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  • Staffa and Iona

    The Isle of Staffa is composed of vertical, hexagonal basalt columns similar to those at the ...

  • Isle of Mull

    The Isle of Mull gave us our first taste of the dramatic Scottish coastal scenery we’d ...

  • The Crinan Canal

    The Crinan Canal is a 9-mile, 15-lock passage between the Scottish villages of Ardrishaig and ...

  • James Watt Dock Marina

    We had an excellent month-long stay at James Watt Dock Marina in Greenock, Scotland near ...

  • Falkirk Wheel

    The Falkirk Wheel was completed in 2002 to connect the restored Union and Forth & Clyde ...

  • Edinburgh

    Edinburgh came into being beneath Castle Rock, a rocky crag overlooking the coastal route to ...

  • Return to Seattle

    We left Dirona in Scotland, with Spitfire at “The Resort”, while we returned to ...

  • West Highland Line

    The West Highland Line was voted the world’s best train journey by Wanderlust Magazine. ...

  • Glasgow

    Impressive Glasgow Cathedral is one of the few cathedrals in Scotland to survive the ...

  • Greenock Arrival

    We booked a berth at the James Watt Dock Marina in Greenock near Glasgow way back in February ...

  • Rathlin Island

    Rathlin Island is Northern Ireland’s only inhabited island and also is home to one of the ...

  • Causeway Coast

    Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland consists of over 40,000 hexagonal basalt stones that ...

  • Arranmore Island

    Our stop at Arranmore Island was as much to avoid an upcoming weather system as it was to tour ...

  • Donegal Bay

    The area around Donegal Bay has some of the most spectacular seascapes in Ireland, including ...

  • Rounding Erris Head

    The two-day run from the Aran Islands around Erris Head had an unusual diversity of sightings. ...

  • Inishmore Island

    Inishmore Island, in the Aran Islands near Galway, Ireland, has several attractions. By far the ...

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General questions & comments
  1. Greg says:

    9-19-2017
    How many times did you need to check into Ireland/Scotland/ & What where your procedures? Is your boat registered in U.S.? Did the citizens favor the cruiser/tourist trade? Where most of their anchor/moorings accommodating! if so in what ways? Did you fly a supplemental flag during your visit to those countries? Were the accommodations researched & made in advance or /random select anchorages? Was the appropriate fuel readily available at those chosen marinas? What was their mark up!

    • The boat is registered in the US. You asked how many times we checked into Ireland/Scotland. We checked into Ireland once in Kinsale on arrival. We checked into the UK at Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland. Once checked into the UK, Scotland is covered so there have been no further customs and immigration procedures since then and won’t be another until we go to Dublin where we will need to again check into Ireland. When entering another country we fly the Orange Q flag and a courtesy flag for the country we are checking into. Once checked in, the Q flag comes down but the courtesy flags stays up until we leave the country again.

      Obtaining fuel has never been a problem world wide. Fuel is available at enough locations we have no problems and quality has always been good. Price range between amazingly low in the $2/gallon range in South Africa, the US, and Ireland to a high of something close to $7/gallon in St. Helena. We sometimes fuel at Marine fuel docks, sometimes have trucks deliver bulk fuel directly to the boat, and sometimes have had a barge come out to Dirona to fuel us. Perhaps our most unusual fueling is in an open ocean swell off the coast of St. Helena from a large fuel barge. Having big fenders came in handy that day.

      When we go to a Marina, we book in advance. When anchoring, we just go where is a good location that isn’t in use. We usually have cruising guides for the countries we are visiting to help us find good locations that are worth visiting.

      World-wide have found local residents of countries we visit friendly, engaging, and often interested in the boat and the trip.

  2. Robin Black says:

    Hi James and Jennifer
    Glad to hear you have a bit of calm water after the past few weeks of wind. This really is a poor summer, even by our standards. I had high hopes for September but temps are now well below average with night frost even appearing in the forecasts. After a poor July / August, we sometimes get what we call an “Indian Summer” which is fine weather in September, but it’s not going to happen this year. Anyway, I can see from the blog that you guys are having a great time regardless of the weather.

