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General questions & comments
  1. Alec Peterson says:

    Hi James,

    We’re looking at getting a Selene 49 built, and really appreciate all of the detail you have put into the decisions you all made when getting your boat built. But one area I have questions on is how you handle video entertainment around the boat. I have a few thoughts about how to approach it but I’d love to know how you all handle that.

    Thanks!

    Alec

    • The common answer is to use a video server and put all your content on there for watching whenever you are interested. The commercial versions can be very expensive — you can easily pay more than $20k. Another option is the open source Kodi which we use for audio. Kodi has all of our audio content under management on a Synology file server. It works super well. For video, I’m certain it’s quite good as well.

      But, whether using Kodi or a commercial video server there is also an investment in time required to get all the video content in whatever forms you have it in, digitized and imported. We like movies but this has always just seemed like too much hassle so we instead combine these two approaches:

      1) We get 1 or 2 local cellular SIMs in every local we visit. Then we watch live sports and movies via Prime or Netflix via cellular. Depending upon where you are in the world, pricing ranges between $5/GB and about $20/GB. This model might still be cheaper than a commercial server even if used a lot and it’s super easy. It’s the only option for live sports.
      2) For movies, we take a primitive approach that, again, is fairly inexpensive but might seem primitive to many. We buy DVDs like the old days. They are fairly inexpensive and you don’t have to rip them or administer the content. Just chose a video from the shelf and play it. Even though we’ll never watch it again, just buying it in DVD form might actually be more convenient than an open source video platform and it’s almost certainly cheaper than the commercial systems.

      Our goal is EASY as a top priority. We’re busy with work, having fun, the blog site, taking care of the boat, etc. and we don’t want to waste time administering video content. We just buy DVDs when we are in North America and our supply is getting low. These we use as backup when not connected or only connected by satellite. When connected by cell, we just use Prime and Netflix the same as you might at home. Where possible we try to make the boat feel like an apartment in a big city from a usability perspective.

      • Alec Peterson says:

        Thanks James, makes sense in terms of DVDs vs streaming, and easy as the goal. In terms of the actual media output devices, do you go simple there as well, and have a Fire TV (or similar) and a DVD player connected directly to each monitor?

  2. Michael E Davis says:

    James,
    Like so many others, I’ve greatly enjoyed following your travels. Many thanks for being so generous in sharing your knowledge and experiences.

    I am writing today about your Maretron N2kview screen entitled “MvDirona underway”. I’ve been studying it to get ideas for a new Maretron system I am designing. Wow! It contains such a plethora of information. Is there something you would be willing to share that explains each component of that screen?

    In any case, could you please tell me more about the 3 boxes in the lower left entitled “Wifi”, “Cell” and “Vsat”. I am currently deploying a communications system similar to yours and it would be useful to have Maretron display information about the 3 communication options in order properly choose among them at any given time and also to see which one is active.

    All the best,
    Mike

    • Most of them are self explainatory: Wind Direction, Barometer, Wind Speed, RPM, etc. I’ll give you a run down on the the group that show current router state and, if there are any others where you want more data, happy to add them too. 95% of what’s on that screen can be done with standard Maretron support but the indicators you asked about kind of custom both in the undlying infrastructure and in how it shows on n2kview.

      Focusing on the infrastructure, the router is a Netgear R7000 which normally has 1 WAN port, 4 LAN ports, a 2.4Ghz radio, and a 5Ghz radio. This router has been reflashed with an open source router system called DD-WRT. Using DD-WRT, we have reconfigured the router to have 3 WAN, 2 LAN ports and the same two WiFi systems. For WAN ports, we have a Ubiquiti Bullet that connects to an external WiFi antena. That’s the Wifi port. The second is the Cellular port, and the third is the KVH V7hts satellite port. We have on router software that gives software control over which WAN to use use automatically chooses the least expensive option that is currently working. The router can be configured through a web page from any device on (or off) the boat to use a specific WAN or automatically switch between them

