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Latest Posts

  • Exploring Trondheim

    Trondheim is a beautiful waterside city with many excellent restaurants and attractions, ...

  • Trondheim Arrival

    Trondheim was Norway’s capital during the Viking era and currently is the country’s ...

  • Svartisen Glacier

    Svartisen Glacier is the second largest in mainland Norway, after Jostedalsbreen, and one of ...

  • Bodø

    Bodø, Norway was the ultimate destination of American pilot Gary Powers’ ill-fated ...

  • Kiruna, Sweden

    The Swedish town of Kiruna, with a population of about 17,000, made headlines in 2004 when it ...

  • Narvik

    Narvik is ice-free year-round due to the warm waters of the Gulf Stream that run along the west ...

  • Hurtigruten

    The Hurtigruten (meaning ‘Express Route’) is a system of coastal ferries, founded ...

  • Svalbard

    Svalbard, lying 600 miles from the North Pole, is about as far north as a person is likely to ...

  • Storsteinen

    1,381ft (421m) Mt. Storsteinen dominates the skyline east of Tromsø. An easy half-hour ...

  • Battery Bank Life Expectancy

    Most battery manufacturers specify battery life expectancy in terms of number of cycles at a ...

  • Tromsø Polar Museum

    Tromsø was the starting point for many polar research expeditions during late 1800s and ...

  • Tromsø Arrival

    A couple of years after first planning it, we finally arrived in Tromsø, Norway. At ...

  • Continental Shelf

    The continental shelf runs within five miles of the Norwegian coast off the island of ...

  • Dronningruta

    Dronningruta is a strenuous (for us) 9-mile (15km) mountain loop walk between Stø and ...

  • Finnvågen

    With some calm weather in the forecast, we departed Eidsfjorden to cruise the dramatic west ...

  • Eidsfjorden

    Eidsfjorden lies along the south side of Langøya in the Vesterålen islands. From ...

General questions & comments
  1. Mike Taggart says:

    Hi I hope you are both well and enjoying. I would appreciation tapping into your experience. Trish and I are at the planning stage for our first blue water passage 200 mls 30 hrs. I am looking at options to make watch keeping safer, there will be the two of us. I have not been able to source a non commercial product in the uk. Talking through options with my son he has suggested building us a Raspberry PI or Arduino solution. I wondered if you are aware of any existing products or perhaps an apple app, it would seem a perfect fit for an app if we do not require too much control of other systems such as sounder. If there is not an existing product perhaps someone may be interested in developing one?
    Save cruising and best wishes Mike & Trish.

    • I think that’s a good choice Mike. We originally used a product called Watch Commander distributed by Lunde Marine Electronics. They have stores in Seattle, Tacoma, and Dutch Harbor Alaska ( Maretron has a very nice solution available in N2kview ( N2kview is one of the foundational components of our navigation and monitoring systems and we really like it. Furuno has an offering as well: The latter example is of a commercial Bridge Navigation Watch Alarm System. If you search for BNWAS, you’ll find many but, from my perspective, Maretron N2kview is a nice, general solution.

  2. Erika says:

    Ship ohoy Hamiltons! – I stumbled across your boating story a long time a go…maybe I looked for engine info for my own Selene 49…which also have a Deere 6068…anyway – since then I’ve sometimes checked in here to see what you guys are up to…and I saw that you’re actually in my country now 🙂 But looking at your trip so far in Norway you skipped one of the best parts from Stadt – to Kristiansund on your way north…but guess you’re doing a stop or several on your way south again? I’m also living on my boat – I’m now back in my “home” area (Aalesund) after cruising the fjords a bit further south. If you like I could recommend some places in this part to visit. Check out this small film I did last year to show how beautiful my neighborhood around Aalesund really is :

    Would be cool to see Dirona in Aalesund – Feel free to contact me or ask any questions

    Fair winds!

    Erika Krovel 🙂

    • That’s a really nice video Erika. Particularly the drone video work. And the scenery really is incredible. Our plan for Norway was to run fairly hard north wanting our time up above the Arctic Circle to be during the best time of the year from a weather perspectivce. And it allows us to explore some of the more popular parts of Norway when it’s less busy. So, our plan is fast north but slow south.

