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  1. Steven Coleman says:

    Hello James,

    Reading about your diesel drip made me remember something you “might” be interested in.

    Removing the handle to tighten the packing on a ball valve is no big deal really, unless of course you are tightening the packing on several hundred, or simply wanting to give the ones on Dirona a quick run through.

    Here is a link to a tool that allows you to tighten the packing on a ball valve without removing the handle.

    https://www.plumbmaster.com/plumbmaster-approved-packing-nut-wrench-1-4-2-inch/p/97550?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIhcvOnruj5wIVC5yzCh2BSAFoEAQYAyABEgLEzPD_BwE

    I have no idea if that is a good price as the company I work for literally buys ball valves by the semi truck load and the suppliers pretty much give us all we want.

    I do know if you are doing multiple valves, it is well worth having one.

  2. Peter Niederreiter says:

    Hi Jennifer and James!
    My wife Melitta & I are learning a lot from your Blog/Vlog! We own the N52-72 Fortuna Star currently located in Port Sidney Marina, BC since 2017 and are preparing ourselves and the boat for crossing oceans! I watched with much interest your Steering Video. We will follow your precious advices. During that video at minutes 8:15 Jennifer is holding a replacement bolt in her hand. I noticed that she is wearing some kind of Alarm Buzzer ??? on her wrist. Could you clarify what that is? Is this an alarm she can activate while she is somewhere in the boat to call your attention? Since we are also planing to travel alone as a couple , this could be something to consider! Would appreciate any thoughts on that! Very best regards, Peter and Melitta – N52-72 Fortuna Star

    • We lived in Victoria for years and have boated a lot in your area. It’s a great place to boat. And, on your N52, congratulations. I’m assuming from it’s serial number (ours is 63) that your boat is reasonably new.

      I like your idea but, no, the device on Jen’s wrist is a ReliefBand anti-sea sickness device: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00PG4NUOS. Jen has some trouble with sea sickness but only when the boat is pitching. When we see those conditions, she wears the band and that solves the problems for all but the worst cases. In those rare cases, she goes to a Scopolamine but that’s pretty rare.

      On the problem you asked about, getting the attention of someone on the boat in a remote place. if the person on the helm wants to catch the attention of the person working or doing something down below, we just change the engine RPM. It’s subtle and remarkably efficient at getting attention. When we need to talk back and forth, we use a handheld VHF radio on a working channel. We don’t have a good solution for the person below getting the attention of the person on the helm so we use a VHF radio when we know there is a chance we might want some help. And, when I’m working around active machinery there is a chance I could get hurt, stuck, or incapacitated so Jennifer keeps an eye on the 2 video cameras showing the engine room.

      So, we don’t have the exact solution you were asking about but we have some solutions for some of the use cases.

  3. Gary says:

    I am a only a few years away from transitioning out of full time employment and doing some budget planning for full time cruising. I know there is a lot of variability in any budget. Can you tell us about your cruising budget? What is an appropriate budget for continuous cruising of a Nordhavn 52 like you are currently doing? If I own the boat outright is $150K per year sufficient for coastal cruising in US waters? $176K? Has foreign cruising significantly increased yours costs?

    • It really depends upon how you Live. Big variables are flights back to the US (I do quite a bit for work), telecommunications costs (I spend a lot because I work full time), restaurant eating, marina time, etc. Assuming you don’t have a big satellite bill, spend similar time to us in Marinas, don’t eat out too frequently, and don’t fly back to the US frequently, $150k would cover most years but assume that every 2 to 4 years, you’ll have some bigger boat related bills. Seems to run $25k to $50k.

      Overall, the high end of your estimate looks pretty safe as an average. We spend more but it’s because I’m still working but pay for all flights, hotels, and telecom costs. Things like staying in downtown Seattle for 3 weeks adds up quickly. We also do some off boat travel that is above these estimates like the Rhine River boat cruise and the F1 race in Abu Dhabi.

  4. Eric Patterson says:

    James, have you given any thought to SpaceX satellite internet service and it’s potential for marine usage. As a large data user of Sat I wanted to get your take.

