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  1. Thomas Boekenbrink says:

    Forgot to mention one thing on Sweden: if time allows, check out Stenungsund. There‘s a hotel called Stenungsbaden Yacht Club. It‘s not a yacht club anymore but it’s a beautiful location and food there is great. They also have a very nice spa – just in case you want a break from stressful ( ;-) ) boating. If I recall correctly, they have a jetty where you can moore Dirona directly in front of hotel. Have been there on business and dreamt of returning one day with my Nordy…..;-)

    • We appreciate the advice on things to see. In this case, we’ll probably head directly to Skagen Denmark from where we are up near the Norway border so won’t likely make that stop on this trip.

  2. Thomas Boekenbrink says:

    James,
    We don’t like the crowds either

    Two simple rules for Croatia ( which is the favorite boating spot for Italiens, Austrians and Germans – all can be very noisy party people at times…..):
    1) avoid July and August. We went there last week of August and first week of September. There is a significant decline in those weeks.
    2) avoid the coastline. There are some nice cities like Split and Dubrovnik but the further you get out to the islands the more quiet it gets.

    For the crowded time, probably Montenegro or Albania as they are not yet that developed (that‘s what people say – have not been there yet). Or – greek islands. Have been to Greece several times (not boating) and love the islands. Not so crowded as Croatia and stunning with lots of sandy beaches (bays) which you don‘t have in Croatia. Croatia is all rocks.
    If you want any more details, just let me know.

    We are planning to cruise the Stockholm Archipelago next year.
    Would love to get some tips from you two.

    All the best,
    Thomas

  3. Thomas Boekenbrink says:

    Dear Jennifer and James,
    I love to read your blog. Great information – thanks for sharing all this!
    We‘ve had first contact on the dreamers site in 2017 when I recommended the Caledonian canal (I‘m sure you had this already on your list :-) – BTW – I‘m still chartering but not one of those crash-skippers that you‘ve encountered there ;-) )
    Since you are already in Europe – what are your next steps? Is the Med already in your focus?
    In the meantime we did some more (baby-)steps towards out dream: 2018 PNW gulf islands from Nanaimo to Victoria BC in a Bayliner and this summer Croatia, again in Bayliner. Very different but we loved both.
    If your plans allow – try the Croatian Islands. Beautiful area to cruise and nice climatic conditions from May to September. People is a different story but subject to everybody‘s own experience…. ;-)

    Looking forward to reading the upcoming news!

    All the best
    Thomas

    • We appreciate you passing on ideas for us in the Med Thomas. We do plant to go next year but our interests will be to go to less busy areas and Croatia has been looking like a very good candidate. I’m not in love with the boating in the massive crowds experienced in the busiest areas of the med during the summer. Hopefully with some skill and some advice like yours, we’ll find some of the less crowded places during the busiest parts of the year.

  4. Eric Patterson says:

    J and J, The nice thing about Dirona if ever sold the kitchen has very little wear and tear! :) The Hamilton’s should become restaurant critics!

    • We go through periods where we are eating out every night but we also go through periods where we go weeks and sometimes even a couple of months without seeing civilization. We spent 28 days at sea from St. Helena to Barbados and where out in the “wilds” for 7 weeks through Fiordland and Stuart Island in New Zealand. We seem to swing from one end of the spectrum to the other and we love them both.

      • Eric Patterson says:

        Lynn and I are jealous, the restaurants and scenery in Sweden are exceptional, our highlight of the evening is checking in on your blog. My wife has family in Sweden and we are so excited to cruise there. Safe travels and better get moving South. I hear snow has arrived in Scandinavia.

        • Thanks for the feedback on the blog Eric. Your right, the temperatures are falling here. This morning it’s only 49F out there but, the good news is that everything is much less crowded. We end up preferring the shoulder season on either side of the busiest times when we are exploring new areas but we’re probably down to our last week or two in Sweden. Overall, we’re really enjoyed our time here.

