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I am interested in understanding a bit more about how you manage the balance between full time work and cruising. Would it be possible to contact you offline for some advice?
N5012 Miss Miranda
My strategy starts with maintaining a high bandwidth connection as close to 100% of the time as possible. I really depend on our KVH V7hst and we don’t make an effort to conserve.
Hi. I hope everything is going fine. I was just wondering if you could tell us your feeling of both world the boats you had. You had for ten years a bayliner and now 10 years a nordhavn. I know the nordhavn is more than double the price of a bayliner. But can you tell us the good side and dark side of both. In my mind nordhavn is one of the best machine on sea just like a fleming, marlow or selene… but i noticed that you had indeed a few things to change or repair on nordhavn like the cooling hoses under your engines that was not premium access or the shaft you had to change and so on… you made 4000h with the bayliner and the double with the nordhavn so what is your highlights difference ? ( except speed and range of course..)
As a Bayliner owner as we were, they really are completely different boats. The Bayliner was a very good value — in fact incredibly good value — but it can’t cross oceans with only 220 gallons of fuel whereas the Nordhavn can carry 1750 (6,650l). The Bayliner is fairly light at 15 tons vs the Nordhavn at 55 tons and the relative strength of the two boats appears roughly proportional to the weight. The Bayliners is close to 1/5 the price of the Nordhavn and comparatively lightly equipped but it allowed us to go on multi-week trips when we couldn’t have afforded a more expensive boat. The Nordhavn is a tank from a build quality and robustness perspective. The Bayliner is fairly lightly constructed.
We loved the Bayliner in that we could afford it and it brought us to some amazing places but the Nordhavn is a fundamentally different boat and can go anywhere in the world. We don’t regret buying either boat but the reason we moved to the Nordahvn is we wanted a stronger boat, with more range, more capacity, more comfort and more open ocean safety.
As an owner of a Bayliner 4788 (and previously a 4087), I completely agree with James. The Bayliners are sturdy boats. Much sturdier than what they are generally given credit. But even if I could figure out the fuel capacity issue, I would never cross an ocean in one. The weather is too unpredictable and the boat is not really built to take a serious ocean-level pounding. There’s no problem traveling in an ocean along a coast though. I’ve taken both my boats out into the Atlantic and crossed the Gulf of Mexico. Just need to wait for good weather.
Nordhavns are rather rare here on the south Texas coast but there are three Selene trawlers on my dock ranging from 48 to 57ft. Two of the three have never left the dock in the past year except to go to the yard about a mile away for maintenance. That’s a real shame. In contrast, I’m away from the dock just about every week.
100% agree. Boats need to be used.
And after 10 000hours, you know a nordhavn 52 better than anyone, what are the things you would like to improve, replace, delete, move, change…about reliability, comfort, cosmetic, trust and so on.. and does nordhavn company try to have info back from you ?
We aren’t alone in winding up the hours on our Nordhavn but, yes, Nordhavn does pick up on some of our suggestions and ideas. For example they have done a very nice power system design including some of what we have done. And they continue to help us with ideas when we want to make changes or tackle a challenging service item even though the boat is now more than 8 years old.
would you say the Vengsoy is an ‘x-bow’ design?
How is Spitfire liking the additional hours (continuous) of daylight?
Yes, it does look a bit like an X-bow design but the ferry predates the invention of the X-bow by Ulstein. It does look like an early exploration of the principals behind the X-bow.
Spitfire sleeps great during the day and he sleeps great during the night. 24×7 sun doesn’t slow him down a bit 🙂
On November 12, 1944, 30 Lancasters from 9 and 617 squadrons attacked and sank the Tirpitz with 12,000 lb Tall Boy bombs near Hakoy, just a short distance from Tromso. The Tirpitz has since been scrapped and was an important source of low-background radiation steel (i.e. pre nuclear-era steel). Bomb craters are still visible on land. The ship is gone but it might be an interesting dinghy trip.
Incidentally, If you visit Bergen on your way back south, you could visit the U-boat pens there. My father was the pilot of a 419 Squadron Lancaster that was part of the force to bomb the U-boat pens there (October 4, 1944). Dad died 24 years ago, but the U-boat pens remain, still used by the Norwegian navy for their own submarines. His 1,000 lb semi-armour piercing bombs were useless against the 10′ thick concrete roof.
Dirona anchored very close to the Tirpitz wreck site when they arrived here a few days back, and there’s not much left to see other than perhaps the craters.
And welcome to Tromsø, btw ! We finally got some sun today, summer has been cold and wet so far. I went by the harbour just now and saw Dirona, she looks great ! : )
Thanks for the historical notes Jim and Rauo.
Its surprising that 1,000 lb semi-armour piercing didn’t level the U-boat pens. That’s a lot of explosive power. We’ll check it out when we get back south to Bergen.
Rauo, if you feel like dropping by and looking around Dirona, drop me a note and we’ll set up a time.
Svalbard…land of the midnight sun this time of year. Looking forward to the photo’s 🙂
Hey Paul. We’ve already got 24×7 sun this time of year in Tromso at 69.4 degrees north but Svalbard is another 550 miles closer to the pole up at 79 degrees. We’re really looking forward to it.
Thanks for sharing the continued journey as always.
I was hoping you may pass through the Norwegian ship tunnel on your travels. Impatient for sure, I looked it up to see where it was in relation to where Dirona was and then it became evident as to why you didn’t try it – it isn’t built yet! At least according to this article. Looks interesting.
Yes, if that was open, we would ABSOLUTELY do a trip through it. That’s a really audacious engineering project. Unfortunately, construction hasn’t yet started but apparently funds have been allocated.
James, going of your last comment that pump has got to have 4 or 5 chambers with diaphragms within them taking up the expansion. The pump will also pulse deliver hot water depending on the requirements. You could fit a separate expansion vessel 🙂
Paul, what you are describing is a very common marine freshwater pump design. I use several of these on Dirona — one on the pressure salt water system. However, for the house freshwater system, it’s a 24V centrifugal pump where the impeller runs on the pressure side, pulling water in through a check valve and running the pressure up to the desired 60+ PSI. It has a pressure sensor on board and when the water consumption stops, the system pumps up to max pressure and turns off. This stops the impeller but the input check valve stops reverse flow and the system stays at the design pressure. When water is consumed, the pressure drops and the impeller is turned on to again build the pressure back up. This pump design doesn’t pulse. It’s a single check valve system with no means to flow back to the fresh water tank and no means to relieve pressure.
I suspect you are right that a separate expansion tank may be where I end up. Thanks,
PS: Personally I wouldn’t fit an expansion vessel if Dirona wasn’t originally spec’d with one. In doing so you’d be sidestepping the fault, issue.
This evening I had a chat with a family member who works in the hydraulic valve and pump industry, he assured me that system pumps that require no accumulator for thermal expansion are in use on marine pressurised water systems and have been commonplace for years!
This makes me think, and gives credence to your extensive experience and knowledge about Dirona that the pump you have is one of these.
How these pumps deal with thermal expansion is a mystery to me but, if it’s a microproccesor controlled flow sensor of some sort, and drawing just the right amount of water required from the potable tank for constant delivery to the outlets then feeding the back pressure caused when the outlet is turned off back into the potable tank in someway a one way venturi springs to mind? All being done silently and without generating water hammer, it becomes plausible that the sensor has gone out of spec or scaled up. This excess pressure which the system isn’t expecting is then slowly being discharged at the safety valve?
This is just my hypothetical theory about how these pump’s operate, one which goes against my background regarding the need for adequate thermal expansion.
Hi James – have been following Dirona’s path for several years . The track NW of Andenes Friday June 8 has perplexed me. Can you enlighten me as to why the many changes of direction. Did the steering finally pack it in ?
Whale watching. That strange course you saw us weaving is us working our way around the sharp ledge of the continental shelf where the water depth goes from a hundred to 200 feet nearly straight down to 1500 feet or more. It’s a favorite place for the commercial fishery since fish tend to feed in this area. And these same characteristics attract squid which attract the whales that feed on them. Whale watching trips are popular here. We did see a few whales but they seem to be fairly busy feeding and are only coming up for a quick breath before returning to work. Perhaps they are diving deep for food but, whatever the reason, there was no frolicking at the surface, just a quick blow with the whale barely visible and then back under. There really wasn’t all that much to see and we didn’t end up with any interesting pictures from this expedition.
Paul, I went through the pump manual this morning since this theory sounds the most likely to all of us. However, there is check valve in the inlet of the pump that prevents any flow back into the freshwater tank. It appears that once water is forced into the pressure system, it’s staying there and the only exits are consumption points and the T&P valve. If there isn’t an accumulator in the system, I think there should be :-).
Thanks for the advice.
Hi James, give the (free) predictwind app a try. It gives you a direct comparison of the gfs and ecmwf forecasts, plus a couple of other models. The graphics are nice too. Just watch out for the file update times to make sure you are looking at the latest forecast. All the best, Stephen
I did use PredictWind a bit prior to and during the last Atlantic crossing so I’m somewhat familiar with the app. I hadn’t considered them for coastal weather reporting and we’re pretty happy with Windy but another source is almost always worth consulting. Thanks Stephen.
Insulation and secure mounting will probably solve your problem with contactor hum however if it doesn’t. It’s probably rust on the armature or “pole” disassembly and cleaning deals with that. Chattering is a broken or shorted shading coil.
Thanks for the additional suggestions Steve. I’ll go with insulated and secure and see how it goes. I do have a spare so, if needed, I can take it down but it’s a high quality Schneider relay so it’s probably fine.
A question for you Steve: my hot water tank T&P valve was changed 6 months back because it leaked. The new one dumps water on heat cycles. I would think the plastic lines throughout the system should be able to absorb pressure changes but the T&P valve is pushing out water on heat cycles. When running the engine it’ll get quite hot (around 160F) and it normally runs in the 120F to 135F range when electrically heating. I suppose the new valve could be faulty but it’s definitely pushing out water. There is a plastic soft drink container below it and it’ll fill in a week or two. Any ideas or suggestions?
Regarding the T&P valve. I presume it’s a pressurised system, if so, check the expansion vessel air pressure with a tyre pressure gauge. Usually these were schrader valves on the gear I used to work on. You need to drop the pressure down to zero and ensure the temperature in the system is cold.
The required pressure may be stamped somewhere close by, but as a general guide…
The water pressure in a hydronic boiler shouldn’t be over 12- to 15-psi. It should have only enough pressure to raise the water a few feet above the top of the highest point in the piping system. A 12-psi setting will lift water 28′ above the fill valve. A 15-psi setting will lift the water to 34′.
Low pressure or lack of, can cause valves to weep, discharge due to overheating and lack of resistance.
If I’m on the wrong tack here, please ignore.
Thanks for the ideas Paul. I agree that most boats run relatively low pressure water pumps and many also have an air pressurized expansion tank. However, Dirona has neither. We don’t have an expansion tank and we run close to home water pressures. We’re using a Headhunter Xcalibur XRS-124 which, at the low current setting, still runs up to 50 PSI.
Our hydraunic boiler even lower than the 15 PSI you’ve seen — ours runs down around 7 PSI on the coolant loop and this is independent of house water system so it won’t influence the pressure in house water supply.
Thanks for the suggestions Paul.
I concur with Steven’s comment. I used to change the Schrader valves on expansion vessels (aka as accumulators / bladders in the USA) as a routine service item. If water leaks out when the Schrader valve cap is removed, the vessel is knackered and will need to be replaced. I’ve since Googled that Headhunter Xcalibur XRS 124 and the company provide a YouTube tune-up for the pump, which you may find interesting.
Thanks for your suggestions Paul. It certainly seems like an expansion tank would be required but I know the boat pretty well and it would very hard to hide an expansion tank and have me not find it. I’m pretty sure there isn’t an expansion tank on Dirona.
Hmm. I’ve been going through my mental archives and giving this issue of yours some further thought – in my working career I have worked on pretty much everything from domestic to industrial installations both sealed (pressurised) and open vented – installed, commissioned full systems with expansion vessels in all manner of sizes from them being as small as an orange to the size of that Twizzy car you posted up.
Thing is, I’ve been retired 20 year’s now so I’m out of the loop in advances in technology and system design etc. However, in my time there’s been some faults that I have discovered that can cause safety pressure valves to discharge, despite the expansion vessel proving to be in good condition and having the correct PSI for the system!
I believe you when you say you cant find any form of vessel:) The first place to check for a vessel is inside the actual boiler (water heater) casing. Now, given my mental picture of Dirona’s overall size, I would imagine this vessel to be sized in comparison to lets say a gallon of oil container and could be a round flat tank or the size of a washing up liquid bottle.
You say Dirona’s now 8 years old, so things are beginning to wear out, and up to now has been running and operating to within spec! Ruling out the things Steven has already mentioned like the temperature control thermostats not causing the system to overheat and the replacement valve possibly being faulty. We’ll assume for now taht hese are all in good working order.
Here’s a list of things that I’ve discovered being the guy sent to kill problem jobs that’ve had serious money already spent on them with no resolution of the issue.
1: The humble shower mixer valve found to be passing water from the cold side into the hot side when not in use, causing it to over pressurise the system and trickle discharge on the safety valve.
This has happened on the thermostaic cartridge and bar type of mixer valve.
2: Wash basin mixer taps, especially those with hoses for washing vegtables etc are prone to cause the same as number one.
3: Washing machine (laundry machine) solenoids controlling the flow of water into the machine passing water through the block when off. Quite rare that one, but it was in inferior quality machine and no longer on sale in the UK.
4: Calorifer (water to water heat exchanger) with a minute hole in it caused by cathodic corrision. A manufacturing defect which the company wouldnt admit liability for but, the replacement I fitted was a completey different design and spec. This caused water that should never meet, to meet, and gradually over presurised the sytem when in use (thermal expansion) with a resulting dsicharge.
5: Filling loop passing water. A simple one to fix and test, just disconnect the filling hose.
The others, like the mixer valves etc, if these have service isolating valves, which they usually do, just turn them off one-by-one and monitor the situtaion.
A bit long winded James but these are actual events and things worth checking but, 99 times out of a 100 its simply low pressure in the vessel 🙂
Hope this helps in some small way,
Thanks for the useful list of problems you have seen Paul. Many of your examples include leaks between the hot side and cold side via mixing valves, mixing taps, washing machines, etc. In looking at the system in Dirona. We have what looks to me to be a single closed system where the cold water connects to the bottom of the water heater and everything after the water heater is hot and everything before it is cold. But, there is no valve that I can find on the boat or in manufacturer manuals. The system is 100% open with water entering the system through a one way valve in the bottom of the water pump, and leaving through taps or consumption valves. Between those two points, I can’t find any accumulators nor can I find any way to relieve pressure of water expansion and there doesn’t seem to be any valve between hot and cold. In a system like this, I don’t think I can have any of the failure modes you outline below but I appreciate the ideas.
I am assuming two things one is the water never gets hot enough to trip the thermal on the relief the temperature would be stamped on the valve tag. The other is it the valve seals drip tight when not in the heating cycle.
That being the case all hot water systems have thermal expansion devices installed. Either in the form of multiple air chambers at the point of use which can be covered up and hard to find or, a simple bladder expansion tank which is now the most common method.
It sounds to me like you have lost thermal expansion ability either through the individual devices filling completely with water, or loss of air charge on top of the tank bladder.
If you have a tank you can drain the system enough to inject 6-12 psig into the fitting on top of the tank. If you have no tank you can completely drain the domestic hot water system so air will move to the individual devices on refill.
In either case it means you have a slow leak either in the tank or one of the individual devices.
Reading through other remarks and your reply, if you never had a problem with the old relief valve until it failed there is a tank or multiple air chambers installed somewhere you just haven’t found them. PEX piping does not do good as an expansion device and thermal expansion on hot water is the most common cause for failure. The most common air chambers used with PEX look like a very large CO2 rifle or pistol canister and while they could be mounted many places they are normally near the point of water use.
If none were installed I really can’t imagine why it wouldn’t have been apparent when Dirona was new.
It is within the realm of possibility the new relief is defective however I see exactly what you describe quite frequently and 99 times out of 100 it’s lack of thermal expansion capacity.
The other time it’s the wrong valve for the application.
I suppose there is another possibility since I’m not familiar with the potable water system on Dirona. While I still believe what you describe is a lack of thermal expansion capability, homes until around the mid to late 1970’s depending on region did not require expansion tanks on hot water because they used the actual city main for thermal expansion. After modifications to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act water purveyors began installing swing check valves in all branch lines to prevent back flow situations which then required thermal expansion be dealt with by the building owner. While I am assuming your system has what I would consider the normal foot valves and swing checks, maybe not. It could very well be that your system is designed to use the potable water tank for thermal expansion. That would be the only logical reason I can think of for lack of a expansion tank on Dirona and being self contained, there would be no regulation or law I can think of preventing the practice. I’d go over your system drawings and look for possible restriction points there.
Nordhavn does an unusually good job on getting the details into their owners manuals and, if there is an expansion tank, they don’t mention it. After 8 years on the boat, I’ve seen most nooks and crannies and I think it would be hard to hide an expansion tank that I’ve never seen. As much as the logic makes sense that I would need an expansion tank, I’m 99% sure I don’t have one. It would seem like I would need an expansion tank unless there is some other form of pressure relief valve allowing flow back to the water tank as the water is heated. I don’t think the Headhunter Xcalibur XRS-124 will let it flow back to the tanks so there is essentially nowhere for the expanding water to go.
It’s possible I do have an expansion tank and just haven’t seen it. One solution is to just put an expansion tank on the system — based upon all you have said, it would seem like a functioning expansion tank would solve the problem.
I do believe a functioning expansion capability would solve your immediate problem. It was also silly for me to even suggest with as much work as you have done on Dirona, that if there was an expansion tank installed that you wouldn’t have seen it.
Since you’ve not had constant problems with the relief or broken PEX flitting on the hot water thermal expansion had to be designed into the system. That leaves the potable water tank as the only possibility I can think of.
I couldn’t find anything in the way of drawings on the internet but I did find a picture of a Torrid installation on a Nordhavn that showed an adjustable 3 way valve near the heater that while the picture wasn’t good enough for me to identify the purpose, it didn’t have a sensing bulb leading me to believe it’s not there for convention mixing of water for temperature.
Installation of an expansion tank while not hard or expensive would require room I’m sure you’d rather not lose.
If you have good drawings of the potable water system I would start there first and try to identify what could have changed. Or it sounds like Nordhavn has excellent tech support, I’d probably talk with them and see how they intended to do it.
I was reading about your freshwater pump. I’m leaning toward were Paul was going in his comments and it may be worth looking hard there. It could be the sensor driving pressure that has gone off or, when you installed the new relief valve or anodes the system simply over-filled. Over filling is easy to check if your relief is piped in a SAFE direction. The next time you catch it in a heating cycle with the engine running as that is when it is the hottest, manually trip the relief holding it wide open for a couple of seconds. When you let it go it should close drip free and if the system was over-filled be the end of the problem. If the relief was leaking while heating in the electric mode, you could use the same process and if it deals with it, repeat when the engine was running.
If the relief is sealing drip free and only leaks during the heating cycle I don’t suspect the relief valve and would look harder at the pump and whatever sensors tell it to maintain pressures. The spec. sheet I read was short and to the point but I believe it indicated you can change the output settings at the pump. If the relief continues to leak on heating after tripping the relief my next step would be to lower the pump output. If that solves the problem, it’s probably a sensor going out or needing to be cleaned or another part you might be needing to order down the line.
Since you’ve (more likely than not) used hot water since the relief and anode change the chances that the system is over filled are extremely slim. The key is whether or not the relief seals when not in the heat cycle for determining where to go next and it would be nice if you had pressure gauges on your freshwater supply.
Steve, the challenge to chasing down the leak is that it’s super slight. I dump it into a plastic soft drink bottle and it’ll half fill in a week. Some days it doesn’t leak at all and other days a bit but never much. I’ve never caught it relieving but the bottle slowly fills.
You are right that a pressure sensor on the water system would be a very nice addition and it would help answer this question quickly. I’m leaning towards buying an accumulator and putting a pressure sensor in at the same time. Thanks for your thoughts as always.
Steve, the three-way valve that you saw is possibly an electrically controled valve that select water from the Everhot (the water heater in the hydronic heating system) and the A/C powered water heater. On Dirona, we take from the hydronic heater when it’s running and from the A/C heater when it’s not.
The system appears to have 1 inlet at the inlet to the water pump from the water tank. And, it has hot and cold outlets all over the boat. In between there are no valves and so the system will have a single pressure throughout the full system. The pump has a spring loaded check valve at the inlet so it won’t relieve pressure. It appears the only way to get pressure out of the system is the T&P valve. I can’t find any air pockets or designed accumulators. The Torrid MV20 hot water tank appears to have the outlet a few inches down from the top so it could form it’s only accumulator but the Torrid manual cautions on not turnning the outlet fitting to ensure all air is out of the tank which sort of implies they don’t intend to act as an accumulator.
Nordhavn support is excellent so, as recommended, I’ll ask them. Failing that, I’ll probably install an accumulator or try another T&P valve. Thanks for the help with this.
Hello both of you. first, forgive my mistakes, English is not my mother tung.
As i am in my sofa since 4 weeks now after a back surgery, i found you on youtube and after your blog. I must tell that your way to share your boat adventure with us is really amazing!!! What i love is your technical report on the side that most magazine doesn’t show or explain. My favorite mag is motorboat&yachting which i receive every month and they should let you write a couple of pages each month in it! they make good reports on refits or used boat but a step back from you.
I love your nordhavn and the way you improved it but when i discovered that you had a bayliner before, it made me something…
With my father we have a 3988 bought new in 97 with the 330 cummins so your articles on your 4087 spoke to me !
As you are in Europe and if you pass by Nieuwpoort Belgium i’ll be glad to have you on board.
Thank’s for sharing your dream, it makes me dream also.
It’s good to hear your enjoying it — we’re having an excellent time in Norway. Thanks for the feedback on the blog.
Have you noticed that the Finnamrken had a variable pitch propeller?
And that it could be set to a 0° pitch ?
Why would that be needed?
Unlike an airplane, I don’t see the direct benefit of feathering a boat’s prop, except of course when towed…?
I’d speculate that the prop could then be used as a sort of a paddle wheel , working a bit like a stern thruster?
Good observation Jacques. The Finnamrken is capable of zero pitch operation.
Variable pitch equipped boats often don’t have a reverse and just pitch the prop the other way so there is a neutral pitch as a consequence of having both a forward and reverse pitch capability. And, a common operating mode for variable pitch equipped vessels to to put the boat in gear before leaving the dock with the pitch neutral. Then the engine is brought up to a speed appropriate for maneuvering prior to getting underway. The boat is just sitting there at zero pitch. Then the helmsman can dial in some reverse pitch to pull away from the doc, and then switch to forward pitch to continue to pull away from the dock. It’s possible to set RPM and leave it alone and run the boat on pitch but it’s better to adjust engine RPM to that needed for the desired speed and then add pitch to appropriately load the engine.
Fixed pitch boats have the correct pitch at full rated RPM and are actually under-pitched at all other speed. Since most boats seldom run at full rated RPM, most boats run under-propped most of the time. Variable pitch props allow a knowledgeable operator to always have the correct pitch for a given load.
This is exactly how I was thought to operate boats with variable pitch propellers.
The school vessel I did my practice for my master’s license, was an old ice breaker tug, with twin main engines connected through one gearbox to a 6ft single variable pitch propeller. The stern pulled the same direction regardless of selected prop pitch.
We set the appropriate rpm, and the rest was done by adjusting the pitch.
Worked very well.
Hello. On the way south you should go by Stamsund in lofoten and Kjerringøy just north of Bodø
Thanks for the recommendations for places to explore. Much appreciated.
5/30/2018: At 900ft (275m) up, we could see climbers scaling Svolværgeita (circled in red at bottom right—click image for larger view). I showed this photo to the domestic authority (my wife) who said, “you’ll be going on your own.” She gets all panicky stood on a dining room chair! 😀
One of the places we ended up backing out of on the way down was a fraction of the steepness of the one in the picture but, at least for me, working near a steep edge without ropes is even more scary than even a sheer face with ropes.
Hi James & Jennifer, are you going to Tromso to visit the Artic Circle?
Yes, we are definitely going to Tromso but we have already crossed the Arctic Circle a couple of days back. We’re currently at 67 degrees 56 minutes north so 6 degrees closer to the pole than on any of our previous trips.
If you are interested in something to test “sockets” which I take to mean receptacles, this is a gives a little more information than a non contact tester. Although you do have to actually plug it in. This link is for one that will test GFIC’s however the one’s that don’t are only about 3 bucks less.
Yes, thanks Steve. I also have a pigtail that plugs into my international cord adapters to do this. I happen to use a UK device aimed at 240V but, otherwise, it’s the same as what you have referenced. Where there are issues I sometimes bring this tester our but I always use the non-contact tester as a quick verification that we actually have power at the shore power cord. The near instant results are appealing.
Blimey, I’ve never seen a Twizy before, and I must say, it looks like a quad bike with enclosed body panels. Do they have a steering wheel or handle bars?
Breath taking photography, too!
You are right Paul. A Twizy is essentially a quad bike with a steering wheel. But, I was kind of impressed with it. They are fairly inexpensive and, for many errands around town, the two hour charge would be more than adequate.
Long time reader of your blog. Thank’s for taking all of us along on your trip! Haven’t read any mentions but since you’ve crossed the Atlantic have you had any issues with bugs?
Bugs haven’t yet been much of a problem in Europe so far but it depends upon time of year, nearness to shore, weather and location. We expect we will see them in Norway at some point. We have seen some minor quantities of bugs in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides Islands but not much anywhere else.
There was a similar thread on bugs in the comments section of the St. Katherines dock posting: https://mvdirona.com/2018/05/st-katharine-docks/. The speculation was the overall bug density has decreased world-wide.
James and Jennifer,
Loving the pictures and descriptions about Norway. Thank you.
Our new N68 is in the mold, finally, and we’re now deep into choices and decisions including really simple things such as the BBQ – electric or gas? We’ve decided to go with gas because we like the results much better than with electric. At least one other new 68 is going with an electric grill thinking that getting propane in the middle of the Pacific or Europe might be a challenge. You guys have been everywhere, what’s your experience with trying to find propane here and there? Or maybe you went with an electric grill, I can’t remember?
Tracy says hello.
Van, it’s good to hear from you and Tracy. When we specified Dirona back in 2009 we went with propane stove top and BBQ because we didn’t want to have to start the generator every time we wanted to do something quick. We since put in a 240V inverter that will support any load in the house so we can do fast jobs on battery and, on longer jobs, we would start the generator. We can start the generator from any web connected device including mobile so starting the generator is pretty easy as well. In retrospect, we would go with electric on both the BBQ and Stove Top.
The Advantage of gas is the control of heat and not having to start the generator. The big downsides are explosion risk and the difficulty of getting tanks filled in international locations. To mitigate the former, we have well designed storage areas that drain via through hulls overboard. To reduce the frequency of filling, we carry 4 20lb containers and only fill them every 2 years and sometimes longer. We filled in NZ which was technically not allowed but some operators are willing. We next filled in St Lucia. Then Again when we returned to the US. The last fill in the US was a big hassle because the person filling them had a real hard time getting the vent to operate correctly — not sure if that was an operator error or an aging valve assembly. Now that our Aluminum tanks are 10 years old, we will not be able to fill them in the US without re-inspecting and I suspect they might fail.
I’ve been giving some thought to just replacing the aluminum tanks with steel tanks that we get in each country and just discard when used up. This would force us to get new adapters for each country but at least we would be buying a part that is normally available in that country. Another approach is to buy another set of aluminum tanks or go with the newer composite tanks (they were not looking safe enough at the time we last bought tanks 10 years back with recalls and explosion problems). Another more radical approach is to go electric — I suspect it’s just too much hassle to put in new 240VAC circuits for these new loads. I suspect we’ll move to the approach of buying local tanks and new hose connections every couple of years but we won’t likely face that for another year or so.
We would recommend electric for your 68.
Hi J & J,
Pretty simple questions if I may. I saw the lettering you were applying to your new tender and wonder what the type of material & source are. I have a hypalon tender that I need to re-mount a name on and lettering I’ve used in the past hasn’t held up very well.
Also, in a few pictures I noticed you have aft-facing cameras mounted under the overhang of the cockpit. I’m assuming they’re weatherproof and wondering if they’re infrared/night viewing as well as type/source and if you’re happy with their performance.
Very much enjoy seeing the pictures of your travels (and repairing Dirona in exotic places :). Continued safe travels.
The graphics are amazingly durable. These graphics appear to be an Avery printed film installed on 3M SCPS-2 Prespacing tape. Looking at the 3M page on the applications of the pre-spacing tape, they list the various film printing systems they support. The right approach is to find a sign company that prints Avery or 3M films. Here’s a link to the 3M SCPS-2 prespacing film that both 3M and Avery use:
We have two generations of cameras on Dirona. There are some very old analog cameras that are used by the Furuno NN3DBB system. In this system we have a Flir forward looking Infrard Camera mounted on the forward edge of the lower RADAR support on the stack. In addition, we have an engine room camera and aft looking camera. Both of these are Raytheon bullet cameras which are surprisingly durable but certainly just generic cameras rebadged by Raytheon.
