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Is your landfall at Charleston in deference to the upcoming hurricane season and needing to stay north?
No, our insurance allows us in the Hurricane zone until July 1st so that didn’t influence our crossing choices. For this crossing we planned to go south from Dublin to the Azores/Bermuda high and then west to landfall. We did want to land north of the hurricane insurance line so that we wouldn’t have to move the boat immediately. Within those constraints, Charleston seemed like a good choice. We’re it not for hurricane issues, we might have chosen to land in Florida.
HI Jennifer and James: Great to see that your passage has been smooth (relatively) smooth sailing so far.
Just wondering how does your system generate the course updates? Not the details themselves but the frequency they are posted to the site? There is no apparent pattern for these updates
Good morning Rod. Some updates are manual and some are automatic. Weather is automatic every 6 hours, route and position data is automatic and every 15 min. The fuel economy updates and pictures and trip notes are, of course, manual. In thinking this through, perhaps we should update the weather data more frequently. We’ll look at doing that.
I see that your speed has picked back up. You must have transitioned into calmer waters at are at the edge of those two weather fronts. It looks like you might get a push of 1/2 knot today. Excited to see you crossing again.
Yes, conditions are quite positive right now and we’re currently enjoying 7.8 kts. Conditions are wonderful with a very light swell and less than 5 kts of wind. Our plan is to continue to skirt the edge of the systems around and it looks like we are going to be successful at that for at least the next 4 or 5 days.
There is a low pressure system that the models show forming in the Bermuda/Florida area that may give us trouble but the weather models prediction qualities get pretty thin when looking that far ahead.
It looks like your turn to starboard put you into a 12-14 knot headwind and slowed your speed. The models show a decent swell of 4-5 feet now. I hope it all smooths out for you by the morning. At least the temps are in the high 60s!
Yes, the air temperature is already 70F and it’s only 9am. The water temperature is also much higher than we have seen for years at 74F. Conditions remain calm. It’s looking like about 5 days out until we reach the US, we’re going to have to work through some low pressure systems. Nothing big predicted but looks like we’ll be seeing some weather.
It looks like you have a gentle breeze and high cloud cover and pleasant day ahead. Five days out of the US? I was thinking twice that time so am I missing something? I calculate that you will arrive in the US with about 220 gallons of fuel remaining.
Sorry Timothy, I wasn’t sufficiently clear. What I meant is we have 5+ days of good weather but out beyound that there are big systems predicted that we’ll have to work around or might have to put up with. Your predictions on fuel look about right. We’ll be in the 250 to 350 gallon range unless we have reason to spend some of our planned reserve.
Hi to you both, I seem to recall the last oil change during passage was on the north Atlantic to Kinsale, from Dublin to the US should require 2, I’m interested to know how you plan to do this.
You are right, on one trip we did decide to shut down the main engine during a crossing because it was a nearly 600 hour crossing from St. Helena to Barbados (roughly 3,650 nautical miles).
On the current trip we went Dublin to the Azores and then changed the oil in Horta, Azores. We’re now 3 days out of Horta on route to Charlestown. We’re taking a longer path than strictly necessary working our way around weather systems but, even doing that, we’ll not need another oil change prior to arriving on the US East Coast.
You must have great conditions tonight. It looks like a clear night with Dirona dead center in the low. I see that you are running over 8 knots and at close to 1.5 mpg! As a note, I am sure you hear this all the time but, I appreciate the communication and responses while you are underway. The satellite comms and tech to keep us informed and following is amazing and always appreciated.
You are so right. Conditions are amazing. We still have to manage a system out there in our path nearly a week out but it’s looking like conditions are going to stay quite good for a while yet. This really nice.
We have now consumed 530 gallons so I plan to pump the forward fuel bladder below decks today. Thanks for the feedback on the blog. We appreciate it.
I hope the day was smooth and clear as you still look centered between the fronts. It almost looks dead calm on the model. You mentioned draining the forward bladder but I thought you had already used that fuel. The cockpit bladders at 532 gallons are next?
We did empty the forward bladder on our way south from Dublin to the Azores but we refilled our tanks and that bladder in Horta Azores. When ew left Horta we were carrying our full fuel load below decks and above. The aft two bladders will be transferred below as soon as we sufficient empty below deck tankage for them to fit with a 50 to 100 gallon safety margin. We expect we will be ready to transfer the aft tanks below Saturday or Sunday
Hi James and jennifer how’s the crossing going would you have seen the falcon 9 this morning thank you safe passage to charleston
No booster rockets seen in our area which is generally the way we like it. Conditions here are excellent with a light swell and 5 to 10 kts of wind.
thank you for the information
Hi James and Jennifer, your latest crossing has been great to follow. Spitfire looks great! Your experience with PredictWind has motivated me to use it again. Tracy and I left Palm Beach a couple weeks ago and are slowly making our way North. Unfortunately we’ll be past SC by the time you arrive but hopefully our paths will cross again later this season. Our current plans have us in Maine for the month of August. Have a continued good voyage.
Good to hear that you, Tracy, and your new boat are all heading North. We’ll hope to catch up with you both on your return trip.
Nicely done Jennifer and James
Still enjoying your international crusing, engineering, exploring, drinking and eating. We miss it.
Phil and Gerri Bradshaw – ex N52 “Mermaid Explorer” and now with many grandchildren- we love them all dearly, but it did curtail our cruising life! :)
We’re missing the restaurants and pubs part of our normal routine and we miss them as well. Hopefully, we’ll get vaccinated when we arrive into the US and can get back closer to our normal travel rhythm. Our current plan is to get back underway once this weather systems passes through and, in the interim, we’ll have some time to enjoy the Azores. Thanks for the post-crossing greeting and all the best from Dirona.
Hi James and Jennifer seems like you’ve had a pretty good run from Dublin, I’ve been following along the way, wish you a safe journey across the Atlantic for the remaining part of your return to the USA👍👍
Thanks for the best wishes on our latest cross Atlantic run. This morning we arrived into Horta. Most of the trip south from Dublin was excellent. The weather was just kicking up a bit in the last 24 hours as a low pressure system comes through. We’ll stop here in Horta, get fueled up for the next leg of nearly 3,000 nautical miles to South Carolina, and enjoy the Azores a bit while waiting for the weather to improve again before getting back underway.
👍👍 I was keeping an eye on your trip from Dublin, checked in a couple of times a day, also followed the “PredictWind App” looked like it was going to be a lot rougher near the end but seems like it cleared fairly well. It got sort nasty behind you hitting the south coast of Ireland. I’ll watch for you leaving Horta and hopefully you’ll have a great journey across the Atlantic. Maybe you’ll even make it to Georgian Bay and the North Channel but you’ll be hard to please with nice scenery after the last few years in Finland and Norway etc. Anyway safe travels and enjoy Horta.
Thanks for following along. You’re right that Norway was amazing but we lived in Toronto for 10 years so we know the Georgian Bay area is beautiful and we do intend to visit the great lakes sometime over the next couple of years.
It is so great to see you heading back and that the waves have settled down. Safe travels to the three of you!
Thanks Timothy. Conditions are better than we deserve right now but we’ll take every good day we can get.
We’re both looking forward to the next chapter in the adventure where we spend the next couple of years in North America.
It looks as if you will arrive about an hour after sunrise. Hopefully you will check in easily, pass the test and get some well deserved rest. I am excited to hear more about the plan for the trip home!
Yes, you nailed it. We arrived in just after 8am and are tied off on the commercial dock. We’ll get picked up for the COVID test this afternoon and plan to fuel tomorrow morning.
Does Spitfire have any say when it comes to MAYDAY? lol I love the ditch bag for Spitfire!
All three of us are pretty much in alignment that avoiding leaving the boat at sea is a primary goal so we’ll work pretty hard to keep things operating correctly and to avoid conditions the boat can’t handle.
It’s great out here Today. We’re 172 nautical miles north of Horta Azores and there is a light swell and 10 kts of wind on a clear day. Just the way we like it. We should arrive into Horta tomorrow morning just after 8am local time.
Hi James, Taking a look at the latest fuel status report, you appear to have used 2,896 ltrs and still have 7,351 ltrs available. Are you using fuel bladders for this trip?
Yes, we’re carrying our full fuel capacity even though we don’t even need all the fuel we can carry below deck for this short 1300 nautical mile trip. However, we’ll need the full fuel load for the second leg of the trip from the Azores to the US but since fuel is just about exactly 2x more expensive in the Azores than the excellent price we were able to get in Dublin, we’re “tankering” the entire load south with us. We’ll save enough on the fuel required for the second leg to pay for more than 1/2 of the first leg.
Having the capacity to move a lot of fuel definitely has up sides. Another advantage of ample fuel is we’re currently running at higher power levels than our normal ocean crossing pace and, as a consequence, only getting 1.1 nautical miles per gallon.
Ahhh, reading further I see you have already mentioned you are using the bladders!!
Yes, this is the 7th time we’ve used the bladders over the last 12 years. We continue to like the additional flexibility they offer us.
Hello James and Jennifer and Happy Walpurgis Night !
Throwback to 2019 when you where here in Aland visiting us.
We are spending the weekend in Kokar with our RV, trying out a new two floor sauna they built there. Are you going back to the west coast or staying on the east side? Safe travels to you! Best Regards Sam
Hi Sam. It’s great to hear from you and, as we recall, every Walpurgis Night is a Happy Walpurgis Night!
We really had a great time visiting you, the Aland Maritime Safety Center, and Aland in general. We’re currently heading back to the North American East Coast via the Azores. Our plan is to spend a year or two on the East Coast before returning to Europe via the Northern Route through Greenland and Iceland.
Please wish everyone back at the Safety Center the best and we hope you have a great time in Kokar at the 2 floor Sauna.
I may have missed the mention but is seems you are on your way home! Safe journey.
Hey Etienne. Yeah, we are heading back to North America. There is lots of exploring we been wanting to do on the east coast and crossing European borders by boat is very high friction right now, so we decided to get under way. Thanks for the well wishes. Conditions are wonderful right now.
Hi Jennifer and James
there’s a view from a webcam in dun laoghaire with mv dirona
thank you for an excelleny blog about your travels safe passage back to the US
Cool. Nice perspective over the Dun Laoghaire harbour. Thanks for pointing it out to us.
your welcome James hamilton
forgot to say mv dirona is hard to see she’s above the stern of the yacht pandora behind a wall best view is at high tide
When you have an archelogical find you often use dendrochronology to locate and date a find.
Such has been the case of a viking ship found in Roskilde Fjord.close to Copenhagen Denmark. It was long a big question where ship had been build. But through dendrochronology it was found that the ship was build in Ireland – at Glendalough in the year 1042.
Roskilde, and the Viking Museum there, were on our list of places to visit when we were in Denmark, but we didn’t quite fit it in. And now we’re moored not far from where one of those ships was built. Thanks for the information.
Hi…..I have been following your journey for a few years now.
I first seen you guys from Boston to Newfoundland.
We passed each other off Saint Pierre
I was on bridge watch for ferry NS to NL
That does go back a while but we do remember that trip well. We had a great time in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. So much so that we’re heading back to North America this year and will cross the Atlantic back to the US east coast this summer. Hopefully Canada will open up for cruising next year and, if so, our boats may pass yet again.
Thanks for the greeting on the blog and it’s great you are still following the blog.
Hi James and Jennifer
We hope that you guys are well.
Our N6052 has been stored on land, fortunately just outside the Nordhavn Europe office, for over a year now due to the pandemic travel restrictions. We were here in Canada last March and our own reluctance to fly prior to vaccination, combined with the current travel restrictions have kept us away from the UK. The third wave here is now quite severe and I have been called back from retirement to work as a vaccinator as they were very short of GPs and nurses in the clinics.
We are now starting to plan our move to the boat and wanted to ask your advice on shipping a pallet of supplies from Toronto to Southampton. Is there a company or network of companies that you have found to be particularly good to deal with over the years? Do you have any advice on the packing of the pallet or should we just leave that to the shipper/broker/freight forwarder?
Thank you very much
Stuart and Liz
MV Bluenose N6052
Sorry you can’t get to your boat for so long, but at least it somewhere safe where it can be looked after.
For shipping a pallet, we’ve found better results by working from the destination side, so that we are contracting with the locals, rather than working from the source side. Since we often have to either store the pallet or have it redirected locally, being the customer of the local company works well. The local shipping company has partners in the US that will handle the pickup on that side. For our past few shipments into NL and Norway, we have found a customs broker at the destination and then asked them for a recommendation on a shipper.
To find a broker, we typically just do a web search, contact a bunch and ask for prices. Most countries have some form of temporary import process for visiting yachts where you can bring the goods in duty/tax free. Sometimes you need to pay a deposit. So we ask cost for import/export with a rough list of the items and ask for an overview of the process. We pick one based mostly on responsiveness, cost and “interest” in the job. For some companies single pallet shipments are on the small side for them. The cost is usually less than $500 and can depend a little on how much you are bringing in and whether you will provide the Harmonized Tariff Codes for the items. If the brokers do it, they might charge a little more depending on the number of items.
We’ve shipped twice to the UK, but both times were parts shipped directly from the supplier and we didn’t arrange the shipping ourselves, and we handled the customs side only on one as the other was shipped through UPS and they handled it. The first time we did it using the EU temporary import process, where the goods are effectively imported with a deposit and we had to explicitly export them from UK/EU to get the deposit back. This was a bit of a pain as we exited the EU at NL and had to find an NL customs officer to enter the export into the system, but with UK outside EU will be simpler. We used Charlie Milligan at SeaAvia (Charlie@seaavia.co.uk) for a customs broker. For the second shipment the parts came in as TAD (Transit Accompanying Document) which basically says the goods are being transported through the country, but will not be imported. This process required no deposit and felt simpler, but broker could advise.
It’s important that the pallet be packed securely and you can do this yourself and many offer it as a service. Because it’s important the packing be done well, we usually ask for pictures. Then our local shipper at the destination arranged with their partner in the US to pick up the pallet and deliver it to the destination. We usually find the whole process takes 6-8 weeks from ordering what we want to actually receiving it, although the last one was a little longer due to pandemic delays.
Thank you very much Jennifer. We have already had advice from Charlie Milligan regarding the Brexit implications on our Temporary Import/Admission status of the boat. I had not realized that Charlie was a freight forwarder/broker as I had a different email address for him than the SeaAvia address that you mentioned. We will gladly rely on Charlie to organize our shipment. Thank you kindly once again for all of your advice. All the best, Stuart
There are two breakers on the junction box. One is a push button breaker that is labeled fuse and other is a two pole breaker. The former is prone to nuisance releases when they get old and especially if the generator enclosure temperatures have been high. The other one, the two poll breaker protects the field circuit. Which one is causing you problems.
On most of this issue, you need more data. You’ll need a good quality multi-meter and you’ll need a clamp on ammeter. The symptoms you are describing could all be closely related and all part of the same problem or they could just be independent issues. The noise at the raw water booster pump might be new or it may be that it’s always been that way and you are only noticing it now because you are investigating this problem and observing these systems much more closely. My normal approach to chasing down these problems is to 1) fix every problem that I know about that is even only possibly related on the belief that the more faults that you have out there, the more confusing it can be to find the problem you are after (fix everything), and 2) when everything is operating on spec and what is left is a difficult to isolate problem or, especially difficult, an intermittent problem like you have. At that point, I come up with hypothesis or possible faults that could cause these symptoms and then think through, if that was a problem, how could I detect it?
For example, if your theory is the raw water pump is drawing too much current and releasing the breaker, then you should put an ammeter on the raw water pump feed wire and watch it on start up where the draw is usually highest. If that doesn’t show anything, I leave it there and watch it when the pump starts making noise. In this case, the breakers you are seeing releasing don’t feed the raw water booster pump, so we know for sure these are not related by it’s an example of how I might chase down the issues.
In your case, I’m assuming it’s the double pole breaker that is releasing. This is caused by generator field winding excess draw. But we also know the inverter is cutting out. This could be many different things and you need to do more sleuthing. However, I have seen these two faulting together so this is one possible answer: The generator Automatic Voltage Regulator (AVR) does have a failure mode where voltage starts to vary greatly and sometimes go quite high. The Inverter will reject poor quality power so, if the AVR does allow the voltage to swing, you will see the inverter cut out rarely. And, if the generator voltage is unstable, in rare cases it can cause the double pole field breaker to release. This did happen on Dirona, I replaced the AVR and it’s been fine since so this is certainly a candidate problem that would yield those symptoms. The bad news is an AVR is $500. In my opinion, AVRs fail often enough that it’s worth having a spare and, if you do have a spare, you can try it since it’s only a 10 min job to change it.
Intermittent problems are the very hardest to chase down but the best approach is to get more detailed and quantitative data and develop theories on what the problem might be and then use multi-meter tests or other data to confirm or reject your hypothesis. Sometimes when I have a spare, I might even try changing a part if that looks easier than chasing the issue through detailed measurement. Good luck!
You should check out this documentary. Really insightful
We’ll check it out. Thanks!
Welcome in Dun Laoghaire :) There are a couple of nice places within a couple of kilometers like Dalkey and Killiney Strand (6 km). Perfect for a stroll on a beautiful day like today. Enjoy your stay!!
Thanks for the welcome and we always appreciate recommendations. Much appreciated.
Hi James. I hope you all are enjoying Dublin. My sister and family live in Drogheda, which is about 35 mins north of Dublin. My nephew works for our friends at Intel :) Let me know if you need some pointers for Dublin and the surrounding area and I’ll put you in touch with my nephew. I am sure you all can figure things out with COVID and the associated restrictions.
If you have a chance, I would visit Monasterboice, which is close enough to Dublin. My sister took me there a few years ago. It has the world’s oldest Celtic crosses there, which are fascinating.
Things are still fairly locked down in much of Europe including Ireland but thanks for the recommendation. And, since we are unlikely to get vaccinated between here and our return to the US this summer, we’re being a bit cautious ourselves.
Okay, safe travels back to the US. Are you headed back to Seattle?
Our plan is to get back to the east coast of the US before June, get vaccinated, and then fly back to Seattle for 3+ weeks in town.
My wife and I met you on your return to the US mainland in West Palm Beach a few years ago, been following you and your tremendous adventures! I see that you’re back in Northern Ireland, that’s our native country. There’s a great local farm market “Farm Gate Fruit And Veg” they’ve got fresh fish too, it’s at 26 Inishargy Rd. Kircubbin not far from where you’re anchored. Just thought I’d suggest it as I see lots of great feedback about them.
Enjoy your voyage back across the Atlantic and wish you a safe voyage! Take care.
Things are pretty locked down at this point so the market isn’t really an option at this point. Perhaps on our next trip once the Pandemic is behind us all. Thanks very much for the local knowledge — we appreciate the advice and many of the best parts of our trip around the world came from recommendations like yours.
Thank you for the consistent update on your adventures. Recently retired I’ve been reviewing Yachts You’ve convinced me on the Ship to invest in. I really enjoy following your story.
Thanks for the feedback on the blog Mark. This trip has been an amazing decade for us. We feel super lucky.
It’s probably not worth the effort but you could always try to buy additional time on your lights finding used or open carton stuff to salvage what you need.
I doubt it would be worth the effort trying to extend something you know is out of production and ending it’s lifespan to me but it’s an option.
I had found some Ventura in stock at companies that specializing in buying old stock and marking it up. It just seems crazy to pay more for than list for an out of use part. The price you found is around 60% of list and far more reasonable. Thanks for opening up another option that we hadn’t seen.
While I actually agree 100%, I’ve been known throughout the years to benefit from that form of marketing. Generally, it’s a highly specialized market, to a highly selective type of client, and not something I would consider lighting fixtures to be a part of. If you really need to see that bad you can use a flashlight.
Over the decades I’ve been in this business I’ve always salvaged or retained key control components left over from an installation or retrofit. Most of the time it’s simply something that I either end up scrapping or my kids will one day however, there can be a market for it.
A well-known equipment and engine manufacturer has a plant I do work at which, produces various components for some of its products.
Their risk assessment in the event production was lost for as little as 4 weeks at that plant, was recently calculated at as much as one billion dollars world-wide.
Several years back a control board which had been out of production for decades, fried on their process chiller. A new process chiller was over 12 weeks out and only by paying to have a factory stop current production and retool for that product (not cheap believe me).
I sold them a sealed OEM control board that had been laying around my shop for decades. Both of us were extremely happy with the immediate outcome. I was also able to sell them a replacement and redundant chiller a couple of months later.
Yes, good example Steve. We often do something similar where, if we have an expensive part that is mission critical, like our Furuno Black box navigation equipment, we buy a cheap used unit to back it up. We operated it for the first 4 years from new, knowing we could buy a new one if it failed. Then when new non-compatible gear arrived, we purchased a used piece of equipment from someone switching everything out for the new version so we now have an entire backup unit that is less expensive than even a trivial component of that unit like the graphics processing card.
Hi James- Tim on Piredmus N63-06 cruising the BC coast. We have a Maretron system run by an MBB200. It is getting slow and thinking about upgrading. Would you recommend the MBB300 or a computer. If the computer, what specs would you recommend and are you using aboard Dirona.
Hey Tim. Good hearing from you. Our approach has been to use small PCs. There is nothing wrong with using the MBB200/MBB300 series but I’ve had several people report they were having flickering screens and slow updates on N2kview using these offerings. I’ve never tried one so can’t say with certainty but it sounds like they might be a bit light on CPU resources. On Dirona we use the Lenovo ThinkStation P320 Tiny (https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1350651-REG/lenovo_30c20016us_p320_tiny_i7_6700t.html). It’s no longer available but this upgraded option looks like a good choice: https://www.lenovo.com/us/en/think-workstations/thinkstation-p-series-tiny-/ThinkStation-P340-Tiny/p/33TS3TP340T. Another option is the Intel NUC series (https://www.amazon.com/Intel-NUC10I5FNK-Business-i5-10210U-Bluetooth/dp/B088MM5H99).
James….does your Maretron computer have to be rebooted every so often because it locks up and won’t process data to the screen or send out notification emails? My MBB200 seams to do this regularly at about 4-6 weeks without fail and i have heard this with other MBB200 & MBB300 systems. It is annoying. And I don’t know when it will occur which is silly as when you need an alert sent, it won’t work.
No, we run N2kview on a Lenovo Thinkstation P320 Tiny (current model: https://www.amazon.com/Lenovo-30D1000SUS-P330-W10P-512GB/dp/B07VYTDKFQ). This solution will run for months at a time without issue. I’ve never seen N2kview go down. Unfortunately, the embedded computers used by Maretron are light on resources and frequently lock up. I would recommend replacing the MBB200/MBB300 with the combination of a N2kview and Thinkstation Tiny or Intel NUC.
Search for MBB200 on this page and you’ll see some additional feedback: https://mvdirona.com/general-comments/.
Yes, I think I will replace the MBB200 with a PC. One other question on Maretron….I notice on your screen, a number of the digital components for temperature & electrical readings etc have a “MIN” & “MAX” number on the lower part of the readout. Is this a Maretron feature in one of the latest updates to the software or is this something that you have programmed into the system? I searched the Maretron site for latest changes to the software and did not see that feature, which is a good thing to have. Thanks.
Good plan. N2kview on a reasonably powered and well serviced PC is very stable. Good eye on the min/max displays. They are WONDERFUL and probably the best part of the next release which is very good across the board. We’ve been running a beta copy of 6.0.15 for many months now and it’s never glitched or shown the slightest problem so it’s definitely ready for production use. If it’s not already out there on their download site, I’m sure it will be soon. When 6.0.15 is available, you be able to get access to this feature. And, I suspect if you said you saw it on Dirona, you might be able to convince the support team to get you early access.
I love the Maretron gear overall but I’m not a big fan of the MBB. I bought a new MBB 3 years ago. It was basically DOA. It would run for a few days then lock up. It took weeks of pushing on their support to take it back on RMA. When they finally did, the diagnosis was: Oops we put the wrong firmware in it. They reflashed it and sent it back. That was 4 weeks of downtime. Three years later the MBB is dead again, like really lights-out dead. Back again on RMA. This time: sorry, it’s unrepairable, but we’ll be happy to sell you a new one.
I think they have a serious QC problem; bottom line is that 30 months of useful life on a $1,300 product is so far beyond unacceptable that there isn’t even a word for it.
In the end I convinced them to comp me a new license of N2Kview so I could run the s/w on my pc. Normally the last thing I want to depend on is a PC but in this case it appears to be a much more economical and reliable choice.
Buy the software and an inexpensive pc if you don’t already have one.
I am sorry to hear your european adventures have been cut short by frustrations.
I am curious to whether you considered a Northern route home via Iceland and Greenland?
I am imaging this route could be opened up for smaller motor boats with improvements in weather monitoring and prediction. The main objection seemed to be the uncomfortable northery swell, not ice as i had suspected.
Us returning to the US is driven by a number of factors including it challenging to move between countries and even entering a marina in Scotland and Ireland is fairly challenging to arrange with most being closed. We’re also interested in cruising into the great lakes, spending more time in Newfoundland and visiting Greenland. And I need to spend 3 weeks in Seattle in July and won’t fly until vaccinated and vaccination in Europe is lagging badly. If we can get back to the US in late May or early June I expect vaccination will be easy to arrange at that time which we view as a prerequisite to flying back to Seattle for some work I need to do in July. All these factors make returning to the US for a while seem like a good solution.
We have always intended to return to the US from Europe via the Iceland and Greenland route you mentioned. However, the timing doesn’t work for that routing on this trip. The Newfoundland current brings down Ice well into July so that route isn’t a good one in early summer (Canada ice report: https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/ice-forecasts-observations/latest-conditions.html).
Wanting to return in late Spring rather than late summer prevents using that routing on this trip but we still intend to go to Greenland and there is a very good chance we’ll go back to Europe via that route. At right time of the year, ice isn’t a problem on that routing and distances are short enough that the weather reports can be fairly good so it’s actually quite a safe route.
Welcome back to Ireland! I see above you mention visiting Kinsale again this trip. If it works for your itinerary I would highly recommend visiting Dingle. Being very familiar with both towns and having visited both when restrictions eased here last September I feel Dingle had the edge for takeaway food options and isolated walks on the Slea Head. While both are destination towns, Kinsale was busier with day trippers from Cork city. The marina in Dingle is also generally less busy vs. Kinsale if you’re hoping to minimise contacts.
Dingle sounds good and we’ve not been there before so we’ll investigate that option. Thanks for your suggestion.
Welcome to S’ford Lough – shame about restrictions but hope you have a pleasant stay. The Cuan Bar in S’ford Town does carry out meals by a very good chef.
Thanks for the welcoming note. We’re really enjoying being in the area. Lots to see and enjoy. Our only regret is we can’t stop in at the local pub but, other than that, we’re loving our time here.
I saw you are using Sena Expand headsets. May I ask why you chose the Expand rather than the SPH10?
We bought a pair of the Sena SPH10 headsets exactly 5 years ago. They started failing last year and are now totally useless so we have to choose what to replace them with.