    I couldn’t help notice your very impressive 29-gallon portable gas tank, I remember seeing those in US boating catalogs but we could never buy one in the UK. A lot of guys running sports boats and ribs here would kill for one of those because petrol is virtually unavailable dockside in most of the UK except for a few large marinas, where it is sold at a hefty markup.
    The reason we cant get them in the UK is that the law prevents you from storing more than 60 lts in any container, but it talks about 30lt max for a demountable boat tank. I don’t imagine you will have any trouble up in Scotland but the authorities and rules at pumps in England are likely to be enforced a lot more strictly. I attach the relevant document for your information.
    Many fuel stations in UK towns limit plastic containers to 5lts ( 1 imp gallon! )

    There have been a few fires in UK marinas this summer so if you are docked in England you might want to keep that big boy out of sight!

    Have fun and thanks again for the blog.

    http://www.rya.org.uk/SiteCollectionDocuments/legal/Web%20Documents/Legal%20Leaflets/Clubs/Premises/CARRIAGE%20AND%20STORAGE%20OF%20PETROL%20AND%20DIESEL.pdf

    • By international agreement, most countries will allow foreign flagged vessels to operate as long as they are in compliance with the rules of their country of origin. If anyone is uncomfortable filling our tender fuel container, we would be happy to limit the fill to 30 liters. Thanks for the note of caution Robin.

  3. Timothy Daleo says:

    How is return trip so far? It looks a slow and little bouncy but with a tail wind. Dirona running well?

    • Hi Timothy. Conditions are incredibly good. Near flat water and we’re loping along at only 1600 RPM (about 95 hp) but running along at 7.0 kts. The wind is bouncing around between 3 and 5 kts. The sun just set and it was a beautiful, bright orange orb slowly settling into the sea behind us. It’s a very nice night. We’ll arrive in the Orkney Island group tomorrow morning.

      • Mike Taggart says:

        An amazing weather window, are you planning to stay in Longhope?
        Do you travel regardless of the weather, if time is not a constraint are there conditions that would cause you to wait?

        • You are 100% right Mike. The weather has been amazing and, around this area, currents can run upwards of 8 kts so it’s super important that we avoid wind against current and we’ll also not be able to make much headway against currents that fast. On the way here, it was dead flat with a strong current behind us and we were doing 13.5 kts at only 1500 RPM.

          We don’t intentionally travel in poor weather. We tend to explore an area and time our trips between areas to periods where the weather at least reasonable. And, where current are strong, we’ll try to optimize for them as well but it’s the weather that we watch most closely.

          We are now on anchor just off Longhope and we’re planning to takes our bikes in and do a peddle around the island.

  4. Greg says:

    9-18-2017
    Hi James
    Is your frig/freezer system set up to run on 12 or 24 volts as opposed to 120 v. shore power? Thanks

    • The fridge runs on 120V 60hz. Like most US houses, we have both 240VAC for large appliances like ovens and dryers and a 120V system for lower draw appliances. On the direct current side, most of the boat runs on 24VDC but there is also a small 12VDC system for gear not available in 24V.

  5. Mike Taggart says:

    Your maps are very effective, what does each of the colour tracks represent? How do you record the different types and publish them?

    • Mike, there are two basic type of tracks we show: 1) tracks made by Dirona, and 2) personal tracks which might be boat, airplane, train, walking, bicycle, bus, taxis or any other form of transit other than Dirona. Dirona tracks are organized into groups of tracks we call trips. These are the set of trips that involve our exploring a specific area. These tracks left by Dirona are blue for the selected set which is the most recent unless you navigate somewhere else and red for all the remainder. Just scale the maps site out to show the entire world and you’ll see lots of red tracks and of which can be selected.

      Personal track have the most recent track shown in green and older tracks in turquoise. If you hover the cursor over any personal track, it’ll turn yellow so you can see it separate from the rest.

