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  1. NoraCarter says:

    wosutei1989_Earn 166 euro\day, it’s here>

  2. Rod Sumner says:

    When mounting new hardware externally, such as the new side lights, how do you seal the hole? A dab of silicone on the screw/bolt? Or?

  3. Lucky Read says:

    Hey James,

    We are Dawn & Lucky Read. We currently live on our 43′ sailboat, which we love. But, we also love Nordhavn’s. And, I love reading your blog–great stuff, and I learn a lot.

    Anyway, I was hoping you had a simple answer to how you are able to use google maps on your travel blog. I just LOVE the way you have incorporated it.

    We are hoping to cut our dock lines later this year, and would love to incorporate something similar for our family and friends.

    Our current website is on the Wix format, and I’m not even sure if it’s possible, but I thought I’d at least ask.

    Keep up the adventure, and posting. You guys are great.

    Hope to meet you OUT THERE one of these days.

    Lucky Read

    • That sounds like a very good plan. On the real time tracking software, it’s part of what has become a very large integrated system. The work has it’s roots back nearly 25 years ago on our last boat where I got tired of NMEA 0183 multiplexers failing. I designed my own multiplexer. Then since my software was touching all network packets, I started to store all the data in a database. Then I started writing apps against this database.

      That same architecture is still there today. We have software that writes all NMEA2000 data to the database, 5 Raspberry Pis that send digital input data from throughout the boat to the database, a monitoring program that gets data not captured by the Pis and not accessable on the NMEA2000 bus and this program stores the data in the database as well. All data from all over Dirona is stored every 5 seconds in a database and that’s been like that for many years. We write applications against this database to support power load shedding, generator autostrart, warning, alerting, and email notification, remote monitoring, and to extract the data used to support this website ( Jennifer made modifications to WordPress to allow this data to be displayed using Google maps. We also have a real time tracking system running on Android that tracks us when we are not on the boat and that data is also integrated onto the web site using custom code. It all works well but it’s very specific to the equipment and design that we have on Dirona and it would be challenging to port to other configurations. My recommendations would be to use Delorme Inreach or Spot to get your real time tracking.

      • Lucky Read says:


        I was assuming you might be using WordPress. I tried it, but found it to be too cumbersome. The Wix platform is WYSIWYG, and SOOOOO simple. Of course it does have it’s limitations. It will allow for HTML code, if and when the need arrises.

        Until then, I believe we will most likely use the Spot system, as we have a couple of friends that use that as well.

        Thank you so much for your response.

        Look forward to following your journey, and possibly meeting up someday.

        Happy Voyaging.

        • I had a look at the Wix platform web site and it looks pretty good and with more than 11 million web site, there is good critical mass behind the engineering effort. Friends using Spot have also reported good results with a nice web page showing location and route similar to what we did.

  4. Eric Patterson says:

    James and Jennifer, we are deep into the specification of the N6081 and I must say this has been 100’s of hours on my part just reading data sheets and O&M Manuals and going over every decision over and over again. We are getting close on the mechanical and hull essentials. Exhausting but fun! I wanted to thank you for your ideas and replies from your site. Without the help of yourselves and others I feel I would have made several errors.

    • Good to hear Eric. Most of the design features we have discussed where done after the original build of Dirona. Your approach of doing it at build time is far more efficient but I know it requires a ton of research.

      • Eric Patterson says:

        James, I think you know Steve D’Antonio. We are going to use his help some in China and perhaps during commissioning. I would consider myself a pretty good engineer but discovering problems/concerns on boats isn’t what I get paid for nor would consider myself completely qualified. I am hoping he will save us money, time and maybe even our life.

        • Steve is incredibly knowledgeable and can both catch system design issues that we both might miss and he can help to help find the best solutions where there are design alternatives.

  5. Ian Gay says:

    Hi James, with reference to your latest project – I recently implemented a soft start modification to N4736 and it has been a great success. It was well worth the effort.

    I managed to fit the additional equipment into the existing shore power enclosure inside the cockpit locker. It keeps the installation neat and tidy. The total cost of the modification was around £35. I used a 25 Ohm 50W resistor and a 25A contactor.

