Amsterdam Projects

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As with last year, Amsterdam was a great place for us to spend the winter and complete many boat projects, ranging from large jobs such as changing the wing engine PTO clutch, bolting the Freeman hatch in place, replacing the hydraulic steering rod end and upgrading our replacing our old 46-inch flatscreen with a modern 55-inch Samsung, to smaller jobs such as replacing the tender battery, callibrating the proportional control on our Kar-Tech davit remote, and removing our built-in vacuum cleaner. We also purchased supplies locally and online, and provisioned for our upcoming trip to the Mediterranean.

Below is a summary of the projects and work we completed in Amsterdam from November 2nd, 2019 through Feb 14th, 2020. 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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Window Covers
We have mesh covers for our pilot house windows that we use for sun protection and privacy. We’d kept them in a covered bin in a bow locker and it looks like condensation built up on the inside and we had some mildew on the covers. We got most of it off with a power washer spray and scrubbed off anything more stubborn with a hand brush.
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Changing Clutch
Today we changed the hydraulic power take-off (PTO) clutch on our Lugger L844d wing engine. We documented the job in this video, where we show the problem with the PTO clutch and how to change it.
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Defrost Flow
The defrost vents above the dash for our diesel furnace weren’t producing enough heat. Here we’ve got the flybridge brow emptied so James can check for issues at the ducting inside that feeds the dash outlets. He found the furnace heating water going to the defrost heat-exchange units was cold, indicating there’s an air lock in this part of the circuit, or some other problem is preventing coolant flow.
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Furnace Manifold
After James found there was no hot water flow in the pilot house defrost heating circuit, he went down to the furnace in the aft port corner of the lazarette to check for flow on all cooling circuits at the furnace. He found that the yellow handle roughly in the center was in the open position, allowing hot water to partially bypass the heating circuits. The unusual thing is the system mostly still worked acceptably well. Even the defrost system still worked, it was just slower to heat.

It seems the pump moves enough volume that, even with a large bypass open, it still operates, but just less effectively. Looking back at our pictures over time, we can see that this valve was originally positioned correctly. But the weird thing is we haven’t been back in this area hard-to-access area for a couple of years. It must have been inadvertently bumped, and probably quite a long time ago.

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Fender Lines
Building some extra fender lines from some bulk rope we have onboard.
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Canvas Snap
Over the years, a few of the snaps that secure our canvas to to the boat have broken. We recently bought a Snap Setter, snap fasteners, and snap studs and have been replacing broken snaps as we find them. One of the snaps for the engine air intake covers had broken, so we replaced that today. When we’re moored for a while where the weather is cold, we cover the engine room air intakes with custom canvas covers to keep the boat a little warmer.
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We took the bikes on the ferry across to Amsterdam Noord to do a little shopping.
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Rien de Wolf
At Rien de Wolf marine supply store in Amsterdam Noord.
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Jennifer couldn’t resists getting these pink coveralls at Rien de Wolf. The problem is, she doesn’t want to wear them for boat work in case they get dirty. :)
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Picking up some supplies at the hardware store ToolStation in Amsterdam Noord.
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Temporary Admission
Dutch customs came by today to inspect our paperwork and give us a new Temporary Admission document for Dirona. This establishes that we have VAT-free temporary admission of the vessel for 18 months since re-entering the EU Customs Zone from Heligoland. The paperwork isn’t necessary, but we prefer to have documentation of the boat’s VAT status to avoid potential hassles and delays in the future.
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Freeman Hatch
If you ever see a Freeman hatch without screws or mechanical fasters in the top flange, then it’s not mechanically attached to the boat. Adhesives are used to hold windshields in cars and even windows in boats, so can be excellent and can last well.

But we just couldn’t convince ourselves that we wanted to rely exclusively on adhesives in this case. If the hatch came off in a storm, the boat would likely be lost. If the wrong adhesive was used or it didn’t age well, we could have a problem. An earlier Nordhavn 47 had experienced a hatch detaching, so we decided to play it safe and bolt it in place.