      Now looking at the N2kview screen, if the WiFi is unavailable then that indicator light is black. If available but not in use, the indicator is white. If available and in use, the indicator is green. Same three colors for the Cell and VSAT indicators beside it. Below the WiFi indicator is the “Mode” indicator. If it’s Blue, then the router has been configured via a web page to be manually on a given WAN port. If it’s yellow, the router is automatically keeping the boat connected to the least expensive wan port. If the indicator is green, the router is again automatically choosing but it’ll only use WiFi or Cellular. If all that is left is the satellite, it’ll allow me to access the boat remotely, it’ll allow the boat to send out warnings or alerts, but no other connectivity is supported. It’s green because it’s the low cost. The yellow option is more risky since, if you are streaming a movie and the cellular goes out, it’ll just keep working but at 20X the communications costs :-).

      As I said earlier, 95% of what is on the n2kview screen can easily be be done with standard Maretron equipment but the router indicators lights would be fairly complex. It would require a router with the support I described, the ability programaticaly access and change the configuration and you would need some way to set N2kview indicators through a SIM100. What I do is the custom software writes the router state onto the NMEA2000 bus.

      If you need more data on any of the other N2kview widgets, let me know.

  3. Trond Saetre says:

    In Denmark, if time and schedule permits, you might want to visit the “Lion park” (zoo): https://www.givskudzoo.dk/en

  4. Malcolm Dale says:

    Hello, James, I thought you were going via Heligoland to take on fuel. However you only seem to have been there for a couple of hours & the remaining fuel figures do not appear to have increased ??

    • Malcolm Dale says:

      I see the fuel remaining figure is now showing as 1691 gallons so please disregard my earlier comment. Mal D

    • Yes, you are right. We took the 20 mile detour to get duty free fuel before entering the Kiel Canal. We only need 3,500 liters — about 1/2 our fuel load — but we figured it’s easy and saves quite a bit. I’m not sure why we don’t show the rising fuel level. It’s either a but we don’t make fuel records when we’re not underway. We’ll have a look at it.

  5. Jamie says:

    Re the lost shipping containers, perhaps they should be fitted with AIS!

    • Not a bad idea Jamie. AIS transmission is getting pretty inexpensive but, since only the refrigeration containers are powered, powering the AIS would be the challenge. Transmitting takes quite a bit of power.

  6. Eric Patterson says:

    James, I am considering plumbing to the gear reduction on the main and wing on our N60 build as the oil change manifold has the extra ports. Do you feel this is worthwhile? Also, considering using the anchor wash hydraulic pump with a Y valve as an additional bilge emergency pump. The latter of course would normally be in the bilge position so whenever wash I would have to switch manually.

    • Yes, I did the same thing. On the oil manifold I have wing, wing trans, main, main trans, and gen. On the washdown pump, most hydraulic boats have a dedicated emergency bilge pump and many also have a washdown pump. For the cost, I would get the dedicated emergency bilge pump. Having the washdown pump as an additional backup isn’t a problem but I wouldn’t personally use that to replace the dedicated emergency bilge pump.

      • Eric Patterson says:

        I should have been more specific on the bilge pump, we are getting the Pacer (I believe) Emg Bilge Pump. I was considering using the anchor wash with a Y for an ADD Emg Bilge Pump. I’ve been told by Steve D’A that this has been done but I also worry about its ability to hold a prime as I haven’t entirely investigated it’s position or even where I would locate the suction. I suppose also, locating and accessing the Y valve could also be troublesome.

        • I understood you are thinking of using the anchor wash as a bilge pump and anchor wash by putting a Y in the input. My response was: most hydraulic equipped boats, install a dedicated pacer hydraulic bilge pump and some chose to also install a pacer anchor wash. You could go with the anchor wash only using your Y-valve to serve as a bilge pump. It’ll work but I personally would just put in two dedicated pumps for bilge and anchor wash.

          If you were planning to put in both pumps, you could as an additional level of defense put a Y in the anchor wash. This effectively gives you two hydraulic bilge pumps. I’m not sure it’s worth the complexity but it’ll work fine and I’m not against doing it. What I personally wouldn’t do is delete the dedicated bilge pump and rely on the anchor wash.

