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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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org) 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
Thanks for the feedback on the blog.
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 email@example.com. 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.
That cooling fan reminded me of something that happened years ago.
I was over at a buddy’s house and we wanted to look something up on the internet so he fired up his desktop computer and the cooling fan was hitting on something, would slow to a stop then wind up again.
He pulled the power supply opened the top, hollered, and threw it straight up in the air. He did recover quick, caught it and showed me what the fan was hitting on.
A juvenile black rat snake had decided to crawl in on shut down thinking it was a nice warm place to be. Evidently once the computer started, he didn’t like the results and had been trying to force his way back out through the running fan.
Neither one of us have any real fear of snakes but it’s not something you expect to encounter working on a computer.
The snake survived and found a new home outside.
Yikes. That would definitely catch my attention.
Hello James and Jennifer. I really enjoy your blog and videos. I just came across a video you may enjoy. Thanks for ask you do, Ken
We do like the Integral Solutions work. Nigel Calder introduced us to the company principals at METS in Amsterdam and we really enjoyed learning more about their system, meeting the lead engineer, and going through the details on a running system in a boat. It’s excellent engineering and quite an innovative solution.
My name is Thad Bench and I just wanted to thank you for your highly educational videos/content. Really exceptional and of great value to any yachtsman wanting to get a better technical understanding of shipboard systems. Please keep up the good work!!
We appreciate the feedback.
I noticed you did the oil changes on your tender outboard while you were at anchor. Did you use an oil pump for the crank case oil removal? How do you change the lower unit oil while at anchor? Are you able to get the boat high enough on the boat deck to get under it, or do you have another trick?
I usually change the oil in the water since when the boat is up on the boat deck, the engine needs to be up. I also like the oil warm before changing and to be able run the engine after the change is complete. So, my normal approach is in the water with a oil suction pump for oil and filter changes.
For lower end oil changes, I lift the boat out of the water with the engine left down and leave it hanging from the crane above deck, put a bucket underneath the leg and drain out the old lower unit oil and refill it.
James: 1.Will UPS refund some of their charges because of shipping delays?
2. Will you repair the main seal of the generator at the same time as the head?
3 Will you have the old head rebuilt and then sell it or hide it in the bilge for the next ten years? :)
4; Looking forward to the next video in the Generator Maintenance series :)
“Will UPS refund some of their nearly $1,300 in shipping fees since it’s been a week since the parts arrived into the UK?” Well, that’s a good question. I’m pretty certain they will not refund anything and I’m still not even confident they are going to deliver the parcel as planned tomorrow morning. They say they are very sure it’ll be here but I’ll believe that when the parcel is in my hand. Hope it’s not damaged. No, I’ll not do the rear main oil seal at the same time. The two jobs have very little overlap so I’ll first do the cylinder head and make sure it’s running well before investing in splitting off the generator section to remove the flywheel and replace the rear main seal.
You asked “Will we have the head rebuilt?” I’ll wait and see what condition it is in but probably not. These heads have use integral valve seats (not replaceable) so, if the seat is badly eroded, the head is done. Let’s wait and see what’s revealed when the old head is lifted off the block.
Thanks for the feedback Rod.
I always found UPS to be very arrogant. I once sent a 20-30 kg box of ships spares from the UK to Houston and UPS lost it in Louisville. When I queried them about it I was told “Do you know how many parcels we handle everyday”. It never did get found, and I never used them again. The other problem is that all Courier companies hate delivering anything north of Glasgow, and usually that’s where the delay is compounded. And 1300 bucks…Wow…I presume it’s fairly heavy. In the words of Forrest Gump….FedEx!!!
It is a heavy box including the cylinder head and a bunch of other stuff I need from the US including a new PTO clutch for the wing engine. The good news? It arrived last night at 9:30pm!!!!!!!! It’s wonderful to have it hear and it looks great.
You’ve got almost as much in shipping alone as the last set of new heads that went on my brother’s super-gas. Am I mistaken or isn’t your generator also a marinized John Deere?
Was it simply unavailable in the UK or are there special considerations for the application that made it necessary to bring in from the U.S.?
Northern Lights does marinize Deere engines for their larger generators but the small ones are Shibaura. The Northern Lights small generators and our wing engine as well are all built on this same power plant and Northern Lights customers commonly report 15,000 to 20,000 hours and 30,000 isn’t rare so they seem to be able to deliver the longevity.
I could have got the parts from the UK and the dealer here is very responsive and helpful but I ordered from US since, whether from the UK or the US, the parts need to first be shipped from the US and we’re paying shipping either way. In this case I also have some other spares that I need to ship from the US that can travel in the same box. In this case, the box included a new PTO clutch for the wing engine. I’ve also been buying from the same suppliers like Fisheries Supply and Emerald Harbor Marine for 20 years and they take very good care of us so, if it’s no more expensive to buy from them, we do it.
Makes perfect sense to me. I like buying from companies I’ve had a long term relationship with for multiple reasons.
In many cases I’m even willing to pay more based on service history.
Exactly. The parts arrived and yesterday we removed the cylinder head and installed the new one. The old valve seat is in very rough shape. The valve is deeply recessed into the head. We haven’t quite finished that job. We still need to adjust the valves, fill the coolant, and bleed the fuel lines but it’s pretty close to ready for testing.