  5. WILLIAM DOMB says:

    We change the hydraulic system zincs ever 6 months, but they’ve hardly needed it recently. We used to replace them every two months, and they really needed replacement. Our suspicion is the variation is caused by zinc quality differences.

    Wonder if it’s also lower temps that are changing zinc lifespan. Also: is it a GOOD thing that zincs are not self-destructing as rapidly, as, maybe, they’re not providing the sacrificial anodic protection as well. ?????

    • I’m thinking it’s not likely sea water temp related issues since we spent out first 2 1/2 years in the Pacific Northwest where water temperatures are lower than in the Baltic. We’re currently anchored in 56F water and in the PNW, we were often in the low to mid 40F range and still had heavy hydraulic zinc consumption.

      The level of protection they are offering could be lower or they could just be better zincs. Another possible factor is the Baltic region is very low sea water salinity and we have spent many weeks in pure freshwater where zinc anodes are less effective.

  6. Eric Davis says:

    Anchor setup?
    What is your anchoring setup. Size, types, chain size, scope? Do you use bow and stern? How were anchoring conditions in an around the Baltic?

    Enjoying your blog. We’re Americans based in Groningen Netherlands on a larger boat and thinking of eventually heading into the Baltic.

    Eric Davis

    • For primary anchor we use a Rocna 70 kg (154 lb). We have 500′ of 7/16 hi test chain. Our backup anchor is a 42 lb Guardian (aluminum, large area Danforth that is light but quite big) with 450′ rope rode and 50′ of chain. On the stern we have another 42 lb Guardian. On our previous boat we both stern tied to shore and stern anchored but in this boat we don’t frequently do either but we are equipped to do it. We’re well equipped for deep anchorages so usually don’t find it hard to find something we like that is out of the most crowded locations so we find we don’t need to tie to shore or stern anchor frequently. Generally the Baltic has son many great anchorages in fairly shallow water and, on this trip, we’ve rarely had more than 200′ of rode out and often are down in the 100′ to 125′. We a bit conservative on scope and typically have 4 or 5 to 1 out and we just about never use less than 100′ if it’s shallow so at times in super shallow water we might be using as much as 10:1. In very deep water we’ll drop back to 3:1 but don’t usually go lower even though we know that many that use Rocnas with similar chain have good results at far lower scopes.

      Most boaters in Sweden seem to anchor using a stern anchor and then tying their bow to shore. This allows them to step off the bow onto shore so they don’t need a dinghy. It only works where there are no tides but on the Baltic side the tides are so small you can safely ignore them. Because locals favor anchoring right against shore, there are usually ample room to anchor.

  7. Joe Longtin says:

    The Dirona crew REALLY knows how to get the most out of a cruise. I can only hope to see half as much at any of my destinations!

  8. Steven Coleman says:

    Hello James,
    If you post the manufacturer and model of your freezer so I have a better idea of what you are dealing with, I might have more suggestions.

    Generally a freezer that is not keeping temp esp. when it’s had a history of “airflow or loading issues” is going to be a bad evaporator fan motor, dirty evaporator, bad condenser fan motor, dirty condenser, or improper or non-functional defrost cycle.

    I know you have a small chest freezer in your Laz, but I can’t tell from the pic if it’s that or something else.

    If it’s that one, it could have a start relay going bad, weak reed valves in the compressor (that’s a recip. in the picture) from years of operation in high ambient conditions or loss of charge (it doesn’t take much on small units) from something rubbing a hole due to vibration. It will quit cooling completely rather soon if that’s the case though.

    Something that small is not going to have service ports which, considering the amount of charge I wouldn’t use anyway as you’ll lose some just from hooking up. The manifold I use can be up to 9 oz of refrigerant if I am unable to get it all back into the system (you never can).

    Since temp=pressure you can still find compression ratio to check the valves and get a very good idea on charge status with an electronic thermometer.

    Sorry for the non-specific info dump, but without knowing what you are looking at that’s all I know to suggest.