The second generation of cameras are Reolink 4 megapixel cameras and we use a combination of dome and bullet cameras. So far we haven’t had any failures so these cameras appear to be very durable. We have a forward looking camera above the PH window, an aft looking camera on the stack, two side looking dome cameras on the stack, and two dome cameras in the ER, one looking forward and one looking aft. These cameras are remarkably good quality for the price and can be had on Amazon.com for only $60.
We use a Synology DS416 central file server on Dirona
The DS418 is the current version of this product:
On the synology we use Surveillance Station which is a Synology product to acquire multi-channel video from IP cameras. It comes free with 2 licenses and you can get 4 more for $199:
The Synology is wonderful, Surveillance Station is good value and works well, and the Reolink cameras are amazing price/performers.
Long time follower, first time commentor. Great blog.
What type of (US) bank account do you have. I see Jennifer and you withdrawing funds directly from ATMs in most of the countries you visit. This would be a great tip for US travelers who want to rely just on ATMs for local currently.
We’re actually using our Citibank Australia account which has no foreign transaction fees and works well just about everywhere. We also have a Citibank US account and it works in the same places and also doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee. These days most cards from large institutions seem to work all over the world. It’s rare when we find a bank machine that won’t accept our card and, when that happens, there is almost always another bank machine in the area that will.
Hi, Ylvingen is a nice island just west of Brønøysund.
( googel translator)
Ylvingen looks beautiful on Google maps. We’ll keep it in mind for a visit on our way north or returning south later in the year. Thanks for pointing it out to us.
May be too late for you now…but Tromso has the world’s most Northern botanic garden. It is lovely. The blue Himalayan poppies were out when we were there (June).
Hi Karen. I incorrectly figured in Northern Norway we had a shot at being somewhere you haven’t already visited :-). You and Gord do travel an amazing amount.
Thanks for the tip on the most northern botanic garden.
Velcome to Langøysundet. Nice boat! 🙂
Right now You are stopped in «Ellingvaagen». (12. Mai 2018 kl. 18.40). Hope You have a nice stay in Norway! Remember our national-day 17. Mai. You must see it on-shore in Kristiansund og Trondheim. 🙂
Thanks for the hospitality. This looks like a beautiful stop and, wow, we have been loving Norway so far and we’re really only just getting started. It’s nice enough we might be able to eat outside this evening.
I dont know how much You know Norway, but I recomend to experience the 17th of May, Norway`s national day. It is more like a childrens day as they marching in the streets with Norwegian flag and singing national anthems. Highly recommended! 🙂
Thanks for the recommendation.
Wanted to add my thanks to you and Jennifer to the legions of others for your willingness to share your hard earned knowledge. Electrical has been a knowledge weakness of mine and even as I build a land-based offgrid system I refer to your design work often. I have no need for frequency conversion and am putting off solar to the future so it’s amazing how much what you have done is instructive to me. Again, my thanks and appreciation.
We appreciate you passing on the blog feedback Larry.
James and Jennifer
Sadly my travels to the UK did not coincide with yours!
If I read your personal tracks correctly it seems that you have been giving the new tender a good work out.
As always thoroughly enjoy the blog – a must daily read!
Just curious, with your hectic maintenance projects/schedule if you ever plugged that cable pipe in the aft Glendinning locker?
Glad you are enjoying the blog Rod. Yes, we did make many changes as a consequence of the “Alarms at 1:15am” issue. I’ve written more detail on the extensive set of changes here: https://mvdirona.com/2017/12/alarms-at-115am-follow-up/.
Welcome to Norway! I have been following you since you were in the Pacific, and I see you are heading to “my area” now. I live in Bergen and do my boating in the western and southern parts of Norway.
On your way northbound, passing the area “Jæren” south west of Stavanger, it is recommended to have at least 100-200 meters depth. Closer to shore, it can be more rough sea conditions. I would then take the “Karmsund” fjord north to Haugesund. A few miles south of Haugesund, there is a reconstructed viking farm, based on archeological findings several places in Norway. Worth a visit. Also on the west side of the island Karmøy, in the village Visnes, is the old copper mine where the copper for the Statue of Liberty is from.
Further north, the village Espevær might be worth a visit. Even further North, in the middle between Haugesund and Bergen, the village Bekkjavik is worth a visit. A popular and good restaurant there.
Feel free to ask if you have any questions.
To ensure we do get as far north as we plan, we’re going to run relatively directly north to Tromso as the weather allows. We’ll then work our way slowly back south, exploring in more detail as we go. So we will save Haugesund and Bekkjavik for the return trip. Conditions in the North Sea right now are excellent, with less than 10 kts wind, but the wind is predicted to pick up from the north a bit tonight and more tomorrow as a small weather system passes. So we actually are planning to stop and anchor in the inlet on the west side of Espevær tomorrow and wait for that system to pass before continuing on. We’ll be there for a couple of nights so definitely plan to visit the village.
Thank you very much for the advice and suggestions. A lot of the best places we’ve been to come from recommendations.
In that case, I would suggest that from Espevær, you can take the “inshore” sheltered route northbound all the way to Måløy. This route can be done in almost all weather conditions, and is well marked and easy to navigate, day and night. It is used by the high speed passenger ferries as well. Then you need a good weather window to cross the Stadt peninsula.
When passing the “Sletta” between Haugesund and Espevær:
If the wind is between south west and north west, it is recommended to stay away from the shore, due to confused seas. Northern part of this area is usually the worst, with currents often coming from 3 directions.
That was super useful Trond. We hadn’t noticed that we could stay mostly inshore when heading north. That looks both more interesting and more sheltered. Thanks very much.
Please see the link for a route suggestion, beginning south of Haugesund, and ending at Måløy, where you can wait (if required) for a weather window to cross Stadt.
The chart can be used for navigation planning, as it is taken from the official Norwegian map authority.
Haven’t any personal boating experience further North than this.
Thanks Trond. We just spent the last couple of hours studying your recommended route and it looks excellent. We plan to follow it. Thanks for the welcome to Norway and for sending us the trip planning ideas.
Conditions continue to be excellent and we should be in Norway Tomorrow morning.
Glad I can help. I have learned a lot from your technical info/blogs, so the help goes both ways. 🙂
You should check out the website Barentswatch, for wave forecasts along the most exposed parts of the Norwegian coast. It is a government/ official service:
For winds (and sea) forecasts, I find Windy.com the most accurate.
The Norwegian yr.no is not reliable enough, especially for winds, which at least for the west coast, is double compared to the forecasted. But the weather radar they have, is pretty good.
You probably already know, but the official Norwegian pilot guides, can be downloaded for free here:
Sorry for your comment not appearing immediately. We get 100s blog spam comments per day and they are just about 100% removed automatically. We need to deal with the odd one that gets through and occasionally a note gets flagged for administrative approval. That’s what happened to your posting and I just approved it.
We’re “enjoying” a Norwegian ride out here with 30 knots of wind right on the bow creating short, steep waves. We’re currently pitching 17 degrees and rolling 8. An hour ago we did a 22.5 degree pitch cycle. I’m just glad we’re not in shallow water.
We’ve used Windy.com in the past and like it although it’s currently under-estimating our wind conditions by a fairly large margin. Thanks for the reference to Barentswatch and the Pilot as well.
With the wind you have now, you might want to follow this route, which ends where my first route begins. It is a few NM longer than the direct route, but is worth it if the seas are rough.
Notice the start point, which should be at least 0,5NM W of the YBY light buoy at “Jærens rev”. It is important to keep this distance, to avoid potential breaking waves. (Warnings in the pilot books)
Also, from your current position until the beginning of this route, it is recommended to keep enough distance to shore, that you have at least 100-200m water depth. This area, called Jæren, is one of the roughest ocean areas in Norway.
Well, this body of water is definitely living up to it’s robust reputation :-). The winds are averaging 30 kts, gusts to 35, our 5 min max pitch is 17 degrees, and because of the heavy pitching, we’ve slowed down to the 6.0 to 6.5 kt range. We won’t be at the buoy that marks the start of the route you suggested for 6.5 to 7.0 hours in current conditions. Hopefully conditions will improve slightly but, if they don’t, it’s good to have some options. Thanks again.
I see you make good progress. Hope you enjoy the scenery along the route.
After passing Stadt, you may choose a more or less sheltered inshore route almost to the city Molde, and there you need to head out for the open ocean. Notice that you need a good weather window to cross the exposed Hustadvika. (Beginning at the village Bud. This is another of the most rough ocean areas in Norway. Never use the narrow route close to shore in rough seas!
Further north, an ocean area called Folla, must also be respected.
In this chart (see link), I have roughly marked the 3 areas I know of, where you want a good weather window to cross:
Have a nice and safe trip.
Thanks again for you local experience Trond. We’ve been enjoying the relatively sheltered inside route you recommended and have been finding the scenery incredible. In fact, so good we were drawn into the Sogefjordn Fjord. We’ll visit the rest of the Fjords on the way south but we decided we just had to explore and enjoy one now while the snow is still on the mountains.
Sognefjorden (the world’s longest fjord), is mostly avoided for cruising. Reason is very few (if any) sheltered anchorages, and few guest harbors. But I agree, the scenery is spectacular!
On your way south, when stopping in Bergen: Spend a day and take the “Norway in a nutshell” tour: Train from Bergen past Voss to a tiny place called Myrdal, then change train down to the village Flåm, from there boat/ferry to Gudvangen and buss to Voss, and finally train back to Bergen.
You’ll laugh but many of the reasons we’re heading down Sognefjorden are the ones you mentioned. Our interests here are: 1) it’s the biggest one, 2) many boaters don’t even go down it, 3) long time blog reader Jacques Vuye recommended the Flam Railway so we’ll definitely spend a day with it, 3) we want to visit the narrow Naeroyfjord, 4) we want to visit the Glaciers, and 4) the scenery is extraordinary. Your right that there are very few anchorages in the area but, as long as it’s not crowded (and we’re not expecting it to be) we’re fairly confident we’ll find anchorages that can work. We have a 70 kg (154 lbs) anchor with 500′ (152m) of chain rode so we can often find locations that work well that are passed up by others. But, I agree it Anchoring looks more challenging than usual in this area and we may have some adventures in front of us :-).
At least you will be seeing some of the most spectacular scenery of this part of the country. A crowded anchorage there would be one boat only, and yours is definitely equipped for the most challenged anchorages. Adventures is what makes boating extra nice. Have fun!
By the way, it is often cheaper to buy gas for your dinghy engine, at regular gas stations than marinas. Also you hardly ever need cash in Norway. Most people use cards for everything. But if you need cash, get it from grocery stores instead of an ATM: You can ask for up to about 1000 kroner in cash when you buy groceries. (No visa/ mastercard transaction fees then). It’s an arrangement the grocery stores have with the banks. (Some stores only accept debet cards, though)
We need you with us on all our trips Trond! Thanks very much for the steady stream of ideas, thoughts, and well timed suggestions. We certainly owe you at least a beer. If you ever find yourself in the vicinity of Dirona, let us know. It would be great to meet you in person.
Thank you! I will definitely get in touch if we are in the same area. Hopefully the chance comes when you are heading south again.
Here are links to the Coast Radio (Kystradio) VHF radio channels in Norway. They can receive distress calls/ be the link between the resque center and the vessel in distress, provide weather forecasts on request, in addition to the scheduled forecasts, ship to/from shore phone calls, and a lot more… They should be contacted on the working channels, instead of 16.
Thanks for the radio references. We are currently anchored in what will certainly rank in our world-wide top 10 list of great anchorages. We’re anchored in Indrefjord surrounded by tower peaks and waterfalls! Sognefjord overall is a gem.
Here is a scanned pdf of the harbor guide for Flåm. Hope you have a great time.
GREAT! We have an online version of that book and it’s very good. Wow, what a great spot we have here in Flam. It’s really beautiful here. What a country!
Good to hear you do well. Hopefully there aren’t too many cruise ships (and loads of tourists) there at the same time.
We took the Flon to Myrdal railway yesterday on the recommendation of long time blog reader and railway buff Jacques Vuye from France. It was an excellent trip. Lunch at AEgir Bryggeri and a great dinner on the outside deck of our boat enjoying the great weather. Today we’ll rent an electric car and head up the Stegastein viewpoint and perhaps do some exploring by tender as well.
It’s a good thing it’s the off season. Even now there are a surprisingly large number of tourists. I can’t imagine what it would be like with 2,000 tourists descending on the tiny town from a cruise ship arrival. We’ll be safely further north by that time :-).
That railroad is spectacular! Have taken it a couple times myself. It is also very popular to do that trip on bikes, all the way from the Finse railway station at 1222 meters above sea level, via Myrdal down to Flom. But the first part is not available before the snow is gone, usually not recommended before late July.
We did ask about the bike option but, as you predicted, they said it was too early in the year for that one but we could walk.
About 8-10NM NNE of your current position, is a place called Selje. A nice place to visit, if you are waiting to cross Stadt. (Looks like tomorrow will be a good day for the crossing.)
Yes, we were thinking of going around Stadt tomorrow and continuing North. We really enjoyed Sognefjord but want to see the Lofoten group and other Norwegian gems but I suspect we’ll be back in the Fjords earlier than originally planned. We just love them.
Agreed! Lofoten is a “must see” area. Also, if you stop in Bodø, a guided RIB-tour to the Saltstraumen, is an adventure. This narrow fjord/ passage has one of the strongest currents in Norway. (Don’t go there with Dirona!)
A friend of mine is working as a RIB driver for one of the companies offering tours, and it was great fun when I did it 2 years ago.
Sounds like fun. We did something that sounds similar to the Saltstraumen adventure you described in Australia. The Horizontal Waterfalls: https://mvdirona.com/2015/07/horizontal-falls/
The horizontal falls in Australia looks similar, on a smaller scale. The link is a wikipedia article about Saltstraumen.
You’re right, the Norwegian version looks even bigger than Australia’s Horizontal Falls. We’ll have to check it out.
Hi James and Jennifer, I hope you are enjoying the Netherlands (I finally caught on that you have moved on from the UK).
I am looking to replicate your work on struts for lifting the base/mattress in the master (on our 47 which should be essentially the same as yours I think). I wonder if you can share your experience for the characteristics of the struts and your location for installation.
BTW, I have also had to replace my strut on the floor in the main salon down to the engine room. Seems like the original spec was a bad choice!
Thanks in advance and I really enjoy your blog with all of the details. I am looking forward to trying to replicate some of your projects on Home Free.
Hey Don. Congratulations on the new boat. You can always see where we are in real time at:
What we used to lift the master stateroom bed were a pair of 120 lb gas struts designed for heavy pickup truck box covers. The the structs are only $17 each at Amazon:
You’ll also need these as appropriate for each end:
It’s a really nice addition that makes using the wonderful space below the bed much simpler and somewhat safe to access.
on your way further east you might want to stop at Helgoland. Taxes especially on Diesel are reduced.
Absolutely. That is the plan. We will pick up around 4,000 liters there before heading north to Norway. Thanks,
Why is Harlingen your first stop in Northern Europe?
They are picking up their new tender.
Stephen is right. This is the new boat: https://mvdirona.com/Trips/britishisles2017/britishisles15.html?bleat=4%2F12%2F2018%3A+AB+12VST
Great looking new tender. Are you going to transfer your equipment over to the new one or buy new electronics for it? Hope the three of you are doing well!
Hey Timothy. The only electronics we have in the tender is a $100 depth sounder so we’ll leave that with the boat. As another act of partial craziness, I plan to install NMEA2000 depth, GPS, and even connection to the Honda 50. I’m not sure when I’ll get time to do all that work but we’ll get to it and I’m really looking forward to seeing that new tender next Wednesday.
Since you are going to Harlingen to pick up the tender, enjoy navigating the Waddenzee. it is a great place to find a spot to dry out with low tide and check the hull.
This boat isn’t stable on it’s keel when dry so I wouldn’t want to intentionally ground it in a non-emergency situation. We’ll be careful on the way into Harlingen.
Good luck with the tender today. I look forward to seeing the upgrades in the future. I hope all three of you are doing well.
Got it as scheduled first thing this morning. It’ll do 42mph in open water with three people in the boat. I think we are going to really like it.
We have a bit of a fuel pressure issue, I need to chase down but I doubt it will be challenging to solve. Otherwise, all good.
James – was reading about your NMEA network crashing due to low battery voltage. Curious to know why you have a separate 12v system when you could easily install a 24v-to-12v converter and power all of your 12v devices from your monster 24v system. Is there any significant advantage in having a separate bus?
I do have a 24 to 12v converter but there is also a battery on the 12V side to ensure that convert faults don’t take down the 12V bus. I screwed up and accidentally shut off the 24v to 12V converter. It’s easy to alarm on faults (or human error) and I’ll make that change so it doesn’t happen again.
Looks like you are enjoying the British Isles!!
On your Maretron I see you monitor battery state of charge, as do I, but separately for all four house banks and the start battery banks. As you know, the BSOC is a calculation from other parameters that the sensors measure. When we are at the dock, or in anchorages, the BSOC is working fine and moving up/down as it should during charge/discharge cycles. But when underway and the charge to the batteries is provided by the main engine alternators, the BSOC just declines till it hits zero. Maretron says it has to do with the charge efficiency setting, but I don’t think so.
The main engine alternators are attached to the same bus as the batteries and chargers, and provide the charge to the batteries, as needed, depending if we are leaving the dock fully charged or exiting an anchorage with the batteries depleted requiring charging. However, once the batteries are fully charged, while they go into float condition with very little current going in/out as the alternators keep them fully charged (as noted by the voltage remaining steady in the 26.3V range with amperage fluctuating around zero on the house battery banks), the alternators DO NOT go into float as they are still generating power as required to fulfill the AC system demand through the inverter. As these components are all connected to the same bus, I am wondering if the four house bank current sensors are somehow sensing this load requirement to the AC through the inverters and assuming it is a draw on the house banks, therefore resulting in a calculated decline of battery state of charge, even though the batteries are fully charged and in float.
Do you have this issue or have any thoughts on this?
Hi Tim. Good hearing from you. Yes, I recognize those two problems. They are both a bit challenging but both are addressable. Unfortunately, neither is a simple topic so this can’t help but be a bit longer than ideal for a blog question. I’ll answer it here but will end up filling it in and posting as a full blog entry.
On the first question, battery State of Charge (SoC ), the best solution is not to use it. You are right that I display a state of charge in our system and I have invested quite a bit in getting a more accurate SoC report but it’s been a hassle and I’m pretty sure it’s not worth the effort. There are some proxies that are quite accurate and far easier that I’ll cover below. I’ll start with what I use instead and then we can circle back to why SoC is inaccurate and what I have done in an effort to get a more accurate reading.
I use voltage and current as a proxy for state of charge when the system is discharging. The relationship between voltage and current is a complex surface (I’ll return to this below) but most of the time your boat is at a fixed, and not particularly heavy discharge rate. When there are no heavy, intermittent loads on your batteries and it’s just the steady background discharge rate, the voltage will closely match the discharge curves shown on page 34 of the Lifeline Technical Manual (http://lifelinebatteries.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/6-0101-Rev-E-Lifeline-Technical-Manual.pdf). Of course, if you are using some other battery manufacturer, you must use their data but I’m using Lifeline as an example as they are a common choice and I use them on Dirona.
If the batteries on your boat would need to be charged twice a day (likely) then you are on an approximate 24hr discharge cycle since they need to be recharged at roughly 50% charge. Assuming that you are on a roughly 24hr discharge cycle, you can use the 20 hour discharge cycle curve from that graph to get the relationship between voltage and state of charge when you have no big loads on your system.
Of course the absolute most accurate approach is to disconnect the batteries and use the State of Charge vs Open Circuit Voltage on page 33 of the Lifeline manual. This is highly accurate but not practical on a boat during use. What I do is have battery voltage prominently display and learn to look when the system has no abnormal loads and the state of charge is a fairly accurate function of the voltage level with 24.2 to 24.3V being roughly 50% on a 24V boat and half that for a 12V boat.
Why not just get SOC correct? The short answer is its really hard and every manufacturers SOC indicator that I’ve looked at measures the same things and has the same inaccuracies and these inaccuracies are so large under some circumstances that the SoC reading is close to valueless. What all commercial SoC calculators that I’ve looked at measure is the current leaving the battery and the current going back in. They know the charge efficiency (entered by the user) so they know how much extra current must go in to achieve a 100% charge. Just a bit more than what came out.
Generally these systems are very accurate through a small number of charge/discharge cycles. But batteries are complex chemical systems and they transitions they are going through change over time and so the charge efficiency and, more important, battery capacity isn’t fixed and will change over time. Because they are tracking current in and out, even small errors become additive over time and the inaccuracies can mount quickly.
The system can be reset by charging to 100% but the inaccuracies will creep back in as you go through charge/discharge cycles. You can work hard to tune the charge efficiency and you will get the commercial systems far more accurate but they will never be great. Consequently I use voltage at a known discharge rate as a proxy. It works well and is fairly accurate but it won’t work when the kettle is on (not the steady, background discharge rate you have calibrated for) and it won’t work when charging (not on the steady discharge rate).
The voltage as a proxy for charge levels works fairly well and it works far more accurately than any commercial SOC measure I’ve seen so this is my primary tool. For generator autostart, I automate the finding of the fixed, background discharge rate by averaging voltage over 15 min and this works very well and yields a very precise generator start signal. In many ways, this completely solves the problem in that, if the generator starts when needed, I don’t have to worry about SoC.
But, I couldn’t resist doing my own SOC calculations since I would like to be able to display that data accurately. If I display the SOC computed by using the 20 hour discharge curve from the Lifeline manual. This is wonderful and works very well but has a few issues: 1) it won’t show SOC during charging, and 2) it will not produce a reliable number if you are going through a prolonged heavier than normal discharge cycle.
Since the data in the Lifeline manual appears fairly accurate, I decided to program not just the 20 hour curve but to also use the 1hr, 2hr, 4hr, 8hr, 20hr, and 120hr curves. I then curve fit the data to produce a 2 dimensional mathematical surface that returns SOC from current discharge rate and voltage. I implemented this and it mathematically worked fine but the Lifeline data at deeper discharge rates on used batteries is not accurate and ends up producing unstable results. My simple system of averaging voltage over 15 min and looking it up on the single dimensional 20 hour discharge curve actually worked better so I reluctantly ditched the complex multi-dimensional curve fit.
But, I’m a sucker for punishment and I couldn’t leave SoC alone. Even though showing the function computed using the 20hr discharge curve and the voltage averaged over 15 min works very well, I still wanted to get a better SOC number. Clearly I should have left it alone but I would love to have accurate SOC even when charging and the discharge curve won’t help you under those conditions.
I’ve invested some time in refining this and it is better than commercial systems I’ve looked at but the complexity wasn’t worth it. In this model I note that the commercial SOC calculation systems are very accurate at a few charge/discharge cycles but the errors mount over time and get less accurate. Once the batteries are returned to 100%, the SOC is re-calibrated, it again is accurate. Understanding this, I decided to use the commercial SOC number but calibrate it more frequently.
Rather than just calibrating it at 100% charge, I use the 20 hr discharge curve and, since we know it is accurate when the boat hasn’t had any recent discharges, my automation waits until the discharge rate has been very stable for a long period of time and then corrects the SOC to match the 20 hr discharge voltage curve (actually a modification of it that slightly more closely matches the background discharge rate on Dirona). I then use this SoC bias to recalibrate the commercial SoC and report the commercial number with my bias. This combines the accuracy of the commercial SoC system computing current in and current out but corrects the system error that creeps into these systems over charge/discharge cycles.
This synthetic SOC calculation is still not perfect but its good enough that I again show SOC in the N2kview display. The generator still is started on the 15 min averaged voltage which is simpler and seems very accurate but I display the SOC using the calculated bias as described above. Because I had a solution for the generator autostart years ago that works well and I’m used to reading voltage myself, it’s certainly not worth the work of trying to get SOC to work but that’s what I did.
So, with that background, looping back to your question, should your state of charge be incredibly inaccurate? No, it should produce fairly accurate results for a handful of charge/discharge cycles if set up correctly. Make sure the Peukert function is correctly set for your battery type. Lifeline recommends 1.12. Make sure the capacity of your bank is set correctly. It turns out this is both very important to accurate SOC but they are also hard to get right. Bank capacity will fall slowly over time as the batteries are used. But, capacity will also fall somewhat more quickly as the system is taken through partial charge/discharge cycles. You eventually will need to equalize (Lifeline calls this “conditioning”) and, after each equalization, you will return more closely (but not quite) to your original capacity. The battery bank capacity is always changing and it’s very difficult to know what the current capacity actually is to accurate report SoC.
As I said previously batteries are complex chemical systems that are changing all time so, if you get all these parameters right once, they will again be inaccurate sometime later. But, yes, you can get them right and get acceptable results for a period. I personally don’t find it worthwhile so just use voltage as a proxy and continue to work on the accuracy of my synthetic SOC calculation. Where I end up on this is recommending not to invest time in SOC and just use voltage with knowledge of the background, steady-state discharge rate. It’s a “good enough” data point and I find it’s actually excellent for driving our generator start signal.
The second question you asked Tim was “Once the batteries are fully charged, while they go into float condition with very little current going in/out as the alternators keep them fully charged (as noted by the voltage remaining steady in the 26.3V range with amperage fluctuating around zero on the house battery banks), the alternators DO NOT go into float as they are still generating power as required to fulfill the AC system demand through the inverter.”
It’s a great question. The short answer is that this can be “easily” solved by the charger and, for the alternators, the voltage regulator suppliers. If they measured the current going into the batteries then, with the voltage, they will know exactly the state of charge of the batteries and could fairly easily know the difference between supplying 75A to the house with the batteries taking nearly no current (high house draw with charged batteries) and the same 75A charge rate where 50A is going to the battery (Batteries nearing full charge but not yet there).
However “easy” this might be, manufacturers of alternator voltage regulators and chargers don’t measure the current at the batteries and instead just measure the current output at the source (the chargers or alternators) and use this data as an estimate for what the batteries are consuming. For the reason you mention and I outline above, this often doesn’t work. A high house draw will look very similar to batteries still charging. I suspect that charger manufactures don’t like the installation complexity of measuring the current at the batteries so instead using the current at the source as a proxy for current at the batteries. In actuality, as bad as that is, most alternator regulators don’t even measure output at source. Instead they measure field strength in the alternator and use that as a proxy for current produced which is a proxy for current being sent to the batteries.
Naturally, this approach doesn’t work well. It’ll work fine if the boat is just charging but if there are large house draws, it will compound the calculations. Some chargers like Victron Centaur (https://www.victronenergy.com/chargers/centaur-charger-12v-24v) use a time driven algorithm and run for 4 hours in bulk and absorption. These fixed time schedule approaches are a disaster and need to be avoided. Some like Mastervolt provide a vast number of parameters that can be changed but they essentially leave the problem up to you. This is not idea but, in the absence of measuring and using the current going into the batteries, this is best you can get and, although current isn’t known, voltage is known and this actually does give an accurate view of how close the batteries are to full charge. So, the data is there is get the system working right so if enough flexibility and tuning is offered, the system can be setup to work correctly and not abuse the batteries.
On Dirona, we use a Balmar MC-624 (http://www.balmar.net/product/regulators/regulator-mc-624/) to control each alternator and Mastervolt 24-100/3 https://www.mastervolt.com/products/chargemaster-24v/chargemaster-24-100-3/) battery chargers. Neither measure the current heading into the batteries but, since the voltage level goes up during the absorption phase, you can still tune these systems to use voltage as a proxy for charge level and get the behavior you want.
What I did was reads the short Lifeline Technical Manual (http://lifelinebatteries.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/6-0101-Rev-E-Lifeline-Technical-Manual.pdf) and program the Mastervolt and Balmar systems to deliver the closest match to what Lifeline wants under our usage patterns. I can share the configurations I’m currently using on Dirona as a starting point. It’s not quite as good as measuring the current flowing to the batteries but seems to work fairly well. The important thing is to not allow the system to go into bulk or absorption during high current consumption in the house and stay there for long periods on charged batteries. This is very bad for the batteries. Your two goals are to: 1) fully charge the batteries, and 2) back off to float and just feed your battery recommended float voltage the rest of the time.
Thanks so much for the response and detailed information. There is a lot to consume in your reply, but the jist of it is that I am likely correct in my assumption as to why the BSOC is not reading “correctly” while underway with the alternators providing the charge. I agree with you in that I use voltage and amperage as the proxy to ensure that things are working as they should an my experience over three years on the boat tells me that it is. I ran over this information with Lifeline and they concur. Like you say, without spending an inordinate amount of time on something that can be achieved in other ways, I will look at a few options before moving on to other issues.
I will also take into account your comments on the other response related to Maretron for the ongoing management of the system. While I agree that spares can allow the system to get up running again quickly, some of the components are not cheep. For example, the one favorite that everyone seems to be having an issue with, the WSO100, is $1000. That’s not cheap for a chunk of plastic (I know there are some intricate things inside the plastic). Now I am up to three failures in three years, so I have you beat.
PS….what are you doing up all night?!?!?
I agree that the Maretron gear is not cheap but it actually is relatively inexpensive compared to competitive monitoring systems. Your WSO100 at $1000 prices seems way high. You can have them for $566 on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Maretron-WSO100-01-Ultrasonics-Weather-Station/dp/B00K3S4QXG/ref=sr_1_1.