Continue to enjoy following along. Was wondering what the “human waste” disposal capabilities are on Dirona and associated requirements in the areas you are currently cruising. Our 2003 Novatec vessel has two Lectra San head units that we are able to use in most of our Florida area cruising destinations unless designated as “no discharge areas” (predominately the Florida Keys). We also have holding tanks and macerators as a back-up.
I was servicing one of them recently and it got me thinking about your blog where you were changing out level sensors in various tanks which lead to “I wonder what they do when anchored for so long and can’t get a pump-out”. I know, weird chain of thoughts…:>)
Nordhavn helps with massive tanks. After that, the only options are 3 miles off shore or a pump out.
Hi J & J. Yes at Raasay there was an iron ore mine, but from WWI times. Interesting article attached, as the mine caused controversy by using German POWs as a labour source. https://whitehall1212.blogspot.com/2017/03/memories-of-raasays-wwi-german-pows.html
Thanks for the background on that one Douglas. We’ll make that change.
We have Broan 12 inch trash compactor.
We now use it only as a dustbin without the compression function as garbage bags are pulled short.
What am I not doing right?
Well, first of all, since they are out of production, if you don’t want yours, we’ll but it :-). We use ours in two ways: 1) when in marinas we operate it as you do as a trash holder rather than compactor, and 2) when somewhere where trash disposal is not available, we run operate it as designed and love it. We were just away from land for 79 days and, without the compactor, we would have been drowning in garbage.
For usage, you need to use specially designed garbage bags that are heavily constructed with fitting holes. They are dropped into the opening and clipped off all the way around so the bag won’t get pushed down. In this picture you can see Jen clipping the heavily constructed bag from the edges of the compactor: https://dironanav/mvdironaroot/trips/med2020/images/IMG_3964.web.jpg.
Using the correct bags is important. The bags we use are GE #WC60X5015 available from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/General-Electric-WC60X5015-Compactor-Bags/dp/B00LQKZPTY. We don’t put glass in or, if we do, near the center to avoid ripping the bag. Jennifer usually throws an old magazine or cardboard piece in the bottom of the bag when starting a new one and we don’t put anything in it that will smell since it takes us 3 weeks to fill a bag.
Hi James, Thank you for your extensive response! Sorry, I want to use this device optimally :-) I’m going to hunt for these garbage bags. Cheers, Rob
Yes, the bags are what you need and Amazon will deliver them to your door.
We just deep-sixed ours b/c I don’t want to start a new career fixing it every time it locks up. Thank heavens someone documented the need to revise the fasteners so it can be removed when it gets stuck in the down position – which it did within a month of our heeding that advice!! Rob, you do know how to do that, right? b/c if you don’t, you’d better have a sawzall handy!
And James, so sorry you missed out – I would have been more than happy to air freight the thing over to you, at your expense of course! :)
I would have loved to strip parts from your garbage compactor. We do have a Sawzall always handy but don’t want to need it on the garbage compactor. We really like the compactor when away from civilization for weeks at a time. 3 weeks only produces a cube of garbage so we can go 6 to 7 weeks on two small cubes. What’s the fastener trick Chris?
Maybe they did this better by the time the 52s were being built but on my vintage N47 the compactors are installed with screws that can only be accessed when the pullout part that holds the bag is removed. I’ve already found way too many construction examples on my boat where the boat was built around something, making disassembly or repair difficult, but this is the top-end most glaring example. If the compactor fails while the ram is extended it is quite impossible to remove the thing without cutting it out of the galley.
By revising the fasteners so that you use just a couple along the top or bottom edges which you can get to while the thing is closed, you eliminate this risk. It’s plenty to hold it in the space, and you could build a fiddle bar to put across the face of it if you were really concerned about it coming loose in high seas.
I took ours part way apart and it’s not super clear how it is mounted but it appears there something at the top of the unit. I think you are right in predicting a sawzall would be required when it does it gets stuck mid-stroke. I did take the opportunity to thoroughly lubricate the jack screw. The nasty thing about the trash compactor is it looks impossible to save and yet it’s not even possible to buy another one. 12″ compactors are no longer made.
On our 10 year old boat, the refrigerator and the trash compactor are both out of production which isn’t that rare but what really sucks is no company makes that form factor any more. Both have served us well and I hope they both continue to do so. Replacement won’t be fun.
I know, it’s tragic. I can live without the compactor but if that subzero fridge ever dies, I’m buying a new boat.
The fridge if vital. We’ll probably rebuild ours when it fails since I don’t see an direct replacement available.
In the UK at least, you can still buy 300mm wide compactors from commercial catering suppliers. I looked into it when I thought the Broan on our N40 was on the way out.
Good find. In fact excellent find. Thanks for posting that. I would need to switch that circuit over to 240V but that would certainly be worth doing in this case. Thanks for pointing that out.
I just saw your post and photos mentioning this problem – thanks for the crime stopper tip credit! I’ve got some photos here and I’m searching for the original info we had that explained how to fix this in advance. I’ll send it all to your personal email and you can use/post as you see fit.
Saw the post on annual service to Honda emergency pump. Could you please describe how you have fit out this pump (hoses, connections, storage) and how much trouble it would be to deploy in a hurry if ever needed. Thanks for the vast amount of useful info you two provide.