  7. Panay Georgio says:

    Hi there James and Jen . I’ve been looking at these nordhavns and the 52 is my favorite also I wanted to ask you guys you still love the nordhavn still now that you’ve had a chance to really get to know it and also what do you think of the John deer diesel motor ? Thanks

    • It’s a timely question. Jennifer and I were just talking about this. Our “new” boat is 9 years old this February. It’s gone 70,000 miles and run more than 10,200 hours. It’s crossed every ocean in the world and the Atlantic twice. The boat goes for periods where it’s a coastal cruiser. It goes through periods where it’s essentially a downtown apartment in a world class city like Amsterdam, Sydney, or London. It goes through periods where it’s running 24×7 crossing an ocean. It has spent time around the equator. It’s spent time way up above the Arctic Circle. It’s been equally comfortable at both extremes. There are places where the boat looks gigantic relative to other boats in the marina and there have been places where it was among the smallest. The longer we boat, the more we learn and usually, as you learn, there are aspects of the original purchasing decision that don’t age well. Usually a decade of learning grows a very long list of changes for the “next boat”. Some people buy a boat, conclude it’s “wrong” and sell in under a year. Some go 3 years before needing to apply all they have learned into another boat that is closer to perfect for them. A very small number go 10 years before deciding to get out of boating. Next week we’re heading out on the beginning of our 10th year of cruising on Dirona and it’s still amazingly well adapted to all the use cases described above. And it’s still immune to all the problems that typically befall boat ownership described above. It’s still a good strong boat without frustrating recurring service issues. It’s still exposing us amazing experiences and it’s still just as reliable and just as trustworthy as day one. We’re still happy with the boat.

      One of the things that amazes me most is if I send mail or call Nordhavn with a question, they jump on it. They act like it’s a new boat still under warranty. They always seem to find time to help. Overall, it’s been an life changing purchase for us.

      The Deere is also “hitting on cylinders”. It’s gone 10,200 hours and the reliability is incredible. Its never had a coolant pump or alternator service. It’s still beautiful and white and not covered in oil. The injectors went 9,000 hours before replacement, under warranty, it only had a cam position sensor replaced. It gets a new drive belt every 4 years or so, the air filter needs cleaning every 3 to 6 months, and it gets fluids and filters when called for. Overall, the 6068AFM75 has been an amazing example of how little maintenance a well engineered diesel engine really requires.

      When changing the injectors, we needed a tiny O-ring in the South of England so we drove out to a agricultural dealer and walked through their service department on the way to the parts department. Every tractor, combine and other mechanized piece of John Deere agricultural equipment we walked past had a 6068. I was expecting more of the bigger engines in some of these big agricultural machines but they were all 6068s. No wonder our engine does so well. There are many out there around the world in very demanding applications and it’s been like that for decades. It’s a great engine.

      We continue to be happy with both our Deere and our Nordhavn nearly a decade after new. They both have reliably carries us through an amazing set of experiences.

      • Peter Meritt says:

        James,

        For us this is a very reassuring response. We have N5279 currently being built, and while my investigations prior to signing the purchase order indicated this was a good decision, it’s pleasing to hear from someone with ten years experience.

        I also appreciated you taking the time to write the blog post on range and fuel options. Excellent information as we develop our initial cruising plans.

        Peter

        • Congratulations on buying a Nordhavn 52. Seeing the build number up at 79 is reassuring for us as well. Good to see. When we bought N5263, 5260 was being built and it was lengthened 47 without most of the new features planned for the 52. We love the new features especially the 200 more gallons of fuel but, as an ex-auto mechanic, I know the first build of anything no matter how well thought through it may be, there are always has some teething issues.