    • Hey Steve, thanks for your thoughts. The freezer is a Dometic RSF-115E and it uses a tiny Danfoss comporessor. The system is back to -8.7F which is around what it always did at this ambient temperature so I think it’s back to happy. What I found was the condenser and cooling fan was quite dirty. I cleaned both and found the system worked well once the condensor was cleaned. In fact, it even worked OK with the fan not running once the condenser was cleaned. Cleaning the fan has got it back to full RPM but I sometimes can hear the bearings so I know it’s not long for this world and, after 10 years on a muffin fan, it’s probably no surprise that it needs to be replaced. I’ll change the fan once I get a new one but, other than that, it seems to be back to working well.

      You’re right the system doesn’t have ports. It’s a good idea to use temperature as a proxy for pressures. I’ll add that to my AC diagnostics list. In this case I didn’t measure the deltaT but the hot side is very hot.

      I’ll change the fan when I get a chance but, at this point, it seems to be working again at max efficiency. Thanks for the advice hear and all the recommendations over the years. Much appreciated.

  9. Svend Bjelland says:

    Hi.
    I have been following your site with great interest for the couple of last years or so, and I am impressed by the work you have done, and the journey you have been on. And, I have to say; A bit jealous! A Nordhavn is high up on my wish list… I now see that you are nearing my home waters and is wondering if you are planing to visit Oslo? If so I would be happy to give you advice on things to se and do. Our current boat, a Nord West 370, has its home port in the outer Oslo fjord, And I live and work in the Oslo area.

    • Thanks for the kind words on the blog and the trip. We continue to head north but we’re not sure if we’ll make it as far as Oslo at this point. It depends a bit on how busy we stay in the islands but, if we do have time, we will head back up to Norway and enjoy some more time in your country. We had an excellent summer there last year. If we do end up in Oslo, drop us a note and we’ll be happy to show you around Dirona since you have an interest in Nordhavns.

  10. Eric Patterson says:

    J and J, Lynn and I were interested in going back and reviewing your entire blog. It appears the “Travel Digests” have a complete timeline with the pictures, etc. Is this parsed or is it complete and is this the best way to review your times on Dirona? Btw; 6081 is out of the mold! We are likely headed to Asia end of this year to early next to see in person. Meanwhile headed to Ft Lauderdale this Fall for the boat show. Exciting times.

    • Yes, the travel digests (https://mvdirona.com/maps/TravelDigestList.html) are complete and include all trips except the one currently underway. That probably is the right way to see all the content.

      Congratulations on N6081 being molded and underway. You’ll enjoy the trip to the yard. It’s a massive place, your boat will at times have 30 people on it with work underway in every nook and cranny, and things take shape super fast.

  11. Jukka Kerminen says:

    Hi Jennifer and James
    Wanted to comment your hydraulic zincs. I think that your zincs are ok with normal ocean water, like Atlantic where salt content is approx. 3.5% or higher. Baltic sea is low salt area, Denmark approx 1% From mid Sweden to Finnish gulf there is only 0.7% salt. You’ve been travelling a lot in lake areas during last 4 months so for me those zincs are looking “normal” what we normally see here in Finland. If you want to have proper protective voltage levels out of anodes, (in Finland) usually aluminum anodes are needed (sea area) or magnesium ( lake area). On my own Mercruiser Bravo1 sterndrive I usually survive 2 seasons with anode set. After winterisation before second summer I just clean / brush anodes with non metallic hard brush ( cleaning oxidation/brownish colour away)

    Wishing you pleasant voyage

  12. Viola Pettersson Vergouwe says:

    Dear James, Jennifer and board cat,

    May I present to you: your biggest fans. Ever since we opened our sleepy eyes at 7.30 am on a sunny Sunday morning at Läckö Slott in lake Vänern some weeks ago.
    The Saturday evening we were surprised by the passenger vessel Wilhelm Tam to moore alongside at Läckö. Their guests were doing singing and some ritual with dance and Candles in the dark. A nice surprise in the quiet harbour. When waking up the next morning, your vessel was there. Out of the blue. And a cat on the quay. An American vessel all the way from Seatle in our skärgård (peninsula) needed to be investigated once we got home. And wow, you are on such a great journey. My husband and I both work in Gothenburg so we went to see you in Lilla Bommens harbour, you must have been out on one of your explorations of Swedens west coast. Until today we regret not taking the chance talking to you that Sunday morning. Of all the poeple we would love to talk to it is you about your fantastisc trip. I saw you are headed for Donsö now, I’ll be there tomorrow representing my work at a seafarers fair. I hope to meet you there in person! If not, we wish you in any case fair winds and following seas for the journey to come. Kind regards, Viola & Jonas