The Honda is the last line of defense after 1) Whale Gulper 320 2) Rule 3700, 3) Rule 3700, 4) Pacer high volume hydraulic bilge pump, and then finally 5) the Honda. We won’t start the Honda unless all of those are failing to keep up and the Pacer is able to fill a 2″ hose and spray it out 15′. It’ll take the bilge levels down from a couple of feet in the boat to zero in 20 or 30 seconds. It’s really amazing. I’ve made some changes since but here is a run down on our bilge pump strategies: https://mvdirona.com/2017/04/fighting-water-ingress/.
The Honda is in the laz and if it needs to be deployed, I take a bungee off of a storage box, and slide it forward, unclip the Honda and lift it out. Behind the Honda there is coil of suction hose and the folded up outlet hose. Take those out as well. Screw on the two hoses and put the suction line in the bilge and throw the other over the side (or leave in the laz since there is lots of drainage). Switch the fuel on, the choke on, pull to start, and adjdust the choke down. I purposely leave it set to “on” and ready to go so that step which might be forgotten isn’t needed.
Hi Jennifer and James,
I’m having a moment of nostalgia as I flew straight to Kinloch after our exciting O ring adventures in Cornwall! It’s lovely to see you in that part of the world. I will send you photos. Do go to Talisker if the opportunity arises.
Hope to catch up soon,
Hey Kate! Super good to hear from you. We have been enjoying Kinloch and it’s kind of cool you have been there as well. Thanks again for the help with the engine work we were doing on our John Deere.
When do you expect your new boat get delivered?
I should be thanking you James. My visit and road trip with you and Jennifer was the highlight of that UK trip.
My hull is #4110 and I have been told completion in Turkey is currently likely to be May 2021. I will need to decide whether to take delivery in Turkey, North America or Australia. I’m not sure any of us can predict what the world will look like in 11 months time, but my preference would be to commission in Dana Point and then jump across the puddle! I’ve been studying your Pacific route.
We had a great time with you as well and look forward to our next collective adventure.
Wow, they have already sold up to hull number 10 in the 41 series. Amazingly successful already. Nice to see. We’re looking forward to where you end up taking delivery. As you said, it’s particularly challenging to predict the state of the world even a couple of months out. If you do elect to do a big trip at the beginning of our ownership, we recommend that you make sure you have time for a month or so getting to know the boat and ensuring the systems are all the way you want them before leaving. All the best and please stay in touch.
I won’t be leaving the dock without consulting you two first. And Spitfire :-).
By the way, Nordhavn is holding deposits for the 41 up to hull #20. Amazing!
See you soon. Kate
Wow, that’s great. It must be the most successful boat Nordhavn has ever done by a significant margin. Very cool. I’m looking forward to seeing yours. Our 47/52 series continues to do well with 5280 just signed for.
I need those lights for the ER. I am so sick of those flickering flourescent things, taking up space, hitting my head on them, and I haven’t even had to go into the top of the generator yet. I’ve been looking for replacement fixtures and coming with zip. Those look like they will do really well.
Part number / source please? Thanks!
We used these LED lights mostly because we have them in use for many other applications so they are already all over the boat and we have lots of spares on board. But, the more time we have with them installed in the ER, the more we like them. You have to be careful to aim them down since they are bright and if they are on an angle that can shine in your eyes, you won’t like it. But with careful location selection, they really work well. The after end of our engine room is now much brighter and whiter. Almost enough to convince us to take out more of the flourescent fixtures even though the others aren’t in our way.
These lights are super cheap at $16 and only draw 10W Available from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Waterpoof-Outdoor-Security-Floodlight-Equivalent/dp/B006STWHE4/ref=sr_1_44.
Thanks, just put them on my list. Bummed out that I’m leaving my present location before Amazon could deliver a set of these if ordered today! Get them at my next stop for sure.
We ended up here longer than expected due to some weather that just will not let up. So I ordered a bunch of those lights and just installed the first one. Love it!! Did you do yours on a single screw so you can swivel them? I’m trying this initially although I’ve got to keep an eye on it to be sure vibration doesn’t work it loose.
We spent quite a while finding locations we liked that gave good light coverage in the generator area where we had removed the fluorescent fixture and then locked them down with two screws so they don’t shift.
Well you missed out on my trash compactor; do you want my fluorescent fixtures and giant pile of tubes? :) They’re all going to be stored in Davey Jones’ Locker pretty soon. If not, then maybe someone on the NOG will want them.
I’ll probably lock them in with two screws after I get several of them installed and see where I need to aim them. First one I did was over the forward end of the main engine. That’s the one that leaves dents in my head. Next I’ll do the starboard middle of the ME.
Sounds like a good plan Chris.
Hello, from the house on the shore below Kinloch Lodge. We were wondering who you were. Eventually the wind turned a bit and we could read the boat’s name. Good luck on your travels. At least the sun is shining today. Yesterday was grim.
Hello from Dirona! Thanks for saying hi. You have a wonderful spot here and, even when it’s blowing, the North protection is good and it’s a very nice anchorage. All the best.
May I ask for your honest opinion and criticism on a few things.
Firstly, how do you find the N52 as a live aboard and would you consider upgrading/downgrading.
I am interested in the N63, but wonder what you think of not having a fly deck, or whether something smaller would be better?
I do appreciate that this is all up to personal preferences, but it would be interesting to hear your comments.