Here James is marking where to drill holes for evenly-spaced bolts where each hole is through heavy structural material and will hold securely.

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Drilling bolt holes in the Freeman hatch to secure it mechanically. This is surprisingly easy, but hard to do without worrying about making a mistake in placement.
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Hatch Secure
The Freeman hatch now is securely held in by six bolts rather than adhesive. It’s not going anywhere.
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Accu Verkoop
At battery store Accu Verkoop to purchase two group U1 batteries for the tender. They only had one in stock and they’ll have both of them for us next week.
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Parts or Machine Shop
On Dirona we have a Teleflex Capilano steering system. The steering cylinder is Capilano HC5378 and we need just the rod end for this cylinder. The rod end is a bit unusual in that it combines a 3/4-in ball hole with a 7/8-in 14 thread-per-inch shank where 99% of the rod ends combine a 3/4-in hole with a 3/4-in 16 TPI threaded section. The picture above is of both these parts. We need to either find a source for the correct part or a machine shop in the Amsterdam area that can drill the 3/4-in hole out to 7/8-in and thread it at 14 threads per inch. This one is proving challenging.

We would appreciate any recommendations on Teleflex parts suppliers that might be able to get us what we need or machine shops in the Amsterdam area that could drill out the common part to the size we need.

Update 11/14/2019: This one is solved. Thanks for all the suggestions.

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As part of our fendering redesign a couple of years back, we purchased four EasyStore 42x132cm fenders. They’ve performed well, particularly through our 97 lock passages this year, so we ordered one of their larger ones and it just arrived today from Amazon UK. At 24×59 inches, it’s a beast. And it cost only £175, about half the price of the smaller 24×42-inch Pro Stock marine fender we currently use at the bow.
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Damaged Breadboard
It’s only 5 volts, but a year back we made a wiring mistake on this one and the breadboard was damaged. We weren’t intending to change it, but the board comes from a batch that weren’t great. So, the combination of the thermal damage and this being a low-quality board, led us to replace it. The new board even feels better when installing jumpers.
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Junction Box
This is the junction box with the new breadboard installed. This junction box doesn’t really have many connections but it’s enough to look busy and to require some care when changing the breadboard. Passing through this junction box are:
 • matrix 4×4 keyboard connection—8 wires in and 8 out
 • Lax I2C bus—4 wires in and 4 wires out
 • I2C to 8 pin digital I/O—4 wires of I2C and 5 signalling connections to sense:
   ◦ Digital in: Gen Autostart off/on
   ◦ Digital in: I2C bus off/on
   ◦ Digital out: Blue autostart warning light
   ◦ Digital out: ER Yellow warning light
   ◦ Digital out: ER Red warning light
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Windlass Maintenance
Our Maxwell 3500 windlass has performed flawlessly for us in a decade of use across thousands of anchorages around the world. To keep it that way, we regularly disassemble and grease the top and change the oil.

Read more …

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Freeman Hatch
The weatherstripping on the anchor locker Freeman hatch cover had worked partially out of the groove due to corrosion underneath. Here we are removing the weatherstripping so we can clean up the corrosion and reattach the weatherstripping.
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Removing Corrosion
Using a wire wheel to clean-up the corrosion that developed underneath the weatherstripping on the anchor locker Freeman hatch cover.
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Weatherstripping Reinstalled
We removed the Freeman hatch cover and brought it inside to reinstall the weatherstripping. It’s easier to work with the cover level, and the adhesive works better at room temperatures. Here the weatherstripping has been reinstalled using Loctite 37532 Black Weatherstrip Adhesive.
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Steering Maintenance
Today we removed and replaced the hydraulic steering rod end. In the video at we step through the steering system on the Nordhavn 52, showing some of the wear points and the changes we have made to minimize these issues. Finally, we show the removal and replacement of the hydraulic steering rod end. This is the part that transfers force between the hydraulic cylinder and the steering arm. We show how to check for wear and change the part.
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Oil Delivery
The five 20L pails of engine oil that we’d ordered from Amazon Germany just arrived today. (Well, four of the five did, the fifth came the next day.) That folding cart continues to get heavy use on Dirona.