    • Yes. I’m super interested in the new low earth orbit satellite constellations being deployed: SpaceX Starlink, OneWeb, Amazon Kuiper, and Telesat. This new breed of satellite system are using low cost satellites built using commercial off the shelf parts where possible and exploiting the emergence of low cost space lift vehicles.

      The cost of communications will be falling but it’ll take time. We’re still a ways away but I’m excited about these new services mostly because they will dramatically reduce costs but also because LEO satellite systems can cover the entire globe whereas the geosynchronous systems can’t reach the poles and tend not to cover areas without much commercial shipping traffic. Better coverage and lower costs are coming but it’ll take time.

  5. Jeff Robertson says:

    Port of Amsterdam looks busy-ish:
    https://twitter.com/i/status/1217547142048468993
    Nice work getting in and out of there unscathed!

    • Yes, the river in front of the Central Station is very busy. Last night we had the tender out doing a canal cruise and touring the Amsterdam Light Festival (https://amsterdamlightfestival.com/en) and, on the return trip, the traffic was quite heavy. Lots of canal tour boats out enjoying the light festival, the steady flow of commercial barge traffic on the river, a dinner cruise, and the rapid criss-crossing of multiple ferry routes. There’s a lot happening.

    • jan-kees says:

      This video is from Sail Amsterdam, a once every 5 year event, taken during the sail in at the beginning.
      So not representative of the daily traffic, which is still busy, but not like this.
      More astounding would be the evening fireworks parade, where this traffic looks like a deserted place.

      This year 2020 there is again Sail Amsterdam ( August 12-16). And yes we will be there.

      • That video reminds me of Sydney harbor at the start of the Sydney-Hobart sail race. Both are wonderful events and both great experiences to have in someone else boat with someone else at the helm :-).

  6. Hello James and Jennifer,
    Happy New Year and thank you for so much great information regarding your peregrinations. We’ve all loved it!
    I’m still working as an architect here in Portland, Oregon, but have longed daydreamt about travelling aboard a Nordhavn 52 to see the world with my wife and daughter.
    As we consider the layout of a 52, and what electronics one should/should not include on it, it makes me wonder if you’d ever consider consulting through such a process?
    We will purchase a used boat (wouldn’t have enough for a new boat), but are patient enough to find the right boat and fit it with the necessities for such long trips.
    Thank you again.
    Ben

    • Sounds like you have a good plan. If we know the answer or have thoughts on how to approach getting an answer, we’ll follow up to any questions you post here. And, if you ever happen to be in the same city as Dirona, we would be happy to show the choices we have made and talk through the pros and cons.

      • Benjamin Kaiser says:

        Thank you James, I’ll likely take you up on that some day in the not too distant future.
        Safe travels.
        Cheers,
        Ben

  7. Christopher Hylarides says:

    I’m not sure how long you guys are in Amsterdam, but if you’re looking for a weekend trip, check out Ghent in Belgium (about 2 hours by rail). It’s essentially the beer capital of Belgium, has some of the best Gothic architecture outside of Germany (walk east from St Michael’s Bridge along Sint-Michielsbrug) and is larger and less tourism focused than the more famous Bruges as it’s a bit of a University town.

    If you do go, get drinks at a bar called Dulle Griet, where you have to give them your shoe as a deposit to prevent the theft of the glasses (is a problem with certain collectors).

  8. Bob McArthur says:

    As part of our research to fully prepare N5705 Alice for PNW cruising, we came across your article on stern ties. We like your message line system. In any case, our question regards what dimension stern line to use. Did you find the 1/2” Sampson was ultimately satisfactory? The 57 displacement is higher than the 52, although I assume loading on a stern line is not simply a function of displacement. Thanks. Bob and Marty N5705 Alice

    • The 1/2″ Sampson was used on our previous boat. On our current vessel we use Sampson Amsteel Blue to increase the breaking strength while at the same time allowing a smaller and easier to store diameter to be used.

      • Bob McArthur says:

        Have you done any loading calculations to determine what breaking strength range you need? Thanks.

        • No but, at 55 tons the boat will put amazing forces on a stern line if it’s loose and the boat has room to move and the wind is blowing hard so we’re pretty conservative in choosing when to use this solution.