We think the 62 is the best looking boat in the Nordhavn fleet and the 63 has the most similar styling of the modern fleet. It’s a great looking boat. If we were to buy another boat, we would probably buy a 60 not because we need the extra space but we really like the layout on the N60. But the 52 is quite a bit less expensive, cheaper to insure, and easier to find dock space for it. We like our 52 and it’s proven to be “big enough” to live on year around for 11 years now. We’ve wound up 11,000 main engine hours and continue to really like the boat. If we needed to replace it, we would likely go with a N60 not because we need more space but because we really like the layout on the N60. But we don’t feel like we need a bigger boat and don’t have any regrets about getting the 52. It’s served us really well.
We do like having a fly bridge but don’t use it that much. We often have dinner up there when the weather is good. It’s a great place to whale watch or site see when in a particularly beautiful area but not having it wouldn’t kill us. We like it but don’t view it as essential and don’t use it that frequently.
Bigger boats are faster and that’s a big upside. Bigger boats are MUCH easier to work upon. Big boats have room for twin engines. Lots of advantages but not regrets on our N52.
Thank you for your insight and honest opinion.
I do wish the 59CP was available as a full displacement boat, as I really like the layout.
Oh well! Maybe, when the time comes, there will be something that fits my requirements perfectly.
A crossover between the 59CP and the 63.
You and Diana please keep well and enjoy Scotland.
What about the N60? It’s a very nice layout on a boat that is considerably larger than our N52. Here’s the data on the N60: https://nordhavn.com/models/n60/.
The N60 is also under consideration, as I like what they have done with Last Samurai.
So many choices – Sigh!
Choice is good! Good luck with yours.
Hi James and Jennifer: sorry to learn about your difficulties with the genset. Ours is also having issues but we will,deal with it when we return home,
We have been reviewing “Cruising the Secret Coast and you will no doubt be happy to know that we will be going into Seymour and Belize Inlets beginning tomorrow. It’s been on the “to do” List the past few years and we will pass through Nakwakto tomorrow at The very last of the flood before high slack. Out prawn pots are at the ready.
Many thanks for your work on these chapters.
Hopefully your generator issues will be small ones and easier to correct than ours. We’re doing great running our our 9kw backup generator (the main engine). It’s a bit louder and less efficient but it’s doing fine and the trip goes on without interruption.
Thanks for the positive feedback on The Secret Coast. Canada’s BC Coast is a world class cruising destination and you’ll love Seymour Inlet.
Unidentified “naval” ship looks to be the MPV Minna of Marine Scotland, an inshore fisheries patrol vessel.
That does look right. Thanks for figuring that out. We’ll update the note online.
Islay is certainly worth a visit if you are whisky lovers. We had planned a visit last year by road and ferry but illness precluded it. Bunnahabhain was on my list to visit as it distills a peat free malt, unlike most distilleries on the island which are known for very peaty whiskies. Islay was the base for the Lords of the Isles in their heyday and later has been the home of some colourful characters. If either its whiskies or its history are of interest I recommend a book by Andrew Jefford, called Peat Smoke and Spirit. It is a cracking read.
Dave: FYI – James and Jennifer are avid beer connoisseurs and are doing the world’s longest pub crawl (time and distance) – this may explain their passing up visiting all of those distilleries!!! :)
Love it! Of course, we’re not adverse to visiting distilleries as well. I think the last one was on St. Helena in the South Atlantic. But Scotland remains in lockdown so we have to view from afar for the time being.
Jennifer: I assume that you and Spitfire have regained full confidence (not that it was ever really lost!?) in the very capable in-house mechanic, following the discovery of valve problems were the cause of the tight valves in the generator :) :)
Hope you get to move Dirona soon. Stay safe
Hey Rod. This is a rare case of Jennifer and I both wishing I had screwed up. We were hoping I did since that would be a correctable problem but, unfortunately, it has repeated 3 times and each time in fewer hours. We have a valve seat or valve failure.
The generator is ready to run right now and will take the load and run fine if needed but in another 20 hours or so, it’ll be back to operating and 1/2 to 2/3 power. Unfortunately, it’s going to need a rebuilt cylinder head to be back to long term full load operation.
Have you gotten any updates as to when your quarantine will end? Are you still hopefull of getting to the Med?
The date for the end of the Scottish lockdown hasn’t yet been announced but it will be a phased plan and we entered the second phase this week. We’ve pretty much given up on our plans to visit the med over this summer. We might go later but we’re waiting to see how the situation evolves.
Hi James and Jennifer,
I think you have roll stabilizers on Dirona that you can deploy at anchor, but I don’t find anything about them here on the blog. Is there a write-up that I’m not finding?
Hey Brian. Yes, we do have active hydraulic roll stabilization from ABT-TRAC (https://abttrac.com/). They do offer STAR, Stabilization at at Rest, but we don’t have it so our roll active roll stabilization is only active when underway. We also have a simple but effective Forespar passive roll stabilization (Flopper Stopper) that we sometimes use when at anchor. It’s pretty effective and fairly simple to deploy. Here’s a short video of it in use: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9cCl_ohwjU.
We only rarely use the flopper stopper (once or twice a year on average) since our boat is fairly heavy and has a nice lazy roll that seems to take a low of swell to push hard enough to get uncomfortable. But, when we do use it, we’re happy we have it.
