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  • Hjorundfjord

    Starting September 2, the Hurtigruten coastal ferries switch from their summer run to ...

  • Slogen

    The hike to the summit of 5,131 ft (1,564m) Slogen is considered one of the top ten in Norway ...

  • John Deere 6068 at 10,000 Hours

    It’s hard to believe, but our “new” John Deere 6068AFM75 is now nearly 9 years old, has been ...

  • Norangsfjorden

    Norangsfjorden is similarly scenic as nearby Geirangerfjord, but smaller and not nearly as busy ...

  • Geirangerfjord

    Geirangerfjord is one of the better known and popular fjords in Norway and is part of the West ...

  • Alesund

    Ålesund is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Norway. After a devastating 1904 ...

  • Fuel Quality Differences

    When considering fuel quality, we’ve always thought first about water, rust, and other ...

  • Trollveggen

    Trollveggen (“The Troll Wall”) is the highest vertical mountain wall in Europe. The ...

  • Trollstigen

    The dramatic Trollstigen route near Åndalsnes winds up a steep 1:12 gradient through 11 ...

  • Andalsnes

    Andalsnes is close to some of Norway’s most spectacular and unique scenery, including ...

  • South from Trondheim

    After five weeks in Trondheim, we departed for Norwegian destinations farther south. We really ...

  • Trondheim Projects

    We completed a number of boat projects in Trondhiem, including replacing a steering pump and ...

  • Return to Seattle

    In late July, we left the boat in Trondheim, checked Spitfire into “the resort” at ...

  • Exploring Trondheim

    Trondheim is a beautiful waterside city with many excellent restaurants and attractions, ...

  • Trondheim Arrival

    Trondheim was Norway’s capital during the Viking era and currently is the country’s ...

  • Svartisen Glacier

    Svartisen Glacier is the second largest in mainland Norway, after Jostedalsbreen, and one of ...

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General questions & comments
  1. Peter Merritt says:

    Thank you James for the 10,000 hours update. I’ve been following your blog for two years and have found the level of detail you go into for both technical and cruising, fascinating and engaging.
    Jennifer and your blogs have certainly been one of the motivating factors in my wife Jenny and l signing a purchase agreement for N5279.
    The time and quality is appreciated.

  2. Peter Lefroy says:

    Absolutely stunning pictures of Norway and the amazing facilities which they have in that country! In many ways they put us to shame here in North America.

    • I was thinking exactly the same thing Peter. Norway doesn’t every seem reluctant to take on a big engineering project even when serving a small population center. In large country of only 5 million people there is cellular service just about anywhere we got to. Its impressive.

  3. Stig says:

    Hi!

    I sent you a Mail with some suggested places to vist on your route from Bergen.

    • Thanks very much Stig. We spent yesterday in a car trip to visit to Hardanger Fjord where we went to Tyssedal and to the Voringfossen falls. A really enjoyable trip. Norway is amazing.

      Thanks for the advice in your note yesterday. We appreciate it.

  4. Jim Cave says:

    James, WRT the photo and comment about the asphaltenes in the fuel transfer filter and the possible need for inspection and cleaning of the fuel tanks: I had similar concerns with our 8 year old, aluminum tanks in our Kadey Krogen 42. I opened he port aft tank and found only a few traces of asphaltenes in the tank. We don’t generally draw fuel from these tanks, while running, only using the aft tanks for storage. We transfer fuel to the forward tanks using our ESI polishing system while on shore or generator power while at dock or anchor. I when I replaced this filter after several years, we found it quite clean, even though the Racor 900’s would be quite black. I concluded that polishing fuel whilst at the dock to be inadequate for removing contaminants as there is no agitation which would serve to lift up such materials for subsequent filtration. I hope to switch the ESI system over to the Inverter side of the panel so I can polish fuel while running in moderate seas. It might be best that this is done when tanks are about 1/4 full to maximize mechanical agitational the remaining fuel.

    • Good approach Jim. We’re set up similarly to what you plan where we can run the transfer pump at any time and, since we run off a small supply tank, we transfer fuel to that tank every 4 to 6 hours when underway. We can run fuel polishing 24×7 at dock or underway if we choose to and that was the intended design point of our fuel polishing design but we have never had fuel problems and don’t do it as a preventative measure. It’s probably a good idea to run it periodically to at least delay needing to clean the tanks.

  5. David C says:

    Over here in Bergen for a holiday from Australia. Wandering along in front of Bryggen today, pushing our stroller, I knelt down to do up my shoe lace and when I stood up I found myself looking at the side of a very nice looking boat with a familiar looking name on it. “That can’t be” I said to myself. a quick look at you tube then this site and yup, it is you guys. I guess it’s just unexpected to see something in real life that I have seen on YouTube quite regularly! And on the other side of the world. I took a quick photo, chuckled to myself and we wandered on.

