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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.
That would be elegant. Massive amount of copper in that space just to support the AC source selection switches. I’m with you – everything you need fits on an ethernet or N2K cable. I’m finally reaching the point with my nav system redo that I’ve got most of my nav data on the lan. So nice to just open a computer or tablet and Voila, there’s you are! ok, this is getting off topic. Time to get back to the projects!
Good job. Glad your mega-project is nearing final form.
With the anchorage having alot of wind and waves do you employ your flopper stopper, or stern anchor or anything special to deal with rolling at anchor?
The boat is remarkably heavy so it takes a lot of weather to bother it. But, when it is bad, we use the flopper stopper. We haven’t ever bothered with using a stern anchor to get positioned correctly to the wind but we have one and could do it if things were really rough.
that’s good to know. I hope my 60 will have the same characteristics. I declined the STAR system because of price and the need to run the genset all night.
STAR wasn’t available when Dirona was built but I think we may have arrived at the same conclusion as you if it were. The boat seems remarkably stable at anchor and the flopper stopper is quite effective at reducing roll action.
Looks like we both have PSS issues. I also just replaced my seals during my haulout in February. This week, we found that one of them leaks quite substantially when the boat (Bayliner 4788) is up on plane. No leaks when traveling at displacement speeds. Trying to get someone from the yard out to my boat to tighten it up but will also have them look at the alignment and wear on the seal.
Sorry to hear that. I’ve used them for 4,100 hours on the last boat and never a drip. And, we used them for 8,000 hours on the new boat without a drip. But if you have a mis-installed seal or an out of true shaft, they can leak a bit. I’m lucky enough to have both :-). Hopefully your issue is easy to solve.
Looking at the recent photo of you replacing the pi in the PH over head, I realized you have those panels on hinges. I wanted to do this the instant I opened the first one on my boat a few weeks ago. Can you tell me about the hinges and catches? Looks like a piano hinge…
Isn’t that a cool solution? It’s a factory option and, yes, you are right. It’s just a large piano hinge and it’s held on by 4 machine screws running through captive nuts. Super easy to open and close with a power screw driver (actually easy without as well but that’s how I do it). I love it and I bet it’s been open and closed 1,000 times over the last 10 years :-).
That’s brilliant. Adding that to my project list now. Well, it’s gonna be a bit o’ fun getting that hinge screwed onto the edge of the instrument panel… Then there’s the vertical panel covering the massive trunk of wires and hoses and everything else between the two berths on the lower level. Is yours super packed and bulging at the seams like mine? I can barely get that thing back on and I’ve already had to take a chisel to the floor and hole saw to the overhead to make room for more cabling – even just to make room for what was there already. They should have crafted that panel with a convex radius rather than flat. It feels awful using a chisel and hammer on my new boat…
Mine isn’t quite that snug but it is tight. The problem is mostly caused by heavy power cables going back and forth. All gen power and shore power goes up to breaker panel. Then most of it goes back to chargers and heavy appliances. Would be better to have a remote breaker panel with externally controlled breakers down near the loads. The PH would only need thin control wires to show remote breaker status via LED and be able to remote switch the breaker through light signalling wiring. Most of what I have done runs on 1) Ethernet (only need 1 wire), 2) NMEA2000 (only need 1 more wire), 3) or thin control wires with remote load switching so I don’t need much more space.
James and Jennifer; Just read an interesting article in the NY Times about people self isolating/quarantining on boats are being denied access to marinas, etc – in fact anything shore based. When are you allowed to touch terra firma again?
In these unusual times, we’re all learning as we go. We will eventually need to re-provision but it’s not been an issue thus far. We’ll learn as we go Rod.
I find it kind of funny your doing the bread thing. In the states currently in many places flour is hard to come buy. Seems with the health situation persons have taken to bread making. btw your bread maker is the brand we eventually purchased which the Japanese seem to have the best products in this area. Cheers! btw Update on N6081. Pretty much all the choices made and they are hard at work on the carpentry and wiring and such. The FB is not on yet but mostly the haul is complete. We are next and I suspect Sep or so ready to ship. My wife Lynn is an ER Physician at a major US hospital so we are in the thick of this situation currently.
Congratulations on the build progress. Good to hear you are getting closer to the finish product. Our experience is shipping time vary greatly but it is the last step the process. Your getting close.
All the best to your wife. She currently holds one of the most vital jobs in the country. Let’s all hope that current trends continue and the pandemic is brought back under control.
Good Day Jennifer and James
I have spent the last few weeks in isolation reading all your posts and find them very interesting.
I have one question, Your 52 is now plus 10 years old and far from the boat that came out of the factory, with regards to upgrades and changes you have made, Have Nordhavn adapted any of your designs with regards to equipment and or systems to their new range of trawlers.
Keep up the posts and stay safe in these strange times.
From a locked down South Africa.
We’re a long way away in Scotland but also locked down. You were asking if Nordhavn has picked up any of our design ideas. The Nordhavn designs are always improving and a few of the changes will have come from our experiences. For example, some of our electrical system changes are now available as options. Our engine was a special install when it was done but is now the standard engine in the 52. There have been a few changes influenced by our experience but Nordhavn has many sources of the new design ideas and we’re only a tiny contributor.
Alfred, Nordhavn is incredibly versatile in allowing buyers to customize the product. And to your answer we are currently building a N60 and we have implemented several ideas James and Jennifer ‘thought’ up. I think one of the best things they did is “better electrical system”. That is in my opinion a strength of the Nordhavn owners and company. I can only report positive things with the team in Dana Point.
Eric , thanks. Yes I would love to see a video walk through of your N60 when complete. I love the design of the N60.
It does sounds like it’s going to be a winner doesn’t it?
Hello Jennifer and James,
I am working with Vripack in Sneek Holland to build a boat. I have been a follower of your blog for a long time and very impressed by the honest and accurate and professional work that you both have done on this boat. I feel I can read your blog and quickly get into what you’re describing.
I have a small request, do you have a spreadsheet or a word document that list all the different components that you are currently using, or modified on your boat. Vripack are suggesting a Perkins engine, I am going with John Deere, especially after reading your comments on the Deere engine.
Please any help that you can provide me is highly appreciated.
I am sure you’re enjoying your time under lockdown a lot more than us staying at home.
Thanks for the feedback. Your projects sounds like a fun one. We’ve heard lots of good things about Vripack.
Our boat is basically what’s on the Nordhavn web site:
We covered most of the major modifications we made here:
And, we try to cover everything we fix, change, improve, etc. here on the web site.
What do you store in your Synology NAS? Do you use it for all stateful storage on Dirona or is it more of a backup?
We have it under the settee in the Salon. In out configuration, it’s the primary data storage location for all devices on Dirona. The Synology is configured with 4 disks of 16TB each in RAID 6 so we have 29TB of space and can take 2 disk failures without loosing data. On the last unit, it went 4 years without any issue but at around 4 years we had a disk failure, replaced it, then a couple of months later we had another go down. We replaced it and then another starting to producing errors so we decided it was time for an upgrade. Hopefully these Seagate IronWolf 16TB drives (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07SGGWYC1) will do as well as the Western Digital Red 6TB drives (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00LO3KR96) did. Given the temperature extremes, humidity, and vibration, I’m impressed that the WD drives did as well as they did.
With your NAS have you made sure you have a duplicate Synology unit of the same model.. I have heard of people getting caught due to failure in the unit (not the drives) and losing data as a replacement is not available. Have you considered Solid stat drives in RAID which with the new costs and no moving parts could be a good solution.
Given the fairly low cost of a backup device, we should have one but don’t. Mostly just because of the space requirements and the fact that we replace them every 4 years. But, it’s a good idea — we probably should have a backup. In fact, we are going to take your advice on that one. It’s a $369 insurance policy. We will order a new unit from Amazon to pickup on our next US trip. Good suggestion.
We use solid state drives for high I/O workloads but they are poor value for bulk storage. We have 29TB built from 64TB of raw storage. If we were to do that with SSDs, it would cost $8,256 at current retail prices. SSDs just don’t seem like good value where access performance isn’t critical or is largely sequential and large amounts of storage are required.
I have my two computers, router, switch and two DVRs on the boat all connected to a UPS so when I switch between shore power and the inverter (or temporary power loss) I do not have to shutdown or worry about the systems.
Hope all three of you are doing well!
Our runs on the inverter so is stable through power transitions and other on board changes. In fact, the mean time between power failures these days is likely somewhere in the 6 to 12 month range. But, given the risk of hard failing the Synology and given how disruptive it is, the UPS makes good sense for us and we probably should have done this before.
I noticed it was the shorter member of the team that flipped the switch and caused the power outage. Clearly Spitfire needs more training before you let him loose on the distribution board again.
:-). Well, I’ve heard it might not actually have been Spitfire this time. He’s easy to blame because he shows poor attention to detail, is forgetful, and even when he is in the helm chair during watch, he’s usually fast asleep.
But apart from that he’s the purrfect crew member.
(sorry, couldn’t resist it)
Glad to see you guys are doing well and are OK.
Yes, we’re relaxing and enjoying a slower pace for a while.
The picture Liquid Tomcat:
You commented that you had to alter course because the sailing vessel was overtaking you and that an overtaking sailing vessel is stand-on. This is incorrect!
Any overtaking vessel, regardless of propulsion, is the give way vessel. See Colreg 13.
Yeah, you’re right Trond. We were the stand on vessel in this case but, either they didn’t know it, or felt their course changes would still yield a safe distance. When they didn’t adjust course and we were uncomfortable with the situation, we changed course. We find that many boat operators, mostly small boats, are comfortable with a 20′ or even a 10′ CPA but we’re not. So, if they push it and don’t yield, we will. We probably should give them 5 as we take evasive action but, for many of these operators, the distance they have chosen seems perfectly safe to them and they would annoyed to hear our horn. We only use the horn if the situation is both quite close and there may not be time to safely take further evasive action.
Then you acted as you should, according to Colreg 17b.
Yes, there is lots of ignorance or lack of knowledge about the Colregs. It appears that some people think that “I have a sailboat, therefore I am always stand on vessel, and can behave the way I want whenever I want…” even when they use the engine. Scary!
Anyway, hope you have a good time and stay away from the corona.
Liquid Tomcat has the genoa poled out to port and the mainsail boom is eased right out to the starboard side, indicating it is running close to dead downwind. In these windy conditions, the last thing they want is an accidental gybe as the boom will ‘crash’ over to the port side with so much momentum that it could de-mast the vessel.
I think they would have had the autopilot on its ‘wind-vane’ setting so that Tomcat kept at a constant relative angle to the wind (rather than to a typical fixed compass bearing as you would do on Dirona). To really keep an accidental gybe at bay, on my yacht I opt for about 140 to 150 degrees on either the port or starboard quarter. As the wind direction varies by modest amounts around the predominant direction, so does the vessel heading as it seeks to maintain the dialled up relative wind angle. Most other times we set the AP to either a compass bearing or a waypoint goto.
Even though you were the stand-on vessel, my guess is that Liquid Tomcat’s skipper would have been very grateful that you gave them the sea room you did as it helped them reduce the risk of a dangerous gybe. Best wishes, Ian
If the give-way vessel for some reason is unable to act according with Colreg, they should never just keep going and force the stand-on vessel to act to avoid collision. That is about the worst kind of “seamanship” and definitely a violation of Colreg nr 2, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 13.
In this case, the Liquid Tomcat should have altered course to give way to Dirona.
If Liquid Tomcat for some reason was unable to give way according to Colreg 13, an alternative (and perfectly acceptable solution) would be for LT to contact Dirona on VHF and request Dirona alter course. This would first of all be good seamanship, and both parties would know what was happening, instead of causing confusion onboard Dirona.
You are right Trond but it wasn’t until we needed to make the second course change that we were starting to wonder “why?”
Absolutely agree with the excellent points you make, Trond. As you say, it’s important that recreation yachtsman understand the Colregs but, sadly, many don’t. It’s quite possible LT erroneously assumed that, as it was a sail/motoring situation, they would always have the right-of-way and that took precedent over the requirements for overtaking vessels (Colreg 13). Or as James inferred, LT’s skipper recognised Dirona as the stand-on vessel but was happy to accept a closer CPA than he was.
I was only hypothesising as to why they may have been altering course the way they did. I like to think that had I had been in LT’s situation, with a tight CPA coming up and at a hairy point of sail, I would have found time to call Dirona on VHF/DSC to explain my constraints and request cooperation. Maybe they didn’t have an AIS or check MarineTraffic or like to know who to call. If I couldn’t raise Dirona on the radio or they insisted on their rights as the stand-on (I know from James and Jennifers great seamanship they would have cooperated), I would have dropped the whisker pole, gybed the genoa and veered well away from Dirona on a broad reach until ahead.
In my almost many years of sailing, I have never ceased to be amazed at the number of times I’ve seen two vessels both wanting to occupy the exact same spot in the ocean, even well off shipping routes and in remote parts of the Pacific Ocean. Both may have left port days before, travelled at different speeds and different courses.
We have an AIS transponder on our yacht and have often used it to enable a VHF call to another vessel, including ships, and confirm that we both have the same expectation, e.g. that, yes, we will be passing port to port (or even starboard to starboard) on a bow to bow approach. It eases the pressure, particularly at night.
I find commentary like this really interesting – it’s a great learning opportunity and Trond’s useful information had me looking at Colregs again. And that can’t be at all bad.
Ian said “I have never ceased to be amazed at the number of times I’ve seen two vessels both wanting to occupy the exact same spot in the ocean.” Exactly! When there is nothing but open water for miles around and only two boats in the area, how could it possibly be necessary to alter course twice :-)
Yes, that is a fascinating observation I have seen countless times too. Must be the dreadful “law of attraction” between pleasure crafts.
In general, pleasure crafts act way too late in give-way/ stand-on situations. This is both for motorboats and sailboats.
One thing most can get better at, is to actually do a proper look out, with all available means, and not just “have a look at the sea near your own vessel.” As an example: If you have a radar or AIS onboard, you are obliged to use it whenever you are underway. (Colreg 5)
If you see another vessel, monitor it immediately and determine as early as possible if it is a threat to your own vessel. Is a crossing/ opposite/ overtaking situation about to happen…? If LT had done this, they would have detected Dirona early enough that maybe even a 5-10 degree course change would have been more than enough for a safe overtaking.
Looking at the Colregs once in a while is always a good time, regardless of your knowledge level. Even though I know Colregs very well, I always read them at least a couple times a year. Safe boating is happy boating.
J & J:
Impressive fridge arranging. I see Matua Marlborough Sav B is still holding pride of place :) :) One of our family’s favourites
Yeah, we love Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs in general. Matua isn’t among the best of the Marboroughs but it’s both an enjoyable wine and good value. It’s often available in box format which saves storage space and produces less waste.
J & J What is your favourite Marlborough Sav B. We visit there almost every year from Canada
Family vineyard supplies Oyster Bay, which is the only winery without a local tasting room etc in the region
Hey Rod. On our preference from Marlborough, the good news is there is such a massively wide variety of producers in that region but the bad news is that, in our world travels, we rarely get the opportunity to get the same one twice. They all differ greatly in their exporting deals and where they actually ship. But, one we have seen frequently and really like is Astrolabe. Haven’t seen it recently but it’s a favorite of ours.
Re Hemicycle 3/4/20 A pedantic point but Britain is no longer a member of the EU having left at the end of January 2020.
Hey James! Going back and looking at the Google map updates/tracks. How are you automating your Google map updates? It appears that there are routine updates to maps and you’ve done a great job at separating out voyages. I just went through and read the updates and corresponding data for your Indian Ocean crossing.
We have a substantial control system that has evolved over the last couple decades on two boats. It started when the second or third NMEA 0183 multiplexer failed. I wrote one to replace the failed unit in software. Then since I was seeing all the data, I stored it in a database. Then I wrote software to display some of the content. Then we added alerts, alarm, email and eventually added external control and monitoring. Jennifer wrote code to push some of the data up to mvdirona.com where it’s display in Google maps.
The system in it’s current form pulls data from many sources including NMEA 2000, digital inputs over ethernet, analog inputs over ethernet, and web scrapping over internet. Every data point on the entire boat is stored every 5 seconds in a MariaDB database. Alarms, alerts, reporting, etc. all run off this database as well as software that pushes a subset of the data up to mvdirona.com where it is displayed there as well.
I don’t have a question or very meaningful comment, I just wanted to share its so exciting as part of my morning ritual of clicking through my favorite sites and seeing Dirona on the move!
Hey, that’s great to hear. It’s been a nice little 3 day run. We expect to arrive in this evening and we will have covered around 490 nautical mile (900 km) run. Thanks for the feedback.
loved your video to Antwerp , did the same in the 70’s! I was trying to find where you might have posted about what I think is a change of plans to go to the Isle of Giga again . are you looking for somewhere safe to be for a while , and if so why there? cheers warren
Our decision to defer our trip to the Mediterranean was made the morning of 3/13 where we looked at the news from France, Spain, and Italy and decide it was just the wrong time to be visiting these countries. We redirected to Scotland and that remains our planned destination. More detail here: https://mvdirona.com/2020/03/changing-plans/.
Just watched you leaving Portland Harbour, looks a little choppy out there for my liking – I’m up at The Nothe Fort – safe onward journey
Yes, you are right. It is a bit rough out here but we expect that it’ll settle down over the next few hours and, as soon as we turn west, we’ll be heading down wind so should be fairly comfortable. All the best.
I live overlooking Lyme Bay and have been tracking you online. Unfortunately you were out of range of my telescope. It’s been a bit of a rough night with the sea crashing against the wall and shaking the house a bit so I guess it’s been an up and down night for you guys. I see you will soon be rounding Lands End. Have a safe journey.
Thanks for the comment and sorry you missed us. As you said, it was pretty lumpy out there and we were 20 nautical miles off shore at that point so the combination of distance and often being hidden by waves were in your way. We’ll make the turn northward at Lands End in about 3 hours. All the best.
Hello from Sedona Arizona
When Jennifer goes grocery shopping what’s her procedure for washing leafy greens to kill bacteria.
In places such as the South Pacific, we soak all produce in a mild bleach solution, followed by a freshwater rinse, before bringing them inside the boat to kill any insects.
In cooler climates, when buying from locations in countries with high food storage standards, then we just take the standard recommend approach of bringing them on board and washing them thoroughly in fresh water before consumption.
I see you are passing pretty close to Hastings.
Why don’t you pop in for a quick cuppa?
I even have a few Jaffa Cakes left. Oh no! I seem to have eaten those. Oh well!
Have a great trip.
Where are you on your way too?
Looks like we passed you in Hastings last night Tony. We’re just approaching the Isle of Wight now in wonderful weather. If conditions stay as good as they are, we’ll head to Portland Harbour this evening. We’ll probably go spend some time in Scotland or that is our current thinking.
Portland Harbour? Mmm. A little far for me to pop over for a visit from Hastings.
Maybe I can swing a visit to Scotland and see you folks there. Unlikely, but who knows. :)
Dear James and Jennifer,
Welcome in Antwerp!!
Along the pier in Willemsdok you will find MY Monara (www.monara.be), we have been following you for the last two years, have become addict to Maretron through James’ inspiring technical blog, and I live in Antwerp.
If there is anything that we can do to introduce you to our beautiful city, please shout!
I would love to invite you for diner in our Antwerp Yacht club this Saturday, if you are available.
We want to take Monara around the world in 2021, are preparing here as good as we can, but would love to “pick your brain” on all the practicalities of cruising around the globe.
I’ll be on Monara tomorrow, from 09.00 to 17.00, please pop in for a coffee!
We would love to have had a chance to meet you — it’s fun meeting people all over the world and we often learn about new things to see or do in the area from residents like yourselves. But, we have decided to leave Antwerp this morning so won’t be able to do it. Hopefully our paths will cross again in the near future.
Hi! It is great to hear about your adventures aboard Dirona. It is great to see how adventurous your cat Spitfire is. My question is about where you decided to feed (probably not so difficult) and place the cat pan (more difficult). Thanks for the insights as we plan for our future boating adventures (dreams at this point).
Best Regards, Griff
Spitfire’s food and water bowls are kept in the day head across from the Galley They are in front of the washer and dryer and the toilet is in the other end of the small room. It’s an easy place to check and refill his bowls and it doesn’t get much in the way there. The cat box is down in the guest stateroom. We used to keep it in the GSR shower with the door open but as he got older, he decided he didn’t like it there so it’s now on the floor of the GSR. If someone visits, it moves into the MSR. We find the Tidy Cat system to be super easy to manage on a boat: https://mvdirona.com/2010/06/cruising-with-cats/.
James and Jennifer
We’ve been following you for years and appreciate your contribution to the cruising community. Understanding your background in IT I’m curious about your thoughts on the use of VPN while cruising? We connect to the internet via WiFi when available, otherwise via cell hotspot. Our interest in VPN is from the security prospective not anonymity. We have had great results using VPN while land-based, however while mobile is yet to be tested.
I should have included that we are thinking a router based VPN would best suit us versus device based VPN. We have 10+ connected devices with likely 3-4 actively being used at any given time.
Makes sense. We use ExpressVPN and they are natively supported by most routers so just going to a router-based VPN solution would make a lot of sense. In our case, we use an open source router solution DD-WRT. Even DD-WRT supports EXpressVPN well, so that still isn’t a blocker for us using full router based VPN. But we run our router in a multi-WAN configuration where the router has 4 WAN connections and the Router automatically chooses the least expensive configuration: 1) WiFi, 2) Cellular, 3) V7hts satellite unlimited mode, and 4) V7hts satellite metered account mode. In this multi-WAN configuration, it’s much more complex to get a VPN working. I also have several dedicated encrypted channels running out of the router to allow external to the boat access. And there are static IPs to support another incoming channel.
We love the router and the overall configuration but it would make running full router VPN more complex. It clearly can still be done but, the more I thought about it, the more I was concerned that the VPN would yeild some weird fault modes and make it more difficult to know why something wasn’t working. And, there are times when I need different VPNs from different devices for different purposes. Also you don’t want to use the VPN 24×7 on the sat system since the VPN has constant heartbeats consuming metered data even when no customer data is flowing.
