timothy Daleo says:

    My little boat is like a floating tool box. Dirona is a floating Snap-on truck.

    • I do like having parts and tools on board but it’s impossible to always have it all. Being back in the US for the last few months has been nice. Just love Amazon Prime.

      • John says:

        James – checking out new tools by the light of a full moon (and Dirona). Now isn’t that a great way to spend a beautiful evening!

        • Hey John. Yes, it’s amazing whta some of us classify as entertainment but, for me, it’s arriving home in the envening to find the Amazon shipment has arrived and it’s new tools!

  18. Steven Coleman says:

    Hello James,

    I have a tool recommendation if you are interested.

    I was looking at the picture of your Raspberry Pi going out, and noticed your wire stripper/crimping tool. I’d say you strip enough wire and crimp enough terminals to warrant something different.

    The links below are to the top of the line however, you can find the same style at harbor freight stores for pennies on the dollar compared to Klein Tools. Klein have better metal and are better balanced and for decades that’s all I would buy however, tools have a tendency to grow legs on a job site unless you are working alone and the cheap ones do the same job and don’t hurt when they come up “lost”.

    This style crimper has better mechanical advantage than your “automotive style” giving you a much better crimp on insulated or non-insulated terminals. Plus it’s easier to use in tight spaces.

    http://www.kleintools.com/catalog/crimpingcutting-tools/crimpingcutting-tool-non-insulatedinsulated-connectors

    Mechanical advantage and use in tight spaces is key to this style wire stripper also. While I’d never recommend stripping a live wire, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. You’ll find there is no need to place your thumb on anything metal while stripping wire.

    http://www.kleintools.com/catalog/standard-wire-stripperscutters/wire-strippercutter-10-20-awg-solid-12-22-awg-stranded

  19. Rod Sumner says:

    James

    On the hydraulic cooling system anodes wear rate:

    With the caveats I do know know the coolant type, temperature, etc. have you ever checked the pH of the coolant?

    Simple test strips should suffice

    I remember a cooling application once where the ‘normal water’ was very corrosive to copper bus bars and required treating

    Just a thought!

    • The hydraulic heat exchanger is a hydraulic oil to sea water heat exchanger so the coolant is sea water and we don’t have much influence on the PH. However, it is true that oceans are trending towards lower PH. The problem is we just use what we are floating in.

      You are right that engine cooling heat exchangers (and a lot of other more expensive parts as well) can be damaged by acidic coolant. We have heat exchangers on the wing and generator but the main engine is keel cooled. All three engines have just had coolant changes and are running Cummins ES Compleat Long Life premix coolant.

  20. Christian says:

    Nice red moon coming up tonight!

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