    • You should have said hi! Thanks for the excellent pictures of our boat at the castle. We just had an huge day touring the fish boat Ceton and the two oil tankers Fure Ven and Ramanda. It’s amazing they managed to fit two oil tankers into the harbour at Donso and it was fun watching them carefully leave the harbour with tug assist. It was a fun day at Donso. We gave some thought to trying to attend the conference but decided we’ll head north tomorrow morning and go spend some time in the Islands. I hope the conference goes well and, if you happen in the future to be near Dirona, let us know. It would be good to meet you.

  13. Gregg Testa says:

    Where Spitfire is sitting taking in the view from the salon we noticed how clean your leather chair and cushions are. What do you use in keeping them in such good condition?
    Gregg

  14. Shawn Hammer says:

    Hi James and Jennifer – like many, I’ve been following along on your travels and adventures for years and am continually inspired on my own journey.

    In June we purchased our first cruising yacht, a Meridian 490, and on 11th August, we moved aboard full-time at shilshole and have started exploring locally while we both get familiar with and verify/upgrade ship systems.

    Like you, I’m a remote technology worker (ServiceNow) and am dependent on connectivity. In reviewing your August 2025 post on Communications at Sea, you mention using a dongle for a SIM cards as your #2 option for connectivity. I’m headed the same direction and am curious if this is just a standard device like what the carriers sell or if it’s something more sophisticated? Are you plugging it in to a USB port on your router or connecting via WiFi?

    Thanks in advance for any tips and thanks for sharing all your experiences so freely!

    -Shawn
    2nd Circus

    • Sounds great! Our configuration for the last 4 or 5 years has been a Netgear R7000 router running DD-WRT configured with three WAN ports, 2 LAN ports, and 2.4 and 5Ghz WifI. The Wan ports support: 1) WiFi, 2) Cell, and 3) satellite. The satellite WAN connects directly to a KVH V7hts VSAT systems. The WiFi and Cell WAN ports connect to Ubiquity bullets one of which we use for WiFi connections and the other which connects to one of our cell phones. The Netgear system is running custom software that automatically connects to the lower cost service or, optionally, allows manually selecting a service.

      Because WiFi is often fairly poor and cell connections are getting both fast and cheap, we are most often using the system with WANs configured as 1) cell #1, 2) cell #2, and 3) satellite. We know longer use dedicated dongles but instead we always have two SIMs in use each in it’s own phone. If either phone is near the boat, the boat is connected via WiFi. We like this model because we are connected 24×7 and don’t need to even think about it. We also like we always have active SIMs with us in our phones. The advantage of using a phone rather than a dongle is 1) it’s useful away from the boat, 2) it’s the way most people use cellular so it just works without screwing around, and 3) if we always have one phone on the boat, then it’s always connected. So, on this model, no dongles and we have evolved to a model where we have 3 cell phones even though, strictly speaking, 2 people only need 2 phones. We like the redundancy where a broken phone is solved instantly and, if an active phone is left on the boat, then it’s connected.

      Remotely we can always access the boat and see reporting on all systems, turn anything off/on including the generator, heat, cooling, water heater, etc. see video cameras, etc.

      Best of luck on your adventure.

      • Shawn Hammer says:

        Thanks for the detailed reply! I already have an R7000 so adding a bullet to one of the WAN ports makes perfect sense and using that to tether to a cell phone or mobile hotspot. I’ll look into DD-WRT as I haven’t considered that previously but, perhaps now is the time.

