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  1. Raffaele Santopaolo says:

    In reference to the Aldebrook resort.

    Say hello to Bill !

    You might be next to where Bill Gates famously spent his notable “think weeks” and I believe I spotted this spot featured of the Netflix documentary “Inside Bill’s Brain” at S1:E2 min 02:45. You should take a look ! (By the way, fantastic documentary!)

    • Alderbrook has had many big visits and special visitors over the years and it’s perfectly believable that Bill Gates would have done a Think Week or two there. They definitely have a relaxing environment ideal for detailed thought.

  2. Karin Hoole says:

    Hi, I was hoping you could cast some light on traveling with a pet:)
    My family and our dog will sail to French Polynesia on a very similar route to yours on a pleasure boat leaving our homeport San Francisco mid July.
    1. We will depart from California – Hawaii with all the necessary International health certificates.
    2. Sail via Kiribati: I battle to get information regarding what is required to disembark and where we could do so; I read that you did it but have failed to make contact with anyone.
    3. I believe I must complete the 211 A form to enter the French Polynesia 4. Our first port of arrival will be The Marquesas Islands; if we were to first go to Tahiti, which seems to be required for the vet check, we would miss the Marquesas and be out at sea much, much longer:(
    5. Do you know of any way around this? Any DBS on the Marquesas Islands or veterinarians that can stamp our dog’s health certificate? I appreciate your taking the time to assist me in these matters and make our family visit successful. Yours Sincerely, Karin Hoole

    • Karin,

      You’ve got a fabulous adventure ahead of you!

      Cats are a little easier than dogs as they don’t need to go ashore, so can be confined on board and thus not formally imported. We didn’t import our cat into Kiribati or French Polynesia.

      For information on Kiribati, I started with the Kiribati Tourism Office: https://www.kiribatitourism.gov.ki/.

      For French Polynesia, we used Kevin Ellis of Yacht Services Nuku Hiva and recommend him for clearing through. He should be able to provide more information on the current formalities for pets: https://www.yachtservicesnukuhiva.com

      Noonsite.com also might have some helpful information on both these topics.

      Have a safe and wonderful trip!
      Jennifer

  3. Cliff Augot says:

    Hello James & Jennifer;
    I was doing a bit of family history research, which included a quick google search for one of the location of a resettled community on the south coast of Newfoundland, namely “Sam Hitches” when I stumbled across part of your log showing your voyage to this area of the world.
    It is certainly a rugged coast and your pictures and comments captured it very nicely. I was intrigued and so I followed your trail along the coast which included your stop in Hr. Breton where you landed not more than a 50 meters from my home in the inner harbour. I also followed your trek across the ocean and dropped in to visit a few of the other locations that you have visited.
    This contact is only intended to comment on my sense of envy/joy/awe about your journeys and I want to wish both of you safe travels for the future. I have added your site on my bookmark list & look forward to taking another trip with you.
    Cliff

  4. Stuart Martin says:

    Hello James and Jennifer

    This is Stuart from N6052, currently located at Fairlie Quay in Scotland hauled out .

    First of all, when I looked at your site for the first time in moths, I was so sorry to hear about the loss of your lovely Spitfire. Liz and I also lost our 14 year old Golden Retriever Sadie just after we flew the dogs back to Canada in October. We can all take some solace in the fact that Spitfire and Sadie BOTH lived very long happy lives BUT losing them is still so heartbreaking. We have added a new puppy to the clan as we and our older male Golden were all feeling like there was a large hole in our lives and our daughter agreed to take on the puppy should she outlive us.

    Otherwise, we hope that you are enjoying life ashore and wonder if you have any plans for another boat in the future.

    I wanted to ask for some advice on managing our double stacked Fernstrum keel cooler as I am planning to paint mine as you did yours.

    Sitting in the water, primarily at Kip Marina, for the past two years, the cooler had acquired a lot of hard white worm casts and mussels on the tubes as well as worms and barnacles on the box ends. Pressure washing and a hard plastic Lee Valley scraper have removed the bulk of the growth but the cooler is not yet suitable for painting. Dropping it for cleaning or salt blasting in situ seem to be the current options. Our coolant system is due for a flushing and coolant change in either case .

    We are having our hull blasted with a material that is harder than soda and more like a salt according to Marineblast. We are doing this as the antifouling placed in Spain or the Bahamas by the former owner was likely incompatible with a red Pettit undercoat according to Steve D, who surveyed the boat for us. Delamination of the antifouling was evident but minor at survey in 2019 and although it has progressed somewhat since then, growth on the antifouling was remarkably minor.

