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Recent general comments and questions (view all)
  1. Tim Connolly says:

    Miss your high seas stories but enjoy your landlubber adventures just the same…

    As the NHL season comes to a close I know from your many photos that the Kraken are gaining favor as your “home” team. I hope you enjoyed the energizer bunny from Tampa Bay Yanni Gourd. HE is just a joy to watch and was such a big piece of two Stanley Cup Championships. Hard to see him go in the expansion draft but a great piece for the Kracken to build around going forward. If you haven’t done so, take a look at his background. Came out of nowhere to earn a spot and then excel for the Lightning.

    GO BOLTS until the Sabres make the playoffs again!

    • Watching him now, it’s seems impossible that he would go undrafted. He’s a joy to watch. I wonder what made the difference for Yanni. Was it better couching, better players to learn from, or were there other factors that lead to him refining his game later than most.

      • Tim Connolly says:

        Darn good questions and the only one I can answer is the Lightning Organization knows how to develop talent and someone saw this little water bug flying all over the ice and said “we can craft him into a champion”.


        • I love this and other examples of undrafted players rising to the top of the game. This phenomena is highly visible in sports but I suspect it happens in all human endeavors. It’s a great life lesson that many of us can achieve far more than we do if we keep digging and working to be better and it also shows that being in the right environment with good training and other great practitioners can make a massive difference.

  2. Michael Patey says:

    The shipwreck shown beached in Jersey Harbour, Fortune Bay, Newfoundland, from your Newfoundlan 2016 trip is not the SS “Home” but a fishing trawler the “Rupert Brand II”. It was beached and abandoned there back in the 60’s. The SS “Home” wreck is in the same area and is laying on it’s side. Here’s two pics of the SS Home taken in the 80’s:

  3. Al King says:

    Fleming is known for continuous production improvements. Did/does Nordhavn read yours-and others blogs with the changes/updates/improvements that you all make in your travels? Would think there are lots of updates that would benefit follow on buyers. Do the electronics and equipment manufacturers do the same? Your travels in all sea and climate conditions make for a lot of real world experience.

    • Norhavn’s definitely evolve as the design moves forward. If you take an early member of a boat line and compare to the same model boat 10 years later, these two boats will differ greatly. I’m not sure Nordhavn actually read blogs to get ideas but future owners do and it’s the requests of future owners that help evolve the fleet going forward combined with things Nordhavn learns and changes independently.

      • Al King says:

        Thanks for they reply. It’s customer service 101 to listen and learn from your customers. Will ask you though of all the updates you made what % were applicable the the “general boater” and what % were made for you and Jennifer and Dirona to enhance your particular needs and cruising style.

        • I agree with you that successful companies listen to their customers and are constantly evolving their products. On you’re question of which of our changes were fairly unique to us and which were applicable in general, it’s a hard question to answer. Boaters have such a diverse set of interests it’s hard to refer to them as a single group. The power system in Dirona is of pretty general utility. It’s able to run all equipment on inverters, can plug into any frequency, 120V or 240V, and any amperage from 50 down to 2x 8A circuits. Nordhavn now offers a very similar system. Other choices like fuel bladders tend to be useful only to those crossing oceans and, even then, only if you need to or want to cross a segment more than 2,500 nautical miles. For sure, this is a minority use case and, in larger Nordhavn’s they have even more range so the bladders really only have value to small boat owners who cross unusually large segments. Generator autostart is remarkably useful and is becoming an increasingly common option. I think the forward spotlight and the massive side flood lights are super useful when near land in non-developed areas where there shore has no light. It seems like a generally useful choice but it’s not that common at this point. The large 4-screen glass cockpit in Dirona was quite unusual back in 2010 when it was installed but it’s become pretty much normal these days. We really like having both a 32 kt high speed tender for long trips and a small easy to carry power tender with a 2.3hp for shore landings. Larger boats have always done this and it’s getting to be a more common choice on smaller boats. We loved having a SCUBA compressor on board and that a pretty common choice as well.

          The best way to figure out what options that will add value for you is to look at what others are deploying on similar boats, learn why they did it, and then you can figure out if it’s worth it for your planned usage. Our strategy was to try to get everything right but not to afraid of changing something if we were happy with the design or wanted to make improvements.

