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  • Gulen

    After visiting Hovden, we spent two nights in Gulen, a small fjord just north of Floro with ...

  • Returning to North America

    The one constant on Dirona is our trip plans change frequently. We’ve been in Europe four ...

  • Hovden

    The Kvanhovden lighthouse on the exposed west coast of Hovden opened in 1895. Much of the old ...

  • HVAC Replacement

    Last summer, our pilot house and master stateroom HVAC units stopped working. Since we’d ...

  • Floro

    The coastal town of Floro, roughly midway between Sognefjord and the headland Stad, was founded ...

  • Fordefjorden

    The town of Forde lies at the head of 19-nm long Fordefjorden, the next major fjord system ...

  • Buefjorden

    Buefjorden is the next major fjord system north of Sognefjord. The fjord extends about 9 ...

  • Sognefjord

    Sognefjord is the longest and deepest fjord in Norway, extending 110 nautical miles from the ...

  • Lifjorden

    In 1936, Lifjorden was the site of Norway’s first fatal civil aviation accident. ...

  • Hoyanger

    Hoyanger, at the end of Hoyangsfjorden in Sognefjord, has several good hiking trails. Notable ...

  • Sogndalsfjorden

    With the short daylight hours of the Norwegian winter, we were underway in the dark for much of ...

  • Skjolden

    At the extreme head of 110-nm Sognefjord, the longest and deepest fjord in Norway, stands the ...

  • Laerdalsfjorden

    Laerdalsfjorden is a short branch of Sognefjord just east of Flam. It was the inspiration for ...

  • Flam

    We first stopped in Flam, near the head of Sognefjord, in the spring of 2018 with snow still on ...

  • Balestrand

    From Finnafjorden we continued our detailed exploration of Sognefjord and travelled a short 15 ...

  • Finnafjorden

    Spectacular Finnafjorden (“the hidden fjord”) is a branch of Sognefjord, ...

  • Bergen and Area

    The complex waters around Bergen are a diverse combination of coastal islands, high-current ...

  • Gulafjorden

    The Gulating, in Gulafjorden, was the site of Norway’s annual parliamentary assembly from ...


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Recent general comments and questions (view all)
  1. Malcolm Dale says:

    Greetings, just wondering what exterior damage Dirona incurred from the ice – cosmetically & structurally.
    Malcolm Dale Melbourne Australia

    • I think we just wore the bottom paint off a 8″ diameter section of paint on the bow waterline. The bottom paint is probably worn quite a bit down the sides as well but it’s not visible by eye when standing on shore. We probably have put some scratches in the gel coat below the bottom paint in the bow area. So, very close to no issues or damage at all other than wearing off the bottom paint. Easily corrected but requires the boat to be lifted out of the water to do the work.

      Quite a large percentage of Norwegian’s leave their boat in the water year around and the ice doesn’t bother them. Dirona is an absolute tank at 55 tons so no issues for it either.

  2. Ioannis says:

    Hello I have seen you video while you wee crossing the Atlantic and found it very interesting.
    As I am working towards my 200 Ton RYA (even though it is not required for US flag boats and would like to fine tune my skills and enrich my knowledge), we are planning a crossing of the Atlantic.
    I was wondering if you have any pointers on crossing from the US and back.
    What time of the year do you think is better to cross from the US? I understand that depending on vessel capacity you refueled somewhere. Was this re-fueling Bermuda or Azores, how long did it take for you to cross?
    What were your intermediate ports of call?

    Any input from you or the community would be greatly appreciated.


    • That sounds like a good plan. We crossed from Newport Rhode Island to Kinsale Ireland. More detail on the crossing stats here: Our crossing was 2,801 miles and it took 17 days. The route we took is an less common routing where you need to cover the full trip directly without stops along the way (no intermediate ports of call). By far the most common routing is the US, Bermuda, Azores, to Europe. This more common routing usually has better weather and the longest leg is far shorter at 1950 nautical miles. Another routing that is gaining in popularity is Canada to Greenland, to Iceland, to Scotland (or Norway). On the northern route, late summer is preferred once the Labrador Current is no longer bringing ice south. For the other routings early summer is better to avoid hurricane season (officially starting July 1 but sometimes early).