James, I have a similar main engine setup to yours (ZF transmission and Deere 6068 engine) and have a couple oddities I am curious for your thoughts on:
1. Engine operating temperature. No matter how hard I push the engine (even WOT for 20 minutes; it’s M1 rated so it tops out at about 2300 RPM) I cannot get the temperature to even the bottom of the normal operating range (178-203). topping out at about 170 degrees Fahrenheit, but when I operate it at 1500 RPM it is only at 162 degrees. Any suggestions for where to look for the issue. Perhaps they have the wrong thermostats installed and I should test them? One thing I noticed in the manual is that the 4045 engine has a much lower operating range (160-182) so I wonder if somebody just installed the wrong thermostats by mistake.
2. ZF electric control solenoid temperature. While underway the ‘ahead’ solenoid is consistently about 150-ish degrees Fahrenheit. The rest of the transmission is under 100 degrees. Is this normal or something to be concerned about?
J and J;
If my my memory serves me well this is the second time in 10 years you have no spares on board. Once O-rings for the main and now rear main seal on generator. Congratulations!
Given your seeming never failing and substantial spare part inventory I would not be surprised if there was a spare crankshaft hiding in the bilge!:):)
There is a lot of spares on Dirona and we work hard to find work arounds and alternatives to stay operational when we don’t have the right part. In this case, we may actually have done it. The oil seal is still bad but we’ve been experimenting with different approaches and the last one (not yet posted) seems to be working very well. I think we’re going to find a way to stay operational on this one :-).
J and J, is your floor cherry? I noticed you have the white slat in between the planks (not sure what this is called), I was told by Nordhavn this is a bad idea and can lead to cracking but I like the way it looks. Curious your results?
Our floors are the classic Teak and Holly configuration that Nordhavn South Coast uses when customers don’t request something else. We think it looks pretty good and it doesn’t appear to be prone to cracking or other issues and is doing fairly well after 10 years of hard use.
Hello your voyages are inspiring . Do you sail the boat under OUPV to Master 100 GT Near Coastal in Europe?
Both the license you reference are commercial licenses used in the US. Certainly they can be used by recreational operators but neither is required for non-commercial boats. US flagged vessels operating in foreign waters operate using flag state regulations.
I am not sure I understand the answer. Does that mean that a US-flagged recreational vessel in Holand you do not need a licence to sail it? So if I sail a 62 FT boat in Europe ( Amsterdam) under US flag there is no licencing requirement or credential?
For a vessel longer than 15M (49.21′) on the inland EU water ways you need an ICC and a Cevni notation. But the US is not a signatory to that regulation.
The Non-EU boaters who come for a longer period to the EU and are not on a US flagged vessel, ( The people living/ cruising on a Dutch barge ) usually get an ICC by doing this with a RYA course.
Also a VHF equipment used on the inland waters uses an ATIS number, provided by the country of registration when you apply for a radio license. The ATIS number is used as identification with any transmission to area control , bridge/lock keepers. (kind of like a precursor to AIS)
I’m thoroughly enjoying your posts. Seems like you got to the bottom of the generator issues. Very interesting. You’ve had plenty of time to keep on top of the maintenance whilst being ‘locked down’. Maybe you could visit my area. I live in a coastal town a couple of miles east of the Forth Bridge. Bit of a trek from your current position though. Best wishes.
Thanks for the blog feedback. Yes, we do have time and are getting pretty close to caught up. Thanks for the blog feedback. Until the lockdown lifts, we can’t visit anywhere but that day will come. We’re looking forward to returning to cruising.
A couple of thoughts on recent posts:
1 Steering Cable Lubricant: While not exposed to as much sea water as an outboard, we used heavy white lithium grease on stern drive steering cables. The grease lasted several years of use and 6 month lay ups due to Ontario winters before needing regreasing
2. On checking bearings in the inspecting John Deere belt etc. Why not drill access holes in the guards such that a stethoscope listening probe could be used to listen to the bearings when the engine is running? Care would need to exercised of course – just a thought.
Yes, any high quality grease should do very well when used on the tender steering cable. White spray lube a lighter grease that is easy to work in and can be directed exactly where you wanted. I have it and like it. The other grease we use on Dirona is trailer wheel bearing grease. This is a very heavy grease that does well when exposed to water. We use it on the high load applications like windlass, outboard motor, and steering bearing.
Whatever grease was used when assembling the outboard motor and boat was not a good enough quality grease and when exposed to water and age, hardens up into a black hardened coating with poor lubricating properties and very difficult to remove. It was a poor choice.
James: Another suggestion for steering cable grease is constant velocity grease.
A special lithium base grease fortified with molybdenum disulfide and polymers – nice and ‘slippery’ with the MoS2 additive
Yes, CV grease is a great choice. Its a very high load application with moisture and expectations of long operation without service. Good suggestion.
I forgot your question on the stethoscope. That’s an excellent point. I do have a mechanics stethoscope and I think you are right it would be quite effective in this application. The belt covers are a grill at the front so no modifications would be required. Good suggestion.
Love all your videos. Just watched the generator oil change video. Two questions: 1: Have you considered taking the generator to operating temperature before changing the oil ? And 2: how often do you do oil sampling analysis ?
Yes, the generator is at full operating temperature before we change the oil. I should have said that. We’re currently at anchor so the generator is running every 4 to 6 hours. I normally do any work right after a run to ensure there is lots of time prior to needing the generator again do to low batteries (just in case something delays the work I’m doing).