      Dirona tracks are produced by custom software that is primarily used for other purposes — the tracks produced are just a side effect of a broader system. This software takes all data off boat-wide NMEA2000 data communications bus and stores it in a database every 5 seconds. This data includes all data from all the main engine, wing engine, generator, all electrical systems, all navigation systems, the electrical systems, and many other discrete devices in the boat. The data in the database data is used by other custom software systems to track historical changes, alert on problems, set indicator lights, send warning email, auto-start the generator when the battery discharge, shed power load when starting to reach the limits of the current boat power source, etc. A tiny part of this data is auto-uploaded to the web site to show the track on the map at http://mvdirona.com/maps using a combination of google maps and custom code shown inside WordPress (the blog software).

      The personal tracks are produced by a really nice little program that ran on Android phones called “My Tracks” — unfortunately Google stopped supporting this app and it’s no longer available from the Google Playstore. But we got lucky anb found they had open sourced an earlier version of My Tracks so we did a private build which we side loaded so we now have our own version of My Tracks that we continue to use.

      • Greg says:

        9.18.2017.
        Hi all
        Does your system back up navigation references to a portable drive should there be a natural disaster black out???? Lets hope an asteroid doesn’t clobber earth & screw up our compasses! Or worse yet the heavens give us the finger. Live long!

        • Yes. Everything on the boat is stored locally on RAID6 which can operate through two disk failures without data loss. All of that data is also backed up to Amazon Web Services S3 where it is stored in multiple independent data centers. It’ll take a big asteroid before we start loosing data 🙂

          • Greg says:

            9-18-2017
            Hi James
            Is raid6 portable & compatible with all or most OS systems?
            Have you yet sailed over any areas where your currently cruising that have effected compass readings?
            Thanks

            • The central file store used on Dirona is a Synology 416 running RAID6. It can be read by both Windows and Linux systems and we have many of both on board. All on board systems backup to this central file store.

              There are many areas marked on the charts as having a magnetic disturbance — these seem fairly common. Our primary heading indicator is a Furuno SC-30 satelite compass. This device computes position, heading, and speed using time differentials between two different GPS receivers.We use the system for it’s increased position accuracy over simple GPS. It also makes the boat more or less immune to magnetic disturbances and their impact on compasses.

              The backup to the SC-30 are multiple discrete electronic compasses and multiple redundant GPSs. There is a standard magnetic compass on board as a tool of last resort and, of course, it would be impacted by local magnetic disturbances.

  6. Gregg Testa says:

    Knowing what you know now about your current dinghy what modifications would you be looking for in your next purchase of a new dinghy

    • It’s funny you should ask that. Our current tender was delivered in early summery 1999 and it now has just under 600 hours on it. I’m starting to think about replacement. All three compartments have just started to leak and it looks like the fabric is sufficiently worn that it is just seeping air everywhere. It’s still solid and I can easily get another year out of it but, depending on pricing, we may replace it soon. When we do replace it, we’ll go with AB Alumina 12 ALX. The only mods we like on our tenders are: 1) locking storage areas, 2) battery meter so it’s super clear if the battery is on and what level it is at, 3) depth sounder, 4) trim tabs, and 5) off engine canister type fuel filter.

      Our current tender is powered by a Honda 40. The Alumina 12 ALX has a max engine size of 30 hp so we’ll probably go with a Yamaha 30 outboard.

  7. Timothy Daleo says:

    Gauges, impeller, bilge pump, oil and an anode. At least your seals were sleeping and did not need to be replaced.

    • Yeah. Overall the boat has been pretty stable of late. We’re caught up on all the small jobs but have a few big jobs that we will want to get to but arent’t really urgent: 1) needs a full wax, 2) will need a bottom paint before next summer, 3) main engine injector change and rocker arm carrier gasket change, 4) crane extension has siezed fasterners that need to be drilled out, and 5) there are early signs that the house bank batteries are on their last 6 months or so. All the small issues are caught up. The boat doesn’t take that much work but, when it’s us doing all the service, there are always some items pending.

