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  • Karlskrona

    Two Swedish submarines “escorted” us in from sea as we approached Karlskrona from ...

  • Utklippan, Sweden

    We were the first visitors of the season when we made Swedish landfall at Utklippan on March ...

  • Bornholm, Denmark

    The Danish island of Bornholm has been fought over for centuries by Denmark, Germany, and ...

  • Klintholm, Denmark

    We reached Denmark the day after transiting the Kiel Canal, and anchored for the night at the ...

  • Kiel Canal

    Following an overnight run from Amsterdam, we made a brief pit stop in Heligoland to top up our ...

  • Amsterdam to Heligoland

    Just over four months after arriving, we departed Amsterdam on a calm but chilly morning and ...

  • Amsterdam Visitors

    In addition to being a wonderful place to live and complete some boat projects, City Marina ...

  • Amsterdam Projects

    Besides being a great place to call home, City Marina IJDok in Amsterdam also was convenient to ...

  • City Marina IJDok

    City Marina IJDok was an exceptional winter home for us. We were lucky to get a spot in the ...

  • March in Amsterdam

    In our last couple of weeks in Amsterdam, we visited The Hague, completed a few boat projects, ...

  • The Hague

    James has long had an interest in the famous Dutch graphics artist Maurits Cornelis Escher, ...

  • February in Amsterdam

    In February we took advantage of unseasonably warm, calm and sunny weather for Amsterdam to ...

  • Hot Spots

    Years ago I was working in the lazarette on a hot day when I glanced up and saw a red LED ...

  • Warning Lights

    We love generator auto-start. It ensures a kicked-out power plug or power failure doesn’t take ...

  • Rotterdam

    Unlike historic Amsterdam, most of Rotterdam’s buildings were constructed after World War ...

  • Zaanse Schans

    Zaanse Schans, north of Amsterdam, is one of the oldest industrial areas in the world and was ...

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General questions & comments
  1. jochen brecht says:

    4/18/2019: Cellina

    Modern Sailing Yachts have deep going rudders in the very back of their stern. They just want to prevent their rudders to hit the rocks. With their bow instead they can get very close to the rocks and even jump on the land.

    Yours very interested reader
    Jochen Brecht, Hamburg

  2. Malcolm Dale says:

    Nordhavn specifications show the displacement for the N52 as 90,000 lbs. Just wondering how you feel Drone’s displacement at commencement of your Indian Ocean & Nth Atlantic passages would have compared.

    • The 90,000 lb spec on the web site is a on the light side. We weighed in at over 100,000 lbs when new with light tanks. We usually lift just above 110,000 with roughly 1/2 a tank of fuel. When we left Australia to cross the Indian Ocean we had full tanks which adds another 5,000 lbs and we had 960 gallons of deck fuel which is 5,700 lbs. I suspect we were in the 118,000 to 120,000 lbs range. In this configuration the boat sill can attain CE Category A Ocean so it’s still a stable platform: https://mvdirona.com/2019/03/deck-fuel-and-vessel-stability/.

  3. Dave Jensson says:

    Hello, I jest recently come by your video and youtube stuff. Have you had any thoughts of coming up the St Lawrence all the way to Lake superior?
    I also like your technical talks about your bought. Gives people thoughts on upgrades for sure.

    • Yes, we’re super interested in heading up the St. Lawrence to Superior. We used to live in Toronto so it would be doubly interesting to cruise the area since we know it by car. Our current plans will be to enjoy the Baltic this year, the Med next year and perhaps head back to North American. When we go back to North America depends a bit on much we enjoy our time in Europe and what happens with Brexit. As long as the UK is part of the EU, we can be in the area without much hassle since Jennifer is a UK citizen. Once that is gone, it’s more hassle to do longer than 90 day visits so that might cause us to head back. When we do go back, we plan to take the Northern route through Iceland and Greenland to Labrador. Perhaps the St Lawrence the following summer? It’s a ways out but we are definitely interested in doing the trip you propose.