      We were originally planning to return to the US on the northern route (Iceland and Greenland) but we want be back earlier in the year than allowed by that route so we will take the southern route (Azores and Bermuda).

  3. Jon Bernegger says:

    17.4 knots through the Pentland Firth…I didn’t realize you reworked Dirona into a planing boat! :-)
    Thank you for letting us live vicariously through your adventures. Norway looked amazing!! I also love all of the boating and cruising wisdom that you share.

    • Yes, we had a rocket engine installed recently. The fuel economy is impacted slightly but crossing the Atlantic is only going to be few days :-).

      It was absolutely crazy fast. By far the quickest this boat has ever done. It even beats the down current speed we achieved on the Columbia river in Oregon. The boat did great in all the eddies but at one point when passing behind a small island there was a firm line where the water was running at 10+ kts across our bow sideways to our direction of travel and then, right beside that, there was a big back eddy running at about the same speed in the opposite direction. Hitting the back eddy turned the boat fast and forced it over to just under 20 degrees of heel — it hit impressively hard. Everything immediately returned to normal (other than a broken coffee pot) but it’s a location like few others in the world.

      Overall, it was kind of exciting. And we also love the scenery here. It’s great to be back in the Orkney islands.

      • Jon Bernegger says:

        Talk about being along for the ride with little or no control…exhilarating and frightening! I’m glad to hear you are ok and that you only broke your speed record and not your degrees of heel record. Now that’s a record that doesn’t need to be broke! Godspeed with your trip back across the Atlantic. Are you planning on the southern route with the current or the northern against it?

  4. Robert Palmer says:

    Dear James,
    I once read the book “Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance” it recommended following a path up a mountain before making your own. My wife and i have just bought a Trader 445 (similar to 4087) and plan to circumnavigate the UK and then a trip to Norway. We are just cleaning and checking through systems.

  5. Stephen Jenkinson says:

    Welcome to Orkney – you look to have some good weather for a few days :) Great to see your adventures.

    • Thanks for the welcome greeting! We were last here in 2017 so it’s been quite a while.

      • Stephen Jenkinson says:

        Sorry things aren’t as welcoming as before due to Covid – it was good to see you appear here again… I run the Marine Traffic base station on the east side of Orkney on Mull Head so keep an eye on what’s coming in, and so great to see a pink coloured target coming in. All the very best to you. Steve

        • Thanks for the welcome message. I don’t doubt pink targets are getting rare. It’s getting close to impossible to cruise right now with so many national borders closing and after Brexit, we now have the Schengen restrictions to cope with so we’re planning to head back to the US this summer. We’re finding even just doing that is complex.

          Thanks for saying hi!

          • Hi there James – as you may have seen, those of us living in Orkney and Shetland have the least Covid restrictions of anywhere in Scotland and I think the rest of the UK – though still lots of restrictions on indoor socialising etc. Not just an island effect either as the west coast islands (bigger and smaller than us) have had a lot more cases. So at least we can get out on our boats a bit if we stay within the County / archipelago – you may had seen a couple of local sail boats in Scapa Flow the other day. Must be frustrating for you but with Orkney having two weeks no with no positive Covid tests there’s lot of commitment to keep it that way. At least you have a good sheltered anchorage there for any gales that may come your way. Hopefully by the time you get back to the US the world will be in a bit better shape. Best wishes, Steve.

  6. Andrew CR Biddle says:

    See you are crossing North Sea. Going by some fishing vessels.

    • Yes, there is quite a bit of traffic out here. Most we’ve seen so far have been oil rigs, rig supply vessels, and a search and rescue vessel but fishing boats are out here as well. Thanks!

  7. Hello from Ireland! I am writing a historical article about the buildings on Brow Head, West Cork. I saw your post on this site dating from 2017 and wondered if you would kindly give me permission to use your drone view of the buildings on the site: they give such an excellent layout of what was built up there. I would acknowledge you and put in a link to your site. If not, no worries. Bon Voyage anyway!