      I’ve been back in Seattle for a couple of weeks at work and, since this is the busiest time of the year at work, I’ve got some catching up to do before we can start south again.

      Always interested in suggestions for places to visit. On our around-the-world tour, some of the best locations we’ve been to have been from recommendations from people local to the area. Always appreciated.

  3. Leon says:

    Love the videos, especially taking the time to document how things are done like the fuel blatters.

    What I am really wondering though, if you do an Atlantic crossing or any large crossing for that matter, how do you make that journey? Given that you are only a crew of 2, do you split up day and night? Do you keep night watch at all?

    Thanks and keep up the great work!


    • We keep someone at the helm all the time. Over the years, we tried many different shift divisions for overnight passage. In the early days we did the classic 4 hours on 4 hours off and it works fine but over time we ended up always feeling a bit behind in sleep. We tried slightly shorter and slightly longer and ended up concluding that longer actually was more comfortable.

      What we didn’t like about this system is we didn’t really get to spend much time together and I found it hard to keep up with my job at the same time. We ended up evolving to an unusual watch keeping system where I take the helm during the day and jennifer sleeps 6pm to 10pm and 5am to whenever she wakes up. I sleep 10pm to 6am. Jennifer has the disadvantages of two sleep periods but she can sleep as long as she likes on the second one so she finds she can do it and she stays caught up. I get pretty much my normal sleep period so I’m fresh and feeling fine all the time. If anything needs to be done on the boat, I can do it during the day. And I can keep up with my job during the day as well. Jennifer has the more difficult time during the night but we get to have lunch and dinner together which we like.

      On this shift system, we both feel safe at the helm and arrive fresh. For example, after 28 days at sea travelling the 3650 nautical miles from St. Helena to Barbados, we arrived at 7am plugged in the boat and went downtown for a day of exploring. It’s really nice to arrive without feeling sleep deprived. I get the easy end of the shift system so I’m always fresh to fix things if we have problems. This has the upside of, when we arrive, the boat is fully maintained so rather than needing to be caught up, we’re done and can go enjoy our new destination. We both really like getting both lunch and dinner together and it feels less like work and more like an adventure to us both. It’s an unusual shift system but we have really come to like it.

      We also have a backup system to ensure we don’t make a mistake and fall asleep at the helm, or get busy answering email and just forget to search the skyline, we have an watch keeping system in place. It will alarm if you don’t press a button that can’t be reached from the helm chair periodically. The reason we have the button placed such that it can’t be touched from the helm chair is I’ve read about commercial boats that have run aground with watch alarms where the watch keeper fell asleep and just kept pressing the button by habit but really wasn’t conscious. The watch alarm schedule has evolved over the years to be less intrusive. There is a yellow light that goes on it 8 min, a red light at 9 min, a short beep at 9:45, and a gentle alarm at 10 min. At 11 min without the button being pressed there is a very loud, full boat alarm that would wake the dead. There is also a graphical display on the dash showing a rising green bar so you can see from a distance roughly how much time is left in the watch period. All these warnings make the system less inconvenient and less intrusive and, more important, neither of us ever gets preoccupied, falls asleep, or accidentally gets inattentive.

      • Leon says:

        Oh wow, thanks for the detailed reply.
        That watch alarm system sounds like a great idea, learning a lot here. I am also going to implement fuel blattlers myself after reading upon it here.
        But first I am going to finish the reinvent 2016 speech, learning some stuff there as well 😉

        Thanks again and safe travels


        • On the fuel bladders, they are a great addition to get more range or more speed when doing long crossings but our boat doesn’t need them. It can do 2,500 nautical miles on internal tanks. My recommendation is to wait and see what you end up with and get fuel bladders if you need or want them. Depending upon what boat you buy, you may not need deck fuel.

      • Leon says:

        Clicked too fast haha. I was also going to ask; since you mentioned work, do you use SAT internet or only roaming while close to shore? I didn’t see anything on the equipment page so I am wondering what you use. I am an ITer myself and would like to equip my boat with internet while underway. SAT is quite expensive, at least for bandwidth if you want to do more than emailing, and I am reading that wile at faster speeds it is hard to maintain a stable connection.