  4. Eric D Patterson says:

    Do you and Jennifer plan on attending the Nordhavn owners rendezvous this year? Seems like you’re both enjoying your land life. Lynn and I are enjoying the boat so much, coming up on 1 year and it still seems like we’re still working on getting the boat commissioned. It is a never-ending project for sure. Mexico has been incredible, and we are headed north to the sea of Cortez for the summer before heading through the canal to the Caribbean and east coast and Europe. We have your travels to give us so many ideas for Europe. Cheers

    • It would be fun to attend the Nordhavn Owners Rendezvous. We always missed this event because we were out adventuring and not in the North America area but, now that we have time to attend, we no longer own a Nordhavn so can’t be there.

  5. John Worl says:

    Glad you had another great trip to the Olympic Peninsula. And happy you had an opportunity to stop at Barhop. Great shots up at Hurricane Ridge. Add a drive up to Deer Park in the summer and maybe a drive or hike up Mt. Walker near Quilcene.

  6. JOE says:

    “overreaching government restrictions”
    A bit disappointed…

  7. James says:

    Nice sunset on the 2/13/22 thank you for sharing

    • MVDirona says:

      Thanks for the feedback James. In this case a foggy early part of the day left just enough moisture in the air to make for a wonderful sunset.

  8. ken brenton says:

    Want to buy a Nordhavn and any thoughts on new or used? I’m considering a 47, 475, 52.
    I am in touch with Dana Point and see the various brokers on youtube.

    • MVDirona says:

      Nordhavns are strong boats built with good components so they last well. Our boat was used heavily and in 12 years had 12,600 main engine hours but, even a well used boat like Dirona, isn’t close to end of life. We purchased our last two boats new but used boats are a great option.

  9. David Andrews says:

    You may be interested in the hybrid diesel engine which will be installed in an over 100 year old boat being rebuilt at Port Townsend. The boat is called Tally Ho! and the history of its rebuild can be found on the Sampson Boat Co YouTube channel. This link
    shows the unboxing and description of the engine from about 14 minutes into the video. I have found the whole series a fascinating and revealing description of how traditional wooden sailing boats are built. This rebuild has only been possible because of the enthusiasm and skills of Leo, the boat builder with the help of some very skilled shipwrights, volunteers and financial supporters.

  10. John Schieffelin says:

    Read about recent delivery of new Nordhavn N68 “Tanglewood” in the Yacht Forums web site that sounded like it was designed and built for you. It was second Nordhavn of the owner, who was said to be “well known” in the Nordhavn community and “extremely knowledgeable about engineering and electrical systems.” That sounds suspiciously like James and Jennifer Hamilton!

    If it was not built for you, you might be able to inspect it — from the photos it looks like it is in Seattle or somewhere Pacific Northwest.

    • MVDirona says:

      We know the owners of Tanglewood well and they are both serious boaters that make very thoughtful decisions. We would love to have any boat they have configured.

      We visited Tanglewood last summer and it’s everything you’ve read about. It’s really a well thought through, well equipped boat, and it looks the part. It’s a wonderful boat and it’ll influence the Nordhavn 68s that follow.

  11. John Worl says:

    Welcome to our part of the world! Lucy & i retired to Sequim and just love the North Olympic Peninsula. If/when you come back through stop at the Peninsula Taproom for a good pint. Also Barhop Brewing in P.A. pizza is great.


  12. Steven Coleman says:

    Hello James,
    It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Mystic, I suppose the last time was sometime in 1979. It’s an interesting concept and I suppose well worth the attempt.
    Unfortunately, the envelope is rather small when a successful crew rescue from a sunken submarine is possible. The Mcann diving bells which the ship I was on was equipped with were rated down to 950′ which since they were developed well before WW2 was well below the survival depth of that era of submarine.
    I suppose in an actual rescue if the divers going with it were willing, we’d have more than likely pushed that to 1100 feet if the submarine had enough downhaul cable to release with the buoy. I never knew how much cable they had and, it was relatively a moot point anyway since during the cold war the last thing they wanted was for a buoy to come loose on accident and mark their position. I observed two cases on 688 submarines where a metal strap had been welded over the buoy preventing it’s release. No buoy, no possible rescue other than lifting the entire submarine.
    Mystic didn’t increase depth significantly while creating an entirely different set of conditions where mating with a downed submarine was even more difficult.
    The simple fact is the 688’s were built with HY80 good for about 1282 feet if nothing else other than the hull failed. The SeaWolf class used HY100 taking them to about 1602. I don’t know what the Virgina Class is built using.
    On submarines the escape hatch is known as the “Mom’s hatch” in reference to Mom thinking her child had a way out. Being on a Submarine Rescue/Salvage ship, we always considered “Submarine Rescue” an Oxymoron.
    Not that we wouldn’t have done everything we could, even if it meant putting sat. divers down to cut a buoy lose. It’s just that the difficulties necessary to overcome working even an intact wreck at depth are vast.
    A lot of technology came out of the DSRV project but I suspect it’s greater contribution was as a source of money for other projects that were classified above top secret.