          We weren’t in a rush and figure we should take the third member of the N52 fleet so we took 63. The funny thing is there was a bit of an economic slow down at the time and neither 5261 nor 5262 sold. Ours ended up being the first build and both 61 and 62 were built many months after 63. It all worked out well, we have really enjoyed the boat, and it’s exciting to hear that N5279 is currently in build. The 47/52 series has become pretty successful and are getting close to the build numbers of the iconic N46.

      • Aymeric says:

        hello James,

        did you noticed that a few nordhavn delivered to England had SCANIA engines and none in US or Australia ?

        Scania makes boat engines for working boat, patrol boat, army, ferry and so on..

        I look forward and found that they use by example on a 60feet a 500hp with a 12.7 liters at 1800rpm continious output. That means, i guess, that your cruising speed is your full speed, in fact you have only one speed… you can use the maximum displacement speed of your hull.

        Scania is a swedish truck manufacturer from more a century and if nordhavn put their engines on the option list maybe they could fit well in the nordhavn way of travelling.

        hope the wind will decrease for you…

        • We’re super happy with our John Deere but Scania’s are very nice engineered engines with great reputations. There have been some purchased into markets other than the EU. For example, I met the owner from Australia who ordered a Nordhavn 52 with a Scania — I thought at the time it was a decision and, the more I look at Scania, the more I like many of their design choices. I particularly like their use of bypass oil filtration by Centrifuge with 500 hour change intervals. I’ve been tempted to add that option to our Deere to push it’s oil change intervals out. Deere has approved this approach selectively in some mining applications so there are at least some bypass systems that work well enough for Deere approval. Tempting but oil change intervals never quite make it up high on my list of biggest problems list and I’m slightly nervous about the negative impact of a failing centrifuge regardless of how unlikely that fault might be.

          I agree that Scania has a nice engine and I think they will do well in the displacement trawler market. One thing I’ve not checked on is their parts prices — when I checked on Volvo parts costs, it was an eye opener. Assuming Scania parts are priced reasonably, they look like a good choice for this sort of boat.

          • Aymeric says:

            tell me if i’m wrong: when you have a 1800rpm continious rating, you cruise at let’s say 10 knots at 1800rpm for days… and when you have a deere which is 2400rpm full trottle at 10 knots you cruise maybe 8 knots at 2000rpm. So continous rating is not the best deal ?

            • You are right and do we run our Deere that way. The 6068AFM75 M1 is continuous rated at 231HP at 2300 RPM. We never use more than than. Max speed on Dirona is 9.5 kts and we won’t exceed that at any reasonable power above 230hp. One of the things we like about our engine is we often run for long periods of time at fairly high power when coastal cruising. We like that we’re always within it’s continuous power rating.

              On the 52, once you get to 210 to 220 hp continuous, you are basically running at hull speed and aren’t going to go much faster if any with another 100hp. Once you have full hull speed at the engines continuous rating, you’re in pretty good shape from my perspective and there isn’t much more you can do.

  8. David Andrews says:

    While you are in the Netherlands, and given your interest in all things technological, you might consider checking out VR Arcade of Delfgauw, located between the Hague and Rotterdam. There they have established a state of the art location-based VR arcade game. The two initial themes (Zombie Apocalypse and Alien Defense) may not appeal to you but the technology could well do so. That is provided by a company called Vicon (a subsidiary of Oxford Metrics) who specialize in high precision motion measurement for industries as disparate as life sciences and Hollywood.

  9. Folkert says:

    Dear James & Jennifer,

    (i’ve send you an email, but just discovered you rather receive messages here.)

    I hope you are enjoying Amsterdam, and the rest of The Netherlands so far.

    This really is a huge coincidence, as I got on to your YouTube Channel, via which I eventually got to your website, on which I saw you are actually are in Amsterdam. Which happens the place where I and my girlfriend live.

    I am completely amazed by your extensive journey, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Barbados, Ireland, Scandinavia, and so on..

    My girlfriend and I (both are 30 years old) are figuring out, and exploring various way to go and explore and make extensive sailing trips. We have been looking at some sailing vessels, but my girlfriend rather does this on a motor vessel, so i eventually got via Fleming and Selene’s to Nordhavn’s. I work myself for Feadship, and saw you already had a visit of a Heritage Fleet owner whom I have met as well on one of our events.