I generally get 2 to 3 years from them. I took the last one apart to understand the failure mode and it was water leaking in between the top and bottom covers. I suspect they might last longer if nobody touches them when working up on the stack. I’ve been careful and it may make a difference. I’ve been told that the Airmar NMEA2000 weather sensor is more reliable but I’ve not seen it for less than $1,000 so I haven’t yet headed in that direction.
Hi Tim, as to your battery monitor perceiving constant drawdown while underway, are you saying that the current shunt that provides battery current to the BSOC is seeing the current provided by the alternator as battery discharge current? What I do is monitor current on the battery independently, so that if the alternator is supporting loads while the battery is in float and not asking for much current, the BSOC only sees the that tiny float current as charge (+) current to the battery and does not see any load current that is not coming out of the battery as actual discharge (-) current. i.e. it sees only the true charge and discharge current on the battery. Is that what’s making the difference for you?
Chris raises an excellent point. For battery SoC to have even a prayer of working the current transducer has to be between the batteries on one side and the charge source and house loads together on the other side. If the current transducer is between the load and the charge source, it’ll be almost random. And if there is load that doesn’t flow the transducer, the readings will be a mess.
Thanks James. I got the feeling that Tim’s current information was coming from the inverter or the alternator controller or something that wasn’t purely battery in / battery out. Tim, if we understand you correctly in this, this can be solved pretty easily.
I read “chunk” as “junk” three times before I got it right. Or did I have it right in the first place?
James, I couldn’t have said it better myself, with 30 odd years in the industry including a lot of hardware and software involved in BSOC!
From Falmouth: “The weird things is zinc life has been improving. They started looking good after 2 months, so we want to 3. Then they started looking great at 3 months, so we went to 4.”
Is there any risk something else in the system has taken on the role of sacrificial anode?
The zincs are to protect the hydraulic heat exchanger. Since it’s not bonded or connected to other systems so I don’t think they can be protecting other components or other components can be protecting the heat exchanger. I suspect the reason the zincs are lasing longer is the boat has been underway less recently but it might also be the colder water.
Hi James, I am having trouble sourcing Lifeline batteries in Australia for our sistership to Dirona. I believe that you may have had a similar problem when you were in NZ. Your advice would be appreciated please?
Getting the batteries from the US will work fine for you but you will likely need to pay duty so you need to check on that cost as well. I strongly suspect buying the batteries from the US will still be a big win for you but you should check. When we were in New Zealand there was no duty since we were a visiting yacht.
We bought the batteries from DC Battery Specialists (https://www.dcbattery.com/). Great company.
My (everyday) morning reading before the sun’s up starts with your site. Thanks for all the effort it take.
Love your input if you have the time. I don’t think there’s anyone else I know that has the Maretron knowledge you guys do.
Knowing what you do now, if you were building your Nordhavn now, which Maretron parts would you use to measure levels in all tanks – fresh, grey, black and fuel? I plan on leaving the standard measuring systems in place as backup and using the Maretron as primary.
Also, there must be several options for installing these transducers. Given we’re able to place where absolutely ideal, where/how is that? Are they all installed on the botttoms of the tanks or on the access plates and lowered down? There must be a difference between installs on a new build and after market?
All of our Maretron sensors were added post-build. It’s probably easier and cheaper to do at the yard but they can be added anytime.
For sensors, the WSO100 fails once every two years. Others reports the Airmar NMEA2000 part is more reliable. I continue to use the WSO100. The ultrasonic (read from above) tank level sensors don’t work well for fuel sensors and don’t work at all for black water. I’ve move my fuel level indicators to pressure sensors and the FPM100 and this works incredibly well. I’ve not yet moved the black water sensor but Maretron has a drop in submersible pressure sensors that is reported to work well. I’ll make that change when I next get an opportunity get parts from the US.
Like you, we left the standard level sensors in place.
We chose to have spares for all sensors on the boat to make it easy to deal with failures. Maretron is inexpensive enough that this is not very pricey and it makes managing any faults super easy. We also have an N2kmeter on board to detect physical NMEA2000 bus problems. It was useful in the first few years but we haven’t seen any problems for a long time.
I live vicariously through you and others! I just watched your YouTube video tour of Dirona and your automation of it. Amazing. Techies rule! (I am *not * one). I’ve spent the last two hours on Nordhavn’s website and reading about many of their boats in service. All I need is $$$,$$$. Safe travels—you’re living a dream.
This video is great: https://youtu.be/-hC490NTIJM
Thanks Patrick and best of luck on you plans.
Baofeng UV-5R+, I love mine, the band coverage is amazing. Are you using Chirp to program yours? (And for some reason I thought you were a ham)
Yes, I’m using Chirp to program the Baofeng UV-5R+. It’s a really nice and easy to use program. Thanks to Andrew Dickinson who pointed me to both the Baofeng UVC-5R+ and Chirp.
Hi Jennifer & James, Glad you seem to be enjoying London. We walked past Dirona on the evening of March 9th, she was looking great even though it was a horrible evening. For your information, the column in Trafalgar Square is Nelson’s Column, the statue being Admiral Lord Nelson not King Charles. Hope you enjoy the rest of your stay, and looking forward to following your travels this year.
We’ll get that changed. Thanks for the correction Rob.
Since you are obviously in the area, if you would like to see Dirona on the inside, let us know.
Thanks for the invite. We were in London for a seminar at the Cruising Association in Limehouse, we actually live in Leeds, Yorkshire. We had a good bar meal at the ‘Prospect of Whitby’ which also has a hangmans noose outside, overhanging the Thames. There is another quite good Italien restaurant near Limehouse, La Figa on Narrow St ( E14 8DN ). If you haven’t been there yet the Limehouse Basin is quite interesting, and quite a nice walk from St Katherines Dock. The basin connects the Thames with the inland canal system, and, as with St Katherines, has an odd mixture of seagoing and canal boats. If we are back in town while you are still in London we will be in contact – it would be lovely to meet you and Jennifer.
We’ve been to the Prospect of Whitby and liked it but haven’t done La Figa yet. We should do a walk down to Limehouse basin as well. Thanks for the pointers Rob.
We were quite quite amused this morning to see one of our beloved weather presenters doing the forecast from St Katherines Dock – Disappointed that Dirona wasn’t in shot though!! Have you made any plans for your trip to Amsterdam yet?
Cool. We figured it might be the local news. We’re loving London so have delayed our exit from here by two weeks. We’ll now be leaving around the 15th and heading to Harlingen Netherlands. We’ll pick up a tender we have on order in Harlingen and explore the area. From there we’ll head north to Heligoland Germany where we pick up a load of fuel and explore the island. After that, we’ll spend the summer in Norway and plan to winter in Amsterdam. We’ll be in Amsterdam for 4 months and plan to both enjoy the city and make use of the excellent rail and air service there.
On the reliability of your Maretron system – have you experienced any runtime errors/crashes? It looks like you’re using the integrated display units rather than their black box system with separate monitors. I’m presently building a system around their MBB300 and the unit I have is spectacularly unreliable. it reports hard drive problems at boot up, and when displaying a page with a chart it will run for at most a few days before throwing storage errors and asking for a reboot. I had really high hopes for Maretron until I actually got my hands on one.
I’ve been trying to work this through their tech support but not making much progress. I’m only posting about this here because I’m curious about your overall experience as a reference point. Mine could be an anomaly.
I use N2kview on a PC as the primary display for NMEA2000 data with IPG100 as the server and the combination is rock solid, never blips, never crashes, and never fails. I also use the DSM250 and DSM150 and soon will have a DSM410 in use. None have ever locked up or crashed. I use N2kview on numerous Android devices and, again, it’s solid and reliable without crashes or hangs.
I have no direct experience withe the larger displays or the black box but I have heard reports that these systems have less capable processors so displays as complex as I use on my N2kview displays may not work on these devices.
Based upon the level of frustration I sense you are having, I would try N2kview on a PC. I’ll just about guaranty you’ll have a good experience and will like it. This will allow you to know that the system can do what you want to do. Then you can scale back what you ask of the MBB300 to what it can reliably deliver without issue.
Overall, I’m super happy with Maretron so, based upon the severity of the problems you are experiencing, I would suspect that you are either asking more of the MBB300 than it can deliver or you have a problem unit. I recommend trying a PC running N2kview and an IPG100 as a way to see the system running without issue and then you can work on the MBB300 specifically and narrow down the problem knowing the rest of your system is working well. The system on Dirona is stable, doesn’t crash, doesn’t hang, and there is a lot of gear interconnected. On that basis, I’m pretty confident you can get your system the way you want it.
James, great point on running N2KView on a pc. For sure it will always come down to the quality and capacity of the hardware. Good to know your system has been solid; I can’t believe that the near unusable state of the MBB is “as designed”. One page with two temperature charts crashing after a couple of days of recording. I’m going to keep pushing on Maretron. They’re probably hoping I’ll give up and go away so they don’t have to send me $1500 worth of new hardware. I was initially reticent to depend on a Windows PC for a significant and critical shipboard system but in this case… 🙂
There will be tasks for which your MBB is excellent but, it appears, you have found some limitations of that component. I personally would be tempted to return the MBB or use it in less demanding applications on your boat and install N2kview on a small Windows system. The PC/n2kview combination is known to work in more demanding applications and will avoid further frustration on your end. Life is too short.
And an undocumented one at that. If they’re really just running out of storage or failing to wrap a circular buffer (my personal guess considering the chart data is supposed to drop oldest for newest) then, well, I really would be left speechless. So far Maretron’s still giving me the silent treatment. Time for a phone call.
BTW, have you seen these micro PCs like the Intel NUC? Most of them are Celeron procs, maybe some have better cpu, but super low cost with a lot of capability, and super small. examples here at amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=intel+nuc
We currently use an Intel mini-ITX motherboard which is a fairly small package and it will accept quite powerful procesors: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007W1KDRU/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1. Generally being sort of processor resources on a nav computer leads to poor operation and can cause instability. Our system is also running a bit database and lots of control processor code as well as an N2kview display with lots of graphs and complexy. More processor resources really helps avoid problems that waste your time.
Were I to buy again today I would go with the Lenovo Tiny Desktop systems like this one: https://www.amazon.com/ThinkCentre-M710-i5-7500T-PCIe-NVMe-Computer/dp/B0751B5G6Z/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?ie=UTF8&qid=1521524011&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=lenovo+tiny&psc=1. These are super small like the intel NUC but can equipped with Intel I5s or I7s which are more capable than the Celerons.
The Intel NUC is available with i3:
These models with the latest Gen 8 Intel CPUs begin shipping 4/6; according to simplynuc.com
Great options all around – thanks to both of you for the links!
Seems like a pretty good option. Thanks for the additional details Drew.
I just RMA’d the Maretron MBB after trying everything I could think of without sending it back to them. I just heard from them last night that my unit had been misconfigured when it was built with an 8GB SSD and loaded with a version of their software that does not support the 8GB SSD. So thumbs down for their ability to pay attention to what they’re doing, and thumbs up for figuring it out quickly once I returned it. They told me that the 5.x builds of N2KView do not correctly support this storage device (presumably this would apply only to versions of the software running on their hardware, not the PC version of it). They said it needed to have 6.x on it for the 8GB SSD.
Maretron support is pretty thorough and they generally get to the root issue. I’m glad to hear they got this one solved for you.
Chirs…this is Tim on Piredmus, a Nordhavn 63. I have a medium density Maretron system, that is not as intense as Dirona, but fairly loaded. I am running an MBB200 and had been experiencing many hangs, freezes and other issues which I thought were related to the processor. After 2 years of Maretron blaming the installation, they finally started listening to me and worked with me for over 2 months as I collected data when the issues occurred to send to them for analysis. Previously I had changed the storage card as you suggested and listened to them complain that I had too many graphs writing to the MBB. That is what the system is built for!!!! While it is important to see instant data, data over time to track trends is just as important. After sending them this data and letting them dig into it they finally acknowledged an issue deep in the code. They rewrote the code and issued me a beta version to try before finally releasing the updated MBB software live. I have been running that steady now for about 6 months with NO issues that I was previously experiencing. With that said, I have had my share of component failures such that while I like the concept of the system, I debate its dependability. My failures in 2.5 years of operation include
Coding issue causing display freezing
DSM250 computer screen failure was replaced
DST transducer defective
One fuel tank sensor defective and replaced
Two DCM100’s replaced
A few temp sensors replaced
WSO100 repaired after failure (and failed for a second time)
Like I said, I like the concept of the system, but there appears to be a quality issue with components or something. I have a red phone hot line to tech support and am working through a few other issues now.
Thanks for the posting Tim. Over the years, I’ve come up with a few simple approaches to managing the Maretron system without needing to call support and some of these ideas may help you as well. My first observation is that the boat monitoring, alarming, alerting, and reporting world has been around for a very long time. Superyachts have helped develop this market and there are some very nice systems out there but they all have one common thread: they are very expensive.
Some of these superyacht systems end up requiring a lot of skill to set up and can be service intensive. What Maretron has done is open this market up to folks that don’t want to spend $50k on a solution. I appreciate them doing that and, because their system is fairly cost effective, I can afford to have spares of all components on the boat. Everytime I purchase a Maretron component, I factor in the cost of the spare as part of my consideration. Even doing this, the cost of Maretron is still far less than the competitor and it sure makes correcting problems easy. If you were to replace any componnent on Dirona with a faulty unit, I could find it and fix it in minutes and without calls to support.
At that point, it’s a solved problem from my perspective but, on more complex NMEA2000 systems like ours, I also recommend you get N2kMeter (https://www.maretron.com/products/n2kmeter.php). The meter will find physical network problems and, once they are eliminated, then finding a faulty component is easy. In actuality, most don’t need the meter. Once a physical network is installed and working well, you aren’t likely to see any issues but I still like having the meter.
Almost all of the Maretron equipment on the boat has never had a problem and I fully expect it’ll work for the life of the boat. There have been a few components that cause problems and, on those, I find a different solution. For example, the smoke detector that Maretron initially offered as an accessory to the SIM100 can produce false alarms in a hot engine room. I replaced that part with one from a different supplier. Maretron didn’t have some of the pressure sensors I wanted with the FPM100 so I get what I want from Setra. The WSO100 fails every 2 years and I really should find a different supplier but haven’t yet. I’m told the Airmar NMEA2000 part works very well.
Generally, the technique of not continuing to use those parts that aren’t producing sufficiently reliable results and having a full set of spares on board has worked fairly well for us. After 8 years of operation, I’m still happy with the system and view it as good value even though I still do replace the WSO100 every 2 years :-). Using the tricks above, you can fix any problem in the network in minutes. I’m quite confident you can get your system stable, reliable, and easy to manage and yet still keeping it cost effective.
And fortunately most, if not all, endpoint sensor functions can be found from multiple sources. It’s the processing nodes that we’re stuck with from Maretron. Running N2K view on a PC is very wise; I didn’t think so at first and bought into the black box solution seeing it as most cost effective. I’m not so sure of that now but I have to agree that it would be difficult or impossible to find equivalent functionality elsewhere for even money. As a software guy, I can easily conceive of writing all of my own apps from network layer to UI to run on top of the device network and bail on N2KView completely but I also know that the value of my time to do that would make the cost of N2KView and it’s hardware look like a trip to the Dollar Store. Even so, I was so pissed last week that I started building an app to catch and display all the N2K traffic from my USB interface. Like you, I’m a glutton for punishment!! 🙂
Yes, I agree, there are lots of ways of getting data including using embedded computers like Raspberry Pis that can monitor non-NMEA2000 sensors. I have a bunch of DHT22 temperature sensors deployed throughout the boat. But, as you said, if you value your time, just go with the packaged solutions from Maretron. They work well, the are economically priced, the N2kview display system is incredibly flexible and easy to use, and boating should be about enjoying the boat and where you are rather than programming embedded systems and PICs :-).
Wow, I really feel for your frustration! Thanks for the war story on this and it sounds like our “new and improved” version 6 is the direct result of you exposing the weakness in version 5. For sure, software which is built to log data needs to withstand the rigors of that job. It needs to comprehend and manage its own limitations in capacity, throughput, etc, and communicate this effectively to the user. Running out of storage or blowing out of the end of a circular buffer or whatever and just running off the road is not an acceptable design. I’ve spent most of my career designing hardware and software for embedded system much like what Maretron uses for their rig and I think I have a good perspective on practical design. I commend you for pushing on Maretron until they finally got it.
We currently live on our Spindrift 43 sailboat. But, do to my wife’s back problems, which are exasperated by constant healing. We are seriously considering exchanging our beloved Chrysalis for a trawler. We especially love the Nordhavns.
Not that any of that has anything to do with this comment.
Anyway, I just wanted to tell you how much I love your informational posts. So clear, easy to understand and thorough.
Really enjoyed your latest Fender Post.
Thank you for sharing your knowledge and insights, and your logical “WHY’s” behind how you approach and solve problems.
Keep up the good work.
Sorry to hear that it’s a medical issue that leads you to lean you towards considering a trawler but, whatever the reason, our experience has been that a Nordhavn isn’t a bad choice and we have ended up covering a lot of “ground” and really enjoying it. Thanks for the feedback on the blog and good luck on your “next boat” selection.
Hi James & Jennifer: I stumbled onto your site when reading about aws datacenters. Great writing, great courage and great seamanship !!
The link text:
“The economics of sea freight” pointing to “http://localhost/MVDironaBlogTestSite/2013/12/21/TheEconomicsOfSeaFreight.aspx” on page //mvdirona.com/Topics/Nordhavn.php is broken.
All the best,
We’ll fix that link. Thanks for pointing it out.
Hi James and Jennifer,
Can you remember how much fuel was in Dublin when you filled up last year please?
The fuel was sold by Karen Brady of Campus Oil (https://campusoil.ie/) and delivered by truck to a commercial dock. They produced the best price by far in the region and delivered good, clean fuel on time. Karen is at email@example.com. Fuel prices swing all over the place over time and taxation position but, back when we made this purchase, we paid something just under 0.60 euros per liter. I recommend checking in with Campus Oil.
I am approaching the Dublin area so that information is very useful. I will be in touch with Campus Oil and fill up.
Thanks again, Colin.
Sounds good Colin. You’ll be happy with them. You’ll also need to contact the Harbour Master, get a fueling location in the harbour, and arrange to pay a 100 euro bunkering fee.
Thanks James, I did wonder about the bunkering fee.
I’ve never had to pay a bunkering fee before but, at least in this case, the fuel was still a good deal even including it.
Thanks for your advice on how to add Maretron Temp monitoring of the hydraulic fluid reservoir.
A couple of other queries, how and where did you attach the TRK3 probe to the reservoir. I see the sensor cable is 10ft and that adding an extention cable to get to the pilothouse where the TMP100 is will affect the accuracy of the probe at upper temp range. How did you address this issue or is adding 25ft more feet of low impedance cable not going to make much difference to the high end temp.
Lastly, I will fit a maretron display (just a small one as dont have much console room left) that is always on due to the importance of data like this temp reading. Are the DSM150 and the DSM250’s rock solid in reliability in your experience.
We ran a NMEA2000 cable through the boat and have Ts spread throughout the boat: 1) at the back of the ER, 2) front of the ER, 3) hallway between staterooms, 4) PH, 5) fly bridge, and 6) bottom of stack. I put the sensor/actuator units close to what they are operating upon. In the case of TMP100s I have 1 at the back of the ER and one at the front (only need two because I’m using all the channels). If you put it in the PH, you might need to run 8 wires to support the 4 sensors on a TMP100 (and more if you are using the thermal couple connections). I wouldn’t recommend runing 25′ of cable down to the hydraulic reservoir.
I use both DSM150s, DSM250s, and I’m about to start using the new DSM410 that has replaced the now discontinued DSM150. All have been reliable. I strongly recommend that you put a IPG100 in your network. With an IPG100, for no extra charge you can run N2kview on mobile devices and, if you chose to at extra cost, you can run n2kview on your navigation computer.
I attach the TRK3 to the hydraulic reservoir by unscrewing a single bolt holding a fitting to the tank and putting the TRK3 under the bolt and washer to get a good mechanical connection for accurate temperature sensing.
Ahhh, your idea of placing TMP’s close to where they are needed is a good idea and i wish that had happened on my boat alas, it didint so now I will have to workout how to deal with this. I have a NMEA2000 backbone down the length of boat so no problem there and I see a maretron labelled box in engine room whidch I have yet to open and see what that does but it isint a sensor termination box. Adding another TMP100 to the engine room as you have done solves this issue.
I have an IPG100 and using a Samsung 10″ tablet with N2KView and it works great but I also like the idea of the dedicated maretron displays in critical places like PH and one in master cabin. Less to go wrong than with a PC. I looked at specs of the new DSM410. From what I can see, they do the same as the DSM250. Why would you go with a DSM410 over a DSM250 James?
For what it’s worth, I have both the DSM-410 and the DSM-150 displays. Other than the size, there is very little difference. The DSM-410 buttons are not traditional buttons and their tactile feel is a bit less than satisfying. The DSM-250 is a bit larger than the 410 and quite a bit more expensive. Not sure the price difference is worth it.
I bought the DSM-250s before either the DSM-150 or the DSM-410 came available. I agree the DSM-150 is better value and it’s a nice overall easy to use package. I just got a DSM-410 that I intend to use in the new tender so I haven’t yet any hours on it but screen looks very nice. I think it’ll work well.
Thanks guys. That help me make my decision on what to order.I thought the DSM 150’s looked good value too but difficult to find now so may have to contend with the 410.
Good plan. I have 2xDSM250s and 2xDSM150s on Dirona and I just bought a DSM410 for our new tender that we’ll be getting soon. We’ll soon have some experience with the DSM410.
I have often wondered when I see charging adapters plugged in for your electronic devices why you don’t install some of these, or something similar. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01BTC5I5O/?tag=thewire06-20&linkCode=xm2&ascsubtag=AgEAAAAAAAAAAJJsAAAAAHSEcRQAAAAAWppFtQ. I’ve always wondered if they weren’t as good an idea as I think they are. I’ve got some Leviton receptacles in the house that “seem” to work fine for the cellphones (Android) and the I-Pad used for work. They aren’t cheap, probably more than an adapter, but I installed them in our master bedroom so I could charge our devices without giving up one of the duplex outlets on the receptacle.
Nice solution Steve. I’ve got a location in the PH where one of those would work super well. Unfortunately, 1/2 of our devices are now USB Type-C (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB-C) which is not compatible with that socket. There are adapter cords so I might give the socket a try anyway as a nice way to clean up the cabling a bit. Thanks for the suggestion.
Well, this receptacle is 1/2 and 1/2 https://www.amazon.com/TOPGREENER-TU21558AC-Resistant-Receptacle-Interchangeable/dp/B074KNH1JS/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?ie=UTF8&qid=1520114132&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=usb+c+receptacle&psc=1
There does appear to be a wide range of pricing though so you might look and decide what you are willing to try. I didn’t dig deep to find out of any of these are “specification grade” which only is a measurement of how much force is required to disconnect the male cap from the contact points of the receptacle. A $16.00 receptacle could very well grip as well as a $32.00 one and simply not have undergone testing. I haven’t placed much thought into how that would effect a charging cable or if they even rate that.
I’ll place an order from Amazon and pick it up on the next trip back to the US. Probably not until the summer but I’m looking forward to giving the proposed receptical a try. Thanks Steve.
I’ve reviewed your electronics diagram and am impressed by your redundancy. I have a couple of questions. One in regard to your choice of a class A AIS given the price difference. The other is how to contact your electronics person. Finally, do you have an SSB radio?
Emerald Harbor Marine in Seattle did the original electronics installation on Driona back in 2010. It’s still operating well today. Contact Larry Schildwachter (cell phone 206-793-7950, firstname.lastname@example.org) and feel free to ask questions here.
We chose a class A AIS rather than class B primary because these targets are paid attention to whereas class B is sometimes, hopefully rarely, ignored. In busy ports some commercial operators only display class A targets. It’s not a huge concern for us but, for a small added bit of protection, it felt worth getting the class A.
We originally intended to get a SSB radio but eventually decided not to. What pushed us towards not bothering is we have a business need to be connected all the time so we have a KVH V7hts mini-VSAT system that is connected 24×7. If it is blocked, out of range, or develops a fault, we fall back to Inmarsat BGAN as a backup. As a third level of defense, we have an Iridium handset as well. With all this satelite gear we felt well connected and, friends of ours have had lots of trouble getting electrical interference problems solved on their SSB — modern boats can produce a surprisingly large amount of interference. It’s all solvable but it can take work and, in the end, we just felt we had the connectivity we needed without SSB or HAM radio so we ended up not installing a HF radio.
A wee bit of useless trivia regarding the freezing conditions. In February 1814 the river Thames froze and the ice was thick enough to hold a frost fair on the river. They even had an elephant walk across the frozen river at Blackfriars Bridge!
That would have to be an extended period of very cold conditions. As much as we enjoy seeing a bit of snow, once the novelty wears off, warmer would be nice.
The period is known as the Little Ice Age.
James & Jennifer,
Looked at the weather for London because my son is headed there with his university class. Wow…cold and snow. Looking forward to some pictures.
With reports of sea ice at Cowes on the Isle of Wight and frozen canals elsewhere in London, I wondered if you have had ice forming in St Katherine’s dock?
No ice around here but lots of snow. The water is 43F (6C) and the air temperature is 29F (-1C). The combination of low water and air temperatures has our reverse cycle heat systems on the verge of not operating. A couple of the 5 units won’t heat the air until the air temperature in the boat gets up into the 60F range. Once they “catch” they work fine but they aren’t reliable first thing in the morning so we switched to the diesel furnace.
This morning we took the tube to Kings Cross station planning to take the Virgin train north to Leeds and then continue to Carlisle. We thought it would be a great trip with all the snow on the ground but the train was canceled. We could have made the next train work but the weather report continues to deteriorate so we decided to put the trip off until the snow stops.
As I write this, it’s lightly snowing at St. Katherine Docks and we’re surrounded in snow. It looks just great.
I was advised by the first (inept) Yanmar mechanic I had work on our boat that the reason for the black smoke and oil pushed out from our Yanmar wing engine, a 3GM30FV, is that it is overpropped. However, I have asked a propeller specialist to size a propeller for our boat with this engine and he essentially has calculated what we currently have. Our engine specs are: Cont Rating 17.7 KW @ 3400 rpm, Max Output 20.1KW @ 3600 rpm, Transmission is a KanZaki, Model KM3V, Gear ratio 2.61.
At revs lower than 2500 rpm the engine sounds and performs great. Because the engine produced copious amount of smoke and oil slicks, at revs above 2650 rpm, we limit our revs to 2500 rpm. As the engine appears to be able to rev higher I suggest that changing the prop would be premature and that we should have the engine looked at.
Before I enlist another diesel mechanic to look at our problem, could you suggest what areas could be responsible.
The easiest test is to see if you can turn above rated RPM at full load in gear. In this case, that would be 3600 RPM based upon what you have said above. You need to be able to attain at least 3600 RPM in gear and you would prefer to see a bit more. If you can’t get this RPM, you are likely over-propped. On Dirona, we have a lot of gear on board so we reduced pitch in both our main engine and the wing engine to be able to achieve full rated RPM.
In what’s above I said “likely to be over-propped” because it is by far the most common problem but, to be complete, there are many engine problems that can prevent full output. For example a plugged air filter, restricted fuel system, or a stuck turbo. If the engine is operating correctly and you can’t get full rated RPM in gear, it’s over propped. Boats usually get heavier as they get older and engines can slightly lose power over time so it’s quite common to need to reduce the pitch of a prop during the life of the boat. I did it twice on our previous boat and it’s been done once on the current one.
The tables that allow a prop expert to tell you the pitch that should work are a good starting point but they are only a starting point. The reasons why props often need repitching is the tables are only a starting point. It’s not uncommon to find these estimates off by a 1/2″ of pitch and even more is possible even when working with a very experienced prop shop specialist. In the end, the “right” pitch is the one that allows the engine to reach full rated RPM underway in gear when the engine is in good tune (clearly if the engine isn’t running properly, repitching isn’t going to help).
That’s the quick summary. More data here: //mvdirona.com/TechnicalArticles/DieselEngineOverload/AvoidingDieselEngineOverload.htm.
I’ve got a picture in this article that you might recognize: //mvdirona.com/2008/04/transom-diesel-soot/.
It’s super important that you get this condition fixed before extended operation. Black clouds from a diesel are often the precursor to large repair bills.
Very good reference articles James, thank you. Our existing 18″ 2 blade propeller has a 9″ pitch. This is already getting very fine. Although one engineer recommended a 18″ x 9.75″ (larger pitch), another has recommended machining the blades to 18.5″ x 7″. However, I am hesitant to change until I can have someone look into the oil, not just the black smoke, that is being thrown out above 2650 rpm. One engineer I spoke to thought that a seal or gasket could be leaking at these higher revs and pressures.
I just about guaranty you are over-propped if the boat still has the original pitching. However, as you are thinking, getting the engine right is the correct first step.Once you have the engine running well, you can do the wide open throttle test, find the pitch needed and make the change. I was able to get the blades on our Gori prop repitched by Kruger Props in Seattle rather than having to replace the individual blades of the folding prop. They did an excellent job.