  4. Jon Brown says:

    Hello James, I’m wondering if you can help? I am the captain of a Gunboat 66 catamaran. 66′ long, 28′ beam, 4′ draft. We stayed at Amsterdam Marina a few years ago. We are returning to Amsterdam next week for 10 days. This time we are wondering if it is possible to find a berth on the Amsterdam side of the river, closer to all the sights? Do you know of anywhere that might fit us in? Thanks so much, Jon Catamaran Moondoggie

  5. Trond Saetre says:

    Anchoring with a stern anchor, and the bow close to shore, with a mooring line or two to shore, is very common in Norway too.
    One reason is that the bow needs less water depth than the stern, and therefore the boat can get closer to shore. That means a tender is not required to get ashore.

    Hope you have a great time. Happy Easter!

    • Makes sense. We have seen a lot of boats without tenders and it seems like a good solution. What do you do if the wind comes up blowing onto shore during the night. I would think that if you are close enough to reach shore, then if a big winds comes up the boat would get driven into shore fairly hard. Basically, if it’s close enough to stop to shore, I would think it’s close enough to bump the bottom or shore when blown that direction.

      • Trond Saetre says:

        You just have to plan more for the wind directions, and pick the right places. I prefer to have the bow into the wind, but have anchored with the wind coming from all directions. My trusty Rocna has never let me down so far. Of course I would not anchor with the stern into gale force winds, when the bow is only a meter or two from shore, no matter how well the anchor is set.

        • Jostein Lima says:

          Before going to sleep I let out a couple of extra meters in the bow and pull in on the anchor the same distance. That gives a bit of extra safety margin during the night. Your comment on the tenders are spot on, there are many boats around 20 – 25 feet in Norway/Sweden, and a tender becomes a bit awkward. When/if you get a bigger boat, you tend to use the same technique you did before if possible. Also, the nature with the cliffs and limited tide allows for this way of anchoring. And, when the anchoring locations get really crowded during the summer, I find it challenging to find a good spot with enough swing room, it feels more predictable to be tied to the shore. And of course, old habit and tradition comes into play.

          • That makes total sense. The approach of moving a bit further off shore at night would cover the wind issue and, in many of these smaller anchorages we have seen in use, there isn’t sufficient swing room for any other approach. In British Columbia Canada, stern tieing is common. This is the same approach but with the stern closest to shore. In the Canadian approach, there stern isn’t close enough to jump to shore. Usually 25′ or more off shore so a tender is still needed and it’s more of a hassle than the bow in approach because the tender has to be launched to shore with the bow line to tie off. The upside is that no swing room is needed so even small anchorages can work and it allows 10s of boats fit into a bay rather than 2 or 3. We’ve done in many times but prefer to find less busy areas when possible.

  6. Peter Lefroy says:

    I love all your pictures from Sweden. We here in B.C. think that we have a pretty good ferry system but when I see the network of ferries in all of Northern Europe we pale by comparison! Thank you for your wonderful blog!

    • Yes, the Ferry systems are impressive. The rail infrastructure is excellent. And the metro transit systems in even medium sized centers is very good. BC Ferries run a great service but you right that Europe invests deeply in infrastructure.

  7. Eric Patterson says:

    You and Jennifer ever gonna be anyplace warm? It’s finally warming here in the central US.

    • Good point on the temperature Eric. We got underway this morning in 34F. The sea water on the swim platform from being underway has frozen. It’s not warm. The upside is it’s an really beautiful area to boat but it’s clear why the locals think there is only a two month season. It’s still quite cold in mid-April.

  8. Hi James,
    I’m AWS user and enthusiast living in Riga, Latvia.
    MV Dirona is pretty close to us now :)
    So I’m thinking is it possible to have a meeting with you in Riga?
    It would be great for Latvia AWS user group!
    Thanks

    • Good to hear Riga has an AWS users group. We’ll mostly be in Sweden and Finland this summer with quick visits to tallinn Estonia and St. Petersburg. Sorry we won’t make it to Latvia on this trip.

  9. Doug Miller says:

    Hi James. last port of call for Shandong Fu Ren was Norfolk, VA. So maybe it’s good old American coal! Enjoying your blog as usual. My best read of the day.
    Thanks
    Doug Miller
    Cheshire
    UK

    • It’s kind of ironic as the US switches to increased use of gas over coal, we ship the coal elsewhere. The same coal is just being burned somewhere else. I think we’re close to getting to a steady and continuous decline in world coal coal consumption.