  9. Mike and Trish says:

    Dear James and Jennifer
    When we first made contact we were in that trap of working and living 5hrs away from our boat and not being able to move towards living on board and achieving our cruising ambitions.

    We took a hard look at our lifestyle and ages and realised that there is a clock ticking, and its getting quicker and quicker. So in October we sold up and moved 40 yrs of house living and accumulating into store, the decisions we had to make were so stressful and have probably caused our delay to go cruising for years.

    I have established a client base that will let me work on board with the assistance of video and audio conferencing.

    We are now finishing fitting out Sontay with a plan to start a UK circumnavigation next year.

    You have a lot to answer for but we are so grateful that you are sharing your life it’s inspirational, thank you.

    We are taking a break this Christmas in Seattle with our resident children. Can you recommend somewhere we can go and look and touch Marentron equipment.

    Best wishes for Christmas and safe cruising next year.

    Mike and Trish.

    • Congratulations on moving to living aboard. That is a big step and we remember going through some of the same decisions ourselves. It’s not been more than 10 years and we still have no regrets. We’ve seen a lot and had some amazing experienced.

      I’m pretty sure that West Marine sells Maretron and I know that Fisheries supply does. Recommend that you give them a call and see if they have a display system set up. Another approach is to talk to an installer and see if they can show you one of their more recent installs. You might try Emerald Harbor Marine — they have done many installs over the years.

      Best wishes over the holidays and all the best on your cruising next year.

  10. Steven Coleman says:

    Hello James,

    I’m curious about your inverter. I can think of multiple ways to automatically turn it off when not in use. Have you found a way to anticipate when it will be used and turn it on automatically or is that a manual function?

    I hope you and Jennifer are enjoying the holidays, it looks like a nice place to spend the winter.

    • I gave thought to making it automatic but decided that manual is fine. If I shut off the water heater and the HVAC, it’s very likely we’re traveling and don’t need the inverter on but, in a 60 hz country, we might have the house running on shore power and not need the inverter and it’s conceivable that we would want the inverter with the hot water heater and HVAC off. For now, I’ll leave it manual where it’s just on a web page that shows power consumption and allows manual control of h/w heater, HVAC, furnace, defrost, both chargers, and the 240V inverter.

      Have a great holiday season.

  11. Angela and Gerry O’Dowd says:

    Dear James and Jennifer,
    We are in awe of your travels and expertise. Thank you kindly for the valuable resource and inspiration. We hope to travel far and wide too on our newly acquired N43 once we retire next year. Your site and contact information will be most welcome.
    Gerry and Angela

    • Congratulations on getting a Nordhavn 43. You just bought freedom and can go anywhere in the world. 10 years later, we still love our boat. If you have questions where you think we might be able to help, we’re happy to help. Just post them here.

      • Angela and Gerry O’Dowd says:

        Thank you kindly, we most certainly will! We hope to live aboard beginning in April 2021 once we retire, fingers crossed. We will be 60 at that point and hope to have some good years of travel and learning. If you are ever in New York, give us a shout.

        • My only advice is consider starting the process earlier than April 2021 on the argument that it takes time to get a boat, get it set up and running the way you like, and to learn the boat. Getting it before retirement could give you an year back by overlapping some of these operations more and ensuring, when you retire and have time, you are using it all fully.

  12. Philip Jones says:

    Hi James and Jennifer.
    I’m trying to import gear into Turkey, for our N57, Beyond Capricorn 1. i cannot find a freight forwarder willing to handle what they consider a small shipment. I’m keen to bring this gear in ‘duty free’ if possible so need to go the full customs/duty, ‘vessel in transit’ route, so can’t use DHL or FedEx.
    I know you have had items shipped around the world., would you mind sharing your contacts/freight forwarders.
    Thanks,
    Phil

    • We last used Intervracht (https://www.intervracht.nl/en/) to bring a pallet from the US to Amsterdam. The contact information there is sales@intervracht.nl. They did an excellent job for a good price and we’d happily use them again. They are a Netherlands-based company, so if they don’t do Turkey, they might be able to give you a reference. Or you could try Rotra (https://www.rotra.com/) which is the US-company that Intervracht dealt with to handle the Seattle pickup and transport.