Tell me more about the oil being sprayed out. Is the oil comming out in the exhaust water or leaking from somewhere on the outside of the engine?
oil or fuel oil? Sounds like the injector pump might be a problem?
Definitely, oil coming out with the exhaust leaving an oil slick beside/behind the boat. Finding a good diesel mechanic that is available is proving very difficult. I spoke to Martec In the states and as a result, I will get the blades set to 17.5″ x 7″ and work from there.
You will get a bit of oil on the surface of the water when some diesels are cold and, in some engines, there is always a small bit of fuel on the water at idle. Lots of fuel on water indicates the fuel is not fully burning. It might be over-fueling caused by overload or there might be an engine problem like a bad injector or a bad cylinder. I would make sure the engine can turn up to fast idle (full RPM without load) and, if it can, I would put the engine under high load (doesn’t have to be wide open) when under way when under way and check the temperature of each exhaust runner. What you are looking for is to ensure that each cylinder is contributing and around the same temperature. A dead cylinder will read cool. This is a rough test but it’ll tell you if all cylinders are firing and contributing.
A film of black carbon on the transom/surface of the sea with rainbow staining is likely to be partially burnt particulates and unburnt fuel, indicating an overloaded engine.
An easy way to check for engine overload is to slowly increase the throttle, if at some point the engine revs cease to increase but you still have some movement (forward or reverse depending which gear you’re in) left on the throttle then the engine is overloaded indicating a prop / engine power band mismatch. Possible causes are fouled bottom affecting hull speed through the water, partially blocked engine breather, air filtration or exhaust. If the exhaust is clogged with sooty gunge due to the engine being run at half load for a prolonged period (like a bus going uphill throws black smoke under heavy load) this may show as temp increase, I’d wager it could even throw an alarm light. James has covered the injectors but I’d check the simple stuff first.
Thank you James and Paul,
With the information you have provided, now, I feel much more confident in the diagnostic avenues to take. The blades have been sent to Sydney, NSW for machining. I expect them back late next week. I will keep this blog posted.
I use a lot of storage boxes on my service van. One I like is this style by Plano https://www.academy.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product_10151_10051_12167_-1?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI76ypmtvB2QIVF7jACh1coAnGEAYYAiABEgJR7fD_BwE. They come in a variety of sizes and the actual latch is perfect for my use. I’ve dropped and cracked them but I’ve never had one come open and spill. Probably the only drawback is the dividers are removable and can come out or shift letting small parts shift but superglue deals with that.
We have a few Plano boxes on the boat and like them. They seem durable and work well. The one you pointed us to is pretty low cost as well. It’s about 1/2 of what we paid (things are a bit more expensive here in the UK) and it looks a bit stronger. As always, thanks Steve.
James and Jennifer, I’m enjoying your blog very much. It helps to shorten the winter and brings the new season around a little faster. I just wondered where you are heading after London? Thank, Chris
The plan is to spend this summer in Norway. We haven’t decided yet if we’ll head north on the UK side or on the continental europe side but, either way, Norway is the destination.
Excellent. I will watch with interest. I’m based in the UK but our boat is currently inFrance, but we intend to do the fjords some day. Keep up with the interesting articles.
We plan to be in the Fjords this summer and we’re really looking forward to it. All the best Chris.
James: Hope all is well. We are getting ready for our shake down cruise and I am trying to get the snubbers ready. What size lines are you using and what length.
For anchor snubber, we ordered an Ultra Chain Grab UCG13 with 30′ of 3/4″ 3 strand. I think we may be using a shorter snubber now but I’ve not measured it. Likely around 20′.
Good luck with your shake down cruise Tim.
James are you using one or two snubber lines. We received the UCG last week and I am trying to set up the bridle. Did you get/use the snubber rubbers?
We played around with using dual snubbers (a bridle) and ended up concluding that one line was adequate and it takes less time to set. We use only the stretch of the line without snubber rubbers.
Ever thought of using an automotive style tire pressure monitor to let you know one of the inflatable fendors deflated? Seems like you could Bluetooth them to a Pi and have an alarm go off.
It’s a great idea but these systems are designed for tires that run at 10s of PSI whereas the fenders run at 2 to 3 PSI. If the sensor was sufficiently accurate it would work and is a good idea. Thanks Brian.
Well, there are some available for motorcycle tires that are sensitive enough but you are talking 100 bucks for two. I’m not sure how they’d last in the environment either.
What is the spherical structure forward on Libertijn of Alphen?
It’s a sun deck for the residents to relax “outside” but out of the cold.
so you finally saw some good Dutch barges…many more to see and go when you go to Holland…
They look super comfortable to us and it’s hard to argue with the downtown London location.
James, thank you for the muffler prices. Sounds like you got a good deal.
The work was done by Nordhavn Europe Ltd. in Southampton.
How did you think of having a door gasket and soap dispenser for a GE profile dishwasher on board as a spare?
I don’t think I’ve ever had a similar problem to entice me to even think of that.
Have you had similar trouble in the past, or read about people having trouble?
Most manufacturers will provide a list of recommended repair parts if you dig deep enough but, I guess I’ve never really read the paperwork on our dishwasher.
The lower gasket had been cut early in the life of the dishwasher and a spare is under $9 so we decided to carry one. When we ordered the gasket we decided to go for the soap dish as well only because it looked fragile. It’s a bit more expensive at $56 but it seems worth it.
So the gasket was an issue you knew could possibly turn up down the road, and the soap dispenser was a intuitive guess?
I spent last night going through the parts list for several appliances that we own, things like elements or were a easy choice but without getting one of everything I would have had no idea where to start.
Even things like belts I had to wonder as belts do go bad sitting on a shelf. They would get you going but service life could be much shorter if they were old enough.
I should be careful I don’t oversell my prescience. We had the dishwasher apart to change the damaged lower seal many years ago and were kind of amazed at how flimsy many of the parts where so we ordered the parts that looked mostly likely to fail. We don’t have the same level of backup for the washer and dryer which quite likely also have some weak components. On the refrigerator which we consider very mission critical, we didn’t need to take it apart but did a pass through the parts book looking for candidate parts that might fail.
On home appliance you can get parts quickly and easily so there is less value in predicating failure and being ready. Even here in the UK, when we are spending some time in one spot, we can get parts fairly quickly from the US (but with customs and duty issues).
Since you’re fairly close to it, I would recommend checking out a pub called “Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese.” It’s kind of hard to fine, tucked in an alley, but I believe it’s one of the oldest pubs in London, going back as far as 1538. My wife and I visited a couple years back and had a great time. If you do go, be sure to head down to the bottom floor, which I think is 3 floors underground. No windows, feels much like a cellar, super interesting atmosphere. We had some beer and meat pies which were excellent.
Cool. We’ll check it out. Thanks for the pointer Robert.
My wife and I enjoy your blog immensely as a source of practical information as well as adventure. We are planning to purchase a Nordhavn 475 and wonder what minimum electronic package you would consider appropriate for this boat.
We have also looked at a 2009 52 that we really like but it lacks a flybridge. How important do you find your flybridge?
The 2009 52 would be Stella Maris. The previous owner took excellent care of her and it’s a nice boat.
On electronics packages, there really isn’t one choice and there are a wide multitude of opinions out there. On our previous boat we had Raymarine and they were OK but the service in the Seattle area wasn’t great. Most of the professional fishing boats sailing out seem to use Furuno so we decided to go with them on Dirona. Simrad is another reasonable choice but we decided that we wanted to go with what was most common on commercial boats that depended upon their gear to be able to make money. I would prefer to go with individual components rather than integrated systems since integrated systems don’t allow you to chose the best in each component but all the electronics companies make integrated solutions and, although it’s possible to use separate components, they make the integrated solution so much more cost effective you are just about stuck going that way.
Our pragmatic approach to dealing with the problem of integrated electronics was to buy the current Furuno NavNet3d system knowing that warranty will solve problems in the early days. As the system aged, I bought a used one to use as a spare that was being replaced with the latest and greatest so we now have a full spare on board as well. This is important on aging systems where parts prices are high.
You would think that if you bought an integrated system everything would “just work” but, no matter what you chose, you will find some teething problems and it’ll take time to get the system stable and working well. Once you do, it’ll likely stay that way but you will almost certainly see early problems.
We chose to use standard computer monitors rather than marine monitors because they are far better price/performers: //mvdirona.com/2010/05/night-running-monitor-covers/. We been pretty happy with these monitors and have 6 in use.
We want redundancy so we have one MFDBB controlling two monitors and a PC driving two other monitors. If you use Furuno, you can run Time Zero on the PC and they can share the same navigation data. Chart data can be expensive if you range long distances so sharing is very nice. Either system is capable of showing all data and we have spares for both.
For RADAR, we really like high quality systems so we spent bigger than strictly necessary there and bought a Furuno 25kW 6′ open array that we just love. We are also big believers in AIS so have a class A system (Furuno FA-150).
Overall the system has performed very well and 8 years later we still aren’t longing to upgrade it.
James got focused on electronics and missed your flybridge question. We wouldn’t view a flybridge as a showstopper, but were we to buy again we would get a flybridge. We like having it. On our previous boat we used the flybridge heavily, particularly for docking, but only dock from the pilothouse in this boat. We generally use the flybridge for entertaining and sometimes for riding up top in beautiful views such as in Alaska or for fun when out in the middle of an ocean. We do really like the storage space in the brow though—it’s quite large on the 52. The second picture in //mvdirona.com/2010/11/really-useful-boxes/ shows the port side.
Hi James and Jennifer – is your NavNet system sending NMEA 0183 position data to a VHF radio? If so, what brand/model, please? We have your system on N4066 but our Standard Horizon radio is not receiving position data. As usual, thanks for the adventures.
We use Icom M604 VHF radios. In our case we use a Furuno NMEA2000 to NMEA0183 multiplexer to send the needed data to the Nav computer, both VHF radios, and to one of the input channels on the AIX. All but the VHF are fed position data in other ways and I use the multiplexer as a backup channel.
Sending NMEA0183 from the NN3D MFDBB requires that you go into configuration mode on the MFDBB and enable position data to be sent out on the NMEA0183 connection.
When working with NMEA0183 from any device, you can configure a laptop to read NMEA0183. It’s a hassle to setup but, once you have it working, it makes debugging 0183 much easier. Get a serial connection to USB accessory plugged into your laptop. Take a serial connection pigtail that you can plug into the USB serial interface. Take the send and receive wires and put aligator clips on them. Connect them to a known good NMEA0183 connection (polarity matters) and using a terminal interface like Putty, you can read the NMEA0183 data. It’s a bit messy to set up but the configuration makes debugging 0183 much easier.
Ideally, you should just be able to go into the MFDBB setup program, enable position data to be sent on the appropriate NMEA0183 interface, connect that to your radios and be done. Make sure you look up the expected baud rate (transmission speed) your radios expect and set that appropriately.
Thank you James!
If you enjoy steam engines, you could check out the Crossness Pumping Station while you are in London. It is quite impressive!
They used to power up one of the steam engines but seems to only be open for tours now.
The Crossness Pumping Station looks like a great stop. 1,500 gal (6,800l) per revolution — they must be massive. Thanks for pointing it out Drew.
Hello Jennifer and James,
Is there another Nordhavn in front of you at St. Katharine Docks?
Yes–that’s Nordhavn 55 Shogun in front of us.
On your time zero you show the CPA with the blue crosses. I am surprised the 2 crosses ahead of you appear well north of your track as you will never be in those positions? is this because the sytsem is using heading data rather than track data? I did wonder if the system was showing where you need to be to achieve your 2nm CPA but this does not correlate to the closer 2 crosses.
Your first guess is correct, the system is taking speed and heading data to extrapolate where the CPA will be. It would be better if they were using course made good rather than heading. In most cases it doesn’t matter but, in the the picture, the strong currents against us are causing the autopilot to head to the north in order to maintain the desired course made good path.
The approximation of just looking at where the course line crosses the dark blue CPA indication lines is a pretty close to the CPA.
I believe you mean the Tower Bridge. The Tower of London is the royal residence north of the river, NW of your berth.
Thanks for the correction Walt. We’ve updated the text.
Your post regarding your ProStock fenders was timed perfectly for us. We are tired or lugging around are large standard fenders and are going to switch to inflatable fenders. At this point, would your recommendation be the Aere or ProStock fenders?
I think we would be looking at the same size as you have – 18″ x 42″. Our boat is a 54′ Choey Lee LRT (about 42 tons fully loaded).
Jim and Rosy Addington
M/V Sea Venture
On fenders, four recent incidents over the last two months have caught my attention and caused me to feel less confidence using only inflatables: 1) A super yacht in Falmouth had all of it’s fenders blow up on dock in 53 kts winds. The boat was saved by the Marina staff installing large conventional Polyform fenders that really weren’t that big but, since these non-inflatible fenders are much higher mass to area, they didn’t blow up on dock and protected the boat, 2) in the same 53 kt wind in Falmouth, we had our stern-ward fender blow up on dock but were saved by other fenders along the same side, 3) we had the double fender failure in Dublin where two side-by-side fenders failed. In this case the boat was saved by the size of all the other fenders just barely keeping Dirona off the dock in around 35 kts of wind, and 4) in 73 kts of wind in Portland, we had the front three fender all blow up onto the boat walkway. In this case, the boat was saved from damage only by the fact that the wind was blowing off the dock rather than on.
One technique I’ve heard works well is to weight down the inflatable fenders. Another is to get a couple of large Polyforms to augment the inflatable set. We’ve decided to do the later and have ordered two Polyform F8s to augment or inflatable fenders. It’s easy to to store two non-inflatables but storing the full set would be a challenge so we will stick with mostly inflatables.
On deciding what inflatables to use, we’ve not really found the right answer yet but here is what I’ve learned so far: Aere in the early days used a very heavy fabric that would last forever. I don’t think anything would wear through the Aere fenders fabric. It is at least twice as durable as the material used by Prostock. But, the Aere’s wouldn’t hold air. The glued seams leaked and, for all their fabric durability, they wouldn’t stay inflated. Aere sent repair materials and was very nice but, in the end, it didn’t work. Attempting to fix them was a waste of time and never stopped so we replaced them after 2 years and having spent $2,000 with Prostock Marine. The Prostock Fenders have dangerously thin material but with welded seams that shouldn’t leak. The good news is the Prostocks don’t leak but the bad news is the material is quite thin and, after three years, we have had 2 fabric failures and it looks like more failures are coming soon.
The cost of sending back either an Aere or Prostock marine fender for warranty service and getting it back from a world location makes the warranty, if they are willing to stand behind the product and Prostock isn’t impressive on the customer support end, effectively useless. It cost as much to send a fender two ways as it does to just replace it. We really need fenders that work and, if you are away from North America, it’s not cost effective to send them back for warranty service. Given the cost of a set of inflatable fenders is around $2,000, replacing them every 3 years doesn’t seem cost effective and, so far, we have gone through more than $4,000 in 5 years so we are looking for a better solution.
Aere has moved from a welded seam from the previous glued seams that didn’t work so that product probably now works. I’ve seen the new Aere in use on super yachts and it appears they are back to competing with a solid product. Without having tried Aere, I suspect they are now as good as Prostock Marine and you could chose either.
Given I spent $2,000 for 2 years of Aere use and $2,000 for 3 years of Prostock Marine use, I don’t feel like either makes good economic sense so we’re looking for other answers and will write up what we find. Our current plan looks like this: 1) buy 2 Polyform F8 for high wind conditions where inflatables fly away (could also weight down inflatables) and for very high load and high abrasion where Prostock’s don’t have the fabric thickness to give good durability, and 2) we’ll start sampling lower cost inflatables on the argument that, if there really is no warranty on Aere or Prostock and neither is sufficiently durable to last the 7 to 10 years we would like, then buying a lower cost product and replacing more frequently might be the right answer.
For sure we are going with 2 Polyforms and feel good about that decision. On our plan to buy 1 low cost inflatable fender and see how it does, it’s a low cost experiment. I can buy a low cost inflatables of the same dimensions as the Aere or Prostock fenders that have failed for less than 1/2 the price. Let’s see if they work and last as long and we’ll write up what we learn. Generally, our goal is to either not replace the fenders in 3 to 4 years or, if we do, not to spend $2,000 each time. All we know for sure at this point is we have not yet found the right answer but we have 2 Polform F8s on order and the first low cost inflatable fender experiment is on order as well. We’ll post what we learn.
Welcome to London
Thanks for the welcome Andrea. It’s exciting to be here. St. Katherine Dock is an amazing location and a very nice marina.
It looks like you made it just after dark?
Yes, just after dark and with a couple of knots of current running from astern to keep us on our toes as we docked Dirona. We’re right on the river and the ferries speed past us with gigantic wakes but, one of the advantages of heavy boat, is even big wakes aren’t that big a deal. We had a great night and slept well. Pretty amazing to be docked with the Tower of London only a few hundred feet ahead. Great view.
This morning, when the lock at St. Katherine Dock opened, we went into the Marina. Very nice and, wow, what a location!
Glad you are there safe. Vibration not an issue? Spitfire all good?
No noticeable vibration. The Packless Shaft Seal collar is moving a bit more than I like but it’s not leaking and it may be the case we can get it moving less after the final alignment. All seems good and, yes, Spitfire appear to be 100% recovered and just as energetic, curious, and vocal as ever.
Good Evening from Melbourne, Australia,
I see that you are entering the Thames heading for St Katherines & thought you might be interested in a short You tube drone video posted by Braun Jones ( Ocean Pearl ) back in 2014.
Can be found at “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jB-mlEnEUbE&feature=youtube_gdata”.
We’re tucked away in St. Katherine this morning and enjoying an impressively nice marina at an incredible location. Loving it already!
You must have gotten the shaft run out problem fixed. That looks like more than a sea trial 🙂
Yes, I decided that prop shaft alignment perfection was for boaters that don’t want to visit London. The prop shaft is slightly out of true or there is an alignment issues. I’ll check the alignment in London. Technically, it’s slightly out of ABYC specs but it’s close and we bought the boat to enjoy the world rather than the yard (which was very nice but a month was enough). We’ll align the engine and check runout again in London.
If it’s alignment and you continue to have issues getting it right, you might consider finding a company doing millwright work that has one of these: https://www.gamut.com/p/fluke-laser-shaft-alignment-tool-wireless-alignment-1-beams-0-dots-NjcyMjUy?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&adpos=1o4&scid=scplp395K887&sc_intid=395K887&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIk8nDi–Y2QIVHrjACh2xuglmEAQYBCABEgLlzPD_BwE. (or something similar there are various brands). If it’s shaft being out of true, I’ve used a guy out of St. Louis many times on big air handling units to balance the shaft in place. I wouldn’t think a prop shaft would be any different. Someone over there should specialize in that.
Thanks Steve. Getting the engine and shaft aligned is pretty easy on this boat. I normally get get it aligned sufficiently well that when you spin the prop by hand out of the water, it keeps spinning a half turn. The problem here is the shaft and shaft coupling assembly is not dead straight. In the last go around this was vastly improved but it’s still slightly out of spec. Measured at the center of the shaft, run out is 0.0035″ and measured at the coupling it’s 0.0016″. That data implies the shaft coupling taper, flange face, and registration are all sufficiently good but the shaft is slightly out of spec. My intention is to realign and remeasure in London and likely do nothing until the boat next comes out of the water since the deviation at this point is very small.
I hope that you may be able to assist. I would like to refresh the oil in our Niaid stabilizers. Niaid recommends “quality SAE10W-40 motor oil” . I would prefer to drain only the reservoir, not the hoses etc, so I do not need to bleed the system
The dilemma I have is that I cannot find 100% mineral oil, all 10W-40 is at least partially synthetic. Do you think a partially synthetic oil would be a problem?
High pressure hydraulic systems self bleed so no need to worry about that. The air clears just about instantly as the system comes up to full pressure.
On oil quality, you could confirm with Niaid but, if all they specify is “quality SAE10W-40 motor oil” I can’t see a problem using the semi-synthetic blends common in the multi-grade engine oil market these days. All modern oils of that grade appear to meet their specification.
I have a few questions.
A. What do you use for an anchor snubber, we have 400 feet of chain on a 150lb Rocna anchor?
B. What are you using for a backup anchor system?
C. What type of flare package are you carrying?
D. What are you using for a towing package?
E. What are you doing for an emergency hull breach kit?
Good set of questions Tim. You asked:
A. What do you use for an anchor snubber, we have 400 feet of chain on a 150lb Rocna anchor?
[jrh]We use an Ultra Chain Grab UCG13 and about 35′ of line (didn’t record the length).
B. What are you using for a backup anchor system?
[jrh]We are using an Danforth style anchor on the argument that the Rocna works well in all conditions except very light silt and greasy but strong vegetation both of which are managed well by the large surface area and sharp edges of a Danforth style anchor. Because we don’t have room on the bow for a second anchor of any type and especially not a Danforth style, we keep it flat on the bow deck. To support moving by hand, we used the largest aluminum anchor I could manage and ended up settling on a Guardian G85.
C. What type of flare package are you carrying?
[jrh]We went with parachute rockets because we like the long hang times. We also have day/night hand flares and daylight smoke flares.
D. What are you using for a towing package?
[jrh]Do you mean, what provisions have we to be towed or what provisions have we made to tow other boats. We have the optional bow tow hook that would allow Dirona to be towed. We have no special provision to tow other boats but, in an emergency, would use the center transom cleats.
E. What are you doing for an emergency hull breach kit?
[jrh]We have a wide variety of different options here: 1) a wide assortment of conical wood wedges for through hull or hose failures, 2) larger foam cone wedges, 3) Navirex hull repair kit, 4) a canvas piece with ropes that can be dragged down over the outside of the hull to cover and plug (via water pressure) a hull breach, and 5) fast set spray foam. I’ve heard of large commercial boats using cement for emergency patching and a bag of cement isn’t that hard to carry but we haven’t elected to do it at this point.
I noticed that you were using the Guardian vs. the Fortress, is there a reason why. Our captain has recommended the fortress. Further , you are using a 47 lb. anchor that is a step above the recommended for the boat. I am assuming that you made this decision based on the comment to get the largest anchor that you can reasonably handle.
The Ultra Chain Grad is a UK product. Is there a reason that you went with that one versus a stat4eside product which is similar?
The Guardian is less expensive than the Fortress and slightly less nicely finished but, otherwise, identical. Either will work fine.
I chose the 47 lb anchor wanting to get the biggest we could reasonably handle. Having used the anchor several times, I would not recommend smaller for a boat 50+ ton boat.Generally when it comes to anchors, we like to go big and sleep well. Our main anchor for a 52′ boat is a 70kg (154lb) Rocna for much the same reason.
We chose the Ultra Chain Grab on the basis of liking the product and company. Most of our purchasing decisions are made on the basis of product quality and their customer support reputation rather than where the parts are built. On Dirona, we have components from all over the world.
1. I ordered the UCG13, but I have 3/8 chain not 1/2, will that be alright?
2. Ordered the G85 from Defender.
3. Towing Package is for towing the boat not the tender. I have the tow hook as you do. I purchase 100ft of 3/4 Line.
4. We have an ALX Alumina – 12 ft. with a 30 hp Yamaha. I think you were looking at these. If I can be of help let me know.
5. Our boat will be used mostly for coastal cruising for the next few years. We will be using Wheelhouse for maintenance, their spares are enclosed in containers when they ship. Given that, what would you consider a good starter bin package for our 52. In the engine room we have a Northern lights diesel generator, Yanmar 40HP wing, and a JD 265 just as you. In the laz we really don’t have anything special. Just the normal set up.
1. I ordered the UCG13, but I have 3/8 chain not 1/2, will that be alright?
[jrh]We use 7/16″ chain on Dirona. The 13 in UCG13 is for 13mm which is about 1/2″. Your 3/8″ chain is 9.5mm. I would recommend asking the manufacture if you can use the UCG13 on 3/8″ in line but it seems a bit big in my estimation.
2. Ordered the G85 from Defender.
[jrh]It’s a nice anchor. We have two of them.
3. Towing Package is for towing the boat not the tender. I have the tow hook as you do. I purchase 100ft of 3/4 Line.
[jrh]We would use the secondary anchor rode if we had to tow. As our primary anchor rode, we have 500′ of 7/16″ chain. For a secondary anchor rode, we have around 50′ chain and 450′ of 1″ rope. We would use the 1″ rope if we needed to tow and we would work hard to avoid towing if there were any options. These are big heavy boats and towing in rough seas is difficult.
4. We have an ALX Alumina – 12 ft. with a 30 hp Yamaha. I think you were looking at these. If I can be of help let me know.
[jrh]We played around with ABs ratings for these boats and, although we wanted aluminum for a lighter and easier to handle package, we ended up electing to stay with Fiberglass. We took the HP to weight ratio of the 30hp on the 12ALX and compared it with our 12VST that is rated for 40hp and it is a faster boat. So, going to a 12VST would slow us down. In addition, AB has changed the ratings on the 12VST to 50hp so it’s now much faster than a max rated engine on a 12ALX so we ordered another 12VST.
5. Our boat will be used mostly for coastal cruising for the next few years. We will be using Wheelhouse for maintenance, their spares are enclosed in containers when they ship. Given that, what would you consider a good starter bin package for our 52. In the engine room we have a Northern lights diesel generator, Yanmar 40HP wing, and a JD 265 just as you. In the laz we really don’t have anything special. Just the normal set up.
[jrh]We prefer to do our own spares and spare management. We use and really like these boxes: //mvdirona.com/2010/11/really-useful-boxes/. To track maintenance, we use this spreadsheet: //mvdirona.com/2015/03/maintenance-log/. We have a similar spreadsheet for parts inventory where we track where everything is so we don’t lose things.
Hello and congratulations for your blog !! I,think seriously to buy in some years a N 52. One easy question : What do you think about sea keeper to have a “quiet ” boat on anchor ? and what is the efficiency on road ? you’ve chosen hydraulic stabilizer ? Is it better ? is a question af price ( sea keeper about 100 000 dollars). ?Thanks for your help and see you one time on sea, I,hope !!! Sorry for my English…I’m French !
When we bought Dirona, the only active stabilizer option were hydraulic stabilizers from ABT. Seakeaper didn’t exist at that point. There are some Nordhavn’s now being built with Seakeapers so we’ll get a view on how well they work and whether they are good value over the next 2 to 3 years. Our stabilizers were just under $45,000 back in 2009 so they appear to be a bit less expensive than your quote from Seakeapers. Are ABT hydraulic stabilizers don’t operate at rest (they need water flow) which is a downside but they don’t require the 24×7 generator operation that Seakeapers require (which is an upside).
I suspect that the stabilizer market will continue to grow — more boats will have stabilizers — and I expect both companies will continue to sell more product. My only experience is with ABT hydraulic stabilizers and I’m fairly impressed with them and just love the company. ABT support is amazingly good and they really stand behind their product.
thanks a lot for your so quickly answer !! When my project will be finalized , as everyone, I will ask you about dozens of question !! I hope that your problem of prop will be soon resolved !
Good luck with your project. On our prop/prop shaft/coupling problem, we pulled it all back out of the boat on Thursday and they went to the shop on Friday. I think we may have found the problem. The transmission coupling had picked up metal from the original shaft inside the coupling taper. This metal transfer was fairly thick and would cause the coupling to not sit squarely on the taper. I think there is a very good chance that is the problem. We’ll correct the problem on Monday and re-install and dial gauge the shaft to ensure it’s back where it should be before launching. I think there is a good chance, the problem has been found and we’ll soon be back mobile.
I have never owned a big power boat but I do own a 43′ Hans Christian Christiana (fin keel) sail boat. Every time the boat is hauled and placed on the hard the yard mechanics decouple the shaft from the transmission before the boat is lifted because they say sitting on the keel on the hard will place stress on the coupling and alignment. Once the boat is back in the water they check alignment and re-bolt the coupling. I don’t know if this makes a difference or not but for the past 24 years this is how the shipyard that does my bottom work handles the shaft connection. The first thing and last thing they do, always verifying alignment by spinning the shaft before they bolt up. Maybe sail boats are different because we have tons of ballast in the keel.
Dirona is not a nimble Hans Christian so hull flexing isn’t that big of a deal. It can be taken from the water and replaced without any change in shaft alignment. If alignment is changed out of the water, it’ll need to be reset in the water since there is some changing as the boat settles in but, other than that, flexing doesn’t appear to pose any problems. In this case, we have a part machining or fit problem that needs to be corrected.
Hopefully the run-out issue can be resolved quickly along with the remaining to-do list items and you’ll be on your merry way very soon. We’re all looking forward (including you & Jennifer I bet) to seeing Dirona back out there. Excellent pics & account of the considerable progress made on your refit tasks. You’re getting very close now…
We are getting close but the set back of needing to take the shaft back out of the boat is a time burner. This morning the shaft, coupling, and prop will all be brought to the prop shaft for checks to find out what went wrong and hopefully correct the problem.
In the post about the vibration you show your normal dashboard. I can see the RPM shows that you are at WOT. But I’m not seeing a gauge that shows vibrations. Do you have an electronic one or was this detection via the Mark 1 sole of the feet sensors?