        • The Netgear R7000 only has 1 WAN port with the standard software. To do what I’m describing you need either a Peplink or an hacked open source stack on the R7000. The DD-WRT option configured with multiple WAN ports is a lot of work so the commercial systems are probably better time/performance but I love the flexibility of owning the software stack and I love that it runs for without issues or reboots.

  15. Ian Delahorne says:

    Hi Jennifer and James! I’ve been following your blog for years and was pleasantly surprised to see Dirona moored at Spikön here this morning when visiting back in my hometown of Trollhättan. Enjoy Sweden!

    • We’re really enjoying our stop in TrollHattan. We stopped for 3 days extended to 4 and now it’s 5. We just keep finding more to do. Today we’re going to make the tiny trip down to the top of the locks and spend a day there as well. Drop us a note if you’d like to come by.

      • Ian Delahorne says:

        Thanks for the invite, our schedule didn’t line up unfortunately. I don’t know your cruising plans for past Gothenburg, but we took a trip out to Smögen on the west coast and I was reminded how beautiful the north west coast archipelago is. Definitely worth checking out if the weather cooperates.

  16. Steven Coleman says:

    Hello James,

    As usual it looks like everyone is having a good time, I know I am enjoying reading about it.

    Out of curiosity, the tags attached to your bow railing, are they markers used to indicate you’ve paid for something? The “bikes” collect a lot of those type of flags at rallies like Sturgis as an easy way to clear entry gates for the various parks and activities. I was just wondering if they used something similar for the canals etc. over there.

    • Yeah, we are having a great time in Sweden and the Canal trip from one cost of Sweden all the way over to other continues to be really fun. We’re mostly just enjoying not having near term schedule requirements so we stay longer where we are having fun, often take only short trips between stops, and make most decisions on a day-by-day basis.

      You were asking about the tags and, yes, your guess is correct. The Gota Canal is broken up into three regions and the bow tag shows what form of transit you have purchased so the lock tenders can see at a glance that you have paid. Many of the marinas in Sweden also use bow tags to indicate payment and some boats collect them during or across trips and end up with 10s of tags on their bow.

  17. Rodney H Sumner says:

    James
    Happy birthday greetings (albeit a little late) on reaching another 0 milestone!
    If our paths cross (I certainly hope they do!) I would love to buy you a beer as part of your world wide ‘pub crawl”

  18. Eric Patterson says:

    Happy B’day James. You are very fortunate to have been doing your cruising for this long. I just asked James Leishman what the average age was for entry into Nordhavn and he said about 60. I will be 55 when we start and I feel like I have waited too long.

    • Thanks Eric and I agree with you. I wish we had started boating earlier. And, if we had started earlier, I would probably still wish we had started earlier.

      It’s been a great adventure and you are going to have a ball with your new boat.

  19. Rodney H Sumner says:

    James:
    Plastic bags snagging on outdrives/outboards, sadly, is becoming more common. In an incident a few years ago a bag snagged our outdrive and prevented proper cooling. The only way I was alerted to this situation was a fairly rapid rise in engine temperature. I hate to think of the possible damage from an engine overheating! There was no performance difference. This is why I like to have an engine temperature gauge.
    Rod Sumner

  20. Jody Compton says:

    Your knowledge of excel is tremendous, would you guys be interested in helping me create/alter your spreed sheets for facility maintenance stuff? Im a facility manager in Brandon MS and looking to track equipment repairs and maintenance on things like HVAC, generators, preventive maintenance contracts, etc.
    Looking forward to hearing from you,

    Please reply with email, just happen to find this site during a ramdom search.

    Jody Compton

    • If you you have a question or two on the spreadsheet, post them here and we’ll answer them. But, the spreadsheet is designed for boat maint so you would need to be able to make the changes needed to adapt to your facilities management needs.

    • Eric Patterson says:

      Jody, there are freelance sites that have many persons who do Excel spreadsheets. Also, there are quite a few specialized facility management DBS programs on the market. Good Luck!

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