Hi Michal. We’re far from experts in experts in communications head sets having relied on voice up until now but we really like them. We chose the Expand due to them being very inobtrusive. The mic is closer to the ear and less obvious, and we like the styling and pricing slightly more. So far, we’re really impressed with them. We never really missed not having remote communications but, now that we do have it, it’s clearly better. We end up communicating more and it’s nice to be able to say more and not have to project our voice through the doorway.
We also find them useful when working in the engine room or laz on jobs that needs to have someone else at the helm or helping in a different room. So far, they are a real win.
Hi James, Thanks for this update. Wet Wombat (N5279) has just arrived in Melbourne and been released from quarantine and we are now working on the commissioning and initial setup. Jenny just asked me today on our return from the boat to get on with the job of sourcing headsets!
Congratulations on the arrival of your boat in Melbourne.
I think you’ll like the headsets. The 52 is small enough you can operate without them and we have for a decade but having them is much better.
Reading through your Snow, Ice and heat post got me wondering. How much trouble do you have with damage shipping items halfway across the globe?
Do you have much trouble solving the issue if there is?
It’s amazing at times the amount of damage we see on equipment being moved across a couple of States.
Hey Steve. We have had amazingly good luck over the years. We have had some delays but very close to no damage probably due to them being packed well at the sending side. A couple of times the pallet base has been broken up but it’s still been serviceable by a forklift. The only package where we have taken some damage is the cylinder head. The package was a masterpiece of strength but there was a delicate rear main seal crankshaft collar worth about $85 that was dented and probably can no longer be used. Included with that part was a PTO clutch and a cylinder head both of which are quite heavy and we suspect one of those might have shifted slightly damaging the seal part. So far, we’ve not needed the seal part (I have an ongoing experiment on crankcase pressure that continues to be successful).
Other than the slight damage above, we have done 9 international shipments some as large as 2 cubic meters without damage. We have had some delays where a longshoreman’s strike in LA delayed a shipment to Australia for 6 weeks and that last shipment was delayed 2 months. Preparing these packages for shipment is a bit laborious in looking up all the required Harmonized Tarif Codes and even more complex if dangerous goods are being shipped. And, on clearing in, the complexity ranges from nearly none to requiring enough paper work to require a professional.
Overall, we feel like we have been pretty lucky but we’re still looking forward to arriving back in North America where most things we need are available via Amazon Prime.
Just to remind you that you are in Downpatrick, Ireland you have left GB behind you,
Yes, understood. We haven’t actually been to the island of Great Britain this year. We are currently sailing south from Scotland on route to the United States passing through Northern Ireland. I presume you might be referring to us currently flying a UK courtesy flag. We fly courtesy flags out of respect for the places we visit and certainly don’t intend to insult anyone. We’ll take it down.
Very confusing so you are forgiven! I think you will find that in Stornoway you were in GB? This will help; facts from the cartographers at the Ordnance Survey.
Oh, the Red Ensign is the correct courtesy flag for Northern Ireland.
Yes, thanks. We do have a do have UK courtesy flag for when sailing in the UK and an Irish courtesy flag for when sailing in Ireland.
So why did you take down your UK courtesy flag?
We fly courtesy flags as a courtesy to the country we are visiting. In Northern Ireland, not everyone appreciates us flying that flag, so we don’t.
James and Jennifer,
With your return to North America Tracy and I are looking forward to getting together again soon somewhere along the Eastern seaboard. We’re planning to leave Palm Beach in about 3 weeks and make our way North, eventually to Maine on our new 68, Sunday Morning. Many of your ideas and suggestions on charging systems and flexibility were incorporated into our new build. Thank you again.
It’s great to hear your Nordhavn 68 has arrived. We’re really looking forward to seeing it and catching up with you and Tracy. Jen and I hope to see you on the East Coast later this year.
Hi James, I am linking our virtual showroom in this comment for your thoughts on our hybrid Emachine. I am curious on your thoughts about it’s applicability in recreational marine. We created a virtual showroom since we have been unable to travel for expositions. I know you will probably understand our electrified power system better than 99% of the folks visiting the site so your input would be appreciated. https://www.scania.com/group/en/home/products-and-services/features/marine-power-solution-showroom.html
The approach of putting the electric motor between the internal combustion engine and the transmission is a nice approach in that it makes it easy to sell configurations with and without the eMachine and makes application design easier. Being able to instantly deliver 1500 Nm (1475 ft lbs) and 280kw (375 hp) is impressive.
In marine applications, I could see it used when entering and exiting the marina, when trolling or operating at low speeds, and right sizing engines. By right sizing the engine, I mean sizing the engine for typical load rather than rarely used peak load. To get peak load, you would run both the eMachine and the diesel. In low speed operations in marina, only run the eMachine. And when cruising long distance at constant speeds where range and efficiency is most important, just run the internal combustion engine.
For over the road trucking the gains are even more exciting. When operating in heavily mountainous terrain, instead of configuring 700 hp a fleet owner can go with 400 hp but drivers would still have 775 hp available when needed on tough hills. The fuel efficiency of a small diesel with the peak power of the biggest. The internal combustion engine doesn’t even have to run at lights, in stop and go traffic, on when maneuvering at low speeds.
I didn’t find a lot of detail on the 32 kWhr battery pack but it’s a good sized unit. I need one for the house battery system but I’ll need 24V to 650V step up/step down to do that :-). Overall, a nice addition to the Scania line up. I’m looking forward to seeing the first greater 1000hp than Scania over-the-road tractor using this hybrid power equipment.
You face a formidable voyage to the US. Wait for the Azores high to be north and head for the Horta. Then with the high over the Azores find the south side of the high and head west (wind and waves astern). Find the south side of the Bermuda high and keep heading west. The high will keep lows coming off Africa heading west instead of curling north and keep lows coming off the east coast curl northeast.
I know we don’t live in a perfect world. Weather forecasts are more flawed the further out the prediction. 10 days or longer have a 50% chance of accuracy. here is local weather service prediction for hurricane season:https://www.accuweather.com/en/hurricane/accuweathers-2021-atlantic-hurricane-season-forecast/924431
We really appreciate the guidance on our Atlantic crossing Andrew. Thanks for taking the time of passing along your experience.
After all this years of following your blog I finally had to respond.
Light Years Ahead was a fantastic recommendation.
Thank you very much.
PS love all the Spitfire reports.
That video gem was from fellow blog reader Stacy Kenworthy. Thanks for the feedback on the blog (and Spitfire is rolled into a tight little donut sleeping beside me as I type this).
Any plan’s past Florida? Have you given any thought to crossing back over to do the Med? I’m crossing my fingers that Canada will be open for this summer but the unfortunate reality is that it looks like we’ll have to wait for 2022 to have things “normal” Safe travels
We’re not yet sure but We’re thinking of the US east coast this year and then Canada and Greenland next year.
Ugh. We have a WSO 110 just passing 3 years. Still working, but wishing now I had bought a spare. Maybe Airmar.
We have best results when nobody is up there. If someone holds onto the instrument when waxing the boat or doing other service, it’ll flex the seal and leaks seem to come quickly after that. In this case, nobody other than me has been up there for years so we got pretty good life. My plan right now is to run without a backup until latter this year and I’m hopefully that Maretron will have one available. If not, I’ll find an appropriate Airmar.
Hopefully yours keeps going strong.
One of my favorite podcasts is Space Rocket History. This fellow from NC has spent over 300 episodes of his time detailing US and Russian space history with a through perspective teaming narration with historic narration and in person audio. It is pretty amazing to think this is over 50 years ago and what these Americans and Russians achieved. btw N6081 is in the water and awaiting shipping so fingers crossed will see it in Ensenada around May 30! You may have covered this but when are you crossing over to N America?
Congratulations on N6081 being ready to ship to the US. Very exciting.
We plan head south to Kinsale Ireland and to wait there for favorable weather. We’re interested in crossing the Atlantic when weather allows it. I suspect we’ll be arriving in Florida around June 1st but it’s hard to predict with any certainty.
How do you get high bilge water signals into your NMEA2000 system? I assume you are using the SIM100 to detect a sensor signal for the actual NMEA2000 integration, but I’m curious if you have dedicated sensors for the task, or if you put the SIM100 in parallel with other sensors (such as the Ultra Switch that I think you said you use)?
Hi Alex. We use three diverse detection systems since water intrusion is a leading way to lose a boat. The first is a Maretron BHW100 (https://navstore.com/maretron-nmea-2000-bilge-high-water-detector-sim100-accessory-bhw100.html) feeding a SIM100. The second is an Ultra Jr float switch (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00VZ49N4E) read by a digital input on a raspberry pi. The final is a bilge cycle detector that detects bilge pump on and alarms if it cycles more than 3 times in an hour or cycles for more than 1 min. This is also a Raspberry Pi based detection circuit. This will also alarm of the bilge pump looses power for any reason (e.g. breaker release since bilge pumps still need circuit protection).
The primary protection is the first but we want more than 1 detection system and we would like to still detect if we have a CANbus failure (rare but has happened once). We also like the ability to detect loss of power at the bilge pump and to warn via dash indicator and email on frequent cycling.
Did you have any admin problems getting back into Scotland with Spitfire post Brexit?
So long as we keep Spitfire confined to the boat, we can bring him in without formality. That is the same as pre-Brexit. If we wanted to bring him ashore, that’s more involved and as far as we know can only be done through commercial transport (that was true pre-Brexit as well), except if coming from Ireland.
Makes sense. Thanks.
Good afternoon. I passed you yesterday morning in the white catamaran .
Have been reading all your interesting advice on your pages .
And noticed on your data display the water temp was 48.2 farenheight which I think is a bit high I have 5.8 ° c .
Maybe I’m reading your data wrong ?
Have loved reading all about your adventures . Kenny .
I spoke with you off the rear deck off Lifeboat the other day .
We’re reading the water temperature 4′ (1.2M) down. It might be slightly warmer down there or we might be reading a bit high. We have two transducers at roughly the same depth and when I crossed checked them 6 months back, they looked to match pretty carefully but we’ve not rechecked them for a while. Thanks for letting us know that it may be reading a couple of degrees high.
Thanks for the feedback on the blog.
Your N2KView ‘digital color’ widgets in your dashboards seem to have min/max values that I don’t seem to have available. Is this a custom mod you made?
Hi Alex. Good eye. Min/Max is a great N2kview feature. Any recent version of n2kview supports this. Got enter Ctrl-E to edit the page, select the digital color widget you want to change, select edit and tick min and max in the popup, then two saves and you are done.
Hmm, I just checked for an update and it says I am running the latest version (126.96.36.19900324, which is also the latest on the Maretron website). But when I edit a color digital widget I don’t have the min or max check boxes available (I do for others like gauges and bar graphs). I’ll keep looking.
That looks like a mistake on my end. I may still be running a prelease copy — I thought I was back on the production version. I’m at 6.0.15. We’ve been running it for a long time so I suspect it’ll be made available soon and I’ll bet if you contact support they’ll likely be able to get you an early copy or tell you when it’ll be released. If you say you saw it running on Dirona, they’ll probably totally understand be fine getting you a copy.
James: Did you utilize a nylock nuts when remounting the side light? When can you move out of quarantine?
I didn’t use a nylock fastener on that one. With 10 years experience with these lights, the fasteners don’t seem to loosen so I don’t expect problems.
We’ll be out of Quarantine on Friday at midnight. We’re currently seeing 35 kts with gusts to 50 kts so not going anywhere until this storm passes. I’m sure the combination of those winds and the currents in this area would yield towering seas.
The Carolina Reaper was certified as the world’s hottest chili pepper by the Guinness World Records on 11 August 2017. 2.2 million SHU (Scoville Heat Units)
We found 8,706 pretty hot so 2.2 million would, indeed, be pretty challenging. This is the hottest we have ever tried and it’s got to be getting close to the record: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dixie%27s_BBQ.
If you’d taken the northern route back to the US had you harbored any thoughts of doing the Northwest Passage?
Yes, we have given the Northwest Passage a lot of thought. The upsides are obvious. It’s a great adventure with lots of new experiences. The downsides are it’ll take a full cruising season with lots of waiting around for exactly the right weather report. And, even with all that time and care, there is a chance that the trip won’t start or that it’ll start but have to go back. There is even a chance that the boat will get stuck in ice for a season. From our time in Norway we’re amazed how fast ice can form and then get thick.
So we probably lack the courage & patience to do it but it’s been under consideration several times.
Greetings, just wondering what exterior damage Dirona incurred from the ice – cosmetically & structurally.
Malcolm Dale Melbourne Australia
I think we just wore the bottom paint off a 8″ diameter section of paint on the bow waterline. The bottom paint is probably worn quite a bit down the sides as well but it’s not visible by eye when standing on shore. We probably have put some scratches in the gel coat below the bottom paint in the bow area. So, very close to no issues or damage at all other than wearing off the bottom paint. Easily corrected but requires the boat to be lifted out of the water to do the work.
Quite a large percentage of Norwegian’s leave their boat in the water year around and the ice doesn’t bother them. Dirona is an absolute tank at 55 tons so no issues for it either.
Hello I have seen you video while you wee crossing the Atlantic and found it very interesting.
As I am working towards my 200 Ton RYA (even though it is not required for US flag boats and would like to fine tune my skills and enrich my knowledge), we are planning a crossing of the Atlantic.
I was wondering if you have any pointers on crossing from the US and back.
What time of the year do you think is better to cross from the US? I understand that depending on vessel capacity you refueled somewhere. Was this re-fueling Bermuda or Azores, how long did it take for you to cross?
What were your intermediate ports of call?
Any input from you or the community would be greatly appreciated.
That sounds like a good plan. We crossed from Newport Rhode Island to Kinsale Ireland. More detail on the crossing stats here: https://mvdirona.com/2017/05/newport-to-kinsale/. Our crossing was 2,801 miles and it took 17 days. The route we took is an less common routing where you need to cover the full trip directly without stops along the way (no intermediate ports of call). By far the most common routing is the US, Bermuda, Azores, to Europe. This more common routing usually has better weather and the longest leg is far shorter at 1950 nautical miles. Another routing that is gaining in popularity is Canada to Greenland, to Iceland, to Scotland (or Norway). On the northern route, late summer is preferred once the Labrador Current is no longer bringing ice south. For the other routings early summer is better to avoid hurricane season (officially starting July 1 but sometimes early).
We were originally planning to return to the US on the northern route (Iceland and Greenland) but we want be back earlier in the year than allowed by that route so we will take the southern route (Azores and Bermuda).
17.4 knots through the Pentland Firth…I didn’t realize you reworked Dirona into a planing boat! :-)
Thank you for letting us live vicariously through your adventures. Norway looked amazing!! I also love all of the boating and cruising wisdom that you share.
Yes, we had a rocket engine installed recently. The fuel economy is impacted slightly but crossing the Atlantic is only going to be few days :-).
It was absolutely crazy fast. By far the quickest this boat has ever done. It even beats the down current speed we achieved on the Columbia river in Oregon. The boat did great in all the eddies but at one point when passing behind a small island there was a firm line where the water was running at 10+ kts across our bow sideways to our direction of travel and then, right beside that, there was a big back eddy running at about the same speed in the opposite direction. Hitting the back eddy turned the boat fast and forced it over to just under 20 degrees of heel — it hit impressively hard. Everything immediately returned to normal (other than a broken coffee pot) but it’s a location like few others in the world.
Overall, it was kind of exciting. And we also love the scenery here. It’s great to be back in the Orkney islands.
Talk about being along for the ride with little or no control…exhilarating and frightening! I’m glad to hear you are ok and that you only broke your speed record and not your degrees of heel record. Now that’s a record that doesn’t need to be broke! Godspeed with your trip back across the Atlantic. Are you planning on the southern route with the current or the northern against it?
We’re thinking Azores to Bermuda for this Atlantic crossing.
Ah, I used to work out of Scrabster for Decca Radar and I’ve sat on top of the cliffs at Dunnet Head watching the ships coming through the Firth. I was watching one Belgian trawler, you could hear her engines thundering mightily as she fought against the tide, she was my next job to repair her radar and she was making 2knts headway. Talking with the skipper later he said he was making revolutions for 16knts and had a few choice words about the tide.
I’ve done surveys of the seabed in the Firth and that was exciting! Sitting there waiting for your marker buoy to pop to the surface at slack water so you could continue from where you left off.
The line of standing waves from the mainland out towards Stroma is called The Merry Men of Mey.
I’ve only recently discovered your epic journey from a post about Nordhavn yachts on ybw.com ( https://forums.ybw.com/index.php?threads/another-new-nordhavn.558555/ ) and have started to try and catch up, it was me that made the comment about From Russia with Love on your Crinan video.
Thanks for the reference to From Russia with Love and, yes, there are some massive tides around here. Not quite as big as the Kimberley region of Australia (https://mvdirona.com/category/destinations/australia/kimberley/) or the Bay of Fundy in Canada but pretty close. The currents in this area can make for a very short trip or a very long one and, with wrong wind direction, can be absolutely punishing.
I once read the book “Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance” it recommended following a path up a mountain before making your own. My wife and i have just bought a Trader 445 (similar to 4087) and plan to circumnavigate the UK and then a trip to Norway. We are just cleaning and checking through systems.
Congratulations on your new purchase. The Trader does look very similar to our last boat and we really used it heavily putting 4,100 hours on it in just under 11 years. I hope you really enjoy your new boat. You’ll just love Norway.
Welcome to Orkney – you look to have some good weather for a few days :) Great to see your adventures.
Thanks for the welcome greeting! We were last here in 2017 so it’s been quite a while.
Sorry things aren’t as welcoming as before due to Covid – it was good to see you appear here again… I run the Marine Traffic base station on the east side of Orkney on Mull Head so keep an eye on what’s coming in, and so great to see a pink coloured target coming in. All the very best to you. Steve
Thanks for the welcome message. I don’t doubt pink targets are getting rare. It’s getting close to impossible to cruise right now with so many national borders closing and after Brexit, we now have the Schengen restrictions to cope with so we’re planning to head back to the US this summer. We’re finding even just doing that is complex.
Thanks for saying hi!
Hi there James – as you may have seen, those of us living in Orkney and Shetland have the least Covid restrictions of anywhere in Scotland and I think the rest of the UK – though still lots of restrictions on indoor socialising etc. Not just an island effect either as the west coast islands (bigger and smaller than us) have had a lot more cases. So at least we can get out on our boats a bit if we stay within the County / archipelago – you may had seen a couple of local sail boats in Scapa Flow the other day. Must be frustrating for you but with Orkney having two weeks no with no positive Covid tests there’s lot of commitment to keep it that way. At least you have a good sheltered anchorage there for any gales that may come your way. Hopefully by the time you get back to the US the world will be in a bit better shape. Best wishes, Steve.
It’s not an easy time. Hopefully things will turn around as more vaccines are given and infection rates continue to decrease.
See you are crossing North Sea. Going by some fishing vessels. https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/home/centerx:1.8/centery:58.6/zoom:10
Yes, there is quite a bit of traffic out here. Most we’ve seen so far have been oil rigs, rig supply vessels, and a search and rescue vessel but fishing boats are out here as well. Thanks!
Hello from Ireland! I am writing a historical article about the buildings on Brow Head, West Cork. I saw your post on this site dating from 2017 and wondered if you would kindly give me permission to use your drone view of the buildings on the site: they give such an excellent layout of what was built up there. I would acknowledge you and put in a link to your site. If not, no worries. Bon Voyage anyway!
Yes, that’s not a problem. We’re happy to contribute to your project.
Hi James, I was wondering, Have you already looked into SpaceX’s Starlink system to get cheaper broadband internet at sea?
Starlink is a pretty exciting service that has the chance to fundamentally satellite data costs. But, it’s not there yet when it comes to mobile applications. This is from the Starlink FAQ: “Your Starlink is assigned to a single cell. If you move your Starlink outside of its assigned cell, a satellite will not be scheduled to serve your Starlink and you will not receive internet. This is constrained by geometry and is not arbitrary geofencing.”
So it’s only supported at a single location and, just out of interest, I tried to register for the service and Seattle isn’t supported and they don’t yet have a date for it. I tried Boston and it’s not supported either but they expect it will be later this year.
My overall take is the service is technically very interesting but they don’t yet have the coverage needed and they claim that they can’t support mobile applications. I suspect that last statement is a point in time and I can’t think of any reason why they couldn’t support mobile terminals in the future.
Hi James, what are those speakers in the aft corners of your main salon? I’m looking for something like that for mine and I’m not seeing anything online that resembles them.
Sure, we are using Definitive Technology Mythos speakers connected to a Pioneer receiver.
That peculiar structure illustrated in your photo describing a water reservoir is a VOR station used in aerial navigation.
Thanks Ron, we hadn’t see that before: VHF Omnidirectional Radio Range (VOR) is an VHF-based aircraft navigation system.
In reference to your PSS Fault.
It seems you’ve had vibration issues since that new shaft went in. Did you ever make a determination on why?
My insufficiently deep read of the draw limitation was that it was a controller limitation rather than a power supply limitation. I do use direct 12V supply from a dedicated 12V breaker to power the LED lights but I still use multiple controllers.
Yeah, it’s kind of annoying but the shaft runout is over the ABYC spec. Not grossly so but it is higher than it should be. What we have learned here is that lip seal systems can tolerate more engineering margin of error than the Packless Shaft Seal system. But that’s not really the issue. The fault in this case is excess shaft runout. It’s not intolerably bad and not enough to be hard on the transmission but it’s more than it should be.
I don’t know the cause of the runout. The most likely cause is the shaft isn’t true but it’s possible that the transmission flange was bent when removing the shaft coupling, it’s possible the trans flange is out of line and the yard machined the coupler to match to match it. There are many possibilities and all we know is it was running true prior to the shaft replacement and, after the work, it has excess runout. What we can measure is the shaft runout and it’s just a bit above the ABYC limit. Not enough to produce an annoying vibration but the runout is excessive. The only solution is pull the shaft, coupler, and transmission flange and get a machine ship to replace parts until it’s close to true.
It’s unfortunate that we went into the yard three years ago with a true prop shaft and no vibration, paid to get a new shaft installed, and left with excess shaft runout accompanying a fairly substantial bill.
“Unfortunate” isn’t a word that would describe my personal feelings over something like that.
Unfortunate is while I don’t see anything in the way of boats shafts, I do see a lot of large blower shafts, there just aren’t many machine shops around anymore that can true a shaft of any length. They use to be fairly common but that was 40 years ago, I’d expect more from a machine shop dealing with MARINE equipment :(
I agree. Basically where we are on this project is we replaced a straight prop shaft assembly with a new one that is not running true so we’ll probably have to repeat the entire fairly expensive job at some point in the future. Fortunately, the runout is not so great that it’s damaging — just annoying.
Hey guys, couple of equipment questions:
1. I’m having trouble finding led rope lights that I like. Can you give me an idea of what you used on your outside lighting?
2. I notice that you’re using those big heavy duty three phase AC plugs and sockets. I’m familiar with these from past project work, wondering what led you to use them in certain applications on Dirona.
We used LED Wholesalers LED Strip Lights from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0054U46Y2/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1.
There is no 3 phase power on Dirona. I suspect you are referring to the 16A European mains connection we have as a second shore power connection. It’s an IEC 60309 which is a single phase 16A connection. We use this because it’s the most common shore power connection in use around the world. We can adapt to US connections as well but don’t need an
adapter for most of the world. Or you might be referring to the big waterproof plug and socket we for the patio heater in the cockpit. It’s a single phase 230V connection made by Clipsal that we sourced in Australia. We liked it because it’s very well weather sealed and you can see into the connection and know the connections are good and not suffering any heat damage. All other connections are standard single phase plugs and sockets in common use in the US.
Yes, it was both of those plugs I spotted in various photos. Thanks for the info on those and the link to the led strips!
About those led strips, it says the controller can’t handle the power requirement of more than one strip connected to it, but it occurs to me that you might be powering/controlling them using another method, like one of your pi devices with a beefier power supply with multiple strips connected. Looks like the strip takes 12V common and and a low side pwm for each of the colors?
Sorry I misread that thing. it’s the power supply, not the controller, that is limited to a single strip. That’s an easier problem to solve; the controller can do two strips. Still curious on your power/control approach.
Couple of questions. Will you be able to get a vaccine shot where you’re at? Are you doing any diving?
Norway will vaccinate everyone in the country but they are doing it order of need and supply is quite limited right now. As a consequence, we’ll not get vaccinated anytime soon.
No, we’re not diving in Norway although it is recommended by many. We used to cold water dive but no longer have dry suits so, with a few exceptions, only dive warm water these days. The last cold water dive I did was 58F freeing an anchor in the Orkney Islands Scotland: https://mvdirona.com/2017/09/anchor-ensnarled/. Right now we’re surrounded in 5″ to 6″ of ice so we’re neither able to leave nor able to SCUBA dive (without cutting out a section of ice).
Hope you guys are enjoying the cold weather, I’m certainly not :)
Anyway, “udder support” has been around quite some time. I remember my Uncle using them back in the mid sixties except he made his own.
There really is a purpose, I found this funny link explaining on reason.
Your a unbounded source of information Steven. Thanks for that. The cold is not bothering us but we got caught be surprise and 2″ ice formed all around us quickly here in Farsund. It’s now 5 to 6″ so we’re trapped for now.
I replaced the HVAC units that failed months back and they worked great for a day but the water temperature has now dropped down to 39F to 42F which is too cold for these reverse cycle systems. But, the good news is they are back operating. It’s weird that two independent systems both had reversing valves stick at the same time and damage the compressors but it seems to be that is what happened.
Reversing valves do fail, it is strange you were unlucky enough to have two at the same time right after being out of the water.
I suppose the “law of average” eventually catches up with us all. The good thing is you’ve got them replaced, working and I can’t think of any reason even an air lock from being out of the water would have caused it.
Stuff just happens.
Hopefully you won’t need an ice pick to get going again. Dirona is heavy enough for breaking 6″ of ice but I doubt the hull construction would be up to the task. Maybe if you went slow :)
Lightening does strike twice (rarely). It’s not likely to have independent faults within days of each other but very rarely it can happen.
We have broken 2″ with the tender and Dirona and it cleaned the bottom paint off the big boat and did some damage to the gel coat on the tender. We watched a roughly 50′ fish boat break out of their slip in 6″ and it was horrendous. It took him a 1/2 hour and was just brutal on the steel boat. There is no way we can get out of this without help from a stronger vessel to break ice first.
This is a bit of a learning experience for us. We have seen surface fresh water freeze but we have never seen salt water freeze this fast nor this deep.
Sounds like the first act of one of those end-of-the-world movies! stay safe and warm!
Yes, exactly. The ice is now thick enough that yesterday kids were out playing on it. We’ve pushed through ice before but nothing thicker than 2″ and that wasn’t very far. We won’t be forcing our way through this.
Regarding the ship you saw in Førde. Its realy an “nobody wants” 82 mtr yacht.
Originaly build for a russian juice & milk billionære. But he died before the papers was signed.