      We actually had trouble finding a freight-forwarder for this pallet as none of our previous contacts from shipping to Aus/NZ were interested. We had found a Netherlands customs broker already and asked them for a recommendation for shipping the pallet and they recommended Intervracht. So you might try that if you don’t have luck any other way.

      Jennifer

  13. Matija says:

    Hello guys,how are you? really enjoying reading articles and adventures on this lovely boat. I have one technical question,regarding “blowby” test that you have done in the past when CCV filter was clogged,i have similar tester,on which units you have measured blow by?

    inHG,or inH2O?,bit confusing me that part..Thank you so much!

    • Different engines may use different crankcase pressure units but, on our John Deere 6068AFM75, the max crankcase pressure specification is listed in inches of water. So we set the manometer to show inH2O. We expect the maximum pressure readings of less than 1 inch of water and I typically see down below 0.2 inches of water when the RACOR CCV is in good condition. Of course, a key factor here is the engine is in good condition. As an engine wears, there will be more blow by and, as wear gets more serious, the volume can exceed the volume the RACOR CCV can handle and the crankcase pressure would then go up even with a new CCV element.

  14. Hey Hamiltons. Been reading your blog on and off for a couple years now, and we are actually going to be shipping our boat out east to spend next year doing the Great Loop, working full time in the process, so digging back through your tech history and general working-aboard-a-boat tips have been great.

    For our trip, I’m working on setting up our own blog, and completely failing to find anything either out of the box or requiring minimal modification for a map control (from the top of your blog) even vaguely as useful as yours. I dug into your source code a bit and it looks like you guys came to the same conclusion (back in 2012) and wrote a pile of your own code. I’m actually wondering if any of that is in a state that could be reused (even if I need to write my own KML-dumper in some fashion that it reads from) and you’d be willing to share it? :)

    Either way, thanks for keeping up on the blogging! Always fun to read about your adventures.

    • Years ago, we had a request to make the system available through the retail channel. At first glance this sounded exciting but we both come from a commercial software backgrounds so we both started think through what this would really mean. It would be massive amounts of work just to remove the dependencies on other software and hardware systems on board. And, once that was done, even more work to support it. Our eventual conclusion is we possibly couldn’t charge enough to cover all that work and we would rather spend our time at work making money or on the boat having fun enjoying our travels.

      The system is the product of 20 years of accreted features, changes, improvements, language changes, hardware updates, and it’s grown over time without focus on supportability, portability, or any thought of ever being deployed elsewhere. We will open source useful parts of the system that can be separated like the custom network router code but most of the system won’t see use beyond our boat.

      For the boat tracking map, I recommend using a commercial offering with embedable maps like Spot or Delorme.

      • I figured the map system was probably super integrated with the rest of your boat craziness. :) I had to ask, though. I’m currently using the embedded map with our Inreach, but it’s miserably bad and I’m going to definitely need to write at least a simple KML data transformer to make it less useless on the blog site. I’ll probably end up with a system just as tightly-knit as yours to service our blog in the end, though. Given that I already have a full time raspberry pi pulling data off N2k on the boat, I’ll probably just end up exporting that to the blog…

        • David said “Given that I already have a full time raspberry pi pulling data off N2k on the boat, I’ll probably just end up exporting that to the blog.” Yes, that’s exactly what we do on Dirona. We have all data pulled from the N2k bus every 5 seconds to be acted upon. A subset of that data is exported to show track data. If you already have a Raspberry Pi reading the data off the N2k bus you are a long way down the path. Well done!

  15. Bruce Bremer says:

    That aqueduct is fascinating! I wonder about those wind turbines- how long does it take for them to recoup their cost?

    • The investment recovery recovery time on a wind farm is dependent upon a wide variety of features from size of the turbine, scale of the farm, cost of the lease, turbine cost, the price of renewable power in the region, the weather at the turbine, possible tax benefits, service costs, etc. It’s really complex. I’ve seen credible claims in the 5 to 7 year range some claims that were far faster. But what I can say with certainty is that wind farm investments are currently skyrocketing so it’s clearly profitable.