    • That’s a loooong trip David but you chose well. We’re loving Norway — hope you are enjoying it as well.

      If you feel like having a look around Dirona, feel free to drop me a note at jrh@mvdirona.com.

      • Karen says:

        Ulriken Steps…when we were in Bergen, installation and maintenance work was being done by crews from Nepal. I guess they know their mountains. And speaking of mountains, we are currently enjoying the Dolomites. Maybe our paths will cross one of these months….

        • Hi Karen! The steps look like they were a massive project. It looks too steep for heavy equipment and I can’t see tracks but the rocks are way too big to move by hand. Interesting that the work was done by crews from Nepal. As you said, they do have some experience with steep slopes.

          It would be fun to have our paths cross. We plan to winter in Amsterdam and will be there from November through end of Feb — the plan is to make use of the great rail and flight options and see some more of Europe. If you find yourselves flying through Schiphol on one of your trips, it would be cool to catch up. In the mean time, enjoy your time in the Dolomites.

          • Trond Saetre says:

            Karen is right. The steps were made by sherpas from Nepal. They spent 2 or 3 summer seasons. As far as I know, no heavy machinery was used, except for portable winches. The construction work was completed in 2017.

            • Impressive. It looked like recent work and I couldn’t see any evidence of damage from tracked vehicle operation. The stones are massive. It wonderful engineering to be able to precisely place stones of that size and weight without heavy equipment help.

  6. Alec Peterson says:

    Hi James,

    You mention a few times how power-hungry the Dirona is. One thing I’m curious about is why you elected to go with an AC water maker, given the availability of DC options that draw significantly less power per gallon generated. What do you see as the benefits of an AC water maker?

    Thanks!

    Alec

    • Water makers put water under 850 PSI pressure and force it through membranes. Given DC motors are not fundamentally more efficient than AC motors, I would think that it would take roughly the same amount of energy to make a given amount of water since all the other parameters are the same. Low consumption DC units I have seen are lower output so really don’t appear to be much different but I’m interested if you have seen something unusually good.

      Generally we only make water underway with the main engine running so we have lots of power available but, in the end, regardless of the source, making power consumes diesel so there is a cost so efficiency is always of interest.

      • Alec Peterson says:

        Well I ask because I have the Spectra Catalina 340 on my sailboat today. It reliably generates 14-15 gallons/hour drawing only 18 amps at 12VDC (working out to 15 watts per gallon of water made). Even when we aren’t being abstemious with water (showers every day, fresh water head, etc), we end up running it for 3-4 hours every 2-3 days whilst cruising. Between the solar panels and underway time, the power demands are easy to keep up with, and since water makers like to be run there are certainly more underway hours we could run it if we needed to.

        When I look at AC alternatives, I come across things like the FCI AquaMiser, which could certainly generate more water, but the model that generates 33 GPH draws 12.5 amps at 120 VAC, working out to requiring 45 watts per gallon of water generated, or 200% more power required to generate a gallon of water than the 12 VDC version.

        For our next boat we’re planning to go to a power boat with a sizable generator, so we certainly could go with an AC version if there were a benefit. What I’m wondering is aside from volume of water produced, is there a benefit? If we find that the DC models give us the volume we need, curious if there are other things I should be considering.

        Thanks!

        Alec

        • I think our Water Maker is roughly 6A at 240V so just about exactly matching the AC pump you are looking at. I can’t think of any reason why a DC pumped system would be more efficient but the your numbers are considerably better. Typically DC motors require more service than AC motors but water makers aren’t used anywhere close to continuously so I have no idea if that would be a factor. If purchase price and parts prices aren’t disadvantaged, then I can’t think of any reason why your DC alternative isn’t a good choice.

          • Chris Barber says:

            Guys, it’s watt-hours for energy, not watts. But the math is right otherwise in Alec’s comparison of the Spectra and the FCI. And extra points to Alec for use of the word “abstemious” :). James is correct that the power consumption of his machine is roughly equal to the FCI but we don’t know the amount of water produced. What’s your machine able to do per hour, James? I have to agree with James on the question of efficiency in general. I would think in practical terms you should only see the additional conversion loss going through the inverter to run an AC machine on battery power vs running a DC machine directly on the battery. The apparently huge difference between the Spectra and the FCI must be due to some mechanical design difference… perhaps at the higher output rate there is something that causes the efficiency to fall off dramatically; perhaps their stated power consumption is worst-case and we would not see that on a continuous basis under normal conditions. Gotta be something like that. No way can a DC motor be 3x more efficient than a same-capacity AC motor, all else being equal.