Its an PJ World Explorer, iceclassed and with helipad. So if you want to upgrade…… :o)
More info: https://www.palmerjohnson.com/explorer-1
Great timing. We do need ice class right now. While sitting in Farsund, we were quickly surrounded by 2″ ice and it’s now 5 to 6″. We even have a picture of Jennifer (carefully) standing on it. We’re going nowhere for now. Amazing to see this much ice when the water is 5 to 6C.
Thanks for the background on the 82M yacht.
Since you still are in Farsund, i guess the ice and winter stops you for the moment.
This winter did come as a surprise for us which live on the West Coast of Norway.
Covid and travel would i guess, is not so easy for travellers like you.
I went to work this week. First Gardermoen , test that could not be older than 24h before landing in Denmark, Kastrup.
Next stop Spain , hotel and isolation. 3 days. New test, and then allowed to go onboard where i work.
This covid pandemic, affect us all :/
It is a bit warmer here btw, 20 ++
Between Algeria and Spain somewhere.
Your overhead of going to work is a already bit higher than most people driving to a nearby office but the pandemic makes it much worse. As you know, Norway isn’t greatly affected so it’s not been too much of a burden on us but we’ll soon need to cross national borders again and that’ll require testing and other new overhead.
Right now, leaving is not really much of an option in that we’re frozen in here in Farsund. The ice surrounding us is thicker than we can force our way through so we’ll either need to wait for warmer weather or pay someone to bring a boat over to break us out of the ice. It’s not a problem right now but if we don’t see warmer weather in a week or so, we’ll need to investigate other options.
I note the recent failure of the ballast on your fluorescent lights. I have had two such failures. When the first occurred, the only ballast I could find was a used one on eBay. When the second occurred I changed all the lights to LED. It turned out to be cheaper than the cost of parts for the fluorescents and are a bit brighter. Only time will tell how long they will last. Did you find the ballast quite easily or did you just have one in spares?
All the best
We have spare ballasts on board. They are $35 on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00859WZZQ). We’ve thought of moving to LED and if we found something that ran on 120V/60hz with similar dimensions (or could be placed inside the existing fixtures), we would do it. What did you elect to use in N6303 Murray?
They don’t make the ballast in my units anymore and no one could give me an alternative that would fit so that is why I bought a used unit on eBay. When the second unit failed I looked at using the new replacement LED tubes bypassing the ballast but you also had to change the tombstones fittings at the same time. Delivery time then became a problem as I am moving around. They would have fit within the same fixture. It ended up easier to just get new Home Depot 2 foot LED ceiling wrap lights for CDN$50 with next day delivery. They are about the same size and are a bit brighter. I am still changing them out but so far they have all fit roughly in the same space. A new ballast is easiest if you can get the right one, then replacing with the new LED tubes if you can get all the parts and then lastly, getting new units. Trying to get 120 VAC in Europe adds another level of complication.
Your recommendations make sense. Thanks for the advice. I think I found what you used: Progress Lighting 2′ LED Wrap Light at Home Depot (https://www.homedepot.com/p/Progress-Lighting-2-ft-LED-Wrap-Light-Semi-Flush-Mount-P730011-030-30/312500438?NCNI-5). We might just make the change when we return to the US. Thanks for the details.
The ones I bought were by Commercial Electric and look similar but were a bit cheaper. Maybe they were on sale. It will be interesting to see how long they last. Safe travels.
Thanks and all the best Murray.
Here is a decent description of Fluorescent to LED Conversions. https://zled-lighting.com/news/convert-fluorescent-lighting-led/
I’ve done them both with and without ballasts and the process is straightforward. You can use the original “Tombstone” sockets however how they are wired will have to be changed for 120VAC conversions.
The biggest problem is finding a color (Kelvin rating) that is pleasing to the individual.
I would recommend finding an electrical wholesaler and look at what is available in person. once you know what Kelvin rating you want they are readily available through AMAZON or anywhere else you want to order them from.
Thanks for the reference Steve. We probably should make the change. Our fluorescents are super power intensive but we have good brightness and I like the really high color temperatures in an engine room (but would hate it in living spaces).
Fluorescent lights put out a lot of UV which as a light source really does us humans little good. You probably like Cool White bulbs in the engine room.
I’ve never checked with a meter however LED lights seem “brighter” probably because the light they do emit is more in the spectrum we can use.
The biggest problem with the early tubes was they were more directional in where they threw the light.
The newer tubes, ones that look just like a regular fluorescent tube have solved that issue. As long as you stay away from tubes where you can actually see the individual diodes, I think you’d be pleasantly surprised at the result.
The best thing I can recommend if you are interested in LED is find a supply house or lighting store with displays set up for you to see. Almost all of them in the U,S. do I don’t know about Europe.
We’re thinking of returning to the North America this summer so we’ll probably check the lights out in the US. We really love Europe but the combination of Brexit (Jennifer travels on a UK passport) and the more serious variants of Covid-19 leading to border closures is making travel fairly high friction.
It would be a shame to have to modify plans, I know you two wanted to travel into the MED but, it’s probably going to be a long time before travel returns to normal (if it ever does).
While there is “no time like the present”, there’s always hope for the future and there is still a lot of water on this side of “the pond” Dirona hasn’t seen yet.
There’s always the great lakes and while I know Dirona was built to drop it’s mast, there is always the great loop if modifying exhaust, cabling, etc. for her to actually do it isn’t to much of a hassle.
Anyway it goes, you two have already been on a ride very few of us will ever take and you’ve barely scratched the surface on what’s left to do.
As always, you nailed it Steve.
Our thinking is there is lots of adventures waiting for us on the other side of the Atlantic and nothing will stop us from returning to Europe.
J and J: Glad you are enjoying (maskless) Norway.
A quick comment on your blocked dryer vent. Such blockages are notorious for causing fires. Some can be quite serious, so much so a 200 bed hotel in Alexandria Bay, NY was lost a few years ago due to this exact cause .
An addition to your maintenance schedule? :) :)
Norway isn’t really “maskless” — masks are very common in big cities like Begen and Trondheim and close to universal on public transit (I believe it’s required). Even in small towns where masks are rare, many people put them on when they walk into a shopping center or a grocery store.
It’s a tribute the focus and care of the Norwegian people and their government that they have been able to keep the infection rates always near to the lowest in Europe or North America.
That’s a good point on the dryer overheat and fire risk. We have a thermal fuse on our dryer that will protect against this and we did blow that fuse once by doing this which shows that it’s needed. We shouldn’t rely on the fuse and will add that task to the maintenance list. Thanks for the suggestion.
Hi James.. I just watched an IBM analyst presentation on the Mayflower autonomous ship project. I real milestone — the first I’ve heard of a marine data system that is differentially better Tham what you’ve built on MV Drone… Time to raise the bar don’t you think? :). best/Peter Christy
:-). It looks like IBM has us beat on the automation navigation front. But, I’ll bet the autonomous navigation system would have had some troubles with aspects of our last trip. On that one, we did a channel with only feet to spare on either side of the boat followed by pushing through 100′ of 2″ ice to get to the harbor.
It will be a long time I think before autonomous systems are as good as a human augmented system. I’m not sure if or when a Tesla will be good enough to enable a snooze in the back seat but I do think they have already created a safer car with their augmentation. Assuming the same is true with boats — may be necessary to limit paths compared to having a human pilot available.
I agree. It will definitely come but hasn’t yet.
Check out Yara Birkeland , I think this is the first one i Norway.
Also for the subsea use, things are ongoing.
Not my company. But already we are able to sit onshore, controlling ROV’s offshore.
Nice technology and it makes perfect sense in that a human operator can have access to all bridge data on the bridge or in a control room many miles away. There is no reason why a pilot needs to be on the vessel even without going to fully automated operation. Thanks for posting it.
Looks like you are just passing Egersund. it is a very nice littel town, sail safe, and be awear that on the east side of Lindesnes there will be more ice. in the winter. so look out.
Thanks Geir. We appreciate all the local advice you’ve been giving us. Even before passing Lindesnes, we’re already finding a lot of ice.
may I ask would dirona be anchored on the main anchor or the spare anchor while the windlass is worked on
We only use the spare anchor when we have lost the main anchor (hasn’t happened on this boat) or when the main anchor won’t hold (had only happened a couple of times). Other times we’re on the main anchor reguardless of weather conditions. One exception where we had to use the spare anchor and rode was when the main anchor got jammed up in an old mooring chain. You can see it here: https://mvdirona.com/2017/09/anchor-ensnarled/. In that case we anchored off the backup anchor and rode and then loosened up the main anchor so we could dive it and use a pry bar to work the anchor out of the chain in which it was ensnarled.
You were asking how we service the windlass while on the main anchor. When we don’t leave the anchor loads on the windlass. Instead we put out a snubber which is a short length of rope that can attach to the chain and then tie off on a deck cleat. This is where the anchor load hangs so the windlass is not loaded in the normal case. Since there is no load on the windlass when at anchor, we can service the windlass by lifting off the chain, doing the work, and then putting the chain back and testing the system.
thank you for the information James
Welcome to Kvitsøy.
I hope you will have a pleasant stay.
My house is the white one with the tall windows on the right hand side of the flagpole.
Beautiful house and, wow, what a location. We’ve been walking around the island and exploring by tender. Thanks for the welcome!
Hello James & Jennifer
We’ve followed you about 4 years now, keep-up the great blog. Providing inspiration and experience such as yours to others is an important element to the longevity and promotion of our cruising lifestyles. As an engineer I appreciate your technical content.
I’m curious about the “bow-eye” you have on Dirona, was it a factory design or a James Hamilton design? We are planning a spring haul out for our DeFever 52 Offshore Cruiser and plan to install a bow-eye. I’ve made several design inquires of others and have received many opinions on what’s important, however not much of the advise converges to make me comfortable with a particular approach. Dirona has been at sea several years and on-the-hook much of the time, hence I’d be interested in your thoughts on the design and construction of a robust bow-eye system for my similar sized 90,000 pound cruiser (I think you are somewhat more). In discussion with other fellow DeFever owners stem thickness ranges between 2 and 4 inches solid (non-cored) fiberglass.
The intent of our bow-eye is for anchoring. As you and many of your readers know by lowering the attachment point for the anchor snubber allows for less anchor rode for a given depth and desired scope. In our case lowering the attachment point by 6 feet can reduce rode length for given scope at 7:1 by 42 feet, this is significant for us when anchoring in shallow and narrow spots in the US southeast low country……especially in 8 foot tidal ranges which can really test your scope requirements.
I’m also making the same inquire to marine architect consultants, however the more input I obtain the better my confidence will become.
Thanks and safe travels!
MV Last Laugh
DeFever 52 Offshore Cruiser
Now lying Lady’s Island, Beaufort, South Carolina
Thanks for the feedback on the blog. Your right, we are somewhat heavier at 110,000 lbs but not much more. Your Defever sounds like a heavily built boat. Our bow eye is a popular option available from Nordhavn. It’s official purpose is towing and it’s ideal for that purpose but many owners also use it for exactly the purpose you intend. This is an excellent description of it’s use from Milt Baker a Nordhavn 47 owner and very experienced boater:
With its tall bow and broad shoulders, our N47 used to sail at anchor a lot. That was until we discovered that using an anchor snubber line reduces sailing markedly if we lead the line down through the towing eye at the stem just about the waterline. We do that, then run the line back up to the deck where it’s secured until we anchor. When we anchor, we let out sufficient chain for the water depth (including freeboard forward). Then we secure the snubber line to the anchor chain (outboard of the bow roller) with a proprietary Kong Chain Gripper (though a rolling hitch or galvanized chain hook will work), lower the anchor chain until the chain-snubber connection is about 5 feet below the surface of the water, then secure the bitter end of the snubber line on deck. Finally, we let out another 5-8 feet of chain. That means the pull on the anchor is effectively from the waterline forward rather than deck level, which changes the dynamics dramatically. We found that one simple change reduced sailing at anchor by roughly 75 percent. YMMV. Having the pull right there at the waterline also gives you the effect of having more line out (greater scope) because the pull is not from the deck but, rather, from the LWL, so the measurement from deck to LWL doesn’t have to be included in the scope calculation.
Hi James, we have been in touch a while ago. I am following your blog with interest and pleasure – but, actually, for me personally – in this time if the year – Norway would be a bit too cold and dark – but perfect to protect yourselves from being caught by the pandemic! :-)
I am presently installing two Electromaax serpentine drive systems for the alternators and 2 new Electromaax / Genmaax High Power alternators, @ 12V/215A each, on my Sabre 42 Hardtop Express. One on either of my 2 Yanmar 445 HP engines. I read your Balmar posts with interest. I am considering to use Balmar controls and not Electromaax controls – but, opposite to you, with my two independent engines, I think I should install their Centerfielder module as well. Would you agree? Thanks for an opinion, and all the best!
Take care and stay healthy, Christian
Good project. I’ve not come across Electromaax before but looking through their website, they look pretty good. 215A@12V is pretty good. The alternator we have puts out 190A@24V or 265A@12V so a bit more output than what you are planning will get you a combined output from your two engines of 5.1 KW which is very respectable.
The need for a centerfielder is an interesting question and strictly speaking it’s not required and I didn’t use one on our last boat that had two alternators on two engines, a similar configuration to yours. Anytime you put two alternators without a centerfielder or other way to coordinating the charging, you will go through long periods where “only 1 alternator” is working which, for many is a concern. It’s not really what is going on but it looks like only 1 is working.
What is really happening is during charging the battery acceptance amperage decreases. When you start charging, you get full output from both alternators but as the the battery acceptance rates decrease, one alternator will end up winning and supplying the full load. So, without a centerfielder what happens is both alternators run flat out and, over time, one will stay at max and the other will decrease to 0 and you’ll be charging on only 1 alternator. Then as you get closer to full charged, the alternator that was running flat out will decrease down to very low but the entire time the other one will be at zero.
This phenomena doesn’t slow charging in any way. If you look at the system when it’s charging with 1 alternator close to flat out and one is completely off. Let’s say 1 is at 185A and the other is at 0. If you where to put a centerfielder on the system without changing anything, you would still be charging at 185A. That wouldn’t change. The only change is that both alternators would be putting out 93A. The net effect is that a centerfielder equipped system charges no faster than an independent regulator system.
Given that amperage production doesn’t change is there any advantage of using a centerfielder. Yes, there is. An alternator running flat out is hotter, somewhat less efficient, and wearing more than an idling alternator (more bearing load and more bearing heat, more heat in windings, more heat in diodes, etc.). On our first boat we had 2x 105A alternators on two Cummins B-series diesels and we ran the regulators without a centerfielder. It works fine but, as I said, one alternator will carry most of the load much of the time.
The same question comes up in our current configuration where we have two alternator on a single engine. 1 alternator will carry most of the load most of the time rather than it being equally carried between the two. We ran this configuration for many years and, again, it works fine. A couple of years ago I changed the system such that when the alternators are charging two independent battery banks, they run on two regulators and are 100% independent but when both attached to the house bank (the normal case), both alternators run off a single regulator. In this later configuration, they run 100% in lockstep as they would with a centerfielder but you only need a single regulator and don’t need a centerfielder.
The short answer is the running without a center fielder is fine and chargers at the same speed as with one. Adding a centerfielder will balance the charging rates and allow the alternators to run somewhat cooler but is otherwise no different. Running both alternators off a single regulator is the same as a centerfielder in effect without the cost of a second regulator and center fielder. I’ve seen all three configurations and we have used two of them ourselves and they all charge at the same rate with the balanced configs slightly better in sharing the load across two alternators.
A last point on your choice of regulators. We’ve always used Balmar MC612 (on 12V) or MC624 (on 24V) and we’ve been happy. Recently a company called Wakespeed has entered the regulator market and their specs look good, the system looks easy to work with, and others report they work well. We’re still happily running Balmar but there are now more options.
Many thanks James for your detailed comments. Actually, I already have the Electromaax alternators here in Germany, and they indeed are a very nice product. CNC milled housings hard anodized, solid and large cable ports, piece of art equipment. Same applies for their serpentine pulleys – but these are a simpler product category. The Electromaax control system is more sophisticated than the Balmar MC614, with communication ports for a laptop via USB and via Bluetooth, but it seems they have a bit of a problem with supplies now, in pandemic times.
The latter brought me to Balmar for the control system, and this I think is a good move, as Balmar is – kind of – the leader of the pack, is world wide organised, with more product out and available, probably more proven components, and probably the most experienced team. Also, their system configuration is more straight forward. Less system components, but more programming options, and a simpler wiring. No hookup to the laptop, no bluetooth – but, really, I do not see a reason for this information to be on the laptop, or a need of communication with regulators through the air.
Regarding the Centerfielder, I am sure what you say is correct. However, its cost is not a big part of the investment, I am running wires through the engine room anyway, so the amount of work is not a lot different – and I like the idea of less heat in the systems, and also more safety. With 2x MC614 and 1x Centerfielder – what ever may happen – one system will remain functional, in nearly any foreseeable scenario.
Talking about Balmar – with our previous discussion about battery monitoring systems in mind, I looked at their SG200. I am wondering whether this thing may get some of the weaknesses of battery monitoring systems under control, which mainly relate to changing battery capacities, and the monitoring system not including this into their calculations. Any SG200 opinions or experiences to maybe report here, out there in the group of people reading this?
Sounds like a good approach. I too prefer to reduce alternator heat so elected to go with the single regulator for the two alternators but you’ll get just as good a result using two regulators and a centerfielder and you’ll get better failure behavior on regulator failure with that model.
On the SG200 SoC meter, I’ve not tried that one but I have used Mastervolt, Xantrex, and Maretron. Rhey all count amps and so all suffer from the problems: 1) overall bank capacity is entered as a config parameter but it is actually falling from day one until you replace the battery bank rather than being a fixed value. This means that 50% charge on your SoC meter is slowly going to actually be 40% charge after some time and it’ll go lower than that. And 2) if you count amps out, and count amps in and estimate the amount lost to battery inefficiencies (Peukert constant) which is what they all do, you get a slight error on every discharge cycle until fully charged again. This slight error is additive over time and will keep getting worse until the system is brought back to a 100% charge to get the error reset. The combined impact of these hard to predict error rates limits the accuracy of SoC meters.
For the above reasons, I’m not a huge fan of SoC meters and even though we have many SoC meters on the boat, we know longer display any of them and only use SoC measurement to have the system automatically start and stop generator. And, even there, I don’t find the SoC data that accurate so I autostart on max voltage over the trailing 15 min and autostop when battery acceptance amperage drops below a threshold. I’m not against SoC meters but we have ended up not using SoC meters on Dirona. Most people we know both use and like SoC meters so our perspective definitely in the minority. Hopefully someone else can comment on the Balmar SG200.
Well, I am in your minority group. They say that the Balmar SG200 will find age capacity reductions, it will work these into the displayed SoC and SoH information, and even after very many charge cycles to less than 100%, it will display an error which always remains below a maximum of 3% away from reality. Sounds miraculous.
That is almost too good to be true. Exciting. I read through the manual and the SG200 appears to be a closed system without NMEA0183 or NMEA2000 output. That ended the enthusiasm for me in that, if it can’t be used to trigger autostart or send data to other control or display systems on the boat, then it’s not very useful (at least to me).
If they produced data consumable by the rest of the boat systems, I would be much more interested in it.
I used an Electromaax alternator on my former sailboat and loved it. I used their serpentine belt conversion kit on the Yanmar engine which went together perfectly, and the alternator ran flawlessly. I found the company a pleasure to work with, and the products were outstanding.
As to the SG200, I tried one of those on my new Nordhavn and found it disappointing. As James pointed out, it’s a closed system. That’s a pretty much fatal strike for me as well, but performance was not great, it lost its configuration once and I had to reprogram it, programming was kind of clunky with their one-button interface, and I think the shunts are a bit undersized. I killed one shunt probably due to overheat from too much current; I think their maximum peak (short duration) current spec may be too generous for their design, but unfortunately perhaps too lacking for my demands.
I switched all my current/battery monitoring over to Mastervolt using Mastershunts and DC Distribution gadgets and I’m very happy with those. But I also agree with James on the dubious value of SoC metering. I use it mainly for the entertainment value, and of course I want to see the actual current on the battery so the necessary shunt provides me with that value regardless of metering SoC.
Mastervolt is not the easiest thing to interface onto our N2K networks but there is a device to do that and I finally found one and it works great.
Victron also makes similar battery monitoring gear and their devices are much easier to to interface to N2K. They even have a 1000A shunt! The largest Mastervolt has is 500A but you can parallel them for more capacity.
Awesome. Thanks for your experience with the SG200 Chris. Also a good point on the SG200 shunt rating being low (and that even within that rating, it might not be able to manage continuous running at near the rated load).
Thanks from me as well for your input, Chris. Very helpful. So I will keep my existing battery monitor – it has the latest technology, similar to the Victron, and I will live with its limited information value.
Looking at the amount of work this alternator upgrade project creates – I actually found a lot of things in most of the “heavy wires” dc installations on board my Sabre 42, which desperately needed to be upgraded. Talking of battery to charger / to engine starters / to switchboards cables and cable terminations here.
My boat was built in 2004. I now installed about 15 additional overload protection fuses, I upgraded about 35m of heavy cable, which means that 70 cable terminal swages had to be done, and I added 3 pieces of busbars, for an improved cable organisation, and for more safety. This bit actually took a lot more time and effort than the alternator and their output cables upgrade itself.
Don’t want to think about how many thousands of boats are out there that would desperately require this kind of safety upgrades as well.
That is a big project but, as you said, it’s super important to get it right. The current levels in modern electrical systems can be very high. When we are charging at full rated output, we’re charging at 250V. And, just the 240V inverter alone can draw 250A and for shore periods it can draw more than 350A. And, of course, even higher current can be expected on component or insulation failure. I’m sure you are correct that many boats out there are not properly protected against over current.
Please allow me to challenge your technical knowledge …
Last weekend a marine surveyor pointed me to potential problems with 120V 60Hz shore power in the USA.
I have a Victron 8kVA quattro charger/inverter on board, that will accept 180-265Vac at 45-65Hz, and outputs 240V at the same frequency as the input. Input into the Victron is generator or shore power.
Would a Victron autotransformer be the answer to step up the US shore power? What with the frequency? Would my washing machine and dryer suffer?
Alternative would be to add a 110V battery charger (eg Victron phoenix) , and run all my 240V appliances from the Quattro inverter, without using its charger part. This would solve the frequency issue.
Most US marina power is 50A at 240V 60hz so the Victron will see voltage and frequency within it’s correct operating range and it’ll produce 24V (or 12V if you are a 12V boat) so it’ll charge fine. But, as you point out, it’ll also be delivering 240V 60hz to the boat 240V system and you definitely don’t want that (assuming your boat is a 50hz boat). You have a couple of alternatives:
1) use dedicated chargers that can accept 50hz or 60hz and charge properly and then have a separate inverter for your house systems. When plugged into a frequency incompatible with the boat internal systems, you need to switch off the breaker that feeds the inverter so it’s not charging (and feeding an incompatible frequency to the boat). When plugged into a boat compatible frequency (shore or gen), the inverter can be switch on. This is the approach we take: https://mvdirona.com/2014/08/a-more-flexible-power-system-for-dirona/. This is effectively the suggestion you made at the end of your question.
2) put an frequency converter (ABB Atlas are examples) so the boat always has the correct frequency. This is expensive but common on big boats. Personally I find it less flexible.
Above I explained that the most common shore power configuration is 50A @ 240V 60hz but small marinas/slips may only be equipped with 30A @ 120V. We’ve only used this 4 or 5 times in 11 years but it’s nice to be able to handle it. Our approach is to transform up to 15A @ 240V 60hz which works OK but the power losses in the transformer means you only get around 14A which is fine but not a lot of power. We support this approach but we also have a connector that takes two opposite phase 30A@120V shore power connections and produces 30A@240V 60hz. This needs to be done by an approved device but they exist. For example: https://www.hubbell.com/hubbell/en/Products/Electrical-Electronic/Marine-Products/Molded-Adapters/YQ230/p/1631060. We love this configuration because it gives 30A at 240V.
We have a large variety of plugs to allow us to plug in all over the world.
Some other example configurations out there that might matter depending upon where you go: Tahiti 240V@60hz, South Africa 220V@50hz. We’ve not been there by boat but I’m told that some parts of Japan are 60hz and some are 50hz.
Hi Spitfire & crew, check out the new N51 twin 160hp jd model. Bigger sister of the N41. Another Turkish delight. Very cool!
Nice looking boat! 320 HP should move impressively quickly and that engine seems to run very well at low load so it’s probably going to be quite efficient at lower speeds as well. The boat should sell well.
Seems to be missing the Portuguese bridge. Thumbs down if that’s true.
Hi James and Jennifer,
A happy new year from Monara in Antwerp.
Monara is scheduled to leave on a world tour on July 1st, and we would love to show our location to our family and friends. We have an Iridium Go on board, which allows GPS tracking.
What system do you use to track Dirona along your trip?
Hello from Dirona in Bergen! Congratulations on your plans to do a world tour starting this summer. That sounds exciting. Our trip has been an amazing experience.
For tracking, we recommend Spot (https://www.findmespot.com/en-us/) or Inreach (https://buy.garmin.com/en-GB/GB/p/561269). They produce good results and we have seen cruisers using Spot with very nice embedded maps. The systems seems pretty good and it gets good reviews but we’ve not used it ourselves. What we use on Dirona tracks is 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 small part of this data is auto-uploaded to the web site to show the track on the map at http://mvdirona.com/maps using a combination of google maps and custom code shown inside WordPress (the blog software).
I have a SpotX which I’ve been using for about 6 months. I’m very disappointed in this device. A lot of boaters are drawn to it for its low entry price and low subscription cost but it is really not suited for continuous duty boat tracking. There are two main problems with it in this scenario: 1) it’s a handheld device that needs a clear view of the sky. I don’t think it will be reliable if kept indoors while it is expected to be pinging the satellites. 2) This is the major failing here: it is programmed to go to sleep and stop communicating at every opportunity and there is no configuration option to avoid this. To wake up it needs to see a significant jerky acceleration, like it would experience while being carried by a walking human. Because that is exactly the use case that it is designed for. Recently I ran my boat all day across a 35 mile leg in very calm conditions. My ideal boating day. The stupid SpotX went to sleep on the flybridge shortly after I put it there and didn’t send a single position report the entire trip. I talked to the Spot support person about this and he confirmed this is how it works and that there is no way to change it.
So I’ve got a new YB3i from PredictWind, which is a fixed mount, powered (no batteries), continuous duty tracker that uses the Iridium network and integrates into your PredictWind subscription for track mapping (additional subscription fees for the tracker service apply). A bit less than the Iridium Go if you’re willing to give up voice/text communications, or already have that covered using another piece of tech.
Other friends of mine are using the Go and it works great too, also integrates with PredictWind.
Don’t get a Spot. Your friends will think you sank without a trace 10 minutes after departure.
Thanks for the tracking recommendations Chris. It’s good to have up-to-date experience. We’ll recommend Iridium Go or Predict Wind YB3i. Reading through the information on both, they look quite good.