On your second question, we don’t use oil analysis. My reasoning behind not doing oil analysis is here: https://mvdirona.com/2016/08/oil-analysis/. The short version is I used to prepare race cars and with Quaker State as a sponsor, we did oil analysis after every race. These engines are pushed hard and so it’s a good test case. We had times when oil analysis caused us to open an engine up and find nothing wrong. And we had times when nothing was indicated and the engine failed. It didn’t seem to save engines and the false positives led to more work.
In watching operators in the marine world, I see a lot of false positives when owners get very concerned only to find they didn’t sample correctly or the problem was just a transient issue that later goes away. Again, I see quite a few false positives. But, I feel like I have reasonable judgement and, if more data is available, I’ll normally take it. The cost and the hassle of sending oil samples in from wherever we are in the world is a blocker for me. If $200 to $500 would by an accurate oil testing kit, I would do it. But sending it back from all over the world is a hassle.
The cost/value equation for oil analysis isn’t quite positive enough for us to do it and, if you don’t do it all the time, the analysis reports don’t have as much value. Oil analysis is most useful in relative comparisons between samples of oil from the same engine.
Joe from the shop on Gigha here. If you need anything at all please give us a phone on +441583505251 and we shall do our upmost for you. We are well stocked and you would not in any way be depriving locals of supplies. As arranged the fish farm are happy to drop off supplies.
Most kind of you to offer to help Joe. And, yes, you’re right we did feel guilty placing an order that might make something unavailable for those that actually live here. I’ll give you a call tomorrow to find out what’s possible. Thanks very much for following up with us.
James and Jennifer: I saw your post concerning the steering on the skiff. I have a similar issue with he steering on our skiff and I wonder if you could provide some more details on how you went about this with the carb cleaner.
Thanks, Jim Cave
The issue we saw was the grease around the rigid cable end that moves the outboard back and forth and aged and/or was diluted by sea water and broke down and hardened up into a hard coating. The tender hasn’t been used for 3 months and I was barely able to move the steering. We removed the rod that connects the steering cable ridid end to the motor. Then removed the plastic cap that threads onto the end and O-ring. While the wheel is hard over exposing as much of the rigid cable end as possible, we cleaned all the grease reside off of it. Then we unscrewed the cable from the motor on the other side and pulled the cable out as far as clearances will allow and cleaned all the residue off of that end as well. There is still a small central area that we can’t get to on either side. The best answer would probably be to remove the entire cable assembly from the motor but I had trouble getting the clearance to to that. So I continued to spray it down from the outside and work wheel back and forth which seemed quite effective. We then let it dry, greased it up with high quality wheel bearing grease and then worked it in and reassembled it. At that point, the steering system was back to close to “as new” friction whereas before I needed both hands to force it.
In the past, I’ve replaced cables after 5 years. This one is only 3 years old so I felt it was early to replace it. It’ll be interesting to see how long it lasts with periodic lubrication.
Many thanks James. I will work through those steps.
It only took around 1.5 hours so wasn’t bad but one thing to keep in mind the cables aren’t that expensive nor that hard to change. I changed a cable on our last boat at around 5 to 6 years. It was getting very stiff at that point and the cable changes wasn’t bad. It’ll be interesting to see how long my clean and lube operation lasts. Based upon how free the steering is right now, I’m optimistic. Good luck on freeing your steering up as well Jim.
I thought there was a post in here somewhere talking about prop shaft temperature monitoring but I can’t find it. I just wanted to ask how you attached your temperature probe to the shaft and where exactly on the shaft?
The only possible sources of shaft heat are the transmission or bearing failures at the transmission, a pillow bearing if so equipped, or the shaft log. Our boat and yours don’t have a pillow bearing so that’s not an option. I do monitor transmission oil temperature so feel like we have that one covered. We use a PSS packless shaft seal so haven’t put temperature monitoring in place. But, if you have a conventional shaft log, it can get hot if not adjusted properly or hanging up for some reason, so a temperature sensor there would make sense. If I was doing it I would attach the sensor mechanically to the stationary shaft log.
Makes sense. I don’t have a dripless (yet – maybe upgrade in the future) and it definitely takes some care to get that packing set right. I’ll find something to bolt one of those ring terminal probes to…
I’m using a Maretron TMP100 and their ring sensors (TR3K) for my shaft logs (traditional). I simply used a large hose clamp to secure it to the shaft log nut. It has worked perfectly and displays through N2K on the DSM410. I had issues with my shaft temperatures for a while that was driving me crazy – now I consider my shaft temperatures as important as my engine temp.
Great solution Steve. I do the same thing on my main engine alternators. The hose clamps give that firm mechanical connection so the temp reading is good. It’s a good approach.
ah – the alternators! That’s what I was trying to remember for more temperature sensors. Thanks for the reminder!
yup, great idea with the hose clamp – thanks! I’m using the Maretron stuff too.
I just got a Karcher power washer like yours. I love it! it’s like spray-painting a coat of clean on the decks!
p.s. I resisted the temptation to write my name in the grime…
Isn’t it great? It’s amazingly inexpensive and quite effective. I also find we use less water when using the power washer.
While a custom boat would be ideal my thought’s on reading your blog is that your boat has worked out fine for you. If something were to happen to Dirona would you replace it with another 52′ Nordhavn?