  8. Roel says:

    Hi James, I was wondering, Have you already looked into SpaceX’s Starlink system to get cheaper broadband internet at sea?

    • Starlink is a pretty exciting service that has the chance to fundamentally satellite data costs. But, it’s not there yet when it comes to mobile applications. This is from the Starlink FAQ: “Your Starlink is assigned to a single cell. If you move your Starlink outside of its assigned cell, a satellite will not be scheduled to serve your Starlink and you will not receive internet. This is constrained by geometry and is not arbitrary geofencing.”

      So it’s only supported at a single location and, just out of interest, I tried to register for the service and Seattle isn’t supported and they don’t yet have a date for it. I tried Boston and it’s not supported either but they expect it will be later this year.

      My overall take is the service is technically very interesting but they don’t yet have the coverage needed and they claim that they can’t support mobile applications. I suspect that last statement is a point in time and I can’t think of any reason why they couldn’t support mobile terminals in the future.

  9. Chris Barber says:

    Hi James, what are those speakers in the aft corners of your main salon? I’m looking for something like that for mine and I’m not seeing anything online that resembles them.


  10. Ron Hellmann says:

    That peculiar structure illustrated in your photo describing a water reservoir is a VOR station used in aerial navigation.

  11. Steven Coleman says:

    Hello James,

    In reference to your PSS Fault.

    It seems you’ve had vibration issues since that new shaft went in. Did you ever make a determination on why?

    • My insufficiently deep read of the draw limitation was that it was a controller limitation rather than a power supply limitation. I do use direct 12V supply from a dedicated 12V breaker to power the LED lights but I still use multiple controllers.

    • Yeah, it’s kind of annoying but the shaft runout is over the ABYC spec. Not grossly so but it is higher than it should be. What we have learned here is that lip seal systems can tolerate more engineering margin of error than the Packless Shaft Seal system. But that’s not really the issue. The fault in this case is excess shaft runout. It’s not intolerably bad and not enough to be hard on the transmission but it’s more than it should be.

      I don’t know the cause of the runout. The most likely cause is the shaft isn’t true but it’s possible that the transmission flange was bent when removing the shaft coupling, it’s possible the trans flange is out of line and the yard machined the coupler to match to match it. There are many possibilities and all we know is it was running true prior to the shaft replacement and, after the work, it has excess runout. What we can measure is the shaft runout and it’s just a bit above the ABYC limit. Not enough to produce an annoying vibration but the runout is excessive. The only solution is pull the shaft, coupler, and transmission flange and get a machine ship to replace parts until it’s close to true.

      It’s unfortunate that we went into the yard three years ago with a true prop shaft and no vibration, paid to get a new shaft installed, and left with excess shaft runout accompanying a fairly substantial bill.

      • Steven Coleman says:

        “Unfortunate” isn’t a word that would describe my personal feelings over something like that.

        Unfortunate is while I don’t see anything in the way of boats shafts, I do see a lot of large blower shafts, there just aren’t many machine shops around anymore that can true a shaft of any length. They use to be fairly common but that was 40 years ago, I’d expect more from a machine shop dealing with MARINE equipment :(

        • I agree. Basically where we are on this project is we replaced a straight prop shaft assembly with a new one that is not running true so we’ll probably have to repeat the entire fairly expensive job at some point in the future. Fortunately, the runout is not so great that it’s damaging — just annoying.

  12. Chris Barber says:

    Hey guys, couple of equipment questions:
    1. I’m having trouble finding led rope lights that I like. Can you give me an idea of what you used on your outside lighting?
    2. I notice that you’re using those big heavy duty three phase AC plugs and sockets. I’m familiar with these from past project work, wondering what led you to use them in certain applications on Dirona.


    • We used LED Wholesalers LED Strip Lights from Amazon:

      There is no 3 phase power on Dirona. I suspect you are referring to the 16A European mains connection we have as a second shore power connection. It’s an IEC 60309 which is a single phase 16A connection. We use this because it’s the most common shore power connection in use around the world. We can adapt to US connections as well but don’t need an
      adapter for most of the world. Or you might be referring to the big waterproof plug and socket we for the patio heater in the cockpit. It’s a single phase 230V connection made by Clipsal that we sourced in Australia. We liked it because it’s very well weather sealed and you can see into the connection and know the connections are good and not suffering any heat damage. All other connections are standard single phase plugs and sockets in common use in the US.