Thank you for that info Chris. I’ll install the Iridium Go with the external antenna, and was planning to use the Predictwind service for weather forecasts anyway, so we’ll be safe on that side.
I’ve been pretty happy with a Delorme Inreach (now part of Garmin) for tracking and messaging. It stays running for months on end plugged into a USB port and suction cupped to a pilothouse window. Occasionally it needs rebooting. I like the messaging app better than Iridium Go. And it’s easy to throw into a dry bag for dinghy trips or a pocket for hiking.
Thanks for the data point on Delorme Inreach Sam!
Hello james and jennifer Dirona is life in bergen see
Absolutely! We are enjoying the snow and taking the opportunity to pick up full load of diesel, gasoline, groceries, and picking up a parcel.
Hello from Thailand… where its warm!
Glad to see your okay.
I enjoy your maintenance videos
Hello from Norway where we are surrounded in snow (https://mvdirona.com) and it’s definitely cooler than Thailand :-). Thanks for the feedback on the videos.
With more dark hours than light hours and cruising in the dark so you can be anchored when the sun comes up I believe it is prime for a video that can help so many of us. A video on cruising in the evening. Radar, spot light, instrument lighting, no moon/full moon. You have acquired some really great night time experience in tight quarters (as well as open seas).
I know you are busy folk with work and navigating, but I would enjoy learning from your experience.
That’s a really excellent suggestion. Both Jennifer and I think it’s a great idea. We’ll plan to do it a night time operations video. Thanks for the good idea.
James & Jennifer; you made the case for installing stabilizers and the matter is settled to the delight of my co-skipper. You bet there will be more than a glass of wine when you show up at our doorsteps! We thank you as well for your other recommendations. We learned the hard way that one disrespects the sea (and Lake Michigan!) at one’s peril and will be careful during our crossings.
Jan-kees; thank you for your comment. We choose a Linssen primarily to cruise the waterways and attempt La Grande Boucle in Europe. But the lure of the Norwegian fjords is somehow irresistible. Why else would the Hamiltons spend a dark winter there…
All the best. Ed & Sabine
Dark? Are you kidding Ed? The shortest day in Trondheim was 5 hours of blistering hot sun :-).
We agree with your assessment. Norway is truly worth visiting. Jan has also been working on us to do inland river and canal cruising but, as he said, our current boat isn’t the right platform for many of those trips. We were able to do the Crinan Canal, the Caledonian Canal, and Amsterdam to Antwerp but most of the canals need a boat with both less air draft and sea draft. Between wanting to do the great circle and being interested in the European waterways, we might actually end up with a second boat or if we are ever willing to give up on longer range coastal boat travel and ocean crossings.
And thank you Jan for raising our interest in the European inland waterways.
Thank you for allowing us to follow your wonderful journey. You inspired many, among them this French couple, to buy a boat and embark on admittedly more modest adventures on both sides of the Atlantic. Our 32’ Halvorsen completed the Great Loop and is now cruising the Western Med while we await delivery of a Linssen 40AC. Two questions if we may: creature comforts aside, can we, in your opinion, cruise safely from Holland to Norway, then spend time as you did in Norway’s fjords, in such a boat? The second one is about stabilizers. We still have time to tick this option, adding about 10% to the cost of the build. We were ready to do it after too many miles on our floating cork. Then someone with far less experience than you have, told us that northern Europe’s waters were more comfortable. Your thoughts?
Last, but we hope not least; when you make it to our beautiful shores (Cannes), please make yourself available for a fine meal. The neighbors claim I have the best wine cellar around!
Safe travels and all the best for this New Year. Ed & Sabine
You’ve already done a lot of cruising and your new boat looks like a good, strong vessel. It’ll do fine cruising the inland waterways of Norway. We often don’t even bother to turn on our stabilizers when operating in this area. But, the North Sea between Norway and Holland can be very rough. Particularly the German Bight and just south of Norway. This area can get rough enough to have disable mid-sized cruise ships and cause container ships to loose containers. Care is required in these waters but, with careful timing, you’ll have no trouble finding the right weather for a safe passage in your boat. We seen these areas in near flat water but we have also been in these areas when it’s rough enough to require care when moving around in the boat. You don’t want to be out in bad days in your boat but it’ll do great if you choose the right weather and is totally capable of making the trip and being comfortable.
On stabilizers, they are nice to have and really make the boat much more comfortable when in a heavy swell but, in the last month, we’ve probably only used them 1/4 of the time and it would never have been uncomfortable without them. But, over the years, we have seen a great many days where we did need them. If you want to cruise the west coast of Ireland, the off shore islands of Norway, the west coast of Germany, Holland, Belgium and France, you’ll prefer to have stabilizers. If you are willing to avoid these area or chose your weather well, you’ll be fine without stabilizers. If you are wiling to take heavy rolling on the less calm days, you’ll be perfectly safe without stabilizers. It’s a Class B boat so you’ll want to avoid the very rough stuff even with stabilizers. If you are mostly focused on inland cruising, you don’t need stabilizers. It really depends on where you want to go, how sensitive you and your family are, and how much a bit of extra comfort is worth to you. Given the price delta you report, I understand why you are giving it careful thought.
We personally wouldn’t want to do our trip without stabilizers but, as you said, our trip is a bigger one that is exposed to a wider variety of conditions than you currently plan.
Thanks for the invitation to Cannes. It’s already a pretty attractive location even before introducing your wine cellar :-). We would love to visit, have a glass of wine, and talk boats and world cruising.
I see you have doen the great loop, now with a Linssen, have you not pondered the European inland waterways?
Having done only the loop from Ohio to Jacksonville, it was no comparison to the thousands of waterways and rivers in Europe.
Yes we have nudged James and Jennifer, but their boat is just not suited for it.
They did do a the canals from Amsterdam to Antwerp and they also did the Gota Canal. Stabilizers are not needed on the canal and rivers, and if you want to, you can go from Maasbracht, where you wil probably pick up your yacht, al the way to the baltic sea and even to Moscow. But the canals and rivers in Holland, Belgium, France and Germany give you many more times the mileage of the loop with much more interesting views.
From Holland to Norway, instead of the direct route along the exposed west coast of Denmark, you could choose to go via the North Sea canal to Kiel. From there east of Denmark up to Norway. Then you avoid most of the North Sea.
Your Linssen is more than good enough for this.
That’s a good point that much of the offshore portion of the trip can be skipped using the Kiel Canal. And, the Canal is kind of a fun adventure as well. Thanks!
Happy New Year to yourself and Jennifer
What are the specs of your battery tester, please.
PS How is your Norwegian coming along :)
PPS You are very fortunate not to be under lockdown
Happy New Year Rod! Norwegian’s almost always speak excellent English so we can’t say our Norwegian is improving but we’re really enjoying our time here.
The battery tester is a Midtronics MDX-640 (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002YKPXQA).
happy new year 2021 James and Jennifer hope it will be a year of adventure’s for you thank you for sharing your travels on the blog
Thanks, we appreciate the feedback. Happy new year from Jennifer and James.
Hallo Jennifer and James Hamilton! I found the Dirona on Geirang’s webcam! I wish you a nice day. https://youtu.be/yMSc-qqW3To
Thanks! The weather is nice and clear. It’s a bit chilly at 38F but without any wind at all it feels surprisingly warm. We’re really going to enjoy New Years Eve here.
look at this livewebcam dirona look very good https://www.geirangerfjord.no/webcamera
Thanks for pointing out the webcam. It looks great. This is our third time in Geiranger and it’s still amazing!
You have a great web site. Very interesting to follow your adventure. Question I have is what the pink dots, blue dots, pink line , and blue line represent. I figure the dots are either walking with AIS and blue dots are dingy adventures?
We probably should find a way to document that better somewhere. The solid lines are trips made by us on the boat. The dotted lines are trips made by us without the boat. And, the colors differentiate trips from different years.
Hi. Observed a boat on the fjord and found you on AIS and Google.
Tip for you to visit in Romsdalsfjord. Veøy and Hjertøy
62°40.504’N • 7°26.014’E
62°43.054’N • 7°10.286’E
Thanks for the suggestion of Ramsdalfjord. We appreciate the advice and we were there in 2018 and really enjoyed it.
In Norway during solstice has to be night cruising most of the time. Great you are living your dream!
It’s true we are moving frequently at night. For example, it’s currently 10am as a write this and we just dropped anchor as the sun rises. We’ll now have 5 hours of light to explore the area. It works pretty well but the days are short.
You were visiting Vanylvs fjord before Christmas. I took a picture of you when you passed the pier with my boat at the quay. Very nice boat you have, You also landed in our local newspaper, >> Synste Møre :-) You were by Slagnes. Inside Åheim, they will start on the world’s first boat tunnel that will go through the mountains. The Norwegian Coastal Administration will start blasting holes in the rock next year. size of tunnel shall be room for vessels of 20,000 DVT. The tunnel will be completed in 3.5 years. When the tunnel is finished, vessels do not have to go past Stadt in bad weather. >> Attaches link.
Hope you have a nice trip and that Covid 19 is soon over, then it will be easier for everyone to take a trip and visit people etc. I traveled to work in the North Sea where I work as Chief Engineer at a larger PSV and I have celebrated Christmas on board. There will be a lot of flipping in photos from the boat holiday last summer and autumn. I am planning the next trip on the west coast of Norway. Norway does not work anything along the coast for boats until May. But when it is boating season, there are many vessels along the coast.
Hope you had a nice Christmas and have an even better New Year.
Nice article in Synste Møre (https://synste.no/2020/12/12/pa-battur-i-atte-ar/). Thanks for mentioning it.
I’ll bet the engine room of the PSV you work on is pretty interesting. They are usually very well equipped ships.
Happy New Year and all the best in 2021.
Happy Holidays Hamilton Family! I have been following the Dirona for many years and have been so inspired by your travels. I curate a podcast called Device Nation and would love to have you on the show to talk about the path that got you here and what you’re passionate about now. A phone call is all! I hope you say yes as I know my audience (as would I) would LOVE to hear your story!!
Between work, the blog, and the adventure, I’m pretty close to tapped out so can’t do the podcast but thanks for the invitation and all the best in 2021.
Some days I feel lucky if I make it from my bed to the coffee machine in the morning.
Hallo from Germany! Dirona live in Kristiansund!
An even better web cam angle! Thanks for finding that Ulrich and Merry Christmas from Dirona!
may I say dirona can be seen on the Kristiansund Sentrum
and merry christmas to dirona and all viewers of the blog
Merry Christmas to you as well James and thanks for the pointer to the Kristiansund webcam. Looking “back in time” on the webcam, you can see us arriving in the dark earlier this morning. Thanks for pointing out the webcam.
Marry Christmas Dirona!
Thanks and Merry Christmas to you as well!
Dirona can be seen in Trondheim
Love it. Nice resolution and the light is nice right now. Thanks for sending our way!
I grew up in Laerdal, at the end of Sognefjord , north of Bergen. That would be a awesome trip. Hope you make it to the Wild Salmon Center. Say Hi to my sisters.
We had a great time in Laerdal but the Wild Salmon Center isn’t open in the winter so we couldn’t visit. You’re right, the Sognefjord was pretty cool. Amazing views.
Hi J and J. Have you considered wearing ski goggles on your colder 32 knot tender trips? I find them useful in Seattle now and then. ps, we still ask for the “Dirona” slip at Bell Harbor.
It’s funny you should suggest that. On our last trip we were just talking about googles probably helping when it’s this cold and we do plan to do it. Thanks for the suggestion. The “Dirona” slip at Bell Harbor! That’s just great. We’ve seen a lot of great moorage locations around the world but our stay at Bell Harbor still ranks in the top 10 to 15%
J and J, have you given any consideration to a diesel outboard? I’ve been told it’s just not worth it but the thought of having a single source of fuel onboard is appealing.
We’ve looked at diesel outboards since carrying gasoline is a slight hassle and care needs to be taken when handling it. But, the power to weight ratio of gas engines is absolutely amazing when compared to diesels. Our 50hp Honda outboard is only 214 lbs and staying light keeps the tender fast. It’ll do 32 kts (37 MPH). Diesels are very heavy, expensive and there aren’t many options in the small horsepower ranges.
Moving to a single fuel on Dirona would be attractive but it comes with so many compromises that are hard to accept, we carry enough gas that we don’t need to fill often and we haven’t found gas hard to find.
may I ask would there be a post about deck equipment onboard dirona
We’ve been talking about doing a video on the systems. We think it’s worth doing but just haven’t found the spare time to bring it together but we will do it. Thanks for the suggestion.
your welcome it would be interesting to see
merry christmas and a happy new year to jennifer and James hamilton spitfire and all viewers
hello Jennifer and James and spitfire
in the next year or two I’m planning a cruising trip to norway may I ask any tips on finding petrol in norway the vessel I have has a 136 liter or 36gal fuel tank and for longer trips I have 10 spare tanks 5 liters each I’ve had 25-30 nm on a ful tank
Merry christmas and a happy new year
We only fill up very rarely so haven’t a lot of personal experience and when we get fuel, it’s often by having a truck deliver it. We usually 3 to 4 times only because we carry a lot of fuel (6624 liters). However, the good news is that Norway has small settlements just about everywhere and nearly everyone seems to have a boat. Consequently many settlements have fuel available and settlements are all over along the coast. Most of Norway’s fuel stops are without attendants. You just need a credit card and you can buy fuel there 24×7. These fuel stops are very plentiful. And you are willing to carry your gas cans a block or two, then most towns of any size can be fuel stops for you even if there isn’t a marine stop in that area.
Hello James and Jennifer,
Your site and stories are the highlight of my day. Thanks for sharing your stories and adventures.
I have been looking for the story of when you made a crossing and hit really bad weather and took a big
hit to Dirona. Could you please direct me to that story if there is one?
click on topics and select nordhavn and at the top in the cruising section is the information regarding 69.1 degrees it maybe the post your looking for
James suggestion is an excellent one. The shortcut to that video is at:
We had a mechanical problem on our North Atlantic crossing that made it a more difficult than expected trip. That write-up is at:
And our planned follow up work is at:
Hi James & Jennifer,
I can’t help but notice…in the Spare Cat photo, should the floor panel closest to the photographer be rotated 180deg? Looks like the lines on the Teak & Holly would align better (assuming they were aligned from the factory!)? Sorry, just my OCD catching things!
Yes, the woodwork does align. The cover is only temporarily re-installed as we work.
It`s good to see you back i Norway again!
Just a tip: 0.5 NM NNW of your current position is a great hotel you should see. Håholmen (link: https://nb-no.facebook.com/HaholmenHavstuer/) is an old place converted to a hotel and museum. They have the remaining parts of the replika viking ship Saga Siglar which sank in the Mediterranean Sea. It`s a beautiful place, althoug I have only been there in the summer.
Another tip which is a bit more north of you, Grip (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grip,_Norway) (63.2195N 7.5931E) Also a very beautiful place, but again I have only been there in the summer. No one lives the during the winter, but it is so special that I think it is still worth the trip.
Thanks for sending along both recommendations. Some of the best experiences of our world-wide cruise have come from reader recommendations. Thanks!
Hi James and Jennifer, Thanks for all the great posts of your adventures and preparations as well. So useful and I love seeing your adventures. I have adapted your maintenance spreadsheet to our boat. Lots of work to get it set up, but provides such useful tracking. A couple of questions. We are traveling with two cats, Nikki and Chicha. What is your planning in case you need to abandon ship? Do you have preservers for them?
Secondly, I’m trying to figure out a good method for managing our tracks and sharing that information in my online journal. Could you provide some insights on how you are managing yours?
Glad you are finding the spreadsheet useful. For Spitfire, we don’t have a life preserver. It’s hard to get him into anything and just about impossible to keep him in anything if he is in a panic and we’re not sure we will have time. If he’s scared though, he will trust me and cling to my chest so our plan is to put him underneath our winter flotation suits. You an see the Mustang 2175 in the picture at the end of this article: https://mvdirona.com/TechnicalArticles/PY_JAN06_WINTER_CRUISING.pdf.
For tracking, we recommend Spot (https://www.findmespot.com/en-us/) or Inreach (https://buy.garmin.com/en-GB/GB/p/561269). They produce good results and we have seen cruisers using Spot with very nice embedded maps. The system seems pretty good and gets good reviews but we’ve not used it ourselves. What we use is an more complex integrated system where we have written custom software that stores 100s of data points every 5 seconds in a database. This includes all engine, navigation, power, weather, and location data. A subset of that data is uploaded to the web site automatically for display.
Thanks James for the reply. We can usually get our cats into carriers, but those live in a compartment under the bed. Not easy access in a hurry. Our cats will cling to us us well. Your idea of carrying them that way may be a better option. We can get them to wear harnesses, but they have no flotation and perhaps that is not the biggest issue. If we can get to our life raft or dinghy, being in a warm spot may be more important. Will think on that more.
Funny that you mention SPOT. I have a Spot Trace and our Kady Krogen does not seem to have enough motion to wake it up after sleeping at a marina or anchorage. I’ve been in contact with them, installed their greater sensitivity tool and even had them send me a new one. I have tried locations all over the boat to no avail. I typically have to power cycle it every time to wake it up. It would be a good tool if I could get it to work… I’ll keep fiddling and do some additional searching.
Certainly flotation for cats is available (https://www.amazon.com/s?k=cat+floatation+vest&ref=nb_sb_noss_2). One of the biggest problems with lower cost human floatation aids is not all keep the head above the water. I have no idea how cat floatation vests due by that measure. There is no certifying authority and testing would be cruel. It wasn’t the direction we took but might be a good solution. We just don’t know.
On your unhappiness with Spot Trace, the Trace is designed to track personal assets. It’s not the choice for people I know that have chosen Spot devices but it appears to be supported by both the Spot Basic and Flex Basic plans so it might work for your needs. However, I believe you need one of these plans and a device support by the chosen plan in order to get the tracking support you want. These plans offer Basic tracking with 5, 10, 30, and 60 min check-in supported (https://www.findmespot.com/en-us/products-services/service-plans#spot-gen4-plans). Either plan using a 5 min check in would yeild a reasonably high resolution track.
Hi James, Yes I’d hate the do the kitty head above the water flotation test. My kittens would disown me!
Regarding Spot, I have the Spot Basic plan currently. When I reboot, it mostly tracks, but seems useless for asset tracking as it never turns on without me rebooting. Of the folks you know using Spot, which device are they successfully using?
My read of the Spot Basic plan is that it should work for you. I’ve not heard the “reboot required” complaint before and don’t know if the reboot problem exists with other Spot devices. Good luck with getting the tracking you want.
J and J: Am a bit confused with your recent posting of photos in the Highlights section of Dirona.com where all are being tagged with the same date, namely 10/20/2020
You are not 2 months behind in posting photos are you? :)
Yes, we are 2 months behind. The map always shows our current location but the trip log and blog entries are written as we have time and we are running way late. We expected cold weather and short daylight hours in the Norwegian winter would have us fully caught up and looking for things to do but we’re having a ball and keeping very busy.
It’ll certainly rain soon and we’ll get closer to caught up :-).
Love your videos! Thank you for sharing a wealth of knowledge with those of us that hope to travel like this someday! Loved your trip near Amsterdam. What do you use for your four camera view and how do you edit that into your videos? Have a Merry Christmas!!
Yes, you are right. Travelling by small boat is a wonderful way to see the world. For cameras we have many Reolink Dome cameras (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07FQ2T89L) throughout the boat (6 outside and 2 inside). For video editing use use Adobe Premier Elements 15. Thanks for the video feedback and happy holidays.
Well I am jealous, on your tender track you went by our boat on the hard at Ulsteinvik Marine. Right behind the two very large supply boats. The whole area is a Gem. Hoping to be able to return in the spring.
It’s a wonderful area. Hope you can return to it in the spring as planned.
Will you have a stop in Kristiansund? If so, you are welcome for a beer on board my boat Fridtjofen, which was built for University of Bergen as a research vessel in 1955.
Thanks for the kind offer. We’re really enjoying having absolutely no plans or schedule and just continuing to explore north. My expectation is there is a very good chance we would make it as far north as Kristiansund. All the best!
Cruising along the coast with no plans or schedule sounds good :) Just send me a message if you come to Kristiansund and would like to visit Fridtjofen. Best regards. Egil
You could spend a lifetime on the Norwegian coastline and never see it all. We’re loving it.
Team Hamilton. I am gaining the necessary confidence and approval :) for an ocean bound adventure trip and looking at both the Nordhavn 52 and 60’s. Curious if you had insight on this topic and if you looked at the n60 prior to selecting the n52? I plan to buy a hull that is capable of a world adventure, but do not want to buy a boat bigger than necessary. There is little discussion on this topic i can find so appreciate your thoughts. Safe Travels. Chris
When we were in the boat market, we looked at Nordavn, Kady Krogan, and Selene and ended up deciding the Nordhavn was the best choice for us. The Selene was less expensive than the Nordhavn and that was attractive but the cost of equipping it the way we wanted the boat for world cruising narrowed the gap considerably. With the effective prices very near, we decided we preferred the Nordhavn. In the Nordhavn line we looked at the 40, 43, 47, and 55 since neither the 52 nor the 60 where yet available. Since the boat was going to be our home and we were going to be on the boat 365 days a year without an apartment or house, we concluded the N40 was too small and with a fairly short waterline length, it’s also too slow for our tastes. We tried hard to make the N43 work but ended up concluding it just wasn’t quite big enough and we liked the additional fuel capacity and cruising speed of the 47. The N55 seemed bigger than we needed and we found it optically a bit vertical. While under contract for the N47 but before it had been started we gave serious consideration to a N55 that had been started but the buyer had elected to back away from the purchase. We again, decided to stay with the N47. We were shown the N52 drawings around the same time and we fell in love with it. The two most important features from our perspective was the additional space in the cockpit — we love spending time outside and are outside daily even in the winter in Norway where we are right now. The second feature that attracted us to the N52 was it carried an additional 200 gallons of fuel over the N47. We elected to upgrade our N47 build to the N52 and that’s where we ended up.
More information on our decision process and choices can be founded here: https://mvdirona.com/blog/content/binary/Hamilton_TF10_BuildingTrawlerWebPost.pdf.
The N55 was later upgraded to N60 and we find the 60 a much more attractive boat than it’s predecessor the N55. The stretch took away some of the vertical look of the N55. We find the N60 very attractive and really like the floor plan. We are also attracted to the twin engine configuration available on the N60 with two John Deere 4045s. If we were to build a boat today we would be choosing between the N60 and the N52 with the N60 having the advantages of twin engines, more fuel, and a better floor plan. The N52 has a significant advantage on price and is big enough for us. It’s hard to say where we would end up but I suspect we might do the N60. It mostly would come down to economics and value as they are both great boats.
Thank you so much for the thorough response and great perspective. I am trying to get on board an N52 in Seattle soon as i think the size, capabilities and style are right for us as well. the N47 felt a bit small and the N60 seemed like more than we needed for a crew of 2. We would like to follow your footsteps someday on a major circumnavigation, but in the meantime plan to use the boat for extended journeys (1-2 weeks) and long weekends. While we may not cross paths in Norway (love the blog BTW), we hope to meet you and Jennifer down the “channel”. Merry Christmas.
That sounds like a great plan. We did something similar where we got Dirona years before planning to retire so it would be setup the way we want when retirement came. We ended up starting the big cruise before retirement and I ended up not retiring when I expected we would. Plans have changed all over the place but no regrets. The boat has been an amazing adventure platform and a good home.
The loss of KNM Helge Ingstad
On this site you will find a list of preventable accidents involving navy ships:
That’s a great summary of Naval warship accidents over the last couple of years. I agree with the author that the list is surprisingly long. From my perspective, the practice of navigating without AIS when not in wartime operations is needless risky and gives up information that can really help avoid collisions. AIS clearly isn’t required to avoid accidents but, when mistakes are being made, it might be the difference between a close call caused by a few bad decisions and a collision.
Thanks for pointing out the article.
Watch out for this guy:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sTB64SZFgI
He can do 17 Kts submerged.
As long as he stays submerged, we’ll get along fine! :-)
James, Jennifer and Spitfire,
I hope you’re having a great time in Norway. Every once in a while I enjoy spending a few hours on your website, living vicariously through your travels and adventures.
Don’t most rational sailors head down to the Caribbean about now?
Hey Kevin. Great hearing from you. You asked “don’t most rational sailors head south about now”. Of course, you are right but we have bound sailing without rational sailors is more interesting. Norway in the winter is an all new adventure. We’re loving it. It’s not warm, the days are short, the wind can kick up but the natural beauty is truly amazing. Hopefully I’ll be back to doing air travel again next year and we can catch up in Seattle over lunch, a drink, or whatever. It’s been way too long.
Dear Mr. Hamilton,
I own a Botnia Targa 44 with Furuno navigation equipment on board. Last week my Hatteland displays showed black screens and after some fault finding I have come to the conclusion that it must be the graphics card in the MFDBB. When I googled I found that you had similar challenges with your Furuno Graphics Card. In https://mvdirona.com/2015/10/thank-you-plug-n-play/ you wrote that you replaced it with NVIDIA 6200 Card, but that the exact card would have been NVIDIA 7600. Question 1: Do you have the exact NVIDIA 6200 specification? Question 2: I can get my hand on a Asus EN7600 GT/2DHT/256Mb a NVIDIA 7600 clone did you have tried these as well or only the NVIDIA 6200 card?
The good thing of the very extremely annoying failure of my navigation equipment onboard is that I stumbled on you site. We are now watching your videos on youtube they truly great! Loved the one over “De Staande Mast Route”
Amsterdam to Antwerp by Canal. I live in Amsterdam and Medemblik The Netherlands.
Sorry to hear you are having troubles with your Furuno graphics card. I recommend plugging your Hatteland monitors into a PC to confirm they are still working since that’s a far easier problem than opening up the MFDBB. The Furuno NN3D MFDBB, when it was in production used a Elsa Gladiac 776 GS and the specs of that out-of-production card is here: https://www.gpuzoo.com/GPU-ELSA/GLADIAC_776_GS_256MB_-_GD776-256ERGS.html. Given that the MFDBB runs Windows XP it may be possible to get it to load different graphics drivers based upon what was installed when Furuno prepared the build image. Or the device driver they are using may support a wide variety of graphics adapters. There is no way to know other than to to try it.
To minimize the time invested in this project, I would try to match the Elsa Gladiac as close as possible and I would only look at cards based upon the Nvidia GeForce 7600 (https://www.gpuzoo.com/GPU-NVIDIA/GeForce_7600_GS_DDR2.html). You could try clones but just using an adapter with the exact and correct Nvidia part seems like a better path to me. Best of luck and thanks for the feedback on the video.
Thank you for the swift reply and good advice really appreciate it,…. i am off tinkering now…
Best of luck. I found the MFDBB would boot Linux off a USB so I used that to debug the hardware and then brought up the Furuno/WinXP stack and it worked pretty well and wasn’t that painful to deal with. Hope you quickly get good results.