We are really happy with the 52 and the only reason we would look at other sizes is liking different layouts. We like the all-on-one-deck design of the N60. From a size perspective, the 52 is close to perfect for us but we like the layout of the 60 better and we would prefer to have twin engines. Many of the features that we added to the N52 are rare additions on a 52 but easy to get on the 60. For example, hydraulics.
My guess is that we might end up with a 60 if we were to buy again even though the 52 is a perfect size for us.
Don’t forget the berth and head in the PH.
Curious to understand why you prefer twin engines? I thought for the kind of cruising you do the twins would be additional maintenance for not much gain (and that was why Nordhavn largely uses a single + wing setup).
We prefer twins in the absolute sense but, in our opinion, twins are the wrong configuration for this boat. It’s not big enough to have twins without giving up range it needs. If we bought this boat again, we would have it with a single engine again (and we love that Deere 6068AFM75). But, were we to buy a bigger boat, say a 60, we would go with two Deere 4045s.
The reason we would prefer twin engines is greater redundancy where space allows,. The reason we prefer single engine in the N52 is twins slightly reduce efficiency and the wider mechanical configuration reduces the fuel carrying capacity. Our preference for twins isn’t a strong one — a single with a wing is a very reliable configuration.
Hello – love your site and adventures, moving my black water to pressure sensors. In your 69 degree knockdown entry, you show pictures of rotating latches that hold drawers closed securely. We are in need of something like this on our 1969 Chris Craft Commander 47. Would you know of where to find these? I’ve looked, and so far they have eluded my searches.
They are hard to find. I ordered mine through the boat manufacture (Nordhavn) but do have manufacture and part number: Actron 0213. The part number is hard to read so might be incorrect but the manufacture site is https://www.actronmfginc.com/. They list the parts as quarter turn retainers on this page: https://www.actronmfginc.com/products/type/retainers/#page=1.
Amazing, thank you!
Hi James and Jennifer, we met a year and a half ago at the Nordhavn Seattle Boat Show party. In March we finally bought our Nordhavn, 50-10 Akeeva (thanks for your encouragement!). We’d planned to be cruising, but like you, are sitting at anchor much more than usual! Just the other day I equalized the batteries, but haven’t been able to tell if it made much of a difference.
One of the projects while at anchor has been learning the electrical system and start planning changes. I’ll be very curious to read your article about battery capacity over time. The house bank on this boat is ready to be replaced, and I’m torn between various technologies.
Congratulations on your purchase. On batteries, I love Li-Ion chemistries and use them at work. But, if you don’t care about size and weight, lead-acid still looks like a better price/performer for me. We’ll eventually go to LiFePo4 but the combination of the good value of AGM and the hassle of changing to a different form factor and charging profile has left us still using AGM. But, as new chemistry prices continue to fall, we’ll eventually make the move.
We’ll get that battery article out this week. As a teaser, one of our observations that is pertinent to your current situation is that old battery banks can continue to deliver reliably even when their capacity is low. The gen run times goes down, the frequency goes up, but the actual duration per day doesn’t go up much at all.
After 25 years as an electric vehicle specialist with caterpillar, I have found this to be the best explanation of electricity and its components. http://www2.ece.rochester.edu/courses/ECE113/materials/smoke.pdf
That’s it!!!! Actually as an ex-exotic car mechanic, I’ve worked upon my share of Lucas and Magnetti Marelli electrical equipment and I can tell you with some confidence that neither does a great job of designing for smoke retention. Thanks for the pointer to the article.
Lynn was curious how you like your cockpit table set and where you bought it. Is it holding up well?
We’re very happy with the furniture and it has lasted well since purchase in 2012. It’s from the Westminster Teak Barbuda line, a 48″ folding table and armchairs. We also have a Nevis rectangular drop-leaf folding teak table on the boat deck with four more Barbuda chairs. We generally keep both tables unfolded, but the cockpit table we fold and stow in the starboard walkway to make room for our fuel bladders.
When new in 2012, we sealed the furniture with Mar-X-Ite, then applied several coats of Cetol Marine Light and Cetol Marine Gloss. (Bill and Kay O’Meara from N62 Anna Mae recommended the procedure and it has worked very well.) The Cetol was still in reasonable shape when we re-applied it again at the end of 2013 after a year in the equatorial Pacific, and again at the end of 2015 after a couple of years in Australia and the Indian Ocean. We’ve not reapplied it since, and it’s still holding up well.
We also had custom covers canvas made for the furniture that helps keep the sun and weather off them.
Pics of folding table and canvas covers: https://mvdirona.com/2012/12/fuel-for-the-crossing/
48″ Barbuda folding table: https://www.westminsterteak.com/PID15623/Barbuda-Teak-Folding-Table
Barbuda Armchair: https://www.westminsterteak.com/PID12602/
Nevis rectangular drop-leaf folding table: https://www.westminsterteak.com/PID15663/Nevis-Rectangular-Teak-Folding-Drop-Leaf-Dining-Ta
Mar-X-Ite: It was produced by XIM, which Rustoleum now owns, and product seems to be discontinued. Perhaps it is being sold under a new name?