    Before the modification I would get a text from the boat almost every week saying that the power had gone off (lots of power interruptions happening externally). The pontoon would then have its power restored but my 32A supply would then trip out on the restoration of the shore power. The MCB on the 32A supply would trip at least once in about every three power cuts! There does not need to be any load on the supply as the inrush from the large inductance winding on the 12KVA isolation transformer was all it took. Marinas tend to fit ‘type B’ MCBs.

    Since the modification my pontoon MCB has never tripped.

    If you like I can send a photo of the finished installation, just let me know.

    Regards, Ian.

    Your blog is wonderful – keep it up.

    • Love it! I’m taking a very similar approach but I’m limiting current down a bit further than you do since I often plug in into very low amperage shore power connections (sometimes down around 10A or lower). I’m using a 40 ohm, 100W resistor but the rest of the approach is pretty similar. I’ve got a timer on the contactor to keep it in circuit for 500msec but the 14 msec delay in the contactor itself is probably fine without the timer. The house load is brought online 10 seconds after the shore power becomes available.

      I’m about 80% done with the new control box completed and installed with the power leads in a loop waiting for another nice day for outside work. All that needs to be done to complete the job is to connect the input leads to the shore breaker and the other side on the feed to the isolation transformer. It’s good to hear you are happy with your configuration given how similar what you have done is to what I’m putting in on Dirona. We’re really looking forward to eliminating spurious shore power breaker openings.

  6. Michael Jackson says:

    Hi James. As a retired airline pilot and now teach pilots to fly biz jets I use Garmin avionics. I was wondering if you knew or had heard from others about Garmin in Marine world. We hope to build if we can or buy used Nordhavn once I finally retire. If building I’m tempted to use Garmin. Thank you. You guys motivate us with your travels! Keep it going! 😎👊

    • Garmin is massive in the business jet market and seem to be getting traction in the small boat market. I never see them on cruise ships and other large commercial vessels, they aren’t super common on the fish boat fleets, but they do seem to be getting traction in the small recreational boat market in the US. I’ve seen them used fairly heavy in small law enforcement boats as well.

      Our leanings were toward the gear used by the Alaska fish boat fleet and many commercial vessels so went with Furuno. Generally we prize reliability so look to the professional fishing industry to get a read on what they depend upon.

  7. Adrian van velsen says:

    Visiting Amsterdam and just saw the Dirona docked west of central station. I would love to come say hi before i return to California tue am

  8. gary s gordon says:

    James: for stainless steel fabrication you can try

  9. Mike Taggart says:

    Best wishes to you both for the coming year. We hope your cruising is safe and exciting.
    Mike & Trish Taggart

    • Thanks Mike and Trish. New Years in Amsterdam is certainly a great way to start 2019. The Dutch LOVE their fireworks. We spent the run up to New Years walking around Amsterdam and then brought in the New Year on a pier near our boat where we had a nice place to sit with a glass of wine enjoying the entire sky full of fireworks.

  10. Reed McGuire says:

    Happy New Year Jennifer and James,

    FYI, there is a recently opened Chihuly exhibit at the Groninger Museum in Groningen, it’s up until May. All the best from Bamfield BC!

    • It’s great to hear from a Bamfield resident. You live in one of our favorite locations on the west coast of Vancouver Island but it’s been a long time. We spent Christmas 2011 anchored in Grappler Inlet near you:

      We last saw some of Chihuily’s work at the Tacoma Glass Museum. Thanks for pointing out the exhibit in Groningen and all the best in 2019.

      • Reed McGuire says:

        Full disclosure, we are West Seattleites but still have my grandparents house here in Bamfield, came up for the holidays. I started following you guys just before your trip to Grappler and sent you an email at that time saying I thought your GPS posit was off as I didn’t think anyone without extensive local knowledge would have the “stones” to take a boat as big as Dirona that far back into the inlet!

        • We do remember getting a note from you basically saying “you can’t possibly be where your AIS says you are.” And,you are right, it was a big of a slow nail biter to work our way in but it’s a great spot. We were pretty proud of ourselves for finding a path in without touching bottom but, when the boat was next lifted out of the water I noticed there was a few inch wide set of scrapes in the bottom paint all along the keel from bow to stern. Looks like “nearly” touched bottom might have been even closer than we thought :-).

          We’re looking forward to a fun 2019 in Sweden and Finland. All the best to you in 2019!