I noticed your beautiful boat today in Pollen.
Checked Maritime Traffic 😃
I love your trip !
My holliday house is close to your position.
Please let me know if you need anything.
What a wonderful area for a holiday house. Thanks for the welcome and for the offer to help if we need anything. All the best from Dirona.
Happy Thanksgiving from California
Happy Thanksgiving to you as well.
I’m curious how you approach redundant sensors on your NMEA2000 network. The easy answer would seem to be “do the right device and data instance assignment”, but where I’m having the issue is with TimeZero. The only way TimeZero seems to support explicitly defing a ‘primary’ device is through the input port itself. But, that feels very much like the NMEA0183 world, where generally only a single device would come in over a given port, versus the NMEA2000 world where a single port can see the entire network. How have you approached getting TimeZero to prefer a specific data source?
It’s a mystery why engineering teams can’t really implement NMEA2000 instancing. It’s not that complex. Every PGN comes from a device and that device does have an instance number. For some PGNs the instance number is transmitted in the PGN so it’s really hard to figure out why many implementations don’t use it. For other PGNs, the PGN does not contain the instance number and you only know the CANbus source address and the CANbus source address isn’t stable (can change) so can’t be used directly to identify a device.
Fortunately a device on NMEA2000 can ask all devices to send their product information that includes instance number and lots of other data on the device. So, by holding state all PGNs do have an instance number either by having it directly in the PGN or by having the CANbus source address set and the reading program keeping the CANbus source address to instance number mapping.
One of the decisions made by CANbus and carried on by NMEA2000 is to not have instance numbers in each PGN. It makes it more complex to support instance numbers and the outcome is that many manufacturers won’t properly support them. The saving of a few bits isn’t worth it. Complexity of implementations go up and, when that happens, implementation quality will suffer.
That’s a long way of saying I 100% agree with you that the TimeZero implementation of NMEA doesn’t make it easy to support multiple devices. I work around these failings to get things working. In the case of Timezero, it’s been 10 years but, as I recall, TimeZero choses the SC-30 for heading and position on our network probably because the SC-30 has instance number 0 but it could just be fluke. Then, if that device goes away, they might use the next best they can find on the NMEA2000 network or they might fail over to the the secondary source configured in TimeZero.
Here’s how I set my secondary sources: For all data I have a NMEA0183 feed or data available from the Furuno NN3D network. It’s clumsy to configure a device to produce NMEA0183 output of a secondary position sensor that is already on the NMEA2000 network. But, it works and I can do it without getting on the phone with Timezero so, that’s the path I took. Clumsy but effective and not that hard to implement (but I agree it shouldn’t be necessary).
OK, so that aligns with my experience and frustration; I agree that in concept this all should be trivial to get right and it’s mind-boggling that software can’t be smarter about NMEA2000 instancing.
What do you use as your NMEA2000 to USB gateways? I have three of them that TimeZero can subscribe to, each one having its own issues:
Actisense NGT-1: It uses the lowest ‘Source ID’ for a given PGN. I’ve seen this change between devices whenever there is a state change on the network. For instance, sometimes when the network first starts up, TimeZero is preferring one device, but as soon as I start up N2KAnalyze, it shifts over to another device. Weird.
Vesper XB-8000 (this is our AIS transponder, but it is also a NMEA2000 gateway): This is the most dangerous one, as I’ve seen it send PGNs from multiple sources within a single second. The only way this one is safe to use if there is only one device at a given time for a given PGN. In practice I only use this one to get the AIS data (no need to send all that noise over the overall NMEA2000 network).
Maretron USB100: This one has the most promise, as it lets one set a specific devices to ‘offline’. Unfortunately, it is not playing well with the scenario I am trying to work with, where I have a Furuno SCX20 satellite compass, and I’m trying to ensure that is preferred over a NMEA2000 fluxgate compass I also have. It does not ‘remember’ that the fluxgate was supposed to be offline but it does for other devices. Of course even if this setup works, it isn’t truly working as a ‘standby’ as I would have to reconfigure the USB100 to bring a backup device online.
So at this point I either need to disconnect the fluxgate from the network when I am not using it (which is dangerous), or potentially partition my NMEA2000 network into ‘primary’ and ‘backup’ sensors. That seems to be what you have done, and that would work fine for TimeZero, but less so for other systems I have (such as the autopilot) that cannot connect to multiple NMEA2000 networks.
This should be so much easier than it is! It makes me tempted to write a new driver for one of these gateways that actually operates predictably and transparently.
There is no end to the exasperation and frustration with N2K and all these half implemented (at best) firmwares and drivers, and the whole architecture with all its poor decisions baked in. Nordhavn owners should band together and form a company, an LLC or whatever, with partners contributing capital to fund the purchase of the N2K spec (not cheap) and contributing engineering expertise to write software and build some hardware to solve a lot of these idiotic problems. Off the top of my head I could easily come up with a list of several interface devices, translator devices, etc that would be hugely beneficial to systems like ours that no one else in the commercial space seems to get right.
I would certainly be in on this. In fact I’m going to put this idea to some of the people on the NOG.
It’s true that many solutions are possible with custom software. A NMEA200 smart bridge that prioritizes the sources for different PGNs and flows the highest priority working source device PGNs would be quite welcome and not especially difficult to implement.
Your approach make sense Alec. My general take on this is NMEA2000 has all the tools needed to allow a really nice, fully redundant system to be constructed where each critical consuming client can have a hierarchy of receiving devices. But implementers haven’t implemented these facilities. I suspect that the vast majority of boaters and installers don’t care and really don’t equip there systems to be able to operate through failure so there isn’t great demand for this feature. Most systems have one of what is needed and, if something breaks, then it’s broken until service. What we are trying to do is less common. It should still work but it’s less common.
I see two possible approaches to what you want to achieve: 1) backup device are only connected to the bus on failure and 2) it would be possible to put all sensors on one network and all consumers on a different network and put a bridge between them that implemented the prioritization you want and flows the data from a single fixed sensor of each type and, if the primary goes away or has erratic or unreliable data, switch to secondary. This is work to write but it wouldn’t really be that much. You would need a system with two NMEA2000 adapters and you would effectively just be implementing a smart bridge.
I implemented the NMEA0183 version of this on my previous boat. In the course of one year we had two NMEA0183 multiplexer failures so I gave up and wrote one myself where all NMEA0183 sources flowed into a single embedded computer and a single flow of NMEA0183 flowed out to all consumers. That ran great for the next 8 years until we sold the boat. Never another glitch and, over time, I started storing all the data in a database. Then started displaying the data and alerting and alarming on it. Over the years, that system has evolved into what we currently use. So it would have been easy to write the smart NMEA2000 bridge that I described and we probably should have done it.
But, it’s work and we ended up with a hybrid approach where most devices are on the network and I’ve got the system stable so the same primaries are always chosen. There are fault modes that would require me to add or subtract devices so, in some cases, we wouldn’t have automatic failover but, we have the parts to work through failures, failures are rare, we can operate without any of the sensors for short periods. We took the easy way out and decided to just accept the poor job that was being done and work around the sharp edges rather than implement a fully custom solution but the latter could be done and would be a nice enough solution that I suspect there would be a commercial market for such a device. Overtime, manufacturers will learn to do a better job but embedded software changes somewhat slower than continental drift and it’ll take 15 to 20 years and many will never get there.
Thanks for passing on your experience Alec. That’s useful to know for us and others.
Of course; I hadn’t considered a smart bridge between ‘sensor’ and ‘computer’ NMEA2000 network. That’s a really good way to think about it, rather than putting the smarts in the PC/NMEA2000 gateway. I’ve been looking for a Raspberry Pi project and this feels like one that might fit the bill. If I come up with something useful I’ll put the code up on Github.
It would be an awesome Raspberry Pi project. Not too big a project but these sorts of jobs are full of mess management and, by the time it’s done, it’ll take a slice of time to get it all the way you want it. But, it would be wonderful to be able to have code that can be changed and updated easily and can detect devices going away or, for devices like sat compasses that often keep transmitting when they don’t have good location data, you can detect that as well. It would be highly cool.
Hello, i can see that you are currently ancored at Heggøy and i have a tiny farm on the other side of the island. Nobody is living there at the moment but it is used extensively during the summer as a retreat from the ordenary da to day life.
That’s great! We’re enjoying it. Winds have been high overnight. We saw gusts to 64 kts with averages in the 35 to 40 kt range so it’s been windy. But it’s a wonderful location and we can see why it makes a great retreat. Thanks for your comment.
You mentioned engine oil leaks from a clogged CCV filter recently. Where did the engine leak? I would be most interested in your results from the new WIX filter.
As soon as I saw the issue, we changed the RACOR and started monitoring crankcase pressure more closely using a Manometer. That’s how we found out how fast it can start to rise. We don’t check it often now having gotten use to the rate of filter changes that are needed. I’ll check it in a year and see how the Wix filter is doing.
The oil leaks we developed before I took action where the oil pan and the rocker shaft carrier gasket. I changed the carrier gasket when we changed the fuel injectors 3 years ago at 9,000 hours. The oil pan seep is very minor as long as the crankcase pressure is not excessive and, with 11,000 hours, we feel lucky that the engine is still nice and white without leaks all over the place. It’s doing surprisingly well.
Hi… I`ve been following you for some time. You are now entering my childhood area. I`m no longer living in the area but would offer a suggesting for route and landing.
I would suggest that you got DALSFJORDEN all the way. Dalsfjorden stops at Bygstad. The start of the fjord is “common norwegian”, open with surrounding mountaints and waterfalls. Further in its mor narrow, end ends at this small “city” Bygstad.
For landing I will recomend my hometown of ASKVOLL. I lived my first four years in a buliding at who is now gone..At the waterfront. Most of my youth this quay was my summerjob. Delivering building materials and replenish boats passing. https://goo.gl/maps/E3qHJKcSGm2jTNCm6 i would higly recommend a visit to Askvoll Sjømat & Delikatesser 50 meters from the waterfront. Its a deli, specialicing in seafood.
We love getting local advice in our cruising and some of our best side trips came from helpful readers. Thanks very much.
I see you like a hike… 61°19’14.7″N 4°46’13.1″E The island Alden. Aka “The Norwegian Horse”. 481 moh, and visible from 100 km ot at sea.. trail form the port on the southside.
Thanks for the suggestion Olav.
I see you found Flekkefjorden all by yourself :o) You where passing Red Cross Nordic United World Center inbound. Haugland and UWC is a grat tender landing. Enjoy..!
What a beautiful area!!! Thanks for recommending it. We did a tender tour of the area. The Red Cross complex is a big one.
Lynn and I spent a month in Norway a few years ago and I have to say it is my goal to get over there cruising. The virus has delayed our boat several months we are now “firmly” March from the factory, so hopefully commissioned by May. Btw N60’s are now 3 years out!
Wow, 3 years to get a new 60. With three years to wait if we go to a N60, we better take extra good care of Dirona! Congratulations on being close to taking delivery of your new boat.
I have to say, while it has been a super exciting experience with the time and knowing that every month is a month we could have been spending time cruising … I would strongly consider buying a well kept used in hindsight, although are hard to come by lately. I figure I’ve spent 200 hours min researching specifications, reading instruction manuals, blogs, etc on every mechanical, electrical, aesthetics and so on, this base knowledge though and the fun of selection are priceless. Even near the end we continue to have some minor change here or there. I am pretty amazed that [they] keep up with all of it. I saw your comment also on the 41 for the Great Loop and that was funny that Lynn and I thought the same thing awhile back.
I totally know what you mean. We avoid the “missing cruising” issue by contracting for the boat before we intended to go full time cruising and keeping our old boat while the new one was built to avoid missing weekends and holidays. On the hundreds of hours that need to be invested, we just did our best where work and cruising took priority. That means that some of our decisions where considerably less well researched than some achieve. We just ran risk on a few. Looking back 11 years later, no big regrets. We didn’t miss many but a lot but, there is no question we could have done some better.
I agree that just managing all the changes is a major project management challenge. Nordhavn does well by this measure and we appreciate their flexibility. We hope your boat moves along quickly to completion. You’re going to love it.
Hi, I understand you have a great maintenance spreadsheet use. Heard of it on the Waggonierse website. Can you post it or send it. Thanks
Yes, the maintenance log spreadsheet is posted here: https://mvdirona.com/2018/11/updating-the-maintenance-log/ and the original posting is at: https://mvdirona.com/2015/03/maintenance-log/. It’s good to hear it’s working for people.
James and Jennifer,
Hello my wife and I have been following your journey for years. We anchor out often and could not find a reliable, easy to use anchor drag alert system and weather warning system. During COVID, I used the time to develop an anchor and marine overwatch application (currently for iOS/iPad). I recently became an authorized Iridium developer and am starting to integrate satellite solutions for offshore use. I would love the opportunity to discuss the application with you to make sure I’m addressing requirements for offshore cruising.
That sounds like a useful application. We might not be the best to give advice on your project since we lack experience with dragging anchors, use a KVH V7hts for satellite connectivity rather than Iridium (we do have Iridium as a backup when crossing oceans but only then), and use Android mobile devices rather than IOS. But we’re happy to help if we can.
Our approach to anchoring has been to use modern anchors, go to the large side of reasonable, and use a lot of rode. For the first 10 years in a 15 ton 40 ft boat, we used a 66 lb Bruce, 200 feet of chain, and then 300′ of rope rode. We always used 5:1 and often 7:1 scope. And we usually set an anchor alarm. We always set at the equivalent load of a 40 kt wind. Over the 10 years we used that boat, we were rewarded for putting some care into anchoring by never dragging and we saw up to 60 kt conditions.
The current boat is a 55 ton, 52 footer and it has a 154 Rocna with 500′ of chain. Again we always set with equivalent force to 40 kts of wind. After just over a couple of decades of never seeing a drag, we no longer set the anchor alarm partly because it’s difficult to set the anchor circle small enough to warn before the boat hits land but not warn as winds and currents change. And partly because we’ve not seen any dragging. Over the last few years we have started to use lower scope ratios when anchoring in very deep waters. For example, we are currently in 100′ of water but only have 330′ of rode deployed. Our current approach is to use around 4:1 to 5:1 in shallow water and drop back to 3:1 to 4:1 in deeper water.
If you have questions for us with respect to your project, feel free to drop me email at email@example.com.
Currently the application is designed to run on a phone or tablet. We’re integrating in several weather feeds into our overwatch system to include future integration of GRIB data. We’re also working on an option to make our system able to send back data to weather providers from our onboard sensors to potentially assist with regional weather modeling.
Playing with hardware and software application designed to integrate with the ship/boat NMEA /183 2000 backbone. I’m making it compatible with an onboard telemetry module that will also connect over satellite and LTE when near the coast.
I will send you a direct email as I have found you a wealth of information of the years and may have some feature integration ideas that I have not thought of. The focus of the app is a more simple “Chartplotter Companion” to aid in tracking, alerting you on land of severe weather at your boat’s location, etc.
Super interesting project. The combination of seeing NMEA2000 and NMEA0183 traffic and being externally connected could do some really interesting things. An ambitious but exciting project.
That’s an interesting project.
Carson. I was going to write some of this type of thing a few years ago but the cost of access and lack of transparency in N2K put me off. I reversed a little bit of it watching some obvious messages with obvious data content on a can bus monitor but that really doesn’t make for a practical flexible interface. How are you handling the N2K side of it?
The PICAN-2 setup on a raspberry pi has worked great to plug into N2k networks for a while, and they just released a PICAN-M unit. Makes it super easy to play with. I’m actually working on developing something similar, but more extensive. Full remote boat monitoring with remote anchor alarm, live web streaming of all of this, etc. But the PICAN-M is a great starter way to get N2k data onto a Raspberry Pi and start playing around with apps.
We do as well. We read the NMEA2000 bus using Actisense NGT-1-USB (https://actisense.com/products/ngt-1-nmea-2000-to-pc-interface/) and we read Masterbus, a proprietary CANbus design using CANusb (https://www.can232.com/). We also have full remote monitoring and alarming, live web streaming, etc.
TImely write-up as I had an anchoring question while following you around Norway. in early 2000s, I was invited on a customer’s boat in a fjord near Oslo.
We did not anchor; rather we pulled up to the fjord wall and tied off to an embedded ring. The customer said it was better that way as they could enjoy a day trip without having to deploy and possibly hang the anchor on rock. It was a truly remarkable day that I will never forget and your photos brought it right back into focus.
With all the rocky mountains surrounding the fjords, I assume the bottom is pretty rocky but was wondering what type of bottom you are encountering and how you avoid anchor hangs on retrieval? And if you do hang, what procedure or tools do you use to free the anchor. I had a Rocna on my previous boat and it worked great, however, we are in Florida so mostly sandy/mud bottoms.
Hey Tim. Norway is, as you said, truly remarkable. Norway’s natural beauty is incredible.
On your anchoring question, conditions vary widely. Many reports say you just can’t anchor in the fjords and there are some that are so deep right up to near shore that anchoring isn’t possible for us but these are the exceptions. Just about every fjord we have been in has at least some anchorable sections. Often they shallow near the or in a bay along the way. Sometimes these “shallows” are not all that shallow — we often anchor in 100′ to 110′ but not a problem for a well equipped boat. Some of these fjords have remarkably shallow sections. For example, we are currently anchored at the end of a fjord but in only 50′ of water.
When a potential anchorage has relatively stable depths, we find they are usually mud, clay, sand, etc. rather than rock. Rock bottoms tend to have a lot more variability. When testing the set of the anchor, if the chain is running over rock, we’ll hear it as we set. Generally, we try to use more scope when anchoring on rock since it can be less secure but we rarely find that we don’t get a secure set. Our definition of secure is pulling back at roughly the same force as a 40 kts wind.
As you notice we anchor a lot. The shallowest we have anchored in is 7′ (we draw 6′ 7″) and the deepest is 146′ (we carry 500′ rode). It’s very rare that we have had trouble recovering an anchor. On our previous boat we lost one anchor to logging debris (chain and boom cable discarded by loggers). This was in 80′ and we probably could have recovered the anchor by SCUBA diving it but it was winter and the water was 46F and visibility was under 5′ so we decided not to. On this boat, we have hung up anchors a few times over the 11 years we have had it. For example, in the South Pacific we had 2 or 3 cases where the boat had moved around and the chain hard wrapped around a bottom feature. But in these cases we were always able to untangle it but moving the boat around to tug at different angles to free the chain from whatever crevices it was hooking up in. As we got the chain free, we pulled it in as we created slack and kept working until it was untangled from the bottom. In the worst case, we probably invested 30 to 45 min to recover the anchor. In Scotland’s Orkney Island group we got an anchor hung up in a very large chain where we were unable to free it. In this case, the anchor tip had actually slid into the center of a chain link and it was sprung in place. Pulling hard in all directions wasn’t effective. We were able to free it by SCUBA diving prying it out using a 1 meter steel pry bar. It was really in there (https://mvdirona.com/2017/09/anchor-ensnarled/).
We don’t use it frequently but we recommend using an anchor trip line to aid anchor recovery when the bottom is potentially foul. This is a write up on the procedure we use: https://mvdirona.com/TechnicalArticles/WilsonAnchorBuoy.htm.
It’s pretty rare that we have trouble recovering an anchor. And in 21 years of boating, we have had only two situations where were were unable to work anchor and chain free by moving the boat around. The last time was more than 3 years ago — we haven’t had any problems so far in Norway.
Thanks for the details. I’ll look into those other posts.
Dear Jennifer and James, the hull for my N41 is now under construction. The design philosophy of the 41 is to build a complete boat with very minimal factory options available. I have been asked to choose the electrical system, and have opted for a 50hz/240V boat, which I hope will prove better for circumnavigation than 60hz/120V. My last boat was 60hz and it was an ongoing nightmare getting shore power to work in Australia. The only options I have requested so far are a 2nd autopilot and a watermaker. All of the standard navigation equipment is Garmin with no other brand offered by the factory. I was going to send you a private message to ask whether, in your experience, there is anything significant that I should request at build stage, but thought that maybe the group can benefit from your answer. I would be super grateful if you could spare a moment to look at the standard 41 specifications and share your thoughts https://nordhavn.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Standard-Specs-with-Photos.pdf Please remember I am your most technically challenged friend so nothing you say can be overly simplistic! Thank you so very much :-)
Man, what a boat. We want one for the great circle and to tour European rivers and canals. It looks like a wonderfully well though through boat and the sales success suggests it’s a really good value. We really like the N41.
We are perhaps the wrong people to ask about options and changes with Dan Streech reporting that Dirona had the most change orders per linear foot :-). In reading the reference you sent us, it’s titled standard specs but included a generator which it lists as optional in the text. Many entries in the list appear to be standard equipment (e.g. Beta Marine engine) so we weren’t able to figure out which of these specs were optional and which were standard. If you could get us a list of which of these features are optional, we’re happy to pass on our thoughts.
It’s exciting to see the N41 project taking shape and to hear your boat is now underway. It looks like this model is on track to be the most successful boat in the history of PAE.
Thanks for such a fast reply James. I did a cut and paste from the Nordhavn web site, so will dig out my actual contract and send to you. Thanks again. Kate
Great. We’re both happy to read through the list of options available for the 41 and those you have selected and let you know if we recommend adding any to the list.
I see you are having a Victron Mulitplus, I did not see if you will also have a Venus GX, or Gerbo GX of Victron. but the multiples combined with either you can program the multi to auto start the generator when the batteries fall below a set parameters, like SOC, Battery Voltage, power use over a set wattage etc.
I have it programmed even programmed to treat the shore power as a’generator’ for the few times my solar panels can not keep up.
You will also be able to use these control units as a remote warning for bilge pumps, intruder alert, smoke alert etc.
Dirona is online at Flam see
Great to see. We took a screen shot. Thanks for pointing the Visions of the Fjord webcam out.
Hello James and Jennifer. I’m a Nordhavn dreamer currently, but my wife and I have plans to sell it all, and get on board one within 10 years. Your videos have partially contributed to this plan, so thank you.
I just noticed where you folks are right now. A very good friend of mine owns this place: https://www.flamsbrygga.com/ and the associated brewery attached. His name is Evan Lewis, and his wife’s name is Aud. Their place is amazing, and his beer even more amazing. If you happen to stop up that way, mention that Jason says hello.
Looking forward to continuing to follow your adventures.
Your friend makes great beer. We first visited his place back in 2018 and dropped by again yesterday and picked up a couple of cases of beer. We’re big fans.
Do you treat the output of your watermaker before drinking it? Do you assume it is free of bacteria, virus and parasites?
Yes, we do drink reverse osmosis water and are confident that it’ll remove all pathogens and parasites and we don’t further treat the water prior to consumption. Here’s a fairly typical news article on R/O safety:https://www.uwhealth.org/news/dr-jacqueline-gerhart-theres-good-and-bad-to-using-reverse-osmosis-water-systems/36710#:~:text=If%20you%20are%20on%20a,these%20substances%20from%20your%20water where they say “If you are on a camping trip, traveling in another country, or in an area with bacteria or parasite-laden water, reverse osmosis systems allow contaminant removal, and safe drinking water. If you live in an area with heavy pesticides and herbicides use, reverse osmosis can remove these substances from your water.”
Most of these reports are also concerned about the removal of minerals from the water potentially introducing another health risk if there are no other sources of these minerals and only R/O water is consumed. The US Center for Disease Control (https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/home-water-treatment/household_water_treatment.html) says:
*Reverse Osmosis Systems use a process that reverses the flow of water in a natural process of osmosis so that water passes from a more concentrated solution to a more dilute solution through a semi-permeable membrane. Pre- and post-filters are often incorporated along with the reverse osmosis membrane itself.
*A reverse osmosis filter has a pore size of approximately 0.0001 micron.
*Reverse Osmosis Systems have a very high effectiveness in removing protozoa (for example, Cryptosporidium, Giardia);
*Reverse Osmosis Systems have a very high effectiveness in removing bacteria (for example, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli);
*Reverse Osmosis Systems have a very high effectiveness in removing viruses (for example, Enteric, Hepatitis A, Norovirus, Rotavirus);
*Reverse Osmosis Systems will remove common chemical contaminants (metal ions, aqueous salts), including sodium, chloride, copper, chromium, and lead; may reduce arsenic, fluoride, radium, sulfate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, nitrate, and phosphorous.
Thanks for the detailed reply.
Any concerns after the water comes out of the watermaker? While in the storage tank, for example.
Pure R/O water will grow things especially in warm weather so you need to be aware of the issue. If the boat is being used and water is flowing frequently, it’s not a problem. Our strategy is to take on city water frequently which is chlorinated and, even if we run on R/O for a couple of months, it’ll get another treatment of chlorinated water every couple of months. It’s never been a problem but, for boats that get left unused for long periods or boats that are running pure R/O water, I recommend a small chlorination treatment. This treatment method is well covered in Peggy Hall’s book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Get-Boat-Odors-Peggie-Hall/dp/1892399156. We’ve never needed to do it since we are always using the boat.
Thank you (again!) for the detailed reply.
Not a problem.
hi may I ask any maintance on the tender example washed down after use engine flushed out and were is the fuel stored for the tender and how is the tender secured to the deck of dirona
The tender sits on four pads and is held in place by three ratchet straps. There are two ratchet straps on each side of the rear and one on the bow. The motor comes with a attachment point for freshwater flush and I’ve put a garden hose quick connect on that so I can attach a hose quickly and flush the engine after use. I also spray off the engine and mechanical equipment during stowage.
The Tender holds 9 gallons of gas and up on the boat deck we have 2x 29 gallon gas containers and also 4x 1.25 gallon and 1x 5 gallon containers.
thank you for the information on the tender
The airplanes you pick up on AIS, are SAR, and sometimes air ambulance helicopters. Some SAR helicopters are based on the oil rigs in the North sea.
Thanks for the explanation Trond. We figured you would know.
Greetings from Terschelling in the Netherlands , i live on Terschelling but my work is in Norway, and at the moment your passing the hotel and the house where i live in Norway.
i have been following your blog for 2 years now, the hotel that i work is lavikfjordhotel in lavik and the owners are my sister and brother in law.
Greetings from Folkert Cupido
Cool. A big wave to you in Lavik from Dirona. Thanks for saying hi!
