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Recent general comments and questions (view all)
  1. Bruce L says:

    Hello J and J,
    Curious how you accurately mark your anchor location while setting an anchor watch alarm. I keep meaning to set the alarm with an iPhone app, while on the foredeck as the anchor drops, but get busy and of course remember when the anchor is 100 or more feet away. Just did it in Blind Bay…

    • We set an anchor watch religiously for 8 years but we never had any detectable anchor movement so, over the last 12 or 13 years, we haven’t been setting it. But, we do like to know exactly where the anchor is since knowing that makes it much easier to raise anchor without excessively loading the windlass. It’s especially nice to know exactly where the anchor is when lifting anchor in the dark or heavy winds. So we always set anchor position and they way we do it is is figure out where we want the anchor to be set before arriving in the anchorage and instead of putting the mark where we drop the anchor, we drop the anchor where the mark is. On this model, we never forget and always have the correct mark. If the anchorage is busy and we need to shift the mark, we do that and then drop on the mark.

      Using the model above, we always know where the anchor is and could easily set an anchor alarm. But we find that in order to give enough movement to allow for periodic GPS error and avoid false alarms, we end up with land frequently being inside the alarm radius, which makes the alarm less useful. And we want to be able to anchor and leave the boat without worry so we set anchor carefully and use a lot of rode. That way we can set and forget and don’t have to be on the boat to respond to anchor drag alarms and don’t have to worry about false alarms.

      It’s always possible that we’ll experience an drag situation where an alarm could have saved us but it hasn’t happened in nearly 25 years. Because we don’t set an anchor alarm, we don’t get false alarms. And, we never dragged and, even though we have seen winds as high 70 kts at anchor, we’ve never had to get up and stand watch. Having a large anchor, very well set, with abundant rode is our approach and, so far, it’s done well in what I would guess to be 1,000s of uses.

  2. Leo says:

    James & Jennifer,

    Leaving Cape Town, South Africa, which route did you take back to the US? Did South America factor into the route at all? If so, where did you stop, and what was the service and harbor/marina approach and entry communication like? Did you make use of St. Helena on the way over to either South America or the Caribbean, and what was your experience there in terms of service and communication?

    • We went from Cape Town to Saint Helena and then to Barbados with no stops in between. We don’t yet have expereince boating in South America. No issues with communications anywhere in South Africa, Barbados, or St. Helena.

  3. Chris Barber says:

    Hi James,

    You’re running your Maretron system on their integrated screen/processor/N2KView product, right? I’m running mine on Windows and my event counters and runtime counters reset to zero when I restart N2KView. I cannot believe this is by-design behavior. Yours don’t do this, do they?

    • We run N2kView on our Windows navigation computer. We do use min and max readings (and they do reset on restart) but we don’t use event counters. I suspect they do reset as well. We do have event counters for things like bilge pump cycles but implemented them before Maretron did in N2kView we handle them in custom code.

  4. Alberto Alcalá says:

    I wish I had known you were in San Antonio. Scania USA is based in San Antonio. I would have enjoyed inviting y’all out for dinner at one of our favorite spots in exchange for some of your stories. Safe traveling.

  5. Chris Papas says:

    Hello James,
    I am a big fan of your page for a long time. I am an experienced sailor and I decided that it’s time to buy a Nordhavn trawler and cruise full time with my wife, two children and some guests occasionally.
    Based on your huge experience, could I have your opinion on what would be a better purchase?



    Both are in the same price tag and I like both layouts. I am not sure which one has the most comfortable ride on rough seas. I don’t know if Detroit Series 60 is comparable with the John Deere, also if it is an issue or not, that the first has 7.000 Hours.
    Will Stabilizers perform better in an N63 due to smaller beams and weight?

