Maintaining at Gigha

Click for larger image

While our cruising lifestyle may be on pause during the Scottish lockdown, our maintenance log isn’t. Several scheduled service items came due in mid-May, including annual testing, lubricating and changing the oil and filter in our gasoline engines, changing the hydraulic zincs, and charging our backup batteries. We also completed some unscheduled maintenance work, such as fixing a sqeaking salon floor and replacing a failed Raspberry Pi and a corroded emergency warning light.

Our produce supplies, while dwindling after nine weeks since last provisioning, still provided fresh fruit and vegetables, and our on-board bakery continued to produce delicous breads and breakfast treats.

Below are highlights from May 12th through 21st. 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

Click for larger image
Choc Chip Muffins
We really enjoyed the blueberry muffins we made using the recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. This morning’s breakfast was from her chocolate chip muffins recipe and were equally delicious.
Click for larger image
Replacing the contacter in the power cabinet that had developed a noisy coil. This particular one is used to temporarily shed the microwave when we detect high load on the 120V inverter.
Click for larger image
Gen Start Issue
The generator has been slow to start recently. We tested the glow plugs a few days back, but they were in good shape. Today we did some further investigation and determined it was a problem with the starter. We tested the battery voltage and connection quality, and all checked out well. Here James is testing the RPM with an optical tachometer. Low RPM on a starter is not a particularly common failure mode, with low battery and poor connection being far more common. But it was so obvious there was a starter RPM problem that James stopped the problem determination at this point and just changed the starter. It’s not that hard a job, and it solved the problem.

Watch the video of the job at

Click for larger image
Another spectacular sunrise at the Isle of Gigha in Scotland.
Click for larger image
Annual Engine Service
Performing the annual service on all our auxiliary gas engines. Pictures are our Honda 2.3HP motor for the micro-tender and our WH15X high-powered water pump for emergency water evacuation and fire-fighting. We annually test and lubricate them, and change their oil and fuel.
Click for larger image
Oil Filter
Performing the annual oil filter change on the Honda 50HP motor. We also changed the fuel filter, required every 2 years and our first change since we picked up our “new” tender two years ago in Harlingen, NL on our way to Norway.
Click for larger image
The tender steering system seized up due to grease failure. The grease hardened up into a thick coating that was hard as a rock. Even brake cleaner was slow to remove it. On the right is the portion of the steering rod that we have cleaned off, with some old hardened grease still visible at the left where James is pointing.

We worked a can of break cleaner in and got the steering as free as possible, removed as much of the old coating as we could, and then pumped in new grease. It feels nearly as good as new now.

Click for larger image
Several otters live in the area and we enjoy watching their antics. They always keep a safe distance from Dirona though, possibly having seen our fierce feline. :)
Click for larger image
Charging Backup Battery
Performing the semi-annual test and charge of the backup battery in our tender.
Click for larger image
Hydraulics Spares
We have spares stowed throughout the boat. Here Jennifer is getting two pencil zincs from the hydraulics spares under the floor at the foot of the master stateroom berth.
Click for larger image
Hydraulic Zincs
The hydraulic zincs have lasted well since we last changed them nine months ago.
Click for larger image
Salon Floor
Our salon floor has picked up a squeak at the engine room hatches, so we removed the carpet and under-padding to investigate. It’s also a good time to give the floor a good clean. The hatches are designed to allow the engine to be removed from the boat without having to cut into the woodwork. We hope never to test this, but if those cross-beams are removed, the engine should lift up through the floor and out the door.
Click for larger image
Cutting To Size
Cutting strips of non-skid to size to fit underneath and between the floor hatches. That solved the squeak.
Click for larger image
Backing Up DSM410
We’ve installed a NMEA2000 system on our tender, with a Maretron DSM410 display. We annually backup this device, and the easiest way to do that is to another DSM410. This gives us both a backup of the original and a ready-to-go spare should the original fail.
Click for larger image
Charging UPS Battery
Completing the semi-annual test and charge of the backup batter for our UPS. That Schumacher portable charger gets a surprising amount of use and has lasted well since we purchased it way back in 2011.
Click for larger image
Maintenance Log
One of the projects we completed while here at the Isle of Gigha is to convert our Excel-based maintenance log to a database-backed system with a web interface. This automatically pulls in the hours from our various engines and give us a service history report. Here we are marking complete the task to test and charge the tender and UPS batteries. We’ll blog the details of the new maintenance log system.
Click for larger image
Cinnamon Buns
Another batch of pecan-topped cinnamon buns just out of the oven.
Click for larger image
Corroded Tower Light
We have a warning light on the stack designed to attract attention if we suffer a shore power failure or fire and nobody is on board to clear the alarm. In these conditions, we automatically flash an external light high up the stack to attract attention to the boat. The hope is that the flashing light attracts attention and either causes someone to take action (like reseting the shore power breaker) or causes the marina to call us so we can correct the problem.

