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General questions & comments
  1. Dear James & Jen
    I hope you are both well. I have in attached my wind speed reference at the bottom of this message. The telematory from Dirona showed winds of 122.8kts. The record for the UK at sea level is 123kts. Watching you boat is more nerve racking that the latest Hollywood film.
    I have been up several times in the night to check on your position.
    I would love to cruise around Scotland but will need a bigger boat. My wife and I generally don’t go out if the wind is above force 3.

    Rgs
    Robert

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_weather_records

  2. Gary says:

    Last few days, post Ophelia, a relief it passed has been great reading….thought the “EE” acronym was “time to be an electronic engineer”, and the nice lunch break at the Castle Tavern for me would be followed by “Nap Time”, after seeing those lovely pints! Entrance to Inverness like is beautiful! Safe travels….!

  3. Greg says:

    10.202017
    Hi James
    Truly magnificent photography an historical treasure !

  4. Lukas says:

    Are you planning to see more of Europe? Like the Netherlands

    • Great set of data and, of course, this is why recreational SCUBA diving is such a big industry in the Orkney Island area. There are a lot of ships (and other debris) on the bottom.

  5. Drew Hunter says:

    You should be glad all your anchor snagged was a chain and not a torpedo!
    http://gcaptain.com/tanker-pulls-up-unexploded-torpedo-with-anchor-off-england/

  6. Paul Wood says:

    If you enjoy maps like I do, then you may enjoy this interactive wind map of the world. Wind speeds are in real time, too!
    It’s 88km/h where I am at the moment.
    https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/surface/level/orthographic=10.13,58.23,196/loc=9.748,31.764

  7. Gonzalo says:

    Hi from Chile, nice videos…thanks

    Whats the crane brand you use to download the dinghy?

    Gracias

    Gonzalo
    Puerto Natales
    Chile

  8. Leif johansson says:

    Hi, you have heard About hurricane Ophelia? looks as it Will pass northen Scotland!

  9. Karen says:

    Plockton/Loch Duibh…before your time, but this was the setting for the great Hamish MacBeth series with Robbie Carlyle. We spent our time there scouting the shooting locations. Great to see it again!

  10. Vassilas Mihalis says:

    You are very nice couple..with a way to use your life who is perfecr!!!! Actually this is my dream but i’m still working here in Greece and i wait the day i stop. If you ever visit our waters let me know…I’ll be proud to meet you and yours best boat ever!
    Best wishes guys!

  11. Flocerfida Benincasa says:

    How do you guys create your map/track?

    • We display the maps using modified WordPress blogging software with custom software driving Google maps. We collect the data on Dirona as a side effect of a far broader central control system that captures all NMEA2000 data on Dirona and acquires data from some other non-NMEA2000 connected devices as well. This data is stored in a relational data base and is used to the drive alerts, alarms, email notification of problems, generator autostart, power load shedding, and a variety of other tasks. A tiny subset of that data is uploaded to our website on Amazon Web Services for display.

      The personal tracks that we create when off-boat walking, biking, Taxis, train or other forms of transit are created using a discontinued application called My Tracks. Google removed support for this app and no longer maintains it but they open sourced an earlier version of it. We took the earlier version and continue to use that app side loaded on whatever phone we happen to be carrying.

      • Eric Patterson says:

        Are all your posts and website driven by WordPress? Do you recommend a hosting service? Btw my wife and I are in process of building a N60. Taking delivery in early spring 2019. Thanks for the site and maybe we will cross paths

        • Yes, the web site and posts are all done through WordPress running on Amazon Web Services (aws.amazon.com). There is some custom code used for the maps section where Google maps is embedded in word press and the boat position and track is shown but the rest is just standard WordPress. Generally, we’re quite happy with WordPress. It’s a nice solution.

          We hope our paths do cross. If they do, drop by and say hi.

    • Paul Wood says:

      Hi Flocerfida,
      If you want to create trip tracks like James & Jennifer with GPS data logging. I use an app on my phone called Geotag Photos which is available on Android. It’s a user friendly solution which works very well for cameras that don’t have GPS technology built in. It records your trip as a GPX file which you can export and load into Google maps.