  8. Steve Coleman says:

    Hello James,

    I can’t tell from the picture if there is any magnesium left on that anode or it’s simply calcium but, even if there is it had done about all it was going to do for you.

    Having been in there almost 8 years that’s actually a pretty good run but I’d recommend checking it again about the 3-4 year mark. Ideally you don’t want any of the steel rod that holds the magnesium on showing.

    I’ve seen worse .

    • Steve Coleman says:

      Hello again,

      Maybe it’s just me but, I seem to read a lot about impellor failures on Dirona while equipment is in use. I know at one point you’d mentioned finding some type of strainer to catch the parts.

      Does there seem to be either a time or hour failure rate that would indicate a possible maintenance schedule or is it fairly random and the cost and effort be more than any gain?.

      • It’s a great question. Generally the industry recommends annual changes. I had a look at the failure rate and some last 2 1/2 years and some last less than a week. Since the distribution periods are so widely seperated and some have very long lives, I think it’s more economic to let them go until near failure. I have temp sensors set low to set a warning light and send email when the temp starts to climb and a impeller is probably starting to fail.

        We have 3 identical Jabsco pumps so statisticaly there will be a fault every 6 to 9 months: 1) wing engine cooling, 2) generator cooling, and 3) hydralic and main engine fuel cooling.

        My analsys says that if it’s disruptive to have them fail, then change them every 6 to 12 months. If it’s not really a disruption and the focus is on economics, then they are best replaced when they start to fail.That’s where we ended up.

    • It’s pretty ugly and should have been changed 3 years back but, hey, better now than a year fro now :-). Thanks for recommending we have a look.

      Unfortunately, while in there I noticed the T&P valve is has started leaking so it’s next on the service list. I had noticed small amounts of freshwater in the bilge over the last 3 to 4 days and it appears that it’s from the water heater.

      • Steve Coleman says:

        People rarely do especially on residential domestic hot water but, pressure relief valves should be tested annually and replaced every 5 years.

        http://www.watts.com/pages/support/tp.asp?catId=64

        Watts recommends an inspection every 3 years which IMHO is redundant if they are tested annually and replaced at 5 years.

        • Thanks for the reference to the Watts information page on T&P valves. It’s a useful read.

          This valve appears to have calcified sealing surfaces probably due to passing water for some time. Perhaps the valve has gotten weaker with time. The water is heated to 180F to 185F when underway for a long time by the engine cooling loop. This might lead to small expansion discharges that over time which eventually calcify the T&P sealing surfaces. I’ve got a new valve on order.

  9. Rod Sumner says:

    James:
    The ‘Big Wheel” instantly reminded me of the Peterborogh Lift Lock on the Trent Severn Waterway in Onatrio Canada.
    With admittedly lower lift this lock, opened in 1904, is an excellent example of an ‘ elegant low tech’ solution to a large lift distance. I believe the lock operated for over 80 years before requiring major maintenace. Great experience to ‘ride’ in!
    See
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peterborough_Lift_Lock

    • Pretty cool Rod. We did cruise parts of the Trent Severn 30 years ago and would love to return but with only 22′ of air draft and 5′ of water draft, we’ll need a different boat for that trip.

  10. David Andrews says:

    You are unlucky with the weather in Scotland. If you have internet access and are looking for Dirona based entertainment, check out the Goodwood Reviival races for historic racing cars (1920s-1960s) which are being live streamed now and through the weekend.

    • We are in Storoway and planning to explore the area today. But the Barometer has fallen hard to 977mb yesterday and it’s still sitting around 983mb right now. The wind is currently around 2 kts but we certainly have some bad weather coming. Likely later today. We’ll enjoy it while we can today and perhaps tomorrow will check out the Goodwood Revival races. Thanks David.

      • David Andrews says:

        I should have added they are on YouTube and show repeats including highlights. Its a fun event with a mix of amateurs and pros, expensive machinery and a few spectacular spins (triple 360 degree Jaguar E Type) and expensive crashes (a Ferrari was pranged yesterday).