  11. Rod Sumner says:

    James and Jennifer

    All the best for 2109. Await your postings with great anticipation

  12. Steven Coleman says:

    Hello James,
    Seeing you hooked to the crane reminds me of something that happened once. While using a sign company truck to lift me up so a repair could be made the dang thing quit while extended with no way to lower it without the engine to power the cable reel. Luckily it had a ladder on the boom I could climb down and get it restarted for the guy.
    I’ve noticed you’ve used that method in several posts and works well when it does however, you might want to work out a contingency plan with Jennifer 🙂

    • There are definitely some downsides to the crane assisted lift system. And, currently we don’t have a backup control system so your point is even more timely. Getting me safely down on a crane control system failure would be challenging. I suspect we would go with a rope up through the safety tie off eye and back down to me with Jen belaying from the boat deck. It wouldn’t be fast :-).

  13. John says:

    James, reading your post about waxing/polishing the boat in Amsterdam I was wondering if you have tried any of the newer tech “nano” waxes? Some of the companies which produce ceramic coatings also produce easier to use sprey versions. Gtechniq is one I’ve tried (liquid crystal v2) and I can top up the protective coating on the top sides of our 38ft cruiser in about an hour every two months or so. It’s a lot easier than more frequent buffing.

    Long time reader and fan of your blog from Dublin.


    • Thanks for your suggestion John. We probably should some more advanced coatings. We have never done anything other than use old technology wax. We probably should try something more modern. I’m slightly nervous of more modern coatings from my days as an auto mechanic were I have seen some coatings fail and start to yellow or, worse, flake away in sections. There are substantial messes and some required re-painting to correct. They both made me more conservative and less eager to try new products even though it’s extremely likely that some are excellent and could really save us time. Thanks for passing on your recommendation for Gtechniq.

  14. gary gordon says:

    James: i have asked some contacts that have offices in or near Amsterdam if there are any references for a stainless fabricator.

    • What I need done is simple and only need some cutting, drilling, and a break press but I’ve not found anyone to do it yet. Thanks for checking on it Gary.

      • Steven Coleman says:

        Hello James,

        Just about any commercial sheet metal installer for H.V.A.C. systems large enough to have a water jet, or plasma table could do it if they were interested in the project. I did a search using those parameters which showed several in Amsterdam but since I can’t read Dutch, about all I can say is look in that direction?

        • Exactly. In this case we went with a laser cutter equipped facility. I got help from Daniel Boekel of ShipCraft Engineering and Jan Pieterse and we’ll get the brackets in early January. It’s nice to have that one solved. Thanks for the advice here and over the years and have a great holidays Steve.

      • I got help from Daniel Boekel of ShipCraft Engineering and Jan Pieterse. Daniel was doing an order yesterday and was kind enough to both draft up what I need and include it on his order. We’ll get the brackets in early January. Thanks!

  15. Cliff Marshall says:

    Thanks for sharing your journey with us fellow boater’s that are still dreaming of a journey like yours. I’ve got a couple of question’s. Your computer/electrical skill’s are a lot more advanced then most of us. Would your trip be doable with good skill’s vs your advanced? We all tinker and update our boat’s. My last question is what % of your mechanical/electrical updates you’ve made are just for your need’s and what % would be good “generic” to all of us.

    • Cliff, it looks like a somehow missed your question. Jennifer just noticed that. Sorry about that.

      The short answer is, sure, the trip could easily be done with only rudimentary electrical skills. You will need to be able to read a multi-meter and read voltage or at least use a test light to be able to investigate electrical failures. Without being able to do this, you’ll need help with every electrical anomaly on the boat — you could even survive without that but it would take more patience because you would likely be too frequently needing external help. But, voltage meter skills are very easy to learn. You can a reasonably level of self sufficiency pretty quickly and that makes the trip more enjoyable.

      After those simple skills to help find obvious problems, you really don’t need to know anything about software or computer hardware to have a very enjoyable trip. Looking at the work we have done, much of it is to automate and make the boat easier to operate and to ensure we notice problems quickly. All this is useful but none of it is absolutely required and almost all of it is available from commercial sources.

      Most of the more advanced things we have done, you don’t need and, for those you really feel are important to you, there are good off-the-shelf solutions available in the market. Maretron is my go to supplier when people ask me how to do X where X is some monitoring or automation task. N2kview combined with Maretron sensors can do almost everything we do and they do it with good support and there are installers that know the equipment and can install it for you.