        Thanks again,


        • For communications we use 2 different types of satelite system, cellular, and WiFi. More detail here:

          A few years back we added a highly hacked router that we have modified to have 4 WAN ports: 1) WiFi, 2) Cellular (whichever local provider we are using), 3) High Speed Sat (KVH V7hts high speed channel), and 4) low speed sat (KVH V7hts unlimited channel). The router can auto-select the least expensive or you can request that it manually use a specific connection.

          When we are near to shore in built up areas, we almost always use cellular. In Norway, they seem to have cellular just about everywhere but, in most of the world, you will only find it near built up centers. We are often away from cellular availability for weeks at a time and use satellite exclusively during these periods.

          The KVH V7hst is 1/10th the bandwidth cost of our other system, Inmarsat BGAN, but the V7hts is still far more expensive than cellular. Both the BGAN and V7hts systems are stable and work reliable with no connection issues. With the BGAN you have to be very careful with how you use it at $6,000/GB (1000x cellular). The KVH V7hts system is far better at $200/GB (10x cellular) and we use it for everything aren’t particularly careful other than not streaming videos or updating computers. In most of the places we have traveled there is no cellular once you are off shore or away from civilization so, in those regions, satelite is the only option.

  4. Marcus Oldin says:

    Hi James and Jennifer! I’m a long-time reader and first-time commenter. I can’t help but wonder how you protect Dirona from theft while away from her. I know I would probably get anxious as soon as she was out of sight. I understand that revealing information about this can be counter-productive from a security perspective but it would be really interesting to hear your thoughts about this topic.

    • No theft deterrent is perfect but we always keep the boat locked and well lit and try not to leave it unattended in places where it’s not in sight of lots of people. It also helps that Norway appears to have lower crime rates than much of the rest of the world.

  5. Trond Saetre says:

    When you are staying in Trondheim, maybe a roadtrip to the old mining town Røros (south east of Trondheim), could be worth a visit for you.

    • Thanks for all the local tips Trond. You’ve been super helpful.

      • Trond Saetre says:

        I noticed in your recent “freshwater” picture that you are moored just aft of MY Spiti. I was hired as Master when the owner brought the boat home to Norway. I know the owner has been following your blog as well, and he could probably provide more local knowledge about what to do and see.

        • Yes, I had a brief chat with the owner of MY Spiti shortly after arriving and he mentioned he had been keeping an eye on our blog. I’ve been attending to invite him over to Dirona for a drink but we’ve been out of town for the last 2 weeks. I’ve been back at work in Seattle and just got back to Norway on Monday. It’s great to be back.

          • Trond Saetre says:

            Welcome back! Always great to get out of the office and back out on the water.

            • It’s true. We also brought home a new laptop for me so I’m getting it operational today. And we brought back a replacement main navigation computer — we were running a 2012 unit that has begun to be very troublesome so Jennifer is getting it running. We have a new steering pump coming this week via air freight. We currently have one failed pump and one that is leaking oil. Changing it will be a bit of work. Finally, for some larger items that we don’t need right away, we’ll be setting up a sea freight shipment from Seattle to Amsterdam. Hopefully we’ll get it sent this week or next. I also fell way behind at work over the last two weeks — its super busy when I’m in town so I’ve now got catching up to do. So, some overhead items need to be worked through but what better place to do it than Trondheim this time of year.

              • Trond Saetre says:

                Seems like you have some work waiting for you. Hope you get the nav computer quickly up and running, and fixed the steering pumps.

                • The computer is going like most IT projects, late!

                  This project is a big change from a complex, integrated computer with all internal disks and devices to a simple computer with all USB attached peripherals. The goal is to get the computer to “disposable” where we can drop in a new one on failure and just plug in the USBs without so much customization. It’s getting close to done.

  6. Mick Ledlin says:

    James do you alternate your engine on long passages and how often?

    • I may not have your question right Mick but it sounds like you are asking if we alternate between left and right engines when underway. Our boat is a single engine so that tactic isn’t an option for us. My preference would be to have twins for improved redundancy and better maneuverability. On a 60’+ boat, we would have gone with a dual engine configuration. But, on smaller boats, twins take more space which reduces the space for fuel and reduces range. Twins are just a tiny amount less efficient reducing range yet again. Small boats need all the fuel they can carry to get the range that gives good flexibility in routing and maximizing ability to cross faster or to redirect to avoid weather.

