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Recent general comments and questions (view all)
  1. Mark Rammell says:

    Hi guys

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

    looking forward to hearing back from you.
    Mark and Fiona

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

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

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

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

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

  2. Alec Peterson says:

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

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

      • Alec Peterson says:

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

  3. Sigbjorn Tveit says:

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

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

    Greetings and a happy new year from Stavanger Norway.

  4. James says:

    Happy new year James and Jennifer

  5. Alec Peterson says:

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

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

  6. James says:

    merry christmas James and Jennifer

  7. Rodney H Sumner says:

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

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

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

  8. Eric D Patterson says:

    Thinking about the blue hull for Ship Faced, it seems that yellow and other colors is common in Australia quite often. I’ve always been concerned about more than a light tint on a haul considering bleaching and harder to repair the gel coat. There is a new 68 being commissioned in Dana Point with what I would call a gun metal grey hull, a beautiful boat inside and out, I think the name is “Dragon”. The 68 is a really appealing boat, I suppose it is still a reasonable couple boat but right on the edge.

    • We agree the 68 is an incredible boat and we would love one. It’s more space than we expect to need but it’s a boat we would really enjoy. For us a 60 or a 625 (if we could get in a twin engine configuration) look like strong options for us.

      In thinking through what a couple can handle, our thinking is that our 52 was pretty easy to handle and I was able to single hand it in a pinch. With two people on board where one is on a wing station or a remote control and the other is at the other end of the boat, we think we could handle Nordhavn’s up into and perhaps beyond the 80′ range without help.

  9. Alec Peterson says:

    Did you ever figure out why your pet cruise ship has been doing laps from San Francisco to Seattle for the past 2 months.

    • Hey Alec. The Ovation of the Seas normally cruises the Seattle to Alaska run during the summer and does Australia during the Northern Hemisphere winter. Australia isn’t allowing cruise ship entry so it’s winter season was canceled.

      It appears they are planning to kill time here in the Seattle area until the Alaska cruise ship season re-opens. They come to Seattle’s Pier 66 every 2 to 4 weeks to provision, spend most of their time outside of the Puget Sound Pilot Zone sailing between Port Angeles and offshore. They once left the area and went south to San Francisco, where they looped for a few days before returning to the Puget Sound area.

      It seems impossible to me that there is no way to monetize the nearly $1B vessel during this long waiting period. I think the challenge they face is, as a Bahamian flagged vessel, the Jones act prevents them from doing short cruises to US destinations and Canada won’t allow them to enter. It’s a challenging problem but, if I worked at Royal Caribbean, I would be working hard to find some way of monetizing that ship for the 6 months period. $1B is a vast amount of non-performing capital and it also continues to need crew, service, and fuel during the period.

  10. WILLIAM DOMB says:

    Not clear WHY Dirona’s unloaded there.

    • You may not believe it but Dirona is for sale. We made our usual summer trip to Seattle where I spend a month in person each year in July. On the way across the country, we decided we would like to get an apartment and have a home base in Seattle. We figured we would head out to the east coast every couple of months to use the boat. We did the trip once and it just didn’t seem to fit. I’m pretty busy at work and found the trip out to the east coast as just more work rather than a fun trip so we decided to the sell the boat. Just leaving it to go down hill and not be used didn’t seem like a good option to us.

      The plan is to do at least 12 to 24 months in Seattle and then get out and then start the next adventure. Perhaps a new boat or some other mode of travel but, for the short term, we’ll be doing an “urban adventure” in Seattle.

      • Aymeric says:

        Strange time… just saw on motorboat&yachting that Piers du Pré from Guernsey just sold his fleming 55 after 18 years…. he’s lost…. his fleming was sold in one week…
        My father is 77 and starts to think of selling and now you!
        Not the same reasons but it must be a strange feeling not having a boat waiting for you somewhere…
        Good luck for your next step..

        • Right now boats are selling quickly so that may be the push to make more people consider selling at similar times. For us, the decision was driven but wanting to spend the next couple of years mostly in Seattle. So far we’re enjoying the lifestyle downtown but there is no question that we’ll eventually want to return to travelling and boat traveling continues to have a real appeal for us.

          • Aymeric says:

            I will be curious how much you will sell dirona to know if a nordhavn full options and updates but with 25000h keep the market price compared with a more classic one with you think its a main consideration for a future buyer ? Good day, here its 8pm..

            • Yes, decade old Nordhavn’s often sell at very similar to initial purchase prices. In fact, I’ve spoken to N46 owners where even 20 years later, the boats still sell for much the same price. Higher hours deffinitely play a part with some buyers but many Nordhavn purchasers know the boats well and really understand mechanical equipment expectations. For those that know, 5,000 hours vs 12,500 hours where we end up being viewed is not that different. They know that the engines statistically run to double those hours without issue and it’s a rare boat indeed that can wind up those hours. But, for some buyers, 12,500 hours raises some additional questions.