  11. Timothy Daleo says:

    Good luck tonight. Hope you can set the alarm and get some sleep.

    • Yup, there probably is some level of wind that we can’t sleep through but I guess it must be more than 60 kts. We have a fair degree of confidence in our 154 lb Rocna, we have 5:1 scope out, and we are running heavy chain so we sleep soundly. Dirona being fairly heavy at 55 tons helps as well. It moves around in the heavy winds but it a nice slow and lazy movement that is easy to sleep through. We sleep great.

      • Timothy Daleo says:

        Where do you store the poles for the floppers?

        • We have only 1 pole on Dirona. That’s a common configuration but Nordhavn has built many boats with flopper stoppers on both sides. The flopper on Dirona uses just a single stand off pole that rotates 90 degrees aft when not in use and clips onto the hull more or less disappearing into the lines of the boat. We keep the lines for it in the brow storage area over the pilot house and in front of the fly bridge.

  12. Timothy Daleo says:

    I really enjoyed the canal pictures and comments. Was there a current in the canal? Did you have to use thrusters at all or was it easy to navigate?

    • There is no current in the canal and it’s easy to navigate other than the bank effect occiasionaly pulling the stern over. Thrusters are helpful when navigating in the small turning basins at each end where moored boats don’t allow a straight run into the lock. The last turn at the Crinin end is tight enough that a gentle bit of bow thruster helps keep the boat central. I also noticed that a light touch of the thruster would quickly break the bank effect when it begins to suck the boat over — at these speeds the rudder doesn’t have much water passing over it and the thrusters are particularly effective.

  13. Stephen McDermott says:

    Just read through your stuff whilst on holiday here in Mallorca. My boat is moored at the marina in Greenock you visited and I was amused to see where you had sailed from.. Good luck sailing the dream !

  14. Jay Pulawski says:

    Hi James and Jennifer – love the site! Thanks for all you do. While you’re in Edinburgh, the National Library has a great photographic exhibit of Shackelton’s famous Antarctic expedition with original photo plates from Frank Hurley. Worth seeing if you have time!

    • Thanks for the tip Jay. Ages ago I read Caroline Alexander’s The Endurance, featuring Frank Hurley’s photographs of the expedition. The story itself is incredible and Hurley’s astonishing pictures really brought it to life.

    • Rob Heath says:

      Hi James & Jennifer, Looks like you are heading up the Sound of Mull, assuming you turn north at the end past Ardnamurchan point do try and have a look at the Small Isles ( Muck, Eigg, Rum, and Canna ) Canna in particular is stunningly beautiful with a good anchorage on a transit between the two churches. Looking SE from here you get a great view of Rum. Really enjoying reading about your adventures, as we cruised the west and north coast in 2014 & 2015.
      Hope you get good weather to enjoy to the max ( not great eat today I think ! )
      Regards
      Rob
      S/Y ‘Norman James’

      • Rob, thanks for the recommendation. We’re likely going to head southwest from Loch Spelve to Iona Island area, and then out to the south end of the Hebrides and work north from there, so we’ll miss the Small Isles. But if we do end up in that area, we’ll be sure to check them out.

        • bob hastie says:

          Hi folks
          Just passed you in Loch Spelve as I drove home, lovely looking boat.
          Enjoy your travels

          • It’s a nice area to call home Bob. We’re tucked away in here on 100 meters of anchor rode with enjoying watching the storm roll through. We saw winds to 38 kts last night. We’ll likely stay another day to let the low pressure system pass through and then head north. Thanks for saying hi.

        • Rob Heath says:

          Hi Jennifer,
          Hope you enjoyed Canna. If you are going up the inside of the outer Hebrides from Castlebay, there is a nice ( very new ) marina in Lochboisdale. The post van does a bus service and we took it up to the airport, the minibus goes up the Atlantic side of the island stopping at every post box but the return is almost non stop. If I remember rightly, the return journey was only £3.50 each and was great fun, listening to all the locals speaking Gaelic – quite musical!. A bit further north, Stornaway is very friendly, as is Stromness in the Orkneys. Enjoy!
          Regards
          Rob

          • Rob, we did enjoy Canna–it was quite beautiful. We’re underway for Lock Skipport now and after a few “town days” in Castle Bay likely will skip Lock Boisdale. But thanks very much for the tip. We had a great time at Barra Island–we rode the bikes around the island and watched a plane land on their beach airstrip. Most unusual.