Where we ended up is install ExpressVPN on 3 android phones, 1 FireTV, and 3 Windows systems. A single ExpresVPN license can be install on all 7 systems (or as many as you have) as long as you don’t use it on more than 5 at the same time. It seems to work pretty well. In fact, I really like having per device control but there is risk that we forget to connect to the VPN and run some traffic unprotected. Other than that, the setup is pretty nice and is working fairly well. And, it’s super clear when the VPN has a problem and when there is some other connectivity problem — in my opinion, tying it all together can make it hard to figure out what’s causing a communications problem. There are pros and cons to both but I slightly favor a per-device VPN.
I use a VPN to get secure resources at work and we use ExpressVPN around the boat quite frequently. When doing financial work, we hook up but don’t stay connected all the time although it works well enough that there is no reason why we couldn’t stay connected.
James – Thanks for this insight, your comments regarding per-device VPN are thought provoking, I’ll consider this further. I also wasn’t aware ExpressVPN was a multi-device license, however now understand that it is so this becomes a viable cost effective provider. The Apple TV and NAS drives were what was driving me towards a router based solution, however I see that ExpressVPN is able to be run-on these, I’ll review the security aspect of that further.
We run a 2 WAN set-up (Cell + WiFi) with a Wi-Fi Ranger antenna and router to manage the WAN selection.
Thanks again and safe travels.
MV Last Laugh
DeFever 52 Offshore Cruiser
Now lying Hilton Head Island, SC, USA
That sounds like a good set-up. Hope the VPN implementation goes well.
Speaking of connectivity, what are you using for LTE access? We’re using a Wireng gigamimo-lite antenna (and just upgrading to a gigamimo-5G) with a cradlepoint router, but I’m not super happy with either right now. I just can’t find a better answer.
We just use cell phones with their connectivity shared out with the boat. If any of our cell phones are close to the boat, it uses them for connectivity. If no cell phones are near, then it uses the KVH V7hts satellite link. So the boat is always connected automatically and, overall it’s a pretty slick system.
The only improvement we wanted to make was to install a cellular range extender. We’ve read lots of good things about them and WeBoost (https://www.amazon.com/weBoost-MultiRoom-470144-Booster-Carriers/dp/B07VG9ZZMV) was well reviewed so we gave it a try over 6 months and really couldn’t measure the difference in connectivity. The phones do well up to 10 to 20 miles off shore and the WeBoost extender didn’t change that so we stopped using it.
Gotcha! Yeah I’m wondering if we’ll end up with that simple of a setup as well. Many times, the current antenna arrangement is slower than simply tethering to our phones. However, some other times, it’s much faster. So, we’re still trying to figure out the pattern. Apple has been putting slightly more money into antenna design than WirEng, but it still seems like a 3’x3’x2′ antenna setup should clearly outshine the iPhone antenna under all circumstances… But if it doesn’t, then it might be time to just dual-sim our cell phones with the unlimited SIM cards we use and call it a day…
I read about your KVH setup back when we started planning our great loop trip, but with Starlink on the horizon, I struggled to drop 70k on an antenna + thousands per month for unlimited low-speed service. In your shoes, over the past few years, you had no other choice, so it totally makes sense, though. :)
Cheers guys! Keep up the fun. Maybe someday we’ll be on the same worldwide adventure as you.
The simple setup I described works fairly well. I hear you on Starlink pricing and agree it sounds apealing but suspect they are still a year away from an production constellatoin and it might be more. The KVH V7hts antenna isn’t as expensive as you might think. It’s $25k for the antenna and $1,000 a month will get you 5G with $300/G if you go over. I don’t know the details but I know they have some plans where they put the antenna on the boat for free and you just pay monthly.
I wouldn’t call what we have “cheap” but it’s pretty nice to always be connected. Hope we do end up in the same city sometime.
Aha. I think I was looking at the V11 stuff, but it looks like V7 can do 3Mbit, which is fine for out-of-cell-contact always-in-touch. Do you have an intelligent caching proxy layer on your boat to help assist with large builds? I worry about doing things like Kubernetes development, where, for example, docker image building does a really poor job out of the box of caching intermediate data pulls, so you end up burning tons of bandwidth redownloading the same images repeatedly.
With coronavirus keeping everything closed for who knows how many months, we might need to just do a second great loop after this to catch all the things that are closed the first time around, putting us into Starlink constellation opening day range… Then maybe we feel better about switching to a slow speed trawler and going more worldly. :)
Doing team based software development over the sat link would be challenging. The only acceptable solution would probably be to do a full clone locally and only work on areas of the code where nobody else is making changes. If you absolutely have to do just run business as usual in a team development environment, I suspect you’ll blow through 5+ gig a day but the best way to figure it out would be to instrument your router or client system to measure all bits sent and received for a day and get a read on exactly what an average day looks like for you.
James/Jennifer – I have just come across your trip blog of the Dampier to Rodrigues trip in 2015.
While I appreciate it was a few years ago, but was there a reason why you did not go via the Cocos/Keeling Islands? I understand that the overall trip would have been further but it would have allowed for a break in the journey with a stopover on dry land.
You’re right, Cocos Keeling is the common stopping point when crossing the Indian Ocean from Darwin. There are lots of upsides to doing it, and we gave it considerable thought. The standard route is either by running the 2,000 miles directly from Darwin, or by running 500 miles south to Broome and then 1,500 miles to Cocos Keeling. Rodrigues is then 2,000 miles from Cocos Keeling.
We were covering basically the same distance, but in a 1,000-mile leg from Darwin to Dampier and then a 3,000-mile leg to Rodrigues. The reason we did this was partly for experience in covering longer distances, but also because fueling in Cocos Keeling would be incredibly expensive. Diesel was $2/liter in Cocos Keeling compared to $1.48/L in Dampier. (And in Dampier we could get GST and fuel excise tax rebates that brought the effective price down to about $1.10/L). Also, we couldn’t reach the fuel dock in Cocos Keeling due to shallow water, so we’d need to be supplied via barge. The cost of hiring the barge would make the effective price about $5/L or nearly $20 per gallon. When you’re taking on many thousands of liters, that can really add up. :)
I found your YouTube videos which led me here. I grew up in the PNW and love anything maritime – well anything with an engine and sails or wheels really. What a great adventure! I look forward to seeing more. Looks like I have a lot of reading to do to catch up!
Glad you found the website and we should have another video posted soon.
Hi James and Jennifer, Here Rob. Wonderful trip and website! We are also living on a boat 365×24 in the Netherlands. Idea: Sailing on the Rhine and Danube to Instanbul where you enter the Mediterranean. All this provided that the Dirona is not too high. Greetings, Rob
We would love to do that inland river trip but Dirona is an Ocean boat and draws 2.1m of water and has an air draft of 9.1m. We get to enjoy some inland water ways like the run from Amsterdam to Antwerp but there many where there either isn’t enough water or enough air clearance or both. No complaints though — 10 years later we continue really have fun with the boat.
Hello Jennifer and James,
Welcome in Antwerp!
I’ve been following you since the publishing in “Motorboot”.
Antwerp is a nice city, I hope you will enjoy your stay.
We also love boating very much.
Ania & Henk
Thanks for the welcome to Antwerp. We’re excited to be here and looking forward to spending 7 to 10 days here and we’re enjoying it so far.
Simple coolant change question. I have an M844. When draining the coolant are you draining solely from the block drain on the service side of the gen? The manual also says to disconnect the coolant hose on the under side of the heat exchanger/manifold. What do you do? Cheers.
I drain only out of the drain on the oil filter side of the block which appears to be low enough to get most of it. The drain on the other (heat exchanger) side looks higher. You could try the house after a full drain to see if you get materially more by taking the hose off. I go with the drain only.
Thanks for prompt reply. I’ll stick to the same engine block drain that you use but will have to flush a bit longer next time to get clearer flush returns. Enjoy your web page and all the varied posts, topics, video etc. My wife and our two girls (9,12) have lived aboard full time for the past five years on Bella our 65 ft MV classic Bill Garden pilot house cruiser. While not set up for passage making we do enjoy exploring the BC coast from our home port in Ganges Salt Spring Island. We can very much relate to the challenge of keeping all the systems operational 365. Cheers.
That sounds great. Ganges is a wonderful place to live.
Great to see you underway again – I really enjoy watching your adventures from afar.
As we are working to get N4709 up to date with deferred maintenance, this coolant question raised another related question I thought I’d run by you. I need to change the coolant on our main L668T. It seems pretty straightforward to drain the block, but have you come up with a good system to get the coolant out of the keel cooler? I’ve been told that a wet vac on one of the coolant lines to the keel cooler can be used but I can’t figure out how to do it without putting a fair amount of coolant in the bilge. Once drained, would you flush it further or does re-filling it dilute the old residual coolant enough? Any issues with air locks?
Looking forward to seeing your Med adventures – have you figured out a rough itinerary?
I’m a big fan of wet vacs and have one in the engine room always handy and used frequently. When we changed our coolant we dropped down the heat exchanger so didn’t have to do it but, if I did, I would use a combination of wet vac and repeated freshwater rinses and wet vac cleans.
Our only firm fixed calendar point in the Mediterranean so far is Genoa at the start of July. We’re already having a really enjoyable cruise down through the inland canals of the Netherlands. It’s looking like it’s going to be another action packed year.
Thanks James – I have a wet vac, and it sounds like this will be a good use for it. My only concern about the fresh water rinses is the generation of more coolant contaminated water to dispose of.
Genoa should be fantastic. Are you going to winter over somewhere next year or will you be able to cruise through the winter?
We’ve only planned as far forward as Genoa in July. I suspect rather than to take 3 or 4 months off at a single location we’ll take a month here and a month there along the way but we’ll need more experience in the Med before we make final plans.
I am also considering a 60 which has a hard top with enough room for 7 panels. How does your 27 kWhrs per day convert to DC amperage removed from the battery bank? Our previous boat could easily generate 300+ amps per day (12 volt) in Florida and the Bahamas. I guess the simple question is how many DC amps (24 volts) per day would the inverter pull from the battery bank in order to maintain the Sub Zero and perhaps the additional freezer.
I like the idea of the autostart as well and would incorporate one in to the system. I would hope that with the reduced amperage draw of just those two appliances and 7 solar panels the autostart would be the last line of defense, only used in cloudy situations.
The 60 is a great boat — we really like the single deck MSR and living quarters.
We wouldn’t run a cruising yacht without auto-start. It frees you up from needing to think about the generator, avoids mistakes that can hurt expensive battery banks, and gives you the freedom to stay away for a couple of days when you thought it was only going to be a few hours.
For consumption measures, we are on the high-side since we always have the boat live and operable. For example, the satellite system draws more power than the Sub Zero and it’s almost always on. We always have lights on around the boat. The video cameras and storage systems are always running. We have a large fridge and an additional freezer and they are both always on. The Nav computer is always on. Our 27kWhr per day is an average draw of 46A @ 24V which is crazy high. I would think that most boats would be down around 30A @ 24V and some, even fairly electronic boats, probably get down close to 20A @ 24V.
But 20A is still way above the 12.5A/hour you expect to be able to average with the Solar panels. Getting the draw down to that level would require that you turn off almost everything except the fridge. For our tastes, needing to shut the boat down before heading out is just too much hassle so we would probably just use the solar panels as a bridge to reduce generator run time.
Richard, James is on the money here. There’s just not enough room on these boats to put enough PV to run the boat, unless (maybe) you gave up the entire aft upper deck and dinghy storage area. I don’t really know, that’s just an exaggerated guess. If you can tell us the specs on the 7 panels you can fit on the 60’s hard top I’ll go through the math with you (I gotta return the favor to James on the customer support effort!). As a starting point, your previous boat produced roughly 3600 watt-hours (normalizing to 12V) on a good day according to your statement. All other things being equal, it would still be 3600 w-h on a 24 system. We don’t know how many or what type of panels you had to do this so it’s impossible to translate this into what might be possible on a N60 until we know more.
James you like a great number of adjustable wrench users are use not only the adj. wrench but also the end wrenches wrong, sorry. Please watch this you tube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=latrFJ7uFiM that willshow you what you are doing wrong. My father used to holler at me if I use a wrench in this manner. Please take my criticism as constructive criticism. Your way can break the wrench when you need it most not to mention hurting your self.
You’ve had your father explain the use of adjustable wrenches to you. I’ve had the same. I’m also a licensed professional auto-mechanic so you can imagine I’ve had automotive trade teachers explain this too me many times. I’ve done a 9,000 hour apprenticeship so, yes, I’e had this explained to me by many seasoned and highly skilled professionals. We post to our blog (https://mvdirona.com/) and put videos (https://www.youtube.com/user/mvdirona/featured) up describing our trip and showing some of the service work we have done in our years rounding the world. Literally dozens of folks like yourself have jumped in to save us from injury and explained how adjust wrenches could or should be used. I’ve had a lot of advice on this topic.
But even with all that good advice, I still don’t religiously follow the “adjustable wrench rules” that are otherwise so popular. As a professional auto-mechanic, I had a 5′ high tool box with thousands of dollars in tools and yet not a single adjustable wrench. When you have 2 cubic meters of tools, you almost always have the right tool and it would be silly to accept the bulk and weaknesses of adjustable wrench. But, on a small boat, it’s not practical to have anywhere close to 2 cubic meters worth of tools and, ironically, there are a great many fasteners much larger than any found in an automotive application. Even more tools are needed on a boat. There just isn’t space for all the right tools so adjustable ends up being the only practical solution. Boats also often have a shortage of space and adjustable wrenches are bigger and more bulky so it’s often the case that the adjustable wrench can’t use used in the “right” way and the only way to move a nut is to sift it first a bit using one side of the wrench and then turn it over and use the other side. That’s why all wrenches have about a 15 degree offset on the end — it allows progress when the clearance is tight but that does require using the wrench in both directions in violation of popular advice.
Having used adjustable wrenches “incorrectly” for literally decades, I’ll observe they are far stronger than conventional wisdom allows and I’ve got a great many jobs done that wouldn’t have been possible following all the rules. And, I’ve never had an adjustable wrench fail. They are far more reliable than conventional wisdom but I do agree they are worth avoiding and, if they must be used, they should be used with care.
A quick thank you for having your “Prince William Sound” presentation available on-line. We returned to North America from Micronesia via the Aleutians and were debating in which region of Alaska we would transition from “delivery mode” to “cruising mode” for a few weeks. Your presentation led us to deciding to spend our slack time in PWS vice the busier SE Alaska and the whole family thoroughly enjoyed it (http://sv-fluenta.blogspot.com/2020/01/more-ice-yale-glacier-and-watersports.html).
Even as a sailboat guy I follow the technical aspects of your blog as I enjoy reading how well you two overcome the technical challenges of cruising.
Presently Sidney, BC
GREAT choice to go to Prince William Sound. It’s an amazing place and your blog brings back many great memories. Thanks for the blog feedback.
What sensor did you use to publish the domestic hot water temperature on your NMEA2000 network? I love the idea of having that information available centrally to know when I would need to fire up the generator.
We use the “Ring Temperature Probe” Maretron Part# TR3K connected up to a TMP100 (https://www.maretron.com/products/tmp100.php). I clamped the metal end of the temp probe onto the brass outlet port on the water heater right up against the heater pressure tank. The tight mechanical connection of a hose clamp gives excellent conduction and gives an accurate read on hot water tank temperature.
Perfect thanks. Ordered some ambient temp sensors too, that will be very helpful.
We find having temperatures sensors with alarms all over the boat is really useful. Some examples from our boat (some humidity sensors aren’t operative):
Temp & Humidity: 02/14 07:58 (02/14 06:58)
Outside 47.1F 77.3% 1013mb 0.0kts
MSR 63.0F 52.0%
Pilot House 73.0F 47.0%
Salon 65.0F 52.0%
Water Heater 120.4F
Engine Room 63.2F
House Bank 63.5F
Start Bank 60.8F
Autopilot 1 59.6F
Autopilot 2 60.9F
Laz Freezer -12.8F
Entertainment 89.0F 25.0%
120V Inverter 77.0F 25.0%
240V Inverter 1 67.0F 55.0%
240V Inverter 2 68.0F 74.0%
Engine Intake 58.0F 60.0%
ER Intake 61.0F 1.0%
ER Outlet 62.0F 100.0%
Stack Shroud 61.0F 66.0%
Stack Fan 60.0F 46.0%
Wow, that is an impressive set of temperature data. Especially given your power setup the inverter ones seem particularly relevant.
I saw that picture you took of the melted transmission at the boat show, and it got me thinking: Is there value monitoring the transmission temperature? Aside from checking the oil level regularly I’m not sure how else I’d get ahead of a failure like that. Wondering if you think that would be a useful leading indicator.
Yes, measuring temperature of the transmission is worth a lot. In fact, if you monitor transmission temperature and frequently check the fluid (level and looking for water or other impurities in the oil), you will detect most problems before failure and, on many problems, have lots of warning. Monitoring transmission temperatures is definitely worth doing.
Can you tell us what you’re using for the big floodlights up on the stack – the side- and aft-facing ones. As-built, or new led ones or what?
And also your hydraulic bilge pump so I can go find one for my boat.
For the hydraulic bilge pump, it’s a Pacer and they make both hydraulic and electric versions of the same pump. Hydraulic is a nice solution for a hydraulic boat but, when retrofitting the electric version might be an easier install. Both use the same pump and can move the same volume of water. Here’s an electric pump from Pacer:
The side floodlights are super bright, 150W LEDs (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008XGT27U/). They are real beasts and the design point for them is to augment GPS, charts, and RADAR when entering tight quarters at night. These lights are setup to not illuminuate the boat so there is no back scatter but they really light up the surrounding area for a few hundred feet. It’s an added visual check to help stay away from the rocks. We also have a Flir but find visual checks with bright lights even more effective.
The back lights are to illuminate the boat decks and swim platform for working at night. The most common use is lifting the tender at night.
Great, thank you. Nice lights, bummer they’re not on Prime but still look very cost-attractive in a three-pack. Clicking that one now. The thing about the electric-vs-hydraulic on the pump is that if the boat’s full of water, the engine and hydraulics may be the only thing still working. You’ve got the big hydraulic pumps on Dirona but my 47 has the small pump on the main for the stabilizers, and will get another similar or identical pump on the wing. I’m hoping that this will deliver the capacity needed by that bilge pump in the hydraulic version. I’ll take a look at the specs and see; maybe convince my hydraulics guy to put a bigger pump on the wing, or be able to use both engines to drive the bilge. We’ll see; plenty of time to make this decision.
Your right that that water pump is a high volume hydraulic consumer. You could put a bigger hydraulic pump on the main. Variable output pumps back off and produce less volume when needed so a larger pump barely changes the parasitic load when not moving large volumes of oil but makes available large volumes when called upon.
I just looked at the hydraulic version of the electric pump you linked above. says 500 pounds, 9 gpm. Surely even the smaller hydr pump used for the stabilizer system would drive this?
I’ve got a 45cc Bosch Rexroth Pump on the wing and the main engines. What that means is that 45cc of oil is pumped on each RPM. Find out what your pump capacity is and then multiply it by RPM to find the max volume of oil you can move at that RPM. That’ll allow you to figure out if you can drive the Pacer crash pump.
I’ve got a manual pump that connects to a manifold, allowing a connection to the four different bilge locations. Theoretically, could this pump be connected to a Y connector on the manual pump, allowing this pump to be used? Feels like it’s a viable way to avoid having to plumb another set of hoses to each of the bilges.
That’s very close to what we did as well. Most of our pumps have there own non-shared pickups and their own non-shared through-hull and that is the recommended approach. But, when we added the second Rule 3700, we put it into the manual bilge pump circuit. The Rule 3700 is in the main bilge and it pumps up the manual bilge pump, through the flapper valve in the manual pump, and out the manual bilge pump through-hull. This isn’t the recommended configuration but, when set up like this, the Rule 3700 still produces the same unrestricted output and the manual pump still operates as before. I’ve tested both and I’m happy with the configuration but I don’t view the manual pump as adding much safety with all the other pumps we have and I suspect we may someday just remove the manual pump entirely.
I just got my set of three flood lights. Holy cow these things are huge! Holly could barely lift the package to bring the thing in. My friend saw them, and said, “you will be seen from space”! Best comment of the year.
Anyways, I wanted to ask how you have these wired: did you put a weather tight junction box in the stack and connect them all together there, or did you run per-lamp cabling all the way to inside the boat? Certainly current is not an issue with three or four of these at only 150W each on a single cable; really just a question of the amount of wire and where to interconnect them and relative convenience. I’ve never been inside that stack so I’m not sure how much room there is in there for cable management.
They are big lights. We where in the middle of the options you mentioned. We want individual control of the three circuits so we went with one wire for each of: 1) forward spotlight, 2) side floods, and 3) boat deck floods.
The only problem with those lights is the bracket is powder coated steel and it’ll rust. I have stainless steel brackets made to the same dimensions. Other than that, even in very high use in difficult conditions, you should get 5 to 7 years from those lights.
Thanks for the tip on the brackets!
Thank’s for bringing all of us along on your adventures. You’re doing what a lot of us would like to, but will never take the plunge. A couple of questions. Based on your engine hours do you have a feel for when major engine work will be necesary? You’ve done a lot of changes/modifications on your boat. How many of them have you done for your specific needs vs what would help the “general” boater. Do you know how many of your-and other long distance cruisers mods have been incorperated on production boat’s?
We expect the engine will do double the hours it has on it now — it should easily reach 20k hours and many experts predict 30k. At this point (10,800 hours), it’s not a hint different from new with no oil burning or smoke. It still feels “new” and it really running well.
