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Recent general comments and questions (view all)
  1. Larry Jones says:

    Have you gotten any updates as to when your quarantine will end? Are you still hopefull of getting to the Med?

    • The date for the end of the Scottish lockdown hasn’t yet been announced but it will be a phased plan and we entered the second phase this week. We’ve pretty much given up on our plans to visit the med over this summer. We might go later but we’re waiting to see how the situation evolves.

  2. Brian Smith says:

    Hi James and Jennifer,

    I think you have roll stabilizers on Dirona that you can deploy at anchor, but I don’t find anything about them here on the blog. Is there a write-up that I’m not finding?

    Thx,

    Brian

    • Hey Brian. Yes, we do have active hydraulic roll stabilization from ABT-TRAC (https://abttrac.com/). They do offer STAR, Stabilization at at Rest, but we don’t have it so our roll active roll stabilization is only active when underway. We also have a simple but effective Forespar passive roll stabilization (Flopper Stopper) that we sometimes use when at anchor. It’s pretty effective and fairly simple to deploy. Here’s a short video of it in use: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9cCl_ohwjU.

      We only rarely use the flopper stopper (once or twice a year on average) since our boat is fairly heavy and has a nice lazy roll that seems to take a low of swell to push hard enough to get uncomfortable. But, when we do use it, we’re happy we have it.

  3. Alec Peterson says:

    James, I have a similar main engine setup to yours (ZF transmission and Deere 6068 engine) and have a couple oddities I am curious for your thoughts on:

    1. Engine operating temperature. No matter how hard I push the engine (even WOT for 20 minutes; it’s M1 rated so it tops out at about 2300 RPM) I cannot get the temperature to even the bottom of the normal operating range (178-203). topping out at about 170 degrees Fahrenheit, but when I operate it at 1500 RPM it is only at 162 degrees. Any suggestions for where to look for the issue. Perhaps they have the wrong thermostats installed and I should test them? One thing I noticed in the manual is that the 4045 engine has a much lower operating range (160-182) so I wonder if somebody just installed the wrong thermostats by mistake.
    2. ZF electric control solenoid temperature. While underway the ‘ahead’ solenoid is consistently about 150-ish degrees Fahrenheit. The rest of the transmission is under 100 degrees. Is this normal or something to be concerned about?

    Thanks!

  4. Rodney H Sumner says:

    J and J;

    If my my memory serves me well this is the second time in 10 years you have no spares on board. Once O-rings for the main and now rear main seal on generator. Congratulations!
    Given your seeming never failing and substantial spare part inventory I would not be surprised if there was a spare crankshaft hiding in the bilge!:):)

    • There is a lot of spares on Dirona and we work hard to find work arounds and alternatives to stay operational when we don’t have the right part. In this case, we may actually have done it. The oil seal is still bad but we’ve been experimenting with different approaches and the last one (not yet posted) seems to be working very well. I think we’re going to find a way to stay operational on this one :-).

  5. Eric Patterson says:

    J and J, is your floor cherry? I noticed you have the white slat in between the planks (not sure what this is called), I was told by Nordhavn this is a bad idea and can lead to cracking but I like the way it looks. Curious your results?

    • Our floors are the classic Teak and Holly configuration that Nordhavn South Coast uses when customers don’t request something else. We think it looks pretty good and it doesn’t appear to be prone to cracking or other issues and is doing fairly well after 10 years of hard use.

  6. Ioannis Berdos says:

    Hello your voyages are inspiring . Do you sail the boat under OUPV to Master 100 GT Near Coastal in Europe?

    • Both the license you reference are commercial licenses used in the US. Certainly they can be used by recreational operators but neither is required for non-commercial boats. US flagged vessels operating in foreign waters operate using flag state regulations.

      • Ioannis Berdos says:

        I am not sure I understand the answer. Does that mean that a US-flagged recreational vessel in Holand you do not need a licence to sail it? So if I sail a 62 FT boat in Europe ( Amsterdam) under US flag there is no licencing requirement or credential?

        • jan-kees says:

          For a vessel longer than 15M (49.21′) on the inland EU water ways you need an ICC and a Cevni notation. But the US is not a signatory to that regulation.
          The Non-EU boaters who come for a longer period to the EU and are not on a US flagged vessel, ( The people living/ cruising on a Dutch barge ) usually get an ICC by doing this with a RYA course.
          Also a VHF equipment used on the inland waters uses an ATIS number, provided by the country of registration when you apply for a radio license. The ATIS number is used as identification with any transmission to area control , bridge/lock keepers. (kind of like a precursor to AIS)

  7. Iain cormack says:

    I’m thoroughly enjoying your posts. Seems like you got to the bottom of the generator issues. Very interesting. You’ve had plenty of time to keep on top of the maintenance whilst being ‘locked down’. Maybe you could visit my area. I live in a coastal town a couple of miles east of the Forth Bridge. Bit of a trek from your current position though. Best wishes.