    Long story short, (which is already getting into a long story) we would love to come and visit you, to talk about your journeys for us to get even more inspired to push through this dream of ours, to make dreams into reality. To learn more about Nordhavn and its operations and maintenance. And take you out for an easy dinner, or returning you the favor of welcoming you to our home, which seems completely logical as im asking to see your home too. ;-) And of course we can give some tips on nice things to do and see in The Netherlands.

    Kind regards, and really hope for a reply. And very curious until when you are staying in Amsterdam (or The Netherlands, as it is rather small like you guys most have figured out by now ;-)

    Again, kind regards,

    Chantal & Folkert

    • Hello Folkert and Chantel. Sure, you are welcome to come by and talk boats and tour Dirona. We’re leaving for Finland and Sweden in a week but we’ll be back in November if you can’t drop by in the next week or so. Best time for us is around 4pm on some day where we plan to be around the boat. Drop me a note at jrh@mvdirona.com and we’ll figure out what mutual fits our schedules.

  10. Don Magie says:

    Good Morning James/Jennifer. I have read your crane controller bits. How happy are you with this solution (I know it hasn’t been long). My controller is not responding. I replaced the pigtail this morning and that didn’t solve the problem so, I will move on to the controller.

    Having read your solution, I am wondering if I should change tack . . . Jinhee flies over in 4 days and I can get that controller on a plane with her. I would need the other bits too for the wiring.

    So are you happy, is everything working well? Do you suggest having both solutions (SM controller and wireless) or are you comfortable with just the wireless controller?

    Thanks!!

    • In some ways the wired controller is a bit easier to use. Just a bit more convenient button layout for single handed operation. But, the wireless unit has the advantage of not be tethered to the crane so that’s what we use. The way ours is set up, we can run either the wired or wireless controller. We use the wireless but have the wired as a backup in case of failure.

      Using the pin out I show in the article above you can run the crane with jumper cables. Take a jumper form the 24V+ pin and connect it to each of proportional, pump, and feature at the same time will cause the feature to operate. The power to pump, turns on the pump. The power to proportional opens that valve. The power to any single feature connection (e.g boom up) will cause that valve to open and, in the case of this example, the boom will go up. I find it super useful to be able to drive the crane without a remote control as a way to debug if the wireless remote (or wired pendant) is at fault or the problem is in the crane and/or wiring. It’s even easier to figure out if you have both a wired and wireless controller.

      Using the wiring data I posted above, you can test the crane without the pendant or test the pendant without the crane. It took me a while to get this data all figured out but, once that’s been done, it’s pretty easy to test. I chose to order an extra Deutch connector pigtail to make this testing easier: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07H3N21MD/ref=oh_aui_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1.

      Given how unreliable the wired pendants appear to be, I would install a wireless unit and having an extra pigtail around makes testing easier if you encounter another problem.

      • Don Magie says:

        Thank you, I will review the wiring in more detail this evening and try to get both setup. I will also try to rewire my pendant. The issue is probably in the wiring near the pigtail. (Sometimes, with just the right manipulation I can get a signal to the pistons!)

        I appreciate your feedback and the fact that you share all of this information.

        • The most common pendant fault by a very large margin is the proportional trigger proximity switch fails or goes intermittent. A quick and easy work around for this fault is to connect the 24V+ feed to the pump solenoid to also feed the proportional valve. It’s easy to put a jumper between these two connections at the pump. Once you have done that, the proportional switch and trigger are no longer needed and the system will now work in non-proportional mode. I ran like this for 8 years before putting proportional back in place when I got the new wireless controller.

          • Don Magie says:

            That’s good to know. I will perhaps try that in the morning before ordering a new pendant.

            Thank you.

          • Don Magie says:

            James, can I check my diagnosis with your experience? This morning I took apart the hand controller/pendant. I can’t figure out what kind of sensor that trigger is, perhaps a proximity sensor. In any case, I cleaned things with a toothbrush (it was very clean, it is stored in the pilothouse) and put it back together.