      I think most of what we have on the boat is useful and would be nice for anyone to have. Generator autostart is useful in that if you are away from the boat for longer than expected, the batteries would run down to dangerously low levels. Load shedding is pretty useful in that it allows you to use the high powered appliances on the boat without worrying about what other people on the boat are doing. It makes the boat easier to use and avoid frequent shore power breaker releases. Warnings on low batteries or other electrical or mechanical problems improve safety. We had a battery thermal runaway in New Zealand in the middle of the night that was caught by the monitoring system. We dealt with it quickly and easily before temperatures got unsafe. Remote monitoring is useful if you are away from the boat.

      All these features can be added using commercial systems without the boat operating needing special skills and none of these features are a prerequisite for a long trip. You can be perfectly happy without any of them and you don’t special skills to enjoy boating. They just make the trip more enjoyable but you can learn as much or as little as you want at whatever pace you want.

  16. Paul Wood says:

    A couple of wines for you to try…although I don’t think you’ll get these in boxes.

    Aldi. Exquiste Clare Valley Riesling @ £7.00

    Grosset Polish Hill Riesling at £36.00 this is recognised as one of the best. Not cheap though!

    Chardonnay? Track down Enate 234 for about £7.00

    Chardonnay with a fizz? Again Aldi. Exquiste Cremmant du Jura at about £8.00

    Aldi. Portugesse Douro Red Merlot, there’s two Douro’s ones about £6.00 and there’s one @ £4.99 the cheaper one is nice for the money.

    Aldi is a German supermarket, but there may well be branches where you are.

    Anyhow, Happy Holidays!

  17. Eric Patterson says:

    I am trying to decide if I should go with the hydraulic package on our build. It comes with a extra pump on the wing and a hyd windlass, aux pump, and hyd thrusters. Then I ran across that there are hydraulic get home motors! So what if my 20kW genset or my main with the extra alternator and inverters could run a 3 phase hyd power pack of sufficient size? All I would need is a VFD to convert the 1PH 230V to 3PH. Thoughts???

    • We got hydraulics and love having continuous duty thrusters and windlass. There is no question we would make the same decision if we were to do another build.

      Hydraulic get home engines work fine but there are compromises:
      1) Direct drive is at least 20% more efficient so, a hydraulic drive system will require a larger engine than a direct, mechanical drive system.
      2) We prefer having an independent prop and shaft on the get home engine,
      3) If the main engine has failed, then your only source of power is the gen. If the gen is driving the boat, there is no power left for the hotel loads.

      Closely related to 1 and 3 above, for a conventional electrical design you might select a 20kw generator because you have to size to peak load. The problem is peak load is very rare. A design like this allows you to size to average load: If you chose to go with a more modern power system design, then you will likely drop down to 16kW generator. It doesn’t have the power to run drive the boat.

      On the design you are thinking through, you need a bigger gen than 20kW to have both propulsion and power at the same time. With a more modern electrical systems, you would use an even smaller generator. As a get home system, the design feels pretty compromised but, with care, it can be made to work.

      • Eric Patterson says:

        When I looked at these initially I didn’t realize they worked inline with the main. I thought they actually replaced the wing and therefore could provide true redundancy if say they drove a folding prop on a reduction gear. That would be slick and save a lot of room. I’m not convinced it couldn’t be done (I think I could design and build it myself) but as you and others have said there is value in “off the shelf”. Besides as you also added I would need a much larger genset and then possibly needing a smaller 2nd genset which really negates much of a savings. FYI I’m back to using your method of power generation underway with the second Balmar on the main. When you look at it with the dual inverter it’s really the only logical choice. I have to say this part of the design which I consider the most important is tedious and filled with reconsideration!

        • You are right, the hydraulic system could completely replace the wing engine. It would work fine. I’ve even been on boats where the main engine drives through a hydraulic drive. My leaning, like yours, would still be towards a direct drive wing but the hydraulics would certainly work.

  18. Rodney H Sumner says:

    Interesting to read about massive alternators (from a Canadian company no less), however if you were to install one does this not violate your ‘redundancy law’? Your present set up meets the law requirements

    • Even with two alternators we have an entire spare off engine and, if we went with a single alternator design, we would still have an off-engine spare. The generator also acts as an emergency backup system if the main can’t produce power. My personal take is that would be adequate redundancy for most use cases but I agree with you that having two identical alternators both being driven at the same time does have appeal.