Many of the mods we have put in make the boat easier to use by automating things. For example, rather than having to monitor the electrical load and be careful not to put on the microwave and the hair dryer at the same time, the system load sheds so that breakers don’t pop. Less essential loads are shut off allowing the boat to continue to operate without having to explicitly manage the load. These are more advanced systems that I believe will become “normal” in RVs and boats but it’ll be quite a while before that happens. Some other aspects of our designs, like the ability to run on dual shore power and easily use 50/60hz (https://mvdirona.com/2014/08/a-more-flexible-power-system-for-dirona/) is becoming more common and is optional on current Nordhavn builds. But all these items are for convenience and none are a prerequisite to really enjoying a boat or the trip.
I’m thinking of putting together a generator auto-start system similar to what you described. I like the precision of the system you’ve built as compared with the rather limited control some of the off-the-shelf solutions provide. The automated signals based on N2KView all make sense. But I’ve got a few questions about how those signals are used:
1) You seem to have some beefy switching relays for your loads (https://mvdirona.com/blog/content/binary/Blog_WarningLights_IMG_1182.web.jpg). What are those relays?
2) The Northern Lights control system sounds great, but I have an Onan generator which doesn’t seem offer a similar product (though granted I just did a cursory search). Would using the Dynagen control system for the generator work for any engine? It seems like it would (and since I’d be using it for a generator I wouldn’t have the throttle issue you had).
3) How do you manually turn on the generator with this setup? Is the idea that since the warm up/cool down is something you always want to do anyway (regardless of what the signal is) that you have a manual ‘switch’ in N2KView that you use to manually switch on the generator, and never just start it up directly? This is important in my case because I don’t have a need to implement your ‘all loads through the inverters’ setup, so there are some loads (like the water maker and water heater) that I need to run the generator for.
You are doing 100% the right thing to start with warm-up/cool-down when thinking through autostart. It’s vital that a cold engine not be brought online into a full load. We have a 12KW generator which is 50A max output. I like our electrical systems with headroom so I use a 65A contactor to implement warm-up/cool-down. I’m a big fan of Shcnieder products and use them heavily at work so I chose their LC1D65ABD (https://www.se.com/ww/en/product/LC1D65ABD/tesys-d-contactor—3p(3-no)—ac-3—%3c=-440-v-65-a—24-v-dc-standard-coil/) which is a 3 pole contactor rated at 65A at 240V and it’s using a 24VDC coil. There are variants of that relay with all different coil voltages — you should use whatever is easiest to implement in your control system. There are variants of that series of contactors so you can get one sized for whatever generator you are using. I like to run max load at around 80% of the contactor rating so we use a 65A contactor on our 50A circuit.
For engine controller, I really, really like the Dynagen TG410 (https://dynagen.com/tough-series-tg410-auto-start-controller). We use our main engine as a 9kw backup generator in case our main generator fails (https://mvdirona.com/2018/01/two-generators-when-you-only-have-one/). On this install, we use a Dynagen TG410 and it’s great.
Both the Northern lights controllers and Dynagen controllers have provision to implement adjustable warm-up and cool-down times. When I originally installed I used a 2 min warm-up and a 1 min cool down. It’s super easy to configure on both these engine controller designs where it’s one menu entry for each and the number of seconds can be set. This approach works great and is all I recommend but, I can’t leave well enough alone so my control system warms the generator up to 150F so sometimes will give 20 seconds of warmup (the min) and sometimes up to 10 min of warmup (the max). But the fixed 2 min and 1 min works great.
With the Dynagen TG410, all you need is to send a 24V control signal to the TG410 when to start. There are many ways to do this. Some system use battery voltage and some use battery state of charge (SOC) and both have issues. If you use SOC, it’s sometimes off by a wide margin and is really not very reliable if you are not frequently charging your batteries to 100% charge. I don’t recommend it. Using voltage will cause your generator to premature start when large loads hit the system and draw the voltage down. This works fine, will never hurt your batteries but will be auto-starting more frequently than absolutely needed. I used max voltage over 15 min which works very well but probably isn’t supported by most off the shelf solutions. Just using voltage works adequately well and most modern inverters can do this for you.
My solution is to use a custom software system that monitors battery voltage and starts when the trailing 15 min max voltage indicates 55% charge. What I do is note that over 15 min periods, the max voltage is almost always the average current for the boat. Battery voltage is poorly correlated with battery state of charge. But, battery voltage at a fixed discharge rate is VERY highly related to state of charge. I configure the system to start at 55% and it works great.
You asked how can the generator be started in this model. Many different ways depending upon the richness of your system. The simplest is to walk up to the TG410 and press start will do a manual start. I almost never do this since this is full manual mode and won’t auto-shutdown. An easy alternative is to have a dash switch that is in paralel to your auto-start system and is an alternative way to send a start signal. In this model, the 24V signal can be sent to the TG410 from the auto-start logic (usually an inverter) or via a rocker switch. To start, you just flick on the rocker switch. Here again, it won’t auto-shutdown but it’s useful for oil changes and testing purposes or if you want the gen on for cooking or other high load purposes.
Our system is a bit richer in that I have a couple of other ways to start the gen. It’s implemented on a web page where I can request the control system to start from a web page from anywhere on the boat. Actually from anywhere in the world. I can turn on the water heater, the generator, the HVAC system, the diesel boiler, the chargers etc. from any device on the boat or where where I’m sitting and typing this in Seattle. When we fly back to Amsterdam, I’ll turn on the water heater and heating system to warm the boat so it’s back up to temperature when we arrive.
I also have 16 key keyboards spread throughout the boat where I can turn on gen, tun off/on chargers, heater, HVAC, change the duration of the next generator run, skip to the next song on the entertainment system, go back to the last song, pause the music, and many other things. So, there are MANY ways to turn the gen off and on and you are only limited by the number of different ways you can send a 24V control signal to the Dynagen TG410. It’ll automatically give you warm-up and cool down if you install the contactor recommended above.
Wow, thanks for the detailed response.
If I’m understanding this correctly, in this model the warm-up/cool-down logic in the auto-start system itself, separate from the demand signal? So one way I could go is rely on the inverter to do a very simplistic ‘the batteries need to be charged’ signal, or do something more nuanced in N2KView that would look at the battery state, and send the signal at the right time to the Dynagen. The Dynagen would take responsibility for the generator warm up/warm down. So that means a manual signal to the Dynagen takes care of closing/opening the relay between the generator output and the loads as necessary. That makes sense.
I am curious about your comments regarding the ‘when to charge’ signal. Specifically this statement I wasn’t quite sure about:
“What I do is note that over 15 min periods, the max voltage is almost always the average current for the boat.”
The relationship between current and voltage certainly makes sense, with more current reducing the voltage of the system. But as both of those are analog values that many permutations, how do you reason about what 55% SOC looks like in an automated system? Do you basically have a bunch of conditional blocks over the trailing 15 minutes with ranges like “If the voltage is between 24.8 and 25.0 and the current is between 30 and 50 amps”, and “if the voltage is between 24.6 and 24.8 and the current is between 50 and 100 amps” with a catch-all at the end like “if the voltage is below 24.0”, any of those evaluating to ‘true’ would be your signal to activate the generator?
If that’s the case, what’s your signal that the batteries are to 80%? I would assume it’s the function of the net input into the batteries combined with the terminal voltage, in another version of the logic above that could probably be a lot simpler, since with the battery chargers pumping current in the voltage should be in a much smaller band.
One other question I had: I love that you have all of those devices automated, but what that likely means is that you’ve replaced the manual breaker panel with this automation as the way that these systems are powered. So you’ve likely got many of those Schneider relays spread around the boat (one for each of the loads you’re managing), controlled by Maretron DCR100 relays?
You asked for more detail on how to know when to start the generator and when to stop it. And for a bit more on how circuits are switched on and off given that we are still using mechanical breakers. Let’s start with the last one. We use contactors sized to the load. The HVAC system and the generator warmup/cooldown circuits are 50A rated so I used 65A contactors on those two. Others are much smaller so I use smaller contactors. For contactor control, in some cases I drive them using a Maretron DCR100 which can handle up to 6 contactors. In other cases I drive the contactors with a Raspberry Pi digitial output but this is more complex and I recommend just using the DCR100.
On how to start and stop the generator, you really want to use battery state of charge and it’ll work fine if you are frequently fully charging the battery bank. But, for applications that go for long periods without fully charging, SoC gets inaccurate. Many use it fine and for those where SoC stays close enough to accurate, they are happy with the solution. In our application, SoC is effectively useless but, if you can use it, it’s a nice and simple solution.
Because SoC is quite inaccurate and gets progressively less accurate as batteries age and the boat goes through charge/discharge cycles. For starting the generator, we use voltage at a given load. Computing SoC as a function of voltage and load can be quite accurate but it’s complex to get enough data to fully calibrate the system. Lifeline published SoC data at various load rates so computed a polynomial approximation of the 2 dimensional surface of voltage on one dimension and load on the other dimension and the output from the function being SoC. This was excessively complex and not sufficiently accurate. I eventually went for a simpler approximation where I take the highest voltage over the last 15 min — this avoids short duration heavy loads and, when looking at longer periods (we chose 15 min), is close to to the average load on the boat. From the Lifeline battery manual I interpolate to get the voltage level at our average load that corresponds to 55%. It’s a bit complex to describe, a bit of a hassle to figure out but it’s super simple to take the maxV over trailing 15 min and compare to 55% voltage and trigger a start. That’s what I use but many far simpler solutions work fairly well and, if the generator sometimes starts a bit early, you don’t really care.
On stopping the generator, we look at the amperage going into the batteries. The actual amperage produced by the generator will be higher since it’s also powering the house. What you want is the amperage going into the batteries.
The above two points can be calibrated using the data in the Lifeline technical manual and a SoC meter is quite accurate on the first battery cycle so you can use it to select the correct triggering voltage for 55% (or whatever you chose) charge and the triggering amperage for 85% (or whatever you use) charge. Both are approximations but it’s surprising how accurate this simple system can be once calibrated.
For my use case I agree that SOC will probably work, Thanks!
The advantage of SOC is it’s super easy to setup and works fairly well as long as the batteries are fully charged prior to the SoC calibration drifting off due to accumulated error.
We have the same engine as yours in our 49′ Selene (though it’s M1 rated instead of M2). Looking through the oil change procedures for the engine, this step is one I don’t know how to do:
IMPORTANT: Immediately after completing any oil change, crank engine for 30 seconds without permitting engine to start. This will help insure adequate lubrication to engine components before engine starts.
Two questions about this:
1) I haven’t seen this in other engine oil change procedures (though admittedly my sample size is small, but for the Onan generator we have in the same boat it doesn’t include this step). Given how many oil changes you perform do you see it as a critical step on this engine?
2) Assuming the answer to #1 is “of course it’s important”, how does one crank the John Deere 6068 engine without allowing it to start?
Deere is playing it safe in case customers change the only on an engine that hasn’t been run for a while and I don’t follow their recommendations in this case. We never change the oil unless the oil is hot which means the engine has been running and is fully coated with oil and the engine is warm. I then change the oil and start the engine and it takes roughly 10 seconds to fill the oil filter and come up to full oil pressure.
Theoretically it would be slightly better to crank the engine to oil pressure first and then start up but only slightly better and I’m not sure it’s worth the hassle. The only ways I know of to cause cranking without starting are to disconnect the ECU and there is no way I would do that without very good reason. I don’t want connector wear etc. If you were really concerned about this, you could 90% fill the filter with fresh oil before re-installing it. Personally I don’t think it’s worth the hassle — a warm engine that has been running in the last 30 min is very well oiled. Don’t start it into load, leave it a low idle, and otherwise don’t worry about it is my approach.
Because I have a live hydraulic pump (always on), I ensure the hydraulic system is not on (won’t be pumping above idle pressure) and this should always be the case until the main engine has been running and is warm and ready to take load. The main alternators on our boat are big beasts that will apply material load. These I’ve adjusted to to not engage the field and put load on the engine until it’s been running for 30 seconds. This is an easy option on a Balmar external regulator (MC-614 for 12V systems and the MC-624 for 24 volt systems) and, for tawler applications with large house banks, I recommend external regulations to allow the charge control you need for large house battery bank operation.
If you do want to prevent starting for 30 seconds, my recommendation is to contact your Deere Dealer and get their advice on how to do it. All methods I can think of our pretty clunky. I personally don’t think it’s worth the hassle and most I know don’t either. It’s vital the engine be warm and recently run on an oil change though.
Great re the oil change, that’s the same rationalization I was going through in my head and mitigation I was hoping to use (ie, running the engine right before, which they also recommend). Thanks for the confirmation. Clearly they are going full ‘belt and braces’ with reducing risk. The alternator on the engine now doesn’t even kick on until the engine hits 1200RPM, so from the perspective of loading the the engine that’s all good.
It’s interesting you mention the Balmar alternators. I had one in my previous boat (a 90A/14V), which was fantastic. It very close to its maximum output (about 80%) on a continuous basis as long as I had a demand for it. The one that came with our Selene (it was a floor model) is a 140A/28V alternator (not a Balmar). This feels like it should be enough for the loads we have, but even at cruising speed it barely put out 50% of its rated capacity on a continuous basis even when the batteries are well under 80% charged.
I was thinking of putting a Balmar alternator in its place, and was wondering which specific ones you have? Looking at the options there seem to be a few possibilities but I was wondering if for extended heavy use you rely on the “Heavy Duty Cycle” extra large case units, and do they fit well on the 6068 engine?
We use 2 Balmar 190A@24V units (http://www.balmar.net/product/alternators/alternator-97ehd-190-24/). These are about 4.5KW each and absolute tanks able to put out 100% output continuously. Integral regulator alternators are designed to charge start battery banks and aren’t setup to efficiently charge large house battery banks. The easiest and least expensive solution to your problem is to keep using the 140A unit you have but take it to a alternator repair store and get it converted to external regulation. If you do decide to do that, it probably makes sense to get it freshened up while there. Then I would install a Balmar MC-24 (http://www.balmar.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/PDS-MC-624-H-1.pdf) to control it.
That is an inexpensive change that will allow you to get full alternator output. You need to be careful and limit the output to hold the alternator down below 225F to at very most 240F which is easy to do with the MC-624 regulator. There are a full alternators out there that can put out full output up above 300F — noboby recommends they be run there but, as an experiment, I ran the Balmar 97EHD-190-24 without temperature limits for years and it was often in the 300F to 315F range and that alternator is an absolute tank and it’ll do that all day long but, generally, unless you are using an unusually good alternator don’t let it go much above 225F.
On our previous boat we had 105A Delcos and I learned super quickly that they can produce 105A for about 5 min before releasing their smoke. I experimented a bit and found out that they are best limited to 77A and, at that level, they don’t go above 225F and will last forever. At 105A, the field windings and bearings fail very quickly. The Balmar 97EHD-190-24 is a rare breed with very durable field winding insulation and great bearings and it’ll run at very high temps for yeas without a problem. The 190A will fade slightly to about 177A at 300F but seems able to run that way indefinitely.
In your case, the easiest solution is external regulation but the nicest solution is to replace the alternator with a larger unit. Given 140A is pretty high, I would be tempted to stay with what you currently have.
The N47 we are purchasing has a Leece-Neville 175A internal regulator. That’s going to have to go, mainly because of the internal regulator but I also don’t know anything about its true capacity characteristics. James, what do you know/think about the 98 series Balmar as compared to the 97 you’re using? Maybe they are a newer design that was not available when Dirona was built?
The 175A Leece-Neville is a wonderful alterator that is used heavily in trucks and buses. It’s not quite as temperature resiant as the Balmar of the same size but it’s a great alternator and I personally wouldn’t replace it unless it’s failed. Just convert it to external regulation and install Balmar regulator configured to keep the alternator temperature down below 225F to 235F. That’s the most efficient approach. Changing alternators is more expensive than needed in my opinion, although if you do, I’m a pretty big fan of the large frame Balmars.
Excellent, if that thing can be converted to external regulation that would be ideal. I’ve always heard good things about that brand but can find little documentation. Also I just remembered what drew my attention to the Balmar 98 series: it’s brushless, which should add a bit of long-term easing of maintenance and failure rate. But that’s an expensive bit of gear. As it turns out I actually have two of the L-N alternators (came with a spare) so if I convert them both and mount the second one in place of the small start battery alternator as you have done I’ve got about 9KW on the main engine which is not a bad outcome for basically no cost! Seriously, thank you for saving me several thousand bucks!
Yes, it can be converted to external regulation cheaply and efficiently by any alternator shop and the Lease Neville a well built system that I would happily use. The dual alternator config works very well and make the main engine into a medium sized generator. With that configuration, we never need to run the generator when underway even with AC systems running.
Can you give me some details on the cameras you use and how you integrate them into your electronics plan? The 47 we are purchasing has a couple of analog cameras and an old-ish monitor with some vga inputs or something requiring you to fiddle around with the monitor’s input selection to choose which camera to look at. Pretty unscalable and inflexible.
I use a combination of Reolink Bullet Cameras (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07C5JWK4K) and Reolink Dome cameras (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07FQ2T89L/). They are about $50 each with 5M pixel resolution and excellent longevity in difficult conditions. These are single connection Power over Ether (PoE) cameras.
Reolink provides a free client application that will find and show all the cameras on the subnet. I use that program to set them up. They all need passwords etc. This application could be used to show the Cameras but I use Synology Surveillance Station (https://www.synology.com/en-us/surveillance) which is an app that comes with Synology File Servers. The no-fee version with Synlogy file servers supports up to two cameras and, after that, licenses are $50 each.
Great, thanks James! I just got one of the bullet cams to test, plugged it in (I have POE switches all over the house), installed the client app on my laptop, good to go. Really nice system. Time to start pulling ethernet through the boat!
I have POE switches at three locations and that does a good job of covering the boat: 1) lower dash, 2) upper dash, and 3) salon entertainment area. If there was one also one in the GSR/MSR area, the entire boat would be covered and easy to deal with. #1 can reach the entire area below the window in the PH and down below to the staterooms. #2 can reach the upper dash, the fly bridge, and the stack. #3 can reach the salon, galley, engine room and laz.
Definitely putting a switch in the GSR. That’s my office. In the PH there’s a little closet to the port side of the stairs, just forward of the stack. That seems like a good place for a 16 port POE switch to feed the cameras and internet access gadgets, and whatever else ends up the PH like a laptop, Maretron, or whatever, and then feed a couple of smaller POE switches and outlets from there. I’m putting one of those little micro form factor computers in there too, replacing the ancient Windows XP thing that’s in there now, and actually died in front of us on the sea trial day! Good idea to put a switch in the salon. I might throw a smaller switch under the PH dash to. You really can’t have too many switches!
If you put PoE switches at those location, than adding cameras or anything else is always easy. No big wire pulls. The entire boat is within reach with only a moderate amount of work.
Reading about your diesel drip made me remember something you “might” be interested in.
Removing the handle to tighten the packing on a ball valve is no big deal really, unless of course you are tightening the packing on several hundred, or simply wanting to give the ones on Dirona a quick run through.
Here is a link to a tool that allows you to tighten the packing on a ball valve without removing the handle.
I have no idea if that is a good price as the company I work for literally buys ball valves by the semi truck load and the suppliers pretty much give us all we want.
I do know if you are doing multiple valves, it is well worth having one.
The Plumbmaster site has been down for the last couple of days but, from what you said, that does sound like an excellent tool and quite inexpensive. Thanks for the pointer Steven.
I’m surprised something I always took for granted could be so difficult to find. When you told me that site was down, I went looking for another link.
Even with the tool part number from NIBCO which is where mine came from, there doesn’t appear to be anyone other than that one site that offers them on the internet. Johnson Controls does have packing nut tools for actuators (which I also have) however they aren’t the same thing.
Then I went to trade forums and could only find people asking if they made such a tool.
I’ve got 52 I’ve collected over the years and I’m half tempted to test selling them on eBay where, if that works buying a truck load and selling them on Amazon
Anyway I assume you can pull my email address off my posts, if you are interested tell me how to ship it and I’ll send you one to play with.
Fantastic and much appreciate Steve. I’ll follow up with you offline.
Nice tool, I just got mine. Thanks for the tip!
I’m collecting Steve Coleman recommended tools and it’s a growing and useful set.
Hi Jennifer and James!
My wife Melitta & I are learning a lot from your Blog/Vlog! We own the N52-72 Fortuna Star currently located in Port Sidney Marina, BC since 2017 and are preparing ourselves and the boat for crossing oceans! I watched with much interest your Steering Video. We will follow your precious advices. During that video at minutes 8:15 Jennifer is holding a replacement bolt in her hand. I noticed that she is wearing some kind of Alarm Buzzer ??? on her wrist. Could you clarify what that is? Is this an alarm she can activate while she is somewhere in the boat to call your attention? Since we are also planing to travel alone as a couple , this could be something to consider! Would appreciate any thoughts on that! Very best regards, Peter and Melitta – N52-72 Fortuna Star
We lived in Victoria for years and have boated a lot in your area. It’s a great place to boat. And, on your N52, congratulations. I’m assuming from it’s serial number (ours is 63) that your boat is reasonably new.
I like your idea but, no, the device on Jen’s wrist is a ReliefBand anti-sea sickness device: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00PG4NUOS. Jen has some trouble with sea sickness but only when the boat is pitching. When we see those conditions, she wears the band and that solves the problems for all but the worst cases. In those rare cases, she goes to a Scopolamine but that’s pretty rare.
On the problem you asked about, getting the attention of someone on the boat in a remote place. if the person on the helm wants to catch the attention of the person working or doing something down below, we just change the engine RPM. It’s subtle and remarkably efficient at getting attention. When we need to talk back and forth, we use a handheld VHF radio on a working channel. We don’t have a good solution for the person below getting the attention of the person on the helm so we use a VHF radio when we know there is a chance we might want some help. And, when I’m working around active machinery there is a chance I could get hurt, stuck, or incapacitated so Jennifer keeps an eye on the 2 video cameras showing the engine room.
So, we don’t have the exact solution you were asking about but we have some solutions for some of the use cases.
Thank you for the clarification. The Relief Band sounds interesting. We will give it a try when we will cruise from Seattle to Dana Point later this year going out on the Pacific for the first time!