            I tried it on the crane and got better results (not indicative). But here is the part where my finding separate from the probable failure thesis of the trigger. When I press a button (not the trigger) it engages the hydraulics, the trigger simply sets up the proportional component. When I was pressing buttons, it sometimes would engage and sometimes not. This implies to me that my problem is wiring and not the trigger. It also explains the anecdotal “it was better this time” which is completely unpredictable with a wiring defect.

            If you have any insights or conflicting analysis, I would take it gratefully.

            I can’t get the bits to a Canadian address to add the wireless for this trip, in time. I am not sure I can get a new pendant from SM before Wednesday either so I may have to live with uncertainty for a while longer.

            • A nice simple and very definitive test is to unplug the pendant and carefully run tests at where the Pendant plugs into the crane. Ensure that pin #1 has 24V+ and that pin #15 is ground. If that’s not the case, you have a wiring issue on the crane side. Take a jumper from pin #1 to pin #10 momentarily and the pump should go on. If that works, run the jumper from pin #1 momentarily to pin#9 (proportional), pin#10 (pump), and pin#5 (boom up). If the boom goes up, you have a pendant problem. It’s really that easy to figure out where the issue is.

              • Don Magie says:

                Will do.

                I just posted a message on the NOG, you don’t happen to have a temperature sensor in the stack do you? I am trying to figure out what normal temps look like in there. My muffler is kaput, and I am working on a plan to get me moving but I want to monitor closely if I do.

                Thanks

                • The air exiting the area between the inner and outer pipe on the port side of the stack is up over 250F at full load. Expect the outside of the outer pipe will run around that temp. The exhaust at full load is around 850F but it’s less at lighter loads.

                  Permatex Muffler and Tailpipe sealer, some clamps and some sheet metal scraps or even metal tape and you’ll be able to get it sealed well enough to make progress to where you can get it fixed right.

  11. Jim Cave says:

    James: I see you are using one of the Midtronix MDX 600 series units to test your dinghy starter battery. Will that unit test deep cycle batteries such as the Trojan 105s? Also, I have the Northstar NSB210s with 2300 Marine Cranking amps for my Bow Thruster. It’s a 4D AGM for high cranking applications. Would the Midtronix be suitable for that battery?

  12. Steven Coleman says:

    Hello James,
    Concerning your “frozen” picture:

    Does your water source heat pumps draw directly through the hull for each individual heat pump or is there a water loop involved? Around here it’s a simple matter to install a small auxillary heater to heat the water loop to 65-70 F to keep them heating though the winter when the loop temperatures drop.

    • Hey Steve. I often think of you when using my Klien crimpers.

      The HVAC cooling system is all flowing from a single central pump. Given the volume of water flowing, I would think it would take quite a bit of heat even though it would only need a few degrees of increase. Which heaters have you seen used.

      Separately, did you see that after I had changed the T&P valve on my water heater, it continued to leak just as much. I did the planning and some buying to install an expansion tank. But, before installing, I decided to replace the new T&P valve “just in case”. It worked! It’s not often that the new part is as bad as the old one but it looks like I got a bad part this time.

      • Steven Coleman says:

        When I saw how many times your old crimpers were being used for various projects I couldn’t help but think you’d enjoy that style of crimper so I’m glad you like them.

        I saw that replacing your T&P fixed your leak which is good. Expansion is evidently designed into the system already. I can’t think of the last time I saw a bad T&P out of the box but in a world of mass production bad parts will occur you were just either lucky enough, or unlucky enough to get one. Lucky in the aspect you tried replacing it again first, since everyone else was pointing you down another path.

        In the water source heat pump systems I deal with you are correct in assuming it doesn’t take much auxillary heat to maintain winter operation in relation to the size of the systems. I’ve seen everything from a 150 watt heating element for a small motor bank to multiple 1 million BTU condensing boilers for a college campus. The big difference is what I see are all closed loop systems which I am not sure is applicable to Dironia.