      • Rob, we did end up visiting the Small Isles and currently are anchored at Canna. And you’re right, the scenery is spectacular. Thanks again for the recommendation!

  15. Timothy Daleo says:

    215 year old canal with 15 locks and 7 bridges in under 10 miles sounds awesome. You will be sitting close to the 2.2m limit? You get to do your locking? I cannot wait to see the video of this trip!

    • The speed limit is 4 kts rather than 4 km so it slow but not as bad as 2.2 MPH. Even the widest parts are pretty close so going 4 kts doesn’t really feel rediculously slow. Dirona runs 4 kts at about 1025 to 1050 RPM so we’re just loping along and enjoying the scenary.

      Yesterday we went through 4 locks with help on three of them. When operating alone with only the two of us, it’s busy. I keep the boat where it needs to be with the engine and thruster controls and adjust the lines and Jennifer closes gates, releases the water, and open the gates in front. Since all controls are hand driven and hand powered, it’s a bit of work. I walked up and opened the second set of lock gates while we were waiting in the first lock and the gates require a strong back to push open. When they get open at 8:30am this morning, we’ll get started on today’s adventure. Dirona feels quite big in here.

      • Timothy Daleo says:

        Sorry, I meant the draft limit of 2.2M. I know you are close and it is freshwater so Dirona sits a little lower.

        • Timothy Daleo says:

          I am a fan of the Broom river cruisers over there. Are there many in the canal?

          • The Canal isn’t that busy right now and most boats are sailing craft so we definitely haven’t seen that many Broom River boats. However, ,I’m not sure I know the distinguishing characteristics well enough to know when I have seen one :-).

        • Yes, 100%, the Canal is quite shallow. We often see depths in the 8′ range and occasionally in the 7′ range. We’re currently against the dock at the Crinan end so it appears we have managed to stay off the bottom for the entire trip but you are right, the Canal is not very deep.

      • Greg Moore says:

        Hi James and Jennifer!
        Fascinated looking at your canal transit. Looks like quite a challenge! I’m curious about how Dirona handles at 4 kts – do you feel like you have adequate steerage? It looks like the canal is not only narrow, but isn’t exactly straight. Are you having to use the thrusters? I don’t recall but do you need to run a generator full time to have hydraulics for the thrusters?

        • Dirona is perfectly happy at 3 to 4 kts but handling was still a surprisingly noticable issue on the last day in the Canal. I’ve read of “bank effect” in the past — this is the tendency for ship sterns to be pulled towards the nearest bank. This effect is important for Canal Pilots to keep an eye on when operating in narrow waterways. I’ve never felt the effect before and assumed it only applied to large ships in narrow channels. But, the water displaced by Dirona is a large percentage of the Crinan Canal and it leads to weird handling at times. If you drift 2 to 3 feet over towards one bank, the stern will pull towards it and the bow will veer off heading the boat over to the opposite bank. The lower the speed the less the impact of this effect but, even as low as the 4 kt speed limit in the canal, we felt a pronounced bank effect that I have never before experienced. I initially thought we had a steering problem but it was just the bank effect where the bow tends to push off the bank and the stern tends to “suck” towards it.

          Another interesting (and related) anomaly when operating in narrow canals is the water was rushing so fast from bow to stern that it would drop by 6 to 8″ near the PH door. What appears to be happening is the passage of the boat through still water requires the water in front of the boat to get to the stern but, since the boat fills much of the canal, we build up a several inch high plug in front of the boat and the water rushes from the bow to the stern of the boat far faster than we are actually travelling.

