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

    Hope you like the crab

  2. Martin. V says:

    Thanks for the highly detailed content and walk-through videos you’ve put out lately! Also thanks for the openness and willingness to share.

    We’re a couple of followers who noticed you’re docked in Haugesund at the moment. Can we come by this weekend to say hi?

    • Normally, we would love to welcome you aboard to look around and chat but that’ll have to wait for post pandemic. We’re only here for a single night but, if you are in the area, feel free to come by and say hi. It would be good to meet you.

  3. L.Blair Pyne says:

    Was there a Norwegian agency that you were in contact with which inform you that you were eligible for entrance into Norway? Our boat is in Ulstienvik and I would like to come over to work on it in Sept. Travel from the US is not encouraged, though here in Maine we have a very low case count. Any info would be helpful. You sent me pictures of our boat when you were in Inverness a few years ago.

  4. Henry Miller says:

    Somewhere near you is the grave of Nils Fuglesang who was one of the 50 escapees shot by the Gestapo after The Great Escape. I’ve visited the graves of the other 49.

  5. Phil Bradshaw says:

    Hello James
    Just been watching your issues with AC in pilot house etc. A long shot, and I would imagine you will have checked it, but on Mermaid Explorer we had a similar problem, high pressure shut off of both pilot house and I think the foward cabin. I finally diagnosed it to the sea water pump not being able to pump enough water througn the system to over come the loop up to the pilot house and down again. In the end I throttled down all the sea water outlets of all AC units. Still allowing a flow but probably half of what an outlet could give . After that had no further issues. I suspect in hind sight that the sea water pump may have lost some capacity due to wear?
    Phil ex N52 Mermaid Explorer

    • It behaves just like that and it’s very suspicious that the faults all happened at roughly the same time after the boat was lifted out of the water for a week suggesting airlock but I don’t get an HPF fault. On closer investigation both units appear to have revsersing valves stuck in the middle. When you had your problem on Mermaid Explorer, did you get HPF faults from the failing units.

      Since you have tracked your hose routing and ours is likely the same, could you give a quick run down on where the pump output splits into 5 separate lines and anything you know about the routing of those lines. Thanks Phil.

      • Chris Barber says:

        Hi James, in case this may help you, my ac water supply “manifold” (using the term rather generously) is located in the ER starboard side right opposite the main engine behind one of those hinged panels below the fuel tank. Barely fits, made out of a series of PVC tee pipes, no valves to shut off individual supplies. I’m in the process of designing a new one that will include individual shutoffs to make servicing easier.

        • Good find Chris. It is there on Dirona as well and, I agree there isn’t much clearance. Thanks!

          • Chris Barber says:

            Glad to help out! I also know that the guest cabin and master cabin lines run under the master cabin head, under the floor panel nearest the door. The guest cabin line runs under the forward stairs and then turns to port to make its way over to the unit under the forward berth.

            The line for the starboard main salon unit should be the aft-most end of the manifold. it runs backwards and then up, presumably behind the fuel tank.

            I’m guessing that the PH and galley (main salon port side unit) turn and run across the forward end of the ER and up the port side, possibly through the “mystery cabinet” at the port side aft end of the master cabin. Do you have that cabinet on your boat? On mine there is a nice finished cabinet door above the port side lower closet, outboard of the head of the bed. it’s basically an empty space between the galley and the MSR. Some hoses run through there, nothing else.

            • Thanks for the additional data on the hose routing. Yes, we have the same cabinet between the MSR and the Galley. We have it absolutely packed with spares and other seldom used gear.

      • Phil Bradshaw says:

        Hello James
        Yes I got HPF faults on both units that failed. I noticed the water was not flowing out of the skin fittings of the pilot house and foward stateroom unit. I too thought it was an airlock. I think I went through most of the checks you did re airlock and came up with nothing. That’s when I decided the pump seemed not to have he capacity to get water up to the pilot house, and then throttled all units to get enough to go through the pilot house loop. Re where the pump splits out to the five seperate lines I can’t help you. But thinking about the problem I had I wonderd if the pilot house and foward stateroom had a single feed i.e. up to the pilot house then on to the forward stateroom. It may all be academic as it seems your fault is different by the lack of HPF fault indication. Be very interested as to the cause when you finaly find the issue!!