    • Thanks for the blog feedback. Yes, we do have time and are getting pretty close to caught up. Thanks for the blog feedback. Until the lockdown lifts, we can’t visit anywhere but that day will come. We’re looking forward to returning to cruising.

  8. Rodney Sumner says:

    James:
    A couple of thoughts on recent posts:
    1 Steering Cable Lubricant: While not exposed to as much sea water as an outboard, we used heavy white lithium grease on stern drive steering cables. The grease lasted several years of use and 6 month lay ups due to Ontario winters before needing regreasing
    2. On checking bearings in the inspecting John Deere belt etc. Why not drill access holes in the guards such that a stethoscope listening probe could be used to listen to the bearings when the engine is running? Care would need to exercised of course – just a thought.

    • Yes, any high quality grease should do very well when used on the tender steering cable. White spray lube a lighter grease that is easy to work in and can be directed exactly where you wanted. I have it and like it. The other grease we use on Dirona is trailer wheel bearing grease. This is a very heavy grease that does well when exposed to water. We use it on the high load applications like windlass, outboard motor, and steering bearing.

      Whatever grease was used when assembling the outboard motor and boat was not a good enough quality grease and when exposed to water and age, hardens up into a black hardened coating with poor lubricating properties and very difficult to remove. It was a poor choice.

    • I forgot your question on the stethoscope. That’s an excellent point. I do have a mechanics stethoscope and I think you are right it would be quite effective in this application. The belt covers are a grill at the front so no modifications would be required. Good suggestion.

  9. Bill Blendick says:

    Love all your videos. Just watched the generator oil change video. Two questions: 1: Have you considered taking the generator to operating temperature before changing the oil ? And 2: how often do you do oil sampling analysis ?

    Thx,

    • Yes, the generator is at full operating temperature before we change the oil. I should have said that. We’re currently at anchor so the generator is running every 4 to 6 hours. I normally do any work right after a run to ensure there is lots of time prior to needing the generator again do to low batteries (just in case something delays the work I’m doing).

      On your second question, we don’t use oil analysis. My reasoning behind not doing oil analysis is here: https://mvdirona.com/2016/08/oil-analysis/. The short version is I used to prepare race cars and with Quaker State as a sponsor, we did oil analysis after every race. These engines are pushed hard and so it’s a good test case. We had times when oil analysis caused us to open an engine up and find nothing wrong. And we had times when nothing was indicated and the engine failed. It didn’t seem to save engines and the false positives led to more work.

      In watching operators in the marine world, I see a lot of false positives when owners get very concerned only to find they didn’t sample correctly or the problem was just a transient issue that later goes away. Again, I see quite a few false positives. But, I feel like I have reasonable judgement and, if more data is available, I’ll normally take it. The cost and the hassle of sending oil samples in from wherever we are in the world is a blocker for me. If $200 to $500 would by an accurate oil testing kit, I would do it. But sending it back from all over the world is a hassle.

      The cost/value equation for oil analysis isn’t quite positive enough for us to do it and, if you don’t do it all the time, the analysis reports don’t have as much value. Oil analysis is most useful in relative comparisons between samples of oil from the same engine.

  10. Joe Teale says:

    Joe from the shop on Gigha here. If you need anything at all please give us a phone on +441583505251 and we shall do our upmost for you. We are well stocked and you would not in any way be depriving locals of supplies. As arranged the fish farm are happy to drop off supplies.

    • Most kind of you to offer to help Joe. And, yes, you’re right we did feel guilty placing an order that might make something unavailable for those that actually live here. I’ll give you a call tomorrow to find out what’s possible. Thanks very much for following up with us.

  11. Jim Cave says:

    James and Jennifer: I saw your post concerning the steering on the skiff. I have a similar issue with he steering on our skiff and I wonder if you could provide some more details on how you went about this with the carb cleaner.

    Thanks, Jim Cave

    • The issue we saw was the grease around the rigid cable end that moves the outboard back and forth and aged and/or was diluted by sea water and broke down and hardened up into a hard coating. The tender hasn’t been used for 3 months and I was barely able to move the steering. We removed the rod that connects the steering cable ridid end to the motor. Then removed the plastic cap that threads onto the end and O-ring. While the wheel is hard over exposing as much of the rigid cable end as possible, we cleaned all the grease reside off of it. Then we unscrewed the cable from the motor on the other side and pulled the cable out as far as clearances will allow and cleaned all the residue off of that end as well. There is still a small central area that we can’t get to on either side. The best answer would probably be to remove the entire cable assembly from the motor but I had trouble getting the clearance to to that. So I continued to spray it down from the outside and work wheel back and forth which seemed quite effective. We then let it dry, greased it up with high quality wheel bearing grease and then worked it in and reassembled it. At that point, the steering system was back to close to “as new” friction whereas before I needed both hands to force it.