Our N52-72 is a late 2015 model. We bought it in Seattle and up to now have been cruising the Puget Sound, San Juans up to the Broughtons. In some part we followed your paths and anchored in quite a few spots where you have been. We will complete the planed upgrades this summer and start moving south. Our plans for next year is to cross to Hawaii and proceed from there. Greetings Peter & Melitta
Your plans sound great. The Pacific coast can be lumpy especially when heading south but the crossing to Hawaii is both fairly short and usually a pretty easy crossing. Your 52 will do well on both but, if you can, be selective on the weather for the trip south.
I am a only a few years away from transitioning out of full time employment and doing some budget planning for full time cruising. I know there is a lot of variability in any budget. Can you tell us about your cruising budget? What is an appropriate budget for continuous cruising of a Nordhavn 52 like you are currently doing? If I own the boat outright is $150K per year sufficient for coastal cruising in US waters? $176K? Has foreign cruising significantly increased yours costs?
It really depends upon how you Live. Big variables are flights back to the US (I do quite a bit for work), telecommunications costs (I spend a lot because I work full time), restaurant eating, marina time, etc. Assuming you don’t have a big satellite bill, spend similar time to us in Marinas, don’t eat out too frequently, and don’t fly back to the US frequently, $150k would cover most years but assume that every 2 to 4 years, you’ll have some bigger boat related bills. Seems to run $25k to $50k.
Overall, the high end of your estimate looks pretty safe as an average. We spend more but it’s because I’m still working but pay for all flights, hotels, and telecom costs. Things like staying in downtown Seattle for 3 weeks adds up quickly. We also do some off boat travel that is above these estimates like the Rhine River boat cruise and the F1 race in Abu Dhabi.
James, have you given any thought to SpaceX satellite internet service and it’s potential for marine usage. As a large data user of Sat I wanted to get your take.
Yes. I’m super interested in the new low earth orbit satellite constellations being deployed: SpaceX Starlink, OneWeb, Amazon Kuiper, and Telesat. This new breed of satellite system are using low cost satellites built using commercial off the shelf parts where possible and exploiting the emergence of low cost space lift vehicles.
The cost of communications will be falling but it’ll take time. We’re still a ways away but I’m excited about these new services mostly because they will dramatically reduce costs but also because LEO satellite systems can cover the entire globe whereas the geosynchronous systems can’t reach the poles and tend not to cover areas without much commercial shipping traffic. Better coverage and lower costs are coming but it’ll take time.
Port of Amsterdam looks busy-ish:
Nice work getting in and out of there unscathed!
Yes, the river in front of the Central Station is very busy. Last night we had the tender out doing a canal cruise and touring the Amsterdam Light Festival (https://amsterdamlightfestival.com/en) and, on the return trip, the traffic was quite heavy. Lots of canal tour boats out enjoying the light festival, the steady flow of commercial barge traffic on the river, a dinner cruise, and the rapid criss-crossing of multiple ferry routes. There’s a lot happening.
This video is from Sail Amsterdam, a once every 5 year event, taken during the sail in at the beginning.
So not representative of the daily traffic, which is still busy, but not like this.
More astounding would be the evening fireworks parade, where this traffic looks like a deserted place.
This year 2020 there is again Sail Amsterdam ( August 12-16). And yes we will be there.
That video reminds me of Sydney harbor at the start of the Sydney-Hobart sail race. Both are wonderful events and both great experiences to have in someone else boat with someone else at the helm :-).
Hello James and Jennifer,
Happy New Year and thank you for so much great information regarding your peregrinations. We’ve all loved it!
I’m still working as an architect here in Portland, Oregon, but have longed daydreamt about travelling aboard a Nordhavn 52 to see the world with my wife and daughter.
As we consider the layout of a 52, and what electronics one should/should not include on it, it makes me wonder if you’d ever consider consulting through such a process?
We will purchase a used boat (wouldn’t have enough for a new boat), but are patient enough to find the right boat and fit it with the necessities for such long trips.
Thank you again.
Sounds like you have a good plan. If we know the answer or have thoughts on how to approach getting an answer, we’ll follow up to any questions you post here. And, if you ever happen to be in the same city as Dirona, we would be happy to show the choices we have made and talk through the pros and cons.
Thank you James, I’ll likely take you up on that some day in the not too distant future.
I’m not sure how long you guys are in Amsterdam, but if you’re looking for a weekend trip, check out Ghent in Belgium (about 2 hours by rail). It’s essentially the beer capital of Belgium, has some of the best Gothic architecture outside of Germany (walk east from St Michael’s Bridge along Sint-Michielsbrug) and is larger and less tourism focused than the more famous Bruges as it’s a bit of a University town.
If you do go, get drinks at a bar called Dulle Griet, where you have to give them your shoe as a deposit to prevent the theft of the glasses (is a problem with certain collectors).
Thanks for the travel tip on Ghent. I’ve got lots of work stuff on the go right now but, if time allows, we’ll check it out.
As part of our research to fully prepare N5705 Alice for PNW cruising, we came across your article on stern ties. We like your message line system. In any case, our question regards what dimension stern line to use. Did you find the 1/2” Sampson was ultimately satisfactory? The 57 displacement is higher than the 52, although I assume loading on a stern line is not simply a function of displacement. Thanks. Bob and Marty N5705 Alice
The 1/2″ Sampson was used on our previous boat. On our current vessel we use Sampson Amsteel Blue to increase the breaking strength while at the same time allowing a smaller and easier to store diameter to be used.
Have you done any loading calculations to determine what breaking strength range you need? Thanks.
No but, at 55 tons the boat will put amazing forces on a stern line if it’s loose and the boat has room to move and the wind is blowing hard so we’re pretty conservative in choosing when to use this solution.
Dear James and Jennifer
When we first made contact we were in that trap of working and living 5hrs away from our boat and not being able to move towards living on board and achieving our cruising ambitions.
We took a hard look at our lifestyle and ages and realised that there is a clock ticking, and its getting quicker and quicker. So in October we sold up and moved 40 yrs of house living and accumulating into store, the decisions we had to make were so stressful and have probably caused our delay to go cruising for years.
I have established a client base that will let me work on board with the assistance of video and audio conferencing.
We are now finishing fitting out Sontay with a plan to start a UK circumnavigation next year.
You have a lot to answer for but we are so grateful that you are sharing your life it’s inspirational, thank you.
We are taking a break this Christmas in Seattle with our resident children. Can you recommend somewhere we can go and look and touch Marentron equipment.
Best wishes for Christmas and safe cruising next year.
Mike and Trish.
Congratulations on moving to living aboard. That is a big step and we remember going through some of the same decisions ourselves. It’s not been more than 10 years and we still have no regrets. We’ve seen a lot and had some amazing experienced.
I’m pretty sure that West Marine sells Maretron and I know that Fisheries supply does. Recommend that you give them a call and see if they have a display system set up. Another approach is to talk to an installer and see if they can show you one of their more recent installs. You might try Emerald Harbor Marine — they have done many installs over the years.
Best wishes over the holidays and all the best on your cruising next year.
I’m curious about your inverter. I can think of multiple ways to automatically turn it off when not in use. Have you found a way to anticipate when it will be used and turn it on automatically or is that a manual function?
I hope you and Jennifer are enjoying the holidays, it looks like a nice place to spend the winter.
I gave thought to making it automatic but decided that manual is fine. If I shut off the water heater and the HVAC, it’s very likely we’re traveling and don’t need the inverter on but, in a 60 hz country, we might have the house running on shore power and not need the inverter and it’s conceivable that we would want the inverter with the hot water heater and HVAC off. For now, I’ll leave it manual where it’s just on a web page that shows power consumption and allows manual control of h/w heater, HVAC, furnace, defrost, both chargers, and the 240V inverter.
Have a great holiday season.
Dear James and Jennifer,
We are in awe of your travels and expertise. Thank you kindly for the valuable resource and inspiration. We hope to travel far and wide too on our newly acquired N43 once we retire next year. Your site and contact information will be most welcome.
Gerry and Angela
Congratulations on getting a Nordhavn 43. You just bought freedom and can go anywhere in the world. 10 years later, we still love our boat. If you have questions where you think we might be able to help, we’re happy to help. Just post them here.
Thank you kindly, we most certainly will! We hope to live aboard beginning in April 2021 once we retire, fingers crossed. We will be 60 at that point and hope to have some good years of travel and learning. If you are ever in New York, give us a shout.
My only advice is consider starting the process earlier than April 2021 on the argument that it takes time to get a boat, get it set up and running the way you like, and to learn the boat. Getting it before retirement could give you an year back by overlapping some of these operations more and ensuring, when you retire and have time, you are using it all fully.
We agree! We have a N43 for 8 months now. We are learning it and getting it prepared.
That’s a good approach. The best way to get a boat the way you want it and to learn it fully is to use it and spend time with it.
Hi James and Jennifer.
I’m trying to import gear into Turkey, for our N57, Beyond Capricorn 1. i cannot find a freight forwarder willing to handle what they consider a small shipment. I’m keen to bring this gear in ‘duty free’ if possible so need to go the full customs/duty, ‘vessel in transit’ route, so can’t use DHL or FedEx.
I know you have had items shipped around the world., would you mind sharing your contacts/freight forwarders.
We last used Intervracht (https://www.intervracht.nl/en/) to bring a pallet from the US to Amsterdam. The contact information there is firstname.lastname@example.org. They did an excellent job for a good price and we’d happily use them again. They are a Netherlands-based company, so if they don’t do Turkey, they might be able to give you a reference. Or you could try Rotra (https://www.rotra.com/) which is the US-company that Intervracht dealt with to handle the Seattle pickup and transport.
We actually had trouble finding a freight-forwarder for this pallet as none of our previous contacts from shipping to Aus/NZ were interested. We had found a Netherlands customs broker already and asked them for a recommendation for shipping the pallet and they recommended Intervracht. So you might try that if you don’t have luck any other way.
I’ll give Intervracht a try and see if they will do it.
Appreciate your help.
They seem to be awful proud of them but https://second-wind.net/products/imtra-exalto-2108-280-600-mm-adjustable-heavy-duty-black-pantograph-wiper-arm
That was exactly my take as well Steve. Thanks for having a look for us.
Well, this is a little better but it seems they are now ROCA which as far as I can tell is a Swedish company.
The deeper I go, the more questions I find I don’t have the answer to, I’m sure you’ll get it sorted out.
Good job Steve! It turns out that Exalto is only a 40 miles away from us in Amsterdam. I plan to tackle this one once we return from a couple of weeks at work in the US. Thanks for the research.
Hello guys,how are you? really enjoying reading articles and adventures on this lovely boat. I have one technical question,regarding “blowby” test that you have done in the past when CCV filter was clogged,i have similar tester,on which units you have measured blow by?
inHG,or inH2O?,bit confusing me that part..Thank you so much!
Different engines may use different crankcase pressure units but, on our John Deere 6068AFM75, the max crankcase pressure specification is listed in inches of water. So we set the manometer to show inH2O. We expect the maximum pressure readings of less than 1 inch of water and I typically see down below 0.2 inches of water when the RACOR CCV is in good condition. Of course, a key factor here is the engine is in good condition. As an engine wears, there will be more blow by and, as wear gets more serious, the volume can exceed the volume the RACOR CCV can handle and the crankcase pressure would then go up even with a new CCV element.
Hey Hamiltons. Been reading your blog on and off for a couple years now, and we are actually going to be shipping our boat out east to spend next year doing the Great Loop, working full time in the process, so digging back through your tech history and general working-aboard-a-boat tips have been great.
For our trip, I’m working on setting up our own blog, and completely failing to find anything either out of the box or requiring minimal modification for a map control (from the top of your blog) even vaguely as useful as yours. I dug into your source code a bit and it looks like you guys came to the same conclusion (back in 2012) and wrote a pile of your own code. I’m actually wondering if any of that is in a state that could be reused (even if I need to write my own KML-dumper in some fashion that it reads from) and you’d be willing to share it? :)
Either way, thanks for keeping up on the blogging! Always fun to read about your adventures.
Years ago, we had a request to make the system available through the retail channel. At first glance this sounded exciting but we both come from a commercial software backgrounds so we both started think through what this would really mean. It would be massive amounts of work just to remove the dependencies on other software and hardware systems on board. And, once that was done, even more work to support it. Our eventual conclusion is we possibly couldn’t charge enough to cover all that work and we would rather spend our time at work making money or on the boat having fun enjoying our travels.
The system is the product of 20 years of accreted features, changes, improvements, language changes, hardware updates, and it’s grown over time without focus on supportability, portability, or any thought of ever being deployed elsewhere. We will open source useful parts of the system that can be separated like the custom network router code but most of the system won’t see use beyond our boat.
For the boat tracking map, I recommend using a commercial offering with embedable maps like Spot or Delorme.
I figured the map system was probably super integrated with the rest of your boat craziness. :) I had to ask, though. I’m currently using the embedded map with our Inreach, but it’s miserably bad and I’m going to definitely need to write at least a simple KML data transformer to make it less useless on the blog site. I’ll probably end up with a system just as tightly-knit as yours to service our blog in the end, though. Given that I already have a full time raspberry pi pulling data off N2k on the boat, I’ll probably just end up exporting that to the blog…
David said “Given that I already have a full time raspberry pi pulling data off N2k on the boat, I’ll probably just end up exporting that to the blog.” Yes, that’s exactly what we do on Dirona. We have all data pulled from the N2k bus every 5 seconds to be acted upon. A subset of that data is exported to show track data. If you already have a Raspberry Pi reading the data off the N2k bus you are a long way down the path. Well done!
That aqueduct is fascinating! I wonder about those wind turbines- how long does it take for them to recoup their cost?
The investment recovery recovery time on a wind farm is dependent upon a wide variety of features from size of the turbine, scale of the farm, cost of the lease, turbine cost, the price of renewable power in the region, the weather at the turbine, possible tax benefits, service costs, etc. It’s really complex. I’ve seen credible claims in the 5 to 7 year range some claims that were far faster. But what I can say with certainty is that wind farm investments are currently skyrocketing so it’s clearly profitable.
I can’t find the post I am thinking of but, didn’t you have a leak on that hose once before? I just remember it was a hose clamp on something that was also difficult to reach.
Is there any way to replace that hose or part of it putting the clamps in a more reasonable spot to reach?
Tied up in a Marina is probably about the best place you’ll ever find to work on it.
Yes, you’re right this is the second time I’ve gone after this one. The first time was right after the work was done where these hoses leaked on first use. I tightened them up and that was the end of it for 3 years. Now that they are tightened again, if it’s like other heavy coolant hoses I’ve worked around, I suspect I’ll not see more leaking but, since two of the clamps are excessively large and are now done up all the way, I may have to go back in there. Probably not and, given how hard it is, I really hope not. I think it would be close to impossible to new clamps on there installed and taking the hoses out would require draining the antifreeze and I suspect the hoses would need be replaced since, more often than not, they need to be cut off. I’m hoping we’re done with this one until the hoses need to be changed 7+ years from now.
Clearance in this area is truly challenging and even removing the hoses is surprisingly difficult due to low clearance and the use of very large stiff hoses.
Hi James –
Did you have any gunk around the check ball and seat in the Racor’s? This puzzled me for quite a while. I was shocked what was collected around the ball — debris from construction (FRP tanks).
No, there wasn’t any build up on the ball but all the fuel on our system first passes through a 25 micron RACOR FBO-10 so all the ugly stuff gets caught up in that first filter. We’ve found everything from pieces of metal, rust, and even a cockroach in the FBO-10. The RACOR 900s are downstream from there so mostly catch asphaltenes and other finer debris missed by the first filter.
Greetings from cold and snowy Niagara Falls, ON. Have you ever considered using a battery tender to cosset your new tender batteries (just realized the pun) during a cold winter with little use? I always use them when leaving my cars for a long time. Many sizes are available on Amazon. Also Happy Thanks Giving
A battery tender (trickle charger) is a good option but force you to run power up to the tender and plug it in. Not a show stopper but the approach we take is to just turn the battery switch off so the battery has no parasitic discharges and then once every 6 months we charge both the primary and the spare battery and test them. On this model, we usually get 4 years from a battery. I would prefer to get more but 4 years isn’t bad so we don’t worry much about it.
You noted that you had found a source for your spherical rod ends however, as I watched your video did that really pan out?
If it didn’t I’m wondering if the tiller arm has enough material to safely drill it out for a 7/8” bolt?
I can find all kinds of 7/8-14 female rod ends in the static 46,000 and up static load range, but none with ¾ I.D. ball.
If the tiller arm could be drilled to accept a 7/8” bolt then look at a McMasters-Carr catalog. I don’t know if that would cause issues down the road if you replaced the cylinder, especially with another brand.
The tiller arm would be 100% fine with 7/8″ of inch bored out and that would allow a standard 7/8″ hole with 7/8″-14 TPI RH rod end to be used. And, having done that, it would be easy to get a stronger and more durable part than original. My current leaning if I can get a good price on the original equipment part, is to just stick with that approach. But, failing that, boring the rudder arm would be far superior than other options. Thanks for the good suggestion.
I wonder if it’s a custom made product. If that’s the case your only chance might be to call someone in the industry.
http://www.aurorabearing.com/index.html. The worse they could do is refuse to help you in which case, you are still at square one.
Yes, you are right. Every aspect of this part is identical to a standard 3/4″ rod end except that a 7/8″ hole was bored and threaded rather than a 3/4″ but all external dimensions are identical. I did ask FK Bearings if they would be willing to take a 3/4″ part and do a 7/8″ hole but it looks like they probably aren’t going to answer that query. I suspect it’s not very interesting to them to do a custom run of 4.
I did find a source of the Sea Star Solutions Part (the steering component manufacturer) for “only” 2x what it is worth so, if I don’t find anyone willing to do a custom part, I’ll probably buy 3 or 4 from Sea Star.
I looked at your most recent Video and realized that you filmed this just a few miles from my home. Welcome in The Netherlands.
Yes, we’ll be enjoying Amsterdam for the next 2 to 3 months. It’s a nice place to spend the winter.
I did a wee bit of googling regarding that steering part you require here’s what came up. It looks like Teleflex is now SeaStar Solutions. I did find this company that may have it in stock? The part you require looks to be a special order part.
They ship internationally, too.
Nice find. That is the entire hydraulic cylinder assembly and rod end and, in this case, I need only the rod end (spherical joint). However, I will tuck away your find since it’s, by far, the best pricing I’ve seen on that component. Thanks very much for doing that research Paul.
Would you please put the part number for the rod end on the NOG when you find it? Thanks in advance,
The part number is Sea Star Solutions part #HP6165 7/8 -14 UNF with 3/4 hole. There are a tiny number of suppliers of parts with this dimension and none are good enough quality to justify using them rather than the standard Sea Star part. The nicest solution would be to bore out the steering arm and going with a Rod end with 7/8″ hole with 7/8″-14TPI RH thread since these are common. However, thinking through options, I’m probably just going to order a few of Sea Start Solutions #HP6165.
Be aware that N5263 is using Sea Star Capilano steering which is different from the Teleflex steering system used on older Nordhavn 47 so these part number may not help you. I believe that newer N52 have returned to the older steering system due the Capilano being hard to bleed although it is believed to be slightly stronger.
An interesting little video concerning a collision between a Norwegian frigate and a tanker which happened near Sture, where you were last September. It’s an interesting watch. http://webnodesvideostorage.blob.core.windows.net/asset-cddb1644-12d0-4601-b5df-3989410802fd/003-RAPPORTFILM-HELGE-INGSTAD-HAVARIKOMMISJONEN-LANGVERSJON-ENGELSK_H264_3000kbps_AAC_und_ch2_128kbps.mp4?fbclid=IwAR0IxKDcSEpGYp8uBrp8csn_mSOeSQOgeChAbM0KR4tAihsYWU9xVrMLPM4
The accident was super interesting, the report on the accident was super interesting, and Jennifer and I went through the video yesterday and I strongly recommend it. A surprisingly large number of mistakes were made particularly on the naval boat. Overall, having been in that exact area at night I will say the combination of large amounts of commercial ship movements, the backlighting of shore (especially when operating in commercial/industrial areas), and fish boats operating can make it challenging.
The one recommendation that wasn’t made that I think would be worth considering is adding VTS lanes to the area. There appears to be enough traffic to justify the use of lanes and they can help when there is a lot of commercial traffic in an area.
Winter is setting in for your area, you posted that some places close at the end of October. What’s your winter plan? I’m assuming you head south to France?
It is starting to get cold. I just got up and Amsterdam is dark with the city just coming to life. It only 44F (6C) out there so definitely cooling. In Amsterdam, we are far enough south and in a big enough center that everything stays open all winter so our plan is to stay here for the winter. Next year, we’ll head south but, for now, we’ll enjoy Amsterdam and places easy to get to from the great train and air service here.
OK, as I sit on the Chesapeake about to be plunged into 18-22F temps it surprises me that it really doesn’t freeze in Amsterdam. You are so far North of us, I guess the warmer winds off the Equator help. Hope I haven’t jinxed your January.
Temperatures aren’t bad here — we’re currently in 47F but, of course, winter is still setting in. Last year there were 4 to 6 days in a row below freezing but not enough that the larger canals froze. But, some years they do get enough consecutive time below freezing to see some surface ice so it’s possible that we might see some but there is usually enough water movement on the river to stay open.
Hi James and Jennifer, have you written some story regarding your blue LED light that I can see on many pictures? Outside your wheelhouse. Brand and mounting? Thinking to do the same on my Minor 27. Regards Torbjorn
Hey Torborn. I use these lights: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0054U46Y2. They are both inexpensive at USD$31 and, if you install them carefully and avoid damaging the weather proofing or folding the tape that makes up the light, they last for years.
Thx, going to US next weekend so perfect time order. Have a nice weekend!
Excellent. Enjoy your time in North America.
