Preparing Dirona for the North Atlantic Crossing

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Below is a 24-minute narrated video preparing Dirona for the 2,801 nautical-mile North Atlantic transit from Newport, Rhode Island to Kinsale Ireland. We first show storm plate (clear window protection covers) installation at the dock using the tender as a working platform on the port side. Then we move the SCUBA tanks below and secure them in the lazerette, plug the furnace exhaust to prevent flooding the boiler, install 8 stainless steel deadlights (port light covers), secure the anchor using a stainless steel pin, secure the refrigerator contents for rough sea usage, install the deck fuel bladders in the cockpit and Portuguese bridge, and finally take on 2,000 gallons of diesel and do the “ready for passage” visual survey.

See Passage Preparation for additional work done in Newport prior to the passage.

Update: See Fuel, Option Value, Speed, & Safety and Fuel for the crossing for details on how we manage fuel and the fuel bladders.


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18 comments on “Preparing Dirona for the North Atlantic Crossing
  1. gdtaylor says:

    why not have the boat built with proper reinforced, smaller windows with pilothouse glass being 1 inch and all side 3/4 inch… Fishing boats up in Alaska, Bering seas do just that… A add on plastic window with no reinforcement of the holes…ie… minimum large metal washers, but preferably thick aluminum borders on both sides of plastic from sides to an inch or so past the holes would be way better… Hit that plastic hard in the middle and CRACK at the holes with breakage soon after.

    • Yes, that’s the solution used on military boats, many larger commercial vessels, and some fishing boats. Just make the windows small and thick. The problem with that approach is it’s less livable. For most boats they spend between 0 and 1% of their time crossing oceans and 99%+ of there time with owners enjoying the view. That’s why we cruise. So small windows give up quite a bit. But, even with quite large windows, they can be made thick enough to be as strong as the rest of the hull. When we were visiting the Feadship, we noticed they have done some boats with some very large windows at the waterline and they have even done some below the waterline. Really incredibly nice and made safe by using high quality, purpose built glass of the appropriate thickness.

      In my opinion, using thicker glass is the optimum approach with the only downsides being it’s more expensive.

  2. Greg says:

    Hi James
    Two of my bus. associates notice your educational perspectives October 2017 posts/blogs are not updating !! Now everyone is wondering if you could look into your perspectives blob page ??
    Your posts/blogs are superb & artfully done ! Hang in there. Your feed back is a valuable asset & benefits all phases of industry! Be well

    • Greg said “Two of my bus. associates notice your educational perspectives October 2017 posts/blogs are not updating” I wish I was posting more as well but, sadly, they are not self updating :-). It takes work to post articles and it’s hard to find the time to keep both blogs active. I’ll try to get going on as well.

  3. Steve Williams says:

    Thank you guys so much for sharing!! I have a quick question about he bladders as well. When not in use, is it safe to store them in the lazzerette or are fumes a concern? What is your storage plan when not in use for the bladders while maintaining safety and servicibility?
    Thanks agian!!

    • Using a pump to fully evacuate the bladders does a pretty good job of getting all the fuel out of them so they are easier to fold and lighter but, you are right, there is still a small amount of diesel in the bladders. We fold them and keep them in the fly bridge brow area (the storage area in the sloping section over the pilot house and in front of the fly bridge. We don’t notice a diesel smell in that storage locker a couple of weeks after they have been stowed.

      • Greg says:

        In the rare event one of the fuel bladders developed a leak – do you have any fuel containment methods in place that would help overall safety & prevent environmental contamination??

  4. Paul Wood says:

    Those plates are the kind of thing that the boat owners here fit when the boat is laid up out of commission for the season, purely to stop miscreants from vandalising the boat windows with errant rocks etc.

    For me at least, fitting them for a long passage falls into the belt and braces category (which is fine as we all have different thresholds of risk) on a boat which is certified as an ocean-going passagemaker.

    As for the security? How would you escape in the event of an onboard fire, ingress of water on the lower decks, do any of these windows open enough to allow one to pass through? Does Dirona have a Houdini hatch?