We’d used every drop of oil on the boat, so this 100L delivery takes us from empty to back to full capacity. This will maintain all of our engines for about a year under normal use.

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Rimula R4L
Obtaining circular pails is getting harder in many geographies, where each company is using their own proprietary-shaped 20L container. We need secure storage when we’re in rough waters, so it’s far easier for us to use a standard shape. We try to get ACEA-E9 whenever we can, but sometimes can only get ACEA-E7, which meets the specs for our engine and is acceptable, but is not our preference.
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Out with the Old
After a year of cruising, we’ve collected about 90L of waste oil. When we bring new oil in, we recycle the old oil.
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333 Days Up
One of our five Raspberry Pis has been up and running without reboot for 333 days straight. That’s almost a year. For such a moderately-priced item, they’re surprisingly reliable.
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Jennifer getting rid of garbage, including a recently-emptied 20L pail of oil. We now have 100L of clean oil on board and are ready for another year of cruising.
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Charging Batteries
We picked up two group U1 batteries from Accu Verkoop this afternoon and now are topping up the charge before testing and installing.
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Tender Battery
It’s time to replace the tender start battery. This particular battery is nearly four years old and spent most of its life as a spare battery in the old tender and then was moved over to the new tender, where it has been in use for about a year. Technically it still starts the engine well, but it tests as needing replacement due to waning capacity.
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Fixing Prop
We love exploring in the tender and frequently touch bottom. We’re not too concerned about that, since a new propellor is only $90. But to maximize propeller life, James periodically straightens out the blades and files them smooth. We typically average around a year’s use on a prop.
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The 20L container of Fleetguard ES Compleat antifreeze that we’d ordered locally just arrived. We’d gone through most of our supply in changing the antifreeze in the generator earlier this year and wing a couple of weeks back.
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Watermaker Maintenance
Today we completed a number of maintenance items on the water maker. We changed the high-pressure (HP) pump oil, greased the HP pump motor, backflushed the media filter until clear and changed the carbon and 5-micron pleated filter. In the picture, James is pumping out the old oil from the HP pump.
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Old Filters
The old carbon filter and 5-micron pleated filter from the watermaker after changing. The last change was about ten months ago.

In high plankton areas like North America’s Pacific Northwest, having to change the water maker prefilter once a day is not uncommon. This can get tedious, so we ordered a simple solution. In front of the standard 5-micron pleated paper filter, we have a media filter.

A media filter is essentially a large vessel full of carefully-selected sand. This approach is the most common approach used in swimming pool filtration and is very effective. We can run the water maker full time for 2 to 4 weeks until the filter begins to show signs of needing to be cleaned.

On ours, pressure gauges on the inlet and the outlet allow us to check the pressure loss across the filter. It’s pretty simple to clean when needed. Rotate the inlet and outlet valves and turn on the media filter booster pump to backflush the filter. After a couple of minutes, it clears and the process is done. Restore the valves and it’s ready to return to use.

Before using the media filter, depending on water conditions, the media filter might need back-flushing weekly, or it could be as long as a month. With the media filter we only need to change the prefilter annually, even when in heavy use.

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Antifreeze Leak
We had developed a slight antifreeze leak under the main engine and could see a drip from one of the coolant hoses that run out to the keel cooler. So the hose clamps likely needed tightening. Unfortunately they are all under the engine on the port side, and the only way to access them is reaching across from the starboard side where you can’t actually see what you are doing. This picture, taken looking aft from underneath the front of the engine, shows James stretched out to arm’s limit and working by feel to place a wrench on the nut to tighten it.

Our experience with heavy wire-reinforced hose is that well-installed clamps will still probably need to be tightened after one to two years, but after that it usually is fine for the life of the boat. That’s the good news. The bad news is these particular clamps are just about completely impossible to access. The entire job took several hours, and the most difficult hose clamp was two hours all by itself.