        • OK, thanks for the additional data Phil. On our boat and likely on yours all 5 units feed off a single manifold to the stbd outside of the main engine. We have good flow out of all 5 skin fittings. Measuring at the reversing valve we see the valves are both stuck 1/2 way and the hot compressor outlet is routed directly back into the suction side. This will destroy the compressors so we need new compressors at least. The stuck reversing valves could be low pressure since they are pressure operated or the reversing valves may be faulty. Since we can’t be sure, we would replace both.

          Given the units are 11 years old and have been in live aboard use, I don’t think it’s worth servicing them so we’ll replace both units.

  6. Trond Saetre says:

    The snake you met on the trail, looks like the only poisonous snake we have in Norway. It is easily recognized by the zig-zag pattern on the back. The snake can be either brown, like in your picture, or more black. You can walk faster than it crawls, and the snake usually tries to get away, instead of attacking as a last resort self defence. If bitten, you should visit a doctor as soon as possible. For people of good health, the poison is not lethal.

    • I came very close to stepping on that one before I saw it and backed up. Just a half step away. It appeared to be sleeping in the sun on the trail. We skirted around it and the snake didn’t move until we were nearly past. Glad we decided to give it some space.

  7. Geoff says:

    Hi, I love your blogs about the wilderness in Norway- makes me envious being stuck here in Essex UK. Your snake was an adder and yes it is venomous but not seriously so. I would feel lucky to have spotted one and it is doing just what I would expect it to do- fleeing away from you- James is bigger than it and it will avoid you if it possibly can; mice and other small rodents are what it will choose to bite. They are harmless unless you are unlucky enough to mistakenly sit or tread on one. If bitten you should seek medical help but it is very unlikely and they are nowhere near as serious as the critters you have in the States such as rattlers and cottonmouths.

  8. Karen says:

    Your report on your first hike prompted me to ask — do you have a fitness regime or is boat maintenance sufficient to keep you in shape? I am asking as we try to get creative in this time of gym and studio closures.

    • Hi Karen. Hope you and Gord are both doing well. The boat maintenance sometimes does feel like a workout, but it doesn’t really keep us in shape. This was one of the few aspects of our cruising lifestyle that we hadn’t found a good solution for. So a couple of years back we started doing bodyweight exercises, following Marc Lauren’s program in You Are Your Own Gym. We’ve been rather sporadic about it, but definitely are much stronger than when we started. That gives us strength and some flexibility and balance, and what cardio we get is from walking, biking and hiking (great to be back in Norway for that).

      We like Lauren’s program because it doesn’t take much time and we can do it on the boat mostly with the furniture and limited space we have. We eventually did buy a resistance trainer (by Ultimate Body Press) to help with a few exercises. First we read the book, and then use the app for actually doing the exercises–it’s pretty good. The exercises are based on short bursts with a rest period, and that works very well for the two of us to exercise together–one exercises during the other’s rest period. Note if you do try–the exercises are deceptively challenging. We tried it for the first time on a return trip to Seattle one weekend. James took them on with his usual gusto and on Monday emailed me saying he couldn’t lift his phone. :)

      Jennifer

  9. Tim Connolly says:

    Sounds like you have a pretty good handle on you AC issues and given you will probably replace them this may not be applicable, however, there is a very good Facebook group dedicated to marine air systems. I have found them to be friendly, responsive and very helpful when I have had questions about my 2003-era Marine Airrr systems. Can be found by searching: “Marine AC/Heating And Refrigeration Maintenance And Repair Discussion Group”.

    Good luck!

  10. Kate Humphries says:

    Hi Jennifer, your photos from Norway are so beautiful. I love boardwalks too! When you do your next lap of the Pacific, I must take you to the Royal National Park just south of Sydney. There is a track that I know you would enjoy. Here is a link to the boardwalk. https://www.ttms.com.au/royal-np-frp Stay safe and have a wonderful time. Kate :-)

  11. Steven Coleman says:

    Hello James,

    Looking at that “anchoring” picture got me wondering.

