Return to US

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While in Dublin, we made a short return trip the US to attend the Amazon Web Services re:Invent conference, held annually in Las Vegas. We arrived into San Francisco, where we spent two nights and attended an NHL (ice hockey) and an NFL (football) game, before continuing on to Las Vegas. Most of the week was busy with meetings, but we did find some time prior to the conference to enjoy some of the sights outside the city, including Valley of Fire and Red Rock Canyon state parks.

Below are trip highlights from November 24th through December 2nd. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at

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Cream of the Crop
Spitfire at “the resort”, Cream of the Crop Cattery where he’ll stay while we return to the US for a short trip. Spit wasn’t too excited about coming out of his carry bag initially, but he soon got comfortable. Deborah Lefroy took excellent care if him and sent us wonderful status updates.
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N2kview Remote
It’s kind of amazing to be able to check the shore power from an airplane over Iceland when the boat is back in Dublin. N2kview on the Android works identically on any internet connection in the world as it does on the boat.

What’s happening behind the scenes is pretty impressive: We’re sitting on an aircraft at 36,000ft over Iceland running N2kView on an Android device communicating over the Aer Lingus WiFi system, then over a KU band satellite link to ground stations and out onto the open internet to KVH. Then out to one of the KVH ground stations, up to a satellite and back down to the KVH V7-IP systems running on board over a static IP address.

From our plane seats we can see all boat system status, start/stop the generator, turn on the heat, and even start the main engine. In this particular case we are watching the shore power closer than usual since we have been having show power breaker trips every few days to a week since arriving in Dublin. Something isn’t right either on-board or on the shore pedestal.

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San Jose Sharks
After landing in San Francisco, we drove to San Jose, checked into our hotel, then walked out to SAP Center to watch the San Jose Sharks take on the Winnipeg Jets that Saturday evening. We’ve seen plenty of hockey games in the past few years, but haven’t attended an NHL game since living in Toronto in 1986-1997. We had an super-fun evening and really enjoyed the game.
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49ers vs Seahawks
At the 49ers home stadium in Santa Clara on Sunday to watch the San Francisco 49ers take on the Seattle Seahawks. The facility, opened in 2014, is excellent and we had a great time at the game. Although we last saw a live NFL game in Baltimore last year, we’ve not watched our home team, the Seahawks, live since we left Seattle in 2012. It’s a while before the start of the game, but the 49ers record is not coming close to filling the stadium.
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Mark Mohler
We had a great evening at Rok Steakhouse in Santa Clara with Mark Mohler, who owns Nordhavn 62 Gray Matter with his wife Christine Guo. We were first moored next to Gray Matter in the San Juan Islands in 2011 and last moored next to Gray Matter in Brisbane in 2014. We haven’t seen Mark or Christine since 2015 when we were in the Gold Coast, Australia. It was awesome to see Mark again and catch up. And the steaks at Rok, cooked at the table on a super-hot volcanic rock, were exceptional.
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Arch Rock
We had returned to the US to attend the Amazon Web Services re:Invent conference, held annually in Las Vegas. Most of the week was busy with meetings, but we did find some time prior to the conference to take in some of the sights outside the city. This is Arch Rock, one of many fabulous weather-carved formations at nearby Valley of Fire State Park.
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Stairs leading up to 4,000-year-old petroglyphs at Valley of Fire State Park.
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Balanced Rock
Balanced Rock just outside the Valley of Fire visitor center. The almost square-shaped rock sitting at an angle at the center of the picture is balanced precariously on the pockmarked section below.
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Several Desert Bighorn Sheep ewes feeding at the side of the road.
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Looking north across Valley of Fire State Park from a viewpoint just off the main park road. The large dark red formation in the distance is along the Fire Wave trail that we’ll walk shortly.
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Fire Wave Trail
Spectacular striped sandstone along Fire Wave trail. In the background is the same rock formation as in the previous photo.
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White Domes Trail
We kept thinking we’d seen the best at Valley of Fire State Park and found yet another striking formation. Here we are walking a barely-person-width trail through a canyon along White Domes trail.
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A hopeful White-tailed Antelope Ground Squirrel looking for a handout at the picnic area off White Domes Trail. He obviously hadn’t seen the sign about not feeding the animals.
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The Cabins
Three visitor cabins built by the Civilian Conservation Corps soon after the Valley of Fire became a stare park in 1936.
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Elephant Rock
Elephant Rock, with its trunk-like arch on the left, is one of the most well-known Valley of Fire formations.
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The Mexican rock band Kinky put on a great show as part of the Tuesday Night Live with Peter Desantis keynote at the Amazon Web Services re:Invent conference.
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Cloud Ninja
Jennifer with the Cloud Ninja at AWS re:Invent Tuesday Night Live.
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Red Rock Canyon
At the end of the conference, we made a quick visit to Red Rock Canyon State Park whose mountains are visible looking west from Las Vegas.
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Bridge Mountain
Bridge Mountain viewed from the Red Rock Canyon visitor’s center overlook. The mountain is named after a bridge-like arch near the summmit.
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Rock Formations
Looking south across dramatic striped rock formations a short distance off the Calico Hill South parking lot in Red Rock Canyon Sate Park.
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Calico Hills
The vivid read Calico Hill’s are Red Rock Canyon’s most well-known feature. The hills are popular with hikers and climbers alike—a climber is just visible in white near the bottom center of the picture (click image for a larger view).
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Calico Tank Trail
Walking through a ravine on the Calico Tank trail at Red Rock Canyon State Park.
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Steps have been carved into several of the steeper areas along the Calico Tank Trail. It was a fun walk.
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The fabulous view east from the end of the Calico Tank Trail at Red Rock Canyon State Park. The Las Vegas strip is just visible in the distance on the left and the park visitor center is down the road at right (click image for a larger view).
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Power Management
We wrote a web app that allows us to control the generator and other loads that are managed via load-shedding, such as the diesel furnace, HVAC and water heater. Instead of switching these loads off physically with a hardware switch, we control them with our web page, which works anywhere in the world. This also give us control over the hot water heater, where we set it to higher temperature when we’re using a lot of hot water and lower temperatures when we don’t need it as much. Lower temperatures are more power-efficient. We can view the web app through our static IP, allowing us to control the systems remotely.