James has worked on Lamborghinis, Ferrari and other Italian exotics not known for ease of service, but has never found a hose clamp as difficult to access as these four. Fortunately one of the upsides of Nordhavns is they’re designed to be used and serviced, with few parts that are actually “built-in”, so this is a rare problem on Dirona.

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Draining Filters
Draining the fuel from our fuel filter housings to clean them.
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Filter Housing
After a decade of use, a trip around the world, and fuel picked up in many obscure places, the fuel filter housings had built up quite a bit of gunk inside.
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Nice and Clean
The fuel filters back in place after cleaning them.
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Victron MK3
James investigating the Victron VE.Bus interface. We’re interested in being able to remotely power on and off the Victron 240V inverter.
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Proportional Control
Today we attempted to callibrate the proportional control on our Kar-Tech, but couldn’t get it working. So we tried callibrating the wired Steelhead pendant as a test of the proportional system. That didn’t work either. (Proportional control adjusts the speed of response based on how much the trigger on the remote is pulled.)
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Proportional Valve
Since we couldn’t callibrate the proportional control on either remote, we suspected a problem with the proportional valve. Here James is wedged in at the starboard forward corner of the lazarette, behind the hydraulics reservoir (left) and the freezer (right) to replace the valve with a spare.
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Kar-Tech Remote
In the end, the proportional valve was fine, we just weren’t understanding the Kar-Tech callibration instructions. We finally were able to successfully calibrate the proportional control on the remote and have documented clearer instructions at Kar-Tech Mini Guider Proportional Calibration.
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Inverter Control Switch
As part of our project to remotely control the Victron 240V inverter, we investigated a mechanical control via the remote panel in the pilot house. Here we are able to turn the inverter on and off by directly driving the remote panel circuit board. We also were able to get status information and turn the inverter off and on by programming directly against the Victron VE.Bus interface.
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Windshield Wipers
On investigating a windshield wiper problem, the wiper arm literally fell apart in our hands due to corrosion. We’re now in the market for four Exalto EX2108 adjustable length pantograph wiper arms. It’s always fun to search for ten-year-old boat parts.
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One of the items we brought back with us from the US was a new UPS, an APC BE850M2 to protect the nav computer from power loss and voltage surges. The old one, a ten-year-old APC Back-UPS ES 750, had suddenly dropped the load this August, bringing down the computer and corrupting our on-board telemetry database. We replaced it with a previously-used spare (also ten years old). The replacement unit had a weak battery, but was functional. We could replace the battery, but decided to replace the entire UPS, since it’s a critical component and was getting old.

Fortunately the APC UPS Daemon software we use to gather telemetry on the device was compatible with the new UPS, so the main work was just digging out the old one and replacing it with the new one.

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Removing Built-In Vacuum
One of the options we’d selected when purchasing Dirona was the standard built-in vacuum, a Nu-Tone CV350, installed port-side in the lazarette. But we haven’t been very happy with it—the air-driven power head frequently rusted up or seized and we were constantly messing with it.

This July in Stockholm we bought back from the US a Shark Navigator upright vacuum as a test and have been super-impressed with the amount of dirt and dust it continually pulls up each time we vacuum. We brought a spare Shark Navigator back with us from the latest US trip, so it’s now time to remove the “backup” Nu-Tone vacuum and free up the space for storage.

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It’s a bit unusual to have both a spare vacuum and a spare power-washer. But both are important to us and we can’t buy 120V, 60Hz appliances in most of the places where we spend time. In the space left by removing the built-in vacuum, we were able to store the spare power-washer and vacuum that we brought back on our recent trip to the US.
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James replaced two daisy-chained Ethernet switches with a single, 16-port all-POE switch (a NETGEAR GS116LP) that we brought back with us from the US. As always, Spitfire is interested in the new configuration.
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240V Inverter Control
A few weeks back we investigated ways to remotely control the Victron 240V inverter. Today we added a relay to drive the remote panel circuit board and updated our control system software to turn the inverter on and off. The inverter draws 40 watts when idle with no load, so one application of this feature is to turn the inverter off when it’s not in use.
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Samsung QN55Q70RA
We just completed the job of replacing our old 46-inch flatscreen with a modern 55-inch Samsung QN55Q70RA. And it looks fabulous.