      In the past, I’ve replaced cables after 5 years. This one is only 3 years old so I felt it was early to replace it. It’ll be interesting to see how long it lasts with periodic lubrication.

      • Jim Cave says:

        Many thanks James. I will work through those steps.

        • It only took around 1.5 hours so wasn’t bad but one thing to keep in mind the cables aren’t that expensive nor that hard to change. I changed a cable on our last boat at around 5 to 6 years. It was getting very stiff at that point and the cable changes wasn’t bad. It’ll be interesting to see how long my clean and lube operation lasts. Based upon how free the steering is right now, I’m optimistic. Good luck on freeing your steering up as well Jim.

  12. Chris Barber says:

    Hi James

    I thought there was a post in here somewhere talking about prop shaft temperature monitoring but I can’t find it. I just wanted to ask how you attached your temperature probe to the shaft and where exactly on the shaft?
    Thanks
    Chris

    • The only possible sources of shaft heat are the transmission or bearing failures at the transmission, a pillow bearing if so equipped, or the shaft log. Our boat and yours don’t have a pillow bearing so that’s not an option. I do monitor transmission oil temperature so feel like we have that one covered. We use a PSS packless shaft seal so haven’t put temperature monitoring in place. But, if you have a conventional shaft log, it can get hot if not adjusted properly or hanging up for some reason, so a temperature sensor there would make sense. If I was doing it I would attach the sensor mechanically to the stationary shaft log.

      • Chris Barber says:

        Makes sense. I don’t have a dripless (yet – maybe upgrade in the future) and it definitely takes some care to get that packing set right. I’ll find something to bolt one of those ring terminal probes to…

        • Steve Valvasori says:

          Hi Chris,

          I’m using a Maretron TMP100 and their ring sensors (TR3K) for my shaft logs (traditional). I simply used a large hose clamp to secure it to the shaft log nut. It has worked perfectly and displays through N2K on the DSM410. I had issues with my shaft temperatures for a while that was driving me crazy – now I consider my shaft temperatures as important as my engine temp.

          • Great solution Steve. I do the same thing on my main engine alternators. The hose clamps give that firm mechanical connection so the temp reading is good. It’s a good approach.

            • Chris Barber says:

              ah – the alternators! That’s what I was trying to remember for more temperature sensors. Thanks for the reminder!

          • Chris Barber says:

            yup, great idea with the hose clamp – thanks! I’m using the Maretron stuff too.

  13. Chris Barber says:

    I just got a Karcher power washer like yours. I love it! it’s like spray-painting a coat of clean on the decks!
    -cb

  14. Tom Alberts says:

    While a custom boat would be ideal my thought’s on reading your blog is that your boat has worked out fine for you. If something were to happen to Dirona would you replace it with another 52′ Nordhavn?

    • We are really happy with the 52 and the only reason we would look at other sizes is liking different layouts. We like the all-on-one-deck design of the N60. From a size perspective, the 52 is close to perfect for us but we like the layout of the 60 better and we would prefer to have twin engines. Many of the features that we added to the N52 are rare additions on a 52 but easy to get on the 60. For example, hydraulics.

      My guess is that we might end up with a 60 if we were to buy again even though the 52 is a perfect size for us.

      • Chris Barber says:

        Don’t forget the berth and head in the PH.

      • jj says:

        Curious to understand why you prefer twin engines? I thought for the kind of cruising you do the twins would be additional maintenance for not much gain (and that was why Nordhavn largely uses a single + wing setup).

        • We prefer twins in the absolute sense but, in our opinion, twins are the wrong configuration for this boat. It’s not big enough to have twins without giving up range it needs. If we bought this boat again, we would have it with a single engine again (and we love that Deere 6068AFM75). But, were we to buy a bigger boat, say a 60, we would go with two Deere 4045s.

          The reason we would prefer twin engines is greater redundancy where space allows,. The reason we prefer single engine in the N52 is twins slightly reduce efficiency and the wider mechanical configuration reduces the fuel carrying capacity. Our preference for twins isn’t a strong one — a single with a wing is a very reliable configuration.