  12. Jake D says:

    Hi James & Jennifer. Long time reader/follower(fan!!) of your blog (I think I ended up here once, years ago when Ken Williams linked to one of your long South Pacific passages). I love (and am jealous!) of what you guys are doing, but am eternally grateful for how well you share it. I’m finally commenting after a few questions came to head…
    Re: dinghy/tender replacement. I have noticed in some of your pics (dating back several years, too) the rust stains/leaks from the small bits of hardware on the current tender. While not mission critical, the staining and rusting of those parts isn’t ideal. I am sure it all boils down to the bottom line ($$) but my basic understanding of alloys is that most of this could be avoided (304 vs. 316). What is your take on the Tender OEMs “missing” in this arena? I even wonder if they offered it as an option/package for higher grade bits on these parts, what percent of buyers would opt-up? Seems to be a small price in the relative scheme of things for a long term improvement on cosmetics and durability.
    Windshield wipers- how often do you use them? Do you replace the wipers on a schedule, or just keep spares (your parts inventory is beyond impressive. I love reading your blogs and seeing a part that you replaced and thinking “woah, how did they have *that* on hand?!?!”) and replace as necessary?
    Solar- while I understand you are *big* power consumers, as the solar technology improves in cost, efficiency, and reliability, have you considered any size of array to supplement your power needs? Or is it not realistic with the size of your battery bank, high power use, etc?
    A more broad question: Rewind a few years, you’re in Seattle, boat-less, ready to do this trip again, but with all the knowledge/experience you have at this point. On a high/macro level, what are some of the big changes/differences you would do if you could start again? Boat/plan/equipment/etc.
    Thank you so much for everything you share on here, it’s incredible.

    • Lots of good questions Jake. Your first was on the tender noting that, as it aged, it developed rust stains and other cosmetic problems. It’s true, one of the sources of the rust were the locks I use on the lockers. They are not stainless and I just replace them after a couple of years but it would be better if I found a stainless part that was easy to lock/unlock. One component of the Honda motor has rusted badly and it leaves ugly streaks down the back of boat. Everything else around the Honda has no paint flaws and no rust. I’m not sure why they would have selected a ferrous metal for this one bracket. It was a poor choice. However, none of the rusty components have failed so it doesn’t appear to have impacted durability. Certainly it is a negative on the cosmetic side. Beyond that, there were parts of the tender that rusted that were stainless. Perhaps 304 vs 316 stainless steel as you suggest or it could just be age and weather. If you don’t polish stainless occasionally, it will “stain less” but it will not be without stain. The tender is often pretty muddy on the boat deck, the tubes are often marked with tar or other dirt from the large commercial docks we often tie to. Ideally we would carefully clean and polish the tender but we end up treating it like a working boat and we maintain it well but don’t wax and polish it. Perhaps we should — we do on Dirona.

      We usually have two spare sets of windshield wipers on Dirona. We change them when needed and that is usually every 12 to at most 24 months. We use the wipers fairly frequently to get salt water off before it drys on and to clear rain. On our previous boat the wipers didn’t work well so we used Rain-X which works well. On this boat, I haven’t applied RainX in years and the wipers seem to get the job done. The windshield sprayers are a bit unusual in that they are plumbed into the boat pressure water systems so they never run out and never need filling.

      As you guessed, it’s hard to add enough solar to make a material difference to our power consumption. We unapologetically run the boat like a small apartment with washer, dryer, entertainment, dishwasher, furnace, etc. We use a lot of power. But you are also right that some solar would help. Less so in the current cruising area in Scotland than in the South Pacific but I agree Solar would help. The only install locations we have available that don’t look super ugly would be to replace the bimini that covers the fly bridge with a frame supporting panels. We enjoy having the fly bridge able to go either open or covered with the bimini, don’t love adding more weight up high on the boat, and it hasn’t felt like a project we want to take on. If I had a great solution that looked good and knew it would contribute enough, we would add solar. It’s a project that hasn’t felt like good enough price/performance but we honestly haven’t really researched it out carefully.

      We do have a lot of spares on board and what that buys us is the trip never gets redirected to wait for parts or service. We can just keep going but, for sure, there is a massive cost in all the spares and they all have to be inventoried and kept clean and dry so it’s a substantial investment. We love the freedom it buys us.