    I’m familiar with non-skid deck coatings used in the military which is basically like walking on coarse sand paper. Even that can get slick under the right conditions.

    I always assumed the texture on the deck of Nordhavn’s was simply molded into the fiberglass. With those rubber boots, or really any type of shoe with a dense sole do you find any difficulty on a wet deck finding traction?

    I think I remember a post about getting boots at a marine store, do the boots have a sole designed for that type of thing?

    • Hey Steve. Yes, you are right and the early Nordhavn diamond anti-skid (molded into the decks) was very sharp. I’ve been on Nordhavns where bare feet isn’t that comfortable. For sure this is a sticky surface where a fall is unlikely. In all Nordhavn’s delivered in the last 12 to 15 years, they have moved to a less aggressive diamond anti-skid design that is comfortable with bare feet but probably less slip resistant. But, even though the anti-slip surface on our decks isn’t as aggressive as it could be, we’ve never found it slippery when wet. It seems possible to get a finish that is comfortable in bare feet but still safe.

      The boots we use are sold to commercial fisherman but there is nothing about them special other than heavy construction. The sole is just an aggressive sole like you might see on a hiking boot. They feel safe but so do track shoes. A common choice is a special boat shoe or boot that has a very fine tread with alternator 1/8″ gaps and 1/8″ sole lines in zig-zag pattern. These also seem to work well but cost more and don’t last as long than the heavier build commercial boots we use.

  12. Tim Connolly says:

    Really enjoyed Generator part 2 video. Jennifer continues to read my mind and ask the right questions and I like James’ commentary about checking things twice.

    PS – my son started a new job with Amazon this week. I believe the title level II Area Manager at an Orlando area fulfillment center. He is really excited.

    • Jennifer does an amazing job of that and it’s fortunate she does. I get focused on the job and forget to cover a lot of important details.

      Glad to hear your son is joining Amazon. I’ve been there 11 years now and I’m still enjoying it as much as the first day. Really challenging and really enjoyable.

  13. Pete says:

    Hi just watched your installation of the cylinder head and was very impressed as i am a mechanic and I thought a very good one but you are much more than that you must be a Specialst in the the field. Well done from an admirer of your skill. Regards Pete

  14. Owe Nielsen says:

    Nice to see that you are back in Norway and have chosen to explore all the islands and fjords in Ryfylke. I have a cabin on Foldøy, an island near Nedstrand. Hope to see your ship when you pass by after leaving Ilsvåg / Sandeid. Stay safe and I hope you have a great time exploring Norway!

  15. Alec Peterson says:

    Regarding your “satellite roaming from a cellular plan”, is it possible you were picking up some sort of hot spots that have been setup on some of the oil rigs in the North Sea? Still clearly presents a pretty big price shock concern, but those prices are directionally aligned with what some US providers charge on cruise ships[1].
    [1] https://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=1752

    • Yes, your suggestion that we were likely picking up a marine cellular base with satellite back haul makes perfect sense. It could have been a cruise ship or oil rig. Given where we were, mostly likely an oil rig.

  16. Alec Peterson says:

    You mentioned you have 200+ amps of 24v battery charging, spread across two chargers. Do you power those chargers at 120v or 240v?

    The reason I ask is that of the 240v battery charges I’ve seen, they are all single phase (ie, 1 hot and 1 neutral). But I’m curious if you have chargers that you are able to power off of your 240v split phase generator? And if your chargers are 120v, how the load shedding of a single charger affects the full capacity of your generator (since that might lead to uneven loading of L1 vs L2).

    • Our boat is not wired as more North American houses are with a 240V split phase feed driving all 240V appliances and two phases of 120V. Instead we have a single phase 240V generator that drives 240V appliances and then is stepped down to 120V to feed 120V loads. In many ways, this is a very nice design in that it entirely avoids phase impballance but the downside is all 120V loads are passing through a 2:1 transformer with some efficiency loss.

