Frozen in Farsund


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In the second week of February, the temperature plunged well below freezing in Farsund and remained that way for ten days. The ice around Dirona rapidly grew thicker to the point we could actually stand on it. Given the water temperature was fairly warm at 45°F (7°C), we were surprised the air temperature dominated and produced such thick ice so quickly. We concluded that we’d misunderstood our pilot guide’s description of Farsund being ice-free, and what it actually meant was there was no charge for all the ice :-). Farsund residents told us it was rare for the harbour to freeze like that, and one person said he’d been skating on the water below his harbor-front home for the first time in twenty years.

The temperature eventually reached 19.1°F (-7.2°C), the coldest that we’ve ever seen on Dirona. The boat did remarkably well in the below-freezing temperatures, with the only evidence of damage being to a forward deck faucet and a cockpit shower head. During the build, we’d specified extra insulation above the headliners to reduce heat loss, but otherwise haden’t made any substantive changes to manage freezing temperatures. Fortunately all the freshwater pipes Nordhavn installed are PEX, which don’t tend to rupture when frozen. We did have a couple of other temperature-related issues to resolve, including several antifreeze leaks that developed as the engine coolant hoses contracted, and some condensation running down the inside of a large void space above the galley.

Below are highlights from February 5th through 13th, 2021. 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 mvdirona.com/maps.

2/5/2021
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20F
We’re going to experience about a week of temperatures well below freezing. This morning it is a chilly 20°F (-6.7°C) outside (top row, center).
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Antifreeze Leak
This morning we replaced one of the clamps on the keel cooler fittings under the main engine. The one originally installed was too large and, fully tightened, it wasn’t tight enough. In this colder weather, its begun to leak quite a bit. We’ve probably leaked a half-gallon of antifreeze. The leak was serious enough when cold and not under pressure that we wouldn’t be able to operate the engine for long at full temperature when the cooling system is pressurized.

The picture was taken looking aft underneath the engine from the starboard front corner. Working by feel with only one hand and Jennifer guiding, James somehow managed to get a new clamp around the hose, connect it back up, and properly tighten it.

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Working by Feel
James stretched out on the engine room floor to reach underneath and install a new hose clamp to stop the antifreeze leak.
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Another Leak
After correcting the coolant leak, we pressure-tested the system to 25 PSI (5 PSI over standard operating pressure) and found another small leak around the heat exchangers in the lazarette near the water heater.
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Heat Exchangers
We have two heat exchangers that transfer heat between the main engine cooling system and the diesel boiler hot water system. This means that we never have to operate the boiler when underway, and instead get full heat “for free” from the main engine. It also allows the furnace system to heat the engine, which is much better for the engine when starting in cold weather, and has the wonderful side effect that heating the engine makes for a Spitfire-approved nice toasty engine room. So if we need to do work in sub-freezing climates, we get to do so in a comfortable environment.

We found a small leak at one of the hose clamps and corrected that by tightening all the clamps.

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Keel Cooler Hoses
After having corrected two leaks on the main engine cooling system, we again pressure tested the system to 25 PSI (5 PSI over standard operating pressure) and found yet another leak. We think what is happening is, in this unusually cold weather, clamps that were previous barely tight enough now are starting to leak.

This picture shows the coolant connections to the main engine keel cooler. The top hose has a high-quality clamp that’s properly sized. On the hose below are two low-quality clamps that are insufficiently tight and yet suffering from being overtightened. These clamps just aren’t good enough for this application.

We replaced the two lower clamps with a properly-sized Banjo clamp. We really love Banjo clamps. They are able to deliver enormous force when needed, and they deliver a nice even pressure over a large surface area and don’t cut into the hose. We again repeated the now-familiar process of pressure-testing the cooling system after fixing the “last” leak. This time it tested out well, held pressure for 30 minutes, and there were no leaks.

The next day, we were amazed to find a main engine coolant leak on our daily engine room check. This time we tightened all clamps on all engines and, yet again, pressure-tested the main engine successfully. We then ran the main engine through a warm-up cycle, checking for any other leaks. It’s strange that it’s never leaked and then suddenly has four leaks in two days. We suspect it’s due the cold weather—the air temperature is 20-25°F (-6.7 to -3.9°C) and we’re surrounded by ice.