Really looking forward to your water maker repair blog. I can’t tell for sure but your unit looks like mine – Offshore Systems? We pickled it when we bought the boat a couple years ago as we had no need for it and really can’t run it in our local waters as they are too silty, but as we eventually plan to get to the Bahamas when this virus settles down, I am going to need to activate it again. When I last tried to use it several of the plastic press fittings had disintegrated so the water was leaking everywhere. Also appeared to be a leak in the high pressure pump seal. Contacted the service team and they just said to leave it until a few months before we need it then pull it and send in for full service. BTW – any idea how much the unit weighs? I have to pull it out from under the STB engine exhaust outlet to get to any of the internal components. It looks heavy… :>)
It’s a Village Marine STW600 rated at 600 gallon per day. We run a media filter (like a small version of a pool sand filter) in front of the water maker so it can make water without problem in silty water. There are 2000 hours on this one so it’s seen a lot of use over the last 11 years (now at 2,071 hours). During this service we replaced the membranes for the second time where the first set did 4 years and the second set did a bit more than 6 years with periods with high hours. We view the membrane changes as just normal maintenance. The big problem was the motor experiencing winding failures where some windings were no longer working so the motor couldn’t start in certain positions. Replacing the motor corrected that issue. The final issue is a trivial problem that has been there for 6 years where the system always reports a fault indicating that filters need to be changed. What happened is the NVRAM on the control board where maintenance hours are stored was corrupted and produced random errors. This problem doesn’t impact operation in any way so we’ve been ignoring it. But, since the system is all apart, we replaced the control board as well correcting the maintenance tracking problem. It’s now all back to normal but it was a load of work. It’s not really that big a job except these highly integrated systems are super tough to work on. If it was a modular system I could have done the work in about 1/5 the time.
You asked about the weight. The motor is very heavy, the pump isn’t light either, the rest isn’t bad but in aggregate it nets out at 116 lbs so not light and easy to toss around.
Thanks James. Your components look very similar to mine. That weight is going to be an issue. I’ll have to come up with a creative solution like my generator lift that we traded e-mails on earlier this year. Maybe a “slide-out” solution. As I mentioned, it is mounted under the large exhaust tube from the STB engine so there is not access to remove components. Its control panel faces the center of the boat. which is nice for monitoring and there is a remote control panel at the helm. Unfortunately, right in front of the unit is the STB engine raw water intake and strainer so I will have to get it out over that without crushing everything in its path. Should be another fun project!
It does sound like lifting that one out of there will be a challenge. Good luck with the project.
Hi Jennifer and James, Great to see those wild Deere’s! I think the stunning wooden sailboat with the H-28 designation on the mainsail might be a classic 28 foot Herreshoff. Herreschoff was an American naval architect famous for designing fast and elegant steam and sailing yachts, including early 1900’s America’s Cup boats. There are a surprising number of H-28’s here in Melbourne – though not in that condition :-). Just a bit of trivia! Warmly, Kate
You do know your boats Kate. We do love the classic lines of the Herreshoff but I have to admit I’m even much more excited about the technology of newer sailboats. We’re looking forward to SailGP completing it’s season 2 in 2021 and the America’s cup.
hi any plans on visiting the following places
We visited Geiranger by car and we took the tender all the way to the end as well back in 2018 (https://mvdirona.com/maps/). We loved it but Norway is full of places where we have not yet been so we’ll probably not return. We probably will visit Nordfjordeid on this trip. The only Skarsvag, we found was way up North of Tromso and we don’t expect to get that far North.
ok thank you for the information
Could your water maker HP pump problem be an issue with the start capacitor? I thought start capacitors generally failed in a way that kept the motor from starting at all, but perhaps that’s a place to look?
Good suggestion. Not all single phase AC electrical motors use capacitors but many do and it’s worth checking if this one does. Thanks Alex.
From last weeks journey, stavanger to Kristiansund
Nice boat and a great video. It looks like you had a good trip and we recognized some of the places you passed.
James; Did you secretly installed another couple of main engines? :) 14.62 kts for a displacement hull is very impressive :) :)
Yes, that is a bit out there. The tracking software screwed up and drew a straight line which we noticed and fixed by the stats were wrong too. We’ll fix it. Thanks,
Do you adjust your ‘time to charge the batteries’ voltage as the batteries age, or do you leave it the same for the life of the bank?
It’s an adaptive system. Generator start is triggered by the max voltage over the trailing 15 minutes. Generator stop is triggered by the average battery acceptance current dropping to less than X amps.
How do you select the max voltage you use? Is it based on the Lifeline technical manual specs or do you measure it?
We exploit the fact that SoC meters are quite accurate if you configure them to the correct capacity battery bank (you know what a bank capacity is when new), ensure the batteries are fully charged and then use the SoC meter on the first discharge to get voltage to SoC ratios. Another approach is the 20 hour voltage to SoC table in the Lifeline Technical manual that is pretty accurate as well.
Wow, thanks for sharing your life. I was looking at youtube and I saw this boat for sale. It was a Nordhavn. After abother few videos I came upon your vide ehere you prepared Dirona for the Atlantic crossing. I downloaded all your videos and saw what it takes ro run a boat your size. I specially liked the Day loo as I have looked for it on othe Nhs and found nothing. And I fell in love with that lifestile.
Thanks again for sharing
Yes, it has been and continues to be a great experience to see the world and essentially live for weeks or even months in different countries all over the world. Thanks for the feedback on the videos and the website.
hi I’m watching a webcam in bergen norway and the bow of dirona is just in view on the right side and if it’s ok with james/jennifer I would like to know the day and time dirona is leaving bergen as I would like to see dirona pass thank you
That’s great that you could see us on the webcam on our way into Bergen. We’ll be here until at least Monday morning Norwegian time but we may stay longer. We haven’t yet decided. We just fueled up this morning and will do grocery shopping today and tomorrow so we’re working through the provisioning work that we need having not taken on supplies since Stornoway Scotland.
Sorry we can’t be more precise on exit times. All we know at this point is we’ll be hear until at least Monday morning.
We’re planning to leave tomorrow morning around 9am.
thank you for the update I only asked for the information so I could see dirona pass the bergen webcam on skylinewebcams.com
Just became a subscriber to your YouTube channel…WOW! Incredible channel!
P.S. Love the maintenance/repair segments:)
Thanks for the feedback on the videos Sean.
Just leaving Stavanger to bring Fridtjofen to Kristiansund. Fetching Haugesund tonight. Perhaps will meet en route.
I hope the weather is better where you are. We’re seeing frequent gusts to over 50 kts all day in this fairly sheltered area and the highest we saw was 58 kts earlier today.
This is the guy with a trawler in Litlebergen that spoke with you earlier on Youtube.
I´m very curious of the place you anchored up today 1 okt. I have never been in their because of the depth. So i would be very very happy if you posted some pictures from the place and tell me how it was to anchor there. Always wanted to go in there to hike the mountains. It´s a remain of a little farm up in the mountain side there. I would be very happy to see some pictures her or on youtube from the place. Best regards André
Great to hear from you again. Yes, this is a really interesting anchorage. Mountains towering over us on three sides, multiple water falls, and several hikes possible. Yesterday we hiked to the top of the southern face and we might do another hike today. The tracks we hiked will go up right away and we will post pictures of the area. We’re running 3 weeks behind our trip so it won’t happen right away but it will happen.
As you noticed, the anchorage is quite deep. We anchored in 97′ (30M) on 340′ (104M) of rode. And, as it happens, we’re seeing wind storms in the area right now. Over the last day, we’ve been seeing winds in the steady 20 to 30 kts range with gusts as high as 46 kts during that day yesterday. Last night, the winds were a bit stronger and we saw one gust to 58 kts. Given we’re in a fairly sheltered location, it’s surprising to see the winds so high. But, no complaints. This is an amazingly beautiful anchorage and we’ll certainly stay and enjoy it for at least another day.
Thank you guys! The last time i was in there was when i was a kid with my grandfather fishing in the early morning hours, and i remember i think it was a little spooky. Dark and high mountains. Its time for me to have a go at it then. Was not sure how the holding was, but again thanks. Nice to follow you. Yes the wind can be a nightmare in the fjords when you get the downfall from the mountains that easy reach 50kn. I´m hauling out des/jan and start my trip north in march/april. Spending a year scuba diving and skiing in the Lofoten together with an American sailyacht that i become friends with during my 6 year sail from 2003-2009. I met them by accident her in Litlebergen after we lost contact in 2010. This was in 2019. The world is not that big anymore! If you stil crusing Norway next year maybe i see you on the way! Take care!
It’s a really cool place to anchor. The only downsides are it’s deep (around 30m) and, under some conditions, the winds can really scream through there. For a calm day, it’s a really special anchorage.
Any thoughts yet on your winter plans?
We’re thinking of another 3 weeks here in Norway and then working our way south to Scotland. From there we will make the decision on the basis of the current world health situation and either head south to the Med or stay in the Scotland area. We do plan to cruise most of the winter this year.
Jennifer, James, I have been following your site for a while and am glad to hear that you are still considering Spain. I don’t know if you have many Spanish followers or contacts; if you need input please feel free to reach out. I live in Madrid but regularly sail in both the Atlantic (Galicia) and Med (eastern coast and Balearic Islands). Keep up the excellent site and travels!
Thanks, that’s very kind of you to offer to help us when we head south and spend some time in Spain. We’re looking forward to enjoying some time there and, as much as we love the natural beauty of northern latitudes, short days and cold weather will eventually chase us south :-).
Just watched the pto replacement video.
Nice presentation both video wise, audio, and narration. Makes for very interesting and educational video.
Thanks you guys!
Thanks for the feedback on the videos. Much appreciated.
I discovered your site recently, it is very interesting and informative. Would it be possible to make a video on the financial aspects. It is not a question of your personal information, but an order of magnitude on the purchase and maintenance of a boat of your size as well as the budget to plan for a circom. Thanks
It’s hard to cover the finances given the variability of use. In 10 years, our main engine has seen 11,000 hours and the generator 7,000. Most people use the systems less. Our main engine has only had injectors in all these hours. That’s unusually little. Our generator needed to have a cylinder head replaced and that’s more than I would expect in those hours on average. Some work needs to be done frequently and is easy to budget for and other work is only a once a decade sort of thing. It all conspires to make providing financial guidelines challenging.
But, with all those caveats, I think you are right that we could offer some thoughts on what to expect — we’ll give the problem more thought. Thanks for the suggestion.
Cool to see you got in the local news paper. Seems to be pretty accurate written, except for one thing. According to the journalist, your longest passage was an impressive “6000 mil,” which is 60.000 kilometer = 32.397NM. Nordhavn set a new world record in range :) Way to go, Dirona!
I couldn’t read the article but the layout was impressive. A really nice looking article.
I just saw the post about your wrist or thumb injury but i think it was dated Aug 27.
How is it doing?
I recently retired from my specialty as a hand surgeon. There are a number of different fractures and ligament issues that can result at the base of the thumb and in the wrist from a fall like that. Proper radiographic imaging is very important and subspecialty consultation can be important. The required treatment varies widely depending on the specific injury and is largely focused on preserving future function and decreasing the arthritis risk going forward.
Please feel free to contact me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org or 905-902-2686 if you wish to do so.
All the best
Thanks for the offer to help and offer the benefit of your expertise. Much appreciated. I’ll contact you.
Could you point me to your post on adding the second bilge pump to your main sump please. I searched and could not find it. BTW while I was searching I came across a photo of your main DC interconnect featuring two Mastervolt 500 connectors and a Mastershunt. Love that stuff. I already have a Mastershunt in my system and I did not realize until today how useful those four-tap interconnect gadgets are, so I just ordered one and will likely get more once I see how they integrate into my system. I always thought they were just a piece of copper in a green box (i.e. a typical name brand money grab), so how much can you possibly communicate about that over the network? :) In reality they are a great way to get four fused taps in a very compact space with fuse blow monitoring. How cool is that?
Yes, exactly as you said, we use a Mastershunt to measure DC current and then we extend the Mastershunt DC bus using two Masterbus DC Distribution systems. That allows measuring up to 500A of flow into or out of the batteries and provides numerous DC taps.
The second bilge pump addition was covered here: https://mvdirona.com/2017/12/alarms-at-115am-follow-up/.
thank you, exactly what I was looking for. What are you using for a float switch to turn on the Rule 3700? I also need to replace my existing main bilge float as it gets stuck on once it triggers and will not turn off at low water. I’m going to replace that jabsco pump disaster at the same time with a whale like you did.
We use Ultra Safety Switches: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00VZ49N4E/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1.
Only thing I don’t like about those Mastervolt devices is their choice of hardware. They use those awful allen head bolts. In all my kits of allens I cannot find one that seems to fit that socket correctly. Every other piece of electrical connection gear in this boat is a hex head bolt. So I replace all their hardware with hex heads which unfortunately have to be metric. It’s not that I am against metric, but I am definitely against having to carry multiple sizes of tools to do one single job. And they definitely did not anticipate anyone connecting 4-ought cable lugs to those things. They don’t fit. I don’t know what they were thinking but any cable on my boat that is part of a 500 amp rated circuit is definitely getting 4-ought. I have had to grind off the noses of the lugs and shave off the extraneous plastic molded ridges in front of the terminals on the mastervolt gear to fit the lugs on the terminals.
But I just received my DC interconnect and it looks great (other than the above caveats) and it is going to save soooooo much space in my DC fusing and distribution!
I actually don’t mind the hex head connections but agree that the system is too tight mechanically and I’ve had to trim the plastic covers to clear larger connections. Small is good but 20% bigger with more connection clearance would make sense. But, as you said, it does save space overall and produces a fairly organized solution when you are done.
Are you using the CZone version of the shunt and getting its data on N2K? Can Maretron see it? My first MasterShunt that I put on the house battery is not a czone; I didn’t understand enough about czone at the time and ordered the plain one, but now I’ve got two of the czone versions coming and it appears that czone is essentially N2K. Is that right? People really need to stop reinventing things and coming up with all these different flavors of things…
Our system was done back in 2010 and, back then, the CZone part was not an option so we used the standard Mastervolt shunt in the build. When I wanted to read amperage we installed a DCM100 to get programmatic access to the current flow. We essentially don’t use the Mastershunt at this point. Mastershunt with CZone can produce NMEA2000 so that’s a cleaner solution with less parts. Another option is to use the DCM100 and delete the Mastershunt.
I’ll go with the Maretron sensors if I have to, but I like the integrated battery SOC, etc, that I get from the MasterShunt. I have a MasterBus touch screen display on that network and it’s really nice, all my MV gear is there, one stop shopping. On the other hand the DCM100 coupled with N2KView does provide a nice SOC solution… I’ll let you know how it goes with czone and N2K when I get the new shunts installed. I’m using them initially on my bow thruster battery where I need a solution that will do 600+ amps. That takes two MasterShunts, which does not make it cheap!
Makes sense. I wouldn’t have bought the Maretron DCM100 if I had a NMEA 2000 producing Mastershunt. Your choice is less expensive and a cleaner choice.
A minor point on the SoC meters, I’ve tried Mastervolt, Xantrex, Maretron, etc. and they all count amps and so all suffer from the problems: 1) overall bank capacity is entered as a config parameter but it is actually falling from day one until you replace the battery bank rather than a fixed value. This means that 50% charge on your SoC meter is slowly going to actually be 40% charge after some time and it’ll go lower than that. And 2) if you count amps out, and count amps in and estimate the amount lost to battery inefficiencies (Peukert constant) which is what they all do, you get a slight error on every discharge cycle until fully charged again. This slight error is additive over time and will keep getting worse until the system is brought back to a 100% charge to get the error reset. The combined impact of these hard to predict error rates limits the accuracy of SoC meters. But, just as a broken clock is right twice a day, a SoC meter will never look wrong if you have no way to check it.
It doesn’t really seem to be that hard a problem so I’ve also written several SoC meters myself that don’t suffer from all of the problems above but they still weren’t awesome.
It’s a harder problem that it looks. In the end, I have quite a few SoC meters on Dirona and yet don’t use any of them and around 5 years back, I stopped even bothering to show SoC on any of hte displays on the boat.
HI James, interesting. I am presently looking at exactly this same scenario on my Sabre 42 Hardtop Express , where I installed a German brand SoC, and that shows the same weaknesses as you are describing. I came to exactly your conclusions as well, it seems that these influence factors of the real world are hard to overcome, so the SoC’s are not as good a tool as I would have expected. All the best, in (so far) quite healthy Norway!
Exactly! And, yes, it’s great to be Norway. Lots of natural beauty, very lightly populated with nice people and very little COVID-19. We’ll be leaving in a few weeks but we’ll plan to be back.
I totally agree. It is a truly vexing bit of engineering. I’ve worked in companies populated with teams of incredibly bright people and have seen first hand the results of the “how hard could this be” syndrome. They didn’t do very well at it either. I think it’s mainly entertaining eye candy at this point. If you keep a mental adjustment factor running to compensate the numbers over time, and you know what you’re doing, you can probably figure out where your batteries really are. You or I could do this, and some others, but not everyone.
Also, as I understand it, the Peukert coefficient is meant to put a curve on the discharge rate according to the actual amperage being drawn. The higher the demand, the less effective capacity you have. So the 200 AH batteries are only 200 AH at the 20 hour discharge rate, and not so much at the 10 or 5 hour discharge rate.
Some new monitors that I have looked at , like the MasterShunt, also introduce a separate coefficient called the “charge efficiency”. I don’t know what math they are doing with it exactly but I believe they are attempting to compensate what you pointed out as “a slight error on every discharge cycle”. But even with this, the documentation still tells you the thing needs to be reset to 100% every so often, just like you said.
Yes, I largely agree. And, as much effort that gets spent on reducing the “small error on every discharge cycle” an even bigger source of error is a 1200Ah battery will age to become a 1000 Ahr bank and 50% of 1200 is very different from 50% of 1000. After conditioning, a bank will regain some capacity. It’s changing all the time. I suspect that the reason why many people have SoC meters that they really like is they have no redundant data point telling them how for wrong it really is.
Well I put my CZone shunts in and connected them to my main N2K network. The devices automatically connect to either MasterBus or CZone/N2K according to which cable you plug in. They each come with an adapter cable with a N2K micro at one end and the RJ45 MasterBus at the other end.
It was a disappointing experiment. N2KAnalyzer sees nothing recognizable coming out of the shunts. They are on the network but are not producing standard PGNs. Only some proprietary (obviously CZone-specific) data messages. I would have thought that DC current and voltage would have appeared in standard format.
But they still work fine on Masterbus and now I have full voltage and current and temperature monitoring on my bow thruster battery bank within my Mastervolt network.
That kind of sucks that the industry still insists on using proprietary data formats even when using industry standard bus protocols like CANbus. I wanted to turn Mastervolt chargers off/on and so I hacked Masterbus sufficiently to be able to turn off/on and set amperage output but it really should be easier.
Given that’s it’s nicer to have everything on the NMEA2000 bus so you can set N2kview alarms etc., I would still be tempted to add a Maretron DCM100.
Researching this further I found another Mastervolt interface buried in the depths of their remarkably difficult to navigate website (although not as bad as Victron) which is specifically described as an N2K interface, not CZone.
Searching the web for this thing I found a few posts talking/asking about it and few offering it for sale at extortion level prices. I found a used one on some random web site in the Netherlands. Can’t hurt to ask, so I emailed them about it. Only one place on line actually claims to have a new one available, in stock, ready to ship. $580. One place that lists it, but has no inventory, claims they will only sell it to NMEA or ABYC certified installers!
We have one of the Masterbus to NMEA2000 interfaces and I know of one other installed. They lock up every 2 to 6 months and need reboot. Just need to disconnect both the NMEA and Masterbus lines to force a restart. Otherwise they work but they are primitive. They feel like a prototype that just never got finished. Clumsy to configure but otherwise they do work. I think I paid around $100 for it but it’s been 10 years.
Sounds like my Simrad IS42 display. It locks up about once every two weeks! So I guess I can establish a new branch power circuit with a special switch on the instrument panel labeled “devices that lock up and need to be power cycled”!!
Oh well, I just took an expensive chance on the one in the Netherlands. Was def more than $100 but at least I didn’t have to pay VAT! Wish me luck that I receive it and it works!
What kind of arrangement do you need to configure the interface gadget?
The setup is clunky but not complex and it’s done using Masteradjust.
You may feel differently than I but my first rule with any of these small, fairly low cost electrical devices is I won’t deploy them without a spare in stock. My thinking is I don’t want to screw around trying to figure out the problem. If a Maretron or other small electrical device fails, I always have the firmware configuration backed up and so I can quickly just switch devices. Some would argue that I have a bunch of spares I may not use but wasting time on flakey and possibly faulty equipment.
Ok, I have the MasterAdjust software, so that should not be a problem. I normally agree with you on the spares thing, but this particular device is nearly impossible to find, and stupid expensive. I’m lucky to have found one. If it does what I want then great, but it’s not mission-critical. If it fails then I will more than likely take an entirely different approach to getting the data. I paid enough for this gadget that if it does fail I am certainly not throwing that kind of money down that hole again.
One thing is for sure: Victron is totally killing Mastervolt in their embracing of open protocols, ease of inter-protocol translation, etc. I plugged one cheap adapter into the VE bus and all my inverter data was on the N2K network. It cost under $100.
100% agree with this “One thing is for sure: Victron is totally killing Mastervolt in their embracing of open protocols, ease of inter-protocol translation, etc.” Both companies produce good products but this one point makes me favor Victron more and more each year.
Me too. If Mastervolt chargers weren’t so damn good I’d go Victron all the way. A Nordhavn friend of mine is in the design phase of all new AC/DC electrical system and I’ve given him everything I’ve learned from doing mine, and referenced all the stuff from Dirona, and he’s going with Victron inverter/chargers and all the jewelry. I think he’s going to be really happy with the system.
When we configured Dirona 10 years back, Victron chargers weren’t great. They have come a long way over the last 10 years and, if we were to commission a boat today, we would consider an all Victron electrical design.
Congrats on being featured on the back cover Nordhavn advertisement on the Oct 2020 issue of Power & Motoryacht!
We hadn’t heard. We’ll get a copy. Thanks for letting us know.
He’s waiting to get his picture on the cover of The Rolling Stone :)
That’ll do it!
What sort of depths are you anchoring in, and what sort of scope do you typically use.
We’re currently anchored in 50′ and the previous 4 were 70′, 84′ and 70′. Over the last month, we’ve done as low as 18′ and as deep as 100′ with 30′ to 50′ being fairly common. In less than 30′ we like 5:1 and seldom use less when in shallow water. In 50′ we’ll typically use around 4:1 and deeper than that 3:1 works great but we typically are closer to 4:1 and sometimes 5:1. We are unusual in liking more rode out than many but we’ve weather through winds as high as 60 knots at anchor and, in 21 years, have never felt the need to get out of bed and check the anchor or stand anchor watch.
The deepest we have anchored was in 146′ with 3.4:1 but it would have been comfortable with less rode.
Your “missing oil leak” photo reminded me of a conversation I had with a Marine Harrier pilot at an airshow years ago.
I had asked if a hydraulic leak on his aircraft was a problem. Without batting an eye and with a completely straight face his reply was “only if it stops”
Love it! I did check the oil level and it’s still got some :-).
Hi! Hope you’re having a great time in Norway! I’m still working on the model of the Nordhavn 52 and I could see on pictures that your funnel stack and the mountings for the radars and antennas are quite different compared to the drawings and pictures I have of other Nordhavn 52’s, I do recall you told me something about it being custom when I visited you, but what was the story of it? have there been several different versions? It looks to me in the pictures that yours is a bit more straight and I can see heavy duty hinges on it so I guess you could lower it in order to do maintenance to it yourselves?
Hi Olle. Great haring from you. Your model accurate matches the newest Nordhavn 52s. When the Nordhavn 52 was first drawn and built it came with the stack you see on Dirona. Later they moved to using the same stack used on the 55/60 series and that’s what you’ll see on all the more recent 52s. Your model accurately matches the most recent design.
The large hinge allows the stack to be lowered for reduced air clearance but we’ve never done it. Dropping the stack requires unbolting the exhaust pipe, needs a crane to ease it back, and there needs to be enough slack in the wires heading up the stack. It’s nice to have the capability if we ever really need it but it’s a big operation. When the boat was shipped to North American from China the stack was in the down position so it has been used once.
Thanks for the clarification! I have not been able to find a scale side view of your version (which I actually prefer the looks of to be hones, those big boomerang shaped radar mounts looks a bit weird. :) You don’t happen to have a scale side view of your version that shows the proportions? It doesn’t have to be detailed, just showing the proportions as it’s super hard to judge from pictures unless they are in perfect perspective from the side.
I do have profile drawings that I think will work for you. I sent one your way.
while you are in the area a comfortable hiking or biking target can be recommended from Sunndal to Bondhusvatnet, please check: https://www.visitnorway.com/listings/hike-to-the-bondhus-glacier-bondhusdalen/5053/
We have been giving thought to doing a hike up to the Glacier. Thanks for pointing out the hike.
It’s an old marker but this is what I found.
Yes, we found that as well. The picture definitely matches but the text is for this much large memorial: https://mvdirona.com/trips/norway2020/norway1.html?bleat=8%2F7%2F2020%3A+Haraldshaugen. It looks like a editing mistake on Wikimedia.org but thanks for taking a run at it.
Have you had any thoughts of heading north to Svalbard & or Iceland?
Yes! While we were in Tromso Norway, we flew up to Svalbard for a few days: https://mvdirona.com/2018/07/svalbard/. Really enjoyed it. We plan to take the northern route back to North America when we return which will include a stop in Iceland.
Thank you so much for your website, and welcome to Norway! I´m a huge fan of the Nordhavns, and I was so thrilled to find your site and YouTube Videos. Hope so see you proceed north in Norway, and welcome to my home town Kristiansund if you are on your way northbound. Looking forward to follow you!
Thanks for the welcome to Norway. We were here in 2018 and got as far north as Tromso (https://mvdirona.com/Trips/norway2018/norway4.html) so we passed you twice on that wonderful trip. We’re loving being back in Norway but probably won’t make as far north as Kristiansund on this trip.
Hello James & Jennifer
It has been awhile since I have posted but at the time I did is when you all had you keel cooler painted. I have been following along and have seen a couple positive posts from you about it but am wondering what your thoughts are about it now after a few years of real world testing. Thanks in advance :)
I don’t have good A/B tests with and without but the painted cooler seems to work very well. The logic is simple: a large amount of marine growth is better insulation than a coat of paint. So, logically, if you aren’t able to keep the cooler clean it’s better painted.
Hi Jennifer and James.
I noticed your vessel when at anchor at Sauaholmen just a couple of hours ago, and when i googled you this interesting blog came up!
Are you interested in an intervju at the local newspaper tomorrow before you leave?
I work at Årbakka Handelsstad and you are welcome over for a chat? I open the shop and museum at 11 am.
Thanks for the comment and for the interview suggestion. The weather looks nice today so we plan to head over to Rosendal to hike Melderskin so it looks like we are going to have a full day.
If you need refueling, Onarheim has the least expensive diesel in the area.
We still have 4,400 liters on board from our fueling in Stornoway Scotland so it’ll be a while before we need diesel but we always appreciate your local knowledge and suggestions. Today, for example, we’re planning to do the hike you recommended from Rosendal.
Perfect weather for hiking Melderskin. Have fun!
Wow, what an incredible view from the top of Melderskin. GREAT recommendation.
It’s just a bit beyond my limit for maximum hiking output in a single day but all the best views usually follow from exceeding my limits :-)
Good to hear you enjoyed the trip. Sometimes pushing the limits, is well worth it.
Your right, it is a taxing hike but, wow, what an amazing view. Even my hiking boats essentially failed where the sole on both boots have sections peeling away. I think they are down to their last hike or close to it.