  19. Eric Patterson says:

    My apologies for lately inundating your site. If you have an opinion on this. I am leaning away for doing as Dirona did with the extra alternator on the Main and adding a second smaller genset in addition to the standard 20kW (the NL tech suggest 6kW although on the owners group one fellow suggested 9kW) frankly I’m going to add up expected loads and decide what I might need.) this would force us to use the genset whenever underway if we need to run A/C, dryer, watermaker, etc. After speaking with Cascade they said that the 180A additional places the maximum belt stress and adds and extra pulley and extra inverter gear. Just seems like I don’t want extra things on the front of the main although I think the cooling pump is gear driven so a belt loss is not terminal… I kind of think you went the way you did to conserve space in the lazerette perhaps? Any thoughts?

    • Eric says:

      I’m reading your “More Flexible Power System for Dirona” right now and I bet it will answer most my questions.

    • Our decision to go with two alternator is unrelated to our want for two generators. They really are seperate points. We want a second generator because that’s our own source of power when at anchor and, if the generator fails, we have a problem. Our goal is to never redirect or cut short a trip due to mechanical problems so we don’t want a failed generator to stop us. All of us have only a limited lifetime and we don’t want to give up weeks every year on mechanical faults. Because our main engine can produce 9kW, it can serve as a backup generator. But, generator autostart is key. We need to be able to be away from the boat for long periods and know the batteries will not be excessively discharged. Our solution is to put autostart on the main so it can serve as a backup generator:

      If we were buying another boat, we would likely spec a second generator but it’s not certain. Since the second gen for us is only to backup the primary gen, using the main to do that seems to work fairly well. Generators are pretty reliable and rarely fail to run. Likely we would go with a second gen but not for sure given how well the backup system we have built seems to work.

      Another common driver of two gens is to have a big one to handle oven, dryer, and other big loads and a small one to handle the common case. We use inverters and load shedding to be able to operate big loads without having a big generator. This avoids the problem of having a 20kW that basically is never loaded and allows a single generator to handle the load. So, with backup power if the generator fails and no need for big/little config to support peaks, the push to a second gen is less strong. We only need the second one for redundancy.

      The reason we have two alternators is we want to have enough capacity to fully support house loads without running the generator when underway. The argument here is twofold: 1) the main engine has lots of excess capacity when underway, and 2) running the gen 24×7 when underway means you double your oil changes, you have to carry more supplies, it requires more service, etc. It seems nuts to have more than one power source in the common case — you need it for redundancy but, in the common case, we want only a single source so we design to run like this:

      1) Shore: we can run off 60hz, 50Hz, 50A, 32A, 16A, and even down to 8A (by using 2). This works so well we never have to run the gen when on shore power. If you spend time at marinas you’ll see larger boats running the gen all the time due to not having enough shore power to support their peak loads. The new power system article describes how this works fairly well: The remaining aspects of the design are covered in the two generators when you only have one article:

      2) Underway: Underway we run on the main engine along and can drive SCUBA compressor, dryer, oven, and HVAC without running the generator.

      3) On hook: We use the generator with autostart to drive the generator and keep the battery state of charge correct. No attention required and it works whether we are on the boat or not.

      The serpentine drive belt on the front of the engine is rated to drive heavy duty equipment so that isn’t a problem. When our boat was delivered by Cascade, they had an 85A start alternator and 190A house alternator. I upgraded to 2x 190A which will take more load from the front of the engine but it’s all well within the design limits of the components involved. There was no change in the number of pulleys on the engine when upgrading to 2x 190A.

  20. Eric Patterson says:

    Also as you may have noticed the train is not really used by anyone but workers of other nationalities and “white” person certainly not. It’s just a class thing. You will notice the taxis in Dubai are generally low cost also but will not pick up non UAE or worker foreigners. Dubai as you most certainly ave noticed is about one thing… money! Just a thing about Dubai. I have skied at the mall and it is fun but the snow is very granular and the rental gear marginal. But was fun to say I did it.

    • Dubai and the UAE, in general, is a pretty unusual place where all work that is visible to a visitor (and perhaps all work period) is done by teams of foreigners. Many construction projects run three shifts a day with huge teams on each shift and not a single local in sight.

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