    I was thinking that I need to drop the cooler to allow full cleaning and painting of the cooler and to allow blasting and painting of the hull behind the cooler. Spraying paint is not allowed in Scottish marinas as you likely know from your time in Stornoway.

    Did you routinely drop the keel cooler for cleaning and painting? I noticed that in one photo from Stornoway that the painters were cleaning the cooler in situ. How did they do that? Another photo from your stay at Saxon Wharf shows an extremely clean keel cooler and it would help to know how that was accomplished.

    Although I was thinking of gently salt blasting the cooler, wedo have the option of taking it to Serck, which is a commercial facility in Glasgow, for chemical cleaning. Our mechanic also works at the defunct Hunterston nuclear power facility and has a lot of experience of sending larger cooler grids to Serck for cleaning

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated

    All the best

    Stuart

    • Thanks kind words on Spitfire and, yes, there are days when we would love to be back boating. But, in my current work role, it’s really not efficient to be away for weeks at a time so boating doesn’t really fit very well right now. The good news is I’m having fun with work and we’re still managing to squeeze in enough travel to be enjoying ourselves. But, we fully expect to return to boating — it’s hard to match the personal freedom that comes with exploring by boat.

      For keel cooler maintenance, it’s a lot of work to get the cooler down. Doing so forces you to remove the engine coolant, take off both cooler hoses (heavy difficult to remove hoses), and the remove the four fasteners holding the cooler in place. It’s fairly heavy and, each time it goes back on, care needs to be taken to avoid coolant or seawater leaks. Done properly it’s rarely a problem but we generally never drop the cooler unless it needs to be replaced or serviced.

      We clean the cooler with a metal scraper followed by rotary drill powered wire brush and/or sandpaper. If you paint the cooler, cleaning it is far easier. The only downside is nearly everyone that sees it will warn you that “keel coolers should not be painted” and “paint will prevent proper cooling.” Both are technically true but the negative impact of paint isn’t huge and, at least in our limited tests, a painted cooler is more effective than an cooler covered in growth. We would do it again.

      We have never sand blasted a keel cooler but abrasives are fine as long as they aren’t too aggressive.

  5. Brandon says:

    Are you friendly with Nathan Myhrvold? I would love to be a fly on the wall if you two were having lunch.

  6. Al King says:

    Waiting for your cold hard facts on Antarctica…. Between your cruise there and your land trip do you feel like you’ve seen all you’d like to have seen there or were there places there you’d didn’t see but would like to on a return trip.

    • No, we are nowhere close to “all done” with Antarctica Al. We have done two very different trips but we’ll be back at least one more time. For example, we want to do the loop from Argentina to the Falkland’s and South Georgia Islands, down to Antarctica, and then back to Argentina. The life on the Islands is incredible in all descriptions we have seen. We’re also super interested in a cruise that several operators run from Argentina, to antarctica, and then to New Zealand or Australia.

      My quick summary: we love Antarctica but have lots more yet to see.

  7. WEI LIU says:

    Dear sir, we learned from OCP Summit 2023 that the AWS GH200 cabinet is configured with six PSUs instead of BBUs. Is this because the power of the server is too high and the BBU is too large and cannot be installed in the cabinet? Are the ups power supply and batteries of the cabinet placed in the power distribution room? This is a change from the original lithium battery design concept in the cabinet?
    If batteries are placed outside the cabinet, how to cope with the current overload fluctuation of the AI chip depends on the configuration of more PSUs?

  8. Raffaele says:

    Dear Jennifer and James
    Buon Anno !

  9. Reed koch says:

    Hi James. I noticed it looks like you use Maretron n2kview to monitor your John Deere engine. Does that work well? Is there a different product you would recommend? Do you use it in addition to the standard John Deere gauges? Anything i should know? Im in the midst of repowering to John Deere and want to go with a glass bridge rather than the standard John Deere gauges.

    • We do use Maretron for everything and it is the primary display for the engines. We also have the Deere display as a backup but we never used it in over 12,000 hours relying exclusively on N2kview. The Deere is connected to NMEA2000 using the Maretron j2k100 interface. It requires no configuration or tuning and is strictly plug and play. Less than 30 min to install.

  10. James4 says:

    Merry Christmas James and Jennifer

  11. Renato says:

    Hello James,

    It’s always great to message you. He’s an incredible person. In your answers you write in detail, with time and attention. I don’t even know how I would have these minutes from someone as busy as you. Thank you and congratulations.