    • The 64 is bigger boat and they sold more 64s so there is a bigger market for the 64/68 series but they both are nice boats, from the same design team with the same design intent. I personally slightly prefer Deere to the Series 60 but the 60 was very broadly used in over-the-highway applications and is a fine engine. 7k hours won’t be an issue. The boats are more similar than they are different. Both, like all boats and even new boats, will require some work once you get them. It’s invariably the case that you’ll want to change somethings and will find some issues after purchase. But they are both solid boats and our expereince with Nordhavn’s is they are remarkably cost effective even when using them heavily. They are both reliable boats. I would visit both and make the decision on the basis of which you end up liking best and which seems to offer the best value.

    • Tim Nuteson says:

      Hi Chris
      You may have already seen these but in case you haven’t, the Yacht Tech Inc YouTube channel has in-depth reviews of both the 63 and 64. Both videos are upwards of an hour long and are extremely interesting.

  6. Steven E Coleman says:

    Hello James,
    I had to laugh at your picture of a toilet sign. Some things really do need to be said even though almost everyone with average intelligence would think someone is being funny.
    The sad part is, after decades of working on public buildings the simple fact is the people those signs are made for, aren’t going to heed them anyway.

  7. Timothy Daleo says:

    Are you stuck in Reno, in a casino, playing keno?

  8. Andrew Biddle says:

    James Tropical storm Danny coming ashore tonight in South Carolina. Do you have someone to check lines and bumpers on Dirona ?

    • No, we don’t have anyone checking in on Dirona but all instrumentation shows good and the video shows all is still were it should be. Thanks for letting us know.

  9. John Worl says:

    That “bomber” picture certainly looks like a C-130 ; and welcome back to Washington.

  10. Jay Jacobs says:

    I’ve been following your travels for years. Thank you so much for sharing it with all of us. I do have one question though: 80 MPH in Texas? Was that with or against the current?

  11. Christian Gnass says:

    Dear James,
    in early spring we had a discussion about alternator and serpentine belt drive upgrade. As said at that time, I installed 2x Electromaax 12V / 235A alternators and 2 sets of serpentine belt drives, in combination with external Balmar MC-614 regulators and a Centerfielder II. The systems work great. Very happy I did this, although it was a lot of work. I saw that you have a Dayco spring loaded tensioner in your accessories belt system. I would like to install two of these, too. I have J10 belts, that stands for 10 PJ type ribs, 23.4mm wide. I am struggling a bit which tensioner model to choose. Do you happen to know the product reference of your Dayco tensioner? I expect your belt to be very similar to mine, so knowing what tensioner you used might help me. Many thanks! And have a good drive to Seattle, that’s a long trip, really!
    Best regards, Christian

    • Good to hear it’s all running well. The tensioner is a Deere part and it’s been running since new. Dayco might be able to tell you which part number they sell to Deere.

      • Christian Gnass says:

        Thanks for the info, James. I had thought this was a custom made system. It is a bit difficult to decide on what to do, as 1) none of the manufacturers publish load values for their spring tensioners, 2) the belt pre-tension instructions which Balmar, the belt manufacturer, and Electromaax give, differ by factor 5, and, 3) I have some belt fluttering above 1700/2000 engine rpm. Maybe I continue with fixed idler pulleys to begin with – until I know what the final belt pre-tension is going to be. The manual BBU Balmar tensioners I have in the system now work perfectly all right. Spring loaded tensioners do not really make sense if the belt tension might turn out as 20% of what was said, or, the other way, as 5 times what was said. I found out that your Deere engine has a 8 rib PK type belt, whereas I now have 10 rib PJ ones, so I cannot compare that 1:1 anyway. Thanks for your help, and have a good land trip!

        • Christian Gnass says:

          Edit: just looked at the figures again, recmmendations vary by factor 4. Not much a difference though, if you want to base a decision about what to do on this …

          • I’m using the same tensioner that Deere delivered in their 6068AFM75 single alternator engine. The engine was modified prior to delivery Cascade Engine Center to have two alternators both of which are 190A@24V. I believe the belt size and tensioner were not modified when adding the second alternator.