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Tool Roll
We’ve had the beige tool roll, at right, in use for about 6 months now and we really like it. Whenever we need to do some work, we can grab it by the handle and all our commonly-used metric wrenches are available for immediate use. Here James is loading SAE-sized wrenches into a second tool roll that came from the US with our pallet.
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Ice Chunks
There’s a reasonably strong tidal current through Farsund, and big chunks of ice broken by the tugs farther out often come in with the tide.
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Ice Off Bow
The ice is now getting quite thick around Dirona. This is the Farsund guest harbour dock directly in front of the boat.
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Speaker Drivers
Replacing the tweeters in two of our Definitive Audio Mythos speakers with new ones that arrived from the US in our pallet delivery.
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Dusk
Dusk from the our berth in Farsund, surrounded by surface ice.
2/6/2021
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Dripping Water
This morning we noticed some water dripping from a headliner above the galley sink. Dropping the headliner revealed this huge void space that forms the outside bulkhead of the stairs to the flybridge (the two pipes are supply lines for the air horns). Condensed water that had frozen on the inside was melting in the heat of the sun and running down the sides. Annoying, but at least it wasn’t a burst pipe. We heated and dried the area, then place some rags to catch any future runoff until the weather warms up.
2/7/2021
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65 knots
A big storm passed through the area last night, bringing 65-knot winds. Normally we’d feel the wind moving the boat as the lines tightened and loosened against the dock, but because of the ice, the boat didn’t move at all.
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Spitfire
Spitfire hasn’t wanted to go outside for days with the cold weather, but today he really wanted out. He ended up being more interested in the camera than Farsund.
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Standing on the Ice
After watching a few people walking on the ice, we carefully stood on it ourselves. There’s a picture we never though we’d take: standing on the ice in front of Dirona frozen place.
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Snow Cat
28°F (-2.2°C) temperatures don’t chase the Norwegian cats inside. We saw this one while on an afternoon walk around the Kjorestad locality directly west of Farsund.
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Danefjell
View to the commercial docks in Lundevagen, southeast of Farsund, from the hill Danefjell.
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Seismic Survey Ships
A row of five seismic survey ships in storage at Farsund during the oil industry slowdown.
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Fur Coat
Another Norwegian cat out enjoying the “warm” and sunny weather. That thick fur coat seem to be ideal for this climate.
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Trollkirka
View across from the hill Trollkirka to the waters outside Farsund. The guest harbour where we are moored is beyond the frame at upper left. We entered Farsund to the right of the smallest islet roughly at center—there’s definitely no clear path for us to leave anytime soon.
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Dirona
Dirona firmly iced in at the Farsund guest harbour. The ice surrounding the boat is now 5-6 inches thick.
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Ice Slabs
Several-inch-thick slabs of ice broken off and pushed up onto the solid ice by the FFS tugs as the come and go from the port.
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Superstructure Ice
The FFS tugs have been returning to port recently with a thick coating of ice on the superstructure. This is caused by storm conditions in freezing weather, where the saltwater hitting the superstructure is freezing before it drains. This can be destabilizing to a vessel if the ice gets thick and heavy enough.
2/8/2021
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Swapping Position
The FFS tugs Amaranth and Athos rotating in place while tied together, viewed from our aft deck. The inside boat needed to leave, so rather than move both boats, they left the outside boat tied on, released from shore, rotated in place, and pushed the previously outside boat back up against the dock to be tied off.

The clear section of water visible in the foreground is from a huge slab of ice that the tugs detached as they spun. The distance between us and the clear channel now is less, but it’s still pretty much impossible for us to reach it.