  10. Sam Eklöw says:

    Hello, will you come to Mariehamn, Åland at some point this summer?

    • Yes, we do plan to visit Aland. Haven’t firmly decided on whether will make it to Mariehamn but it seems likely at this point. As I understand it Aland is outside the EU custom zone. Is there a place to get less expensive fuel? We need gasoline and could take on a couple of thousand liters of diesel as well but it’s mostly gasoline for the tender that we need.

  11. Steve McInnis says:

    I would like to know how you get around the 90-day Schengen limit. We sailed our boat from Newport to Scandinavia and plan to spend a large part of the warmer months in the next few years cruising Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Denmark and Norway. But we have not found a way around Schengen, so this year we are going to Sweden in June but have to be out by same date in September….any news on this would be welcome

    • Marry a British subject was my trick :-). Other than that, I don’t know of a good solution and, post-Brexit, Jennifer and I will have the same problems you have found. The only solution we have found to get around the 90 days in 180 limit is to get a visa from a Schengen country.

      • Trond Saetre says:

        Someone mentioned in the cruisersforum.com, that they had Applied for, and was permitted a (5 year?) temporarily recidence permit for one country within the Schengen. If my memory is correct, the countries mentioned, were Portugal, Spain and Greece.
        Maybe it is possible for the other countries as well?

        • I suspect you are right Trond. The resident visa solution is the best option but it comes with some strings. For example, in Portugal, being a resident means you are taxed as a Portuguese resident which isn’t a show stopper but is a potential issue for those with some form of taxable income.

          Clearly a resident visa from an EU country will allow a long term stay in that country but does it also allow a long term stay in any other Schengen country? If it it does, it’s a wonderful solution but our read of the regulations make it appear that a 1 year French resident visa doesn’t grant 1 year stay in any other Schengen country.

          • Trond Saetre says:

            Acording to the person who was granted the resident permit, it was restricted for one specific country only.

            • Yes, that was my read as well. So, even on this plan, you still only get 90 of 180 in the non-visa issuing countries. It’s better than nothing but a fairly high friction way to travel unless you plan to stay in the same country for an extended period. We’re still hoping for a long Brexit delay :-).

        • Jacques Vuye says:

          And then there is Montenegro… (-;

      • Steve McInnis says:

        Yes that was what I found so far….I didn’t realize being a British subject helped..

        S

    • jan-kees says:

      France offers a longer term visa, you will need a ‘residency address’ . Many marina’s will allow you to us theirs. The other solution is a residency permit, which is quite easy to obtain, when you show you have enough money to support yourself. Positive thing is EU universal healthcare is very cheap.
      Now in broad strokes the negative point. The US is the only (or one of the few) countries who believe in double taxation.
      Having a residency permit in the EU, will mean you will pay taxes there. But if your income is from outside the EU and first taxed there, that tax wil count as a credit towards the EU countries taxes.
      Now income earned while in the EU wil be taxed in the EU and taxed in the US. ( any tax attorney can provide the exact details)
      So as long as you point to entry and exit is the France,and you have applied for the long term tourist visa at the embassy/consulate, you can travel the whole EU.
      Now an improved version of James solution is marry a Dutch National :)

      • Good job of laying out the solution with the caveats and complications Jan. We were concerned there might be one other issue. Using the French resident visa as an example, it’s clear you can be in France and I agree you can travel in the rest of Europe but can you stay in an EU country other than France for more than 90 days? I’m pretty sure the French resident visa doesn’t grant that capability either. Back to the option of marrying a Dutch National I guess :-).

        • jan-kees says:

          Ok the French visa is for a longer period, up to a year and it requires you to enter and leave via France. On the application they need an address which you use where you stay in France, which could be the marina. Many Australians and Americans use this when they travel Europe by barge.
          There is NO border patrol in Europe, only spot checks, and there are ONLY entry and exit stamps.
          So NO from a legal point I can not say if you can be longer than 90 days in another EU country.
          But with no system in place to check this….. you have your answer.
          And yes this is a typical Dutch way of reasoning. We look to the intent of the rule.
          There are some good articles and discussions on the forum of the Dutch Barge Association. http://www.barges.org

          • Makes sense. Without a spot check, it wouldn’t be noticed. Spot checks are close to non-existent for most visitors not having some interaction with local law enforcement but we’ve found a US flagged boat quite attractive to local authorities. Over the last couple of years, we have had spot checks from the UK, Germany, Sweden, and the Dutch officials have visited 4 times. I agree local officials still may not know or even care how long someone has been in country. But, when you are traveling by boat, it’s remarkably how closely many countries track the whereabouts of the boat and where it’s been. Officials often know where foreign flagged vessels are and how long they have been in country. They may not care enough to look but they certainly have the data available if needed.