Good question Foster. The vibration in this case isn’t that serious but you can feel it and it’s obviously a problem. Looking at the prop shaft at speed, it’s really dancing. Because the vibration isn’t as sever as what I would expect from a run-out that was visually that large, I suspect the problem is at the engine end rather than the prop end. Also the visual runout is about as bad at idle as it is at full RPM which also suggests it’s not the prop. With the engine off and the prop shaft turned by hand, we can measure runout with a dial gauge and found 0.023″ which is way too high so it all needs to come back out.
We took the prop shaft, coupling, and prop off Thursday and it all went to the machine shop on Friday.
We’re in the process of buying a 2003 N47 and would appreciate you sharing the cost of the muffler replacement.
This includes more than $1,000 for duty and shipping that you would not need to pay in North America and there are lower costs regions of the world to do this work. Our muffler is a 5″ muffler whereas 47 mufflers are 4″ so the part itself will be less expensive for the 47 you are buying but this is what we spent (all converted to USD):
*$1253.85: Exhaust Silencer 1448VCs5
*$121.04: Fan shroud cooling Pipe
The total cost for the job including duty and shipment was USD$4,941.51.
Good to see the boat getting re-launched.
I hope you remembered to ‘burp’ your PSS shaft seal!
Yes, it’s good to be back in the water. Thanks for the warning on the PSS.
Just wondering how much does your rudder weigh?
Hello Jennifer and James:
Looking at your Dublin track, I noticed that you were accessing your n2k system remotely via the n2kview remote app. You stated that you had a static IP assigned to your satelite system in order to contact the boat remotely. I know you work for AWS/microsoft and are very technically savvy, but I have never seen you mention any sort of firewall/security on the boat.
I am curious if there are any firewalls in place or you have a VPN or similar so the boat isn’t connected directly to the internet like so many IoT devices are?
A concerned fellow techie
Yes, thanks, there is a linux based firewall in front of the boat.
Great. I assumed you had something in place, but was curious in any case.
Hello, I was very happy to find you and to follow your adventure! I am myself considering to start circumnavigating in the years to come.
My family have been over the seas for more than 500 years and I can’t take it out my blood!
I have thousands of questions to ask you!
For the moment I am in Greece but I own a family property in Normandy, next to Cherbourg.
I will be there form February 17th to March 1st.
If by any chance you will be around Normandy by the time I will be very pleased to welcome you at home.
It is quite a good place to have a break : http://www.islemarie.fr
We are operating it as a Bed and Breakfast, but of course you will stay for free.
all the best,
Thanks very much for your offer of hospitality in Normandy. Our plan is to be in London at that time so we’ll not overlap late February. Hopefully our paths will cross. You can see where we are at //mvdirona.com/maps.
thanks for your answer. I will keep an eye on your trip!
Since your crane was a special design/capacity at the time do you think that affected the wear? Is Steelhead working with you on the rebuild?
Hi Timothy. There appear to be 4 independent issues with our Steelhead ES1100 crane:
1) Extension ram fasteners installed without insulation (stainless to aluminum corroded up).
2) The extension lower bearing was not installed so the crane ran aluminum on aluminum (I suspect this was either a build error or a design change that went in after our early serial number was built).
3) The extension upper bearing adhesive failed and the bearing fell out
4) The linear winch wore through the bearings it operates upon (plastic cheek blocks) and it ended up running metal on metal damaging the sheaves and the inside of the boom extension
From looking at the faults, they appear to be independent of the additional crane length. I suspect the key issue is it’s an early serial number crane. The crane is rated at 1,500 lbs and was derated it to 1,100 lbs due to additional length but, since we only lift 850 lbs, we’re well below rated capacity. It seems like three independent problems. The extension was probably installed during build so probably isn’t a Steelhead issues. The missing bearing pad likely is an early early design flaw that has since been corrected at Steelhead. The adhesive failure at the upper bearing pad has since been addressed by Steelhead with a adhesive change. The only issue that I’m pretty sure hasn’t been addressed in current cranes is the linear winch bearing cheek block problem.
I hope Steelhead handles this better than those fender people 🙂
The crane has seen a lot of use and it’s been many years since we purchased it so, at this point, I’m just working to get the crane operational again and haven’t asked Steelhead for any anything beyond technical help (which has been excellent).
I wonder if you could offer your thoughts on power plant choice for Dirona (and by extension, her ancestor N47’s). Dirona has the 265 HP Deere engine which is clearly not the standard build for the N52 at least at that time. The 47’s and early 52’s seem to have gotten basically the same 165 HP as the much smaller N43; perhaps by now the 52’s are built with the more powerful engine but I don’t know. In any case I’ve heard it said that the 47’s seem underpowered and while I have no first hand experience, this does not surprise me and certainly does not bode well for a 52 with that power level. As a future Nordhavn owner thinking about 43, 47, maybe 52, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic – and of course if there is something you’ve written already please point me to it.
Thank you for everything you’ve contributed to this community.
That’s a great question and it’s one we spent considerable time on. This is a write up of our thinking on engines for the 52 and why we decided to go with a 266 hp engine rather than the 163 that was standard at the time: //mvdirona.com/2009/09/engine-brand-choice/
The quick summary is the 163 HP engine that was standard at the time is intermittent duty so you can’t run 24×7 at that power level. The Deere 6068AFM75 is rated at 231 hp continuous and 266 hp for no more than 16 hours out of each 24. We chose to run using no more than 231 hp and, at that output, it can run like that 24×7 for the life of the engine.
The good news is the 6068AFM75 is now standard equipment on the Nordhavn 52. For geographies that require Tier III power plants, they will be using the 6068AFM85 which is the Tier III version of that engine. The ratings are the same but the Tier III fuel economy is not quite as good as the 6068AFM75.
If you are buying a new boat, you’ll get the same rating we are using. If you are buying a brokerage N52, most of them will be equipped with the 163 hp lugger. We prefer to have something north of 200 hp with a continuous rating but the 163hp engine will work fine and is what what of the N52s on the market will be using.
James, thanks so much for your reply. Busy week here, first chance to reply again today. I drilled in through the links you started me with and grabbed the manufacturer’s specs and ratings for the various engines Nordhavn is using and used in the past. Now I have a much better understanding of your choice of motive power and the broader question of “how do I want/expect my boat to operate/perform?” Obviously no one right answer for everyone. About the continuous duty rating of the smaller engine – it looks to me like the smaller JD 4045AFM85 is 160 continuous (e.g. current N43), the Lugger L1066T (turbo) is 135 continuous (e.g. older N52, N47), and the older Lugger 668D (non-turbo, e,g, N46) is only 105 continuous (140 for the turbo). You definitely have to pay attention to which engines are in which boats!
Also read your discussion on the prop pitch change for Dirona. Very informative. I’ve really learned a lot in the last few days!
I agree there are petty big differences between the different engine options available. They all have more HP than you will use when crossing an ocean but, when operating in coastal mode, we find ourselves very frequently running at 160 hp continuous and it’s not rare to be near 190 hp for long periods. We do run in the 200 to 230 hp range but it’s likely down less than 5% of the time.
We were in the U.K. for the Millenium and had the same experience that you had during the holiday. Whereas in North America the holidays are seen as a time to make money over there many businesses treat it as a holiday and are closed.
I wasn’t going to bother you while you are in the yard but I see you are still blogging and replying to comments so here goes. I looked up the ThinkVision L1900p monitors you use in the Pilot House and their brightness is rated at only 250 cd/m2 (nits). Have you found that sufficient even in the tropics? We are fitting a new nav system to our N40 at the moment and I wanted to use monitors with at least 350 cd/m2 brightness, but I can’t find any which have the ratio and resolution I want (16:9, 1920 x 1080).
Hi Michael. The Lenovo brightness has never been a problem for us during the day. At night they won’t turn down sufficiently so you will need a dark filter for them. We posted what we did and I can find it for you if you don’t find it (I’m on mobile now).
James -wow, that was quick – a reply in 8 minutes!
And that’s great news for me, I have been driving myself nuts trying to find small high brightness monitors.
Concerning shading, I remember reading about your physical shades, but I looked for another solution and have installed a utility called Display Fusion to dim all 3 of our new monitors running under Windows Extended desktop (with the principal monitor duplicated to the flybridge). I’m sure you know there are lots of ways of dimming the principal monitor in a Windows-based system but it’s hard to dim the extended desktop monitors using software. Display Fusion doesn’t actually dim the monitors. Instead it interposes a shade or mask over the display to create (I think) exactly the same effect that your plastic shades produce. It’s working well at home, if you are interested I’ll let you know whether it works on our boat.
We’re on the taxi way in Paris CDG heading back to North America for the weekend so will drop off soon but, yes, I am interested in your success with your dimming solution once you have some use time with it. Thanks.
By the way, I just realized we are close to your homestomping grounds Michael. Feel free to drop by in Southampton once we are back in the water or while we are in London.
By the way, I just realized we are close to your home stomping grounds Michael. Feel free to drop by in Southampton once we are back in the water or while we are in London.
You might be able to get better quality capacitors for your engine room fans from this place https://www.mouser.co.uk/Passive-Components/Capacitors/_/N-5g7r/. Cricklewood Electronics have a good supply of discretes and deliver very quickly https://www.cricklewoodelectronics.com/Motor-Capacitors-450VAC-Polypropylene-with-Stud-and-6.3mm-Terminals.html
Maplins is a national electronics retailer which has branches on the highstreet and, there’s a branch in Southampton. They do click and collect from the store.
These suppliers are mainly Europe based but I do have a link for over the pond is you want it.
“Black ears,” I spent ages looking amongst those parcels thinking Jennifer had treated herself to a pair of those fashionable ear warmers that hipster types wear 😀
Yes, totally true. Most of our parcels have black ears or long black tails soon after arriving onto the boat.
What service do you do on the keel cooler?
Questioned prompted by a heater core blockage in my daughter’s van – a similar closed loop system. Cured by flushing with CLR for 3 hours and then refill with new coolant
For this trip, we don’t have much planned for the keel cooler. Every 5 years, the coolant is replaced in the engine with a good quality premix diesel coolant. When in the yard the growth is cleaned off the cooler. In our case, we “break the rules, and keep our cooler bottom painted. Our theory is the insulation qualities of paint are less than the insulation provided by marine growth. It seems to work.
You guys need to get to https://ennios.co.uk. Pretty close to you and just what to need after a hard day under Dirona!
Thanks for the advice Declan.
I have similar Kiddie detectors as the ones you have but mine have built in carbon monoxide detectors as well as smoke. You may want to check because I think they had a recall on them. They were designed to go off once they expired and those are the ones that were recalled. The replacements also go off once they expire but you can silence the alarm until you can get new ones.
Ignore my message above; that’s not what the recall was about. I looked it up and found it here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/inmar-adx-files/N130217/Kidde+End+of+Life+Recall+CPSC+Press+Release+Nov+10+2016.pdf
After looking up my exact model on Kidde’s web page I found this:
End of Life Signal-Ten years after initial power, the unit will “chirp” twice every 30 seconds to indicate the need to immediately replace the alarm.
Yes, that is what these are doing but they only went just over 7 years rather than 10. Thanks for checking on the recall Drew.
Good luck today. I cannot wait to see pictures!
We’ll were out of the water, and blocked in place ready for the work to begin. I usually take the thruster props off but they have been installed with a lot of red Loctite and aren’t coming out. I suspect they are going to require some heat, some patience, and a lot of skill. Overall the bottom looks great. Everything is in good shape. The Prop Speed is so good I feel like it’s almost a waste to replace it but we will. I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning both props and and removing all the zincs. Zincs need a change but none are good. The engine alignment from when I changed the engine mounts a year and half back is so good the prop will keep turning after you spin it.
Overall everything looks unusually good. The work done at Cracker Boy in Florida appears to have been excellent.
I’ll be feeling better when I see the prop shaft out. Hopefully it’s in good condition. Another big job for this yard visit is replacing the muffler. It’ll be nice to see that work coming together as well. We’re also taking the rudder down to inspect the lower bearings but, other than that, mostly routine work that needs to be done well but isn’t really complex or risky. We’ll take lots of pictures and get them up as fast as we can.
Tried to find the file on pulling very very stubborn thruster impellers off MV Rover (N62) in 2003. (Multiple computer upgrades etc. making it hard to find!)
Basically I fabricated a puller using the retaining bolt holes to hold the carrier and then another bolt pushing on the thruster shaft (after removing the ‘nose cone’. With the thruster under tensiuon a small amount of heat finally popped them free.
Hope this helps
Yes, I have the correct puller and, with that puller, the props just pop off. These ones are really on there.
Thanks for the suggestion Rod.
I am sure the bottom looks great as you are never anywhere long enough to accumulate growth 🙂 Where are you staying while you do the work?
We’re staying in downtown Southampton while the work gets done. It’s working out fairly well.
Can you tell me how you do the live updates to Google maps? Is there a separate transponder with auto update or do you manaually transfer the track from the chart plotter.. tks
There are two chart plotter systems. One for the boat and one for personal tracks when we head out for trips off the boat.
The boat tracks come from the larger automation system that does many things including power load shedding, recording all data, alerting, alarming, generator auto-start, weather fuel levels, and tracking. It takes all data off the NMEA2000 bus and stores in a relational database every 5 seconds. This data includes location and other data that is part of the track system (location, weather, and fuel levels).
The personal tracks come from an Android packaged called My Tracks. Originally supported by Google but they open sourced and removed support. We picked up the open source code and built our own version but any fitness app will do fine. We hand transfer the tracks so no tricks there.
Actually, using fresh water to clear out the salt and other minerals from ocean water doesn’t seem crazy at all to me. I did it more times than I can remember during my time in the U.S. Navy.
Yeah, your right Steve but it sure does feel crazy to have the shore power plug soaking in the galley sink 🙂
Rinsing with 95% ethanol after the water would allow faster drying and ensure any minerals in the water do not dry on your rinsed items
Good suggestion Rod. I often use brake cleaner because it’s fast and effective but alcohol is a good suggestion to get water out of nooks and crannies. Thanks,
About 8 years ago I really started noticing I was replacing more start and run capacitors that I had in the 20 or so prior years. Coupled with the fact capacitors were the one part that has gotten significantly cheaper over the years I started investigating.
It turns out when I first got into my trade, manufacturers would do a test lot on every production run. They would run them at 110% of rating and if any failed pull the entire run. Since I was unable to find any manufacturer that still followed that process, that is probably large one factor where cost is concerned.
Another is the removal of PCB’s as a coolant, the methods employed today while safer for everyone, are simply not as effective. Combined with lack of testing, I believe the mystery solved at least to my satisfaction.
I would suggest you order extra capacitors as spares, the new ones are probably not going to last as long. I have found capacitors reading low out of the box, it is simply cheaper for them to replace under warranty than bring back testing.
I’ll bet you are right Steve and production quality issues are a common problem. Another factor is temperature — capacitors fail early at higher temperatures.
I would love to find a higher quality part and would happily spend more for it. If anyone knows of a high quality source for CBB66 capacitors (small square units) rated at 2.5uF, 250V I’m interested.
That is an odd voltage for a motor capacitor. Normally I would expect to see 370V or 440V and the CBB66 is only a class rather than a specific shape. As you know a capacitor will only store so much and the voltage rating is what the capacitor can be exposed to.
The biggest problem is finding one that is compatible with the existing method of mounting. I carry rolls of perforated metal strap to deal with 99% of the issues I run across.
A 2.5uf 370/440 capacitor might be a solution if you can mount it. If I had a picture of how the capacitor was mounted I might come up with something.
Never mind, I looked at the picture of you testing and saw what I needed to see.
Steve, I have enough space inside the fan hub where the capacitor is tucked away for a larger capacitor but, sticking with the same form factor, what would you think of this one: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dimart-2-5uF-Conditioner-Motor-Capacitor/dp/B00PFAXBY2/ref=sr_1_fkmr2_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1515161236&sr=8-3-fkmr2&keywords=cbb61+2.5uF+250v
It’s at 450V capacitor rather than 250V but they are both 2.5uF. It seems like higher voltage just means better insulation in the capacitor. Do you know of any reasons not to use a 450V capacitor in a 120V application that was previously using a 250V capacitor? This one is rated for up to 158F (70C) so is fairly good on the temperature front as well. The one that is installed by the factory doesn’t appear to even have a temperature specification and I suspect that’s what is leading to the somewhat short operating life.
That actually might solve your issue with short lifespan. No there is no reason you cannot use a higher voltage capacitor it’s the 2.5uf that is the issue. The capacitor is still only going to have a storage capacity of 2.5uf which will be at 120V since that is what is being applied, it’s simply capable of being exposed to a higher voltage due to it’s insulation.
That is a Films capacitor and they are notoriously sensitive to heat, probably anything with a high enough temperature rating on it would also be an option, if you find for some reason that won’t fit.
Thanks for checking that out Steve. I’m going to try the 2.5uF, 450V unit. I can’t quite get it delivered in time so we’ll probably not make the order until we’re in London but all my fans are operational so we’re in good shape until then.
That increased galvanic corrosion could simply be caused by the increased salinity of the sea water and its temperature, or stray electrical current whilst on shore power.
You’re currently sailing in cooler seas which may be the reason for the increased life of the anodes?
To be honest, I wouldn’t worry about it! As trying to find stray electrical current is a very costly endeavor and you might as well invite a priest on board to carry out an exorcism.
Happy New Year
Your theory seems reasonable Paul. I’m enjoying the longer run between anode changes although, with all the practice I’ve had, I can do a pair of anodes in 5 min.
Actually it might be simpler. I put a larger heat exchanger back in 2014 (//mvdirona.com/Trips/Australia2014/Australia2.html?bleat=6%2F26%2F2014%3A+Heat+exchanger+complete) and I had forgotten the new cooler has 33% more zinc. That might be a big part of the difference.
It would be interesting to compare pH change of the coolant over time and also compare these numbers to fresh coolant. pH test strips are inexpensive.
Another thought would be to use distilled water to dilute new coolant, assuming that is what you do.
Hi Rod. The hydraulic heat exchanger uses sea water as a cooling medium. It’s an oil to water heat exchanger so there isn’t a falling PH as you might have in some closed cooling circuits. It’s just sea water flowing through this unit and I don’t have much influence over sea water acidification although it does appear to actually be happening.
Are you not just travelling in cooler seas?
Possibly the cause but during the first 2 years of the boats life it was in the Seattle area and it just burned through Hydraulic cooler zincs then. But it was bonded at that time. I’ve since debonded it and it might be the case that debonded and cold water is the cause of the improvement. It seemed that it has just slowly gotten better for a long time but it is far from a scientific observation and your explanation on water temp is the best theory so far. Thanks,
It seems that the life was way shorter than would be imagined. I was thinking salinity variance too but that just doesn’t seem right. Could there be some other small electrical problem What have other owners had to say?
It could have been stray current from nearby boats. For sure that was an issue in Seattle when the heat exchanger was bonded. All zincs where failing quite quickly back then whereas they now seem to last forever. The other big change is the cooler water mentioned by Paul and Declan. Now that the heat exchanger is isolated from the boat bonding system, stray current doesn’t seem like a possibility. Whatever the cause, I’m happy with the current zinc longevity.
Just saw 85.3knoks off Portland Bill. Glad to see you are tucked up safely. It’s a good marina; I spent a few days there this summer.
The marina is good and very strong but, wow, the winds are incredible. We saw gusts to 72 kts last night. The worse we have ever seen in a marina. The storm we saw in Richards Bay South Africa (//mvdirona.com/2015/11/a-brush-with-disaster/) was very similar but the peak wind speeds were less than this one. We always tie the boat off super tight and it’s now so loose that 2 of the fenders have blown up onto the walkway. The power is out in our area probably caused by our power cord being hammered by waves and so full of salt water that the super sensitive dockside RCD system has tripped. The wind is still never under 30 kts and often up over 50 kts and it’s been like that or worse since the big gusts around 3am. The waves are so big in the relatively sheltered marina surrounded by breakwaters that the docks have a wave pattern in them with the dock hinges creaking back and forth. It’s time like this that I really like our 1″ dock lines.
Portland got a mention on the national news this morning due to the high wind speeds there. Its really well protected there so hard to imagine those big pontoons moving like that. Are you in the “U” shaped area just past the fuel dock? Have you spotted the Mulberry Harbour there?
We are on T-doc, the same float as the fuel dock in Portland marina. On shelter, it’s a pretty flat area and there doesn’t seem to be much between us and the winds whistling across the English Channel.
We might have time to stop in Mulberry Harbour after our yard work in Southampton. Thanks for suggesting it.
Jennifer points out that the “Mulberry Harbour” you mentioned is likely not the harbour near Southampton but, instead, a temporary portable harbor. Cool, I hadn’t heard of them before.
We might have seen one between Portland Marina and the commercial docks but I’m not 100% sure.
Hi james and jenifer, i live in bodmin (cornwall) so if you guys need another ride whilst your here give me a shout and im sure i can sort you out!
Hope your enjoying cornwall (its nicer in the summer, honest!)
All the best
Very kind of you to offer Chris. We actually got underway at 10:17pm last night and we’re about 3 hours out of Portland at this point making excellent time at 9.7 kts. The engine is performing beautifully with no fault codes. The Injector change we just did seems to have fully addressed that issue.
Thanks again for the offer of a ride. Much appreciated.
Dear James and Jennifer,
Happy new year.
I have just read the first half of your book and article on generators, thank you for both.
This has me thinking of suggestions for less traveled ports:
Dover. This port is the most formal on the south coast. It is often overlooked because it is still a busy ferry terminal. This does not take away its history or charm.
Boston. I noticed you traveled to Plymouth and stood at the Mayflower embarkation point. Boston was the first pick up on the Mayflower’s route. My grandmother’s friend Nelly used to tell me her ansesters joined the Mayflower at Boston. I will state the church’s in Boston are spectacular. Arrangements will have to be made with the “Port of Boston” if you choose to undertake this trip. Boston is a full drying port unless you can dock in the commercial port or access the grand sluice to the inand-waterways. I can confirm you will not reach or pass the grand sluice due to height restrictions.
I hope this helps. You have certainly enlightened me of the BC coastline. I shall make plans to visit BC and our Canadian relatives.
Robert and Julie
Thanks for the information Robert and Julie and Happy New Year.
This is not a real good meter, but it’s not bad and relatively inexpensive for what it does.
And a megohm meter works a lot better for finding current leaks than a multimeter. A megger will tell you before it goes bad, a multimeter only finds it after it is.
And what I mean by “not a real good meter” is it’s not something I would carry for everyday use. I have a rather expensive FLUKE for that.
Super interesting. My Fluke multi-meter is a pretty good general meter that did find 3 megaohms on on the shore power lead I tested in Kinsale Ireland but a megaohmeter looks useful and I’ll definitely get one. Amazon has the one you referenced (up to 100 megaohms) for $85 or I can get a low end Fluke 1503 (2,000 megaohms for $468 or a Fluke 1507 (10,000 megaohms) for $539. Given that modern shore power RCDs will trip at often as little as 30 milliamps, being able to find super small current leaks would be very valuable. I lean towards getting a Fluke but let me know if you don’t agree. Thanks for yet another great Steve Coleman tip!
I like FLUKE products so I would recommend them to anyone. It’s all a matter of how you plan on using them and for most people the 85 dollar one would work however, you are going off a light rather than an actual reading.
I myself would buy the 1507 however the 1503 would do anything you would ever need it for on Dirona.
I just placed an order on Amazon for a 1507. My thinking is modern residual current sensors are super trigger happy these days. Often down at 30mA or even below. Even the smallest current leak can be very frustrating to deal with. I’m going to get the 1507 and use it to keep an eye on all my conductors and systems. I decided not to get the NIST certified version :-).
Thanks again for the help and if you are ever anywhere even hinting at close to Dirona, you have to drop by. You’ve had a lot of influence on our systems over the years.
I do appreciate the offer and yes if looks like I am ever going to be anywhere close, I will try to contact you and make it happen. I’d love to meet you two (three I do like cats, have three of my own) and tour Dirona.
I think you’ll like the FLUKE 1507 even though it’s more capable than you need. On the 1503, anything above 2000 megaohm’s simply reads infinite. But if it actually started out at say 5000 megaohm’s (just a random value) and started dropping with the 1507, you would see it much quicker and hopefully long before it is a problem.
Various items have various “safe values” the best advise I can give on that is, benchmark something when you know it’s good and look for a continuing change in subsequent testing.
Makes sense Steve. We are currently in a massive storm where the winds are constantly over 30 kts and often up over 50 with gusts as high as 72 kts (83 mph, 133 kph). Two of our fenders have blown up on deck and the waves rolling over the dock are sufficiently big that the shore power is down probably due to salt water in our shore power plug causing the dockside RCD to trip. Now that many marinas are starting to go with super sensitive RCDs, the ability to chase down very small current leaks and failing insulation is becoming pretty important.
We’re warm and inside with the generator running when needed but when the winds go down, I’ll try to get the shore power back operational but at this point there is so much salt water flying around it’s probably pointless to try to get it back operational.
Hi James, I’ve also considered installing a 3rd bilge pump like the Rule 3700 in Dirona. My question is how did you route the plumping? Did you install a new through hull or simply tie into an existing deck drain?
Thanks, Keith Olaisen N47-23 Acqua Dolce
Oops, never mind, I just scrolled down a little further and saw all of the pictures and how you very cleverly used the manual bilge pump pickup.
Thanks for taking the time to document your many experiences. I’ve really enjoyed following your many travels and hope to see you someday in some corner of the planet.
Happy New Year to both you and Jennifer !
Thanks Keith. I hope your new pump goes in well. It’s a snug place to work but, once installed, it’s a nice place for the pump and it really works well.
I have followed you for many years as I live in Vancouver B.C. and am a long time subscriber to Pacific Yachting. I see that you dropped off Spitfire with Deborah Lefroy whose name popped right out at me as my name is Peter Lefroy and all Lefroys are related somehow! I love reading your blog and look forward to each installment arriving on my computer.
Debra took excellent care of Spitfire while we are were back in the US. That worked out super well. Glad you are enjoying the blog — we’re having a great trip but we do miss our annual Christmas stop in Vancouver. It’s a great city and after a month in the wilds, all the restaurants of Granville Island are really fun.
Good evening and Merry Christmas to you from Brittany ! What a nice trip and what a beautiful boat ! Many thanks for sharing with us your great adventure and all those pictures.
Thanks to you and the Nordhavn community, I have now only one goal in my life : to buy one of this fantastic boat.
I highly recommend you to visit my former working area, the Channel Islands and Saint-Malo and my living place, the Golfe du Morbihan (preferably during spring or summer period as Brittany is quite famous for her heavy rains… ^^ )
Wishing you a bon voyage, enjoy Europe !
We will be spending a few weeks in Southampton for boat yard work then to London for a few weeks. The plan from there is to go to Amsterdam and then north for Norway. We’ll have to make your recommended stops on the trip back south. Thanks for passing on the suggestions.
Dear James and Jennifer,
Hope you had a great Christmas and are looking forward to New Year,
Our patch if from the Humber to Cornwall so I thought I would make some notes for you.
Fowey has a RLNI pontoon which you can use in the evening.
You can fit in Queen Anne’s Battery Plymouth.
The Spa at Dart Marina is great.
Salcombe is lovely.
Our favourite restaurant is the Carb House Cafe between Portland and Weymouth.
I alway see if I can lunch stop at Lulworth Cove.
Yarmouth is a must. The Royal Solent Yacht club is welcoming. If the boats are in the water you can often get a crew racing their gaff rig boats.
All the best
Robert and Julie
Thanks for the advice on the area. We appreciate local insight.
We are currently booked to have the boat lifted out of the water on January 8th and I’ve currently got the injectors out of the main engine waiting on parts so we may not have a lot of time between here and Southampton but we’ll see how it plays out. Thanks!
Merry Christmas from sunny Southern California! We hope you three have a great holiday and a safe New Year.
Tim, Tiffany and Apollo
Merry Christmas and all the best in 2018.
We hope you have had a splendid Christmas Day, best wish for the coming year Mike & Trish
Thanks Mike and all the best to both of you in 2018.
With your eventual plans to come back to Seattle do you know how you’ll get here? Top, bottom or middle(Panama canal)
We haven’t made plans yet. We’re really enjoying the nomadic lifestyle and it’s hard to know when we’ll get tired of it and where we will go when we do. Our short term plans are Southampton, London, Amsterdamn, and then cruising Norway for the summer.
I know James, the mind boggles at the science behind it. One of my friends sent it to me, his son is a scientist. Quite an interesting website, too!
The Worlds smallest christmas card http://www.npl.co.uk/educate-explore/christmas-2017/?utm_source=XmasCard&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=xmascard2017
Merry Xmas folks
Can’t beat that for efficiency and minimizing waste 🙂
Jennifer and James:
Merry Xmas from snowy and cold Niagara Falls, Ontario.
All the best for 2018 with all of your adventures.
Signed: An Avid Reader!!
I read your amazing account of boat monitoring at 36,000 feet.
And for the next trick: Start the main engine, retract the automatic dock lines, back the boat out, set up a dock-to-dock autoroute, and have the boat meet you at the other side of the pond. 🙂
We actually can start the main engine from 36,000′ but we haven’t yet solved the remainder of your challenge 🙂
The solution isn’t electronic, it’s called ADC -“A delivery crew”. Sometimes simple is best.
You’re right that a delivery crew is certainly an option. My thinking is those conditions should be perfectly safe and not a problem. Whether it’s a delivery crew or me, I want the boat as safe as possible. Even if I elected to pay others to do the ocean crossings, I wouldn’t want to send them out without fixing the issues I outlined here.