I’m hoping that you can help me with a question about your bow roller lubrication system. I understand that you’ve drilled longitudinally down the centre of the bolt, but please could you clarify how many holes you’ve drilled laterally to bring grease out to the bolt surface? Is it only a single hole around the mid-point of the bolt or did you drill several at different positions along the bolt? If you’ve got only a single hole, have you had any problems with grease not spreading itself along the full length of the bolt?
Many thanks for your help.
M/V Alchemy, N7202
Hi Tom. We drilled a single hole down longitudinally down the center of the bolt that was threaded for a grease fitting and then a single hole through the middle of the bolt radially. Since there radial drill hole goes straight through, there is technically 2 radial holes. More detail and pictures here: https://mvdirona.com/2014/04/lubricating-the-bow-roller/. All the best.
Thanks very much for this James. We’ve had our bolts done as per your description and it works perfectly! I was worried that having a radial hole only in the middle of the bolt wouldn’t allow the grease to spread along the full length of the friction surface, but it seems to work fine. Thanks again.
Glad to hear it’s working. It’s a nice, simple change but really seams to work well. We hit it with grease every 6 months and it’s been in use for close to 8 years without any issue. I expect the solution will do well on your boat as well.
Hi! I saw your picture of the police car. I cannot really tell the country letter on the license plate but it looks like an S, and in Sweden we have a public register where you can search information on all vehicles just by typing in the registration and I get that it should be a Ford Excursion XLT. It is owned by a private individual and was imported to Sweden as recently as September this year. The thing is that in Sweden you can own a car that looks like that as long as you don’t have the blue lights on it, and from what I can tell from the picture the light rack on the roof has been removed. There is a place in Stockholm where you can rent special cars, and they actually have an old chevy US police car from 1964:
I’ll bet you are right and the truck really is a retired King County (Seattle) Transit Police vehicle. I looked through the vehicle selection at the link you included and it ranged from a purple 1960 Cadillac Fleetwood to a 1964 Chevrolet Bel Air Police car. Kind of cool.
We love learning about what’s behind what we see — thanks for passing along the explanation.
Hi Guys! What a journey you’ve been on exploring the world in the last 10 years or so! Very Impressive indeed. I’ve have been peaking at your site off and on since you hit the rocks in Bornholm, DK. I’m Bernie and I’m a Dane. I’ve been living in the US since 1989. In 2019, I spent 6 months’ time in Seattle, WA exploring and enjoying the atmosphere to learn and see if area Seattle resembles Scandinavia the most. I must say, there’s a lot of similarities! I’ve been traveling the world over the years, but you guys definitely peaked as world explorers. I can only imagine how fulfilling it has been traveling the world on a Nordhavn! Anyway, I’m headed to Copenhagen in a couple of days. I will grab my bike when I get over the there and head towards the harbor hoping to get a glimpse at the famous Dirona before you leave the area. if not this time around, maybe when you hit the shorelines of Seattle again :-) Wish you all the best exploring the rest of the world. -Bernie
Copenhagen is a wonderful city. We’ve really been enjoying it here and would certainly be comfortable here over longer periods but, on this stop, it won’t quite be a week. When you get back to Copenhagen, drop us a note (email@example.com) and, if we are still in town, we can show you around the inside of the boat as well.
Hello James and Jennifer,
I just saw your very interesting video “Tour of Nordhavn 52 Dirona” with information on the Lenovo control system. It’s been very valuable for my own boat project but unsuccessfully searched the internet for details. Where can I find more specs on your website?
We probably should write up more detail on the control systems but this 2018 article is a pretty good start: https://mvdirona.com/2018/04/control-systems-on-dirona/. You specifically asked about Lenovo gear. We use Lenovo L1900ps monitors spread throughout the boat and, in the pilot house we use night running covers on these monitors: https://mvdirona.com/2010/05/night-running-monitor-covers/. The central navigation system computer that runs the nav software and all central control system software is a Lenovo ThinkStation Tiny P320 covered about 1/2 down on this page: https://mvdirona.com/2018/09/trondheim-projects/.
Most of the control system software running on the central windows system is custom built software that: 1) collects all data from the NMEA2000 bus and stores in a relational database (RDBMS) every 5 seconds, 2) collects data 5 Raspberry Pis (RPIs) doing digital input (off/on) and stores in the RDBMS every 5 seconds, 3) screen scrapes some key equipment like the satellite communications systems where the data isn’t exposed through any programmatic interface and stores that data in the RDBMS every 5 seconds, 4) puts all key data not already on the NMEA2000 bus onto the bus for display by Maretron N2kView (this is wonderful commercial software that we use to display and report on all operational data on the boat, 5) pushes data to the mvdirona.com website for real time reporting on the boat position, weather, fuel remaining, etc. 6) monitors all equipment state for 100s of alarm or warning condtions that are shown on N2kview, emailed to us both, and displayed as warning lights in the ER, and 7) support external communications allowing us to log in and see boat system state, change boat system state, and view other facilities like the video cameras.
I am Kuo Ming Chen, The editor in chief of Defence International. In recent molitary news, they say the Musko Base have reopen. If we write the news on our monthly, that is a monthly, now is No423. Can we use the photo you take and note your name on it? We published on Taiwan, Taipei
Yes, that particular use case is fine as long as the picture is directly attributed on the same page to “James & Jennifer Hamilton (mvdirona.com)”
We have followed your trip. We hope you are visiting Copenhagen next on your way south. May we recommend “Nyhavn” inside Copenhagen Port, right at the center of Copenhagen. We have ourselves a coastal cruiser and also want go cruising, just in smaler scale, like Europe, not trans Atlantic. It would be great if you had the time and possibility to spend a short time for a visit. Heating and other issues of living aboard a motoryacht in wintertime has great interest. Please let me know if you have time for a coffee in Copenhagen.
Further if you need help of anykind during your stay in Copenhagen, please let me know
Pia & Peter
We are currently enjoying Helsingor and will be visiting Copenhagen for around a week starting tomorrow. If we can find a place we like in Nyhavn, we’ll be in there as you recommend. We’re always interested in talking about boats so feel free to drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org if you feel like dropping by or meeting somewhere. Thanks for the offer of help while we are in the area.
I’m impressed at how much detail you get from the various places you visit. When you were in my town, and all the other places.
One little thing – The SAR boat that you saw in Skagen is named from the person depicted in the statue “The Rescuer”
That person is believed to be the model for this painting in this famous painting: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/df/Den_druknede.jpg
We’d read about Lars Kruse and his impressive rescue record, but didn’t realize the statue was of him as well. Thank you for pointing that out.
Your tender is in and out of the water quit frequently and wondering how’s the boom holding up since the refit.
The overall mechanical portions we worked upon have remained solid and trouble free. We did develop more remote control problems where the hard wired pendant failed for what I think is the 5th time. The pendants are quite unreliable whereas the rest of the electrical system is simple and very reliable. We eventually gave up and re-engineered the remote operation and, for just under $600, have wireless remote operation: https://mvdirona.com/2019/02/steelhead-wireless-remote/
It works well, seems very stable, and we continue to have the hard wired pendant for backup. The rework that you read about at https://mvdirona.com/2018/04/crane-rebuilt-remanufacture/ was massive. Days of tedious and kind of depressing work. The net result seems pretty reliable but it took days of working full time to get to this point and there were multiple different design faults that needed to be corrected. The interference between the linear winch and the boom it operates within is the only issue where I expect it’ll return to causing us trouble eventually. There are all new parts in there now and it’s lubricated but that problem will eventually return. It’s just a matter of time. The crane extension problem was the use of a direct aluminum-to-aluminum friction surface in the early cranes. This has been corrected in subsequent design updates and we corrected it in ours by sanding away enough material to allow space for an anti-friction surface. This is what they have done on the newer cranes and from what we have seen so far, I think it’ll be an effective fix. I would expect that the adhesive used to hold the anti-friction surface to the boom and boom extension will fail eventually so the longevity of this fix is directly related to the quality of the adhesives used and materials preparation during adhesive application. I suspect it’ll go 5+ years and I’m hoping for 10 but that’s a hope and it’s really hard to know up front.
I have many ideas on how basically that same crane could be manufactured by Steelhead to be much more reliable and last longer but that’s not really an option on a crane in the field. Still, I’m optimistic that the changes we made will have a good service life and we’ll not be back in there anytime soon. I admit I continue to look longingly at Palfinger commercial kuckle boom cranes: https://www.palfinger.com/en-us. They are much more flexible, have more reach, have excellent service records in rough commercial use, but would need some work get looking good enough for this application.
I am a reporter at the local newspaper at Laesoe, and took a picture of your nice boat lying all alone in the harbour. The Stars and Stripes are a rare sighting at Laesoe. I would actually just hear a little about your impressions on the Island…
Feel free to call me at my cellphone +4542742032 or write me at email@example.com
Best regards and all the best onwards
Hi Tom. We really enjoyed visiting Laesoe. We did an electric car tour of the island and had particularly good stops at the salt plant, looked around the airport a bit and, visited Byrum where we toured town and climbed the Hansen Tower. The views from the tower out over the island were great. Of course, we also went to Gammel Osterby where we watched the video on the Seaweed house construction techniques and visited Hedvigs Hus Museum. We also spent a few hours in Osterby Havn where we walked the commercial fish boat docks, spent some time in the boat repair yard, and stopped off at Sailors Pub to relax over a drink and enjoy the view out over the harbor. For dinner we both had a excellent Lobster dinners at Hotel Havnebakken enjoying their marvelous view out over the harbor.
It was an excellent visit and we particularly appreciate the help from Alex Rasmussen, the harbor master, who was super helpful and personally delivered to the boat a map of the island and other information on places worth visiting and let us know that electric cars were available for renting. It was a fun visit. We’ll drop you a note as well.
Re: The grey wire on the generator… I once spent 45 minutes with a logic analyzer cabled up to troubleshoot a cpu mother board to determine that there were no eproms installed…
My claim is I know the wiring much better now but it is true nothing teaches disciplined diagnosis better than wasting an hour on a non-issue.
Reading about your sea-fire system got me wondering, if you were worried about an emergency situation where you might need to either cut a wire or jump terminals, why not pre-position jumpers with Molex connectors and Molex connectors on the wires you might wish to cut?
That way in a stressful situation you could just plug the connectors together or pull the connectors apart.
Yes, that would be better and perhaps the best answer, if I think the SeaFire system might dual fault, is to put the SeaFire bypass on a switch. I already have an emergency override switch that disengages most automation and puts the boat into all manual mode. I’ve never used it but the idea is, if there is an automation failure, make it easy to return to manual mode. I could put the Seafire bypass on the same circuit with an 8 pole double through relay.
I gave it careful thought and decided that the risk/benefit didn’t justify the effort. I did decide to label the circuits since it makes the system easier to work on. On this one, the override circuit isn’t complex but it would require 18 wires with 36 connections in an obnoxious place to work and I ended up concluding the odds of the SeaFire triggering and the SeaFire override failing wasn’t very likely. But reasonable people could disagree on that point. Thanks for passing on your suggestion.
Forgot to mention one thing on Sweden: if time allows, check out Stenungsund. There‘s a hotel called Stenungsbaden Yacht Club. It‘s not a yacht club anymore but it’s a beautiful location and food there is great. They also have a very nice spa – just in case you want a break from stressful ( ;-) ) boating. If I recall correctly, they have a jetty where you can moore Dirona directly in front of hotel. Have been there on business and dreamt of returning one day with my Nordy…..;-)
We appreciate the advice on things to see. In this case, we’ll probably head directly to Skagen Denmark from where we are up near the Norway border so won’t likely make that stop on this trip.
We don’t like the crowds either
Two simple rules for Croatia ( which is the favorite boating spot for Italiens, Austrians and Germans – all can be very noisy party people at times…..):
1) avoid July and August. We went there last week of August and first week of September. There is a significant decline in those weeks.
2) avoid the coastline. There are some nice cities like Split and Dubrovnik but the further you get out to the islands the more quiet it gets.
For the crowded time, probably Montenegro or Albania as they are not yet that developed (that‘s what people say – have not been there yet). Or – greek islands. Have been to Greece several times (not boating) and love the islands. Not so crowded as Croatia and stunning with lots of sandy beaches (bays) which you don‘t have in Croatia. Croatia is all rocks.
If you want any more details, just let me know.
We are planning to cruise the Stockholm Archipelago next year.
Would love to get some tips from you two.
All the best,
You can find the detail of where we went and what we saw in the Stockholm Archipelago here: https://mvdirona.com/cache/TravelDigests/Trips/baltic2019/baltic3_TravelDigest.html and, at the bottom of that page you can scroll forward to the next area or back to the previous area. We really enjoyed our time in the Archipelago.
Thanks for the advice on Croatia and some aspects of the Mediterranean.
Dear Jennifer and James,
I love to read your blog. Great information – thanks for sharing all this!
We‘ve had first contact on the dreamers site in 2017 when I recommended the Caledonian canal (I‘m sure you had this already on your list :-) – BTW – I‘m still chartering but not one of those crash-skippers that you‘ve encountered there ;-) )
Since you are already in Europe – what are your next steps? Is the Med already in your focus?
In the meantime we did some more (baby-)steps towards out dream: 2018 PNW gulf islands from Nanaimo to Victoria BC in a Bayliner and this summer Croatia, again in Bayliner. Very different but we loved both.
If your plans allow – try the Croatian Islands. Beautiful area to cruise and nice climatic conditions from May to September. People is a different story but subject to everybody‘s own experience…. ;-)
Looking forward to reading the upcoming news!
All the best
We appreciate you passing on ideas for us in the Med Thomas. We do plant to go next year but our interests will be to go to less busy areas and Croatia has been looking like a very good candidate. I’m not in love with the boating in the massive crowds experienced in the busiest areas of the med during the summer. Hopefully with some skill and some advice like yours, we’ll find some of the less crowded places during the busiest parts of the year.
J and J, The nice thing about Dirona if ever sold the kitchen has very little wear and tear! :) The Hamilton’s should become restaurant critics!
We go through periods where we are eating out every night but we also go through periods where we go weeks and sometimes even a couple of months without seeing civilization. We spent 28 days at sea from St. Helena to Barbados and where out in the “wilds” for 7 weeks through Fiordland and Stuart Island in New Zealand. We seem to swing from one end of the spectrum to the other and we love them both.
Lynn and I are jealous, the restaurants and scenery in Sweden are exceptional, our highlight of the evening is checking in on your blog. My wife has family in Sweden and we are so excited to cruise there. Safe travels and better get moving South. I hear snow has arrived in Scandinavia.
Thanks for the feedback on the blog Eric. Your right, the temperatures are falling here. This morning it’s only 49F out there but, the good news is that everything is much less crowded. We end up preferring the shoulder season on either side of the busiest times when we are exploring new areas but we’re probably down to our last week or two in Sweden. Overall, we’re really enjoyed our time here.
We change the hydraulic system zincs ever 6 months, but they’ve hardly needed it recently. We used to replace them every two months, and they really needed replacement. Our suspicion is the variation is caused by zinc quality differences.
Wonder if it’s also lower temps that are changing zinc lifespan. Also: is it a GOOD thing that zincs are not self-destructing as rapidly, as, maybe, they’re not providing the sacrificial anodic protection as well. ?????
I’m thinking it’s not likely sea water temp related issues since we spent out first 2 1/2 years in the Pacific Northwest where water temperatures are lower than in the Baltic. We’re currently anchored in 56F water and in the PNW, we were often in the low to mid 40F range and still had heavy hydraulic zinc consumption.
The level of protection they are offering could be lower or they could just be better zincs. Another possible factor is the Baltic region is very low sea water salinity and we have spent many weeks in pure freshwater where zinc anodes are less effective.
What is your anchoring setup. Size, types, chain size, scope? Do you use bow and stern? How were anchoring conditions in an around the Baltic?
Enjoying your blog. We’re Americans based in Groningen Netherlands on a larger boat and thinking of eventually heading into the Baltic.
For primary anchor we use a Rocna 70 kg (154 lb). We have 500′ of 7/16 hi test chain. Our backup anchor is a 42 lb Guardian (aluminum, large area Danforth that is light but quite big) with 450′ rope rode and 50′ of chain. On the stern we have another 42 lb Guardian. On our previous boat we both stern tied to shore and stern anchored but in this boat we don’t frequently do either but we are equipped to do it. We’re well equipped for deep anchorages so usually don’t find it hard to find something we like that is out of the most crowded locations so we find we don’t need to tie to shore or stern anchor frequently. Generally the Baltic has son many great anchorages in fairly shallow water and, on this trip, we’ve rarely had more than 200′ of rode out and often are down in the 100′ to 125′. We a bit conservative on scope and typically have 4 or 5 to 1 out and we just about never use less than 100′ if it’s shallow so at times in super shallow water we might be using as much as 10:1. In very deep water we’ll drop back to 3:1 but don’t usually go lower even though we know that many that use Rocnas with similar chain have good results at far lower scopes.
Most boaters in Sweden seem to anchor using a stern anchor and then tying their bow to shore. This allows them to step off the bow onto shore so they don’t need a dinghy. It only works where there are no tides but on the Baltic side the tides are so small you can safely ignore them. Because locals favor anchoring right against shore, there are usually ample room to anchor.
Thanks you for the great overview.
The Dirona crew REALLY knows how to get the most out of a cruise. I can only hope to see half as much at any of my destinations!
If you post the manufacturer and model of your freezer so I have a better idea of what you are dealing with, I might have more suggestions.
Generally a freezer that is not keeping temp esp. when it’s had a history of “airflow or loading issues” is going to be a bad evaporator fan motor, dirty evaporator, bad condenser fan motor, dirty condenser, or improper or non-functional defrost cycle.
I know you have a small chest freezer in your Laz, but I can’t tell from the pic if it’s that or something else.
If it’s that one, it could have a start relay going bad, weak reed valves in the compressor (that’s a recip. in the picture) from years of operation in high ambient conditions or loss of charge (it doesn’t take much on small units) from something rubbing a hole due to vibration. It will quit cooling completely rather soon if that’s the case though.
Something that small is not going to have service ports which, considering the amount of charge I wouldn’t use anyway as you’ll lose some just from hooking up. The manifold I use can be up to 9 oz of refrigerant if I am unable to get it all back into the system (you never can).
Since temp=pressure you can still find compression ratio to check the valves and get a very good idea on charge status with an electronic thermometer.
Sorry for the non-specific info dump, but without knowing what you are looking at that’s all I know to suggest.
Hey Steve, thanks for your thoughts. The freezer is a Dometic RSF-115E and it uses a tiny Danfoss comporessor. The system is back to -8.7F which is around what it always did at this ambient temperature so I think it’s back to happy. What I found was the condenser and cooling fan was quite dirty. I cleaned both and found the system worked well once the condensor was cleaned. In fact, it even worked OK with the fan not running once the condenser was cleaned. Cleaning the fan has got it back to full RPM but I sometimes can hear the bearings so I know it’s not long for this world and, after 10 years on a muffin fan, it’s probably no surprise that it needs to be replaced. I’ll change the fan once I get a new one but, other than that, it seems to be back to working well.
You’re right the system doesn’t have ports. It’s a good idea to use temperature as a proxy for pressures. I’ll add that to my AC diagnostics list. In this case I didn’t measure the deltaT but the hot side is very hot.
I’ll change the fan when I get a chance but, at this point, it seems to be working again at max efficiency. Thanks for the advice hear and all the recommendations over the years. Much appreciated.
I have been following your site with great interest for the couple of last years or so, and I am impressed by the work you have done, and the journey you have been on. And, I have to say; A bit jealous! A Nordhavn is high up on my wish list… I now see that you are nearing my home waters and is wondering if you are planing to visit Oslo? If so I would be happy to give you advice on things to se and do. Our current boat, a Nord West 370, has its home port in the outer Oslo fjord, And I live and work in the Oslo area.
Thanks for the kind words on the blog and the trip. We continue to head north but we’re not sure if we’ll make it as far as Oslo at this point. It depends a bit on how busy we stay in the islands but, if we do have time, we will head back up to Norway and enjoy some more time in your country. We had an excellent summer there last year. If we do end up in Oslo, drop us a note and we’ll be happy to show you around Dirona since you have an interest in Nordhavns.
Will do! And if you come, i will be happy to show you around the area!
Sounds great Svend.
J and J, Lynn and I were interested in going back and reviewing your entire blog. It appears the “Travel Digests” have a complete timeline with the pictures, etc. Is this parsed or is it complete and is this the best way to review your times on Dirona? Btw; 6081 is out of the mold! We are likely headed to Asia end of this year to early next to see in person. Meanwhile headed to Ft Lauderdale this Fall for the boat show. Exciting times.
Yes, the travel digests (https://mvdirona.com/maps/TravelDigestList.html) are complete and include all trips except the one currently underway. That probably is the right way to see all the content.
Congratulations on N6081 being molded and underway. You’ll enjoy the trip to the yard. It’s a massive place, your boat will at times have 30 people on it with work underway in every nook and cranny, and things take shape super fast.
Hi Jennifer and James
Wanted to comment your hydraulic zincs. I think that your zincs are ok with normal ocean water, like Atlantic where salt content is approx. 3.5% or higher. Baltic sea is low salt area, Denmark approx 1% From mid Sweden to Finnish gulf there is only 0.7% salt. You’ve been travelling a lot in lake areas during last 4 months so for me those zincs are looking “normal” what we normally see here in Finland. If you want to have proper protective voltage levels out of anodes, (in Finland) usually aluminum anodes are needed (sea area) or magnesium ( lake area). On my own Mercruiser Bravo1 sterndrive I usually survive 2 seasons with anode set. After winterisation before second summer I just clean / brush anodes with non metallic hard brush ( cleaning oxidation/brownish colour away)
Wishing you pleasant voyage
Good point on the impact of low salinity on anode where. Thanks for passing on your experience Jukka.
Dear James, Jennifer and board cat,
May I present to you: your biggest fans. Ever since we opened our sleepy eyes at 7.30 am on a sunny Sunday morning at Läckö Slott in lake Vänern some weeks ago.