            I agree your suggestion is the best currently available.

  12. Steven Coleman says:

    Hello James,
    I was looking at the picture of you changing the anti-freeze on your generator and something on the fuel line drew my attention.
    Just up from the crimp fitting above the 90 it looked like a bubble in the hose. I saved and blew it up but it pixelates so I still can’t tell if it’s actually a bubble or something behind it blending in to give that illusion.
    Most likely nothing, but I figured worth mentioning.
    Sounds like you two (maybe three hard to tell with a spitfire) are having fun, I know I’m enjoying reading about it.

    • Good observation Steven. Now that you point it out, I can see the same anomaly. In fact, I can see it so well that I just went down and carefully checked the generator to see what we are both looking at. I can’t really tell. The hoses are both smooth and unblemished all the way around. They appear to be in excellent condition. Thanks for pointing out that anomaly. It was worth checking on it.

      All three of us are enjoying Sweden.

  13. Harriet Bornstein says:

    Hello: I am an “older” student at Salem State University and enrolled in a Biology course Environmental Problems. For my final exit project in renewable energy, I chose wind turbines at Deer Island and previously in the course spoke briefly about the benefits of wind turbines as opposed to solar and geothermal. I am fortunate to live in Winthrop as well, and was hoping I could have a personalized tour that I could record a short video. If that’s not at all possible, I will try to come out on my own.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Harriet Bornstein

  14. Marcus Oldin says:

    Hi! As a follower I noticed you are approaching my home town of Kalmar, I hope you will have a nice stay! The small Island of Grimskär coming up on your port side is housing a once very secret underground mine station, used from the end of WWII up until the end of the 80’s. Before that the island was used to protect the castle/town and inlets from attacks by sea. Even though the mine station is locked, and only ruins remains from the older structures, the island itself is worth a visit.

  15. Steven Coleman says:

    Hello James,
    I’m glad to see you three on the move again allowing us to live vicariously through your blog.
    Looking at the picture of your loudhailer reminded me, you’ve given your feedback on the crimpers but not on the wire strippers.

    • I had forgotten you recommended the wire strippers as well. They are also working great and bet they have been used a few thousand times since purchasing :-).

      We had a really good winter in Amsterdam but it’s great to be back cruising again.

      • Hi James and Jennifer !
        Welcome to Sweden. I have been following you a lot the last year. We are a Nordhavn dreamer. Searching for the “perfect Nordhavn” :-) I love the N52 model and N47.
        We are crusing a lot here in Sweden and in Finland, Åland, Estonia. We have a Targa 44 right now and we are based in Stockholm.

        Don’t hesitate to ask for some advice when you are visiting Stockholm !

        Best regards,
        Mikael

        • Thanks for the offer Mikael — we are interested on any advice you might have for our Stockholm visit. Also, if you are in town when we are there and feel like visiting, your more than welcome. Drop me a note once we are there and we’ll set something up.

          • Mikael Hvinlund says:

            Would be great to make a visit if we are in Stockholm when you guys will be here. We are trying to learn as much as possible about the Nordhavns.
            Do you already have a approximate schedule for arriving to Stockholm? The city is a fantastic town from may to late september.

      • Steven Coleman says:

        Good, the only problem I’ve ever had with mine are with a whole lot of use the lock has a tendency to engage at aggravating moments. You can remove it entirely or since I carry mine in a backpack and like them closed, backing them with a hard surface and tapping with a hammer to tighten deals with that issue.

