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Recent general comments and questions (view all)
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

    • 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.

  4. 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?

  5. Al King says:

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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: 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.

  10. 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.

  11. Eric D Patterson says:

    Hope you both are doing well. Lynn and I had a great week with an associate of yours at AWS name Lowell with his wife in Tuscany on a bike tour. I mentioned you and our boats. He spoke highly of your work there. He said that everyone at AWS enjoys your adventures.

  12. Malcolm Dale says:

    How are the wildfires affecting yourselves & the Seattle area in General? Stay safe. Malcolm Daley. Melbourne Australia

    • We have had a few days when it was a bit smokey around Seattle but, for the most part, it’s not been a problem. The good side of slightly more smoke is good sunsets. On our last hiking trip in the North Cascades, the route home was blocked by fire so that did force some changes of plans but, overall, we’ve been quite lucky. But it is sad to see so much death and destruction world-wide driven by wild fire. It’s currently worse than any time I can remember.

  13. Patrick Marks says:

    Wiring in wireless remote
    I would like to add a wireless remote to my crane. Currently using a hard wired pendant. Would like to have both. All function solenoids are mounted in the boom. Hard wired cord from the plug goes to a terminal block. This is on one side. On the other side are the solenoids. Can I add the wires from the wireless receiver to the terminal block? If so should it be wired on the same side as the plug wires are?

    Thank you

    • The final answer depends upon the wireless remote you choose and the crane control system but on our Steelhead SM1500 we did install the wireless system in parallel with the wire control system so that either could operate the crane. In this mode, either the wired or wireless remotes can be pressed to close a circuit that feeds current to the applicable solenoid. It makes no difference on which side of the terminal block the remote is connected (nor does the connection have to made at the terminal block). Once when we had a failed hard wired remote pendant, I controlled the crane via direct powering the appropriate solenoid at the solenoid. These circuits are fairly simple.

      • Patrick Marks says:

        Thank you. I think I understand. I just replaced the pendant plug. I did have to ring out the wires to determine what function was related to each color. I am half way there.

        • Excellent. You are indeed near to winning on that one. Once you know where each connection is, it’s just work to get it complete.

          • Patrick Marks says:

            When you wired in the wireless receiver did you make so you would unplug it to use the wired pendant? I was told if I want to keep both wired together I need to add diodes to the output side of the receiver.

            • I did wire it to make both the wired and wireless remotes able to operate the crane. The recommendation to use diodes comes from the potential negative impact from back feeding current into the wireless remote control box. It depends upon the circuit used but, in our combination of Steelhead and Kartech, there were no issue and we did not elect to use diodes.

  14. Steve says:

    Hey guys. It’s been a while, lots changed in my life but still at you know who. Going to catch up on the last few years I didn’t follow you

  15. Leon says:

    I saw the show where you replaced the rod end on your steering and the end you got was the wrong size. Go to your internet search and look up FK Bearings, they have a catalog that you can find the rod end you need.

    • Yes, thanks for the tip. We did look there and FK Bearings does make some. The combination of 5/8″ threading and 3/4″ joint end is rare so there is much less selection but the parts are available from non-OEM sources. Thanks for passing that along Leon.

  16. Julia Reedy says:

    Hello James and Jennifer, I am a college student doing a research project on marine power management systems and load shedding devices. I have been scouring blogs and forums looking for information on this topic and came across some relevant articles on your website. Is it common to have issues with electrical system overload/tripped breakers on their boats? How does one manage power usage and prioritize electrical systems on a boat during high-demand periods? It is evident that you two are highly experienced and experts in this field, any information you can provide would be hugely helpful! Thanks!

    • That’s a good question. Load shedding is used in many different domains spanning the range from utility scale to semi-conductor scale. At utility scale we see applications where, in return for lower power prices, some industrial users agree to shed load when the utility is nearing their maximum generation capacity. These industrial users either switch to local generation or don’t operate during the periods where the utility hasn’t the generation capacity. I’ve been involved with examples where datacenters get off the utility and use emergency generation when the utility is short of generation capacity.

      At the semiconductor end of spectrum, chips have a max power they can dissipate to avoid thermal overload. But, to get the best possible performance, the chip designer allows draws above this max for short periods of time after which they load shed by reducing operating frequency. Load shedding has also started to show up in RV applications — here’s an article on how load shedding is being used in RVs:,for%20each%20particular%20coach's%20needs.

      Load shedding is starting to show up in residential applications where, when a customer wants to add a electric vehicle charger, they are left with two choices: 1) upgrade the power to the entire home to deliver the new peak load (EV charging while AC running and dinner being cooked) or 2) install load sheading so the EV charger is only on when the capacity is available. Of course the latter is far cheaper. There are also companies offering smart breaker panels with load sheading. Here’s an example of one form

      You asked if boats frequently don’t have access to all the power needed inside the boat. Yes, that is often the case and the most common solution is what I call “human load sheading” where, before using the hair dryer, you make sure the microwave or kettle isn’t already on. There also exist commercial solutions along the lines of the RV application I pointed to above but this is still very uncommon. What we did on our boat was implement a custom solution where there was a list of items to shed when the draw exceeded the current capacity. In our case on the 240V circuit, we shed first the water heater, then the HVAC and we had similar controls on the 120V system. In our system as load exceeded capacity we we drop the least important loads until load was back under capacity and then bring these load back online as capacity permitted. It’s a nice, all automatic solution but it’s labor intensive to install the needed switching and measurement systems.

  17. Rainer Kallenberger says:

    As requested in your contact site, I am writing to you via this page. Only three more countries left for us then we will have visited every country in the world within the last 16 years of our challenge. We are now up to visiting not so well known travel destinations. We would like to visit the Kerguelen Islands. I believe we have to book from Reunion? I also believe I have to book up to three years in advance? That’s ok by us. We are two passengers. When is the next opportunity for 2025? How much is the fare for two and what dates are available?
    Please contact us via below email. Rainer and Denise Kallenberger, apartment 108/501 Little Collins St. Melbourne 3000 Australia

  18. HI,
    We just watched your presentation from the Seattle Boat Show. You mentioned how important a printer is to have on your boat and I am wondering if you have any preference between black/white to color. It seems laser printers are better in terms of ink longevity/replacement. Did you find a need to print in color?

  19. Craig W says:

    I really liked your post about your data displays throughout your boat. Very helpful in setting up my own N2K display.

    Do you record your NEMA 2000 data? If so what is your setup and record rate?

    Thank You.

  20. Al King says:

    On your Antarctica cruise did you encounter any pleasure boats cruising the area?

    • Yes, we did see one recreational boat: Not many recreational boaters are hardy enough to make that trip. We seriously considered it on our around-the-world cruise but, now that we have been there and seen first hand the conditions during the best part of the year, we may have been over-estimating our ability. Conditions that far south can be challenging and weather can turn rapidly. Clear anchorages can fill in with heavy ice with a wind shift. It’s absolutely navigable on a small boat but it’s much more challenging than anything we have seen.

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