    I’m in Brazil, in São Paulo. At that moment without a boat, I sold it to buy ASIC machines, a temporary phase without a boat, waiting to start assembly from scratch. With my needs. Maybe use the Bruce Roberts TY785 project. I want to do the poles, Europe and also spend weekends nearby on islands, day use. So it needs to be a boat that does well in almost everything.

    I’m very excited about the arrival of Kuiper, technology is what motivates me. I made a really big change in my life and now I’m working with cryptocurrencies mining, a data center, I believe I’ll get the time I need to travel, exploring. If you can, recommend me to Kuiper for tests in South America if needed.

    Best Regards.

    • We too are temporarily without a boat and using that time to visit places we couldn’t get to with our boat. So far we’re enjoying it but will almost certainly return to boating.

      • Al King says:

        Once you return to boating what are the top 3 places you would like to go back to and what are the top 3 places you’d like to see and explore.

        • Great question Al. In thinking through the top three places where we would like to return and further experience, Norway, New Zealand, and Alaska topped our list. Looking at the top three places where haven’t yet been by boat: Greenland, Patagonia, and South East Asia would be right up there.

  12. Al King says:

    You mention getting bug resistant clothes. How is the bug situation there on the ground?

    • There were bugs in the area and we do advise bug protection but, overall, it wasn’t bad. Dawn and dusk is when you’ll see the most bugs but, even during heavy times, it wasn’t bad at all. The biggest reason to protect against bugs are Mosquito born diseases like Yellow Fever. We were vaccinated but avoiding bug bites is the best protection.

      We were in the Peruvian Amazon at the end of the dry season. During the wet season, the bug problem is far heavier but we would protect against it during all times of the year in the Amazon area.

  13. Raffaele says:

    Very fascinating trip !

    Out of curiosity I landed on Street View in Nauta (yes, there is !) and the scenery brings to mind the landscapes of a West African country. Interestingly, your journey seems like a lighter version of the renowned Congo River expedition undertaken by Telegraph journalist Tim Butcher, as detailed in his compelling book “Blood River” (which I highly recommend to you!). I genuinely hope your adventure is smoother and more tourist-friendly.

    Safe travels!
    Ciao

    • Thanks for the “Blood River” book recommendation Raffaele. So far, our adventure has been a good one. We’ve seen freshwater Dolphins, Parakeets, an Anaconda, Sloths, Tarantula, and lots more. It’s been a fun adventure.

  14. Ryan Raber says:

    I’ve been working on a 52 auto pilot system with Little success. Do you think I might be able to ask you a few questions about your boat?

  15. Al King says:

    Now I’m curious. Who/what is Willmott’s ghost.

  16. Renato Pinto says:

    Hello James, how are you?

    I have been following your journey for a few years, you helped me by indicating some technologies to connect my mechanical engine to NMEA2000, and you also helped me with INMARSAT plans.

    I would like to know if you know how the Kuiper project is going, if it is already testing it and if in the meantime you have used Starlink, even though it is from a rival company. I installed Starlink on my trawler over a year ago and I’m using it. Before it, INMARSAT costs were surreal, I myself don’t know what will happen to these companies in the face of these new technologies.

    When do you plan to go on a long trip and when will it be?

    A big hug.

    • Hi Rinato. I too am an Starlink customer and, like you, I’ve used the previous satellite communication generations as well: KVH, Iridium, and Inmarsat. It’s wonderful how bandwidth costs have declined over the last couple generations. Starlink is remarkably affordable when compared to these previous generation services.

      Last week Kuiper launched the first two satellites and they are doing well in early testing. The full constellation will be 3236 satellites and the production scale launches will begin next year in 2024 and go into customer testing once the minimum number of satellites are launched and active.

      On your question on when our net “long trip” will be, we’re on a different sort of plan right now. What happening is I’m super busy at work so rather than long trips, we’re doing a couple small trips each year. As an example, we just got back from taking an ice breaker to the Geographic North Pole with stops in Svalbard, Iceland, and Greenland. It’s only 2 weeks but, even then, without Starlink, I wouldn’t have even been able to do it. The world being more economically connected is a truly wonderful thing.

  17. Jeff Wingfield says:

    We are exploring a N 55, vintage 2009 with John Deere 6081 main engine. She has nearly 7,000 hours on Hobbs meter. Broker says no maintenance records or engine log. Can an engine guy glean enough in a day to provide some reasonable assurance of condition/reliability/lifespan? Your insight would be helpful and much appreciated.