Read more …

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Commbox Modem
We’re beta testing the KVH IP-MobileCast service and the new system requires an upgraded version of the V7hts Integrated CommBox Modem. KVH shipped us the new one by courier and the old one will be returned the same way.
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Nano Daypack
We find that we sometimes are out traveling without a pack, but end up stopping at a store and picking up enough that it’s hard to carry it. Our latest solution to this frequently repeating theme is the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Nano Daypack. This tiny 1-inch cylinder fits in Jennifer’s purse but can unfold to an entire back pack.
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Nano Daypack in Action
We’ll see how it does in use, but so far the Nano Daypack looks like an impressive piece of gear.
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Depth Sounder
We replace our Maretron DST-110 depthsounder every 2 years. What’s annoying is the depth reading is always working well but the water temperature sensor can only go 2 to 3 years before the temperature sensor fails. We’ve been reading 80F water for a 6 months now and we doubt it’s been over 60F anywhere we’ve been during that period. Given that it’s roughly a $350 part and its primary purpose is reading depths, we hate to replace it when it’s still reading depths correctly, but we like knowing the water temperature.

Replacing the sensor isn’t difficult. Just unscrew the collar, and then quickly pull out the old one and slip the new one in before tightening down the collar on the new one. It sounds easy but it’s this opens a fairly big hole more than 4 inches below the surface of the water. The water pressure is fairly high down that far and the hole left by removing the old sensor is pretty big and it’s truly amazing how fast water rushes in and how much comes in during that quick change. We now read 47F, which checks out as correct, and past experience suggests we’re good for another 2 years.

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Windshield Wipers
Replacing the wipers arms. They have gone ten years so we can’t complain. The job had a few setbacks so we ended up spending a few hours on this one but it’s now all working again.

Read more …

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At DHL in the Museumplein district to send our V7hts integrated CommBox Modem back to KVH after upgrading it.
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Diesel Drip
A small fuel leak had developed either at the site gauge O-Rings or at the lower valve of the wing engine fuel tank. We’re not sure which, and can tighten the valve packing and replace the O-rings fairy quickly, so we did both.
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Boat Wash
We gave the boat a wash today. We’re in the center of town, so it gets dirty fairly quickly.
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Two of the speakers in the pilothouse weren’t working. We were expecting it to be a bit of a challenge to chase down, but the problems turned out to be easily fixed. Both were vibration-induced loose connections.
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Vodafone Traveller
With the EU’s “Roam Like at Home” rules, we’ve been using the SIMs we bought in Ireland and the UK throughout our European travels. Partly because “Roam Like at Home” may not work on the UK SIM going forward and partly because the system is designed for people who are based in the country of purchase, we’ve been researching getting a third SIM. We planned to buy one in the Netherlands, but the pre-paid programs here are quite expensive compared to other countries.

Shopping around on-line, we found a Spanish SIM, Vodafone Traveller, that gives 25Gig for €20 and also includes roaming in Turkey and the US. We ordered it from and it just arrived today. We were able to activate it and use it in the Netherlands and so far we’re quite happy with it. The only downside is that we can only top-up through the mobile app and it can only be installed with a Spanish Google account. This can easily be worked around by setting up a second Google account located in Spain and switching accounts on our phones when we want to use the app.