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Dirona
Dirona still iced in at Farsund, viewed on a late afternoon walk around town.
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Dusk
Dusk views from our berth in the Farsund guest harbour (clockwise from top left: forward, aft, starboard and port). The temperature has increased slightly to 30°F (-1.1° C), but the ice is just as thick and extensive, if not more so.
2/9/2021
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FFS Athos
FFS Athos returning to Farsund. We really enjoy watching the tugs come and go.
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Ice
Thick slabs of ice broken by the tug FFS Athos returning to Farsund. As the tugs come and go, they break huge slabs if ice that flow back in behind the tug and refreeze, producing these large ice pieces that jut up at odd angles. It’s all very unusual and exciting for us, and we’re enjoying our stay in Farsund, but we do feel a tad concerned we might be trapped here for a month or more.
2/10/2021
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Sunrise
Golden sunrise over Farsund this morning as the skies have cleared and the winds have settled.
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Grey Water Tank
The grey water tank TLM100 sensor (the small black circle at right secured with five bolts) was reading full (86 gallons) when it contained about 10 gallons. We attempted to remove the sensor, but the original installer didn’t put threads in the tank cover. Instead, they put bolts through with nuts on the other side, making it very difficult to service. Removing the TankWatch4 sensor opened the visible hole and we were able to reach underneath the TLM100 to clean it. The sensor does appear to be working now. If it fails again, likely we’ll need to replace the sensor.
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Guest Harbour
View to the still firmly-frozen Farsund guest harbour as we set out for a walk on a clear and sunny day.
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Bricks
Kids have been tossing bricks onto the ice in the Farsund inner harbour. The bricks warm up in the sun and, depending on how long they’ve been there, sink into different depths. You can see this ice is much thicker than a brick.
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Nordsundet
View from the road bridge connecting Farsund with the Havik locality to the channel Nordsundet leading into Lyngdalsfjorden. Although the tidal range here is only about a foot, the fjord is large enough that a surprising amount of current flows through Nordsundet and the adjacent Farsund harbour, keeping both relatively ice-free.
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Ice Sculpture
Natural “ice sculpture” in the lawn of a house in the Havik locality.
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Walking
Enjoying a walk in the snow on a beautiful sunny day.
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Havikbukta
Snow-covered ice in the bay Havikbukta directly east of Farsund. We really enjoyed our walk through the snow to Havik.
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Old Road
Standing on a portion of the old road, built to hug the cliff, with the new bridge-supported road at left.
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Footprints
Footprints on the snow-covered ice. That looks a little shaky for walking on to us, but it looks like they made it.
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Dirona
Frode Skaar of Invy in Bergen sent us this photo a friend of his took of Dirona stuck in the ice. We’re told that these are unusually cold conditions for Farsund and that it’s rare for ice to form in the harbour like this.
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Happy Hour
Happy Hour at the Farsund guest harbour. Despite the cold temperatures and being frozen in place, we’re really having a great time here.
2/11/2021
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Sunrise
Another beautiful Farsund sunrise.
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Tug-Made Channel
Big chunks of ice in the tug-made channel through the ice colored pink in the morning sun.
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Power Draw
Dirona is a 60Hz boat, so we charge the batteries with the local 50Hz shorepower source and run all house loads off an inverter (for details see A More Flexible Power System for Dirona). We have no trouble consuming 2 16-amp power sources in the winter, especially with our reverse-cycle units back in operation. The 240V inverter load is at center left and the draw from the two shorepower sources is at right. They are all nearly consistently at max over the past 12 hours.
2/12/2021
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19.1F
The temperature dropped to 19.1°F (-7.2°C) this morning, the coldest that we’ve ever seen on Dirona. The boat has been doing remarkably well in the below-freezing temperatures, with the only evidence of damage being to a forward deck faucet. During the build, we specified extra insulation above the headliners to reduce heat loss, but we otherwise haven’t made any substantive changes to manage freezing temperatures.

Fortunately all the freshwater pipe Nordhavn installed are PEX, which don’t tend to rupture when frozen. The video Copper vs Pex vs SharkBite – Freeze Testing does an excellent comparison of various freshwater pipe material in freezing conditions.

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FFS Athos
The tug FFS Athos heading past Dirona, still frozen in the ice. OK, there are some advantages to steel hulls :).
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Walking on Ice
More and more, people are out walking on the ice in the Farsund guest harbour. We’ve stood on it when holding on to shore, but still don’t have the courage to walk right out on it.
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Bulker
A small bulker arrived into Farsund tonight to fuel the tugs.
2/13/2021
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19.5F
The temperature remains well below freezing at 19.5°F (-6.9°C) today. This will not help our ice problem. Dirona is rock-solid in the ice and doesn’t go up and down with tides, or shift with swell or wind. It’s just as though it’s on a foundation.
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 mvdirona.com/maps.

 
 


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