    • Generally, engines that have been used are better than engines that have sat for years gathering rust. Our Deere had zero parts failures at 7,000 hours, we replace the injectors at 8,000 hours, and then ran to 12,400 hours without any other parts problems. We would it with 12,400 hours and the most likely results is it’ll run for many thousand of hours yet before needing service and the mostly likely first service would be a vale job.

      There are two types of engine failures: 1) wear issues, and 2) mis-use or catastrophic failures. Generally, under-stressed, well manufactured engines like John Deer’s will never wear out in common-case recreational use. Catastrophic damage does happen. Wet exhaust engines can suffer from water injection and, if it’s not correctly handled, this can lead to sever engine damage and much shortened life. There are super rare failure modes like a bottom end failure, timing gear failures, or valve failures that can destroy engines but they are so rare, they aren’t worth worrying about. Improper value adjustment could damage the valves but, again, rare. Valves are easy to adjust properly and mistakes aren’t common. A very common cause of engine faults is to over-prop a diesel. Boats get heavy over time and, if an engine can’t reach full rated RPM underway, it will be suffering from greater thermal stress. This can range from not great for an engine to destroying it. Fortunately, it’s easy to check for. It’s possible that the boat just had the prop repitched and it spent it’s life with excess pitch but the common case is, on boats that are mis-propped. Nobody every addresses it so your engine specialist will detect this quickly. If the oil hasn’t been changed for a while, a oil analysis can tell you a lot about rust in the engine or excess wear of some components. An oil analysis can lead to false alarms but if there are no service records it’s a good data point. If the oil was recently changed, you will get less data but it’s still worth sampling the oil after the sea trial to get some data.

      If the boat really has no service records, it’s a very bad sign. Just about every responsible owner does keep track of maintenance and, if they don’t, a Nordhavn is a complex boat and it’s highly likely that no records implies there will have been some misses.

      The short answer is your engine tech can find many failures but not all. There is some risk left over. 7,000 hours is fine and the engines can take a bunch of abuse so your risks are comparatively low if you take the precautions I outlines above. And, if you are very unlucky, an engine is a right around a $100,000 installed.

      There are lots of well maintained boats out there with good maintenance records. I would favor them but I wouldn’t walk away with a boat with some warning signs but I would discount what I was willing to pay as warning signs mount and, if there are serious issues, negotiate on getting them corrected prior to you taking possessions and make sure the service company is both trustworthy and specified in the contract and the work to be done is as well.

      Generally, 7,000 hours isn’t a concern, no maintenance records is a concern, and a quality engine tech can find most serious problems but 100% assurance isn’t possible.

  18. Alec Peterson says:

    Hey James, different battery question this time.

    What’s your take on different size batteries in a bank? I’m considering adding 2x8D AGM batteries to my 6x4D AGM battery bank when I replace it. The Lifeline technical manual says batteries should be same age and size. Age I get but I’m curious about the implications about having 2 batteries in a bank that are the same age and chemistry, but a different size than the others.

    • This is pretty close to a universal rule of thumb that has been around for years: don’t mix batteries of different sizes in a bank. I suspect it’s one of those rules that is technically true but the negative impact may be slight. Battle Born Batteries say don’t do it and, as you point out, Lifeline recommends against it as well. But, there are many references to Justin Godber, General Manager at Lifeline, saying they have tested mixing sizes extensively without finding issue.

      I personally would not choose to combine sizes in a series wired battery string but I would be comfortable mixing sizes across parallel wired banks. My choice has always been to have all uniform banks but, if there were space limitations making that impossible, I strongly suspect that mixed banks of uniform strings will perform quite well.

  19. Alec Peterson says:

    Hi James,

    I recall a couple years ago you mentioned thinking that lithium batteries were quickly becoming a viable option for a cruising yacht. I’m still a few years away from replacing my batteries, but I’ve started looking into the details of looking after these batteries.

    As I’ve dug into it, I’ve learned that lithium batteries can get into a state where their internal cells are imbalanced, which is exacerbated as batteries are not run through a full 2 hour absorption charge every time they’re recharged. This apparently can lead to the batteries prematurely getting to their cutoff voltage (since it only takes one cell getting to that voltage), and can also make it harder to get the batteries up to their full charge (reference is the Victron battery manual: https://www.victronenergy.com/upload/documents/Lithium_Battery_Smart/15958-Manual_Lithium_Battery_Smart-pdf-en.pdf). The manual recommends a weekly full charge allowing all cells to balance if the batteries have short charge periods or are discharged every day (which sounds very much like a cruising workload).