The Saturday evening we were surprised by the passenger vessel Wilhelm Tam to moore alongside at Läckö. Their guests were doing singing and some ritual with dance and Candles in the dark. A nice surprise in the quiet harbour. When waking up the next morning, your vessel was there. Out of the blue. And a cat on the quay. An American vessel all the way from Seatle in our skärgård (peninsula) needed to be investigated once we got home. And wow, you are on such a great journey. My husband and I both work in Gothenburg so we went to see you in Lilla Bommens harbour, you must have been out on one of your explorations of Swedens west coast. Until today we regret not taking the chance talking to you that Sunday morning. Of all the poeple we would love to talk to it is you about your fantastisc trip. I saw you are headed for Donsö now, I’ll be there tomorrow representing my work at a seafarers fair. I hope to meet you there in person! If not, we wish you in any case fair winds and following seas for the journey to come. Kind regards, Viola & Jonas
You should have said hi! Thanks for the excellent pictures of our boat at the castle. We just had an huge day touring the fish boat Ceton and the two oil tankers Fure Ven and Ramanda. It’s amazing they managed to fit two oil tankers into the harbour at Donso and it was fun watching them carefully leave the harbour with tug assist. It was a fun day at Donso. We gave some thought to trying to attend the conference but decided we’ll head north tomorrow morning and go spend some time in the Islands. I hope the conference goes well and, if you happen in the future to be near Dirona, let us know. It would be good to meet you.
Where Spitfire is sitting taking in the view from the salon we noticed how clean your leather chair and cushions are. What do you use in keeping them in such good condition?
We take off shoes on the way into the house and, except for a few violations from me, try not to wear work clothes on the inside of the boat. On that plan, the upholstery doesn’t need to be cleaned often. We’re doing it less frequent than once every 5 years. When we do, we find package leather cleaners pretty effective (even though it’s Ultra Leather). We last used Mequires (https://www.amazon.com/Meguiars-G10916-Leather-Cleaner-Conditioner/dp/B0002V9IFU). It seems fine and doesn’t hurt the fabric. On any bad marks not otherwise removable, we use a product called Goof Off which is remarkably effective on just about anything on any part of the boat and it’s not particularly caustic: https://www.amazon.com/Goof-Off-Remover-Trigger-22-Ounce/dp/B076J8BL97. Unfortunately that later cleaner is US only and were down to a bottle and a half left after 10 years of cruising.
Hi James and Jennifer – like many, I’ve been following along on your travels and adventures for years and am continually inspired on my own journey.
In June we purchased our first cruising yacht, a Meridian 490, and on 11th August, we moved aboard full-time at shilshole and have started exploring locally while we both get familiar with and verify/upgrade ship systems.
Like you, I’m a remote technology worker (ServiceNow) and am dependent on connectivity. In reviewing your August 2025 post on Communications at Sea, you mention using a dongle for a SIM cards as your #2 option for connectivity. I’m headed the same direction and am curious if this is just a standard device like what the carriers sell or if it’s something more sophisticated? Are you plugging it in to a USB port on your router or connecting via WiFi?
Thanks in advance for any tips and thanks for sharing all your experiences so freely!
Sounds great! Our configuration for the last 4 or 5 years has been a Netgear R7000 router running DD-WRT configured with three WAN ports, 2 LAN ports, and 2.4 and 5Ghz WifI. The Wan ports support: 1) WiFi, 2) Cell, and 3) satellite. The satellite WAN connects directly to a KVH V7hts VSAT systems. The WiFi and Cell WAN ports connect to Ubiquity bullets one of which we use for WiFi connections and the other which connects to one of our cell phones. The Netgear system is running custom software that automatically connects to the lower cost service or, optionally, allows manually selecting a service.
Because WiFi is often fairly poor and cell connections are getting both fast and cheap, we are most often using the system with WANs configured as 1) cell #1, 2) cell #2, and 3) satellite. We know longer use dedicated dongles but instead we always have two SIMs in use each in it’s own phone. If either phone is near the boat, the boat is connected via WiFi. We like this model because we are connected 24×7 and don’t need to even think about it. We also like we always have active SIMs with us in our phones. The advantage of using a phone rather than a dongle is 1) it’s useful away from the boat, 2) it’s the way most people use cellular so it just works without screwing around, and 3) if we always have one phone on the boat, then it’s always connected. So, on this model, no dongles and we have evolved to a model where we have 3 cell phones even though, strictly speaking, 2 people only need 2 phones. We like the redundancy where a broken phone is solved instantly and, if an active phone is left on the boat, then it’s connected.
Remotely we can always access the boat and see reporting on all systems, turn anything off/on including the generator, heat, cooling, water heater, etc. see video cameras, etc.
Best of luck on your adventure.
Thanks for the detailed reply! I already have an R7000 so adding a bullet to one of the WAN ports makes perfect sense and using that to tether to a cell phone or mobile hotspot. I’ll look into DD-WRT as I haven’t considered that previously but, perhaps now is the time.
The Netgear R7000 only has 1 WAN port with the standard software. To do what I’m describing you need either a Peplink or an hacked open source stack on the R7000. The DD-WRT option configured with multiple WAN ports is a lot of work so the commercial systems are probably better time/performance but I love the flexibility of owning the software stack and I love that it runs for without issues or reboots.
Hi Jennifer and James! I’ve been following your blog for years and was pleasantly surprised to see Dirona moored at Spikön here this morning when visiting back in my hometown of Trollhättan. Enjoy Sweden!
We’re really enjoying our stop in TrollHattan. We stopped for 3 days extended to 4 and now it’s 5. We just keep finding more to do. Today we’re going to make the tiny trip down to the top of the locks and spend a day there as well. Drop us a note if you’d like to come by.
Thanks for the invite, our schedule didn’t line up unfortunately. I don’t know your cruising plans for past Gothenburg, but we took a trip out to Smögen on the west coast and I was reminded how beautiful the north west coast archipelago is. Definitely worth checking out if the weather cooperates.
We’ve heard a lot of good things about the area and plan to spend some time as you recommend.
As usual it looks like everyone is having a good time, I know I am enjoying reading about it.
Out of curiosity, the tags attached to your bow railing, are they markers used to indicate you’ve paid for something? The “bikes” collect a lot of those type of flags at rallies like Sturgis as an easy way to clear entry gates for the various parks and activities. I was just wondering if they used something similar for the canals etc. over there.
Yeah, we are having a great time in Sweden and the Canal trip from one cost of Sweden all the way over to other continues to be really fun. We’re mostly just enjoying not having near term schedule requirements so we stay longer where we are having fun, often take only short trips between stops, and make most decisions on a day-by-day basis.
You were asking about the tags and, yes, your guess is correct. The Gota Canal is broken up into three regions and the bow tag shows what form of transit you have purchased so the lock tenders can see at a glance that you have paid. Many of the marinas in Sweden also use bow tags to indicate payment and some boats collect them during or across trips and end up with 10s of tags on their bow.
Happy birthday greetings (albeit a little late) on reaching another 0 milestone!
If our paths cross (I certainly hope they do!) I would love to buy you a beer as part of your world wide ‘pub crawl”
Hope you had a happy B-day James, did not realize we share that special day!
The beer is on me as well if your boat gets into scenic Delft in Holland! please pass by and say hello!
Happy birthday to you as well Andras. We did visit Delft last year (https://mvdirona.com/2019/02/delft-nl/) and we had a truly exceptional time. This winter we will be back in Amsterdam and will likely be exploring by train from that wonderfully convenient hub. Thanks for the offer of a beer if we pass through Delft again. And, if you are going to find yourself in Amsterdam over the winter, let us know.
Thanks for the birthday greeting Rod. I’ll rarely turn down a beer and an interesting discussion on boating or engineering.
Happy B’day James. You are very fortunate to have been doing your cruising for this long. I just asked James Leishman what the average age was for entry into Nordhavn and he said about 60. I will be 55 when we start and I feel like I have waited too long.
Thanks Eric and I agree with you. I wish we had started boating earlier. And, if we had started earlier, I would probably still wish we had started earlier.
It’s been a great adventure and you are going to have a ball with your new boat.
Plastic bags snagging on outdrives/outboards, sadly, is becoming more common. In an incident a few years ago a bag snagged our outdrive and prevented proper cooling. The only way I was alerted to this situation was a fairly rapid rise in engine temperature. I hate to think of the possible damage from an engine overheating! There was no performance difference. This is why I like to have an engine temperature gauge.
I agree that cooling blockage is a risk with raw water cooling systems. Our Honda 50 has both a high temperature warning light and an audible alarm when it gets too high. I’ve also got a temperature gauge to help spot problems early.
Our story is more exciting but, admittedly, yours is more probable!
Your knowledge of excel is tremendous, would you guys be interested in helping me create/alter your spreed sheets for facility maintenance stuff? Im a facility manager in Brandon MS and looking to track equipment repairs and maintenance on things like HVAC, generators, preventive maintenance contracts, etc.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Please reply with email, just happen to find this site during a ramdom search.
If you you have a question or two on the spreadsheet, post them here and we’ll answer them. But, the spreadsheet is designed for boat maint so you would need to be able to make the changes needed to adapt to your facilities management needs.
Jody, there are freelance sites that have many persons who do Excel spreadsheets. Also, there are quite a few specialized facility management DBS programs on the market. Good Luck!
In preparation for taking delivery of N5279 in April next year, Jenny and I attended the Ocean Racing Club of Victoria (Australia) “Practical Navigation” course a few weekends ago. The homework assignment was to plan a passage from Manley Brisbane to Urangan, including crossing the Wide Bay Bar.
This assignment has added interest for me given I had previously read of the experiences of Dirona attempting this crossing.
I will be taking extra care on this part of the passage plan!
Good choice Peter! I have it on excellent authority that avoiding breaking water at the wide bay bar is worth doing :-).
James, I noticed for the first time Dirona has a bow eye. What was your reason for installing and do you ever use it for anchoring ?
We installed it for towing and thought we would use it for anchoring. We’ve never needed it for the former and never used it for the later but I still kind of like it even though it’s never been used.
Interesting. I debated in my mind whether to include this option for N5279 as the cost is not minor and I was questioning when it would be used. I elected to include the option thinking the most likely use was for anchoring. I also agree with James (having been a small boat person) that it just looks ok.
Computer software damage, hangup associated with UPS may be attributed to surge, a spike. I recall a U.S. company in New Jersey called Zero Surge, making claims for their very heavy surge protector, a brick of copper & big slug capacitors using a feed forward design to arrest surges, that U.S. Government made a specification for their surge arrestors, based on personnel losses associated with introduction of power surge to electronic control, monitoring equipment. I read into this further and became a believer. MOVs or metal oxide varistors are sacrificial components, they keep wearing out bit by bit from surges they successfully arrest while the UPS side or the power strip continues to pump energy – so, we consumers think “it still works”. Yes, it does, but it is not providing the level of protection it once had. APC UPS is great product as UPS, and I not only live by them, am happy to replace battery cells on them as well, but I also run in series these ZeroSurge arresters and have not had any blown NIC cards, no blown anythings or weird digital occurrences either in very long time, years. Clean, flat power is under rated in the ecosystem….I am believer.
I’m not sure what happened to the small APC UPS we use. When it failed, we weren’t on the grid but the generator was on. I didn’t see any evidence of a surge nor was any other equipment damaged. My speculation is that this failure was not surge related.
Hi Jennifer And James.
I saw your lovely N52 in Bergs slussar tied at the first lock. Unfortunately u both had taken your little dinghy
out for a spin on the lake. It had been fun to speak to u both about your journey around the world and of course about the N52.
Now i have seen a Nordhavn for reel and acquisitiveness for a Nordhavn have just increased 100%.
Have nice trip in the future and i will follow your trip :)
Best regards Henry
Sorry to miss you while we were both in Berg. As you might know, the boat location is always up at https://mvdirona.com/maps. Feel free to drop by and say hi if we happen to be in the same area — we don’t move quickly or far each day in the Canal.
re Lenovo not rebooting readily: one trick is to completely clear memory by completely unplugging and then hitting the start button a few times. Some even recommend ten times. For us, it usually works with two or three.
Then plug back in and it usually starts up with no issues.
I know systems moderately well and I can’t figure out what the issue would be but the system definitely didn’t start the boot cycle until we had tried cycling the power the third time. My speculation was there had been a windows update that hadn’t yet applied. I have seen it very slow to show the splash screen in the past. Whatever the cause, we’ll keep your solution in mind. We are pretty dependent upon that system so we need it stable.
Thanks for your suggestions.
Strange figures showing in the trip statistics this morning (0800 Melb Aust). E.G. Av Speed 1160.32 Kts , 2877.60 nm/gal.
It’s was an easy to resolve software bug. Fixed now. Thanks for pointing it out.
Beware the ‘lure’ of a SS prop. While possibly given better performance the risk of major engine damage is very high. If you hit a rock while using one, damage is much greater than with an aluminum prop because SS props do NOT bend/shear.
While using a SS prop I managed to twist the coupling splines all the way up through a Mercruiser Alpha 1 outdrive all the way up to the engine coupler – 3 sets in all! Very expensive lesson
On the other hand aluminum props bend/break easily minimizing any damage. Needless to say I only run aluminum props in the 1000 Islands where rocks abound
Also how/when do you record the extensive notes for your photos? Your discipline in this regard is very impressive
Yes, that’s the main reason I’ve always avoided going to stainless steel props. We like to explore tight and often uncharted places in the tender and we hit bottom frequently. Replacing an aluminum prop annually at $100 each isn’t a big problem but gear or spline damage would be a huge issue. I’ll continue the experiment for another few trips but the early results are that the boat runs 32 kts with the stainless steel prop and it ran 32 kts with aluminum. It doesn’t appear to make a measurable difference to the overall speed but there is a difference. Maximum RPM with the stainless prop is down 250 RPM. Presumably extra blade stiffness holds an effective higher pitch under load so max RPM is slightly lower. So, the impact of stiffer blades can be seen in slightly lower WOT RPM. But, since the overall speed doesn’t appear changed, I may switch back to Aluminum to reduce overall mechanical risk when striking unyielding objects.
I’ll give it some more time to see if the results reported above are stable but, if they are and the speed isn’t improved, I’l switch back to aluminum. In fact, I’m might switch back no matter what in a couple of weeks and use the SS prop as a spare. Thanks for passing along your experience.
The trick to writing up the pictures on the blog is to do it right when it happens. If we can write it up within a day or two, it’s far easier to recall the details. The later we are in writing it up, the more difficult. The biggest challenge for us is finding the time to write them up. We like having the trip record, we love sharing our experiences, but it is often hard to squeeze in writing time and it’s super easy to fall behind.
Hi James/Jennifer. Your journey looks fantastic. We are hanging out in Montenegro/Croatia for the summer … well mostly me really as Jinhee is still working.
Jinhee will be in Sweden early next month, I don’t know that I will go with her, but perhaps. How long are you staying in Stockholm?
Hey Don. It sounds like your time in the Med has been enjoyable. We’ll probably be heading that way next year.
We’ll be leaving Stockholm this Friday so we’ll probably miss Jinhee on this trip but, if either of you pass through Amsterdam this winter, we’ll be there and it would be great to catch up.
Thanks, I would like to catch up too. We are likely going to ship Home Free back to the US or Caribbean this winter. Jinhee is going to work for a while yet it appears so I would like to get the boat closer to home . . .
While I was prepared to cross on the boat this spring, there is too much confusion in our lives currently and so my normal confidence is being sapped by distractions and I won’t start the journey that way. Shipping takes a lot less focus :)
We will certainly find you if we are in the NW of the continent this winter. Enjoy your passage on the way back South.
Probably the right call not to take it back across the Atlantic if you don’t have time to focus on it and help to do the trip. We’ll winter in Amsterdam so, if you do a pass through Europe, considering stopping by.
JUST WONDERING WHERE YOU GOT THE GLASS STORM PANELS, AND THE DEADLIGHT PANELS FROM?
The storm plates where supplied as an option by the boat manufacturer Nordhavn. But, they can be easily fabricated by any plastics shop for any boat where the window frames have mount points for external panels.
The deadlights are a standard offering made by the manufacturer of the port lights.
Enjoy following your travels. Should you on your way back to Denmark pass through Copenhagen. I can recommend to stop by in the small habour of Dragør. It’s an old fishing village and I would love to show you around.
We do expect to pass through Copenhagen on the return trip. Thanks for the recommendations.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need me to show you around the city.
My mail is firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for the offer Jakob.
James, I poked around your site and couldn’t find it. Have you ever detailed your electronics package? Kind of curious curious for your choices for radar, chart plotters, software, etc. I’m right in the thick of making choices and trying to decide if I will use a mix of Furuno and Garmin and probably doing my own custom Maretron like system. Ft. Lauderdale show will be my deciding timeline.
Yes, we probably should write up our electronics choices. We have a PC (the nav computer) running TimeZero with two screens and a Furuno NavNet3d MFDBB supporting the two other screens. All four screens can be replicated below in the MSR or in the Salon. Maretron runs on the navcomputer and it’s using 1 of the two screens leaving the other to TimeZero. We use Timezero because it can share charts at no extra charge with the Furuno system. Also from Furuno, we have a DRS25A 25KW RADAR with a 6′ open array and a DRS6A with a 4′ open array. For location we have a Furuno SC-30 sat compass and multiple seperate GPS systems on both NN3D and the NMEA2000 network. We also have a magnetic heading system that, when combined with a GPS can backup the SC-30. We have two ICOM M604 VHF in the PH and other VHF around the boat. We have a EPIRB and a couple of personal EPIRB. The tender has VHF and AIS as well. We use Lenovo L1900P monitors rather than Marine specialised units (1/10th the cost).
Up top in the fly bridge we have a Furuno MFD8 and will use a tablet as well repeating the lower stations. We have 3 help stations with the PH, Fly bridge, and aft in the cockpit. We also use a YachtCommander remote control since we don’t have room for wing stations. I would prefer wing stations but the remote serves well.
10 years later it’s all running well. We had one VHF radio failure and the Furuno 25kw RADAR started to show errors at 10,000 hours and so it’ll be replaced this year. Generally Magnetron’s are good for 10,000 hours so this is largely expected.
Nordhavn is so backlogged! I can hardly stand it, lol. At this point were about 3 months behind as it is. Who knows what changes will be in electronics by the time… Follow up, do you run a wireless local area network? I am really hoping to use my iPad or Phone connected to the local wireless while in bed, etc to check status of navigation and systems. I do like your idea of a monitor by the bed, etc but maybe on my tablet will be more flexible. Also, do you use a cellular modem such as pepwave? I know you use sims in your phone but do you also do a strictly data modem? The google Fi looks interesting.
Yes, we have a boat-wide wireless (and wired network) that is connected to three WAN ports and the router automatically chooses the least expensive connection problem and the boat is always connected somehow. In the usual configuration the three WAN ports are: 1) V7hts, 2) Cellular SIM#1, and 3) Cellular SIM#2. When there is good WiFi in the area, we go with: 1) V7hts, 2) Cell SIM#1, and 3) WiFi. Given how low cost cell data is and given how poor most marina WiFi is, we normally just run with two cell data options and we use it for everything including streaming live sports and movies.
We considered having dedicated data SIMs for the router and having done that in past years but we have come to like a model where we have two cell phones and the system just automaticaly hooks up to the cell phones when they are near and uses them. The way it’s set up, don’t need to do anything. If the cell phone is close, the system will use it. If it leaves the area, the system will use a another form of connectivity.
This sort of configuration can be built using Peplink. What we have done is a bit more flexibile and is based upon an open source DD-WRT stack running on a Netgear R7000 which is very flexible and allows us to super interesting things like having special VPNs into the boat for external access and special monitoring. But, you can do most of this with Peplink. We have a spare R7000 with the full software stack on it so, if we had a failure, we would just unplug one and plug in the spare.
We like Google Fi and have come close to using it but find that getting local SIMs gives better bandwidth and it’s easy to get the 10s of gig we use a month where Fi really doesn’t like you operating in a permanent roaming mode. So far, we have found local SIMs better value, high sustained bandwidth without limit up while we use 30 or 40g a month. If we did use Fi, it would probably be “in addition two” rather than as a substitute for what we are currently doing.
Good luck on your build.
You mentioned the Åland islands to be are outside the EU customs zone.
Finnish customs website has more detailed information:
The Åland Islands are included in the customs territory of the EU, but not in the fiscal territory of the EU
Ministry for Foreing Affaies of Filnland website
Thanks for the pointer to the Aland islands tax status in the EU.
Have you thought of publishing a cruising guide for the U.K. and Scandinavia from your trip? Thank you.
We did publish a cruising guide for the west coast of British Columbia Canada: https://mvdirona.com/WaggonerSecretCoast/index.html. It was fun to do the book but it takes as much time as the blog and all the required work tends to get concentrated in big pushes. We have switched over to the blog where we can publish as we go. We like being able to publish in near real time, we appreciate the help from locals that know from our blog that we’re in their area and make recommendations on places we should go. For example, before reaching Australia, we hadn’t even heard of the amazing Kimberley region (https://mvdirona.com/category/destinations/australia/kimberley/). We also like being able to post real time boat location and the boat track (https://mvdirona.com/maps/). The blog also allows a greater diversity of topics that range from mechanical systems, through cruising destinations, steam engine trips, and even factory visits all over the world.
If a publisher got interested in doing a book based upon material from the blog and we thought there was a market for it, we might do it.
Thank you James for your response. What sort of cruising guides (if any) are you using for your current exploration?
Secondly, are you planning an east-to-west transatlantic crossing or will you ship the boat ?
For cruising guides in Europe we usually have the RCC Pilotage Guide to the area for the highlights, and then more detailed local guides as available. For Norway we found The Norwegian Cruising Guide (https://www.norwegiancruisingguide.com/) useful and also https://www.harbourguide.com/en/harbour-guide/, the latter particularly for marinas.