    • MVDirona says:

      I’ve been 600′ below the surface on the USS California but haven’t yet had the pleasure of getting aboard a 688. I would love to see one of the boomers up close. While Jennifer and I were looking at the Mystic we were talking about the challenge of finding a submarine, transporting the Mystic, lowering it to the sub and successfully docking, and then recovering the crew. It seems like a near impossible task but it’s still a credit to the Navy that they did what they could to be fully prepared. What’s even more impressive is the Navy did the one thing that really does work, they haven’t needed to rescue a submarine crew since the early 60s. It’s an impressive record.

      Thanks for the additional data points Steve.

      • Steven Coleman says:

        Training is extensive for submariners, and you won’t last long if your performance or attitude is bad that’s for sure. There are so many things that are possible to happen to a submarine they train until reaction is instinctive. The simple fact of moving through the water has dangers if something happens to the hydraulics and the planes lock in a dive position.

        Having said that, nuclear submarines in the U.S. Navy have a very good safety record when they aren’t running into seamounts or crashing into Soviet Submarines or surfacing under cruise boats. I believe the last successful rescue of a downed submarine was in 1939. The U.S. did lose a diesel electric after WW2 due to battery issues, but they were on the surface and pulled off by another submarine before it sank.

        Most escapes from sunken submarines have been “free assents” from the submarine through the escape or as I mentioned above “Mom’s Hatch”. If I remember correctly one of those was from the U.S.S. Tang after she was sunk by one of her own torpedoes in 180′ of water using Momsen Lungs. And while I am sure there would have been other possibilities for rescue during WW2, we still don’t know even today where all of those are. And while it would have been possible to rescue the rest of the crew on the Tang, they were in the yellow sea and war operations would have prevented positioning of equipment.

        The two nuclear submarine we lost during the cold war (Thresher & Scorpion), sank in water deep enough there was nothing to rescue long before they hit bottom.

        Admiral Rickover controlled nuclear power in the U.S. Navy at the time. If you wanted a reactor for a vessel either surface or sub-surface, you had to go to him. What he gave you determined how the ship was designed and in the case of U.S. submarines had a negative impact in some areas. One of those areas was not safety, he was a fanatic about that.

  13. Alec Peterson says:

    Did you install soft starts on your reverse cycle heat/ac units? I’ve been able to get all of my 240v appliances working on my Victron 5KW Inverter (which is supposedly rated to intermittently go to 10KW). But the reverse cycle compressor overloads it every time when it tries to start up. I’m curious if you had to do anything special to yours to get them working on the inverter.

    • Hey Alec. We were perfectly willing to install soft starts but didn’t need to. For 240V loads, we had two Victron Phoenix 3000 120V inverters running coupled into a split phase configuration delivering 6kW at 240V. These Victrons are absolute tanks and had no trouble starting even the 16,000 BTU Dometic in the pilot house. In fact, it could even start and run the Bauer Junior SCUBA compressor which has in rush currents up over 9kW for very short periods.

      • Alec Peterson says:

        Interesting; for a few reasons I went with the combo Victron inverter/charger, which it seems isn’t as beefy as the single purpose units you installed. I already installed a soft start on our water maker which is working great. Off to research the Dometic soft starts, thanks for the info!

        • Certainly soft starts are easier on the inverters so probably not a bad choice to install anyway. Another thing to keep in mind is the limiting factor on most inverters is usually thermal. Some have “safety” circuitry that shut them down early but thermal overload is the usual limiter and it can happen super fast. Our Mastervolt 4kW 120V inverter should be able to deliver 33A but, on hot days, it was shutting down at 26A and it never could reliably deliver more than 29A.

          The Mastervolt cooling design is a poor one mostly focused on not allowing water to enter the system. I re-engineered the cooling system to convection cool up from the bottom and straight out the top and put high volume muffin fans on the top. I added a circuit to turn the muffin fans at 15A or above and the system could then deliver 33A all day long and go burst above that for short periods. The system was completely different with the cooling design change. More detail:

          You might take a look at the cooling in the area of the inverter. An easy test it so put a temporary high volume fan cooling the case and see if that improves the in rush current it can deliver.