      As a consequence of all these factors, Dirona is a single engine boat. To protect against the unlikely event of engine failure, we also have a small emergency backup engine, called a get home engine that can keep the boat safe and allow it to finish the trip at reduced speed (roughly 3.5 to 4 kts). The main engine is a 266 hp John Deere 6068 and the backup engine is a 40 hp Lugger L644.

      • Jamie says:

        Along this theme I remember reading that on your boat selection (with maintenance in mind) you and Jennifer purposely selected the smallest vessel that could comfortably meet all your needs. Maintenance is a big item on a boat and I think this was a good strategy. Things like maintaining fixing something like a third or fourth head that rarely gets used would become tiresome. My question is with all the experience you have now if you were to buy another boat at this point would you go any larger? Or would you stick with the same size?

        • Hey Jamie. If we were to buy a boat today we would end up in a very similar place. We would look hard at each of the N52 and the N60 and we would look speculatively at high speed catamarans. The cats are a wildly different boat and there are so many unknowns, we would be unlikely to end up there. They also don’t scale down to smaller boats all that well — the best layouts are upwards of 55′ or 60′ but a 55′ to 60′ cat is gigantic and really is way more boat than we want. The most likely outcome is another 52 or a 60. The advantage of the 60 is it will support twin engines without giving up fuel and we likely the floorplan but it is a lot more expensive than the N52. Technically the 60 is more boat than we need.

          The N52 continues to work out super well for us and, from a size perspective, it can do all we need.

  7. Steven Coleman says:

    Hello James and Jennifer,

    I came across and interesting article today you’ve probably seen but just in case 🙂

  8. Alex Goodwin says:

    Hi James,

    How have the various spare Spitfires adjusted (or not) to the midnight sun?

    How many hours do you have on your main engine now? Are you considering a specific blog post to comment on 10k hours of running?

    • Yes, we are currently 9,974 hours do 10k is not far away. Good suggestion to do a 10,000 hour blog. Thanks we’ll do it.

      • Alex Goodwin says:


        Any progress on that 10k hour blog post, or have you been having too much fun traipsing around Norway?

        • This is a super busy time of year at work and I need to spend a few weeks in Seattle and it limits the amount of cruising we are doing during this period. So, we’ve not yet got to 10,000 hours and probably won’t for another 2 to 4 weeks.

          • Alex Goodwin says:

            Fair enough, it will happen when it happens. Didn’t know you were busy enough to simultaneously depart stage left and arrive stage right.

  9. Paul Wood says:

    Hello again,

    An interesting link for you today, called Phantom Islands, which I think you, and your fellow followers may enjoy. Its a maritime sonic atlas of islands which have been charted as fact but remain historically unproven, maritime folklore etc.

    So if you want to escape it all, here it is.

    PS: I’m thoroughly enjoying my armchair Norway trip 🙂

  10. Timothy Daleo says:

    I really like the picture with the Princess 20 M in front of the ice breaker. We do not see any of those euro yachts here in the US. They look like river yachts and have a sleek profile!

    • The princess is a fairly common boat in Europe and, as you said, they are not that frequently seen in the US. You will see the odd one and Viking did sell some into the US market under the Viking brand.

      • Timothy Daleo says:

        I had no idea that Viking made them here in the US. I searched and see they are expensive over here. Different topic, are you going nuts with the extended daylight or getting a lot more done on Dirona?

        • We run pretty much the same schedule as normal. Perhaps staying up a bit later sometimes and getting up a bit later but, generally, the 24×7 light isn’t leading to any changes. And, there are lots of upsides. It’s nice when on a long hike not to worry about making it back before nightfall.

  11. Rupert Eyre says:

    Hi have been following your trips for a couple of years now and find the quality and quantity of your reports very interesting and highly envious! Just a couple of points since you’ve recently been do in our neck of the UK (SW,Devon and Cornwall) the original Mayflower Steps are buried under the pub opposite their current position! And Hayling Island is near to Portsmouth not Plymouth some 250 mile apart approximately! Keep good wok best wishes and stay safe!p

    • Thanks for the Hayling Island note — we made that change. In the original note, we didn’t say anything about the Mayflower steps but you’re likely right on their location.