      Our chargers are all 240V input and 24V output. The design we are using avoids phase imbalance issues but, for those with a split phase system, the best approach is to load shed on each phase independently.

      • Alec Peterson says:

        Ahhh that was my incorrect assumption that you had a split phase generator. That makes sense (and dashes my hopes that there are 240v split phase battery chargers out there that I had missed). In practice your setup with everything going through the inverters probably avoids the step down issues unless you have the inverters offline for some reason, right?

        • Alex asked “In practice your setup with everything going through the inverters probably avoids the step down issues unless you have the inverters offline for some reason, right?” Most of the time but when the generator is running we always power the 120V inverter since it’s a 100A@24V charger. With the generator running we are using the 240V to 120V step down transformer. And, under some circumstances, when we are plugged into 240V@60hz shore power, we’ll run the 120V system off of the shore power which is through the 2:1 transformer.

  17. Steven Coleman says:

    Hello James,

    You already know the problem with your HVAC units. Just coming out of the yards, and the units effected changing pretty much seals it IMHO.

    Air inside a water source heat pump can be extremely hard to get out if there is no place for it to escape when it hits a high spot esp. if the return/discharge over board piping goes back down from a high spot.

    if you look at how that condenser is designed the inlet comes in at the bottom and out the top so any air will eventually move to the top at that point on every unit.

    It is a misconception that if you pump water into a pipe with high level traps it will blow any air pockets out of a Hydronic system. It will move it but only in very small amounts and given enough time will eventually work it all out but most people don’t have the time or desire to wait that long. Especially if they are needing use of the equipment at the time it’s discovered.

    I am assuming you have a common raw water suction which goes to the pump, then to the unit then, each unit has it’s own overboard discharge?

    The fastest way to get that air out is to do what you did on the pilot house to each unit. Unhook the discharge from the condenser and bleed it at that point.

    Once the condenser is full of water the air will still remain at the top of the trap where the outlet makes it’s downward loop but it will begin to take small parts of the bubble out with it as the water goes over the top and most importantly you’ll have a condenser full of water and flow.

    Imagine that condenser as a pipe within a pipe where the water is on the outside and the refrigerant is on the inside pipe. You may have flow but if the condenser part is only half full due to an air pocket which prevents the refrigerant pipe from being completely encased in water, the heat transfer is greatly reduced.

    Once the entire system is completely bled, you’ll not have any issue until the next time Dirona is out of the water or you open a line for some reason. Which that doesn’t seem to happen that often.

    If it was me however, about the second time it happened I’d install a tee with a valve so I could hook up a garden hose and throw it overboard and really bleed the line.

    They do make automatic vents but they fail then leak water and if you haven’t piped the discharge to a “safe” place you have a mess.

    • Steve, you are amazing. The system is as you guessed: “a common raw water suction which goes to the pump, then to the unit then, each unit has it’s own overboard discharge.” I’ve never had the system not immediately return to service after a yard ship but this trip was up a relatively steep rail lift so the boat was both out of the water but also on 4.2 degree bow up angle. From what you are saying, it sounds like entrapped air is the likely issue. We’ll go after that potential problem and let you know what we learn.

      It’s great have a professional HVAC engineer aboard. Thanks!

      • Steven Coleman says:

        I’m sure the angle this time had a lot to do with it. Additionally there is should be a check valve “probably” on the discharge of the pump to prevent water in the system from draining when the pump is off or the boat is out of the water. Depending on how it’s installed relative to the angle if it is a “swing check”, it could have allowed it to remain open or it simply could be stuck partially open which would have made this haul out different.

        • I can’t find a valve in the installation instructions but I’ll look for one on the boat. I should at least find the manifold that goes from the single pump output to 5 HVAC unit cooling hoses. I tried draining air out of the top of the MSR unit but their didn’t seem to be any and that didn’t help. Works super busy right now so I’ll not properly investigate for a week but thanks for the ideas to chase down.#

          • Steve Coleman says:

            From the original post, considering everything going on air would have been something I would have bet money on but unfortunately it’s rather like troubleshooting someone’s car over the phone.