Sweden and Finland have been a little more difficult, as many of the guides aren’t available in English. But we did use the Landsort – Skanör pilot (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Landsort-Skan%C3%B6r-harbour-archipelagos-southern/dp/918956474X) for the east coast of Sweden (translated to English from Swedish). For the Stockholm Archipelago we relied on the Foundation’s website (https://archipelagofoundation.se/map-of-our-areas/) and their map and guidebook (in Swedish) picked up from a local marina. We also find information through park and local tourist web sites and recommendations from locals.
And we rely heavily on Lonely Planet guides for local attractions and destinations of interest.
We’ve never shipped the boat and don’t plan to this time. Likely we’ll do the transatlantic crossing over the northern route through Iceland and Greenland.
Thank you so much for this information. It is so special that you and James so willingly share your experience and information. Bless you and continued safe, amazing, travels!
Months ago you mentioned putting reflective tape on the rotating radar array. I think this is a brilliant (pun intended) idea and have purchased the 3M tape (from a Seattle source that begins with A). In mentioning this to a fellow technical oriented friend, he wondered if the reflective nature of the tape interferes with the radar function? I am sure you thought of this. Comments? Thanks for the time you spent on your fascinating site.
Thanks Tom. The reflective tape is on the back of the antenna so shouldn’t be a factor on transit or receive.
If you haven’t already visit the Vasa museum in Stockholm. Probably my favorite museum in the world. My wife’s family made us also a very simple meal of fresh pickled herring, small boiled potatoes and boiled eggs. I ate a ton of that fish. We would go to the wharf and buy it just recently pickled and never canned.
We haven’t yet visited the Vasa but it’s absolutely on our list for our time in Stockholm. Thanks for the reminder Eric.
Hello Jennifer and James
I have read your story in the magazine motorboot today. What a story wauw !!!
I live in Nederland in the north and have also a little boot. I will follow your journey now on your website.
Have a good time and enjoy
That one is from back when we were in Amsterdam. Glad to hear it worked out well.
Happy Midsummer Eve to you both 😃
Best regards Sam
Thanks for all the hospitality while we were Aland Sam. We really enjoyed the visit to the Maritime Safety Center. We’ll be in Stockholm in less than a week. If you happen to be in the area, let us know. It would be great to catch up. Happy Midsummer Eve to you as well.
Thank you for visiting us! It was a nice experience for us too. What route will you go past Åland on your way to Stockholm and what day would that be?
We will be passing by to the south of Aland on the way to Stockholm and expect to do it Monday morning. The reason we won’t be stopping in Aland on the way back is Swedish customs views Aland as outside the EU so entry to Sweden from Aland is slightly more complex. That’s why we chose to visit on our way to Finland rather than on our way back. We’ll be passing south of you Monday morning.
Just read about your crossing into Russia to use the canal. Great it went well. it must be a bit frightening. Hope your return goes smoothly. I am arrived In Stockholm. See you next week
Hey Marc. Good hearing from you. We’re just passing through the last set of locks in Russia and will be back out in the Baltic in a couple of hours. We’ll clear back into Finland around 7:30 this evening.
See you in Stockholm in a few days.
Welcome to Kuopio. We are admiring your beautiful ship from our balcony. Hope you have a pleasant stay.
Thanks for the hospitality. We’ve only been here for 8 1/2 hours and we have already managed to walk all over town and visit the Puijo tower to enjoy the view and walk around the sky jumps. We’re enjoying Kuopio.
My husband and I are interested in living and cruising on a Nordhavn. We are exploring a 47 or 52 Nordhavn. We are currently trying to put together our numbers to determine how to make this dream possible. We are interested in information on monthly expenses. Is there a place in your blog that discusses your ongoing expenses? If not, would you be willing to share that information. We are very inspired by your journey. Thank you.
Congratulations on getting close to what will be an adventure of a lifetime. What it costs is a super hard one to nail because it’s up to you. We know people that travel on something close to 1/2 million dollars a year and, in our travels, we’ve met people that are travelling at less than $30k per year. We saw smiles on the faces of both couples. There boats were not identical, they didn’t both fly back and forth from the US all the time, one didn’t use marinas much, restaurants were rare for 1, and the division between do-it-themselves vs for-fee was very different. It really depends on how you live, what you expect, what’s important to you, and the resources you have available.
An often quoted number is to assume 10% of the current value of the boat and use that to cover all boat related and boating expenses. Most people I know feel this is much higher than it should be and use a lower number. For us the number might be slightly higher only because I work full time so maintain a lot of expensive communications options that work doesn’t pay for and I’m also responsible for all travel (which we view as a boating expense) which some years can run up quite a bit some years. The boat it’s self is reliable and the components are remarkably durable. We use our boat a ton and have 10,400 hours on the main, 5,800 hours on the gen, and 960 hours on the wing. All are in great shape. The boat is structurally super strong and it’ll never wear out. Major components are good quality and wear very well. The boat is servicable so, when parts do need changing, it can be done at reasonable effort. We value our time fairly highly so we have a lot of spares on board and one of the reasons why we run so many hours a year is we never are waiting for service, waiting for parts, or trying to fix something that is blocking the trip.
Generally the 47/52 series are excellent small boats and are unlikely to provide with many surprise expenses. You can adjust your expenses by doing things yourself even when it’s complex and frustrating, and by minimizing your moorage costs by anchoring out or choosing less expensive location, and you can control your insurance costs by adjusting where you go. Our recommendation is to chose the smallest boat that will do what you want, make sure it’s big enough to keep you happy since one of the most expensive parts of boating is changing boats, make sure you have the resources to cover the boat you buy and avoid the temptation to buy bigger than you need only to be constrained by the costs of maintaining the boat. It’s about the trip not the boat. Remember even boats as small as the N40 has been around the world and they include all the same features and heavy construction.
Good luck on what should be an exciting journey.
What an inspirational post!
Kimberly, I would like to know your budget. I’m thinking the same but am a few faraway fromleaving due to kids etc.
What it costs to cruise the world is a super hard one to nail because it’s really up to you. We know people that travel on something close to 1/2 million dollars a year and, in our travels, we’ve met people that are travelling at less than $30k per year. We saw smiles on the faces of both couples. Their boats were not identical, they didn’t both fly back and forth from the US all the time, one didn’t use marinas much, restaurants were rare for 1, and the division between do-it-themselves vs for-fee was very different. It really depends on how you live, what you expect, what’s important to you, and the resources you have available.
An often quoted number is to assume 10% of the current value of the boat and use that to cover all boat related and boating expenses. Most people I know feel this is much higher than it should be and use a lower number. For us the number might be slightly higher than 10% only because I work full time so maintain a lot of expensive communications options that work doesn’t pay for and I’m also responsible for all air travel (which we view as a boating expense) which can run up quite a bit some years. The boat it’s self is reliable and the components are remarkably durable. We use our boat a ton and have 10,600 hours on the main, 6,000 hours on the gen, and 975 hours on the wing. All are in great shape. The boat is structurally super strong and it unlikely to ever “wear out”. Major components are good quality and wear very well. The boat is servicable so, when parts do need changing, it can be done at reasonable effort. We value our time fairly highly so we have a lot of spares on board and one of the reasons why we run so many hours a year is we never are waiting for service, waiting for parts, or trying to fix something that is blocking the trip.
You can adjust your expenses by doing things yourself even when it’s complex and frustrating, and by minimizing your moorage costs by anchoring out or choosing less expensive location, and you can control your insurance costs by adjusting where you go. Our recommendation is to chose the smallest boat that will do what you want, make sure it’s big enough to keep you happy since one of the most expensive parts of boating is changing boats, make sure you have the resources to cover the boat you buy and avoid the temptation to buy bigger than you need only to be constrained by the costs of maintaining the boat. It’s about the trip not the boat. Remember even boats as small as the Nordhavn 40 have been around the world.
J and J, check in on the blog every day. So we are planning level detection on the fresh, grey and black via some form of pressure transmitter (maretron, etc) but also plan on leaving the Nordhavn Dometic standard in for redundancy (although I may mount these in the N60 util room. My question is did you install the transmitter in a stilling tube or just let it rest on the bottom? I am not clear from my discussion with Nord what I should do in preparation for this. I will post this possibly on NOG although being that you retrofitted I have specific interest in your opinion.
We did much the same thing in that we left the standard Nordhavn gauges (in our case TankWatch4) in place and redundantly installed Maretron. For the black water sensor, we just let it rest on the bottom of the tank. We chose to mount on technical gear for measurement, reporting, etc. in the PH on the argument that it’s best to have it all central and available there.
I suspect our black water pressure sensor will need cleaning every couple of years but it hasn’t been required yet. The grey and freshwater are still the TLM100 ultrasonic guages. They have been very reliable but, if I was to need to install new ones, I would go with the in-the-tank pressure sensor as we are using in the black water tank.
We have also had very good reliability from our Tecma toilets. What were the symptoms when the clear tubing failed?
Murray Birch N6303
Yes, Tecma heads are the best I’ve ever seen. The only fault we have seen in 10 years is that hose plugs up. The symptoms are the bowl not always fully draining. What happens is the water that would be at the back of the bowl after flushing flows down through the hose leaving the bowl and piping above the pump/macerator dry. The water that flows below sits in the pump/macerator so it starts pumping quickly.
If you see water left in the bottom and it’s repeatable, that’s probably the issue Murray.
Hello, my husband Bill and I are the owners of Nordhavn 4061. We love your website and blog entries and have followed you for quite some time. We are going to be in Helsinki (not by boat) on June 11 and would love to take you to dinner.
We would love to but got underway this morning for Finland’s Lake Saima region so we’ll miss you as you pass through Helsinki. But we appreciate the offer and, of course, if you do find yourselves passing through the same city in the future, let us know.
I was mystified by Linnahall when we visited Tallinn. I thought maybe it was just too expensive to tear down. All that concrete. Your info that it has heritage status is illuminating, but if the state or city gave it that designation, surely they could revoke it. Obviously nobody loves it. Enjoying your Baltic postings, it’s one of my favourite itineraries.
Hey Karen. We’re still trying to visit a location where you haven’t proceeded us :-).
On Linnahall, I suspect it’s a classic case where one arm of the government is putting up obstructions making it difficult for another. In this case the national Ministry of Culture making it more difficult for the Tallinn city government. I’ts an amazingly large structure given how small the seating capacity is within. Arguably not a great design and definitely an shining example of Soviet era construction quality.
We’re heading to St. Petersburg towards the end of this week and, later in the month, we’ll be taking the boat through Russia to get into the Lake Saimaa region of Finland.
So, we will have preceded you in St Petersburg but not Lake Saimaa. We are doing a short road trip in Quebec with Neil and Jackie later this summer. Too bad you are not on the St Lawrence…
With regards to your I2C voltage drop problems, you might consider utilizing a pair of p82b96 i2c voltage translator chips. they can handle up to 15V supply voltage and can even operate in a multi drop bus configuration like i2c but at the higher voltage. Compatible versions are sold by TI and NXP, and at least TI sells it in a DIP form factor which should make for easy integration.
hope it helps
I hadn’t seen that part. Thanks for the advice. With the improved power and ground changes I made, the system is working reliably under all conditions except when the main engine is running. When it’s running, I get I2C I/O errors but the system still functions so it’s not as anoying. I’ve not yet investigated this but I suspect I have SDA/SCL running beside the control lines for the remote alternator regulators. If that is the issue, I can reroute the lines and likely avoid the issue entirely.
Thanks for pointing out the voltage translator chips. It’s always nice to have another tool available when pushing signaling limits.
Did you guys get a European “Boat Operator License” for navigating in EU waters? Do you know if it is required? Cheers and thanks!
No we didn’t get a European Operator License. Generally when travelling in foreign waters, you need to comply with the regulations of your flag state. There is no requirement for any education in the US but we do have Washington State Boater Education cards and, if asked, we show this credential and thus far it’s been acceptable.
I am not sure what you mean with European Bat Operator License…
Do you mean an ICC ( International Certificate of Competence) ? An ICC can only be obtained in your country of residence and the US, Canada etc. are not part of the signatory. The ICC is only valid when a country has decided to sign the treaty.
Then for Inland water ways, you also need CEVNI endorsement. But just like James wrote, the licensing of your flag state counts.
On the inland waterways, the police usually lets you get away with it, especially with a cup of coffee offeres, your boat in good shape, and you can provide them with some more documentation, as log books etc
An ICC can be obtained outside your country of residence if your country is not a UNECE member state which has accepted Resolution 40. The RYA, for example, can issue a UK ICC to US or Canadian residents: https://www.rya.org.uk/knowledge-advice/boating-abroad/icc/Pages/who-can-get-an-icc-from-the-rya.aspx. They also have test centers in those countries.
Haven’t read you mentioning so I’m assuming that English is a common enough language that it hasn’t been an issue with you? Also, you haven’t mentioned having security issues, either at sea or in port.
Language isn’t a problem in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, or the Netherlands. Communications are range from excellent to sufficient and we rarely aren’t able to communicate. Menus in smaller centers are often not available in English but it’s usually possible to figure them out and there is usually someone on staff that can help if needed. Germany and France can be more challenging but we always seem to get by without issue.
Security in the Nordic countries appears excellent with little problem. In Norway, many don’t lock their cars but warn that you shouldn’t do that in Oslo. In the Netherlands, outside of Amsterdam, many bikes aren’t even locked. in Amsterdam the bikes have massive chains, are sometimes double locked, and even then theft is still a problem. All small boats are locked as was ours in Amsterdam. Big cities all over the world require more security but even the big cities we have been visiting of late seem pretty safe. In Sweden, Aland, and Finland, we haven’t even been locking the tender but we will in Helsinki and Stockholm.
Generally communications have been excellent over the few years of our trip and security hasn’t been a problem.
Just a good read on trawler/tugs. From where I grew up, Thought you might find it interesting.
Thanks. Jennifer and I lived in Toronto for 10 years and I lived in Ottawa for 20 so we know the area well.
Dear Mrs. and Mr. Hamilton,
according to your nice reports you have passed the Kiel Canal twice – but without a stopover in Kiel, capital city of the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein. When finishing your trip in the Baltic Sea, you will have to decide where you want to leave this area:
1. Round Skagen (most northern point of Denmark) or
2. through the Kiel Canal or
3. via Szczecin (Poland), then river Oder or canal (Hohensaaten-Friedrichsthaler Wasserstraße) to Hohensaaten/Germany (lock) and then german inland waterways with destinations as Elbe (Hamburg), Weser (Bremen) or Rhine (further to Netherlands, Belgium or France).
The Lübeck-Elbe-canal is too shallow for Dirona: max. draft only 2,00 m, max. height of vessel: 4,40 m.
If you choose the Kiel Canal I recommend a stopover in Kiel. Berth and TV-interview can be arranged as well as sightseeing in and around Kiel. in favorable weather conditions we can meet in daylight at the Kiel lighthouse and guide you into the harbor or a marina.
Best impressions you can get at the International Kiel Week (June 22 to June 30 2019; more information: https://www.kieler-woche.de/en/) . But this depends on your timetable.
Would be nice to hear from you.
The idea of going from the Baltic to the Netherlands via canal is exciting but when we investigate we find the combination of needing 2.1m of water draft and just under 9M of air draft just barely fails on most of the longer routes. If we could find one that works, we would likely do it. Failing that we’ll either do the Kiel Canal or the around Denmark. Likely the Kiel unless we decide to head up to Oslo Norway for some time toward the end of the norther cruising season.
We were planning to go to Kiel this spring by stopping at the dock just outside the Canal on the Kiel side and busing or taxing into the town center. But we found the docks with sufficient depth for us had been damaged by storm and the others lacked the depth we needed. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to stop in to visit on our return trip. Perhaps by arranging for moorage downtown in Kiel itself. I think we would enjoy it. Thanks for the offer of hospitality in Kiel and for the suggestions. We are interested in visiting.
Hi Jennifer and James.
At first: Thank you for sharing your journey. I saw you sail through Grønsund in the fog, but I did’nt have the time to go to Klintholm, to see you and your lovely ship. Have you considered to go through the Göta Kanal across Sweden: https://www.gotakanal.se/en/pleasure-boat/. It closes sep. 29 th, may be too early for your return?
Wish you all well. Carsten.
Sorry to miss you in Klintholm. We had a great visit there. We do plan to do a pass through the Gota Kanal just before they close towards the end of the year. Thanks for the suggestion.
Hi james and Jennifer
Given your recent travels, does Norway officially fall outside of the European Union Customs Union for the purposes of resetting the EU Temporary Import clock for a private vessel?
We are Canadian citizens and residents but also hold British and Irish citizenship as I was born in the UK and both of our grandfathers were born in the Republic of Ireland. Our Nordhavn would be registered in Canada but I can also register it in the UK although it seems that the TI rules require an owner who holds residency outwith the EU and seems to also suggest that the vessel be registered outside the Eu as well.
Thank you very much
Stuart and Liz
Lucky you to have Irish citizenship. My having British/EU citizenship has been wonderful in allowing us to move freely about the Schengen area. It will be sad to lose that with Brexit. I do have Irish ancestors, but too far back for citizenship :(. If you don’t have them already, I’d recommend you get your Irish passports on the early side as they’re really backed up with Brexit.
Yes, Norway does fall outside of the EU Customs zone for resetting the temporary import clock. There actually are a few places within the EU proper that have special status and reset the clock as well, such as Heligoland in Germany, Aland Islands in Finland and Channel Islands in the UK. Technically you just need to go to sea in order to reset the clock, but we prefer to have some evidence of being outside the EU Customs zone if possible.
Jennifer, is James able to benefit from your British/EU citizenship for long term stays in the Schengen areas? My wife is a German citizen and i’ve always wondered how that worked.
Yes. EU and Schengen member state citizens have right of free movement within the Schengen area and this applies to any family members accompanying or joining them. Any time that James spends in the Schengen area travelling with me does not count on his Schengen clock. This would apply to you as well if you travel with your wife in the Schengen area.
When we cross in and out of the Schengen area, we both go to the EU line together and I carry and present both my British passport and James’ US passport to the immigration officer. James’ passport must be stamped on Schengen entry/exit because he is a non EU-citizen, but mine isn’t because EU citizen’s passports aren’t stamped by law.
Modern Sailing Yachts have deep going rudders in the very back of their stern. They just want to prevent their rudders to hit the rocks. With their bow instead they can get very close to the rocks and even jump on the land.
Yours very interested reader
Jochen Brecht, Hamburg
That makes sense. Thanks Jochen.
You are cruising with great efficiency through the Stockholm archipelago. You have dotted the finest places in the archipelago on your way from the southern archipelago and north. You seems to enjoy the archipelago.
For our part, it is time to start the season 2019. We have had our boat stored on land in Mariehamn in Åland. On Friday we go over there to take us to our home port in Saltsjöbaden. We may see you when we come from Åland at the beginning of next week. We have a boat that is made in Finland, a Targa 44.
Have a good journey through the beautiful archipelago.
Yes, we are really enjoying the Stockholm Archipelago and we’re looking forward Aland. If you have recommendations for boaters like us who are visiting Aland for the first time and like natural beauty, we would appreciate your thoughts.
Sure, I will share some interesting places in the Aland archipelago. I get back to you guys during the up coming weekend. A little bit busy with work at the moment,
Yes, absolutely. Only if you have time and we only need a short list of whatever jumps to mind as top locations since we won’t be there that long. Either way, thanks for the blog feedback.
Hi James and Jennifer,
Now we have jumped on our boat in Mariehamn västra (west). Its a very nice place. We can recommend Mariehamn west harbour if you wanna visit the small town here on Aland. On your way from Sweden you can make a stop at “Kobba klintar”. It is a very small island when entering the track to Mariehamn. We will also visit Rödhamn – approx 10 nautical miles south from Mariehamn west. It should be a very nice place for one night. We haven’t been there before but will probably go to that location tomorrow, sunday.
Other interesting place in Aland is a small harbour called Kastellholm, they have an excellent culinary restaurant called Smakbyn. It is close to the little harbour. They have a one of the best chief in the nordic countries. You should also visit the archipelago of KÖKAR, in the southern area of Aland. Choose the northern guest harbour of KOKAR, called Sandvik. It is the easiest place to enter with Dirona. There is also a small harbour called Karlsby, but it is rather tricky to navigate to that place. You should also join the small island called KÄLLSKÄR, south of Kökar, one a swedish aristocrat had his living. A very special story. Interesting to get there with a guide. Fab views.
If your are going to Finland proper after Aland you should prioritize the southern route in the Aboland archlepalgo with islands such as finska UTÖ, JURMO, and ÖRÖ. Other options are also BJÖRKÖ and JUNGFRUSKÄR. After Öro, Hanko (Hangö) is a great town to bunker. That harbour is also the home harbour for Sweet Hope and where we explore Nordhavn for the first time. I think Mika and Katri will be there :-)
On your way to Helsinki is the swedish speaking town of EKENÄS worth a visit.
We can recommend a very nice harbour in Helsinki, called SKATUTDDEN (Finnish name KATAJANOKKA). It is located in the very city center, close to the presidential palace. When you bunker food in Helsinki, dont miss SALUHALLEN – it is an exclusivie food fair. You should also take the ferry to SVEABORG (Soumen linna). It is an old fortress with an interesting history ande nice views to the Finnish gulf.
All the best!
We’re glad to hear your boat is now launched and you are back on the water. This really is an impressively beautiful area to boat.
Thanks very much for all the travel information you posted. We’ll use it!
Hi, welcome to Mariehamn! I noticed that you are in the east harbour. We are in the west harbour. Tomorrow we are cruising back to Stockholm.
We have been at the town main square and listening to a mail choir singing traditional songs to celebrate the arrival of spring. In english it is walpurgis night. Now we are back at our boat, having a glas of champagne. If you are walking by the west harbour, don’t hesitate to knock on the door and say hello !
We were over on your side of town last night at the large bonfire north of you but by the time we walked south back into town it was 10:30 and too late for a visit. If we do see your Targa 44 at the dock, we’ll stop by and say hi.
Time goes quick in Mariehamn. It was a nice evening yesterday.