            Finally, keep in mind that even when you run a DC machine on battery and avoid the inverter conversion loss, you will take that loss during recharge if you are recharging from a shore power battery charger.

            • We’re running a 25 gallon per hour Village Marine water maker and, yes, I do know that watts are a measure of power and watt-hours a measure of energy.

              • Chris Barber says:

                I know, it’s actually the spec sheets of those machines say “watts” and started that whole thing 🙂 So your machine is doing 57 watt-hours per gallon… and I’m sure you’re getting excellent power factor out of your inverters.

                • I didn’t use the water maker spec sheet when I looked up the draw of the water maker. I just looked at the PH ammeter and just read the power draw. What I was quoting is actual amps at 240V.

                  Our power factors aren’t wonderful on the boat. We drive the inverters pretty hard and make them do very ugly things like run the SCUBA compressor where the loads are very non-linear and the startup current is way off the charts. The water maker is far better but I suspect it’s still far from unity. The inverters just drive through it all without issue. I’m pretty impressed with Victron. The overall load on our generator is also pretty unfriendly from a power factor perspective. Most of our big loads are chargers and they are high frequency switching systems with power factors far from unity. The net result is our 50A generator (12kW) is actually closer to 41A (~10kW) but, other than the slight derating to just above , it also runs reliably.

          • Chris Barber says:

            And then there’s the whole power factor issue with AC machines. AC and DC are only comparable at unity power factor. These AC machines may be rated at terrible power factors… but still, a 3x difference? I’m looking at the Village Marine LTM series: they seem to be spec’d about the same as the FCI. Interesting to note that the Village LTM-500 at 21 GPH and the LTM-800 at 33 GPH both claim 18A at 110V (1980 Watt-Hours for their respective outputs which are differ dramatically). So it’s probably the same electrical machine in both of them, and maybe the spec is written to cover motor start current…

  7. Chris Mitchell says:

    Hey James, Hopefully you remember me from when you were working on the ForeFront acquisition in Exchange. I happen to live in Oslo, Norway now. If you make it to Oslo (either in the boat or on the train), reach out. I would happily make you dinner. We live about 1 Km from the main port areas in Olso (and quite close to main central station).

    • Hi Chris. Nice choice of places to live. Norway is incredible — we have been here for 6 months and we continue to be amazed.

      If we do make a run to Oslo this year, I’ll let you know. One option we might take is to go there at the end of next summers cruising in Sweden since we want to visit Oslo and the boat needs to leave the EU every 18 months.

      • Trond Sætre says:

        Notice that since Norway is included in Schengen, visiting Norway is included in the 18 months. A day in England will reset the 18 month Schengen clock.

        • The restriction is taxation rather than Schengen. More than 6 months in 12 appears to be sufficient to become a taxable “resident.” We’re it not for that constraint, we would be here for two summers and the winter in between.

  8. Gary Gordon says:

    James: Reading your comment about Propane, have you considered switching the stove top and BBQ to electric before switching the US Propane tanks?

    • Yes, both Jennifer and I have talked that over. For sure if we were to build another boat, we would not put propane on it. Electric BBQs work quite well and with a 240V inverter, there is no need to start the generator for a quick use of the stove top. Retrofitting feels like more work than I’m up for but we haven’t completely ruled it out. My current leaning is to buy whatever steel container is standard in whatever country we happen to be in and then buy a hose pig tail that would allow me to remove my US hose and put on the other countries hose. If I can find or make a hose that will fit the bottle and can be adapted to our manifold, changing tanks might not be that much hassle.

  9. Trond Sætre says:

    Looks like you will have excellent opportunities for indoors boat projects the next days.
    Forecasted huge amounts of rain next week. (Up to 50-70 mm/day)

    • I’m stiff from all the hiking so I’ve really looking forward to a break from all this fun. Yesterday was great and we’re not planning to move the boat today either. Time to catch up a bit.

      • Trond Saetre says:

        Catching up is good too. Some hiking opportunities are waiting for you in Bergen, when you arrive here 🙂
        Did you get the new nav computer up and running?

        • Yes, the nav computer is up and running well. The “new computer” picture in this series shows the finished product: https://mvdirona.com/2018/09/trondheim-projects/.

          The only issue that remains is both the old computer and the new one have a rare problem with the CANbus device driver where once every month or so the CANbus device driver is confused by Windows to be a Mouse driver and the CANbus signals start to drive the mouse and the cursor flicks all over the screen. It doesn’t happen frequently and a reboot always solves it but it is annoying.