      You asked what we would add to the boat if we were to start the trip again. Generally, they way the boat is now is pretty close to that point. For the most part, the changes can be made after the fact so, if we felt like we needed it, we just made the change since we intend to be using the boat for years and many thousands of hours. Each thing we found we needed, we added or changed as we learned more. Some of the major systems we knew we needed when we left but there were some we discovered later. Here’s a few of the changes that we think were were important that came since Seattle: 1) 240V inverter that can run any appliance on the boat and 9kw of alternator on the main engine essentially making the main engine our backup generator and the sole power producer when we are underway (http://mvdirona.com/2014/08/a-more-flexible-power-system-for-dirona/), 2) longer passerel (gang plank used for Med Mooring), and control systems auto-start the generator when needed, shed less important loads when power draws near maximum source power, we have alerts on potential system faults, we send email for some problems that need attention, and we display all this data using Maretron N2kview (much of the control systems have Maretron at the core). The power system changes covered in the article referenced above made a massive improvement to the boat and the power system changes and control system additions have been key to making the boat “just run itself” and help us run it safely without only two people on the boat. Simplicity of operation and fool proof is important to a lightly staffed boat. In fact, that’s an interesting point. For many folks, our system look complicated. We’re fine with complicated to install as long as it makes the boat simpler to run since that’s where we spend our time.

      Things that we haven’t done but would have liked changing: 1) move from a 40hp wing to 50 to 70 hp, 2) move from 7 1/2 sq ft stabilizer fins to 9 sq ft, and 3) autostart for the main engine. The last one sounds silly but here’s what’s driving our interest in auto-start on the main. If the generator ever failed to start or shut off due to a system fault while we are not on the boat, the batteries will discharge. It turns out that a high power consuming boat like ours needs to run the generators 24×7 or have gen auto-start. You just can’t be on the boat to run the gen when the batteries need it so it’s best left to control systems. The 12kw Northern Lights generator has been rock solid for 5,000 hours but there will come a time when it can’t run for some reason. Our backup is the main engine that can produce 9kw of power generation. We want the control systems to be able to start the backup generator if the primary fails. The best answer is a second generator but it’s hard to find space for another generator so we use the main engine. It’s working out so well that we want the control systems to be able to start it if needed. The interest is driven by a battery bank being worth $6,000+ and the best way to prolong the life of the battery bank is to never deeply discharge them. We can add autostart to the main engine for under $1,000 so we will make that change. It won’t often be used since the main gen is so reliable but it’s good insurance.

      If we built again, the boat wouldn’t change much from what we currently have. Solar power might be part of the new build, two gens, a larger wing would be nice but not vital and, in a larger boat, we would go with twin engines despite the tiny loss of operating efficiency.

      • David Andrews says:

        I see here:
        http://www.nordhavn.com/news/headlines/improved_52/
        that Nordhavn have announced a new version with a stretched saloon and boat deck. Nordhavn say ” “We’re confident 52 buyers are going to love this change.”

        • Nice to see. It’s not a big change but, as much as we love the big cockpit, giving up a bit to get a bit more boat deck and interior is a great improvement. It’s a really good looking boat.

      • Peter Charles says:

        Hi James. Have followed the site for some time and regret not coming to say hi when I saw Dirona in the Hawkesbury Australia 12/2014. I’m still a sailor but working towards a trawler around 60ft in length. I’m interested in your comment that you’d go with twin engines in a larger boat. I’d appreciate your reasoning and at what length you would consider twin engines.

        • We loved the Hawksbury and Sydney region. Definitely one of the trips highlight areas.f

          You were asking about twin engines. First, if we like twin engines why did we buy a single? To get twins into a small boat, you need to give up few to allow sufficient space for two engines and two engines are just a tiny amount less efficient. In a 52, we didn’t feel we had anything to give up. However, in a 60 to 63′ boat we would go twins on the argument that boats of that size can carry all the fuel needed for even quite long crossings and the tiny loss of efficiency isn’t really material. We really like the redundancy of twins, we like the handling of twins, and I like having two identical engines when working on why something isn’t working properly on one of the them. Generally, I prefer two small diesels to one large one just about every time unless the package is too small to have two without giving up fuel capacity and range.