            Our engine does show a fair degree of bounce in the tensioner during normal operation. I didn’t look at it closely when new so don’t know if it’s gotten worse or if this is as delivered. It’s possible it’s the same, it’s possible that the spring tension has faded over the last 12 years, and it’s possible that it should have a bit more tension on this application. Typical belt life is 5,000 to 6,000 hours so the system seems to be working fairly well but I would prefer not to see as much bounce or flutter on the tensioner.

            • Christian Gnass says:

              Don’t know what the experts experience is there, but I read comments that suggested to replace the tensioner together with the belt. That may be a good idea or not, can’t say … – the comments came from the agricultural world.

              • I’ve been thinking about doing that since the tensioner bounce appears bigger than I remember. Thanks for passing on that recommendation.

                • Christian Gnass says:

                  Didn’t you report recently that your new belt failed after a relatively short time? Maybe the tensioner is a more likely reason for that than the time gone by since you bought the belt? Just a thought …

                  • It’s possible the tensioner has gotten worse and is the issue and with 11,000 it would probably be a good decision to just change it. The history here is I got 3 belts including the one on the engine when the engine was delivered. They are all the same brand, size, and construction. They are all the same age but I replaced the first two after 5k to 6k hours and the third was destroyed in 100s of hours. I put a used belt back on with something like 6k hours on it. It’s run another 100 hours since then without showing any material wear.

                    Indications are that the failure was a manufacturing belt with the belt. The longer the used belt lasts on there, the more convinced I am that it was a belt issue but I’ll not want to run this experiment to full term since a belt failure can lead to fairly substantial problems. I’ll change the belt soon and probably will change the tensioner as a precaution.

            • Christian Gnass says:

              My feeling is that 5000 to 6000 hours is fairly good. If a car belt requires replacement at say 150 thousand km, at the speed that my car reports as average speed, that would equal about 2500 hours.

  12. Al King says:

    While you’re gone do you have anyone physically checking your boat or are you relying on your monitoring system?.

    • Mostly just the monitoring systems and lots of video cameras. We’ll post an update to the web site to show some of the data we use. And, if an issue comes up like a shore power failure, we’ll get email (and the gen will start if the batteries get down to 55%).

  13. Rodney H Sumner says:

    James and Jennifer:

    A very belated welcome back ‘home’ after a great Atlantic Crossing. Congratulations!
    Now the guessing game can begin as to your ‘course’ to Seattle, West to LA and then to Seattle? Enjoy the ‘calm seas’!

    • We just arrived into San Antonio Tx and we’re staying at a hotel on the Riverwalk. Should be fun and we expect to stay an extra day. Yesterday we enjoyed a long day in New Orleans. Hot but as much fun as usual.

      So far our “anchor” has been holding well each evening and we haven’t had much swell :-).

  14. Timothy Daleo says:

    Road trip for another 3,000 mile “crossing”? Are you going 24/7 like on the latest trip or are you going to take in the sights? Do you ever do anything small? :-)

    • We’ll take the long way on this “crossing” so it’ll be a lot longer than 3,000 miles and we will also be taking the relaxing route and stopping every night :-). We’re currently in New Orleans.

  15. Ioannis Berdos says:

    Hello, and glad you guys are safe and enjoying the States.

    As we are looking for a boat ourselves, we have found it particularly difficult to even get a quote for insurance for the boat we are interested in.

    Even if we supply the particulars of the boat; the seamanship/boat handling courses; and the intent of acquiring a Yaghtmasters certification, we do not get a response or any folowup regarding the cost.

    Without trying to be intrusive and off-color with the understanding you do sail a boat that, is globally sailing would you care to share your boat insurance provider?

    We would appreciate any contacts that you may provide us with, as we have no response from agents, or most do not insure boats with a length larger than 20 FT.

    Your input, contacts, and direction would be greatly appreciated and be kept confidential.