      • Chris Barber says:

        Hi James,

        Yes, it was both of those plugs I spotted in various photos. Thanks for the info on those and the link to the led strips!

      • Chris Barber says:

        About those led strips, it says the controller can’t handle the power requirement of more than one strip connected to it, but it occurs to me that you might be powering/controlling them using another method, like one of your pi devices with a beefier power supply with multiple strips connected. Looks like the strip takes 12V common and and a low side pwm for each of the colors?

        • Chris Barber says:

          Sorry I misread that thing. it’s the power supply, not the controller, that is limited to a single strip. That’s an easier problem to solve; the controller can do two strips. Still curious on your power/control approach.

  13. Al King says:

    Couple of questions. Will you be able to get a vaccine shot where you’re at? Are you doing any diving?

    • Norway will vaccinate everyone in the country but they are doing it order of need and supply is quite limited right now. As a consequence, we’ll not get vaccinated anytime soon.

      No, we’re not diving in Norway although it is recommended by many. We used to cold water dive but no longer have dry suits so, with a few exceptions, only dive warm water these days. The last cold water dive I did was 58F freeing an anchor in the Orkney Islands Scotland: Right now we’re surrounded in 5″ to 6″ of ice so we’re neither able to leave nor able to SCUBA dive (without cutting out a section of ice).

  14. Steven Coleman says:

    Hello James,

    Hope you guys are enjoying the cold weather, I’m certainly not :)

    Anyway, “udder support” has been around quite some time. I remember my Uncle using them back in the mid sixties except he made his own.

    There really is a purpose, I found this funny link explaining on reason.

    • Your a unbounded source of information Steven. Thanks for that. The cold is not bothering us but we got caught be surprise and 2″ ice formed all around us quickly here in Farsund. It’s now 5 to 6″ so we’re trapped for now.

      I replaced the HVAC units that failed months back and they worked great for a day but the water temperature has now dropped down to 39F to 42F which is too cold for these reverse cycle systems. But, the good news is they are back operating. It’s weird that two independent systems both had reversing valves stick at the same time and damage the compressors but it seems to be that is what happened.

      • Steven Coleman says:

        Reversing valves do fail, it is strange you were unlucky enough to have two at the same time right after being out of the water.

        I suppose the “law of average” eventually catches up with us all. The good thing is you’ve got them replaced, working and I can’t think of any reason even an air lock from being out of the water would have caused it.

        Stuff just happens.

        Hopefully you won’t need an ice pick to get going again. Dirona is heavy enough for breaking 6″ of ice but I doubt the hull construction would be up to the task. Maybe if you went slow :)

        • Lightening does strike twice (rarely). It’s not likely to have independent faults within days of each other but very rarely it can happen.

          We have broken 2″ with the tender and Dirona and it cleaned the bottom paint off the big boat and did some damage to the gel coat on the tender. We watched a roughly 50′ fish boat break out of their slip in 6″ and it was horrendous. It took him a 1/2 hour and was just brutal on the steel boat. There is no way we can get out of this without help from a stronger vessel to break ice first.

          This is a bit of a learning experience for us. We have seen surface fresh water freeze but we have never seen salt water freeze this fast nor this deep.

          • Chris Barber says:

            Sounds like the first act of one of those end-of-the-world movies! stay safe and warm!

            • Yes, exactly. The ice is now thick enough that yesterday kids were out playing on it. We’ve pushed through ice before but nothing thicker than 2″ and that wasn’t very far. We won’t be forcing our way through this.

  15. Olav Bjørneset says:

    Regarding the ship you saw in Førde. Its realy an “nobody wants” 82 mtr yacht.
    Originaly build for a russian juice & milk billionære. But he died before the papers was signed.
    Its an PJ World Explorer, iceclassed and with helipad. So if you want to upgrade…… :o)
    More info:

    • Great timing. We do need ice class right now. While sitting in Farsund, we were quickly surrounded by 2″ ice and it’s now 5 to 6″. We even have a picture of Jennifer (carefully) standing on it. We’re going nowhere for now. Amazing to see this much ice when the water is 5 to 6C.