How do you get the NMEA 2000 data into your Raspberry Pi? Do you consume it directly with its own connection to the NMEA 2000 bus? Or are you doing DB queries over the network from the Raspberry Pi against the MariaDB relational database where you store all of your data? I can see benefits to both, though the DB query route seems more elegant since you aren’t adding yet another device to your NMEA 2000 bus.
All three of those options are pretty easy to do. The way our system is set up the database is running on a central server. All input data flows to that system. It reads NMEA2000, scrapes web page screens to get data from proprietary systems without APIs, and makes calls over ZMQ to the Raspberry PIs to get there input data. The central system takes most actions again with a variety of transports: 1) makes requests to Raspberry Pis over ZMQ, 2) pushes data onto the NMEA2000 bus, 3) sends email, and 4) uploads data to mvdirona.com.
In this model, the PIs mostly just do input at the request of the central system or do output at the request of the central system. One of our Pis reads and writes to Maservolt devices over Masterbus which is a proprietary protocol over CANbus. They can do the same with NMEA2000 using CAN boat (https://github.com/canboat/canboat). We don’t do it but it’s also easy to query a MySQL database directly from a Raspberry Pi or to run the entire database locally on the Pi.
I see, so the control logic is centralized. Makes sense, thanks!
Yes, the control logic is central. It doesn’t take much resource so it would be equally happy on a Raspberry Pi but it runs on the central server in our configuration. There are a few exceptions where the Pis act directly:
1) The LED confirming key press on the virtual watch commander (latency reasons make this best handled directly)
2) The detection of the central computer or software stack is on a Pi and it will independently make the decision to reboot the central computer if fault is detected (this needs to be independent of the central system)
There probably are 1 or 2 others but, for the most part, all logic is central and the Raspberry Pis are just input/output processors.
Happy Walpurgis Eve to you guys! Last year you where visiting Aland island and us at Maritime Safety Center. It was great to meet you and i wish you a safe time in these testing moments and a safe onwards journey on your exiting trip around the world. Stay safe !
I will try to post a link later to a live feed from the same bonfire that you visited last year:)
Hey Sam! Great haring from you. We’re doing well and taking it easy in beautiful Scotland. I hope you and the entire team at the Maritime Safety Center are doing well. It would be great to see a picture of the Walpurgis Eve bonfire. Thanks for thinking of us and thanks again for the educational visit to the Safety Center. All the best.
Here is the link https://alandsradio.ax/
They will light the fire at 19:45 our time so 5:45 your time.
All the best !!
Hi hope is all well,
What do you control with the Rusbery Pi ?
The Raspberry Pis implement around 45 channels of digital input (detects whether a device is off or on), about 25 channels of digital output (ability to turn appliances/or devices like the water heater or furnace off/on), 3) implement a wireless remote control to change any of the above states, 4) 1 channel of analog input (voltage measurement), and around 12 channels of temperature measurement.
That is great. Is it controllable from the dash monitor too ? Have you got the link for the Raspberry Pi ? Does it logs ?
The Raspberry Pis are controllable in four ways: 1) the boats central control systems can request via private protocol over Ethernet that a Pi turn a device on or off, 2) there is a 4×4 matrix keyboard in the engine room and another in the pilot house that allow human input to the Pi (some examples of what it can control below), 3) there are 4 16 channel wireless remotes spread throughout the boat that can send requests to the pi (examples below), and 4) there is software running on the Pi that can make decisions and directly act on them (e.g. when entertainment system gets warm, turn on the fan).
As examples of some of the things the PIs can control: 1) TV Lift up/down, 2) 240V inverter off/on, 3) entertainer system cooling fan, 4) defroster off/on, 5) HVAC off/on, 6) generator off/on, 7) chargers off/on, 8) clear all alarms, ….
RE: Leaking PSS.
We recently replaced our PSS with a Tideseal Shaftseal and for the first time we have a perfectly dry bilge. Very happy with this change as the PSS always had some dripping underway. The other nice addition is the ability to put a spare seal on the shaft if it ever needs replacing, one does not need to pull the shaft back to do the job.
(I have no affiliation with the company but am just a very happy customer.)
That’s a good suggestion. I’ve heard that tides are much more forgiving to out-of-true prop shafts and vibration. When things are right, PSS don’t leak and we have had very good luck with no leaks in 10,400 hours. However, since the last service stop, it leaks and is wearing as well. Thanks for the suggestion.
While not cruising yet, I would like to make the Atlantic crossing one day. I watched your videos on the route and passage. Did you consider or is there a reason not to consider shorter hops from Nova Scotia to Greenland, Greenland to Iceland and then Iceland to the Faroe Islands or direct to Ireland?
By far the most common rout to cross the Atlantic is way further south where hops can be made from the mainland, Bermuda, Azores, to mainland. The Norther route that you mentioned (Labrador, Greenland, Iceland, Faeroe Islands) is used much less frequently but it seems to be getting more popular. We plan to take that route on the way back. The downside of the northern route is the crossing season is very short, even in the best part of the years, the weather can be stronger, but the hops are shorter than the weather prediction interval so waiting out bad weather is effect. One of the key pluses of the Northern route are the sites. We’re really looking forward to it. The route we took from Rhode Island to the Ireland is not a common one for small boats. It’s a long time in the North Atlantic and it’s a big hope at 3,000 nautical miles. We spent 17 days to cover the distance. The only advantage of this route is expedience but the weather will likely be worse. I think the Northern route is going to be fun.