Sorry to upset you. I was referring to Michael and Francis’ comment not trying to insult your skills or site.
Sorry to misinterpret your comment as reason not to do correct these issues Walt.
Hello, James and Jennifer – long time, no contact. A year after our planned departure from the US, we’re still here, but feeling like we’re almost ready to go – planning for end of January. (Some family issues, then a little Irma damage, which is being repaired now.)
Anyway – on our To Do List is to embed a map of our travels in our blog site, like on Dirona’s. I think I recall you do that with an abandoned Google project that Jennifer modified. I wonder if that code is available somewhere for others to use? Thanks!
Hey Brian, good to hear from you and sorry to hear you took some Irma damage. WWe use is a mess of mostly custom software but the system you are describing sounds like what we use to track ourselves on trips without the boat. These are the routes we use around town. These are made using a the open source version of Google My Tracks. We initially started using it when it was a standard Google product but they eventually discontinued it and took it down from Play Store. There is an open source version of it that we use but there are also several private builds of this software up on Google Play Store with advertising and other ways to monetize. There are also many other fitness tracker systems for IOS and and Android with many similar characteristics that would probably server you fine. The latest open source version seems to be posted here: https://github.com/justin66/MyTracks.
The main boat tracking system is a tiny part of much larger system we wrote to track all data on Dirona. We monitor the NMEA2000 bus and a few other data sources and store all navigation, weather, power system, fuel levels, depth, etc. data every 5 seconds in an on board relational database. A tiny subset of that database is uploaded are AWS web site and we run a hacked version of WordPress on the site. This data is used by our custom control systems to start and stop the generator when needed, to shed power load prior to allowing the power source to be overloaded, and to send alerts and warnings in email and to display on our PH display systems. All that software is custom and highly tied to the specific configuration of Dirona without effort to make portable or commercialize. We’ve been offered opportunities to commercial those parts of the system but it’s just too much work and I think my day job pays better :-). Maretron is able to do almost everything we do and it’s a battle tested system with excellent support.
But, you were asking about the personal tracks and, yes, that software is available up at: https://github.com/justin66/MyTracks but I would be tempted to find a similar app with support unless you enjoy doing Android App builds.
Thanks, as always, for that thorough and thoughtful reply, James. I’m not particularly interested in learning to build Android apps (even from someone else’s source code), so I’ll look for something a little easier. Happy holidays to you, Jennifer, and Spitfire!
Yeah, probably the right call Brian :-).
Hope you are enjoying Falmouth. Brings back fond memories for working on the RFA Argus refit down there. I think you are currently looking at her. Remarkable ship build by H&W Belfast as the Commander Bezant, then when to the Falklands and subsequently concerted to aviation training and PCRS (Primary casualty receiving ship).
Have you been up to the Chain Locker yet? They used to do a great Irish Music session on a Thursday night.
Naturally! We arrived and went directly to the Chain Locker for lunch. Falmouth is a pretty cool place, it looks like we better eat out often with this amazing variety of restaurants.
We are beside the Argus. I didn’t know it’s yet another product of H&W Belfast. We really enjoyed our time in Belfast and the H&W cranes Samson and Goliath are a big part of the Belfast skyline. The H&W built Titanic and the museum and other related displays are also a super interesting part of visiting Belfast.
Dear James and Jenifer
I Notice you are heading past lizard point into the Falmouth. I was there three years ago with my wife Julie. That stretch of coast line has several tidal races starting at lizard point. These are not to be underestimated. I have been in the lizard race on a calm day and the swells were quite impressive. I mis-timed Sawanage race in 2014 and was hit by a sigular 4 meter wave. It took us from 8kts to 22.6Kts, we were a thirty two foot surf board. My Julie has not quite forgiven me yet. Nothing you can’t handle but you should note them as navigational hazards.
The history of these races are interesting, the English used them to there advantage whilst attacking the Spanish armada.
We droped down to Mylor as Falmouth can be quite noisy with machinery from larger vessels.
We appreciate the warning to get the tides right. We played it carefully with routing and timing and ended up having an enjoyable last day of our run. The first evening was fairly rough with winds steady 25 and gusts to 30 but even that was fine. When making longer runs in the winter, it’s almost impossible to completely avoid a bit of weather. Overall, it was a good run and we’re an hour out of Falmouth now.
Hope you are having a fantastic time in here in Dublin.
I seen you got some to visit some of the great places here in Dublin including City Hall.
Did you manage to go inside and see the ceiling. I got married there and the pictures were amazing.
Hope you enjoy the rest of your time here.
We are having a great time Ken. We did indeed see the city hall ceiling. A great venue for a marriage.
We’ve really enjoyed our time in Dublin and stayed longer than we originally expected. We expect to get under way later this evening for Falmouth. If the weather cooperates, we’ll head there directly.
Maybe I missed it, can you mention how you got the anchor chain untangled ?
We opened the chain locker hatch, powered the chain up and out until a chain knot rose to the deck, and then I untangled it by hand. Then powered more out and repeated the process. I’ve seen it before with a knot but never with so many. We only untangled 1/2 the chain on board so there will be more to do when I get a chance. It’s not difficult or even all that time consuming and it’s fairly rare but we appear to have really tangled it all up this time.
I’ve just been studying your new 3700 Rule bilge pump installation because we are about to do the same job on our N40. I proved at the last lift-out that the Jabsco pump shifts less water than our washing machine pump. And, as you know, those Jabscos have a history of failures. Like you we intend to go out through the same skin fitting (thru-hull) as the Edson hand pump. I’ve looked very carefully at your blog and I just can’t work out how you have joined the Rule outlet to the Edson hose. Is there a “Tee” or a “Y” fitting somewhere? And does the Rule pump send its output through the body of the Edson, or does the water by-pass the Edson? Sorry if this is indeed a dumb question.
Hi Michael. I feel guilty for not posting this article already. I wrote 90% of it 3 weeks back but work has been busy and I haven’t had the time to finish it off and get it posted. I will do that this week for sure.
The approach I took was to have the manual bilge pump and the 3700 in series rather than in parallel. Essentially the 3700 replaces the pickup for the manual pump and pumps inline through the manual pump. The manual pump draws through the 3700 pump. I’ve filled the bilge and the manual pump output is indistinguishable from the test prior to installing the 3700. The bilge was again filled and the 3700 output is about 3x and perhaps 4x the output of the Jabsco pump. It’s a simple design that seems to work fairly effectively and is fairly easy to install. It would be “easy”except the access to the lower bilge in our boat is very limited below the prop shaft and 5 through hulls. The pump can’t be dropped in through all that mechanical gear so it needs to be assembled in place like a ship in a bottle. That required some patience but, otherwise, the job actually was easy.
I’ll get that article with more detail and the other changes I put in place in response to “Alarms at 1:15am” posted as soon as possible.
Thanks for replying. Do not feel guilty. I have no idea how you manage to hold down a demanding job, cruise, tour, maintain Dirona, AND keep the rest of us entertained. No doubt Jennifer does a lot to make it all possible.
Pumps: That’s what we’ll do then. My friend Steve has installed a “Y” on his N40, downstream of his Edson, to achieve a similar end result. But if the Rule will pump straight through the Edson it simplifies the installation.
I’m going to put a video on Youtube to show how the Jabsco pumps less than our washing machine.
I finally got motivated and did the final review and cleanup on what we did in response to the “Alarms at 1:15am” article. Hopefully it’ll make some of the details more clear: //mvdirona.com/2017/12/alarms-at-115am-follow-up/.
Bearing in mind I’ve only seen pictures of these pumps, have you considered long term effect on the diaphragm and valves in the Edson pump or, if the diaphragm failed? Would that negate the installation of the new pump?
Good question Steve. My analysis suggests the Edson shouldn’t be a problem. The Edson is a big chamber with a large rubber diaphragm over the top and a one way flapper valve on the inlet and the outlet. If the valves fail, we should be able to just pump through them without impact. Of course the manual valve would not work at that point. If the diaphragm failed, it might leak and not be effective as a manual pump but I would expect the leaks would be minor compared to the flow and the Rule 3700 would still be pumping well.
Unless the leaks were spraying on something that would cause problems. But if that would be the case, you could easily devise something to divert it. A sheet of rubber, modified plastic bucket etc.
My thinking is if I test annually I should catch leaks well before they get that serious and, as you said, we could wrap a towel around it to prevent spray in an emergency if it started leaking badly.
Hello again, did you ever get your RIB sorted out? The only reason I ask is, I was having a crack with one of my family members the other night and among other things, we discussed RIB’s and punctures etc.
Our family member has a RIB (safety boat) which was retubed by http://www.menaimarine.biz/. They’re located on the shores of the Menai Straits in Victoria Dock, Caernarfon, Wales. They custom build RIB’s as well should you be feeling flush 😀
Thanks Paul. We elected to get another AB VST12 with a 50hp outboard but it turned out there were none in the UK and an order couldn’t be reliably delivered before we left the country. Our current boat is hanging in there fine so we ordered one from the AB dealer in the Netherlands and will pick it up as we pass through Amsterdam.
I see you’re both enjoying Dublin, as do we. The Spire is known locally as the “Stiletto in the Ghetto” or the “Stiffy on the Liffey.” It replaces Nelson’s Pillar which was blown up in 1966 by Irish Republicans. The architect was Ian Ritchie. I like its elegant, slender movement which given its dimensions being 3m in diameter at the base and 120m high is quite an achievement.
It’s an imposing structure and I agree it’s both elegant and striking.
Is it jusy my computer or have your most recent photos of York diisappeared from your site?
PS Awaiting the Alarms at 1:30am update with great interest
The pictures all look good on the computers around here and under a couple of browsers. Recommend restarting your browser and seeing if that clears the issue.
You are 100% right on the Alarms at 1:15am post mortem. The article is written and it just needs an edit pass before posting. Work’s been busy with our annual re:Invent conference in Las Vegas but I’ll get the article up soon. Thanks for the reminder.
As you suggested, here I am on your blog. 🙂 Our new KK50 will have a similar exterior, what are the size (D x L) of your Prostock Marine fenders and how long are your fender lines? Thank you in advance for your wisdom! 🙂
Jackie in Seattle
Our initial fenders were Aere Inflatable fenders and they were a disaster. Aere uses a thick and very durable material to build their fenders but they simply don’t hold air. Some leaked from day one but all leaked within two months. Having seen ProStock Marine fenders starting to take over the super yacht trade, we decided to move to them. They use a slightly less heavy duty material but the welded seams are absolutely perfect. They hold air well and we have abused the heck out of ours taking fuel from a steel barge in a 3′ to 4′ swell and up against concrete docks in 40 kts. They just take the wear and abuse without problem. After three years of heavy use, we have yet to see an issue. ProStock Marine makes a great product.
We have 6 of the 18×42 and 2 of the 24×42 sizes and we have sized the fender lines to match the boat where the right side hangs from the walkway rail and the left side hang from further up on the boat deck.
That is really helpful! Those are the same size fenders that are being recommended for our boat and having your positive review gives me more confidence.
Any other guidance you can provide on fender line length? KK is planning on supplying us with 30 foot lines for each of the fenders, I think that is too long.
We have ours in two lengths. The short ones are around 10′ and the long ones for the non-walkway side around 20′. 30′ is certainly too long but, hey, if long fender lines are the only mistake made in your new boat build you are perhaps the luckiest people in the world :-).
Long fender lines can be shortened so I wouldn’t worry about it. You’ll know what is right when you get the boat.
Thanks for your patience with our questions. When you are under way on short voyages do you deflate and put them away? If not, what do you do them? Would you say they are easy to store? Do you use the pump they sell?
We don’t usually bother for a short trip but, if we are planning to dock for a couple of days, we take them down since they are really big and take up most of the boat deck when not stowed away deflated. The trick to fast inflation/deflation is to use a shop vacuum. Amazingly effective and fast and useful for multiple purposes.
Since you were asking about the Prostock Marine fenders, after three years of flawless performance and fairly heavy use we woke up Sunday morning to find two fenders having leaked down. Two failing at the same time seems super unlikely but both have fabric leaks about an 1/2″ from the valves. It was right around freezing with a 30 kt wind onto the dock that night. I suspect the problem was related to the cold but clearly the material needs to be able to work without failure in cold weather.
I reported the problem to Prostock that morning and, it’s been a couple of days now and they haven’t gotten back to us.
Bummer on your 2 failures. Keep us posted on how this is handled by the company. I am confused that you say if you are going to dock for a couple days that you would put them away, wouldn’t you leave them hanging on the side of your boat in that case? Or did you mean if you are anchoring for a couple days?
Given you had two failed fenders and a 30 knot wind, did you boat sustain any damage as a result?
If not returning to the dock for a couple of days we deflate and stow the fenders.
There was no boat damage from the fender failure. We had 4 fenders down that side of the boat and the outer two kept the boat undamaged. Yes, I will post here on how Prostock Marine handles the failures.
Hi James, Jennifer – – is it feasible to fill these fenders with Nitrogen? I am wondering if humidity causes breaches, air gap, while using Nitrogen could eliminate that possibility, but it also might be problematic carrying bottle(s) of Nitrogen on board….?
Any word yet from Prostock Marine? That’s a long time to go without two very important fenders…
Friday Prostock Marine asked for some pictures to better understand the failure. I’ll follow up here on how they elected to deal with the situation as soon as I hear back from them.
Alway’s impressed with your blog. Keep’s us dreaming!. I’ve got a few system’s questions. With the time on your electronics-radar,sounder,radio’s etc how much longer before you think you’ll need to replace? With the hour’s on your engine and generator what’s your guess on how many more hours before they’ll need major work. Did Nordhavn design way’s you could remove without using a chainsaw? With all the real world use you get are any of the manufactor’s making improvement’s/changes for all going forward or are the thing’s you’ve been doing unique to your cruiseing needs? Thank’s!
Lots of good questions Robert. We know have more than 9,400 main engine hours so, as you said, the hours are mounting and our “new” boat is probably heading to the top 10% of the Nordhavn fleet. We know of quite a few boats with more hours but I suspect most haven’t as many. So far the engine/transmission have never been open. We recently started getting a 1347.7 ECU trouble code indicating actual high pressure rail pressure is different from called for fuel pressure. It looks like an injector problem so I’ll change the set soon and hopefully that problem will be solved. Assuming, I’m right on that problem, changing injectors after 9,000 hours seems pretty reasonable to me. I’m hoping we can get 15,000 out of the engine before the head needs to come off and 20,000 before the lower end needs attention. I know of engines with 15,000 that have never been open and show no signs of needing it so all indications are that this engine will continue to do well.
You asked if the engine could come out of boat without a chainsaw. Yes, absolutely. It was a focus item from me during build since we expect to run up the hours and, even for those that don’t, you can get unlucky. The main engine can be lifted out through a large Salon hatch designed for engine and transmission service. Nordhavn intends it to be big enough and I’ve looked at it pretty carefully and believe the hatch will be sufficient if needed. Hopefully it’ll not be any time soon.
On electronics, we are using Furuno NavNet3d that we have had in use on the boat for nearly 8 years. It was long ago superseded with the newer TZ system but we’re still very happy with the current navigation eqiupment and don’t intend to replace it. The only fault we have seen so far is the MFDBB had a graphics card failure while we were in the Indian Ocean. I ended installing a temporary card that was very similar (//mvdirona.com/2015/10/thank-you-plug-n-play/) and then later I bought a used MFDBB from someone who was upgrading to a new system so we now have a full MFDBB in spares on Dirona. We expect to run this system for another 2 to 4 years and, at this point, have no complaints with it. Furuno has done a good job and we still like this system.
Nordhavn continues to improve their boats all the time. I’m sure the odd idea comes from our experience and they have the experience of more than 500 other owners to draw on as well. Every time I’m on a new Nordhavn, I see subtle (and sometimes fairly dramatic) improvements. One area where we have contributed a bit is in power systems and Nordhavn now has an optional design available that has many of the advantages of what we ended up doing: //mvdirona.com/2014/08/a-more-flexible-power-system-for-dirona/. I really like new design done by Mike Teleria at Nordhavn.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading your various musings on your recent posts. Regarding Liverpool Cathedral. This place probably gets more tourist visitors than actual Sunday parishioners!
However, saying that, a guilty pleasure of mine is visiting these kinds of places when on a jolly.
As to the architecture of the place, which is seriously beautiful on an immense scale and, if one thinks about it, stone is probably the oldest building material used by mankind. Some of this stonework can be reproduced in the modern world, whereas some is clearly no longer possible or at least feasible.
Just up the road from me, there stands some skeletal sandstone ruins of an 11th century Cistercian Abbey with enough stonework left on a scale that is difficult to grasp. Given the tools used it’s difficult to comprehend! I’m always left saying to myself, how the hell did they do it?
Briefly touching on the Manchester Science museum. Technology wise we’re living in exciting times, what with those little Raspberry Pi’s that you use, and the device I’m writing this on, which is an android phone, either of these miniature gadgets have probably got more computing power than that Baby computer Jennifer’s Father built. I should probably get one of those Pi gadgets just so I can clue myself up, but the programming of the thing makes my eyes glaze over, and at the end of the day, I’ve no real use for it other than educating myself ?
Cheerio for now…
I totally agree with you on these old stone structures. Absolutely amazing. In North America, “old” is 200 years. This is a completely different perspective.
On the Raspberry Pi, it’s remarkably simple. Like you, I didn’t really intend to use it. I just bought one to learn a bit but it was so easy to program that I ended up finding many uses for it. And, after awhile, I ended up deciding to get a 2nd and then later, put in a third. Embedded programming used to required deep low level programming skills, cross compilers, cross debuggers, and it was slow going. The Pi is a basically a full computer running Linux with lots of memory and storage resources. It essentially requires very little skill to get things going. Most of the software I have running on mine is written in PHP with just a bit of C++ for a performance sensitive module.
I picked up a Pi when I was in Darwin Australia via Amazon from the US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01C6Q2GSY/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1. I played with it a bit on the Indian Ocean crossing and was soon reading digital input state — checking to see if a device is on or off. Then I got it doing digital output — the ability to turn devices on and off. On that trip, I had an electronics failure of the Watch Commander. It’s a simple device that makes sure that the person on the helm is awake and requires that you touch a button every 10 min. I built a new one using the Pi and, before the Indian Ocean crossing was done the Pi had gone from toy to part of the boat control systems and it expanded from there. On the boat I now use them for around 30 channels of digital input, about 12 channels of digital input, and around 10 channels of temperature using a DHT-22 (https://www.amazon.com/Diymore-Digital-Temperature-Humidity-Replace/dp/B01IT2E4ZW/ref=sr_1_2_sspa?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1511701777&sr=1-2-spons&keywords=dht22&psc=1). Just the latter functionality of reading temperatures is pretty useful. In the near future, I’ll blog the details with example code of what I use the Pis for and show how it’s done.
with your PI you can aso run the Viltron Venus CCGX software which they made open source
Cool, I hadn’t noticed that Victron had open sourced some of their control software. For those interested in reading more on the Victron open source projects, it’s here: https://www.victronenergy.com/live/open_source:start.
On Dirona, we use a Victron 240v inverter and what I notice about it was, when compared to other gear we have on the boat, it easily delivers it’s spec of 6kw and it’ll even deliver 7kw for very short periods of time without cutting out. Where many charger/inverter suppliers put in limiters, cut-outs, or de-rate with temperature, Victron goes for a design with sufficient engineering safety margin that it actually can meet the spec in less than ideal circumstances and, if pushed beyond, they don’t shut down unless the they need too. My Mastervolt equipment sometimes derates or limits at annoying times. For example, the chargers run on 240V but, world voltages are far from stable and they range from 208 to 240v nominal with big deviations caused by grid load or other factors. I want the chargers putting out whatever the hardware will support but Mastervolt derates starting at 195V and output falls off fast below that voltage level. Like many adjustments on the Mastervolt gear, it isn’t user adjustable or configurable.
It’s really cool to see Victron open sourcing some of their control software and actually helping customers be able to integrate their systems with other types of equipment. The more I see of Victron, the more I like them. Thanks for sending this along Jan-Kees.
As a fan of the Americas Cup I think you will be interested in the AC 75 foiling monohull concept which has just been announced. It is shown here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rx2qG_YMrDs
For some bizarre reason the Namib gecko, which lifts alternate feet off the hot sand to keep cool, came to mind when I saw the video. That said it looks as though the proposed design will present a great design and sailing challenge.
I was really disappointed to see the high speed foiling cats not being used going forward but some are already speculating that this new AC75 may be even faster. I’m still slightly skeptical on the speed point but it is definitely a wild looking boat. I read an article quoting Tom Slingsby as really liking the design. The real test of the design is how many competitive teams emerge. I really wish that America’s Cup was annually or perhaps every 2 years. 4 years between events is a long, long time.
Hello again, glad to read that the gaiter worked out ok. My wife and I have quite an eclectic taste in music and have never really heard any of the BRMC’s music. It’s funny what a name of a band can conjure up in one’s mind, as we had it down as heavy metal headbangers music so never gave it a listen!
That opinion has now changed, as Beat The Devil’s Tattoo, Spread Your Love, Little Thing Gone Wild (which is what our six-year-old grandson is currently bouncing around to as I type) sounds fantastic on our home HI-FI. A Spotify list has now been created!
If you like Blues music check out the American musician Seasick Steve – he makes his own instruments, too!
Love it and it’s funny you should say that Paul but, for years, I thought the same about Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and more or less ignored them. I knew of the band but hadn’t listened to any of their music. It was Jennifer that eventually gave them a serious listen and they have become favorites of ours as well.
Thanks for the pointer to Seasick Steve. Will give him a listen.
Thanks for the acknowlegdement re gaitor for power cord!
Any progress on the lifeline??:)
I’ve got a blog entry ready to go with an update on all the changes that we put in places as a result of “Alarms at 1:15am”. We’ve made a lot of changes and I like the results but we’ve not done anything on coming up with some sort of Jackline system. Thanks for the reminder.
What about lifelines between your mooring cleats in the cockpit?
Sure, absolutely. There are lots of options and that’s a good one Rod. Our first line of defense is to not go outside in storms. However, if we ever need to again, we will ensure we are attached to the boat.
Thank you both for letting us tag along on your wonderful adventures on beautiful Dirona. We have enjoyed every article and picture. Although the adventures we have in our 1974 Tollycraft Makara are a bit more modest and limited to the greater Puget Sound area, I think all who choose to cast off lines and watch the world unfold with a gentle or sometimes not so gentle swell underfoot, share many of the same life changing moments one can only experience on the water. Wishing you safe passages and look forward to sharing future adventures with you and Dirona.
We agree. Boats are both a constant pleasure and a constant education. Thanks for the note.
I lik to think you calmly repair things on board, under way with the calm of the film “Jaws” Captain Quint (Robert Shaw), “we need a bigger boat”, upon actually seeing the shark finally. Your handy work, getting that pump in is impressive but Yoda rules apply in boats, “there is no try, only do”. Safe travels to you all!
Re locks check out Caen Hill Locks. I think you will be impressed. They are inland and not navigable by Dirona!
The Caen Hill locks look great: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caen_Hill_Locks#/media/File:Caen.hill.locks.in.devizes.arp.jpg. A continuous flight of 16 hand operated locks covering 237′.
Dirona has been up to 738′ above sea level in the Columbia/Snake River system but (thankfully) those weren’t hand operated: //mvdirona.com/category/destinations/north-america-pacific-coast/columbia-river/
I assume you will be making your way along the south coast stopping near Portsmouth/Isle of Wight. If so inclined you could, with a driver, take in Salisbury/Old Sarum, Stonehenge and possibly these locks as well. They are near Devizes in Wiltshire. That could be too much of a stretch in one day. If so you could possibly add them to a visit to the ancient stone circle at Avebury, the White Horse Hill and the Ridgeway on a second day. All are north of Stonehenge. That said there is plenty to see in and around Portsmouth too.
We will be in the Portsmouth/Isle of Wight area in early January. We’ll be getting some boat work done in South Hampton and then we’ll spend 6 + weeks in London. Your suggestions are within reach of both. Thanks for passing on the recommendations.
HI james and jennifer i see your in Belfast now and i was wondering if you had any plans to nip across the North channel to the Isle of man ?
I’ve been following you since you were in New Zealand and am amazed what the pair of you have done and your Nordhaven must of been through .
i live in Douglas which is to capital of the island we do have a 24 hour stay afloat Harbour if your coming
and if you are and need any help or advise about douglas you can e mail back and will be happy to help.
yours sincerely Steve
We are thinking through ways to visit the Isle of Man. We plan to visit Liverpool immediately after Belfast so won’t have time on the way by. But will have some time in Liverpool so might just take the ferry over for a day. Another approach will be to stop off the at the Isle of Man before heading to Dublin. We’ll be in Dublin for a while so we might take a ferry from there to visit the Isle of Man. Still working on options but I think there is a good chance we’ll do the trip. Thanks for the offer of advice.
Hi James, thank you for your videos and site. Can you tell me how effective your kvh7 satellite is for Internet? I am going to be working from our boat and curious to other’s experiences. Best, April
Our KVH V7-ip (http://www.kvh.com/Commercial-and-OEM/Maritime-Systems/Communications/mini-VSAT-Broadband/TracPhone-V7IP-with-ICM.aspx) has been instrumental in making this trip possible. Without reasonably priced, high-bandwidth communications, there is no way I could work and the trip would have to be deferred until after retirement. We love the equipment and the world-wide service plans. We originally used the fixed price plans available many years ago. We reluctantly moved to one of the Open Plans (http://www.kvh.com/Satellite-and-Content-Services/Satellite-Communications-Service/mini-VSAT-Broadband-Airtime-Plans/Open-Plans-Standard.aspx) and eventually concluded the Open Plans were better. The fixed plans had difficult to throttling that was functional but a bit difficult to work with whereas the open plans are always high performing. We currently use the OP5k which includes 5G per month bu these plans are available in 2G, 5G, 10G all the way up to 150G per month. We might be better off with our consumption rates when we are in remote locations with the OP10k plan but the overage costs for both are reasonable so we don’t bother changing back and forth.
The only negative is the polar regions are not covered and there are some large uncovered areas where commercial shipping traffic is sparse: South Atlantic (Central and North Atlantic is fine), South Indian Ocean, and the Southern Pacific region. It’s been a couple of years since we were in one of these “blind spots” — these aren’t common. The next one we expect to find is next summer in Norway where some of the Fjords will likely not have connectivity due to the lower elevation angles to geosynchronous satellites and the heights of the nearby mountain ranges.
Overall, it’s a great system. It’s not inexpensive but, for those still working and needing constant connection and good bandwidth, it’s an excellent option. In fact, we have become so dependent on the system that, if I was to retire today, we would stay with the same plan. We really like 24×7 connectivity and it makes the trip more enjoyable for us both.
There is more information on our satellite connectivity at: //mvdirona.com/2015/08/communications-at-sea/. It dates back to 2015 and so we should probably update the article but it still does a pretty good job of covering the options that we investigated. Aboard Dirona, we use WiFi when it is available, the terrestrial cellular radio, and use a KVH V7-ip as our primary satellite system. As backup satellite systems we use Inmarsat BGAN and Iridium but these latter two are only used when outside of the KVH Mini-VSAT satellite footprint or during a system outage. It’s been 2 years since we have used either but we test them annually.
I’ve never sailed on a river or canal so I’ve never experienced the Bank Effect. I have heard about your experience of the water appearing to be lower and flowing faster past the boat. In the instance I heard about the boat ran aground, almost as if the boat was sucked down and had to be towed off. Probably down to hydrodynamics, like boat shape or a combination of different variables of speed and displacement?
Yes, hydrodynamics. The water is being displaced by the hull passing through it and it has to pass by the boat. With the bank near, the water being displaced by the bow and trying to go between the hull and the shore will push the bow away from that near shore. At the stern, the water rushing past the hull needs to fill the space left behind by the boat passing through the water. Because the hull is near to the shore there is resistance to the water freely flowing back into the void left by the hull underway. This causes a low pressure area develops at the stern that pulls the stern towards the near shore.
Dear James & Jen
I hope you are both well. I have in attached my wind speed reference at the bottom of this message. The telematory from Dirona showed winds of 122.8kts. The record for the UK at sea level is 123kts. Watching you boat is more nerve racking that the latest Hollywood film.
I have been up several times in the night to check on your position.
I would love to cruise around Scotland but will need a bigger boat. My wife and I generally don’t go out if the wind is above force 3.
Fortunately, the telemetry from Dirona was incorrect. We rebooted the weather instrument and removed the erroneous data from the website yesterday. It is windy with winds running in the 30 kts range with gusts to 40 kts but not beyond.
I am glad to hear. Have a great day.
Last few days, post Ophelia, a relief it passed has been great reading….thought the “EE” acronym was “time to be an electronic engineer”, and the nice lunch break at the Castle Tavern for me would be followed by “Nap Time”, after seeing those lovely pints! Entrance to Inverness like is beautiful! Safe travels….!
Truly magnificent photography an historical treasure !
Are you planning to see more of Europe? Like the Netherlands
Yes, absolutely. WE plan to go to Norway next year and on the way north will stop in Amsterdam for a while. Likely in the April time frame. Looking forward to it.