  16. Steven Coleman says:

    Hello James,

    I can’t find the post I am thinking of but, didn’t you have a leak on that hose once before? I just remember it was a hose clamp on something that was also difficult to reach.

    Is there any way to replace that hose or part of it putting the clamps in a more reasonable spot to reach?

    Tied up in a Marina is probably about the best place you’ll ever find to work on it.

    • Yes, you’re right this is the second time I’ve gone after this one. The first time was right after the work was done where these hoses leaked on first use. I tightened them up and that was the end of it for 3 years. Now that they are tightened again, if it’s like other heavy coolant hoses I’ve worked around, I suspect I’ll not see more leaking but, since two of the clamps are excessively large and are now done up all the way, I may have to go back in there. Probably not and, given how hard it is, I really hope not. I think it would be close to impossible to new clamps on there installed and taking the hoses out would require draining the antifreeze and I suspect the hoses would need be replaced since, more often than not, they need to be cut off. I’m hoping we’re done with this one until the hoses need to be changed 7+ years from now.

      Clearance in this area is truly challenging and even removing the hoses is surprisingly difficult due to low clearance and the use of very large stiff hoses.

  17. John Hammond says:

    Hi James –
    Did you have any gunk around the check ball and seat in the Racor’s? This puzzled me for quite a while. I was shocked what was collected around the ball — debris from construction (FRP tanks).

    • No, there wasn’t any build up on the ball but all the fuel on our system first passes through a 25 micron RACOR FBO-10 so all the ugly stuff gets caught up in that first filter. We’ve found everything from pieces of metal, rust, and even a cockroach in the FBO-10. The RACOR 900s are downstream from there so mostly catch asphaltenes and other finer debris missed by the first filter.

  18. Rodney H Sumner says:

    Hi James
    Greetings from cold and snowy Niagara Falls, ON. Have you ever considered using a battery tender to cosset your new tender batteries (just realized the pun) during a cold winter with little use? I always use them when leaving my cars for a long time. Many sizes are available on Amazon. Also Happy Thanks Giving

    • A battery tender (trickle charger) is a good option but force you to run power up to the tender and plug it in. Not a show stopper but the approach we take is to just turn the battery switch off so the battery has no parasitic discharges and then once every 6 months we charge both the primary and the spare battery and test them. On this model, we usually get 4 years from a battery. I would prefer to get more but 4 years isn’t bad so we don’t worry much about it.

  19. Steven Coleman says:

    Hello James,
    You noted that you had found a source for your spherical rod ends however, as I watched your video did that really pan out?
    If it didn’t I’m wondering if the tiller arm has enough material to safely drill it out for a 7/8” bolt?
    I can find all kinds of 7/8-14 female rod ends in the static 46,000 and up static load range, but none with ¾ I.D. ball.
    If the tiller arm could be drilled to accept a 7/8” bolt then look at a McMasters-Carr catalog. I don’t know if that would cause issues down the road if you replaced the cylinder, especially with another brand.

    • The tiller arm would be 100% fine with 7/8″ of inch bored out and that would allow a standard 7/8″ hole with 7/8″-14 TPI RH rod end to be used. And, having done that, it would be easy to get a stronger and more durable part than original. My current leaning if I can get a good price on the original equipment part, is to just stick with that approach. But, failing that, boring the rudder arm would be far superior than other options. Thanks for the good suggestion.

      • Steven Coleman says:

        I wonder if it’s a custom made product. If that’s the case your only chance might be to call someone in the industry.
        http://www.aurorabearing.com/index.html. The worse they could do is refuse to help you in which case, you are still at square one.

        • Yes, you are right. Every aspect of this part is identical to a standard 3/4″ rod end except that a 7/8″ hole was bored and threaded rather than a 3/4″ but all external dimensions are identical. I did ask FK Bearings if they would be willing to take a 3/4″ part and do a 7/8″ hole but it looks like they probably aren’t going to answer that query. I suspect it’s not very interesting to them to do a custom run of 4.

          I did find a source of the Sea Star Solutions Part (the steering component manufacturer) for “only” 2x what it is worth so, if I don’t find anyone willing to do a custom part, I’ll probably buy 3 or 4 from Sea Star.

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