    At a high level, this doesn’t sound too different to the sulfation behavior that lead-acid batteries experience, where they need to be fully charged regularly (as referenced in one of your quarantine anchorage posts where you didn’t fully charge for a long period of time). We were just on our boat away from the dock for 5+ weeks, and we broadly followed your protocol which kept the batteries in good shape, with a 4 hour charge every 4-ish days.

    Anyway, this is a very long way to my question: Do you have any insight into how these batteries will behave during extended cruising away from shore power? My concern is how long the ‘full charge’ actually takes. I’ve heard that it can take many hours at basically no load, and if they do not fully balance, the cell imbalance can apparently continue to get worse.

    • All battery chemistries have pros and cons. Li-Ion in many ways are more permissive than Lead Acid to long periods of time without full charge. Li-ions cells last longest when kept below full charge whereas Lead Acid systems do better with regular full charge to avoid sulfation. The key to Li-ion is the battery management system. Cells have to be kept balanced and certain voltage and temp edge conditions have to protected against. Li-ion systems require well thought through BMS systems to be safe and long lived but, with appropriate monitoring and control systems, they are great. The three reasons we didn’t move to Li-Ion are 1) we got such excellent pricing on Lifelines that the Li-ion price/performance wasn’t a clear win, 2) different form factors and the requirement for different charge characteristics and control systems make Li-ion brownfield installs more time consumptive and costly, and 3) some insurance companies are uncomfortable with Li-ion installs if they aren’t from name brand companies and installed by qualified installers.

      For a Greenfield install, we would go Li-ion and, even for brownfield, as the Li-ion pricing comes down and the BMS systems continue to improve, we would likely move to Li-ion but we would pre-qualify the system we planned to install with our insurance company. Some companies really don’t like systems they don’t perceive to be professionally engineered and installed.

      • Alec Peterson says:

        I see. You raise a valid point about brownfield installation. While it’s possible, there are complexities and costs involved. Thanks for the insights.

        • Even with the cost and hassle of a brownfield install, if the cost spread between LFP and Lead Acid was less, we would have made the change.

          • Alec Peterson says:

            The biggest motivation I have is usable energy density and geometry. I want some incremental capacity, and while I don’t mind a few hundred extra pounds of weight in a 35T boat, the issue is that I don’t have space available where the batteries are now to add more AGMs, and I’m concerned about effectively long-lining the battery bank to another spot in the boat.

            Being able to easily double my usable capacity in the same area is really appealing. Decisions, decisions…

            • Yes, needing greater energy density is a good reason to move to LFP. Just another data point to your decision, you can have battery banks not closely connected as long as you have properly sized cables connecting them. On Dirona, the house banks is two groups roughly 6′ apart — it’s not a problem. You still might prefer to not give up the space and go LFP but you can successfully run remote battery banks.

              • Greg Cope says:

                I have a two+ year old DIY install of LFP batteries in a 7T Sailing Yacht.

                Cells are still within 2mv of each other. They have never had a shore power charge bar the initial top balancing. The BMS balancer has not kicked in as the battery charge state has not got high enough to kick in. Due to a larger bank I rarely drain them to more than 45%. And that includes leaving everything on. I do not cook with induction mind or have aircon. Having bin-matched high quality cells helps.

                Top balancing using a BMS with a low (eg. 200mA) balance current is going to take hours on large FLP cells as 1mV deviation could be 5Ah or so of delta to address.

                I know a other cruisers who have not needed to top balance via BMS yet (ie after years). Some brought some very “average” cells quality wise.

                TLDR; Cell imbalance does not appear to be a real-world issue in my experience.

                • Thanks for relaying your real-world experiences with LFP batteries. In my work life, I often find widely-held rules of thumb that are technically correct but of such small magnitude that other factors dominate. It’s often worth exploring the edges and learning more. Thanks for the data point.

                • Alec Peterson says:

                  Super helpful, thanks Greg. Will be hunting around for more datapoints as I approach EOL on my AGMs.

  20. Anthony says:

    Hello thank you I find your blog very helpful. In your post on engine room cooling there are pictures of some round ceiling mounted circulation fans with guards on them, can you please tell me the manufacturer and part number ? I tried looking them up but was not successful. Thank you so much!

    • Thanks for the blog feedback. The fan we were using for engine room circulation was the Dayton 4wt44 available through Grainger. We ran them without issues for thousands of hours and found them efficient and quiet but we have also heard many good things about DeltaT fans. The downside of the DeltaT units is they are far more expensive.

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