  12. Lars-Henrik K. Arvedsen says:

    I guess at some point you will head south and pass the south tip of Norway. The you could head SE toward the Baltic sea or yo could continue to the entrance of the Limfjord in Denmark at Thyborøn. The fjord crosses the peninsula into Kattegat towards the Baltic. Very beautiful scenery . 2 good breweries 🙂
    In Thyborøn you find this:

    • Both the museum and the breweries sounds excellent. Thanks for the local tips.

      Our current plan is to slowly work our way south and enjoy the Norwegian Fjords and, as the weather cools, work our way south to Amsterdam where we will winter. We’ll likely makes some stops in Denmark on our way south. Next year we plan to go to Sweden.

  13. Michael A says:

    How are you finding the costs in Norway? I have family that live there and have traveled there and found everything from food to accommodations to be extremely expensive. How do the cost for marine items/fuel compared to other countries who have traveled?



    • Generally, we agree. Food is quite expensive and dinning out is as well. Accommodations costs seem somewhat high but our read on that is less accurate since we have only booked the one room in Svalbard with little advance notice at a high occupancy time. Fuel is also right near the top end of world prices. Moorage is very inexpensive. Overall, Norway is pretty expensive when compared to most other world markets.

    • Trond Saetre says:

      Norway is known to be expencive, and it really is, compared to most countries. Especially anything related to cars and boats! About 60-70% of the gas/diesel price, is taxes. We have a saying that “1 boat money” equals 1000 Norwegian kroner. Makes it sound less expencive.
      Most marinas sell diesel fuel complying to the EN590 standard, which is required by the commonrail engines. But some marinas still sell MGO (Marine gas oil), which is cheaper, but has more sulfur.
      EN590 is without any bio fuel, while the diesel sold at regular gas stations has some bio fuel, I believe it is around 7%.
      In Sweden, diesel is around 50% more expencive than Norway. In Denmark roughly the same as Norway, or maybe a little higher. Don’t know any other European countries with higher fuel prices than Scandinavia.

      • The last fuel load we purchased in Tromso, Norway was MGO with 500 ppm sulfur. Fuels complying with EN590 are cleaner burning and somewhat better for the engine but, as Trond said, even more expensive.

  14. john worl says:

    Hi James & Jennifer. Had to laugh at that picture of Jennifer at Storsteinen viewing platform. Not too hard to figure out who is the tourist and who is the native to the land.


  15. Larry says:

    Hello, James-

    I am interested in understanding a bit more about how you manage the balance between full time work and cruising. Would it be possible to contact you offline for some advice?

    Larry O’Keeefe
    N5012 Miss Miranda
    Seattle, WA

    • Sure

      My strategy starts with maintaining a high bandwidth connection as close to 100% of the time as possible. I really depend on our KVH V7hst and we don’t make an effort to conserve.

  16. Aymeric says:

    Hi. I hope everything is going fine. I was just wondering if you could tell us your feeling of both world the boats you had. You had for ten years a bayliner and now 10 years a nordhavn. I know the nordhavn is more than double the price of a bayliner. But can you tell us the good side and dark side of both. In my mind nordhavn is one of the best machine on sea just like a fleming, marlow or selene… but i noticed that you had indeed a few things to change or repair on nordhavn like the cooling hoses under your engines that was not premium access or the shaft you had to change and so on… you made 4000h with the bayliner and the double with the nordhavn so what is your highlights difference ? ( except speed and range of course..)

    • As a Bayliner owner as we were, they really are completely different boats. The Bayliner was a very good value — in fact incredibly good value — but it can’t cross oceans with only 220 gallons of fuel whereas the Nordhavn can carry 1750 (6,650l). The Bayliner is fairly light at 15 tons vs the Nordhavn at 55 tons and the relative strength of the two boats appears roughly proportional to the weight. The Bayliners is close to 1/5 the price of the Nordhavn and comparatively lightly equipped but it allowed us to go on multi-week trips when we couldn’t have afforded a more expensive boat. The Nordhavn is a tank from a build quality and robustness perspective. The Bayliner is fairly lightly constructed.