  15. Steve Valvasori says:

    Hello – love your site and adventures, moving my black water to pressure sensors. In your 69 degree knockdown entry, you show pictures of rotating latches that hold drawers closed securely. We are in need of something like this on our 1969 Chris Craft Commander 47. Would you know of where to find these? I’ve looked, and so far they have eluded my searches.

    Happy travels!

    Steve.

  16. Sam Landsman says:

    Hi James and Jennifer, we met a year and a half ago at the Nordhavn Seattle Boat Show party. In March we finally bought our Nordhavn, 50-10 Akeeva (thanks for your encouragement!). We’d planned to be cruising, but like you, are sitting at anchor much more than usual! Just the other day I equalized the batteries, but haven’t been able to tell if it made much of a difference.

    One of the projects while at anchor has been learning the electrical system and start planning changes. I’ll be very curious to read your article about battery capacity over time. The house bank on this boat is ready to be replaced, and I’m torn between various technologies.

    Stay safe!

    • Congratulations on your purchase. On batteries, I love Li-Ion chemistries and use them at work. But, if you don’t care about size and weight, lead-acid still looks like a better price/performer for me. We’ll eventually go to LiFePo4 but the combination of the good value of AGM and the hassle of changing to a different form factor and charging profile has left us still using AGM. But, as new chemistry prices continue to fall, we’ll eventually make the move.

      We’ll get that battery article out this week. As a teaser, one of our observations that is pertinent to your current situation is that old battery banks can continue to deliver reliably even when their capacity is low. The gen run times goes down, the frequency goes up, but the actual duration per day doesn’t go up much at all.

  17. don mclaurin says:

    After 25 years as an electric vehicle specialist with caterpillar, I have found this to be the best explanation of electricity and its components. http://www2.ece.rochester.edu/courses/ECE113/materials/smoke.pdf

    • That’s it!!!! Actually as an ex-exotic car mechanic, I’ve worked upon my share of Lucas and Magnetti Marelli electrical equipment and I can tell you with some confidence that neither does a great job of designing for smoke retention. Thanks for the pointer to the article.

  18. Eric Patterson says:

    Lynn was curious how you like your cockpit table set and where you bought it. Is it holding up well?

  19. Alec Peterson says:

    How do you get the NMEA 2000 data into your Raspberry Pi? Do you consume it directly with its own connection to the NMEA 2000 bus? Or are you doing DB queries over the network from the Raspberry Pi against the MariaDB relational database where you store all of your data? I can see benefits to both, though the DB query route seems more elegant since you aren’t adding yet another device to your NMEA 2000 bus.

    • All three of those options are pretty easy to do. The way our system is set up the database is running on a central server. All input data flows to that system. It reads NMEA2000, scrapes web page screens to get data from proprietary systems without APIs, and makes calls over ZMQ to the Raspberry PIs to get there input data. The central system takes most actions again with a variety of transports: 1) makes requests to Raspberry Pis over ZMQ, 2) pushes data onto the NMEA2000 bus, 3) sends email, and 4) uploads data to mvdirona.com.

      In this model, the PIs mostly just do input at the request of the central system or do output at the request of the central system. One of our Pis reads and writes to Maservolt devices over Masterbus which is a proprietary protocol over CANbus. They can do the same with NMEA2000 using CAN boat (https://github.com/canboat/canboat). We don’t do it but it’s also easy to query a MySQL database directly from a Raspberry Pi or to run the entire database locally on the Pi.

      • Alec Peterson says:

        I see, so the control logic is centralized. Makes sense, thanks!

        • Yes, the control logic is central. It doesn’t take much resource so it would be equally happy on a Raspberry Pi but it runs on the central server in our configuration. There are a few exceptions where the Pis act directly:
          1) The LED confirming key press on the virtual watch commander (latency reasons make this best handled directly)
          2) The detection of the central computer or software stack is on a Pi and it will independently make the decision to reboot the central computer if fault is detected (this needs to be independent of the central system)

          There probably are 1 or 2 others but, for the most part, all logic is central and the Raspberry Pis are just input/output processors.

  20. Sam says:

    Happy Walpurgis Eve to you guys! Last year you where visiting Aland island and us at Maritime Safety Center. It was great to meet you and i wish you a safe time in these testing moments and a safe onwards journey on your exiting trip around the world. Stay safe !
    I will try to post a link later to a live feed from the same bonfire that you visited last year:)

    • Hey Sam! Great haring from you. We’re doing well and taking it easy in beautiful Scotland. I hope you and the entire team at the Maritime Safety Center are doing well. It would be great to see a picture of the Walpurgis Eve bonfire. Thanks for thinking of us and thanks again for the educational visit to the Safety Center. All the best.

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