          I use the CANbus to USB adapter to interface with the proprietary Masterbus network. I use the Masterbus protocol to turn the chargers off and on under software control. This works super well and has been in use for 3 or 4 years with no issues other than the device driver problem described above. But, I don’t like the driver issue and so I’ve been working on a design that will take over charger load shedding in addition to supporting a second up to 16A shore power connection. This is a simple design that completely eliminates our need for the CANbus adapter and instead uses a Raspberry Pi to turn the two chargers off and on. This system was recently put into production and yesterday I had some time so I removed the CANbus adapter. Here’s a picture of this system: https://mvdirona.com/trips/norway2018/norway9.html?bleat=9%2F3%2F2018%3A+Dual+16A+Control+Box.

          The CANbus adapter is now gone, the chargers continue to be under software control, and the only navigation system computer issue is the screen fluctuates or flashes when the gen starts and stops. It’s not really much of a problem but I’m pretty sure that the problem is caused by me using a low quality monitor cable. I’ll order a good one and I expect the flicker will be gone. The new computer appease to be an across the board win — it’s working very well.

          • Trond Saetre says:

            Driver issues can be a pain to figure out. Nice to see you got a solution for the CANbus issue.
            Is it maybe one of these cables you need:
            https://www.komplett.no/category/10166/datautstyr/pc-tilbehoer/kabler/hdmi
            (This is a good online store in Norway).
            If needed, I could order one for you, so you could get it while you are in Bergen. If so, just send me an email with a link to the cable you need.

            • Thanks for the reference. They do indeed have the cable we’re looking for. Thanks for pointing it out Trond.

              • Trond Saetre says:

                Here is an alternative routing from your current position to Bergen. (I have marked it via the island Fedje, but that island is just an option.
                Also you can see I have made a short “side routing” into a very calm and protected anchorage, at the island Toska. This one I have used many times myself. If you choose to enter, notice the very shallow area you have to go around, about half way to the anchorage. Take a wide turn around it. The anchorage is about 7-10 meters, and very good holding in clay and mud.

                South of this anchorage, you will pass the island Herdla. This was a German fighter airbase during WW2, and later a coastal fortress for the Norwegian armed forces. Today it is a museum, open a few days a week. The guest harbor at Herdla, is small, accommodating only 3 boats, unless rafting up.

                https://kart.gulesider.no/m/fA6cK

  10. John says:

    James and Jennifer – I know it is early in planning for The Netherlands but I highly recommend a day or two visit to Utrecht while you are there. Easy train ride from Amsterdam and a wonderful Historic town. Just the origins of the city name are wonderful! Make sure you do a walking tour and one or more canal boat cruises.

    • Looking forward to it. Many years ago I spent a few weeks in Utrecht doing an acquisition and really enjoyed my time there but it was 25 years back and I was pretty busy so didn’t get to explore much. Thanks for the tip John.

  11. Trond Saetre says:

    On your way south, just east of the Stadt peninsula, is an island called Kvamsøy. A friend of mine is often there, filming otters, deers and sea eagles, and it is a nice island for hiking.
    If weather and time permits, maybe it could be an idea to stop by.

    Also, after you pass the Stadt, on the south side, is a small village called Selje. This is also a place worth visiting, if time permits. Including the small island just outside Selje.

    The 3 places are marked in this map:
    https://kart.gulesider.no/m/0aYqT

    • Good morning Trond. It’s 5:40am here and we are we’re on the north side of Stadt in excellent conditions. Should be fully around in a couple of hours. Thanks for the things to do in the area.

  12. Trond Saetre says:

    You have a picture from August 29, named “Mountain cabin”.
    In the western part of Norway, there are several small, old farms like this. Some people still live in those farms, but many are abandoned.
    The house in your picture, is most likely an old farm, and not a cabin.

    Nice to see you got a chance to explore some of the most spectacular scenery of Norway.

  13. Benlogis says:

    Fun fact: If you feel it’s time to replace your Ekornes Stressless recliners on Dirona – then you have come to the right place. The Ekornes factory where they are made (and Ekornes Marina) is situated just in the middle between your latest anchorages (in Skodje and Norangsfjord).

    • We knew the factory was in the area somewhere but had no idea it was this close. That’s directly across the Fjord from where we anchored two nights back. If we had known, we would have taken the tender over there. In fact, if the weather stays good today, we may go on a longer site seeing run in the tender and could easily end up in the area of the Ekornes Factory. Thanks for passing that along.