      Thanks for the background on the 82M yacht.

  16. Tor says:

    Since you still are in Farsund, i guess the ice and winter stops you for the moment.
    This winter did come as a surprise for us which live on the West Coast of Norway.

    Covid and travel would i guess, is not so easy for travellers like you.

    I went to work this week. First Gardermoen , test that could not be older than 24h before landing in Denmark, Kastrup.
    Next stop Spain , hotel and isolation. 3 days. New test, and then allowed to go onboard where i work.

    This covid pandemic, affect us all :/

    It is a bit warmer here btw, 20 ++
    Between Algeria and Spain somewhere.

    • Your overhead of going to work is a already bit higher than most people driving to a nearby office but the pandemic makes it much worse. As you know, Norway isn’t greatly affected so it’s not been too much of a burden on us but we’ll soon need to cross national borders again and that’ll require testing and other new overhead.

      Right now, leaving is not really much of an option in that we’re frozen in here in Farsund. The ice surrounding us is thicker than we can force our way through so we’ll either need to wait for warmer weather or pay someone to bring a boat over to break us out of the ice. It’s not a problem right now but if we don’t see warmer weather in a week or so, we’ll need to investigate other options.

  17. Murray Birch says:

    I note the recent failure of the ballast on your fluorescent lights. I have had two such failures. When the first occurred, the only ballast I could find was a used one on eBay. When the second occurred I changed all the lights to LED. It turned out to be cheaper than the cost of parts for the fluorescents and are a bit brighter. Only time will tell how long they will last. Did you find the ballast quite easily or did you just have one in spares?

    All the best
    Murray Birch
    Operata De

    • We have spare ballasts on board. They are $35 on Amazon ( We’ve thought of moving to LED and if we found something that ran on 120V/60hz with similar dimensions (or could be placed inside the existing fixtures), we would do it. What did you elect to use in N6303 Murray?

      • Murray Birch says:

        They don’t make the ballast in my units anymore and no one could give me an alternative that would fit so that is why I bought a used unit on eBay. When the second unit failed I looked at using the new replacement LED tubes bypassing the ballast but you also had to change the tombstones fittings at the same time. Delivery time then became a problem as I am moving around. They would have fit within the same fixture. It ended up easier to just get new Home Depot 2 foot LED ceiling wrap lights for CDN$50 with next day delivery. They are about the same size and are a bit brighter. I am still changing them out but so far they have all fit roughly in the same space. A new ballast is easiest if you can get the right one, then replacing with the new LED tubes if you can get all the parts and then lastly, getting new units. Trying to get 120 VAC in Europe adds another level of complication.

        • Your recommendations make sense. Thanks for the advice. I think I found what you used: Progress Lighting 2′ LED Wrap Light at Home Depot ( We might just make the change when we return to the US. Thanks for the details.

          • Murray Birch says:

            The ones I bought were by Commercial Electric and look similar but were a bit cheaper. Maybe they were on sale. It will be interesting to see how long they last. Safe travels.

            • Thanks and all the best Murray.

              • Steve Coleman says:

                Here is a decent description of Fluorescent to LED Conversions.

                I’ve done them both with and without ballasts and the process is straightforward. You can use the original “Tombstone” sockets however how they are wired will have to be changed for 120VAC conversions.

                The biggest problem is finding a color (Kelvin rating) that is pleasing to the individual.

                I would recommend finding an electrical wholesaler and look at what is available in person. once you know what Kelvin rating you want they are readily available through AMAZON or anywhere else you want to order them from.

                • Thanks for the reference Steve. We probably should make the change. Our fluorescents are super power intensive but we have good brightness and I like the really high color temperatures in an engine room (but would hate it in living spaces).