Hi James & Jennifer,
If you are in the Amsterdam area around April, check out the Keurkenhof gardens – they are absolutely magnificent when the tulips are out. Also the bulb fields all around are a fantastic sight, and the smell of the Hyacinths is almost overwelmingly strong.
Our plan is to be in Amsterdam in early April so that suggestion will likely work out very well. We’re looking forward to it. Thanks for the recommendation Rob.
A little maritime history !
Great set of data and, of course, this is why recreational SCUBA diving is such a big industry in the Orkney Island area. There are a lot of ships (and other debris) on the bottom.
You should be glad all your anchor snagged was a chain and not a torpedo!
Very true, capturing unexploded ordnance would be far worse that our just hooking onto a massive chain.
I’m guessing if it had of been ordnance when you got down there you and Jennifer would likely be scraping your second anchor at that point?
Quite possibly we would have had to give up both achors. I’m fairly stubborn and might have found a way to free at least one up without getting close but we probably would have to give up both anchors (we have a third on board).
If you enjoy maps like I do, then you may enjoy this interactive wind map of the world. Wind speeds are in real time, too!
It’s 88km/h where I am at the moment.
The North Atlantic looks incredibly bad right now. Nice visualization.
Hi from Chile, nice videos…thanks
Whats the crane brand you use to download the dinghy?
The crane is a Steelhead ES1100. The ES1100 is actually an ES1500 with a longer boom (16′ reach) which requires it be derated from 1,500 lbs to 1,100 lbs.
Hi, you have heard About hurricane Ophelia? looks as it Will pass northen Scotland!
Yes, we saw that. The current predicted track shouldn’t bring unsafe weather our way but it is gusty today.
yeah Ex-Hurricane Ophelia made her landfall this morning here in Ireland. good thing she’s downgraded to storm Ophelia when she reach Northwest Scotland tonight…
Three fatalities and a lot of destruction reported since land fall. We hope the worst is over for Ireland and the cleanup will be swift. It’s an unusually sever storm.
Plockton/Loch Duibh…before your time, but this was the setting for the great Hamish MacBeth series with Robbie Carlyle. We spent our time there scouting the shooting locations. Great to see it again!
The portion of the train trip from Plockton to Kyle of Lochalsh is particularly pretty.
You are very nice couple..with a way to use your life who is perfecr!!!! Actually this is my dream but i’m still working here in Greece and i wait the day i stop. If you ever visit our waters let me know…I’ll be proud to meet you and yours best boat ever!
Best wishes guys!
Thanks for the invitation to Greece. I hope we do get there someday and, if you are ever near Dirona (//mvdirona.com/maps, feel free to drop by and say hello!
How do you guys create your map/track?
We display the maps using modified WordPress blogging software with custom software driving Google maps. We collect the data on Dirona as a side effect of a far broader central control system that captures all NMEA2000 data on Dirona and acquires data from some other non-NMEA2000 connected devices as well. This data is stored in a relational data base and is used to the drive alerts, alarms, email notification of problems, generator autostart, power load shedding, and a variety of other tasks. A tiny subset of that data is uploaded to our website on Amazon Web Services for display.
The personal tracks that we create when off-boat walking, biking, Taxis, train or other forms of transit are created using a discontinued application called My Tracks. Google removed support for this app and no longer maintains it but they open sourced an earlier version of it. We took the earlier version and continue to use that app side loaded on whatever phone we happen to be carrying.
Are all your posts and website driven by WordPress? Do you recommend a hosting service? Btw my wife and I are in process of building a N60. Taking delivery in early spring 2019. Thanks for the site and maybe we will cross paths
Yes, the web site and posts are all done through WordPress running on Amazon Web Services (aws.amazon.com). There is some custom code used for the maps section where Google maps is embedded in word press and the boat position and track is shown but the rest is just standard WordPress. Generally, we’re quite happy with WordPress. It’s a nice solution.
We hope our paths do cross. If they do, drop by and say hi.
If you want to create trip tracks like James & Jennifer with GPS data logging. I use an app on my phone called Geotag Photos which is available on Android. It’s a user friendly solution which works very well for cameras that don’t have GPS technology built in. It records your trip as a GPX file which you can export and load into Google maps.
That sounds better than My Tracks even when My Tracks was supported. Good find.
Hi James & Jennifer. Long time reader/follower(fan!!) of your blog (I think I ended up here once, years ago when Ken Williams linked to one of your long South Pacific passages). I love (and am jealous!) of what you guys are doing, but am eternally grateful for how well you share it. I’m finally commenting after a few questions came to head…
Re: dinghy/tender replacement. I have noticed in some of your pics (dating back several years, too) the rust stains/leaks from the small bits of hardware on the current tender. While not mission critical, the staining and rusting of those parts isn’t ideal. I am sure it all boils down to the bottom line ($$) but my basic understanding of alloys is that most of this could be avoided (304 vs. 316). What is your take on the Tender OEMs “missing” in this arena? I even wonder if they offered it as an option/package for higher grade bits on these parts, what percent of buyers would opt-up? Seems to be a small price in the relative scheme of things for a long term improvement on cosmetics and durability.
Windshield wipers- how often do you use them? Do you replace the wipers on a schedule, or just keep spares (your parts inventory is beyond impressive. I love reading your blogs and seeing a part that you replaced and thinking “woah, how did they have *that* on hand?!?!”) and replace as necessary?
Solar- while I understand you are *big* power consumers, as the solar technology improves in cost, efficiency, and reliability, have you considered any size of array to supplement your power needs? Or is it not realistic with the size of your battery bank, high power use, etc?
A more broad question: Rewind a few years, you’re in Seattle, boat-less, ready to do this trip again, but with all the knowledge/experience you have at this point. On a high/macro level, what are some of the big changes/differences you would do if you could start again? Boat/plan/equipment/etc.
Thank you so much for everything you share on here, it’s incredible.
Lots of good questions Jake. Your first was on the tender noting that, as it aged, it developed rust stains and other cosmetic problems. It’s true, one of the sources of the rust were the locks I use on the lockers. They are not stainless and I just replace them after a couple of years but it would be better if I found a stainless part that was easy to lock/unlock. One component of the Honda motor has rusted badly and it leaves ugly streaks down the back of boat. Everything else around the Honda has no paint flaws and no rust. I’m not sure why they would have selected a ferrous metal for this one bracket. It was a poor choice. However, none of the rusty components have failed so it doesn’t appear to have impacted durability. Certainly it is a negative on the cosmetic side. Beyond that, there were parts of the tender that rusted that were stainless. Perhaps 304 vs 316 stainless steel as you suggest or it could just be age and weather. If you don’t polish stainless occasionally, it will “stain less” but it will not be without stain. The tender is often pretty muddy on the boat deck, the tubes are often marked with tar or other dirt from the large commercial docks we often tie to. Ideally we would carefully clean and polish the tender but we end up treating it like a working boat and we maintain it well but don’t wax and polish it. Perhaps we should — we do on Dirona.
We usually have two spare sets of windshield wipers on Dirona. We change them when needed and that is usually every 12 to at most 24 months. We use the wipers fairly frequently to get salt water off before it drys on and to clear rain. On our previous boat the wipers didn’t work well so we used Rain-X which works well. On this boat, I haven’t applied RainX in years and the wipers seem to get the job done. The windshield sprayers are a bit unusual in that they are plumbed into the boat pressure water systems so they never run out and never need filling.
As you guessed, it’s hard to add enough solar to make a material difference to our power consumption. We unapologetically run the boat like a small apartment with washer, dryer, entertainment, dishwasher, furnace, etc. We use a lot of power. But you are also right that some solar would help. Less so in the current cruising area in Scotland than in the South Pacific but I agree Solar would help. The only install locations we have available that don’t look super ugly would be to replace the bimini that covers the fly bridge with a frame supporting panels. We enjoy having the fly bridge able to go either open or covered with the bimini, don’t love adding more weight up high on the boat, and it hasn’t felt like a project we want to take on. If I had a great solution that looked good and knew it would contribute enough, we would add solar. It’s a project that hasn’t felt like good enough price/performance but we honestly haven’t really researched it out carefully.
We do have a lot of spares on board and what that buys us is the trip never gets redirected to wait for parts or service. We can just keep going but, for sure, there is a massive cost in all the spares and they all have to be inventoried and kept clean and dry so it’s a substantial investment. We love the freedom it buys us.
You asked what we would add to the boat if we were to start the trip again. Generally, they way the boat is now is pretty close to that point. For the most part, the changes can be made after the fact so, if we felt like we needed it, we just made the change since we intend to be using the boat for years and many thousands of hours. Each thing we found we needed, we added or changed as we learned more. Some of the major systems we knew we needed when we left but there were some we discovered later. Here’s a few of the changes that we think were were important that came since Seattle: 1) 240V inverter that can run any appliance on the boat and 9kw of alternator on the main engine essentially making the main engine our backup generator and the sole power producer when we are underway (//mvdirona.com/2014/08/a-more-flexible-power-system-for-dirona/), 2) longer passerel (gang plank used for Med Mooring), and control systems auto-start the generator when needed, shed less important loads when power draws near maximum source power, we have alerts on potential system faults, we send email for some problems that need attention, and we display all this data using Maretron N2kview (much of the control systems have Maretron at the core). The power system changes covered in the article referenced above made a massive improvement to the boat and the power system changes and control system additions have been key to making the boat “just run itself” and help us run it safely without only two people on the boat. Simplicity of operation and fool proof is important to a lightly staffed boat. In fact, that’s an interesting point. For many folks, our system look complicated. We’re fine with complicated to install as long as it makes the boat simpler to run since that’s where we spend our time.
Things that we haven’t done but would have liked changing: 1) move from a 40hp wing to 50 to 70 hp, 2) move from 7 1/2 sq ft stabilizer fins to 9 sq ft, and 3) autostart for the main engine. The last one sounds silly but here’s what’s driving our interest in auto-start on the main. If the generator ever failed to start or shut off due to a system fault while we are not on the boat, the batteries will discharge. It turns out that a high power consuming boat like ours needs to run the generators 24×7 or have gen auto-start. You just can’t be on the boat to run the gen when the batteries need it so it’s best left to control systems. The 12kw Northern Lights generator has been rock solid for 5,000 hours but there will come a time when it can’t run for some reason. Our backup is the main engine that can produce 9kw of power generation. We want the control systems to be able to start the backup generator if the primary fails. The best answer is a second generator but it’s hard to find space for another generator so we use the main engine. It’s working out so well that we want the control systems to be able to start it if needed. The interest is driven by a battery bank being worth $6,000+ and the best way to prolong the life of the battery bank is to never deeply discharge them. We can add autostart to the main engine for under $1,000 so we will make that change. It won’t often be used since the main gen is so reliable but it’s good insurance.
If we built again, the boat wouldn’t change much from what we currently have. Solar power might be part of the new build, two gens, a larger wing would be nice but not vital and, in a larger boat, we would go with twin engines despite the tiny loss of operating efficiency.
I see here:
that Nordhavn have announced a new version with a stretched saloon and boat deck. Nordhavn say ” “We’re confident 52 buyers are going to love this change.”
Nice to see. It’s not a big change but, as much as we love the big cockpit, giving up a bit to get a bit more boat deck and interior is a great improvement. It’s a really good looking boat.
Hi James. Have followed the site for some time and regret not coming to say hi when I saw Dirona in the Hawkesbury Australia 12/2014. I’m still a sailor but working towards a trawler around 60ft in length. I’m interested in your comment that you’d go with twin engines in a larger boat. I’d appreciate your reasoning and at what length you would consider twin engines.
We loved the Hawksbury and Sydney region. Definitely one of the trips highlight areas.f
You were asking about twin engines. First, if we like twin engines why did we buy a single? To get twins into a small boat, you need to give up few to allow sufficient space for two engines and two engines are just a tiny amount less efficient. In a 52, we didn’t feel we had anything to give up. However, in a 60 to 63′ boat we would go twins on the argument that boats of that size can carry all the fuel needed for even quite long crossings and the tiny loss of efficiency isn’t really material. We really like the redundancy of twins, we like the handling of twins, and I like having two identical engines when working on why something isn’t working properly on one of the them. Generally, I prefer two small diesels to one large one just about every time unless the package is too small to have two without giving up fuel capacity and range.
On the handling front, a single with thrusters hasn’t been a problem so that factor is arguably a pretty small factor. Singles are used on boats all the way up to very large ocean crossing container ships mostly because it’s a bit more efficient. Here’s an article on us visiting the Hanjin Oslo container ship: //mvdirona.com/2012/06/on-board-the-hanjin-oslo/. On the other side of that decision still up at the very large end of the boating spectrum, oil tankers care just as much about container ships about efficiency but I’ve noticed many new builds are going with twins for redundancy in an effort to reduce the risk of collision and potential spills.
An incredible journey and documentation to boot. With joys and challenges abound along the way. I am cautious for the next installment of you journey however. Although inland, do not let your guards down! Be vigilant! While many may dismiss the reality as folklore legend, there is a true monster that lies in the section ahead!
Humor asides, I encouragea Haggis as a means to calm yourselves. They are challenging to catch, but worth the effort 🙂
Thanks Jamie. We will keep an eye out for the Loch Ness monster. For calming, the Scots have a variety of recommendations but I’m not sure Haggis will be the option we take :-).
Loch Ness can feel quite spooky – especially when it is black and glassy smooth. We rented a boat for a trip for about a week from Inverness to Fort Augustus (up the locks) and return when our children were young many years ago. Back then, IIRC, there were not many places to moor a boat in Loch Ness itself.
It looks like things haven’t changed a lot since you were last here David. Still not many places to tie off or to anchor but, for this time of year, I’m pretty confident we’ll find lots of open space for Dirona. Really looking forward to it but, having just pulled into our slip in Inverness, wow, it’s pretty nice here as well. We have a really nice end tie with good shelter, a view of the entire bridge in front of us and the marina entrance behind us. We’re planning a train trip (Kyle of Lochalsh) scheduled for tomorrow and we’re heading out now for lunch.
Spent about a week in Inverness ourselves before we headed up the Lochs. Nice town good shopping friendly locals and a few good pubs. We had just come across the North Sea from Norway though, so the low prices were most welcomed.
Beautiful videos, as well as some outstanding photos and their reflections !! Are you set up for HF Radio Comms ?? Not sure where you guys are right now, where might your next trip be and when ? Keep up the good work and enjoy life as you are
Have you come across the Ofcom website or app for checking coverage. Might be useful for you while you are in UK waters. https://www.ofcom.org.uk/phones-telecoms-and-internet/advice-for-consumers/advice/ofcom-checker
Thanks for the pointer to the UK government Ofcom communications site Declan.
Any thoughts on the Dashew’s ending production of their FPB boat series? It appears the three under construction will be the last three. My lottery ticket didn’t match up so I guess I won’t be getting one 🙂
Are you sure? I’ve not seen any announcements about stopping production on FPBs and there is nothing on their web site suggesting they are stopping.
Here is the link to the article they posted 9/29:
Amazing. Good for Steve and Linda to take some time off and enjoy cruising without the constant load of a full time job.
What is that large antenna on a hilltop on Eye Peninsula just outside Stornoway? It belongs to the National Air Traffic Services. Which means it’s an on-route navigational aid for aircraft – I think there used to be an RAF base up there, too.
Well done Paul. We’ll update the posting to reflect that. Thanks!
It is a VOR beacon, which stands for Very High Frequency Omnidirectional Beacon. It is indeed a navigational beacon which gives you a bearing to or from the beacon. Airways, which are motorways (or freeways!) in the sky are often aligned between VORs and in the old days before inertial navigation, then GPS navigation, you drove between VORs on a particular bearing. Now that aeroplanes are often cleared direct to points on the edge of overlapping sectors, VORs are becoming superfluous. However, Stornoway VOR is frequently still used by controllers as a waypoint which airliners are cleared to before commencing their oceanic crossing.
Thanks for the additional background on the VOR beacon Colin.
Just looked at the Maretron temp etc sensor. Given the cost I can easily relate to your peeved look when you did the swap!!
True. Although, overall, I’m pretty happy with the price/performance of Maretron equipment. They have really changed the market where, prior to them entering the market, high quality instrumentation was mostly just available super yachts (or “super” budgets).
Love your site especially the maintenance items
1, Where did you purchase the one way cockpit drains?
2. I have found Krylon Battery protector (#1307) to be superb at protecting connections such as your generator temp ground (image 8063) as well as battery terminals, etc. Available on Amazon too!!
3. Does your temperature sensor protude below the hull surface? If it does would it be ‘failure point’ if were struck by a large piece of debris?
1. Where did you purchase the one way cockpit drains?
[jrh]I used one of these from Amazon in each locker: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0019M5JQI/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1
2. I have found Krylon Battery protector (#1307) to be superb at protecting connections such as your generator temp ground (image 8063) as well as battery terminals, etc. Available on Amazon too!!
3. Does your temperature sensor protrude below the hull surface? If it does would it be ‘failure point’ if were struck by a large piece of debris?
[jrh]The sensing wheel does protude slightly but the sounding and temperature sensing is flush with the through hull. If you are interested in more detail, here’s a picture of the business end of the transducer: https://www.amazon.com/Maretron-DST110-Depth-Temperature-Triducer/dp/B00PA3MFGE/ref=sr_1_2?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1506874265&sr=1-2&keywords=dst110
Regarding that water temperature sensor, you’re fitting. Does it go into a dry pocket or is it a case of snatching it with the risk of water entering the boat?
Oh, and that safety temperature blow off valve on the water heater is quite a common thing that fails on sealed system boilers. It’s a bread and butter job for engineers!
The depth sounder and temperature sensor are a single integrated unit in a just over 1″ diameter cylindrical shape that goes through a special through hull where the depth sounder has O-rings around it’s outer edge that seal with the through hull. This allows the depth sounder to be removed and a new one replaced while the boat is in the water. But that briefly leaves the boat with a just over 1″ diameter hole, 4′ 2″ below the water surface. Water comes in at an amazing pace during that operation if you aren’t quick.
The change of the water heater temperature and pressure relief valve is indeed an easy job. I would have done it already but it’s one of the few times we find ourselves without a spare. Once I get the spare, I’ll make the change quickly.
Looking at your pictures of your T&P relief valve, it looks like they had the outlet of the valve bushed down from 3/4 to whatever the hose barb fitting happens to be.
I hope I am wrong and those are just random parts laying there however If that was actually the case, while you can obviously do it, it’s against every code ever written on the subject.
I’d be more than happy to provide you with links on the correct installation if necessary and can even provide many examples of the reasons for those codes.
Um, sure, probably just random parts that happened to get into the picture :-).
Yes, that is the way the boat was built. It’s only a 20 gallon hot water tank and I suspect that the system as built would relieve pressure before explosive failure even with the reducers but I also have no doubt that building codes would disallow such an approach. This particular hose is carrying the flow directly to the main bilge to avoid a mess in the laz but, in truth, since this valve should never pass water when operating properly, it would be a lot easier to find the source of the water and the failure if just vented directly into the Laz.
Thanks as always Steven.
Well, failures are rare and generally they do require some “operator input”, in other words “someone knew about it and screwed up”. These days most of the problems you read about with water heater explosions are fuel related.
It takes quite a few things to go wrong but if they do the results are horrible. Since Hydronic systems are part of what I do I always found this one to be the worse since they knew there was something wrong and even called someone that was suppose to be a “technician”. If I remember right the guy was actually a janitor for the school system.
Due to the size of your heater, you already run it hotter than what is considered normal for domestic hot water and rely on mixing valves to temper it for use.
Obviously there is more to the equation than simply the size of a discharge pipe on a relief valve and, I suppose most people consider me “alarmist” but I’ve got 43 years of considering the “what if”.
The “what if” of 20 gallons of water being heated to flash on a tank failure converts to 32,000 cubic foot of steam. Quite frankly I would expect a failure in one of your PEX lines long before that could ever happen along with a multiple other clues I suspect you’d investigate including the fact that it’s a T&P and if it was operating correctly, water temp should have it in full dump anyway.
One thing I’d really like you to consider before I shut up and leave you alone is, during a thermostat failure a properly operating T&P will go into full dump at it’s temperature set point with little to no warning. If you do decide to simply vent it to the Laz, think about what would happen if you were crawling by or working on something nearby when it happened.
You are right that the system runs hotter than normal. Our is adjusted to maintain 135F under electrical power. There is also a engine coolant loop inside to allow the water heater to be heated by waste engine heat as well so, under some circumstances when running the engine for a long period of time without using hot water, the temperature can be as high as 180F (5 to 10F less than the engine).
The systems as described as all the usual safety systems and protections and has operated without issues for nearly 8 years. I have additional safety systems above and beyond the normal ones. I find it useful to have a temperatures sensor on the tank to indicate low temp so I know if it’s getting low on capacity and isn’t ready for another shower or washing machine load. When it hits 115F I show a yellow indicator light and when it hits 105F, I show a red indicator light. Since I have a temp sensor on the tank, I can also detect a fault by checking for less than 120F for 8 hours consecuatively. In this condition, I show a large yellow full boat check light. Since I have the sensor, I can add one more safety factor. If the temp ever goes above 185F, we show a large red full boat check light and send email to both of us.
The system also has the water heater under control system software control used to implement load shedding. The control systems know if we are on shore power, generator, or are running off inverter withe engine generated power. Since the control systems knows the power source, the capacity of that power source, and the boats current power draw, we can shed the water heater load by shutting it off as we get close to maximum power source capacity. This means we don’t have to manage loads on the boat and just operate it as an apartment. If we over draw, the least important appliances starting with the water heater are shut down for a few seconds until the power draw peak is past.
It’s a really nice system that allows us to run more load that we have supply and not worry about managing the power loads. We have it on both the 120V and 240V systems so we don’t have to worry that one of us might use the hair dryer at the same time someone else is using the microwave. Everything just works.
The 240V load shedding system also prevents the easy mistake of leaving the water heater on when there is no power source and we’re running off batteries. It just shuts off the water heater when we have no external power. If the main engine is running, we have 9kw. If the gen is running, we have 12kw. And, if we have the common 16A@240V shore power connection common in Europe, we have 3.8kw. If there is no power source and are running on battery, we don’t ever turn on water heater. It’ll run automatically when the generator is started automatically when the batteries need to be charged.
The load shed system allows us to implement one additional safety system for the water heater. If the water temperature ever exceed 160F due to engine operation or a faulty hot water heater thermostat, we shut down the water heater electrical heat. This means we have an additional, redundant thermostatic safety device on the water heater and if it ever gets over 160F, the water heater is forced off. Summarizing the system. We have the standard water heater thermostat shutting off at 135F. We have a second thermostat with a safety setting that shuts down at 160F. We have a large red indicator light and we send email if the system ever exceeds 185F.
Like you, I believe that the plastic hoses and fittings in our system would likely let go and release pressure prior to the T&P relief valve. So, in a way, we actually have redundancy on the T&P valve as well.
I hope you don’t mind me referring back to your multiple tiers of protection against water. We had a sad event with an open timber boat we owned. She was left open to the elements and protected by a Rule 2000 bilge pump with an electronic level control switch, this arrangement proved to be very reliable. Power was not a problem as she was moored on shore power. Unfortunately Sod’s law came into play. Our pump discharge hose came off the skin fitting which caused the discharge water to cycle back into the boat. We had heavy rain and as the boat started to sit lower in the water the external water level started to come up to the hull planks that were not as tight because they were constantly dry, this increased the rate of water ingress. We received a call from a neighbour questioning if our boat was sinking. By the time we arrived with a petrol salvage pump we had about an inch of freeboard left. Very stressed we set up the pump and tried to get it running, heavy pump and hoses, we struggled to get it started, and guess what, it lost its prime and we needed to start the priming process again. It started with suction as the level topped, we only saved the boat because the pump was so powerful and the mooring ropes were supporting the boat, it could not have been closer, within 10 minutes she was empty and safe.
Apart from the obvious lesson re the onboard pump and lack of backup we also learnt that a pump which needs priming can be a problem particularly in a high stress situation. On our current boat we have a comprehensive 24v double pump arrangement with independent skin fittings but our last resort is a 240v hd pump moving 600 lt/min, it can be run on shore power or through our on board 240v network which is supplied by an inverter, had an auto pump switch, can run dry, and is a 1/4 weight of a petrol alternative. I’m not sure if the head would allow it to be a fire pump, but I can deploy it a lot quicker. You might consider packing one, they do not take up much space. I am getting the feeling that you enjoy ‘kit’ so I’ve attached a link to a web site that you might like to browse, when I do I feel a bit like a kid in a sweet shop.
Thanks for sharing your near sinking story Mike. We have come to much the same conclusion you did that yet another pump is at least part of the right solution.
We have done or have parts on order to do the following:
*Hydraulic bilge pump secondary control switch in the engine room so it can be run from the pilot house or engine room
*Install a 3,700 GPH Rule 3700 with float switch in the main bilge with bilge pump indicator (we were originally aiming to use a Rule 4000 but space makes the 3700 look like an easier choice).
*Warn via red dash indicator light and email if any bilge pump cycles more than 3 times in 60 min.
*Install small boat transom auto-drainage system in the aft cockpit cabinets that allows water to run out but not rush in
*Install a higher collar to prevent down flooding at the Glendinning cord entrance into the Laz from the aft cockpit cabinets
*Install a third bilge high water level alarm
A bit more than half of that work is now done and we’re hoping to have the rest complete before end of year.
In regards to water seepage did Norhhavn route the anchor chain locker drainage threw side of bow or into the bilge? As bilge seepage of any kind would be super important!
The anchor locker is well engineered. It’s really large, has a person sized access hatch, and drains directly overboard.
Perhaps you might know the answer to the following situation: I have a Nordhavn 55 with a flopper stopper on one side. I would like to add a flopper stopper on the other side but I have heard that it won’t add much additional stabilization. I believe that you only have one but I thought you might have some data on stabilization with one vs two flopper stoppers deployed.
Currently in the south of France
It’s not an exact science but, from having operated on a single stabilizer at times and being able to compare the stabilization of a single stabilizer with using both, I have estimated a single fin to be about 70% as effective. A passive stabilizer isn’t going to perform exactly the same and I’ve never tried two flopper stoppers but your 70% number sounds like an excellent estimate. We rarely use our flopper stopper but, when we do, we just love it. It can transform an ugly experience into a perfectly workable anchorage. Super important for some locations.
My theory is that two floppers is exactly twice the work of a single flopper but much less than twice the gain so I’m not super motivated to install a second one. But, there certainly are swells that could overload a single flopper but two floppers would tame it. We just don’t see those conditions enough to feel motivated to try the second one.
You could probably borrow a flopper from another Nordhavn and try hanging it off your boat deck crane to see if it’s worth the cost of installing a second one and putting it out. You could just install a second one and only use it when you aren’t happy with the single flopper. You could also find a Nordhavn with two and ask to try it out with one and with two to see if the gains is worth it to you folks. I suspect one could be added without much cost — we thought about it but ended up concluding we just don’t see situations where the single hasn’t been adequate and our estimates of the additional positive impact of the second one match yours. It doesn’t feel worth it for our roll tolerance and the anchoring we have done so far.
Hows the culinary cuisine been over there reasonable? Listened to the real McCoy bag pipes yet?
Yes, we went the Edinburgh Tattoo so have seen literally 100s of excellent pipers all in one location. Fantastic. We loved Edinburgh, the Tattoo, and the natural beauty of Scotland. Particularly the outer Hebrides Islands and St. Kilda. The food is fine and I’m sure the best places are excellent but if I was listing the literally hundreds of reasons why you really, really should go visit Scotland, the food probably wouldn’t top the list. The natural beauty and amazing history is right up there for us.
Have you had to do many electronic hardware upgrades for your boat?
I’ve heard that Nordhavn focuses on quality equipment component installs during their boat builds.
Nordhavn does use good quality equipment but there isn’t a “standard” electronics configuration. Owners chose what they want and install it either before delivery when the boat is new or as an upgrade subsequent to delivery. We have done a lot of both on Dirona.
I have to watch more carefully! You are in Scapa Flow of WW I & II “fame.”
You are 100% right John. There is a lot of history here. Two days back we spent an afternoon in the Scapa Flow Museum. Super interesting. We are currently anchored beside a Churchill Barrier — the causeways used to block some entrances to Scapa Flow to secure the anchorage against German U-boat attack.
You mentioned awhile back about the extension of Dirona’s crane is in need of repair, could you elaborate?
Their are two issues with the crane extension. The first is that many service operations including replacing the lift rope require removing the extension and the 4 fastners that connect the extension hydraulic ram to the extension have corroded in place (stainless steel in aluminum). I’ll need to drill these out and tap new holes to allow some service operations. The second issue is the extension friction surface to the boom is wearing and probably needs to be cleaned up and lubricated. I say “probably” since, without being able to remove the extension, it’s hard to tell the extent of the wear between the boom and the extension.
My current thinking is I will need to drill out the old fastners and tap holes for new ones. Once that is done, I can remove the extension and investigate the second problem.
I noticed your new wire strippers and crimpers were in use during the “Glendenning Repair”. You’ve told me about the crimpers but how do you like the wire strippers?
Another thing that might, from the picture anyway that could be of interest is this:
They work better when you are dealing with terminal strips (especially recessed) or anything with a ferrous metal screw. They stick better than an alligator clip many times.