          • Greg Moore says:

            Thank-you! That is interesting. I’m guessing that Bernoulli was having his way with the canal water as you passed and since there was a ‘constriction’ in the canal (Dirona), the water had to accelerate around it to maintain equilibrium. I’d never heard of ‘bank effect’ before – thanks for the great explanation!

            • Yes, good point Greg. I think the bank effect is just a specialization of the Bernoulli principal. I was surprised at what a strong effect could be felt if you get too close to one bank or the other.

  16. Rod Sumner says:

    James and Jennifer:
    Just curious. Why did you name your cat Spitfire?

    • Good question on Spitfire. He was actually named by a Seattle Vet on his first visit. He was running around the examination room and, overall, massively energetic. The Vet commented “he’s a little Spitfire isn’t he?” The name stuck and 14 years later, he’s still a little Spitfire.

      • Jacques Vuye says:

        Ah! And I always thought it was because he was purring like a RR Merlin 16 cyl engine! 😉
        Beautiful cat, my 10 year old black female cat Mokka is a big Spitfire fan and follows his adventures attentively watching the screen on my lap!
        Her favorite picture is from Wellington NZ where spit was hoping to catch a seagull!

        • Spitfire definitely does purr up a storm. On catching Seagulls, he’s a bit optimistic. They are bigger and meaner than he is. And Spitfire carries 4 loud bells on his collar since our previous cat Gremlin did successfully catch a baby rabbit. We would really prefer that he let them live so the bell policy was put in place. Spitfire carries the bells due to behavior a generation before him.

  17. David Andrews says:

    Good to hear that the Rathlin island visit worked out OK for you. I believe you sail North next but if you can fit it in your itinerary I suggest you consider North Wales especially Snowdonia and the fine medieval castles there. Conwy castle (and its walled town) and Canaervon castle are well worth a visit. There are others too if you are gluttons for punishment, including Beaumaris and Harlech castles. The Portmeirion hotel, village and estate will probably be unlike anything else you have visited – it is south of the two castles. You would need to rent a car to get around the area.

    • You are right we are heading north from here to explore the west coast of Scotland and the Hebrides. We will head around Scotland to the north but will take the Caledonian Canal back to the Scottish west coast before we head back south. We plan to stop in the Isle of Man and Dublin and are still investigating other stops along the way. Thanks for passing along the tip Snowdonia and other possible stops.

      • David Andrews says:

        I forgot to add that the Ffestiniog light railway runs from Portmadoc (near Portmeirion) to an old slate mine. If you like trains I expect you will Welsh narrow guage railways. Worth checking out. Waterford, south of Dublin, might be worth checking out too.

  18. Timothy Daleo says:

    Did I miss the picture of you two standing in front of a East Hamilton Street sign?

  19. Michael & Frances, N40 Coracle says:

    Hello again – I am in the last stages of making an anchor buoy + trip line and realised that I haven’t noticed your “Wilson” (http://mvdirona.com/technicalarticles/WilsonAnchorBuoy.htm) in any recent pictures of Dirona at anchor. Have you stopped using an anchor buoy?
    Best wishes

    • We mostly use Wilson when anchoring in high anchor loss risk areas. These are area where logging or other activity has left spirals of steel cables or other debris on the bottom and snagging is a significant possibility. It’s also helpful in crowded anchorages to help others avoid tangling with your anchor and rode. Generally, we view an anchor buoy as a good idea but it’s more work to deploy so it’s a risk/benefit decision. For many years, especially when boating in British Columbia, we used it every time we anchored but, of late, we’ve been spoiled by locations where the risk of anchor loss is low.

      • We are finally using our Anchor buoy (Wilson: http://mvdirona.com/TechnicalArticles/WilsonAnchorBuoy.htm) again. We’re currently anchored off of Longhope in the Orkney Island group and the cruising guide says this area is known to have a foul bottom. It’s the first time we have used Wilson for a long time but it was as easy to deploy as usual.

        Also, as you know, the tides and currents are big in this area so we’re making good use of Reeds Almanac. Thanks again for your contribution to our fun trip through Ireland and the UK.

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