              My summary is high hours will reducing the interested buyer list somewhat but, for experienced Nordhavn buyers it’s not a huge factor especially if the boat is well maintained and in good condition.

  11. James says:

    Happy thanksgiving James and Jennifer

  12. Patterson Eric says:

    Kind of made me laugh on the garbage disposal. Without a doubt you are a very intelligent person. On the disposal I thought isn’t that something every person has experienced? You added humanity to yourself. Glad you are having so much enjoyment in your return to land based living. btw, I shared the exercise with Lynn as she is an exercise nut and she really appreciated your post.

    • I guess I’m proof that not everyone has encountered a garbage disposal jamming and knows they can free it up with an Allen key wrench :-). Somehow we’ve managed to have a disposal for 11 years and never needed to rotate the drive motor to free it up. There is no question that it was quick and effective.

  13. Hello M/V Dirona crew. Thought you might be interested that we met a few new Nordhavn owners at the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat show. One couple just recently received theirs and we met another that placed an order at the show. We also met four future Maritimo owners all specing their new boats with our new line of Scania US EPA Tier 3 Recreational engines. I believe three owners will be getting the M55 with twin 900hp DI13 and one will be the M64 with twin 1,150 hp DI16. All destined for the USA for the first time. Also, I am leaving the marine engine market to lead our industrial engine efforts in North America. My successor is Dave Hughes at should you have any questions for us. I have enjoyed following your blog through the years and wish we could have caught up when you were in San Antonio. I know Dave is scheduled to attend the Pacifica Marine Expo in Seattle Nov 18- 20 if you have some interest in the workboat show. Booth 1431 at Lumen Field Event Center. All the best!, Al

    • Good hearing from you Alberto and all the best in your new industrial engines role at Scania. We probably will drop by Pacific Marine Expo and, if we do, we will drop by and say hi to Dave Hughes.

  14. Patterson Eric says:

    James and Jennifer, I have a deep respect for all you have done on the boat and maintaining a blog while doing so. It just feels like task after task getting the boat ready and at night reading operational manuals, building logs and departure checklists, safety, maintenance, etc. I will say it brings purpose to life for sure. After having overnight guests on the boat recently that in itself brings a complete set of additional circumstances as everyone is eager to help often creating havoc while docking, etc. Lynn and I have a routine just the two of us that works well and add in additional persons can easily break your routine, lol. So many lessons learned. We’ve decided to not be overly gracious with invitations, especially while sailing.

    • I know what you mean about it often being easier to land the boat without “help” than with it. We try to go nice and slow and not appear to be in a rush or in need of help. For the most part people are happy to offer but mostly seem fine with us just saying “we’ll be fine.”

      All the best in your adventures on your new boat. You’ll soon be past the steep part of the learning curve.

  15. Patterson Eric says:

    Roasting pan comment made me think about the boat. You are right, a new kitchen is a daunting task as is the whole boat. The first 3 days or so I was completely overwhelmed. Now that we are close it’s fun now. btw, picked up the non contact voltage tester and the rangefinder, both seemed like good ideas. Gonna try heat shrink for the circuit breakers.

    • Having the breakers marked makes the system WAY easier to manage and it’s super easy to always have everything in the proper setting for all boat operating modes. As you know, we often get up early and are underway before 5am. We aim to be underway in 10 to 12 min from waking up and, to do that without mistake, the boat has to be super simple to operate.

  16. Greg Wheat says:

    Some years ago you provided me the a copy of the best boat maintenance spreadsheet which I have used on my boat since. I have recently downsized from a cat to a smaller monohull and reset the spreadsheet. Unfortunately the colour rendition has disappeared. Would you mind if I sent you the spreadsheet so you can check the formula for me.
    Cheers Greg.

  17. Eric Patterson says:

    James, I think I remember a post where you had employed colored markers on the circuit breakers (on the circuit panel) on Dirona. If so where did you source those? By the way, took delivery on Lyra. Great first trip, so happy. Trip was perfect in that at about 3am off watch the stabilizers failed and awoke to crashing sounds with everything moving around in cabinets, etc. and alarms from the helm. As Nordhavn was with us at the helm with Lynn I quickly got up and spent the next 3 hours diagnosing the entire hydraulic system. Determined the LP side solenoid was not opening and after swapping the working HP side, restored the stabilizers. It eventually failed also. Well turned out someone at ABT had shipped the unit to the factory with 12VDC solenoids so they were overheating after about 10 hrs of time. ABT shipped a pair to Ensenada and it was a 5 minute fix! Anyway, so glad it happened, allowed me to really dive into the hydraulic system, granted at 3am with 5-7′ seas off the beam wasn’t ideal.