Hi James & Jennifer,
My wife and I live in the US with our 7 year old son and two dogs. I am from South Africa, my wife is a US citizen, and our son is a dual US/South African citizen. We’re thinking of doing a Trans-Atlantic crossing onboard a Nordhavn from Florida to Cape Town within the next few years.
We are aware of your trip between Cape Town and the US, and would like to know what the seas were like near Cape Town when you traveled there. We have heard many reports of rough seas and large waves in that area, and would like to know when you traveled (start to finish dates), what the weather was like, and whether you witnessed any rogue waves (the Atlantic is large, and can be quite inhospitable at times) or had any issues with piracy anywhere en route during the long journey.
Any additional advice/information of importance would be greatly appreciated.
That sounds like a fun trip. Our expereince in the Capetown area is limited to two trips. The first from Richards Bay south, around the Cape and north to Capetown and the second from Cape Town to St. Helena and then on to Barbados.
On the first trip, conditions were mostly quite good and the trip south in the Agulhas Current was fast with the current running in the 4 to 6 knot range. But, just north of East London the winds suddenly built to 30 kts from the south. We’re used to seeing seas taking a couple of hours to build large in 30 kt winds but in the first 10 to 15 min we got hit with one of the largest green water waves we’ve experienced where it hit the pilot house windows so hard it sounded like an explosion. Loud enough that I ducked. It also tore the lid off the forward deck compartment which we haven’t seen before or since. In the Agulhas current waves develop very fast and can be large and quite powerful.
On the second trip we left Cape Town heading North towards Barbados. When we left, there was a 12′ swell running and some where surprised we decided to sail but it was on a 12 second frequency so there was lots of up and down but nothing sudden and the seas were fairly comfortable. The entire trip to Barbados ranged from smooth water to rough enough that it slows the boat down but it remained comfortable the entire trip. We never saw any unusually large waves and conditions where never a concern on that trip.
I would be very careful in the Agulhas current on the east coast. We didn’t see anything worrisome on the west coast. Of course, it is the southern ocean so go at the right time of year but, with those precautions, we saw nothing concerning.
On the trip south from Richards Bay we left on November 11 and took about a week to make the trip with a few days in East London (https://mvdirona.com/Trips/southafrica2015/SouthAfrica2.html). On the trip north from Capetown, we left December 23rd (https://mvdirona.com/Trips/atlanticocean2016/atlanticocean1.html) and arrived in St. Helena January 4th (https://mvdirona.com/cache/TravelDigests/Trips/atlanticocean2016/atlanticocean1_TravelDigest.html).
Thank you James, your reply is very helpful, informative and quite interesting. We’re planning on making Barbados and St Helena our two “stops” on the way to Cape Town, and from what I understand a good time to go would be during the US fall. We are very excited and value your feedback and any suggestions you may have in the future prior to our trip. It’s a long trip, but well worth making.
We’re proof that the St. Helena direct to Barbados routing works and the other direction will as well. But it is an unusual routing and it’s a long one so, if you are in a power boat, you’ll need far more fuel than most Atlantic crossing routes and, if it’s a small boat, you’ll be at sea for close to a month. We enjoyed the trip and we would likely chose the same routing again but I did want to point out that there are some downsides to that routing.
More data on the trip: https://mvdirona.com/2016/02/barbados-arrival/.
Oh, in addition to my other reply to your comment I’d like to add as a matter of interest that I spent quite a few years in Knysna during my high school years, and spent countless happy hours on the estuary and at the Knysna Heads. At least two superyachts have entered through the heads, and the SA Navy has done so many a time during the annual Knysna Oyster Festival. What a pity you guys did not experience the beauty of Knysna and the welcoming atmosphere at the Knysna Yacht club and Waterfront area! Maybe next time. 😉 Maybe we’ll see you on the water during our Trans-Atlantic passage in 2027.
When we were in South Africa, we anchored at the Robberg Nature Reserve which is very close to Knysna (https://mvdirona.com/Trips/southafrica2015/SouthAfrica2.html). Perhaps next time we’ll spend some time at the docks and explore more. Thanks for the recommendation.
Happy Birthday Spitfire!!
Spit thanks you. It was a great day with enough tuna for everyone!
My apologies for not thanking you for answering a question regarding licencing and US flag on a boat.
Thank you very much as you have clarified the issue. Also thank you for the very detailed/informative videos regarding diesel engine troubleshooting on YouTube.
Fair winds following seas,
Thanks, we appreciate the feedback.
Just realised, that with social isolating due to COVID-19, it must be ages since you last ate at a Pizzeria. Have you managed to get some therapy to cure this longing? (lol)
Your right, we haven’t been in a restaurant since March in Antwerp. But, we frequently have Pizza on board so we’re not suffering too badly.
Hope you like the crab
Thanks very much for dropping by and giving us some crab. That’ll be dinner this evening. It was good meeting you.
Thanks for the highly detailed content and walk-through videos you’ve put out lately! Also thanks for the openness and willingness to share.
We’re a couple of followers who noticed you’re docked in Haugesund at the moment. Can we come by this weekend to say hi?
Normally, we would love to welcome you aboard to look around and chat but that’ll have to wait for post pandemic. We’re only here for a single night but, if you are in the area, feel free to come by and say hi. It would be good to meet you.
Was there a Norwegian agency that you were in contact with which inform you that you were eligible for entrance into Norway? Our boat is in Ulstienvik and I would like to come over to work on it in Sept. Travel from the US is not encouraged, though here in Maine we have a very low case count. Any info would be helpful. You sent me pictures of our boat when you were in Inverness a few years ago.
Hey Blair, good to hear from you. We contacted the police (at email@example.com) and they told us we could enter if we traveled from and could prove that we have been residing in a “green area” for the past six months (“green areas” defined at https://www.fhi.no/en/op/novel-coronavirus-facts-advice/facts-and-general-advice/travel-advice-COVID19/)
Thanks Jennifer, I will give it a try in a few weeks but I am not overly optimistic. I would like to come over in Mid-Sept.
They do change the rules every week or two, but right now it doesn’t look great for US residents to enter. Certainly you would need to go into quarantine for 10 days on arrival if you are allowed in, but that’s probably ok if you stay on the boat and bring with you everything you need to work. You might be able to make a case because you have a boat that requires work, but in the past that wasn’t enough to allow someone in (but if you owned property like a holiday home you could enter).
Good luck with it and sorry you got stuck away from your boat,
At the moment US citizens are not allowed entry to Norway for vacation or visit. Norway considers USA as a single entity when it comes to Covid-19 infected. If you are considered a technical expert, and are traveling to do work for a client in Norway you may be allowed. As Jennifer says it changes all the time, and details are available here: https://www.udi.no/en/about-the-corona-situation/currently-not-in-norway-questions-and-answers-for-nationals-outside-eueea/#link-18278
So the ‘green countries’ are those whose new per cases are below 20 per 100,000 over the last two weeks. USA is currently 224 (close, huh?)….We have no chance at all unless one comes within an exception..
It’s true. Compared to most countries, the Covid-19 situation in the US is pretty seriously out of control.
Somewhere near you is the grave of Nils Fuglesang who was one of the 50 escapees shot by the Gestapo after The Great Escape. I’ve visited the graves of the other 49.
We didn’t know that. Thanks for the historical reference.
Just been watching your issues with AC in pilot house etc. A long shot, and I would imagine you will have checked it, but on Mermaid Explorer we had a similar problem, high pressure shut off of both pilot house and I think the foward cabin. I finally diagnosed it to the sea water pump not being able to pump enough water througn the system to over come the loop up to the pilot house and down again. In the end I throttled down all the sea water outlets of all AC units. Still allowing a flow but probably half of what an outlet could give . After that had no further issues. I suspect in hind sight that the sea water pump may have lost some capacity due to wear?
Phil ex N52 Mermaid Explorer
It behaves just like that and it’s very suspicious that the faults all happened at roughly the same time after the boat was lifted out of the water for a week suggesting airlock but I don’t get an HPF fault. On closer investigation both units appear to have revsersing valves stuck in the middle. When you had your problem on Mermaid Explorer, did you get HPF faults from the failing units.
Since you have tracked your hose routing and ours is likely the same, could you give a quick run down on where the pump output splits into 5 separate lines and anything you know about the routing of those lines. Thanks Phil.
Hi James, in case this may help you, my ac water supply “manifold” (using the term rather generously) is located in the ER starboard side right opposite the main engine behind one of those hinged panels below the fuel tank. Barely fits, made out of a series of PVC tee pipes, no valves to shut off individual supplies. I’m in the process of designing a new one that will include individual shutoffs to make servicing easier.
Good find Chris. It is there on Dirona as well and, I agree there isn’t much clearance. Thanks!
Glad to help out! I also know that the guest cabin and master cabin lines run under the master cabin head, under the floor panel nearest the door. The guest cabin line runs under the forward stairs and then turns to port to make its way over to the unit under the forward berth.
The line for the starboard main salon unit should be the aft-most end of the manifold. it runs backwards and then up, presumably behind the fuel tank.
I’m guessing that the PH and galley (main salon port side unit) turn and run across the forward end of the ER and up the port side, possibly through the “mystery cabinet” at the port side aft end of the master cabin. Do you have that cabinet on your boat? On mine there is a nice finished cabinet door above the port side lower closet, outboard of the head of the bed. it’s basically an empty space between the galley and the MSR. Some hoses run through there, nothing else.
Thanks for the additional data on the hose routing. Yes, we have the same cabinet between the MSR and the Galley. We have it absolutely packed with spares and other seldom used gear.
Yes I got HPF faults on both units that failed. I noticed the water was not flowing out of the skin fittings of the pilot house and foward stateroom unit. I too thought it was an airlock. I think I went through most of the checks you did re airlock and came up with nothing. That’s when I decided the pump seemed not to have he capacity to get water up to the pilot house, and then throttled all units to get enough to go through the pilot house loop. Re where the pump splits out to the five seperate lines I can’t help you. But thinking about the problem I had I wonderd if the pilot house and foward stateroom had a single feed i.e. up to the pilot house then on to the forward stateroom. It may all be academic as it seems your fault is different by the lack of HPF fault indication. Be very interested as to the cause when you finaly find the issue!!
OK, thanks for the additional data Phil. On our boat and likely on yours all 5 units feed off a single manifold to the stbd outside of the main engine. We have good flow out of all 5 skin fittings. Measuring at the reversing valve we see the valves are both stuck 1/2 way and the hot compressor outlet is routed directly back into the suction side. This will destroy the compressors so we need new compressors at least. The stuck reversing valves could be low pressure since they are pressure operated or the reversing valves may be faulty. Since we can’t be sure, we would replace both.
Given the units are 11 years old and have been in live aboard use, I don’t think it’s worth servicing them so we’ll replace both units.
The snake you met on the trail, looks like the only poisonous snake we have in Norway. It is easily recognized by the zig-zag pattern on the back. The snake can be either brown, like in your picture, or more black. You can walk faster than it crawls, and the snake usually tries to get away, instead of attacking as a last resort self defence. If bitten, you should visit a doctor as soon as possible. For people of good health, the poison is not lethal.
I came very close to stepping on that one before I saw it and backed up. Just a half step away. It appeared to be sleeping in the sun on the trail. We skirted around it and the snake didn’t move until we were nearly past. Glad we decided to give it some space.
Hi, I love your blogs about the wilderness in Norway- makes me envious being stuck here in Essex UK. Your snake was an adder and yes it is venomous but not seriously so. I would feel lucky to have spotted one and it is doing just what I would expect it to do- fleeing away from you- James is bigger than it and it will avoid you if it possibly can; mice and other small rodents are what it will choose to bite. They are harmless unless you are unlucky enough to mistakenly sit or tread on one. If bitten you should seek medical help but it is very unlikely and they are nowhere near as serious as the critters you have in the States such as rattlers and cottonmouths.
Good that we gave him space then. Thanks for the identification.
Your report on your first hike prompted me to ask — do you have a fitness regime or is boat maintenance sufficient to keep you in shape? I am asking as we try to get creative in this time of gym and studio closures.
Hi Karen. Hope you and Gord are both doing well. The boat maintenance sometimes does feel like a workout, but it doesn’t really keep us in shape. This was one of the few aspects of our cruising lifestyle that we hadn’t found a good solution for. So a couple of years back we started doing bodyweight exercises, following Marc Lauren’s program in You Are Your Own Gym. We’ve been rather sporadic about it, but definitely are much stronger than when we started. That gives us strength and some flexibility and balance, and what cardio we get is from walking, biking and hiking (great to be back in Norway for that).
We like Lauren’s program because it doesn’t take much time and we can do it on the boat mostly with the furniture and limited space we have. We eventually did buy a resistance trainer (by Ultimate Body Press) to help with a few exercises. First we read the book, and then use the app for actually doing the exercises–it’s pretty good. The exercises are based on short bursts with a rest period, and that works very well for the two of us to exercise together–one exercises during the other’s rest period. Note if you do try–the exercises are deceptively challenging. We tried it for the first time on a return trip to Seattle one weekend. James took them on with his usual gusto and on Monday emailed me saying he couldn’t lift his phone. :)
Sounds like you have a pretty good handle on you AC issues and given you will probably replace them this may not be applicable, however, there is a very good Facebook group dedicated to marine air systems. I have found them to be friendly, responsive and very helpful when I have had questions about my 2003-era Marine Airrr systems. Can be found by searching: “Marine AC/Heating And Refrigeration Maintenance And Repair Discussion Group”.
We appreciate the pointer. Thanks Tim.
Hi Jennifer, your photos from Norway are so beautiful. I love boardwalks too! When you do your next lap of the Pacific, I must take you to the Royal National Park just south of Sydney. There is a track that I know you would enjoy. Here is a link to the boardwalk. https://www.ttms.com.au/royal-np-frp Stay safe and have a wonderful time. Kate :-)
Great to hear from you Kate. I was just yesterday looking at the write-up of our Falmouth O-ring adventure (https://mvdirona.com/2018/04/engine-work-for-christmas/). Thanks again for your help with that.
We’re loving being back in Norway–it’s the perfect place to be right now. Royal NP looks like a fabulous walk–I’ll definitely take you up on that offer if we’re back in the area. Hope to meet up with you in your Nordhavn 41 someday!
Looking at that “anchoring” picture got me wondering.
I’m familiar with non-skid deck coatings used in the military which is basically like walking on coarse sand paper. Even that can get slick under the right conditions.
I always assumed the texture on the deck of Nordhavn’s was simply molded into the fiberglass. With those rubber boots, or really any type of shoe with a dense sole do you find any difficulty on a wet deck finding traction?
I think I remember a post about getting boots at a marine store, do the boots have a sole designed for that type of thing?
Hey Steve. Yes, you are right and the early Nordhavn diamond anti-skid (molded into the decks) was very sharp. I’ve been on Nordhavns where bare feet isn’t that comfortable. For sure this is a sticky surface where a fall is unlikely. In all Nordhavn’s delivered in the last 12 to 15 years, they have moved to a less aggressive diamond anti-skid design that is comfortable with bare feet but probably less slip resistant. But, even though the anti-slip surface on our decks isn’t as aggressive as it could be, we’ve never found it slippery when wet. It seems possible to get a finish that is comfortable in bare feet but still safe.
The boots we use are sold to commercial fisherman but there is nothing about them special other than heavy construction. The sole is just an aggressive sole like you might see on a hiking boot. They feel safe but so do track shoes. A common choice is a special boat shoe or boot that has a very fine tread with alternator 1/8″ gaps and 1/8″ sole lines in zig-zag pattern. These also seem to work well but cost more and don’t last as long than the heavier build commercial boots we use.
Really enjoyed Generator part 2 video. Jennifer continues to read my mind and ask the right questions and I like James’ commentary about checking things twice.
PS – my son started a new job with Amazon this week. I believe the title level II Area Manager at an Orlando area fulfillment center. He is really excited.
Jennifer does an amazing job of that and it’s fortunate she does. I get focused on the job and forget to cover a lot of important details.
Glad to hear your son is joining Amazon. I’ve been there 11 years now and I’m still enjoying it as much as the first day. Really challenging and really enjoyable.
Hi just watched your installation of the cylinder head and was very impressed as i am a mechanic and I thought a very good one but you are much more than that you must be a Specialst in the the field. Well done from an admirer of your skill. Regards Pete
Thanks for the feedback Pete. Much appreciated.
Nice to see that you are back in Norway and have chosen to explore all the islands and fjords in Ryfylke. I have a cabin on Foldøy, an island near Nedstrand. Hope to see your ship when you pass by after leaving Ilsvåg / Sandeid. Stay safe and I hope you have a great time exploring Norway!
You are quite near. We will probably pass quite near your cabin on the way back out. Thanks for the welcome back to Norway. We’ve really been looking forward to it.
Regarding your “satellite roaming from a cellular plan”, is it possible you were picking up some sort of hot spots that have been setup on some of the oil rigs in the North Sea? Still clearly presents a pretty big price shock concern, but those prices are directionally aligned with what some US providers charge on cruise ships.
Yes, your suggestion that we were likely picking up a marine cellular base with satellite back haul makes perfect sense. It could have been a cruise ship or oil rig. Given where we were, mostly likely an oil rig.
You mentioned you have 200+ amps of 24v battery charging, spread across two chargers. Do you power those chargers at 120v or 240v?
The reason I ask is that of the 240v battery charges I’ve seen, they are all single phase (ie, 1 hot and 1 neutral). But I’m curious if you have chargers that you are able to power off of your 240v split phase generator? And if your chargers are 120v, how the load shedding of a single charger affects the full capacity of your generator (since that might lead to uneven loading of L1 vs L2).
Our boat is not wired as more North American houses are with a 240V split phase feed driving all 240V appliances and two phases of 120V. Instead we have a single phase 240V generator that drives 240V appliances and then is stepped down to 120V to feed 120V loads. In many ways, this is a very nice design in that it entirely avoids phase impballance but the downside is all 120V loads are passing through a 2:1 transformer with some efficiency loss.
Our chargers are all 240V input and 24V output. The design we are using avoids phase imbalance issues but, for those with a split phase system, the best approach is to load shed on each phase independently.
Ahhh that was my incorrect assumption that you had a split phase generator. That makes sense (and dashes my hopes that there are 240v split phase battery chargers out there that I had missed). In practice your setup with everything going through the inverters probably avoids the step down issues unless you have the inverters offline for some reason, right?
Alex asked “In practice your setup with everything going through the inverters probably avoids the step down issues unless you have the inverters offline for some reason, right?” Most of the time but when the generator is running we always power the 120V inverter since it’s a 100A@24V charger. With the generator running we are using the 240V to 120V step down transformer. And, under some circumstances, when we are plugged into 240V@60hz shore power, we’ll run the 120V system off of the shore power which is through the 2:1 transformer.
You already know the problem with your HVAC units. Just coming out of the yards, and the units effected changing pretty much seals it IMHO.
Air inside a water source heat pump can be extremely hard to get out if there is no place for it to escape when it hits a high spot esp. if the return/discharge over board piping goes back down from a high spot.
if you look at how that condenser is designed the inlet comes in at the bottom and out the top so any air will eventually move to the top at that point on every unit.
It is a misconception that if you pump water into a pipe with high level traps it will blow any air pockets out of a Hydronic system. It will move it but only in very small amounts and given enough time will eventually work it all out but most people don’t have the time or desire to wait that long. Especially if they are needing use of the equipment at the time it’s discovered.
I am assuming you have a common raw water suction which goes to the pump, then to the unit then, each unit has it’s own overboard discharge?
The fastest way to get that air out is to do what you did on the pilot house to each unit. Unhook the discharge from the condenser and bleed it at that point.
Once the condenser is full of water the air will still remain at the top of the trap where the outlet makes it’s downward loop but it will begin to take small parts of the bubble out with it as the water goes over the top and most importantly you’ll have a condenser full of water and flow.
Imagine that condenser as a pipe within a pipe where the water is on the outside and the refrigerant is on the inside pipe. You may have flow but if the condenser part is only half full due to an air pocket which prevents the refrigerant pipe from being completely encased in water, the heat transfer is greatly reduced.
Once the entire system is completely bled, you’ll not have any issue until the next time Dirona is out of the water or you open a line for some reason. Which that doesn’t seem to happen that often.
If it was me however, about the second time it happened I’d install a tee with a valve so I could hook up a garden hose and throw it overboard and really bleed the line.
They do make automatic vents but they fail then leak water and if you haven’t piped the discharge to a “safe” place you have a mess.
Steve, you are amazing. The system is as you guessed: “a common raw water suction which goes to the pump, then to the unit then, each unit has it’s own overboard discharge.” I’ve never had the system not immediately return to service after a yard ship but this trip was up a relatively steep rail lift so the boat was both out of the water but also on 4.2 degree bow up angle. From what you are saying, it sounds like entrapped air is the likely issue. We’ll go after that potential problem and let you know what we learn.
It’s great have a professional HVAC engineer aboard. Thanks!
I’m sure the angle this time had a lot to do with it. Additionally there is should be a check valve “probably” on the discharge of the pump to prevent water in the system from draining when the pump is off or the boat is out of the water. Depending on how it’s installed relative to the angle if it is a “swing check”, it could have allowed it to remain open or it simply could be stuck partially open which would have made this haul out different.
I can’t find a valve in the installation instructions but I’ll look for one on the boat. I should at least find the manifold that goes from the single pump output to 5 HVAC unit cooling hoses. I tried draining air out of the top of the MSR unit but their didn’t seem to be any and that didn’t help. Works super busy right now so I’ll not properly investigate for a week but thanks for the ideas to chase down.#
From the original post, considering everything going on air would have been something I would have bet money on but unfortunately it’s rather like troubleshooting someone’s car over the phone.
If you have bled the system and either got no air, or bled all there initially was , had good flow, and have cycled power to the unit:
the system should have started and ran fine or, started and ran for a short time tripping out again due to a high pressure fault.
I am not familiar with Dometic so all I know from the picture is it is a 18000 BTU unit which is not it seems enough to get a decent manual. However, every water source heat pump I have ever seen will flash a code on the control board indicating what the fault is and from that you can generally move to possible causes.
If it is a high pressure fault, I am still going to put money on air in the system. As I said air can be extremely hard to get out of high level traps and you could have one before the unit effecting the GPM flow.
“Eye balling” the possible height of your PH unit to the water line, I do not see how the system could get by without a check valve but if your drawings don’t show one don’t worry to much about it as at this point unless it is stuck shut which would effect flow it’s not the issue as only the PH would be effected Now that you are back in the water. How you could have done other haul outs without one will just have to remain a mystery to me.
After you’ve bled it and recycled power to reset any codes, if the unit does not start and run for at least a short time we are on the wrong track.
Today I went after the problem more seriously and made no progress. These systems are all Dometic Marine Air units of around 12 years old and the model number of one of the faulty systems is VTD10KZ-HV. It’s a 12k BTU unit. The system I’m comparing it to below is a 16K BTU unit (probably VTD16KZ-HV).
I checked for flow at all cooling water outlets and there is water flow at each outlet. One of the units is below the waterline but only by about a foot. I took the water cooling line off and quickly put a clear plastic line on and then put a wet dry vacuum on the line. I did get a lot of air out of the system. I re-attached the hose and it still didn’t work. Since the guest stateroom is both above the water and in a easier place to access, I did the same thing on it. Again, quite a bit of air came out. I put the hose back on for testing and it still didn’t work. I repeated but just left the vacuum on pulling water but not air but that didn’t help either.
I don’t have gauges and they don’t provide gauge ports so I decided to measure temperature as a proxy for pressure. On a unit that is operating well, I measured high side/low side temperature when heating at 190F/45F. The inlet air was 73F and the outlet air was 120F. On a faulty system I measured high side/low side temps at 168F/148F and air inlet/outlet temps at 68F/69F.
Repeating the same test cooling, on a good unit I got high side/low side temps of 161F/29F and air inlet/outlet temps of 70F/45F. It’s working very well. On the sick system we got high side/low side of 166F/145F and air inlet/outlet temps of 69F/69F.
The cooling water inlet and outlet temperatures are pretty much the same on the functioning systems and the faulty systems presumably because they are moving more water than needed to operate the system so there deltaT is very low. My amateur working theory from reading the above, is I don’t have large enough pressure differentials between the high side and low side or the expansion valve is stuck/inoperative so not correctly maintaining adequate pressure deltas. Basically, the compressor is running and cycling gas but it’s all close to the same temperature. Another explanation that seems possible is the system still isn’t properly cooling and that’s the cause of the pressure differential but since it is flowing water and the water is not warming up, it doesn’t seem that likely. However, two independent units failed at the same time and cooling water is the only common element.
If you have any ideas Steve, I would appreciate it but I know that remote diagnosis is painful so, if nothing jumps out for you, don’t invest too much time in it.
I forgot to add that these systems will reliably produce a HPF code on poor water flow and it’s not happening. My money is both units have a problem. There is no signs of oil or leaks around either of them.
If your compressors are running it looks to me that the loading plates could be open and in bypass.
I’ll do some research on those Panasonic scrolls when I get home but I seriously doubt they have the “core sense” technology found on larger equipment.
However, since they all use a bi-metallic plate to load and unload I would suggest you remove power to the unit for at least 8 hours or until the compressor shell reaches ambient temp if I don’t get back to you before then.
Either way that will allow everything time to cool down and reset.
Those units aren’t correctly pumping, whether it’s due to open plates, expansion device or low refrigerant charge I do not know at this point. Turn them off and eliminate the plates first by letting everything cool down.
We really appreciate you passing on suggestions to us Steve. Thanks very much.
Hi James and Jennifer!
It must feel good to be back cruising after your long time at anchor. But with all the work you’ve done, you must feel good about the shape Dirona is in-
I was curious how your adjustments to the PSS turned out? I’m contemplating upgrading to one this winter to replace my old school conventional packing gland. I’d like to have a dry bilge…
Also, we’ve started tackling the job of polishing and waxing the boat. Do you have products – polish, wax, pads, etc that you can recommend? Any technique advice? What we’ve done so far isn’t quite as uniform as I’d like – I’m thinking I need to use a coarser compound. I’ve been using a wool pad – do you use that or foam?
Yes, Dirona is in pretty good shape. The only known major issue right now is the leaking rear main oil seal on the generator. For some reason it’s leaking a lot less now with the new cylinder head but we still will need to change it but it’s less urgent. We also have a valve adjustment coming do on the wing engine and the generator (scheduled 50 hours after replacing the cylinder head). Overall, you are reight, the boat is in excellent operating condition right now.
The PSS seal is still leaking but I may continue my experiment. We currently are on the light side of the recommended bellows tightness. Since it’s leaking somewhat less since we adjusted it, we plan to try tightening it further. They recommend 1.25″ on this sized system and, since that seemed very tight, I set it to about 1.1″. They recommend using 0.25″ more compression if leaking so we’ll give just 1.4″ to 1.5″ of compression a try. I’ve never had any issues with PSS leaking in the past — this is only caused by a less than true propeller shaft.