  16. Steven E Coleman says:

    Hello James,
    It looks like you’re happy to be back in the “Land of quick Amazon deliveries”. I hope everyone is doing well especially Spitfire. As the owner of two sixteen-year-old cats and one fourteen-year-old which are more like family than pets, it’s concerning when they start showing their age.
    Looking at your exhaust leak and assuming the bolts were torqued properly at the start, I would suspect it was “gasket creep” causing the bolts to loosen. That will happen at some point no matter what you do however, the initial assembly along with materials used, can make the difference in years if not decades.
    The start of this article explains it better than I can:
    When I assemble a steam flange, I use an anti-seize compound such as “copper coat” on the threads more, for the people that have to service it at some point (could be me) than anything. It is at that point considered a lubricated thread which requires a different torque spec. for the desired pre-load.

    • I suspect that it’s gasket creep as you said. In this case, we have a steel weldment connected to thin stainless steel flex joint. The rates of expansion and contraction between those two is going to be fairly great. The gasket will wear and, eventually, the joint will open up. The gaskets I put in there are top quality, rated at over 1100F (engine runs 780F at full rated output), with a steel inset. They look good to me and should be good for another 5 to 10 years and perhaps more. Since the gasket quality looks pretty good, we’ll get a read on my install quality :-).

  17. Duane says:

    Welcome back James and Jennifer. Michelle and I are about to move aboard a boat on the east coast, VA. We look forward to catching up again in the near future to chat about your adventures.

  18. HARRY HALL says:

    Welcome home. Thank you for sharing so much in you interesting, educational and all around enjoyable videos.

  19. Timothy Daleo says:

    Now that you have had some time to settle in and restock, have you been able to find time to track down the source of the exhaust leak and the belt issue?

    • Yes, the exhaust leak is actually from two connections that have opened up over the years with the bolts apparently just backing off and the gaskets failing as a consequence.

      We took off all the insulating cladding a few days back and found the lower flange of the wrinkle belly (flex coupling) is leaking and the next flange below that one is also very loose and leaking even more. In both cases the nuts and bolts below the exhaust cladding appear to have backed off and those two flanges have started to leak. I’ve got some gaskets on order and they should be there today. I’ll re-install the exhaust parts and properly torque them.

      The exhaust cladding is getting a bit tired from years of use so we may drop off the two warn pieces to see if we can get new ones made at Ballard Insulation since they did the original parts. The hard part of this job is cleaning up the light coating of soot all over all the engines and flat surfaces in the engine room. It’s a bit of a mess and some of it has been ground into the floor of the Engine Room so it’ll take some work to get everything clean again but it’s all solvable without much complexity. Just some work.

      • Timothy Daleo says:

        It sounds like a three beer job and $500 worth of cladding. The belt was just storage degradation?

        • I suspect the cladding budget might be a bit more but we’ll know when we get to Seattle. For sure, you are in the right ball park. Steven Coleman below diagnosed the exhaust problem as likely gasket creep and, given how long it lasted and the failure mode, I think that explanation makes a lot of sense.

          On the failed belt, age is the likely answer since they are 12 years old but I suspect it’s a manufacturing problem rather than materials age. Here’s the argument: When the engine was supplied it came with the installed belt and 2 more so we have 3 belts all of the same age and manufacture. The first two belts lasted for 5,000 to 6,000 hours each and still were serviceable when replaced. The third belt failed in under 500 hours and, on it’s failure, I went back to one of the 5,000+ hour belts. The re-installed high hour belt is showing no signs of wear and continues to do fine in the just under 100 hours it has done. Given that belts are all the same age, I suspect the failed belt was a manufacture problem but I’ll keep a close eye on it for the next hundred hours or so.

  20. Shaun says:

    I apologize if this has been covered before, but do you have a GitHub (or similar) for the code you written over time? We recently purchased a 57 and would love to get the nmea data flowing in to a database. I thought before I reinvent the wheel I would see if you are sharing your code anywhere.

    Thank you

    • Great project. It’s super useful to have access to historical data when investigating problems and the database makes it easy to write reporting and alerting functions as well. Our system has evolved over the years and is specific to this boat electrical and electronics architectures but the good news is Kees Verruijt has written a wonderful interface to the NMEA2000 systems called CANboat. It is on Github ( and that is what we are using. Kees has written a nice clean system that is very reliable.

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