      • Benlogis says:

        Honningsdalsvågen – the village of Glomset – is by the way the same place that another computer-guy from Seattle choosed for his norwegian holiday a couple of years ago – mr Bill Gates. He stayed at the small log cabin style Storfjord Hotel in Glomset.
        I see you had a nice trip to Geirangerfjord. Those mountain cabins you saw on the mountain-sides overhanging the fjord is actually old farms, populated from the middle-ages and people lived there until just a couple of generations ago. I myself got ancestors that lived on Skageflå, the farm you can see on the right side just above the seven sister waterfalls on your picture. It was a hard life – but at least: when they heard that the tax-collector was travelling by in the region they just pulled up the ladder on the trail to the farm, and nobody could reach them… No wonder many norwegians emigrated to the flat farm-land in Minnesota, it was a dream come through for them.
        Seems like you also hiked the mountain Slogen, now you earned some serious respect as mountain-hikers! Congratulations.

        • Certainly Bill Gates and family can go anywhere they want for some time away from Seattle so them choosing the Geiranger Fjord area says a lot about how beautiful the area is. It’s kind of cool we both ended up choosing the same small town at different times.

          Those old farms look like a tough way to make a living but the view from their cabins was certainly world class.

          We did hike Slogen but, admittedly, our legs are feeling a bit stiff today :-). We had a nice clear day and, wow, the view from the top is amazing.

  14. IngerAnne Berge says:

    Hello
    I am Wendy Swalm Shore’s «Norwegian» . She send me our adress. Are you coming to Oslo .

    • Good morning. Thanks for the comment. We are just loving Norway and will continue exploring and sight seeing as we head south down the coastline. I suspect we’ll run out of time on this trip before we get to Oslo by boat but Jennifer have been talking about possibly taking the train Bergen to Oslo train but we’ve not yet made firm plans.

  15. Tom Blakney says:

    I really enjoy following you on your website, but could you speak more about your abilities to stay connected to internet and wifi and the cost? Thank you

  16. Chris Barber says:

    Hi James, the whole steering pump saga is great info to keep in mind when looking at Nordhavns for my future boat. Do you run the pump off the inverter or DC?
    Thanks
    Chris

  17. Evan Bauman says:

    Hi James. I’ve been following the story around your steering pump. Is this part of your autopilot or does the Nordhavn have a pump that assists when manually steering from the helm?

    Safe travels.

    • It’s the autopilot pump. Nordhavn hand steering is 100% manual and so we always have that as a backup. The autopilot steering pump is used by the autopilot system to drive the boat and, when in close quarters, I use a follow-up lever to swing the rudder. The follow up lever allows you to swing the rudder to 30 degrees with a slight movement of the fingers rather than cranking on the steering. It’s nice when working in close quarters but it does mean that we essentially never hand steer the boat. The only reason we have a manual wheel at all is for backup in case of autopilot failure.

  18. Steven Coleman says:

    Hello James,
    It would be interesting to see how your aluminum focus tube works in blackwater. Aluminum is more reactive than iron so you’d think it would corrode quicker however, I suspect it will quickly form a black coating of aluminum oxide on the surface which when intact for all practical purposes seals and stops corrosion.

    My guess is if you can keep yourself from wiping the coating off if you ever pull the tube it could last a lot longer than steel.

    Do they not make a focus tube out of some form of plastic?

    • I’ve encouraged the manufacturer, Maretron, to make a focus tube out of some composite material but, at this point, all they offer is Aluminum. I hope it develops a surface corrosion that seals it off as you expect it might. Early accuracy/reliability results are quite good.

  19. Rod Sumner says:

    James and Jennifer
    What are your plans for the 3 Raspberry Pi’s you had in your luggage?

    • Spares. I like to have 1 for projects or experiments I have under way and then a couple of spares. The old “spares” have been deployed in the boat or are about to be. We now have 4 Pis deployed and 1 that will be soon. I should write up what they all do these days — they have implemented more than 50 digital inputs and outputs, around 15 temp senses, a voltage sensor, a 4×4 matrix keyboard, and a 1×4 matrix keyboard.

      The Pis have been super stable and never reboot, never fault, and don’t cause problems. My bench system was recently damaged so it took one of the 3 I brought back. Two of the system I brought back where defective which sounds bad but Raspberry Pi quality control is very good and they are reliable. I suspect that a couple of warranty returns found their way into ready to ship box. That’s never happened before. Those two will need to get sent back.

  20. Steven Coleman says:

    I loved the dishwasher shot, now if you could just get spitfire to hand you tools, or retrieve that bolt that rolled just out of reach.

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