It’s a simple configuration based upon our remote boat monitoring system. The only trouble we have had with this system is getting warning lights to last. Every year or two, we’ll see storm force winds and these lights often end up filled with water even though they are outdoor-rated. This is the second failure and this one was particularly bad where the light was actually partly full of water and the insides have rusted away. Today, we’ll install an improved waterproof warning lamp.

Click for larger image
Testing New Light
Testing out the new emergency light from our spares. Hopefully this different design will last better than the original.
Click for larger image
Light Installed
The new emergency light installed and being tested.
Click for larger image
Fresh Bread
Another tasty loaf from our Zojirushi Home Bakery Mini bread machine. We’ve used it more in the past few weeks than for the eight years that we’ve owned the machine. It’s been wonderful having fresh bread available with little effort on our part.
Click for larger image
Forward Pi
The Raspberry Pi mounted above the helm is the original one that was put into production on Dirona during our 2015 Indian Ocean crossing. Over the years, it picked up more features, more connections, and became a difficult-to-service mess of wires and discrete components. Today we removed most of the discrete components and wiring to the breadboard and replaced them all with with an i2c-to-8-pin digital I/O processor. In the picture, the job isn’t quite complete as some resistors still need to come out of the breadboard. This now is a far simpler and easier-to-service approach compared to how it was before in this earlier photo.
Click for larger image
Green Onions
We read today that green onions will regrow if the roots are put in a clear container of water in the sun. The few we had left were actually starting to sprout a bit already, so we put them in the galley window and we’ll see what happens. James is planning to keep his job rather than go into full-time farming, but we’re still happy with the potential. :)
Click for larger image
When we looked outside this morning, we were surprised to see another boat at anchor. This is the first pleasure craft we’ve seen since we arrived at Gigha over eight weeks ago. The British-flagged vessel departed after spending a couple of nights here.
Click for larger image
Our lettuce is keeping well after nearly nine weeks, but our eight initial heads of Romaine are down to only small hearts now.
Click for larger image
Boat Garden
Sam Landsman, on seeing our project to regrow green onions, shared a photo of the boat garden on Nordhavn 50 Akeeva. It looks wonderful, and they even grew lettuce until it got too big.
Click for larger image
The last of the apples from Portland with breakfast. We now are out of fresh fruit, but we do have plenty of canned fruit to keep us going.
Click for larger image
The apples still were fresh, crispy and delicious after nine weeks, but the seeds inside had actually started to sprout. If we had a boat garden like on Akeeva, we might plant it for fun and see what happens. But self-sufficiency has its limits—we’re not at all tempted to grow an apple tree on board. :)
Click for larger image
Our Hannah
Choppy conditions east of Gigha as Our Hannah heads south into the seas.
Click for larger image
Raspberry Pi
This afternoon one of our Raspberry Pis stopped functioning correctly. It’s an easy job to replace. This is the third failure over the five we have installed on board, and the second failure this year. But, given five are in service on Dirona, it still seems like a reasonable lifetime and pretty good value for $42.99 (
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


If your comment doesn't show up right away, send us email and we'll dredge it out of the spam filter.

4 comments on “Maintaining at Gigha
  1. Jesse says:

    What is your current Battery set up? Have you looked into Lithium since the technology is fairly new and for a boat of your program, offers tremendous advantages and reliability, apart from the cost of course. Is it a trade off of cost/value which ultimately decides which direction to go there?

    • Our current battery setup is 6x 8D Lifeline AGM house batteries, 2x 4D Lifeline AGM start battery for the wing/gen, and 2x 4d start battery for the main engine. We’re still all lead-acid on dirona.

      Li-ion batteries are a big win where weight or size is a factor but that’s not that important on our boat. They can be cycled all the way down rather than 1/2 which is another big win over lead-acid. I’ll make the move when the cost equation is better since weight and size is not a big factor for us. There is some additional friction to changing battery chemistries since form factors are different and charger parameters have to all change but, when Li-Ion is cheaper than lead-acid, we’ll probably do it

  2. William Domb says:

    Why do you need to charge the UPS battery? Isn’t it charged by its own enclosure normally?

    Are you not permitted ashore because of quarantine?

    • It’s the backup tender and backup UPS battery that needs a maintenance charge every 6 months. As you said, the two UPSs in serverice are self charged but we also have a single backup battery that is in storage until needed in the UPS. It’s the backup that needs charge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.