          On the handling front, a single with thrusters hasn’t been a problem so that factor is arguably a pretty small factor. Singles are used on boats all the way up to very large ocean crossing container ships mostly because it’s a bit more efficient. Here’s an article on us visiting the Hanjin Oslo container ship: http://mvdirona.com/2012/06/on-board-the-hanjin-oslo/. On the other side of that decision still up at the very large end of the boating spectrum, oil tankers care just as much about container ships about efficiency but I’ve noticed many new builds are going with twins for redundancy in an effort to reduce the risk of collision and potential spills.

  13. Jamie says:

    An incredible journey and documentation to boot. With joys and challenges abound along the way. I am cautious for the next installment of you journey however. Although inland, do not let your guards down! Be vigilant! While many may dismiss the reality as folklore legend, there is a true monster that lies in the section ahead!

    Humor asides, I encouragea Haggis as a means to calm yourselves. They are challenging to catch, but worth the effort 🙂

    Good luck!

    • Thanks Jamie. We will keep an eye out for the Loch Ness monster. For calming, the Scots have a variety of recommendations but I’m not sure Haggis will be the option we take :-).

      • David Andrews says:

        Loch Ness can feel quite spooky – especially when it is black and glassy smooth. We rented a boat for a trip for about a week from Inverness to Fort Augustus (up the locks) and return when our children were young many years ago. Back then, IIRC, there were not many places to moor a boat in Loch Ness itself.

        • It looks like things haven’t changed a lot since you were last here David. Still not many places to tie off or to anchor but, for this time of year, I’m pretty confident we’ll find lots of open space for Dirona. Really looking forward to it but, having just pulled into our slip in Inverness, wow, it’s pretty nice here as well. We have a really nice end tie with good shelter, a view of the entire bridge in front of us and the marina entrance behind us. We’re planning a train trip (Kyle of Lochalsh) scheduled for tomorrow and we’re heading out now for lunch.

          • Jamie says:

            Spent about a week in Inverness ourselves before we headed up the Lochs. Nice town good shopping friendly locals and a few good pubs. We had just come across the North Sea from Norway though, so the low prices were most welcomed.

  14. Ted S. says:

    Beautiful videos, as well as some outstanding photos and their reflections !! Are you set up for HF Radio Comms ?? Not sure where you guys are right now, where might your next trip be and when ? Keep up the good work and enjoy life as you are

  15. Have you come across the Ofcom website or app for checking coverage. Might be useful for you while you are in UK waters. https://www.ofcom.org.uk/phones-telecoms-and-internet/advice-for-consumers/advice/ofcom-checker

  16. Drew Hunter says:

    Any thoughts on the Dashew’s ending production of their FPB boat series? It appears the three under construction will be the last three. My lottery ticket didn’t match up so I guess I won’t be getting one 🙂

  17. Paul Wood says:

    Hello,

    What is that large antenna on a hilltop on Eye Peninsula just outside Stornoway? It belongs to the National Air Traffic Services. Which means it’s an on-route navigational aid for aircraft – I think there used to be an RAF base up there, too.

    • Well done Paul. We’ll update the posting to reflect that. Thanks!

    • Colin Rae says:

      It is a VOR beacon, which stands for Very High Frequency Omnidirectional Beacon. It is indeed a navigational beacon which gives you a bearing to or from the beacon. Airways, which are motorways (or freeways!) in the sky are often aligned between VORs and in the old days before inertial navigation, then GPS navigation, you drove between VORs on a particular bearing. Now that aeroplanes are often cleared direct to points on the edge of overlapping sectors, VORs are becoming superfluous. However, Stornoway VOR is frequently still used by controllers as a waypoint which airliners are cleared to before commencing their oceanic crossing.

  18. Rod Sumner says:

    James:

    Just looked at the Maretron temp etc sensor. Given the cost I can easily relate to your peeved look when you did the swap!!

    • True. Although, overall, I’m pretty happy with the price/performance of Maretron equipment. They have really changed the market where, prior to them entering the market, high quality instrumentation was mostly just available super yachts (or “super” budgets).

  19. Rod Sumner says:

    James:

    Love your site especially the maintenance items
    1, Where did you purchase the one way cockpit drains?
    2. I have found Krylon Battery protector (#1307) to be superb at protecting connections such as your generator temp ground (image 8063) as well as battery terminals, etc. Available on Amazon too!!
    3. Does your temperature sensor protude below the hull surface? If it does would it be ‘failure point’ if were struck by a large piece of debris?

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