    • The windows are all fixed, non-removable plates so not effective for escape. My take is the boat has adequate exits without using windows. MSR has three exits: 1)up the stairs, 2) into the ER, and 3) up through an escape hatch in the roof. Salon has two exits: 1) forward into the PH, or 2) aft outside into the cockpit. ER has three exists: 1) forward into MSR, 2) aft into laz and up through a hatch onto deck in cockpit, and 3) up through a hatch into the salon.

      I understand your point that storm plates may not be needed. Generally, we all hope they will not be needed but, the boat can take amazingly strong wave strikes on the side windows in even moderate waves. Even in non-ocean conditions like the Straights of Georgia in Canada’s British Columbia we frequently took waves hits so hard that water was actually squirting in the closed windows by wave pressure. We brought in enough water that we changed from an opening head window to a fixed window that wouldn’t allow any water in even when hit directly by a wave. In survival conditions, I argue you want storm plates. If a window breaks, the chance of the boat surviving go down very dramatically. With the windows in, it’s rough, possibly uncomfortable, but perfectly safe.

      Interesting idea to use the storm plates as a security measure when the boat is on the hard in the yard. I wouldn’t have thought of that one but it makes sense.

      • Andrew says:

        I don’t know if I would call it a belt and suspenders type thing, to me that is something that people do ‘just because it’s always been done that way’ – with no real reason for it (nobody got fired for buying IBM), it’s just a matter of mitigating risk, storm plates are relatively easy to attach even if the odds are low that they would be needed (seatbelts?).

        One example that was quasi recent, the Nordhavn N43 Three@Sea took a turtle brought up by a wave into one of the Salon windows and it shattered, from the stories the weather wasn’t great, but it wasn’t some kind of nastiness either, just good wave action and some crazy odds that a turtle and the boat happened to meet at the absolute ‘perfect’ time. The conditions weren’t serious enough to risk the boat, but just a good example of what could happen while out there.

  5. Greg says:


    Whats the Coast Guards view point on the use of fuel bladders aboard private pleasure boats (off shore cruisers) ?? Are there any additional permits needed to carry on board fuel bladders??

    • No extra permits are required but, of course, no fuel can be spilled. These bladders are made by ATL ( who also makes aircraft bladders and race car fuel cells as well as military temporary fueling systems sometimes used by forward deployed troops. The are solid designs and quite strong. They actually need to be fairly strong since the fuel load on the bladders can be fairly heavy in rough seas.

  6. Gerg says:


    Are the large storm plates (in your video preparation procedures) made of clear acrylic ?
    When transferring fuel in bladders to Dirona’s fuel tanks are electric fuel pumps or gravity flow methods used ?
    On your boat does the fuel during initial fill enter a holding tank just before filtering process?

    • The storm plates are 1/2″ thick clear plastic (Plexiglass, Acrylic, or Lexan). I’m not sure what is specified. They are held on by 1/4″ machine screws that feed into threaded sockets in the window frames.

      We have a nice fuel transfer system for the bladder fuel where we connect a cam to a permanent fitting on the bulkhead via a short hose section to a cam lock on the bladder tanks. When it is time to pump the fuel, the standard fuel transfer pump moves the fuel from the bladder, through the transfer filter (25 micron RACOR FPO-10), and then is directed into one of the main tanks. This has the advantage of allowing fuel to be pumped with nobody outside, doesn’t require the tank filler to be open to water ingress, filters all fuel as it leaves the bladders, and allows the bladders to be pumped completely dry so they are light and easy to handle.

      When fueling the main tanks, the fuel is brought in directly. We filter all fuel that is transferred from the main tanks to the day tank (wing engine) or the supply tank (all other engines) using the same 25 micron RACOR FPO-10) transfer filter and high capacity fuel pump.

  7. Paul Wood says:

    I enjoyed watching that video, but those covers on the port side look a right faff. Not only that, the screw holes must get worn unless of course, they’re small screwed bolts going into threaded holes.

    • The storm shields are optionally supplied by Nordhavn during the boat build. They are a 1/2″ thick Plexiglass or Lexan and the windows frames are made with threaded sockets and 1/4″ machine screws hold the storm shields to the window frames. They look and feel pretty heavy to me. What has caught your eye that is a security concern Paul?

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