            If you have bled the system and either got no air, or bled all there initially was , had good flow, and have cycled power to the unit:

            the system should have started and ran fine or, started and ran for a short time tripping out again due to a high pressure fault.

            I am not familiar with Dometic so all I know from the picture is it is a 18000 BTU unit which is not it seems enough to get a decent manual. However, every water source heat pump I have ever seen will flash a code on the control board indicating what the fault is and from that you can generally move to possible causes.

            If it is a high pressure fault, I am still going to put money on air in the system. As I said air can be extremely hard to get out of high level traps and you could have one before the unit effecting the GPM flow.

            “Eye balling” the possible height of your PH unit to the water line, I do not see how the system could get by without a check valve but if your drawings don’t show one don’t worry to much about it as at this point unless it is stuck shut which would effect flow it’s not the issue as only the PH would be effected Now that you are back in the water. How you could have done other haul outs without one will just have to remain a mystery to me.

            After you’ve bled it and recycled power to reset any codes, if the unit does not start and run for at least a short time we are on the wrong track.

            • Today I went after the problem more seriously and made no progress. These systems are all Dometic Marine Air units of around 12 years old and the model number of one of the faulty systems is VTD10KZ-HV. It’s a 12k BTU unit. The system I’m comparing it to below is a 16K BTU unit (probably VTD16KZ-HV).

              I checked for flow at all cooling water outlets and there is water flow at each outlet. One of the units is below the waterline but only by about a foot. I took the water cooling line off and quickly put a clear plastic line on and then put a wet dry vacuum on the line. I did get a lot of air out of the system. I re-attached the hose and it still didn’t work. Since the guest stateroom is both above the water and in a easier place to access, I did the same thing on it. Again, quite a bit of air came out. I put the hose back on for testing and it still didn’t work. I repeated but just left the vacuum on pulling water but not air but that didn’t help either.

              I don’t have gauges and they don’t provide gauge ports so I decided to measure temperature as a proxy for pressure. On a unit that is operating well, I measured high side/low side temperature when heating at 190F/45F. The inlet air was 73F and the outlet air was 120F. On a faulty system I measured high side/low side temps at 168F/148F and air inlet/outlet temps at 68F/69F.

              Repeating the same test cooling, on a good unit I got high side/low side temps of 161F/29F and air inlet/outlet temps of 70F/45F. It’s working very well. On the sick system we got high side/low side of 166F/145F and air inlet/outlet temps of 69F/69F.

              The cooling water inlet and outlet temperatures are pretty much the same on the functioning systems and the faulty systems presumably because they are moving more water than needed to operate the system so there deltaT is very low. My amateur working theory from reading the above, is I don’t have large enough pressure differentials between the high side and low side or the expansion valve is stuck/inoperative so not correctly maintaining adequate pressure deltas. Basically, the compressor is running and cycling gas but it’s all close to the same temperature. Another explanation that seems possible is the system still isn’t properly cooling and that’s the cause of the pressure differential but since it is flowing water and the water is not warming up, it doesn’t seem that likely. However, two independent units failed at the same time and cooling water is the only common element.

              If you have any ideas Steve, I would appreciate it but I know that remote diagnosis is painful so, if nothing jumps out for you, don’t invest too much time in it.

              • I forgot to add that these systems will reliably produce a HPF code on poor water flow and it’s not happening. My money is both units have a problem. There is no signs of oil or leaks around either of them.

                • Steve Coleman says:

                  If your compressors are running it looks to me that the loading plates could be open and in bypass.
                  I’ll do some research on those Panasonic scrolls when I get home but I seriously doubt they have the “core sense” technology found on larger equipment.
                  However, since they all use a bi-metallic plate to load and unload I would suggest you remove power to the unit for at least 8 hours or until the compressor shell reaches ambient temp if I don’t get back to you before then.
                  Either way that will allow everything time to cool down and reset.
                  Those units aren’t correctly pumping, whether it’s due to open plates, expansion device or low refrigerant charge I do not know at this point. Turn them off and eliminate the plates first by letting everything cool down.