        I’ve wondered about that multiple times but obviously not enough to ask even though I’ve looked once or twice on the internet to no avail. If the water going to your heat pumps is in a closed loop using a heat exchanger that then uses raw water to add or remove BTU’s, given the total BTU’s of your system I could point you to a inline heating element that would give you the choice of staying on your heat pumps and not running your fuel oil heater at least while you were in a marina. Then if you had space and wanted to you could intall a small calorifier to heat that loop with the engine while underway in cold climates.

        If you are using raw water and dumping it over the side for the entire process then of course the size and energy requirements may not make it worth the effort since depending on injection temperatures you may be needing to raise the temperature 20F rather than 2-3F.

        • Steve, your are right that new parts being faulty is rare. So rare, that it’s easy to get stuck in “it must be something else” — I only tried changing it because it’s easy and I like to have a spare on board anyway.

          You’re right the HVAC cooling system is open loop so heating wouldn’t make sense. I had forgotten that the vast majority of the worlds HVAC systems were closed loop and a tiny amount of heat would solve that one. If I felt really inventive I could plumb a variable bypass where I run closed loop when it’s really cold and, as the water in the loop warms, progressively bypass less and use a higher percentage of outside water. It would work but it’s probably not worth the complexity and hassle.

          57F here in Amsterdam and bright and sunny. It’s starting to feel like it’s time to head north again!

          • Steven Coleman says:

            It’s been a severe winter here, I know I’m ready for it to end.

            I’ve enjoyed reading about your explorations in and around Amsterdam but I’m also looking forward to posts about your travels North :)

  13. David Geller says:

    Love the blog and have thoroughly enjoyed many of your videos. Especially enjoyed watching one of your ocean crossing videos, I think from 2017. How do you accurately measure wave height [while underway]? I find myself struggling to do that while cruising in the Puget or Georgia Sounds. Also, just rewatched your “AWS re:Invent 2016: Tuesday Night Live” video. I’m not sure which I enjoy more – your boating or AWS videos. All of them are so entertaining, and informative. I’m a big AWS fan.

    • Thanks David. I also think it’s hard to measure wave height with precision. What we do is 1) keep in mind that just about everyone overestimates waves they are experiencing especially at night, 2) when we can cross reference our estimates with a weather buoy data, we do it, 3) short duration waves appear larger and long duration waves shrink, and 4) use parts of the boat with known heights as a reference point to check wave height.

  14. Todd Marrazzo says:

    Hi Again. What travel log software do you use. My wife and I will be going away next month and would like to share with close friends our routes.

    • For personal tracks (when we are away from the boat) we use Google My Tracks on an Android phone. It’s since been discontinued but they open sourced the code when the stopped supporting it and so we did a private build and use that. For boat tracking we have a very elaborate system that logs all boat data every 5 seconds. A subset of that is uploaded to Amazon Web Services where we show it using custom code integrated into to our Word Press-based web site.

      My recommendation is to use Spot or Delorme InReach — both are easy to use commercial systems that do what you want.

  15. Jim Kerr says:

    James,

    Leslie and I met you at the Seattle party. Great to meet you and Jennifer. We are just about 30 days out of taking delivery of a new 63 and I noted your comments on the black water sensor. Just wanted to get one last update on how it’s working before we begin the process of installing our Maretron system. Still working ok?

    • Congratulations on the 63 that is on it’s way. Wonderful boat. Yes, the black water sensor is amazing. Very precise and it works 100% of the time never a glitch. Short term it’s a proven winner. Over the long term, I’m pretty sure it’ll eventually need cleaning. If it goes 2 years between services, I’m thrilled. I can live with 1 year. But it’s too early to know how long it’ll last.

      I’m pretty optimistic that this is a good design and it’ll deliver more than a year between service and quite possibly longer.