      We loved the Bayliner in that we could afford it and it brought us to some amazing places but the Nordhavn is a fundamentally different boat and can go anywhere in the world. We don’t regret buying either boat but the reason we moved to the Nordahvn is we wanted a stronger boat, with more range, more capacity, more comfort and more open ocean safety.

      • Evan Bauman says:

        As an owner of a Bayliner 4788 (and previously a 4087), I completely agree with James. The Bayliners are sturdy boats. Much sturdier than what they are generally given credit. But even if I could figure out the fuel capacity issue, I would never cross an ocean in one. The weather is too unpredictable and the boat is not really built to take a serious ocean-level pounding. There’s no problem traveling in an ocean along a coast though. I’ve taken both my boats out into the Atlantic and crossed the Gulf of Mexico. Just need to wait for good weather.

        Nordhavns are rather rare here on the south Texas coast but there are three Selene trawlers on my dock ranging from 48 to 57ft. Two of the three have never left the dock in the past year except to go to the yard about a mile away for maintenance. That’s a real shame. In contrast, I’m away from the dock just about every week.

      • Aymeric says:

        And after 10 000hours, you know a nordhavn 52 better than anyone, what are the things you would like to improve, replace, delete, move, change…about reliability, comfort, cosmetic, trust and so on.. and does nordhavn company try to have info back from you ?

        • We aren’t alone in winding up the hours on our Nordhavn but, yes, Nordhavn does pick up on some of our suggestions and ideas. For example they have done a very nice power system design including some of what we have done. And they continue to help us with ideas when we want to make changes or tackle a challenging service item even though the boat is now more than 8 years old.

  17. John H says:

    James –
    would you say the Vengsoy is an ‘x-bow’ design?

    How is Spitfire liking the additional hours (continuous) of daylight?

    • Yes, it does look a bit like an X-bow design but the ferry predates the invention of the X-bow by Ulstein. It does look like an early exploration of the principals behind the X-bow.

      Spitfire sleeps great during the day and he sleeps great during the night. 24×7 sun doesn’t slow him down a bit 🙂

  18. Jim Cave says:

    On November 12, 1944, 30 Lancasters from 9 and 617 squadrons attacked and sank the Tirpitz with 12,000 lb Tall Boy bombs near Hakoy, just a short distance from Tromso. The Tirpitz has since been scrapped and was an important source of low-background radiation steel (i.e. pre nuclear-era steel). Bomb craters are still visible on land. The ship is gone but it might be an interesting dinghy trip.

    Incidentally, If you visit Bergen on your way back south, you could visit the U-boat pens there. My father was the pilot of a 419 Squadron Lancaster that was part of the force to bomb the U-boat pens there (October 4, 1944). Dad died 24 years ago, but the U-boat pens remain, still used by the Norwegian navy for their own submarines. His 1,000 lb semi-armour piercing bombs were useless against the 10′ thick concrete roof.


    • Vegard Rauo says:

      Dirona anchored very close to the Tirpitz wreck site when they arrived here a few days back, and there’s not much left to see other than perhaps the craters.

      And welcome to Tromsø, btw ! We finally got some sun today, summer has been cold and wet so far. I went by the harbour just now and saw Dirona, she looks great ! : )

      • Thanks for the historical notes Jim and Rauo.

        Its surprising that 1,000 lb semi-armour piercing didn’t level the U-boat pens. That’s a lot of explosive power. We’ll check it out when we get back south to Bergen.

        Rauo, if you feel like dropping by and looking around Dirona, drop me a note and we’ll set up a time.

  19. Paul Wood says:

    Svalbard…land of the midnight sun this time of year. Looking forward to the photo’s 🙂

    • Hey Paul. We’ve already got 24×7 sun this time of year in Tromso at 69.4 degrees north but Svalbard is another 550 miles closer to the pole up at 79 degrees. We’re really looking forward to it.

  20. Jamie Bush says:

    Thanks for sharing the continued journey as always.

    I was hoping you may pass through the Norwegian ship tunnel on your travels. Impatient for sure, I looked it up to see where it was in relation to where Dirona was and then it became evident as to why you didn’t try it – it isn’t built yet! At least according to this article. Looks interesting.

    • Yes, if that was open, we would ABSOLUTELY do a trip through it. That’s a really audacious engineering project. Unfortunately, construction hasn’t yet started but apparently funds have been allocated.

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