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Kidney Diet
Spitfire was diagnosed with kidney problems early last year and we’ve since been feeding him a special diet. We’re stocking up on enough food to get us to mid-summer.
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HVAC Filter
When the HVAC systems are used more, the air filters build up dust rather quickly and need to be cleaned every three or four months.
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Greasing Davit
Our ES-1500 was an early design from Steelhead and it has problems with aluminum galling on the boom extension. We mitigate it by greasing it annually. Even with these precautions it requires periodic rebuild.
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New Video Cameras
We have two side-facing cameras mounted on the stack, but they are security cameras directed downwards at the entrance to the boat. We often would like to have video off to the side of the boat, similar to what we have fore and aft, so are installing two additional cameras for that purpose. Here James is drilling the mounting holes for the starboard-side camera.
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New Port Camera
The new port-facing camera installed.
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Both Cameras
Looking forward to both new cameras mounted on the stack.
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Ethernet Crimper
Once the cameras were installed in the stack, the next step was to run Ethernet cable out to them from the pilot house. The wire runs are tight, so we run the cables without the connectors and then install them after.
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Ethernet Tester
Testing that the Ethernet cables have been installed properly. The tester is part of the UbiGear kit, an incredible value that includes crimper, tester, and connectors for only $15.97.
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Port Far View
The image from the new distance view port camera.
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We took a large delivery from Albert Heijn this morning in preparation for our upcoming trip south to the Mediterranean.
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Pain Killers
For years we’ve carried prescription pain killers in our ship’s medical chest, but carrying narcotics between countries, even within the EU, is becoming more difficult. Since we’re not likely to be more than a few hours away from medical assistance in the foreseeable future while cruising in Europe, we decided to discard our stock. We like the self-suffiency and the additonal safety of having controlled prescription drugs on board, but it’s been adding friction to border crossings. So we’re making the difficult trade-off of giving up a bit of safety and security that won’t likely be needed in order to make day-to-day crossings easier.
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Garbage Run
Jennifer on a garbage run at City Marina IJDock. We’re sure loving living in Amsterdam.
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New Rug
The heavy-duty door mats we use at our three exterior doors needed replacing. We’d brought back the two for the pilot house doors over the summer, and the third for the salon came back on this trip.
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Fender Failure
Another one of our ProStock Marine fenders failed in the big winds this week. This one was positioned aft-most and not at a critical location. We still have some ProStock fenders left, and will just cycle through them until they all fail.

This is our third ProStock Marine fender failure in high winds—they seem particularly prone to failure in cold temperatures. Because of this fairly-common failure mode, we’ve moved to Polyform F-8s for the two highest-load fender locations amidships. This gives us two nearly-indestructible fenders in the highest load locations while still having the convenience of inflatable fenders everywhere else.

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Dutch Customs
Dutch Customs arriving for an inspection of Dirona. When we told them that this would be the fourth inspection since returning to the Netherlands, including once already at City Marina, they called headquarters to check and didn’t need to come aboard. It’s surprising that they don’t check before coming out.
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Urine Test
Spitfire was behaving a little oddly at Het Catshuys, so they tested his urine with a test strip, found blood in the urine, and sent a sample to their vet for further analysis that confirmed the result. We took him in for an ultrasound when we got back, looking for possible kidney or bladder stones, and they sent a urine sample out for a detailed analysis, looking for a possible bacterial infection. All the tests were negative, so we’ve got him on antibiotics to hopefully resolve the issue. And we bought a test strip kit so we can monitor it for ourselves at home. Right now the blood level (6th from top) is still high, but appears a little improved.
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Freezer Fan
Last fall we discovered our freezer fan needed replacing due to failed bearings. A slow-turning fan can be a little difficult to diagnose. The freezer apparently was working perfectly when partially filled, but when we loaded it up after a shopping trip, it was unable to sufficiently cool the new load. The slow-spinning fan reduced the overall cooling ability of the system. Everything worked, just at lower capacity.

Emerald Harbor Marine got a new one for us that we picked on our recent trip to Seattle and here James is installing it. The location is a bit of a tight place to work, wedged in behind the freezer in the after starboard corner of the lazarette.

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Jennifer returning from what likely will be the very last time we buy groceries in Amsterdam. We’re planning to start working our way south to the Mediterranean next week.
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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