We turned off the HVAC and water heater using the app when we left Dublin for a week in the US. When we landed back in Dublin, the boat inside is in the low 40s F. We turned the heat on from the airport and arrived back to a warm boat. We commonly use the app to turn the heat on and off when we leave the boat for dinner or day trips, and also at night and first thing in the morning so we can heat up the boat when we wake up without having to get up right away.

The application also shows daily power usage and source for the past seven days. With the temperatures down in the high 30s, our power consumption, if we’re on the boat all the time, gets quite high at 60-70kWh per day. When the heat is off, it drops down to a still-high 30-33kWh per day. The satellite system is 200W 24×7, the computers in aggregate probably are around 100watts/hour/day. We essentially run the boat like an apartment, so it’s not that power-efficient. The rest of the page shows see the power source and duration going back for a couple of weeks.

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N2kView Remote
Looking at N2kView on our Android just outside the Dublin airport after switching on the HVAC and water heater. Our shore amp draw as 15 amps as the boat warms up. We have a yellow chk light due to low hot water temperature since we’ve been gone for a week, and a red 45.9° indicating the hot water temperature in Fahrenheit. It will be back to full temperature in about an hour.
Show locations on map Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.

On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at


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4 comments on “Return to US
  1. Alison and I almost flew down to watch the Seahawks that weekend. But knowing that we had a lot of traveling happening over Thanksgiving, we decided to stay home on Red Rover and watch the game there!

    • That would have been fun and you definitely would have not have had trouble getting seats. Levi stadium is wonderful but the 49ers haven’t been great so seats are always available.

      • kevin jeffries says:

        Should be quite the upcoming season with the Hawk’s personnel shakeup, the 49rs have Sherm + a decent QB and the Rams becoming contenders. Not sure what Arizona will look like this year… Go Hawks! :)

        • The salary cap solved some problems for the league and owners but I miss the days when great players tended to stay with the same time. Seeing both Sherman and Bennett playing for another team seems weird. Next year is going to be very different for Seattle’s defense with so many personnel changes including Defensive Coordinator.

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