I really like the strippers as well. Precise and sharp just makes all jobs go a bit faster. Good tools are worth their cost. Thanks for recommending them Steve.
I’ll also try a couple magnetic jumper cables on my next Amazon purchase.
Just looking over those island countries of : Ireland,UK,Scotland & surrounding neighbors brings back memories of London,Whales,France,Germany in the early 70’s – beautiful rolling countryside as I recall. You’ve picked a good area! Now anxious to revisit. Say what’s been their current criteria for length of time foreign registered vessels can tour without being hassled by their officials?? Hows the cuisine been reasonable! Listened to the real McCoy bag pipes yet? Be well
Ireland allows visitor to stay in country for up to 90 days per visit. The UK allows 6 months per visit. The limits on the boats time in country are EU regulated. The boat is allowed to be in the EU for up to 18 months consecutively before taxation applies.
Couldn’t help noticing how extensive your voyages are with support to a very important subject matter! Have any of your voyages ever been sponsored with interest to correspondence/marketing kick backs?
Surely – fuel,maintenance,repairs,satellite service along with other related criteria couldn’t be that cheap! Especially the repetitive ones. There seems to be many wannabe hopefuls that evidently aren’t doing enough research before embarking on a sailing adventure that may not go according to expectations! James – any words of wisdom for those people that desire a life without pollution!
Before much longer there’ll be enough boats floating out there a person could walk across the ocean without getting his feet wet!
Kind a like vehicular congestion do to over production – not to mention all those imports that we so conveniently allow into this country. Human error,greed & selfishness only adds to the one well known product WASTE! Be well
Greg said “Before much longer there’ll be enough boats floating out there a person could walk across the ocean without getting his feet wet!”
I understand why you might think that but, the world is really, really big. We sometimes go weeks without seeing another boat when at sea. There really aren’t many boat in absolute terms.
You asked how one could live without pollution. It’s pretty hard to not depend upon transporting anything using engines, capturing and recycling all waste products, etc. It would be challenging for a person to produce absolutely zero waste and not use any non-renewable resources. Possible to be sure but I would think removing 1% of the cars on the road or improving automotive emissions by even small margins would be a higher leverage and more impactful project.
I read that you had a Yacht Controller system installed on Dirona when you commissioned Her. I am interested in this system and would appreciate your comments on it since you have had one for a few years. Is it safe, reliable, and useful. Generally how do you like it?
I do like it and I use it frequently. Whenever we dock going forward, we use the remote. Basically, I use it as a substitute for a bridge wing station that just won’t fit on Dirona. It’s perhaps a bit expensive for what it does but I use it frequently and it’s never needed service so I can’t complain too much.
Only two issues I’ve noticed: 1) range is bounded and so care needs to be take to not step out of range, and 2) the proportional control system is not well engineered so I didn’t end up using it. The standard system has only off/on but it works fine and I don’t find that a problem.
I use a hard wired helm at the stern for backing situations and use the Yacht Commander for everything else. It’s particularly nice when single handing.
How many times did you need to check into Ireland/Scotland/ & What where your procedures? Is your boat registered in U.S.? Did the citizens favor the cruiser/tourist trade? Where most of their anchor/moorings accommodating! if so in what ways? Did you fly a supplemental flag during your visit to those countries? Were the accommodations researched & made in advance or /random select anchorages? Was the appropriate fuel readily available at those chosen marinas? What was their mark up!
The boat is registered in the US. You asked how many times we checked into Ireland/Scotland. We checked into Ireland once in Kinsale on arrival. We checked into the UK at Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland. Once checked into the UK, Scotland is covered so there have been no further customs and immigration procedures since then and won’t be another until we go to Dublin where we will need to again check into Ireland. When entering another country we fly the Orange Q flag and a courtesy flag for the country we are checking into. Once checked in, the Q flag comes down but the courtesy flags stays up until we leave the country again.
Obtaining fuel has never been a problem world wide. Fuel is available at enough locations we have no problems and quality has always been good. Price range between amazingly low in the $2/gallon range in South Africa, the US, and Ireland to a high of something close to $7/gallon in St. Helena. We sometimes fuel at Marine fuel docks, sometimes have trucks deliver bulk fuel directly to the boat, and sometimes have had a barge come out to Dirona to fuel us. Perhaps our most unusual fueling is in an open ocean swell off the coast of St. Helena from a large fuel barge. Having big fenders came in handy that day.
When we go to a Marina, we book in advance. When anchoring, we just go where is a good location that isn’t in use. We usually have cruising guides for the countries we are visiting to help us find good locations that are worth visiting.
World-wide have found local residents of countries we visit friendly, engaging, and often interested in the boat and the trip.
Hi James and Jennifer
Glad to hear you have a bit of calm water after the past few weeks of wind. This really is a poor summer, even by our standards. I had high hopes for September but temps are now well below average with night frost even appearing in the forecasts. After a poor July / August, we sometimes get what we call an “Indian Summer” which is fine weather in September, but it’s not going to happen this year. Anyway, I can see from the blog that you guys are having a great time regardless of the weather.
I couldn’t help notice your very impressive 29-gallon portable gas tank, I remember seeing those in US boating catalogs but we could never buy one in the UK. A lot of guys running sports boats and ribs here would kill for one of those because petrol is virtually unavailable dockside in most of the UK except for a few large marinas, where it is sold at a hefty markup.
The reason we cant get them in the UK is that the law prevents you from storing more than 60 lts in any container, but it talks about 30lt max for a demountable boat tank. I don’t imagine you will have any trouble up in Scotland but the authorities and rules at pumps in England are likely to be enforced a lot more strictly. I attach the relevant document for your information.
Many fuel stations in UK towns limit plastic containers to 5lts ( 1 imp gallon! )
There have been a few fires in UK marinas this summer so if you are docked in England you might want to keep that big boy out of sight!
Have fun and thanks again for the blog.
By international agreement, most countries will allow foreign flagged vessels to operate as long as they are in compliance with the rules of their country of origin. If anyone is uncomfortable filling our tender fuel container, we would be happy to limit the fill to 30 liters. Thanks for the note of caution Robin.
How is return trip so far? It looks a slow and little bouncy but with a tail wind. Dirona running well?
Hi Timothy. Conditions are incredibly good. Near flat water and we’re loping along at only 1600 RPM (about 95 hp) but running along at 7.0 kts. The wind is bouncing around between 3 and 5 kts. The sun just set and it was a beautiful, bright orange orb slowly settling into the sea behind us. It’s a very nice night. We’ll arrive in the Orkney Island group tomorrow morning.
An amazing weather window, are you planning to stay in Longhope?
Do you travel regardless of the weather, if time is not a constraint are there conditions that would cause you to wait?
You are 100% right Mike. The weather has been amazing and, around this area, currents can run upwards of 8 kts so it’s super important that we avoid wind against current and we’ll also not be able to make much headway against currents that fast. On the way here, it was dead flat with a strong current behind us and we were doing 13.5 kts at only 1500 RPM.
We don’t intentionally travel in poor weather. We tend to explore an area and time our trips between areas to periods where the weather at least reasonable. And, where current are strong, we’ll try to optimize for them as well but it’s the weather that we watch most closely.
We are now on anchor just off Longhope and we’re planning to takes our bikes in and do a peddle around the island.
Is your frig/freezer system set up to run on 12 or 24 volts as opposed to 120 v. shore power? Thanks
The fridge runs on 120V 60hz. Like most US houses, we have both 240VAC for large appliances like ovens and dryers and a 120V system for lower draw appliances. On the direct current side, most of the boat runs on 24VDC but there is also a small 12VDC system for gear not available in 24V.
Your maps are very effective, what does each of the colour tracks represent? How do you record the different types and publish them?
Mike, there are two basic type of tracks we show: 1) tracks made by Dirona, and 2) personal tracks which might be boat, airplane, train, walking, bicycle, bus, taxis or any other form of transit other than Dirona. Dirona tracks are organized into groups of tracks we call trips. These are the set of trips that involve our exploring a specific area. These tracks left by Dirona are blue for the selected set which is the most recent unless you navigate somewhere else and red for all the remainder. Just scale the maps site out to show the entire world and you’ll see lots of red tracks and of which can be selected.
Personal track have the most recent track shown in green and older tracks in turquoise. If you hover the cursor over any personal track, it’ll turn yellow so you can see it separate from the rest.
Dirona tracks are produced by custom software that is primarily used for other purposes — the tracks produced are just a side effect of a broader system. This software takes all data off boat-wide NMEA2000 data communications bus and stores it in a database every 5 seconds. This data includes all data from all the main engine, wing engine, generator, all electrical systems, all navigation systems, the electrical systems, and many other discrete devices in the boat. The data in the database data is used by other custom software systems to track historical changes, alert on problems, set indicator lights, send warning email, auto-start the generator when the battery discharge, shed power load when starting to reach the limits of the current boat power source, etc. A tiny part of this data is auto-uploaded to the web site to show the track on the map at //mvdirona.com/maps using a combination of google maps and custom code shown inside WordPress (the blog software).
The personal tracks are produced by a really nice little program that ran on Android phones called “My Tracks” — unfortunately Google stopped supporting this app and it’s no longer available from the Google Playstore. But we got lucky anb found they had open sourced an earlier version of My Tracks so we did a private build which we side loaded so we now have our own version of My Tracks that we continue to use.
Does your system back up navigation references to a portable drive should there be a natural disaster black out???? Lets hope an asteroid doesn’t clobber earth & screw up our compasses! Or worse yet the heavens give us the finger. Live long!
Yes. Everything on the boat is stored locally on RAID6 which can operate through two disk failures without data loss. All of that data is also backed up to Amazon Web Services S3 where it is stored in multiple independent data centers. It’ll take a big asteroid before we start loosing data 🙂
Is raid6 portable & compatible with all or most OS systems?
Have you yet sailed over any areas where your currently cruising that have effected compass readings?
The central file store used on Dirona is a Synology 416 running RAID6. It can be read by both Windows and Linux systems and we have many of both on board. All on board systems backup to this central file store.
There are many areas marked on the charts as having a magnetic disturbance — these seem fairly common. Our primary heading indicator is a Furuno SC-30 satelite compass. This device computes position, heading, and speed using time differentials between two different GPS receivers.We use the system for it’s increased position accuracy over simple GPS. It also makes the boat more or less immune to magnetic disturbances and their impact on compasses.
The backup to the SC-30 are multiple discrete electronic compasses and multiple redundant GPSs. There is a standard magnetic compass on board as a tool of last resort and, of course, it would be impacted by local magnetic disturbances.
Hows the Internet access where your at ?? Or do you rely solely on satellite?? Any challenges with reception such as mountainous regions??
Have you done any fishing in those areas if so whats your favorite catch? Do those general jurisdictions require fishing permits??
It depends where we are. Ireland is very well connected via cellular so something close to 3/4 of the data we moved while in Ireland was over cell networks. In Scotland, cell coverage is less common especially in the Outer Hebrides Island. We currently have cellular connectivity but most of the time we have been on satelite only so we are running a very big bill this month.
We are big users of KVH Mini VSAT: http://www.kvh.com/Leisure/Marine-Systems/Phone-and-Internet/mini-VSAT-Broadband.aspx.
TracPhone V11-Ip & bundle systems are impressive ! Considering
Knowing what you know now about your current dinghy what modifications would you be looking for in your next purchase of a new dinghy
It’s funny you should ask that. Our current tender was delivered in early summery 1999 and it now has just under 600 hours on it. I’m starting to think about replacement. All three compartments have just started to leak and it looks like the fabric is sufficiently worn that it is just seeping air everywhere. It’s still solid and I can easily get another year out of it but, depending on pricing, we may replace it soon. When we do replace it, we’ll go with AB Alumina 12 ALX. The only mods we like on our tenders are: 1) locking storage areas, 2) battery meter so it’s super clear if the battery is on and what level it is at, 3) depth sounder, 4) trim tabs, and 5) off engine canister type fuel filter.
Our current tender is powered by a Honda 40. The Alumina 12 ALX has a max engine size of 30 hp so we’ll probably go with a Yamaha 30 outboard.
Gauges, impeller, bilge pump, oil and an anode. At least your seals were sleeping and did not need to be replaced.
Yeah. Overall the boat has been pretty stable of late. We’re caught up on all the small jobs but have a few big jobs that we will want to get to but arent’t really urgent: 1) needs a full wax, 2) will need a bottom paint before next summer, 3) main engine injector change and rocker arm carrier gasket change, 4) crane extension has siezed fasterners that need to be drilled out, and 5) there are early signs that the house bank batteries are on their last 6 months or so. All the small issues are caught up. The boat doesn’t take that much work but, when it’s us doing all the service, there are always some items pending.
I can’t tell from the picture if there is any magnesium left on that anode or it’s simply calcium but, even if there is it had done about all it was going to do for you.
Having been in there almost 8 years that’s actually a pretty good run but I’d recommend checking it again about the 3-4 year mark. Ideally you don’t want any of the steel rod that holds the magnesium on showing.
I’ve seen worse .
Maybe it’s just me but, I seem to read a lot about impellor failures on Dirona while equipment is in use. I know at one point you’d mentioned finding some type of strainer to catch the parts.
Does there seem to be either a time or hour failure rate that would indicate a possible maintenance schedule or is it fairly random and the cost and effort be more than any gain?.
It’s a great question. Generally the industry recommends annual changes. I had a look at the failure rate and some last 2 1/2 years and some last less than a week. Since the distribution periods are so widely seperated and some have very long lives, I think it’s more economic to let them go until near failure. I have temp sensors set low to set a warning light and send email when the temp starts to climb and a impeller is probably starting to fail.
We have 3 identical Jabsco pumps so statisticaly there will be a fault every 6 to 9 months: 1) wing engine cooling, 2) generator cooling, and 3) hydralic and main engine fuel cooling.
My analsys says that if it’s disruptive to have them fail, then change them every 6 to 12 months. If it’s not really a disruption and the focus is on economics, then they are best replaced when they start to fail.That’s where we ended up.
Couldn’t help noticing your articles mentioning e-mail alerts numerous times ! Which alert module/program are you currently implementing that would route an
alert to your e-mail as well as to a bright light or sound alert from a discrepancy with the electronics, security breaches, excessive bilge water levels, overheats, fires, drift & etc. ??
I’m currently using custom software for most alerts but Maretron N2kview does this super well and can alert with lights, email, SMS, and audible alarms. N2kview also supports conditional alerts so you can set an audible alarm on low oil pressure but only if the engine is actually running.
It’s pretty ugly and should have been changed 3 years back but, hey, better now than a year fro now :-). Thanks for recommending we have a look.
Unfortunately, while in there I noticed the T&P valve is has started leaking so it’s next on the service list. I had noticed small amounts of freshwater in the bilge over the last 3 to 4 days and it appears that it’s from the water heater.
People rarely do especially on residential domestic hot water but, pressure relief valves should be tested annually and replaced every 5 years.
Watts recommends an inspection every 3 years which IMHO is redundant if they are tested annually and replaced at 5 years.
Thanks for the reference to the Watts information page on T&P valves. It’s a useful read.
This valve appears to have calcified sealing surfaces probably due to passing water for some time. Perhaps the valve has gotten weaker with time. The water is heated to 180F to 185F when underway for a long time by the engine cooling loop. This might lead to small expansion discharges that over time which eventually calcify the T&P sealing surfaces. I’ve got a new valve on order.
Euro style water heaters are fast becoming a favorite heats only water used energy efficient, compact, light weight, valve regulated heat exchange
plumb 120/vdc available! Happy moments!
The ‘Big Wheel” instantly reminded me of the Peterborogh Lift Lock on the Trent Severn Waterway in Onatrio Canada.
With admittedly lower lift this lock, opened in 1904, is an excellent example of an ‘ elegant low tech’ solution to a large lift distance. I believe the lock operated for over 80 years before requiring major maintenace. Great experience to ‘ride’ in!
Pretty cool Rod. We did cruise parts of the Trent Severn 30 years ago and would love to return but with only 22′ of air draft and 5′ of water draft, we’ll need a different boat for that trip.
You are unlucky with the weather in Scotland. If you have internet access and are looking for Dirona based entertainment, check out the Goodwood Reviival races for historic racing cars (1920s-1960s) which are being live streamed now and through the weekend.
We are in Storoway and planning to explore the area today. But the Barometer has fallen hard to 977mb yesterday and it’s still sitting around 983mb right now. The wind is currently around 2 kts but we certainly have some bad weather coming. Likely later today. We’ll enjoy it while we can today and perhaps tomorrow will check out the Goodwood Revival races. Thanks David.
I should have added they are on YouTube and show repeats including highlights. Its a fun event with a mix of amateurs and pros, expensive machinery and a few spectacular spins (triple 360 degree Jaguar E Type) and expensive crashes (a Ferrari was pranged yesterday).
GREAT! We watched the shootout (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQi_ANn46vk&t=44s). Single car on the track at one time from a standing start. They run them in reverse order of speed so the second half is most of the newest and best cars being driven well. Impressive to see the tiny Subuaru WRX beat some of the worlds most expensive supercars. Fun to watch.
Now this is a crossing: http://www.canoekayak.com/news/70-year-old-kayaker-crosses-ocean-keeps-going/
Yeah, those and similar stories are a constant reminder that, if we found the last crossing hard, it wasn’t THAT hard :-).
Good luck tonight. Hope you can set the alarm and get some sleep.
Yup, there probably is some level of wind that we can’t sleep through but I guess it must be more than 60 kts. We have a fair degree of confidence in our 154 lb Rocna, we have 5:1 scope out, and we are running heavy chain so we sleep soundly. Dirona being fairly heavy at 55 tons helps as well. It moves around in the heavy winds but it a nice slow and lazy movement that is easy to sleep through. We sleep great.
Where do you store the poles for the floppers?
We have only 1 pole on Dirona. That’s a common configuration but Nordhavn has built many boats with flopper stoppers on both sides. The flopper on Dirona uses just a single stand off pole that rotates 90 degrees aft when not in use and clips onto the hull more or less disappearing into the lines of the boat. We keep the lines for it in the brow storage area over the pilot house and in front of the fly bridge.
I really enjoyed the canal pictures and comments. Was there a current in the canal? Did you have to use thrusters at all or was it easy to navigate?
There is no current in the canal and it’s easy to navigate other than the bank effect occiasionaly pulling the stern over. Thrusters are helpful when navigating in the small turning basins at each end where moored boats don’t allow a straight run into the lock. The last turn at the Crinin end is tight enough that a gentle bit of bow thruster helps keep the boat central. I also noticed that a light touch of the thruster would quickly break the bank effect when it begins to suck the boat over — at these speeds the rudder doesn’t have much water passing over it and the thrusters are particularly effective.
Just read through your stuff whilst on holiday here in Mallorca. My boat is moored at the marina in Greenock you visited and I was amused to see where you had sailed from.. Good luck sailing the dream !
We’re having a ball in general and really enjoyed our time in your Marina. Being near a train station makes longer trips easy and allows a quick and easy run into Glasgow.
I thought you guys were back at Greenock for a moment, there is another ‘expedition’ style boat in the marina – looks like the same make as yours!
Cool. What’s the boat name?
It says Rockland on the rear and reg in Fowey.
You’re right, that boat you saw in Greenock is almost identical to Dirona. Rockland is a Nordhavn 47 built just 4 years earlier than Dirona.
Three boats all from the same yard visit james watt in a matter of months!!
I agree Stephen. There are getting to be a lot of Nordhavn’s out there and an unusually large number of Nordhavn’s actually cruise and go interesting places. I’m always amazed how many we see in our travels.
Hi James and Jennifer – love the site! Thanks for all you do. While you’re in Edinburgh, the National Library has a great photographic exhibit of Shackelton’s famous Antarctic expedition with original photo plates from Frank Hurley. Worth seeing if you have time!
Thanks for the tip Jay. Ages ago I read Caroline Alexander’s The Endurance, featuring Frank Hurley’s photographs of the expedition. The story itself is incredible and Hurley’s astonishing pictures really brought it to life.
Hi James & Jennifer, Looks like you are heading up the Sound of Mull, assuming you turn north at the end past Ardnamurchan point do try and have a look at the Small Isles ( Muck, Eigg, Rum, and Canna ) Canna in particular is stunningly beautiful with a good anchorage on a transit between the two churches. Looking SE from here you get a great view of Rum. Really enjoying reading about your adventures, as we cruised the west and north coast in 2014 & 2015.
Hope you get good weather to enjoy to the max ( not great eat today I think ! )
S/Y ‘Norman James’
Rob, thanks for the recommendation. We’re likely going to head southwest from Loch Spelve to Iona Island area, and then out to the south end of the Hebrides and work north from there, so we’ll miss the Small Isles. But if we do end up in that area, we’ll be sure to check them out.
Just passed you in Loch Spelve as I drove home, lovely looking boat.
Enjoy your travels
It’s a nice area to call home Bob. We’re tucked away in here on 100 meters of anchor rode with enjoying watching the storm roll through. We saw winds to 38 kts last night. We’ll likely stay another day to let the low pressure system pass through and then head north. Thanks for saying hi.
Hope you enjoyed Canna. If you are going up the inside of the outer Hebrides from Castlebay, there is a nice ( very new ) marina in Lochboisdale. The post van does a bus service and we took it up to the airport, the minibus goes up the Atlantic side of the island stopping at every post box but the return is almost non stop. If I remember rightly, the return journey was only £3.50 each and was great fun, listening to all the locals speaking Gaelic – quite musical!. A bit further north, Stornaway is very friendly, as is Stromness in the Orkneys. Enjoy!
Rob, we did enjoy Canna–it was quite beautiful. We’re underway for Lock Skipport now and after a few “town days” in Castle Bay likely will skip Lock Boisdale. But thanks very much for the tip. We had a great time at Barra Island–we rode the bikes around the island and watched a plane land on their beach airstrip. Most unusual.
Rob, we did end up visiting the Small Isles and currently are anchored at Canna. And you’re right, the scenery is spectacular. Thanks again for the recommendation!
215 year old canal with 15 locks and 7 bridges in under 10 miles sounds awesome. You will be sitting close to the 2.2m limit? You get to do your locking? I cannot wait to see the video of this trip!
The speed limit is 4 kts rather than 4 km so it slow but not as bad as 2.2 MPH. Even the widest parts are pretty close so going 4 kts doesn’t really feel rediculously slow. Dirona runs 4 kts at about 1025 to 1050 RPM so we’re just loping along and enjoying the scenary.
Yesterday we went through 4 locks with help on three of them. When operating alone with only the two of us, it’s busy. I keep the boat where it needs to be with the engine and thruster controls and adjust the lines and Jennifer closes gates, releases the water, and open the gates in front. Since all controls are hand driven and hand powered, it’s a bit of work. I walked up and opened the second set of lock gates while we were waiting in the first lock and the gates require a strong back to push open. When they get open at 8:30am this morning, we’ll get started on today’s adventure. Dirona feels quite big in here.
Sorry, I meant the draft limit of 2.2M. I know you are close and it is freshwater so Dirona sits a little lower.
I am a fan of the Broom river cruisers over there. Are there many in the canal?
The Canal isn’t that busy right now and most boats are sailing craft so we definitely haven’t seen that many Broom River boats. However, ,I’m not sure I know the distinguishing characteristics well enough to know when I have seen one :-).
Yes, 100%, the Canal is quite shallow. We often see depths in the 8′ range and occasionally in the 7′ range. We’re currently against the dock at the Crinan end so it appears we have managed to stay off the bottom for the entire trip but you are right, the Canal is not very deep.
Hi James and Jennifer!
Fascinated looking at your canal transit. Looks like quite a challenge! I’m curious about how Dirona handles at 4 kts – do you feel like you have adequate steerage? It looks like the canal is not only narrow, but isn’t exactly straight. Are you having to use the thrusters? I don’t recall but do you need to run a generator full time to have hydraulics for the thrusters?
Dirona is perfectly happy at 3 to 4 kts but handling was still a surprisingly noticable issue on the last day in the Canal. I’ve read of “bank effect” in the past — this is the tendency for ship sterns to be pulled towards the nearest bank. This effect is important for Canal Pilots to keep an eye on when operating in narrow waterways. I’ve never felt the effect before and assumed it only applied to large ships in narrow channels. But, the water displaced by Dirona is a large percentage of the Crinan Canal and it leads to weird handling at times. If you drift 2 to 3 feet over towards one bank, the stern will pull towards it and the bow will veer off heading the boat over to the opposite bank. The lower the speed the less the impact of this effect but, even as low as the 4 kt speed limit in the canal, we felt a pronounced bank effect that I have never before experienced. I initially thought we had a steering problem but it was just the bank effect where the bow tends to push off the bank and the stern tends to “suck” towards it.
Another interesting (and related) anomaly when operating in narrow canals is the water was rushing so fast from bow to stern that it would drop by 6 to 8″ near the PH door. What appears to be happening is the passage of the boat through still water requires the water in front of the boat to get to the stern but, since the boat fills much of the canal, we build up a several inch high plug in front of the boat and the water rushes from the bow to the stern of the boat far faster than we are actually travelling.
Thank-you! That is interesting. I’m guessing that Bernoulli was having his way with the canal water as you passed and since there was a ‘constriction’ in the canal (Dirona), the water had to accelerate around it to maintain equilibrium. I’d never heard of ‘bank effect’ before – thanks for the great explanation!
Yes, good point Greg. I think the bank effect is just a specialization of the Bernoulli principal. I was surprised at what a strong effect could be felt if you get too close to one bank or the other.
James and Jennifer:
Just curious. Why did you name your cat Spitfire?
Good question on Spitfire. He was actually named by a Seattle Vet on his first visit. He was running around the examination room and, overall, massively energetic. The Vet commented “he’s a little Spitfire isn’t he?” The name stuck and 14 years later, he’s still a little Spitfire.
Ah! And I always thought it was because he was purring like a RR Merlin 16 cyl engine! 😉
Beautiful cat, my 10 year old black female cat Mokka is a big Spitfire fan and follows his adventures attentively watching the screen on my lap!
Her favorite picture is from Wellington NZ where spit was hoping to catch a seagull!
Spitfire definitely does purr up a storm. On catching Seagulls, he’s a bit optimistic. They are bigger and meaner than he is. And Spitfire carries 4 loud bells on his collar since our previous cat Gremlin did successfully catch a baby rabbit. We would really prefer that he let them live so the bell policy was put in place. Spitfire carries the bells due to behavior a generation before him.
Good to hear that the Rathlin island visit worked out OK for you. I believe you sail North next but if you can fit it in your itinerary I suggest you consider North Wales especially Snowdonia and the fine medieval castles there. Conwy castle (and its walled town) and Canaervon castle are well worth a visit. There are others too if you are gluttons for punishment, including Beaumaris and Harlech castles. The Portmeirion hotel, village and estate will probably be unlike anything else you have visited – it is south of the two castles. You would need to rent a car to get around the area.
You are right we are heading north from here to explore the west coast of Scotland and the Hebrides. We will head around Scotland to the north but will take the Caledonian Canal back to the Scottish west coast before we head back south. We plan to stop in the Isle of Man and Dublin and are still investigating other stops along the way. Thanks for passing along the tip Snowdonia and other possible stops.
I forgot to add that the Ffestiniog light railway runs from Portmadoc (near Portmeirion) to an old slate mine. If you like trains I expect you will Welsh narrow guage railways. Worth checking out. Waterford, south of Dublin, might be worth checking out too.
We’ll likely cross over from Ireland to the UK before we get to Waterford but Portmadoc and Snowdonia look like good potential stops for us. Thanks David.
Did I miss the picture of you two standing in front of a East Hamilton Street sign?
Until you asked, I hadn’t realized that we are actually moored at East Hamilton St. Thanks for pointing it out.
Hello again – I am in the last stages of making an anchor buoy + trip line and realised that I haven’t noticed your “Wilson” (//mvdirona.com/technicalarticles/WilsonAnchorBuoy.htm) in any recent pictures of Dirona at anchor. Have you stopped using an anchor buoy?
We mostly use Wilson when anchoring in high anchor loss risk areas. These are area where logging or other activity has left spirals of steel cables or other debris on the bottom and snagging is a significant possibility. It’s also helpful in crowded anchorages to help others avoid tangling with your anchor and rode. Generally, we view an anchor buoy as a good idea but it’s more work to deploy so it’s a risk/benefit decision. For many years, especially when boating in British Columbia, we used it every time we anchored but, of late, we’ve been spoiled by locations where the risk of anchor loss is low.
We are finally using our Anchor buoy (Wilson: //mvdirona.com/TechnicalArticles/WilsonAnchorBuoy.htm) again. We’re currently anchored off of Longhope in the Orkney Island group and the cruising guide says this area is known to have a foul bottom. It’s the first time we have used Wilson for a long time but it was as easy to deploy as usual.
Also, as you know, the tides and currents are big in this area so we’re making good use of Reeds Almanac. Thanks again for your contribution to our fun trip through Ireland and the UK.
Quite the journey James, glad you got to visit Glencoe one of my top 2 or 3 places in Scotland. I seem to remember you posting that you had tickets to the Edinburgh Tattoo, hope you enjoy it I know of no other event like it and the setting is spectacular to say the least.
Hey Euan, your 100% right about the Edinburgh Tattoo. We just got back from a couple of days in Edinburgh. It’s a great city and the Tattoo was excellent. We had a really good time and stopped off at the Fal