  18. Greg Moore says:

    Hi James and Jennifer!
    It must feel good to be back cruising after your long time at anchor. But with all the work you’ve done, you must feel good about the shape Dirona is in-

    I was curious how your adjustments to the PSS turned out? I’m contemplating upgrading to one this winter to replace my old school conventional packing gland. I’d like to have a dry bilge…

    Also, we’ve started tackling the job of polishing and waxing the boat. Do you have products – polish, wax, pads, etc that you can recommend? Any technique advice? What we’ve done so far isn’t quite as uniform as I’d like – I’m thinking I need to use a coarser compound. I’ve been using a wool pad – do you use that or foam?

    Thank you!

    • Yes, Dirona is in pretty good shape. The only known major issue right now is the leaking rear main oil seal on the generator. For some reason it’s leaking a lot less now with the new cylinder head but we still will need to change it but it’s less urgent. We also have a valve adjustment coming do on the wing engine and the generator (scheduled 50 hours after replacing the cylinder head). Overall, you are reight, the boat is in excellent operating condition right now.

      The PSS seal is still leaking but I may continue my experiment. We currently are on the light side of the recommended bellows tightness. Since it’s leaking somewhat less since we adjusted it, we plan to try tightening it further. They recommend 1.25″ on this sized system and, since that seemed very tight, I set it to about 1.1″. They recommend using 0.25″ more compression if leaking so we’ll give just 1.4″ to 1.5″ of compression a try. I’ve never had any issues with PSS leaking in the past — this is only caused by a less than true propeller shaft.

      Hey Greg. We use 3M wax products as they are good quality and good value. For most standard waxing we use 3M Marine Cleaner and Wax (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0014438D2) and, on heavily oxidized areas we use 3M Marine Fiberglass Restorer and Wax (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002IVCP3Y). We use a Makita polisher (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00OKEDW0M) with wool polishing pads.

      • Greg Moore says:

        Thanks for the recommendation on polishing products. We’ve started the process using a 3 M two step compound and polish (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0000AZ9J0/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_CzhfFbZBFMEF3) followed by 3M wax but really like the idea of a single step product. We have a few areas that are pretty oxidized and I’ve been a little disappointed in the finished results. I’ve ordered the products you recommended and look forward to trying them!

        8 looked at YouTube videos on the PSS seal – it seems like the flex in the boot should take care of a small amount of shaft runout? I’m assuming you’ve tried to clean the sealing surface – one video used 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper. Seems like that might not be for the faint of heart… I guess I should look at my shaft runout before I go to far down this path. Is yours the standard type A or the Pro version? I take it you’ve only vented it and don’t have cooling water plumbed to it?

        Thanks again!

        Greg

        • The bellows should take up any small deviations in the shaft and normally do. In this situation, the shaft is touching the carbon where the carbon block is designed to allow the shaft to “float” inside it. When touching shaft due to out of alignment installation, the carbon rub surface vibrates which causes it to leak small drips. It was also too loose. I’ve rectified both and it’s still leaking slightly. The PSS install says add another 1/4″ if still allowing some water passage.

          The surfaces were showing some damage so it might easily help to sand the surface but I don’t see a way to do that safely while we are in the water.

          Good luck on your wax job.

          • Greg Moore says:

            I see – it does sound like it may have enough damage that it won’t seal.

            This video: https://youtu.be/kXKA120ssOs seems to show a pretty simple way to clean sealing surfaces that leak that could be done in the water I believe. It may not actually dress the surfaces as much as it is intended to clean up particulate matter that contaminated the surfaces. But maybe worth a try?

  19. Jamie says:

    Love the picture of Cape Wrath thank you for posting it. We rounded Cape Wrath for Norway in the 80’s. It was also calm, but by looking at the landscape you can’t help but imagine how intimidating it might be in a full gale.

    • Good to hear from you again Jamie. When we rounded Cape Wrath this time we were heading back to the Orkney Island group. But, that morning Norway opened up sufficiently to let us in and the North Sea weather was looking good, so we changed plans and set sail for Stavanger Norway.

  20. Trond Saetre says:

    Welcome back to Norway! Good to see it finally worked out.

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