Hey Greg. We use 3M wax products as they are good quality and good value. For most standard waxing we use 3M Marine Cleaner and Wax (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0014438D2) and, on heavily oxidized areas we use 3M Marine Fiberglass Restorer and Wax (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002IVCP3Y). We use a Makita polisher (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00OKEDW0M) with wool polishing pads.
Thanks for the recommendation on polishing products. We’ve started the process using a 3 M two step compound and polish (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0000AZ9J0/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_CzhfFbZBFMEF3) followed by 3M wax but really like the idea of a single step product. We have a few areas that are pretty oxidized and I’ve been a little disappointed in the finished results. I’ve ordered the products you recommended and look forward to trying them!
8 looked at YouTube videos on the PSS seal – it seems like the flex in the boot should take care of a small amount of shaft runout? I’m assuming you’ve tried to clean the sealing surface – one video used 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper. Seems like that might not be for the faint of heart… I guess I should look at my shaft runout before I go to far down this path. Is yours the standard type A or the Pro version? I take it you’ve only vented it and don’t have cooling water plumbed to it?
The bellows should take up any small deviations in the shaft and normally do. In this situation, the shaft is touching the carbon where the carbon block is designed to allow the shaft to “float” inside it. When touching shaft due to out of alignment installation, the carbon rub surface vibrates which causes it to leak small drips. It was also too loose. I’ve rectified both and it’s still leaking slightly. The PSS install says add another 1/4″ if still allowing some water passage.
The surfaces were showing some damage so it might easily help to sand the surface but I don’t see a way to do that safely while we are in the water.
Good luck on your wax job.
I see – it does sound like it may have enough damage that it won’t seal.
This video: https://youtu.be/kXKA120ssOs seems to show a pretty simple way to clean sealing surfaces that leak that could be done in the water I believe. It may not actually dress the surfaces as much as it is intended to clean up particulate matter that contaminated the surfaces. But maybe worth a try?
Yes, that looks worth doing. Thanks for finding that and sending it our way Greg.
Love the picture of Cape Wrath thank you for posting it. We rounded Cape Wrath for Norway in the 80’s. It was also calm, but by looking at the landscape you can’t help but imagine how intimidating it might be in a full gale.
Good to hear from you again Jamie. When we rounded Cape Wrath this time we were heading back to the Orkney Island group. But, that morning Norway opened up sufficiently to let us in and the North Sea weather was looking good, so we changed plans and set sail for Stavanger Norway.
Welcome back to Norway! Good to see it finally worked out.
It’s GREAT to be back. Thanks for all your help with all things related to Norway Trond.
Disregard previous query. I see your follow up on the hydraulics heat/impeller pump failure issue now. What other functions on your vessel are operated by hydraulics? I’m assuming steering is hydraulic.
Yup, as you said. The problem was just a worn out cooling pump impeller. Easy to correct as long as you can find all the missing blades. They typically migrate to the heat exchanger. I managed to get them out using a wet dry vacuum so it ended up being a quick and easy job.
The hydrauic system powers the active stabilizers, front and rear thrusters, emergency bilge pump, and anchor windlass. Your are right, the Steering is hydraulic but it’s a different hydraulic system with manual pumps on each of two helms and redundant autopilot pumps for the autopilot and follow-up lever system. The crane for the tender is also hydarulic but it too is on an independent system powered by a 24v electric pump.
I am a hydraulics enthusiast. What did you learn about the hydraulics heating issue the other day? I love your RPM labeling BTW on the coupling cover between the hydraulic motor and the impeller pump.
The problem was just a worn out cooling pump impeller. Easy to correct as long as you can find all the missing blades. They typically migrate to the heat exchanger. I managed to get them out using a wet dry vacuum so it ended up being a quick and easy job.
velcome to norway again.very interesting blogg you have. and nordhavn 52 is a very nice boat. have a great travel in norway.
Thanks very much for the welcome to Norway. We have been looking forward to returning since we were last here two years back. We just loved it and we’re looking forward to more exploring, hiking, and enjoying nature.
Hi James. Steve from MAverick. We crossed paths at the Vasa Marina two years ago. I am curious about how you got into Norway. Our boat is in Norway but we have been unable to enter from USA. We wondered if we went to another country for two weeks whether we could then get in but Norway says they base it on residence. what are the technicalities with you? Where are you considered resident? Steve McInnis (jealous)
Hi again Steve. Sorry your boat got trapped in Norway. The current restrictions on entry require that you can prove you have been residing in a “green country” for the last 6 months. Hopefully things will open up again soon but the US isn’t doing an awesome job of restricting spread and, until that is under control, I think all of Europe is going to be cautious.
Could I encourage you to use ISO-8601 date format for your non-American followers please?
Hey Paul, you’ll be pleased to know that I personally did adopt the year-month-day format of ISO-8601 decades ago. My argument was, if everyone is going to do it differently, I might as well adopt some standard even if ISO doesn’t swing a great deal of weight where I was living at the time. However, Jennifer has been less excited about that change and I’ve more or less shrugged and not worried about it. In the end, the world won’t all put the navigation bouys on the same side of the channel, they won’t put the all the cars on the same side of road, they won’t use the same measurement system, won’t all write 1pm the same way, and seem resistant to all use the same language, so we just put up with it and do our best. Since you have a UK email address, I would point out that it would be slightly more convenient for us if you changed the side of the road you drive on :-). Oh, and that Whitworth thread system hasn’t always made me happy either.
–James Hamilton, 2020-07-15
I’m sure there is a water pump to cool my fin hydraulics but for the life of me I don’t know where it is. Maybe it only has the one hydraulically driven water pump, but I don’t know where that is either.
On a related note, I would really like to know why there is what appears to be a hydraulic hose attached to a big fitting sticking straight up out of the hull below the floorboard in the MSR right at the engine room door. It’s like this big shiny steel post sticking up out of the fiberglass with a hydraulic hose screwed on the top of it. Is there another keel cooler for the hydraulics on the starboard side? News to me, if there is.
Stabilizers require little power, run at lower pressure, and produce little heat load so, on boats equipped only with stabilizers, they only have a small keel cooler on the stbd side and don’t have a hydraulic heat exchanger and the pump water plumbing to cool it.
The hydraulic fitting you are can see in the hull at the MSR to ER door is the keel cooler connection. The hydraulic fluid is run through a small heat exchanger in a pocket in the right side of the hull too cool it.
I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog! You are skilled beyond the scope of my own experience in both blogging and in your mechanic abilities. Please keep up the good work!
Thanks. Both Jennifer and I appreciate the feedback on the blog.
Thank you so much for your videos and this blog. I’m a novelist. Most of my scenes take place in settings I know well, but I’m writing an Atlantic/Mediterranean crossing in a boat about the size of yours with no experience whatsoever. None of my other research compares to the quality of your explanations or the pleasure of listening to the two of you and imagining your travels.
That’s great feedback. Much appreciated. Jennifer read a portion of your book, “One More Angus Mohr” and enjoyed it. If you have any questions we can help with, feel free to send them our way.
Our Girl, Lady Di 4 is on the hard as well her in St Petersburg, FL. They won’t let me work on her in the yard though as I see you are doing there. That said, the yard is great. Have used them for several years.
Always fun (or scary? :>) ) to see what is going on under the waterline as they pull her out. So far just normal stuff plus replacing a couple older thru-hull valves that have become difficult to move or are no longer sealing all the way after 17 years of service.
I installed PPS’s last time she was out (2.5 yr ago) and they have worked great. I added the “slip collar” immediately after install as a sort of belt and suspender seal. Yard said no adjustments necessary this year so happy.
Glad to hear your yard work is also going well. We took our last coat of paint today and I just installed all the zincs. We’ll do a few paint touch ups tomorrow and then lower it back down the slipway Our job was also a simple one with just bottom paint, zincs, and a 10 year insurance survey.
My experience with PSS seals is once properly installed, you just need to check that the set screws never back off. Again, if they are properly installed with new set screws that shouldn’t happen either. Once on they are good for 10 years without needing anything although I think the manufacturer recommends 6 year replacement.
Hope neither job brings us any surprises before being put back in the water.
I’m with you on the “No surprises”. The only possible one left is the invoice. Quotes around here are usually “Well, it will be around…” which rarely resembles the final number. Spoke with the owner the other day and suggested he apply the 50% discount book to the calculations. He said he was laughing hysterically behind his mask. :>)
Hope the pricing of brings no surprises either. For us, this is the fastest we’ve ever done a yard trip where we lifted out Monday morning and went back in Friday morning.
Looked like the props/shafts have not been painted. Do you leave those bare because you cruise in colder waters? Here is FL bare metal is covered in barnacles in 10 days with the current water temps. I’m trying my third different coating. Tried propspeed first. Great while it lasted but in our shallow, sandy bottom waters it did not last long as it gets sandblasted; then went with Pettit high zinc content prop coat spray which was highly touted and worked for a while but we did not get a year out of it so now we are trying Velox, another highly touted running gear coating by our mutual shaft seal company PYI. Expensive but so is having a diver come out every ten days once the material wears off. PYI states with Veloix we can recoat after a year without media blast and reprime…so in theory a relatively quick in-and-out at the yard. That would be good for us as we get more than two years out of bottom paint.
Hoping to have her back in the water this week.
We’ve had excellent success with Propspeed and normally use it but didn’t on this trip mostly because it was a last minute decision to do the bottom paint and survey in Stornoway. We’ll see how we do without additional protection — our take was, with the bottom not painted in 2 1/2 years, we needed to do that at least so we took the opportunity.
I was just wondering how hard it is to change the PSS once the boat Is back in the water? I would assume you could disconnect the shaft from the engine and work from that way IF you thought you could keep up with the water that is?
Bearing in mind until I saw your picture I had never had any interest in a PSS and what I’ve found on the internet is not as “technical” as I wanted however, other than the carbon stator mating with stainless steel rather than carbon against ceramic, it’s really the same thing as a mechanical pump seal something I see quite frequently.
From the pictures if that was a mechanical pump seal, I’d be surprised if alignment would help at this stage.
That’s a good point. The sealing system is a lot like that on a large water pump. It’s a pretty good design that we have used for more than 20 years across two boats. The only flaw we have seen over the years, and it’s reported by many others, is the rotor which is held in place by set screws can loosen off in use and move back allowing it to leak water fairly dangerously. To avoid that risk, we install a collar about 1″ further up shaft so, if the rotor loosens off, it’ll move up to leak so it’ll be detected but won’t leak so much that there is any risk. We’ve also found that if new set screws are used and lock set screws are installed on top, this failure mode doesn’t seem to happen. I suspect that it’s common to reuse set screws and this can lead to not properly holding the rotor in place.
The most recent failure mode is a shaft that is out of true is causing the PSS to leak. In this case, the shaft is only barely out of ABYC specs. Technically it’s not as straight as it should be but it’s not bad enough that we can feel vibration. If it didn’t cause the PSS seal to leak, we really wouldn’t care. But, it throws a drip every 5 seconds or so. Not a big deal but still annoying. I put a small container underneath to catch the bulk of it and a towel in front of it to catch the rest so the water is under control and the bilge is dry but I need to vacuume out the container and change the towel every 4 hours when I do an engine room check.
In thinking this through, the PSS should be able to cope far better with slight out of true on the shaft so I’ve been investigating the installation with care and found two issues:
1) The shaft is supposed to rotate within the carbon seal with the bellows flexing as needed to follow the shaft and maintain a solid seal between the carbon stator and the stainless rotator. In this case, it’s misalligned so the seal is riding on the shaft at the top rather than allowing the shaft to seal. This causes the carbon seal to be bumped by the shaft as it rotates with around 0.008″ runout. My theory on this one is if the shaft floated inside the carbon stator, the seal would be maintained and the shaft runout wouldn’t touch the stator. This angle is dificult and a bit unsafe to adjust while in the water.
2) The shaft seal tightness spec from the manufacturer is 1.25″ of compression. It’s easiest to check this out of the water but, now that we have checked it, we have found that it’s not close to as tight as the manufacturer recommends. This compression setting can be changed while in the water and we have tried both tighter and looser and none have worked but, now that it’s out of the water and we can measure the exact compression amount, it’s never been close to 1.25″ since installed 2 years ago.
Our theory is a correct aligned installed combined with proper compression has a chance of eliminating the leak. There will be some maximum amount of shaft runnout that the PSS system can deal with without leaking but, whatever that is, near perfect alignment and compression should help. Having seen how seriously misaligned and under compressed the system was, we think we have a chance of making a big difference on this problem.
You are most likely correct, from installation videos I found on the internet nobody seems worried about touching either the carbon stator or the face of the stainless rotor with their bare hands.
Do that with a pump seal and you’ll be back in a year or less replacing it again so they are not the same type of carbon material.
Unless the spring breaks pre-load never changes on a pump so once they start leaking, it due to the rubber seal on the stator failing unless the carbon has failed due to damage from installation, soaking up oil from your bare hands creating uneven wear points or running the pump dry.
My thought from the picture was from the discoloration of the carbon and what I could see of the rotor that the flat, smooth surface needed on both was no longer there.
However I have no experience with a PSS and probably would have wasted money replacing it while out of the water.
It would be better to replace the seal so your intuition is correct. But it’s a big job requiring that the prop come off, the coupling be unbolted from the transmission flange, the coupling removed from it’s press fit on the shaft with set screws and lock wire, then slide the shaft back to allow the seal to be changed. It’s also uncertain if a new seal would help given the prop shaft runout.
If we find the PSS continues to leak, we’ll change the prop shaft, coupling, and seal on the next lift. If alignment does work, we’ll probably not take any further action on the prop shaft runout since it’s only 0.008″. That is more than this shaft should have but I’m curious if the PSS will seal up with correct installation even with the excessive prop shaft runout.
The PSS cleaned up much better than I thought it would. I didn’t think about asking and the job was probably already done anyway but, did you happen to take pictures of the face of the carbon and stainless?
I don’t think I got a picture of the sealing surfaces but they are in rough shape. It looks like it’s been chattering probably due to rubbing the vibrating shaft so the surface is rough. Making it all slightly worse, there is a small section of crevice corrosion in the stainless rotor. The chattering has been causing accelerated wear on the carbon seal so it may be the case that even setup properly, it’ll no longer be able to seal. Overall seal condition is fine from a safety perspective, the bellows are only 2 years old but the sealing surface may drip due to the many imperfections caused by the out-of-true shaft and seal installation errors.
I’ll see how this work does and then, on the basis of those results, figure what work needs to be done in the next lift out of the water.
Love your videos, I am a big fan of Nordhavn. I am a decent amateur mechanic but clearly not in your league. Question, couldn’t help but notice the valve issue is 3rd problem near rear of this engine counting starter and main seal as others. Are they related, one caused the others? Is there a fourth perhaps cooling related?
I generally agree with you that problems that happen at the same time are highly likely to be related to each other and, on that belief, I’ve given this considerable thought. The starter looks too be indepdenent to me on the logic that the engine cranked slowly prior to change and, once changed, cranked at full normal speed. That one appears to have been an independent failure. And it actually had happened more than a 100 engine hours earlier so it being an independent fault seems reasonable.
But, the oil leak happened right before the valve seat problem and, since it took me some time to understand the valve seat problem, the oil leak probably came at exactly the same time. This pair looks highly likely to be related but by what?
All I have come up with is only a loose a connection but an interesting possibility. When I took off the head, the valves were in rough shape with one very bad seat and all valves looking like they have been leaking. If the intake valves where leaking there would be pressure spikes in the intake manifold. The crankcase ventilation valve connects the intake to the crankcase and, if there are are pressure spikes in the intake, the vent valve could be forced open putting pressure loads on the crankcase since this is the only vent. If that happens, the engine will leak. Significant positive presure in the crankcase will cause oil leaks.
This is a credible but complex connection so it’s possible but far from understood or assured to be true. But it’s just possible enough that I’m interested in learning more so, rather than change the rear main oil seal, I’m leaving it unchanged to see if it leaks just as badly as before signaling that the issues are unrelated or if the leak is reduced in which case there is a high probability that the issues were connected. I’m going to hold off changing the rear main oil seal and put up with the oil spraying around for another 20 to 50 hours to get a read on whether or not these issues are related. It’s an interesting puzzle and I’m curious what we will learn.
What is the contractor you use as the automatic transfer switch in your setup? I recall it was a Schneider Electric unit but I can’t recall the specific model number. Thanks!
We’re using a Schneider LC1D80008U7 and, in the configuration we’re using, it never switches hot to hot. If generator not running, shore power hot closes the relay after a short delay. Generator running opens the relay prior to the generator taking the load. We’ve tested it in hot-to-hot transfer and it works well but it doesn’t run that way in our configuration.
Hello Jennifer and James.
Thx so much for the info you both post for us.
A wealth of knowledge.
I also have JD’s and would like to know how you manage the balance between the range you sometimes need, or the inland passages you make, and maintaining the proper load on your engines so as not to get the dreaded ‘glaze’.
I’ve been told by JD that I should be running at around 80% to get the potential longevity from my engines.
Also how do you know what load you are running your genny at, at any given time.
Is it just a matter of calculating what appliances etc you are running?
(I to have just had to replace the engine to my genny due to water intake)
My wife and I are gradually making the trip from UK back to Aus over a couple of years.
How have you managed the watch on Long voyages. Particularly at night?
Do you use matchsticks under your eyelids, or are there times you trust your instraments?
In answer, please keep in mind that I have many talents, but technology and electrical do not show on my radar.
Sounds like fun plans and it’s sounds like you are taking the right approach and not setting a firm schedule. That’ll be much more fun and safer as well.
The Deere team is wonderful but the recommendation to maintain 80% load on a propulsion engine is a bit of an outlier. That’s just impractical for the vast majority of boat users. You will spend time in marina going slowly, you will pass through restricted speed areas, you will sometimes operate in water too rough for speed, you won’t be inclined to speed in picturesque areas. 80% is just impossible to achieve in a marine propulsion engine for anything other a small number of commercial boats.
In a steady state generator applicaitons, 80% load is practical but it’s hard to achieve in propolsion. Most operators will want the power to achieve hull speed but won’t want to operate at that speed most of the time. In our boat, we want to achieve 9.5 kts and we do use occasionally. At times we use it for longer periods where we ran at 230 hp for days on end working up the coast from Melborn Australia to the Gold Coast but that rare. Sometimes we push harder because weather is comming. Other times we push harder to nightfall is near and we prefer to arrive in new locations during daylight. We wouldn’t want to give that up. But, we use 9 kts only about 2 or 3% of the time. When crossing oceans, we’ll be down in the low 7kt range and producing closer to 80 hps than 266. We’ve run like that for hundreds of hours in a row. And, we wouldn’t be willing to give that up either.
Their are two computations of load on a main engine: one is the load with respect to the full engine output and the other is the load with respect to full engine output at that RPM. You can compute the former by looking up on your Powerview display the number of gallons that the engine has consumed since new and total hours. Take total gallsons, divide by total hours to get average gallons per hour over the life of the engine. Then you can look up gallons per hour at full rated RPM for your engine which is in the engine manufacturers spec sheet. Take this max GPH and devide your average gallons per hour and that will yield your average load with respect to full engine output. I’ve not computed this over the last year or so but the last I checked it was around 46% for Dirona and we’re happy with that number.
The other load reading is percent of the engines output at the current RPM. The engine reports this data in real time in the Powerview display. If you engine is properly propped you will be able to achieve 25 to 50 RPM above max rated output. On Dirona, we have a 6068AFM75 M2 which is rated at 266HP at 2400 RPM and at full throttle we can achieve 2425 RPM which means we are propped correctly. We consume 99% to 100% of the engines capability at full throttle. Because the prop curve is not purely linear, as you reduce RPM and settle down on your preferred cruising speed, you will be drawing something less than 100% from your engine. On Dirona, it’s often in the 61% to 65% range. Some chose to prop their boats more aggressively and will run higher loads at lower RPMs but doing this puts them at risk of being over-propped at higher RPMs. This can be very damaging to an so I recommend against it. Variable pitch props allow full load or close to it at all operating RPMs. I like these variable pitch systems but they are very expensive so we run a fixed prop. And as as consequence of that, we run lower loads at lower RPMs and 60% to 65% is very common operating point.
The final couple of things I’ll say about main engine operation and what to worry about is this: 1) these engines are installed for our use and enjoyment so the first priority is to have them take us where you want to go at the speed we want to go. It’ll be far less than 80% and that is fine. It won’t last as well as a constant output gen, but that is fine — it’s very rare for a recreational main engine application to wear our. You’ll likely use yours less than ours and I’m not even sure we’ll manage to wear out our main engine, and 2) we have a 11,000 hours on our engine and it has exactly the same power as ever, consumes no oil, doesn’t smoke, starts well, and the only major parts it’s needed are fuel injectors. These Deer’s are pretty good engines and I wouldn’t worry about them. When installed in tractors they often run at load load running a PTO (power take off) or idling and they do famously well.
My recommendation is in the early couple of hundred hours run many different loads and change frequently. Make sure this includes upwards of 20% of the time at higher loads. Don’t leave it idling for long periods. Generally run it hard when new. After a few oil changes, ensure you are propped correctly but otherwise don’t worry much about load and just enjoy your boat. We never give it a moments thoughts and have enjoyed 11,000 hours where the Deere has served us well, we’ll done proper service, but we don’t change load for the Deere. It’ll do fine.
On the generator, we compute load by measuring amperage output. We know the max output the generator could produce into our load when new just before the engine starts to loose RPM to a stall. That’s 100%. This is often a bit below the generator manufacturer rating due to them rating it at 1.0 load factor and perhaps also being a bit optimistic. To compute your current load device current amperage output from 100% amperage output. On Dirona, we run 90 to 95% load for the first 20 minutes of charge and then it slowly backs off due to reduced battery acceptance rate and, at the end of the charge cycle our generator will be running around 20 to 25% load. Usually towards the high side of that range depending upon house loads. The engine averages in the high 40% load range which is unusually high for generators that are used to charge batteries when needed. Most achieve less load and some operators have purchased very high output generators to ensure that they can carry the boats maximum peak loads. These engines often have average loads in the 10 to 20% range. That’s not ideal. Our 45 to 50% (right around 48% the last I looked) is pretty good but not nearly as good as a continuous load generator application. We don’t worry about it and the gen went 6700 hours before needing valve work. The valve service doesn’t appear to be related to low engine operation.
I’ll answer your shift question in a subsequent answer.
Alan Madder asked: “My wife and I are gradually making the trip from UK back to Aus over a couple of years. How have you managed the watch on Long voyages. Particularly at night? Do you use matchsticks under your eyelids, or are there times you trust your instruments?”
That’s a good question and there are many different styles, approaches, and opinions on it. Some run strict shifts, some go with expanded crews for crossings, some just “trust the instruments” or there deity of choice. You’ll hear all sorts of answers. The first decision point is do you have someone always at the helm. We chose to do this but others chose not to and argue that it only puts them at risk so it’s their choice to accept the additional risk. We respect there decision but argue they do put others at risk and many of the people that they do place at risk wouldn’t themselves be comfortable making that decision. We think it’s responsible to have someone at the helm, insurance companies want this, and the rules of the road require it. Nonetheless, many do chose to operate without someone on the helm and most report they haven’t had collisions or close calls.
We always have someone at the helm but still know that falling to sleep or just getting distracted reading something or looking at the RADAR or any other distraction is the biggest risk so we have a product called a Watch Commander. There are many different approaches to a this system but, on them all, they expect the helmsman to touch a button periodically to prove they are still awake. Many suppliers make these systems including it being a feature on Maretron N2kView. Many navigation system support some form of Bridge Navigation Watch Alarm System (BNWAS) and they all work basically the same way with different features: you must press a button every N minutes to avoid a very loud alarm. Ours puts up a yellow indicator in 8 min, a red indicator in 9 min. a small beep 45 seconds later, a low alarm 15 seconds later, and a very loud alarm 60 seconds after that. I’ve never fallen asleep and been caught by it but I have gotten distracted and had it warn me to pay more attention. These are good systems in my view.
On shift, we used to run the often referenced 4 hours on 4 hours off. It’s a common choice and it works but we found it annoying in that we would never get meals together and we would arrive dead tired. It seems crazye to arrive somewhere new and first have to take a day or two to recover. Overtime, we have evolved our watch standing schedule to a weird system where Jennifer takes the really hard shift from 10pm to 5am. She sleeps in two cycles one just before her shift and one right after. We get lunch and dinner and a good part of the day together. Over the course of 24 hours, I get lots of time to get work done and, if the boat needs attention, it’s easy to fit that in as well. We arrive well slept and comfortable. Our longest run was 28 days at sea (3650 nautical miles) and we arrived in Barbados relaxed and comfortable, tied off, plugged in, checked in, and walked to town to explore and shop. Its’a comfortable operating mode for us.
By far the most common approach is to add crew for ocean crossings and use some form of fixed shifts with each person getting 2 or rarely even 3 shifts off for every shift on. It’s not what we do but it’s the most common solution and it is reported to work very well.
I just thought I would share a photo. You two share so many with us. Big Island Pond Atkinson NH US
Nice location! Really nice picture of what looks to be an great place to relax.
Spit fire is looking great! Here’s a photo of Scootah no R as we’re from Boston MA
Can’t wait for the haul out video.
It looks like the haul out is going to be tomorrow and we will attempt to get the video running if we don’t need both of us handling the boat during the lift operation. This video is from the second last haul out we did in Florida: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzZhcdy_qDw. Hopefully this haul out will go as well.
Thank you both for this wonderful blog.
Martijn de Ru
Alkmaar The Netherlands
James Is straightening/re-aligning the prop shaft on the project list during your upcoming haul out?
This is going to only be a quick lift for zincs and bottom paint (since it’s been nearly 2 1/2 years) and an insurance survey (since it’s been 10 years) unless we find some surprise. We don’t plan to pull the shaft and straighten or replace it. I do intend to correctly align and install the Packless Shaft Seal assembly since it’s obviously out of alignment. Technically this might have been possible to fix in the water but I haven’t courage since a mistake could sink the boat.
On the shaft runout, we can’t actually feel it so the only two problems are 1) we brought a new shaft and it should have been installed with no more runout than the previous shaft, and 2) the PSS seal throws drips due to the excess runout. I’m hopefully if the PSS is properly aligned with the shaft, it may be possible to eliminate the drips making it past the seal. Normally these PSS seals can deal with some minor runout so it might help but that’s all that is planned.
Scotah looks like a great member of the team!
Ted and Jenny on SouthStar.
I am researching bladder tanks on deck. Could you tell me what model, manufacturer you used on Dirona?
Thinking of placing on Portuguese deck.
Hello Ted. The forward tank is a custom design for us and the aft two are a standard ATL configuration. David Dack, Executive VP at ATL, has sold several sets of these so he’ll have all the specs you need. You can contact David at firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll find David super helpful. One option worth considering is the just the forward tank which holds 360 gallons and would get you out to a comfortable 3,000 nautical mile range. Our range fully loaded in real sea conditions is up over 4,000 nautical miles.
If you have any troubles at all, feel free to contact us.