          • Alec Peterson says:

            Yeah I’ll give that a try. These units have ‘overload’ and ‘overheat’ indicators; the failure mode for these has been ‘overload’. As you say it’s easy to test though, I’ll give it a shot.

  14. Mark Rammell says:

    Hi guys

    we take delivery of the first N51 in Istanbul later this year and given the time of year are interested in travelling up the Danube and Rhine to Amsterdam. James Leishman suggested contacting you to see if you can point us in the right direction to assert ain if this is possible in a boat the size of the N51.

    looking forward to hearing back from you.
    Mark and Fiona

    • Congratulations and, wow, that sounds like an amazing trip. We loved the European river and canal trips we have done but Dirona’s water draft at 6′ 7″ isn’t a good match for many of the possible trips and the air draft of 30′ further closes off many of these trips. Dirona is a wonderful, go anywhere in the world boat, but it’s big for many of the rivers and canals.

      The 51 draft of just under 5′ will open more opportunities for exploration. The air draft isn’t published on the Nordhavn site but I’m guessing around 22′ feet from the pictures. This would be on the high side but you might be able to ask the yard to design radar arch power down facility and get down into the 18′ to 19′ range. That could make a big difference. Many of the commercial river boats go so far as to have hydraulic bridges where the entire bridge can be retracted down to clear low bridges and they raised back up to the normal height to offer good visibility.

      We researched the trip you were describing and a few that were similar but the air draft disqualified us from many before the research got into the details. Here’s some reports on the Rhine and Danube:

      We found the Dutch Barge Association ( and the British Cruising Association ( to be excellent resources with lots of experience on European waterways.

      We’ve been giving some thought to returning to Europe and taking a 41 or a 51 on some of the same trips you plan. It sounds like a lot of fun.

  15. Alec Peterson says:

    I was changing the oil cooler zinc and the gearbox oil on our ZF transmission this weekend, and it got me wondering: With a dry exhaust engine how did you cool the oil in your transmission?

    • Good question. There are different approaches to this but a common one and what was done on Dirona was to use the engine coolant. This has the upside of actually heating the transmission oil when it’s cold and helps it get up to 180F to 200F fairly quickly. Then it holds the trans temp down near 200F when under load. Our transmission is wildly over-speced for the torque of our engine — it’s a ZF 305-2 being driven by only 266 HP — so it never gets over the engine temperature.

      • Alec Peterson says:

        Makes sense; figured it either had to be that or a separate keel cooler. The separate keel cooler seemed unlikely since it would be more complex and then require another pump and coolant reservoir. Thanks!

  16. Sigbjorn Tveit says:

    I wish you all the best and want to thank you for sharing your experiences with me. It’s been very interesting, I’ve learned a lot both technical and social of beeing on the water and I understand the magnitude of sharing your experience. Personally I’m planning to head out on blue water in a couple of years. I look forward for you continued posts.

    I wish you both all the best and James good luck with the job

    Greetings and a happy new year from Stavanger Norway.

  17. James says:

    Happy new year James and Jennifer

  18. Alec Peterson says:

    Out of curiosity; how often did you change the oil in your main engine transmission? I’ve heard a bunch of different perspectives and am curious about yours.

    • On most intervals throughout the boat, I just use the manufacturers recommendations and we change our ZF 305-2 Transmission oil and filter every 2 years or 2,500 hours. Many I know choose to only change the filter every second time since a healthy transmission will have near perfect oil on every change.

  19. James says:

    merry christmas James and Jennifer

  20. Rodney H Sumner says:

    James and Jennifer;
    It is a hard habit to break after ten years, What habit you ask? Logging on every day to check your progress and adventures! Thank you for the very informative blog – I am still amazed at your discipline to maintain such a detailed blog plus hundreds of annotated photos. Thank you!!
    May you have a great holiday in your new home and enjoy a different pace of life.
    All the best for the New Year!

    Rod Sumner
    PS I am continuing to enjoy your land based posts!

    • Your right about the different pace of life. We loved the 11 years on the boat and the 9 years cruising the world but it was always busy. As much as we enjoyed it, slowing down a bit has also been nice. We’ll return to adventuring but, as you guessed, we’re enjoying the current lifestyle and pace.

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