  16. Joel Hallström says:

    Hi,

    Passed you red to red a few yers ago somewhere in west scotland. Passed you today when you where at anchor nort of Öppenskär with the archipelago ferry. Nice too see your boat again!😊

    • Wow, the last time we met was more than a 1,000 miles away. When you last saw us in Scotland we had only recently arrived from Newport Rhode Island across the North Atlantic. Since that time we have cruised through Scotland, Ireland, Britain, Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Denmark and now Sweden. It’s nice to be back at anchor and we’re really looking forward to our time in Sweden and Finland this summer. Thanks for posting a comment.

  17. Lars-Henrik Arvedsen says:

    Hi Its me again You are close to Karlskrona – with the beatiful naval museum, and the ancient 5 finger dock (1700-ish).
    On the southbank of the Baltic you have – probably on your return – do note the old test site for Hitlers V1 and V2 is still worth a visit – Look in GoogleEarth for “Peenemünde” You can tie up in there and go visit.
    If you visit Tallin check this birthday https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Denmark

  18. My husband Wayne and I are having a custom aluminum longe range powerboat built here in Antalya, Turkey. We’ve moved here for the build, and we are nearly a year into the build so far. We are former sailor/cruisers with lots of blue water experience, but with this new adventure, we’re learning how much we still don’t know, especially about voyaging under power. We have been enjoying and learning from your blog for several years now. I’m writing to ask you about your radar set-up. I dug up one early post where you stated that you have a Furuno DRS25A 25kw 6.5′ and DRS6A 6kw 4′ open-array antennas. We are being told by the local Furuno guy that we need at least the FAR 15xx FAR 22xx because, like you, we intend to cruise higher latitudes, and we need the ice capability of the bigger radars. We’d love to know how you would rate the performance of your radars, and if you have ever considered any changes to your original systems.

    • The FAR series RADARS from Furuno are highly respected commercial RADARS so you really can’t go wrong with them. The downside is they are quite expensive. Furuno charges considerably less for the DRS series and the high end of the DRS series is a 25kw RADAR which is middle of the range for the FAR series. We wanted a 6″ open array and we wanted 25kw. We decided to go with the DRS because it offered comparable power and beam specs, a few less features, but it was less expensive. Generally we’ve been very happy with the DRS25A. I’m sure we would have also been happy with a comparable member of the FAR series. The only limitation I’ve noticed is the DRS series limits operators to 25 MARPA targets. We’re not often in waters that busy but we co occasionally notice this limitation but not often.

      We like the capability to check chart accuracy by dropping a RADAR overlay over it. Our DRS25A (or the DRS6a) will overlay easily over the TimeZero display and over the display on the NN3DBB chart plotter. If the FAR series can’t do that, I would go with the DRS. Otherwise, it’s a features and cost decision.

      Overall, we’re super impressed with Furuno RADARS in general and really like our DRS25A. 25kw does make a difference — it’s noticeably better than our 6kw.

  19. Clifford Haehl says:

    Greetings from Texas!

    I recall that you two had a big Bayliner at some point. I’m looking to spend several years on the “Loops” (US / Canadian). Not much offshore except Bahamas and Great Lakes. I have above average big-boat experience in power and sail. Would not have initially considered Bayliner, but that is probably unfair. Love the layout, amenities, live-ability and at this point, price. Worry about the quality of systems and engine access. And prefer a single but boating is often a compromise.

    Any thoughts?
    (A response is NOT time-sensitive…but much appreciated.)

    Hope all is well.
    Cliff

    • The Bayliner engine choice of Hino and latter Cummins is a good one. The Engines and transmissions are good and if maintained and not overloaded (most are), they will do very well. On overloading, I recommend reading this: https://mvdirona.com/TechnicalArticles/DieselEngineOverload/. The smaller, less important equipment choices are a bit hit and miss. We ran a strategy of replacing with better when we found a part unsuitable to the task. As an example, our windlass was replaced by a newer model from Lewmar that used a motor less prone to overheating. The overall boat and trim isn’t strong and windows aren’t that thick so you shouldn’t have them out in difficult weather, shouldn’t really pound them, or put the in situations that strain the overall structure.

      Overall, this might sound negative — they aren’t off shore trawlers — but we put 4,100 hours on a Bayliner 4081 and it performed amazingly well for us. Our great experiences in that boat led to our around-the-world trip.

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