  16. Jon Bennett says:

    Hi James & Jennifer,

    I’m the guy with the white beard that stopped you at the BoatsAfloat show in Seattle and gushed about your blog. Every word I meant. It has a been an inspiration to Maria and me as we set our retirement plans into motion. I wish I would have had the composure to ask you all the questions about your North Atlantic passage that I have, but I was, admittedly a bit flummoxed at actually seeing you there. Thanks for taking the time to talk. It was a pleasure to meet you.

    Kind regards,

    Jon Bennett
    MV Sonder (formerly 10&2)

  17. stephen moore says:

    Hi James
    Apologies if I am asking this in the wrong place. I have followed your videos and adventures with interest recently. I wondered how much sailing or other marine experience you both had before you purchased Dirona and set off on your epic trip. I particularly enjoyed seeing you arrive in Liverpool as its my home town, best wishes

    Steve

    • For about 10 years before purchasing Dirona, we coastal cruised on our previous boat along the Washington and British Columbia coast line. During this time we wrote numerous magazine articles and and a cruising guide while racking up 4,100 main engine hours. We elected to get Dirona to be able to go far greater distances and we wanted a boat able to take on more difficult weather at lower risk. We’ve now cruised 10,200 main engine hours on Dirona and, during that time, crossed every ocean and we’re currently in Amsterdam.

  18. Steven Coleman says:

    Hello James,
    I noticed from your “snow covered Dirona” pic that you don’t keep the cap on your main engine exhaust anymore. I assume it’s because of the auto start in case of shore power failure.

    What I was wondering is have you noticed an increase in stack debris discharge or has the low Sulphur diesel pretty much eliminated that?

    • Good eye Steve. Most Nordhavn owners use an exhaust cover. We didn’t for the first two years we owned the boat and got some sooting at times. Then we started to use the exhaust cover and, initially,it “seemed” better but I kind of wonder if it wasn’t at least partly psychological. When you do something active, it seems at least partially effective. With the cover or without, deck sooting seems to happen occasionally. It’s not that bad without the cover and it’s not that good with it but it does SEEM to help.

      With the past couple of years of low sulfur fuel, the incidence of sooting is way down and so we pretty much stopped putting the cover on. And, now that we have the main engine as a backup generator, it’s always possible it’ll turn on so we shouldn’t cover it. t could possibly melt the cover and make a mess in the unlikely event that the engine was started.

  19. Todd Marrazzo says:

    Will you sleep while underway on auto pilot at night, or is there someone always at dog watch?

    • We always have someone on the helm and we also use a watch timer that needs to be touched every 8 min to ensure we don’t inadvertently fall asleep. The watch timer shows a yellow light at 8 min, a red light at 9 min, a gentle beep at 9 min 45 seconds, a medium volume alarm at 10 min, and really loud alarm that will wake everyone on the boat at 11 min.

  20. Todd Marrazzo says:

    Love your site and posts.

    My wife and I are considering upgrading from our 340 cruiser and are wondering how best to budget for this $$?. Fuel is pretty straight forward. I think we worry more about major failure costs? Any suggestions on making sure that there is enough cash flow/savings available for potential failures while underway?

    • I’ve kept working full time so we continue to have cash flow to make major failures easier to live with but that wasn’t the intent when we started trip planning. The original plan is I would quit and would sell the house and car and fun the big failures as they came along. We did sell the house and the car but I did stay working so we could manage larger failures without it being so hard on the finances. But, there have few big issues and none have been very expensive. We do major out-of-the-water service every couple of years. We have had some major faults like the crane failure. After 9 years we replaced the tender. So, yes, there are expenses but the expensive mechanical systems have been very reliable over the last 10,000 operating hours and so we aren’t seeing any big surprises. Eventually the engine will need an overhaul but I would expect it would get 15,000 hours at minumum and it might easily go more than 20,000 hours. Most boats will never even get close to 10,000 hours.

      My only suggestion is to buy a strong boat engineered for high hour operation and to buy the smallest boat that has the space you need for your trip plans. Our goal was to chose a boat we could afford so service wasn’t back breaking. Generally, we’re conservative in our decisions and it really helps keep the surprises to a minimum.

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