                  • Steve Coleman says:

                    Fluorescent lights put out a lot of UV which as a light source really does us humans little good. You probably like Cool White bulbs in the engine room.
                    I’ve never checked with a meter however LED lights seem “brighter” probably because the light they do emit is more in the spectrum we can use.
                    The biggest problem with the early tubes was they were more directional in where they threw the light.
                    The newer tubes, ones that look just like a regular fluorescent tube have solved that issue. As long as you stay away from tubes where you can actually see the individual diodes, I think you’d be pleasantly surprised at the result.
                    The best thing I can recommend if you are interested in LED is find a supply house or lighting store with displays set up for you to see. Almost all of them in the U,S. do I don’t know about Europe.

                    • We’re thinking of returning to the North America this summer so we’ll probably check the lights out in the US. We really love Europe but the combination of Brexit (Jennifer travels on a UK passport) and the more serious variants of Covid-19 leading to border closures is making travel fairly high friction.

                    • Steven Coleman says:

                      It would be a shame to have to modify plans, I know you two wanted to travel into the MED but, it’s probably going to be a long time before travel returns to normal (if it ever does).

                      While there is “no time like the present”, there’s always hope for the future and there is still a lot of water on this side of “the pond” Dirona hasn’t seen yet.

                      There’s always the great lakes and while I know Dirona was built to drop it’s mast, there is always the great loop if modifying exhaust, cabling, etc. for her to actually do it isn’t to much of a hassle.

                      Anyway it goes, you two have already been on a ride very few of us will ever take and you’ve barely scratched the surface on what’s left to do.

                    • As always, you nailed it Steve.

                      Our thinking is there is lots of adventures waiting for us on the other side of the Atlantic and nothing will stop us from returning to Europe.

  18. Rod Sumner says:

    J and J: Glad you are enjoying (maskless) Norway.
    A quick comment on your blocked dryer vent. Such blockages are notorious for causing fires. Some can be quite serious, so much so a 200 bed hotel in Alexandria Bay, NY was lost a few years ago due to this exact cause .
    An addition to your maintenance schedule? :) :)

    • Norway isn’t really “maskless” — masks are very common in big cities like Begen and Trondheim and close to universal on public transit (I believe it’s required). Even in small towns where masks are rare, many people put them on when they walk into a shopping center or a grocery store.

      It’s a tribute the focus and care of the Norwegian people and their government that they have been able to keep the infection rates always near to the lowest in Europe or North America.

      That’s a good point on the dryer overheat and fire risk. We have a thermal fuse on our dryer that will protect against this and we did blow that fuse once by doing this which shows that it’s needed. We shouldn’t rely on the fuse and will add that task to the maintenance list. Thanks for the suggestion.

  19. Peter Christy says:

    Hi James.. I just watched an IBM analyst presentation on the Mayflower autonomous ship project. I real milestone — the first I’ve heard of a marine data system that is differentially better Tham what you’ve built on MV Drone… Time to raise the bar don’t you think? :). best/Peter Christy

    • :-). It looks like IBM has us beat on the automation navigation front. But, I’ll bet the autonomous navigation system would have had some troubles with aspects of our last trip. On that one, we did a channel with only feet to spare on either side of the boat followed by pushing through 100′ of 2″ ice to get to the harbor.

      • Peter Christy says:

        It will be a long time I think before autonomous systems are as good as a human augmented system. I’m not sure if or when a Tesla will be good enough to enable a snooze in the back seat but I do think they have already created a safer car with their augmentation. Assuming the same is true with boats — may be necessary to limit paths compared to having a human pilot available.

    • Tor says:

      Check out Yara Birkeland , I think this is the first one i Norway.
      Also for the subsea use, things are ongoing.
      Not my company. But already we are able to sit onshore, controlling ROV’s offshore.

      • Nice technology and it makes perfect sense in that a human operator can have access to all bridge data on the bridge or in a control room many miles away. There is no reason why a pilot needs to be on the vessel even without going to fully automated operation. Thanks for posting it.

  20. geir ove says:

    Looks like you are just passing Egersund. it is a very nice littel town, sail safe, and be awear that on the east side of Lindesnes there will be more ice. in the winter. so look out.

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