  18. Al King says:

    Thanks for bring us along on your adventures! When your adventures continue will you look at Nordhavn again or go with another builder?

    • MVDirona says:

      We remain pretty big Nordhavn fans and it’s absolutely amazing the amount of adventure and fun per dollar that boat has delivered so we’ll definitely be highly predisposed to another Nordhavn. We knew the original owners of N60 Jupiter and really liked the choices they made. We have several friends with N68s and they are simply incredible boats. We also have a friend building the first N71 and that project is looking very interesting as well. It’s super hard to predict where we will end up 12 to 24 months out.

      • Christian Gnass says:

        I think if you want a new 60 – 70 foot Nordhavn in 12 to 24 months, you may have to place an order tomorrow, if not yesterday … :-)

        • Yes, you are right. Nordhavn sales are on fire right now. They have a good product at a time when people are really valuing freedom and flexibility. It’s a good time to be in the RV or boat business and the good players are really doing well.

          • Christian Gnass says:

            I‘ve worked in the leisure marine business for nearly 40 years, with my own companies. Being 68 now, I have sold my companies, nothing left, and I am happy I did this at the (for me) right time. However, people actively working in this field today, have a good business development potential, better than what I had. But that‘s fine. All the best, Christian

            • I’m far from an expert on the leisure marine industry but it looks challenging. It seems like a cyclical industry and one where it’s easy to get over-extended and not be able to ride through a few years of less vigorous sales. Some operators have the discipline to operate successfully for many years but it seems like there are always a large number of new businesses arriving and others failing out.

              • Christian Gnass says:

                Yes, correct. My way to handle this was, after 20 years of having been a company owner in the leisure marine business, to start a new activity – with a line of my own brand, super yacht sun awning products. Super yacht in this case meaning 200 feet plus boats. Textile awnings, up to (my largest) 440 square metres of area, on deck 7 of a 154m boat, approved to be used in 120 knots of apparent wind. In other words: hurricane proof. Including a supporting structure of 220 mm diameter high gloss mirror polished stainless steal tubes, more than 100m running length of tube, for this single project. Good business. Very demanding, but successful. I sold it when I turned 62. Plenty of time now for my – different world – 47 foot LOA personal boat … :-)

                • I’m now the same age you were when you retired. I’m still enjoying work but I’ll eventually join you in retirement.

                  Your project on a 154M boat sounds like a big one. But, I guess, pretty much anything you do at that scale is going to be big and challenging. That’s a pretty massive boat.

                  • Christian Gnass says:

                    The interesting thing with that job was that the awning was kind of dome shaped, with the centre about 750mm higher than the outer shape. That made it behave like an aeroplane wing. If exposed to 120 knots of wind, it would create a lift force of about 40 metric tons, I don’t remember the exact figures. Anyway, it was a real challenge to design an awning structure, but also to get the ship structure, to accept this kind of lifting force. Nice job. I loved this business. One out of about 20 in the past years. But being retired now is also a good development …

                    • Christian Gnass says:

                      … one of about 20 JOBS in the past years ,,,

                    • That does sound like both an unusual project and an engineering challenge. A structure that large will produce a vast amount of lift in even light winds so I don’t doubt that making it able to operate without damage through a hurricane was an interesting engineering project.

        • Patterson Eric says:

          Christian, try 36 months+ btw there is a really well thought out interior new 68′ here now. Makes you think… But, larger than the N60 things get much more tricky for marinas, etc. We just built a N60 and at least with my wife and I it is the perfect boat all around. A boat is a work in progress always, and you always see things you would do different. We took a simple approach inside with just a few changes and I spent most of my time carefully considering mechanical side. Right now I am in the trying to break in systems with varied loads, etc and hopefully exposing issues before we do our first passage.

  19. Dick Sherlock says:

    James and Jenn:
    We were tied up along side you In Seattle on our navy blue Tartan 3400 sailboat when you departed Seattle and had an interesting chat about your upcoming “trip.”.What a trip and what tremendous blog you provided. Even though we are sailors we have followed it for all these years. Well done and all the best in your future endeavors!

    • MVDirona says:

      It was a bigger trip than we could have possibly expected and it’s fun to get your note from someone like yourselves who essentially saw both ends of trip and saw the blog along the way. Thanks for virtually joining us on this adventure and thanks for the feedback on the blog.

  20. Edmund vonAllmen says:

    Welcome back to Seattle and congratulations on your new role. I’ve been enjoying your posts for many years. It is inspiring. The PNW has amazing culture even if it has just started to open up again. Hope to see you out and about exploring. Cheers!

    • MVDirona says:

      It’s great hearing from you Edmund. It’s been a long time. Thanks for the welcome back to Seattle. Jen and I are both really enjoying being back.

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