Today we have been cruising from Mariehamn to our home harbour in Saltsjöbaden, outside Stockholm. 90NM.
Are you coming back to Stockholm before you go south again?
Hi Mikael. Have a good trip home to Saltsjobaden. We’ll be spending the next month in Finland before coming back your way and spending around a month in Stockholm. Perhaps we’ll see you then?
You will have a nice month in Finland. Im sure. I hope the warmer weather will approach soon. At the moment it is to cold :-)
Would be nice if there will be an opportunity to say hello when you are in Stockholm. Will you stay with Dirona in the city center or in a marina outside Stockholm?
Keep in touch and enjoy your days in Finland and maybe Estonia.
It would be great to meet while we are in Stockholm. We’ll be staying at Wasahamnen downtown we’ll be arriving in July. Drop us a note if you have time to drop by.
Sure, would be very nice to drop by. Wasahamnen is close to our apartment. I will be in Stockholm until 3rd july. A short trip to the southern part of Sweden. Back in Stockholm 19th july and then approx 21th july we will go for holiday in four weeks boating.
Amazing that you had snow in Aland a couple of days ago. Very unusual. I hope the weather soon will turn to more summer temperature.
Enjoy your trip to Finland.
We’ll be out of town for potions of that time as well returning to Seattle for some time at work but I suspect there will be some overlap where we are all in Stockholm at the same time. We’ll hope to see you then.
Nordhavn specifications show the displacement for the N52 as 90,000 lbs. Just wondering how you feel Drone’s displacement at commencement of your Indian Ocean & Nth Atlantic passages would have compared.
The 90,000 lb spec on the web site is a on the light side. We weighed in at over 100,000 lbs when new with light tanks. We usually lift just above 110,000 with roughly 1/2 a tank of fuel. When we left Australia to cross the Indian Ocean we had full tanks which adds another 5,000 lbs and we had 960 gallons of deck fuel which is 5,700 lbs. I suspect we were in the 118,000 to 120,000 lbs range. In this configuration the boat sill can attain CE Category A Ocean so it’s still a stable platform: https://mvdirona.com/2019/03/deck-fuel-and-vessel-stability/.
Hello, I jest recently come by your video and youtube stuff. Have you had any thoughts of coming up the St Lawrence all the way to Lake superior?
I also like your technical talks about your bought. Gives people thoughts on upgrades for sure.
Yes, we’re super interested in heading up the St. Lawrence to Superior. We used to live in Toronto so it would be doubly interesting to cruise the area since we know it by car. Our current plans will be to enjoy the Baltic this year, the Med next year and perhaps head back to North American. When we go back to North America depends a bit on much we enjoy our time in Europe and what happens with Brexit. As long as the UK is part of the EU, we can be in the area without much hassle since Jennifer is a UK citizen. Once that is gone, it’s more hassle to do longer than 90 day visits so that might cause us to head back. When we do go back, we plan to take the Northern route through Iceland and Greenland to Labrador. Perhaps the St Lawrence the following summer? It’s a ways out but we are definitely interested in doing the trip you propose.
Hello James, I’m wondering if you can help? I am the captain of a Gunboat 66 catamaran. 66′ long, 28′ beam, 4′ draft. We stayed at Amsterdam Marina a few years ago. We are returning to Amsterdam next week for 10 days. This time we are wondering if it is possible to find a berth on the Amsterdam side of the river, closer to all the sights? Do you know of anywhere that might fit us in? Thanks so much, Jon Catamaran Moondoggie
The Amsterdam City Marina is incredibly well located and a really nicely run facility. Only 5 or 10 min from the central rail station by foot. More information here: http://www.citymarina.nl/ and contact information is here: http://www.citymarina.nl/contact/. Enjoy Amsterdam!
Anchoring with a stern anchor, and the bow close to shore, with a mooring line or two to shore, is very common in Norway too.
One reason is that the bow needs less water depth than the stern, and therefore the boat can get closer to shore. That means a tender is not required to get ashore.
Hope you have a great time. Happy Easter!
Makes sense. We have seen a lot of boats without tenders and it seems like a good solution. What do you do if the wind comes up blowing onto shore during the night. I would think that if you are close enough to reach shore, then if a big winds comes up the boat would get driven into shore fairly hard. Basically, if it’s close enough to stop to shore, I would think it’s close enough to bump the bottom or shore when blown that direction.
You just have to plan more for the wind directions, and pick the right places. I prefer to have the bow into the wind, but have anchored with the wind coming from all directions. My trusty Rocna has never let me down so far. Of course I would not anchor with the stern into gale force winds, when the bow is only a meter or two from shore, no matter how well the anchor is set.
Before going to sleep I let out a couple of extra meters in the bow and pull in on the anchor the same distance. That gives a bit of extra safety margin during the night. Your comment on the tenders are spot on, there are many boats around 20 – 25 feet in Norway/Sweden, and a tender becomes a bit awkward. When/if you get a bigger boat, you tend to use the same technique you did before if possible. Also, the nature with the cliffs and limited tide allows for this way of anchoring. And, when the anchoring locations get really crowded during the summer, I find it challenging to find a good spot with enough swing room, it feels more predictable to be tied to the shore. And of course, old habit and tradition comes into play.
That makes total sense. The approach of moving a bit further off shore at night would cover the wind issue and, in many of these smaller anchorages we have seen in use, there isn’t sufficient swing room for any other approach. In British Columbia Canada, stern tieing is common. This is the same approach but with the stern closest to shore. In the Canadian approach, there stern isn’t close enough to jump to shore. Usually 25′ or more off shore so a tender is still needed and it’s more of a hassle than the bow in approach because the tender has to be launched to shore with the bow line to tie off. The upside is that no swing room is needed so even small anchorages can work and it allows 10s of boats fit into a bay rather than 2 or 3. We’ve done in many times but prefer to find less busy areas when possible.
I love all your pictures from Sweden. We here in B.C. think that we have a pretty good ferry system but when I see the network of ferries in all of Northern Europe we pale by comparison! Thank you for your wonderful blog!
Yes, the Ferry systems are impressive. The rail infrastructure is excellent. And the metro transit systems in even medium sized centers is very good. BC Ferries run a great service but you right that Europe invests deeply in infrastructure.
You and Jennifer ever gonna be anyplace warm? It’s finally warming here in the central US.
Good point on the temperature Eric. We got underway this morning in 34F. The sea water on the swim platform from being underway has frozen. It’s not warm. The upside is it’s an really beautiful area to boat but it’s clear why the locals think there is only a two month season. It’s still quite cold in mid-April.
I’m AWS user and enthusiast living in Riga, Latvia.
MV Dirona is pretty close to us now :)
So I’m thinking is it possible to have a meeting with you in Riga?
It would be great for Latvia AWS user group!
Good to hear Riga has an AWS users group. We’ll mostly be in Sweden and Finland this summer with quick visits to tallinn Estonia and St. Petersburg. Sorry we won’t make it to Latvia on this trip.
Hi James. last port of call for Shandong Fu Ren was Norfolk, VA. So maybe it’s good old American coal! Enjoying your blog as usual. My best read of the day.
It’s kind of ironic as the US switches to increased use of gas over coal, we ship the coal elsewhere. The same coal is just being burned somewhere else. I think we’re close to getting to a steady and continuous decline in world coal coal consumption.
Hello, will you come to Mariehamn, Åland at some point this summer?
Yes, we do plan to visit Aland. Haven’t firmly decided on whether will make it to Mariehamn but it seems likely at this point. As I understand it Aland is outside the EU custom zone. Is there a place to get less expensive fuel? We need gasoline and could take on a couple of thousand liters of diesel as well but it’s mostly gasoline for the tender that we need.
I would like to know how you get around the 90-day Schengen limit. We sailed our boat from Newport to Scandinavia and plan to spend a large part of the warmer months in the next few years cruising Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Denmark and Norway. But we have not found a way around Schengen, so this year we are going to Sweden in June but have to be out by same date in September….any news on this would be welcome
Marry a British subject was my trick :-). Other than that, I don’t know of a good solution and, post-Brexit, Jennifer and I will have the same problems you have found. The only solution we have found to get around the 90 days in 180 limit is to get a visa from a Schengen country.
Someone mentioned in the cruisersforum.com, that they had Applied for, and was permitted a (5 year?) temporarily recidence permit for one country within the Schengen. If my memory is correct, the countries mentioned, were Portugal, Spain and Greece.
Maybe it is possible for the other countries as well?
I suspect you are right Trond. The resident visa solution is the best option but it comes with some strings. For example, in Portugal, being a resident means you are taxed as a Portuguese resident which isn’t a show stopper but is a potential issue for those with some form of taxable income.
Clearly a resident visa from an EU country will allow a long term stay in that country but does it also allow a long term stay in any other Schengen country? If it it does, it’s a wonderful solution but our read of the regulations make it appear that a 1 year French resident visa doesn’t grant 1 year stay in any other Schengen country.
Acording to the person who was granted the resident permit, it was restricted for one specific country only.
Yes, that was my read as well. So, even on this plan, you still only get 90 of 180 in the non-visa issuing countries. It’s better than nothing but a fairly high friction way to travel unless you plan to stay in the same country for an extended period. We’re still hoping for a long Brexit delay :-).
And then there is Montenegro… (-;
Everyone we talked to said 7 1/2 months was more than enough. But, I think we could spend years in the Baltic. Great area.
Yes that was what I found so far….I didn’t realize being a British subject helped..
It’ll only help us for as long as the UK is part of the EU so our solution is soon to fail us.
France offers a longer term visa, you will need a ‘residency address’ . Many marina’s will allow you to us theirs. The other solution is a residency permit, which is quite easy to obtain, when you show you have enough money to support yourself. Positive thing is EU universal healthcare is very cheap.
Now in broad strokes the negative point. The US is the only (or one of the few) countries who believe in double taxation.
Having a residency permit in the EU, will mean you will pay taxes there. But if your income is from outside the EU and first taxed there, that tax wil count as a credit towards the EU countries taxes.
Now income earned while in the EU wil be taxed in the EU and taxed in the US. ( any tax attorney can provide the exact details)
So as long as you point to entry and exit is the France,and you have applied for the long term tourist visa at the embassy/consulate, you can travel the whole EU.
Now an improved version of James solution is marry a Dutch National :)
Good job of laying out the solution with the caveats and complications Jan. We were concerned there might be one other issue. Using the French resident visa as an example, it’s clear you can be in France and I agree you can travel in the rest of Europe but can you stay in an EU country other than France for more than 90 days? I’m pretty sure the French resident visa doesn’t grant that capability either. Back to the option of marrying a Dutch National I guess :-).
Ok the French visa is for a longer period, up to a year and it requires you to enter and leave via France. On the application they need an address which you use where you stay in France, which could be the marina. Many Australians and Americans use this when they travel Europe by barge.
There is NO border patrol in Europe, only spot checks, and there are ONLY entry and exit stamps.
So NO from a legal point I can not say if you can be longer than 90 days in another EU country.
But with no system in place to check this….. you have your answer.
And yes this is a typical Dutch way of reasoning. We look to the intent of the rule.
There are some good articles and discussions on the forum of the Dutch Barge Association. http://www.barges.org
Makes sense. Without a spot check, it wouldn’t be noticed. Spot checks are close to non-existent for most visitors not having some interaction with local law enforcement but we’ve found a US flagged boat quite attractive to local authorities. Over the last couple of years, we have had spot checks from the UK, Germany, Sweden, and the Dutch officials have visited 4 times. I agree local officials still may not know or even care how long someone has been in country. But, when you are traveling by boat, it’s remarkably how closely many countries track the whereabouts of the boat and where it’s been. Officials often know where foreign flagged vessels are and how long they have been in country. They may not care enough to look but they certainly have the data available if needed.
I agree your suggestion is the best currently available.
I was looking at the picture of you changing the anti-freeze on your generator and something on the fuel line drew my attention.
Just up from the crimp fitting above the 90 it looked like a bubble in the hose. I saved and blew it up but it pixelates so I still can’t tell if it’s actually a bubble or something behind it blending in to give that illusion.
Most likely nothing, but I figured worth mentioning.
Sounds like you two (maybe three hard to tell with a spitfire) are having fun, I know I’m enjoying reading about it.
Good observation Steven. Now that you point it out, I can see the same anomaly. In fact, I can see it so well that I just went down and carefully checked the generator to see what we are both looking at. I can’t really tell. The hoses are both smooth and unblemished all the way around. They appear to be in excellent condition. Thanks for pointing out that anomaly. It was worth checking on it.
All three of us are enjoying Sweden.
Hello: I am an “older” student at Salem State University and enrolled in a Biology course Environmental Problems. For my final exit project in renewable energy, I chose wind turbines at Deer Island and previously in the course spoke briefly about the benefits of wind turbines as opposed to solar and geothermal. I am fortunate to live in Winthrop as well, and was hoping I could have a personalized tour that I could record a short video. If that’s not at all possible, I will try to come out on my own.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
We’re not part of the Deer Island administrative team but they do public tours (http://www.mwra.com/02org/html/faqstidi.htm). You should contact them for more information. We’ve done one of their tours and can confirm they are really well done with considerable detail.
Hi! As a follower I noticed you are approaching my home town of Kalmar, I hope you will have a nice stay! The small Island of Grimskär coming up on your port side is housing a once very secret underground mine station, used from the end of WWII up until the end of the 80’s. Before that the island was used to protect the castle/town and inlets from attacks by sea. Even though the mine station is locked, and only ruins remains from the older structures, the island itself is worth a visit.
Thanks for the recommendation Marcus. We’re enjoying Kalmar enough that we may stay an extra day. Glad you were able to drop by.
I’m glad to see you three on the move again allowing us to live vicariously through your blog.
Looking at the picture of your loudhailer reminded me, you’ve given your feedback on the crimpers but not on the wire strippers.
I had forgotten you recommended the wire strippers as well. They are also working great and bet they have been used a few thousand times since purchasing :-).
We had a really good winter in Amsterdam but it’s great to be back cruising again.
Hi James and Jennifer !
Welcome to Sweden. I have been following you a lot the last year. We are a Nordhavn dreamer. Searching for the “perfect Nordhavn” :-) I love the N52 model and N47.
We are crusing a lot here in Sweden and in Finland, Åland, Estonia. We have a Targa 44 right now and we are based in Stockholm.
Don’t hesitate to ask for some advice when you are visiting Stockholm !
Thanks for the offer Mikael — we are interested on any advice you might have for our Stockholm visit. Also, if you are in town when we are there and feel like visiting, your more than welcome. Drop me a note once we are there and we’ll set something up.
Would be great to make a visit if we are in Stockholm when you guys will be here. We are trying to learn as much as possible about the Nordhavns.
Do you already have a approximate schedule for arriving to Stockholm? The city is a fantastic town from may to late september.
Sounds good. We would be happy to show you around Dirona. We expect to arrive in Stockholm June 28 and be there through August 2nd.
Great, James! Keep in touch.
Good, the only problem I’ve ever had with mine are with a whole lot of use the lock has a tendency to engage at aggravating moments. You can remove it entirely or since I carry mine in a backpack and like them closed, backing them with a hard surface and tapping with a hammer to tighten deals with that issue.
I have seen that as well. Thanks for the work work around suggestion.
Passed you red to red a few yers ago somewhere in west scotland. Passed you today when you where at anchor nort of Öppenskär with the archipelago ferry. Nice too see your boat again!😊
Wow, the last time we met was more than a 1,000 miles away. When you last saw us in Scotland we had only recently arrived from Newport Rhode Island across the North Atlantic. Since that time we have cruised through Scotland, Ireland, Britain, Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Denmark and now Sweden. It’s nice to be back at anchor and we’re really looking forward to our time in Sweden and Finland this summer. Thanks for posting a comment.
The lighter side of lost sea containers.https://globalnews.ca/news/5111356/garfield-phone-mystery-france/
I have always thought that ‘plugs’ that slowly dissolve in seawater would be the answer to floating containers, in that they would eventually sink after filling with seawater
That sounds like a practical idea to me.
Funny. France has a 100 year supply of Garfield phones!
Hi Its me again You are close to Karlskrona – with the beatiful naval museum, and the ancient 5 finger dock (1700-ish).
On the southbank of the Baltic you have – probably on your return – do note the old test site for Hitlers V1 and V2 is still worth a visit – Look in GoogleEarth for “Peenemünde” You can tie up in there and go visit.
If you visit Tallin check this birthday https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Denmark
We did get to the Naval Museum and agree it’s very good. Thanks for the advice. We love getting local help and it often improves our trip.
My husband Wayne and I are having a custom aluminum longe range powerboat built here in Antalya, Turkey. We’ve moved here for the build, and we are nearly a year into the build so far. We are former sailor/cruisers with lots of blue water experience, but with this new adventure, we’re learning how much we still don’t know, especially about voyaging under power. We have been enjoying and learning from your blog for several years now. I’m writing to ask you about your radar set-up. I dug up one early post where you stated that you have a Furuno DRS25A 25kw 6.5′ and DRS6A 6kw 4′ open-array antennas. We are being told by the local Furuno guy that we need at least the FAR 15xx FAR 22xx because, like you, we intend to cruise higher latitudes, and we need the ice capability of the bigger radars. We’d love to know how you would rate the performance of your radars, and if you have ever considered any changes to your original systems.
The FAR series RADARS from Furuno are highly respected commercial RADARS so you really can’t go wrong with them. The downside is they are quite expensive. Furuno charges considerably less for the DRS series and the high end of the DRS series is a 25kw RADAR which is middle of the range for the FAR series. We wanted a 6″ open array and we wanted 25kw. We decided to go with the DRS because it offered comparable power and beam specs, a few less features, but it was less expensive. Generally we’ve been very happy with the DRS25A. I’m sure we would have also been happy with a comparable member of the FAR series. The only limitation I’ve noticed is the DRS series limits operators to 25 MARPA targets. We’re not often in waters that busy but we co occasionally notice this limitation but not often.
We like the capability to check chart accuracy by dropping a RADAR overlay over it. Our DRS25A (or the DRS6a) will overlay easily over the TimeZero display and over the display on the NN3DBB chart plotter. If the FAR series can’t do that, I would go with the DRS. Otherwise, it’s a features and cost decision.
Overall, we’re super impressed with Furuno RADARS in general and really like our DRS25A. 25kw does make a difference — it’s noticeably better than our 6kw.
Greetings from Texas!
I recall that you two had a big Bayliner at some point. I’m looking to spend several years on the “Loops” (US / Canadian). Not much offshore except Bahamas and Great Lakes. I have above average big-boat experience in power and sail. Would not have initially considered Bayliner, but that is probably unfair. Love the layout, amenities, live-ability and at this point, price. Worry about the quality of systems and engine access. And prefer a single but boating is often a compromise.
(A response is NOT time-sensitive…but much appreciated.)
Hope all is well.
The Bayliner engine choice of Hino and latter Cummins is a good one. The Engines and transmissions are good and if maintained and not overloaded (most are), they will do very well. On overloading, I recommend reading this: https://mvdirona.com/TechnicalArticles/DieselEngineOverload/. The smaller, less important equipment choices are a bit hit and miss. We ran a strategy of replacing with better when we found a part unsuitable to the task. As an example, our windlass was replaced by a newer model from Lewmar that used a motor less prone to overheating. The overall boat and trim isn’t strong and windows aren’t that thick so you shouldn’t have them out in difficult weather, shouldn’t really pound them, or put the in situations that strain the overall structure.
Overall, this might sound negative — they aren’t off shore trawlers — but we put 4,100 hours on a Bayliner 4081 and it performed amazingly well for us. Our great experiences in that boat led to our around-the-world trip.
We’re looking at getting a Selene 49 built, and really appreciate all of the detail you have put into the decisions you all made when getting your boat built. But one area I have questions on is how you handle video entertainment around the boat. I have a few thoughts about how to approach it but I’d love to know how you all handle that.
The common answer is to use a video server and put all your content on there for watching whenever you are interested. The commercial versions can be very expensive — you can easily pay more than $20k. Another option is the open source Kodi which we use for audio. Kodi has all of our audio content under management on a Synology file server. It works super well. For video, I’m certain it’s quite good as well.
But, whether using Kodi or a commercial video server there is also an investment in time required to get all the video content in whatever forms you have it in, digitized and imported. We like movies but this has always just seemed like too much hassle so we instead combine these two approaches:
1) We get 1 or 2 local cellular SIMs in every local we visit. Then we watch live sports and movies via Prime or Netflix via cellular. Depending upon where you are in the world, pricing ranges between $5/GB and about $20/GB. This model might still be cheaper than a commercial server even if used a lot and it’s super easy. It’s the only option for live sports.
2) For movies, we take a primitive approach that, again, is fairly inexpensive but might seem primitive to many. We buy DVDs like the old days. They are fairly inexpensive and you don’t have to rip them or administer the content. Just chose a video from the shelf and play it. Even though we’ll never watch it again, just buying it in DVD form might actually be more convenient than an open source video platform and it’s almost certainly cheaper than the commercial systems.
Our goal is EASY as a top priority. We’re busy with work, having fun, the blog site, taking care of the boat, etc. and we don’t want to waste time administering video content. We just buy DVDs when we are in North America and our supply is getting low. These we use as backup when not connected or only connected by satellite. When connected by cell, we just use Prime and Netflix the same as you might at home. Where possible we try to make the boat feel like an apartment in a big city from a usability perspective.
Thanks James, makes sense in terms of DVDs vs streaming, and easy as the goal. In terms of the actual media output devices, do you go simple there as well, and have a Fire TV (or similar) and a DVD player connected directly to each monitor?
For DVD, we have an inexpensive Samsung player (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007BYLO4E/ref=oh_aui_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1). For Netflix and Prime, we play through the navcomputer the output of which connects to the entertainment system which plays the audio and send the vidoe to the TV. It’s not a particularily high tech solution but it supports Prime, Netflix, NFL Gamepass, and DVDs to all be played on the surround sound system with a 46″ TV. The TV could be bigger but, otherwise, we like the system.
Like so many others, I’ve greatly enjoyed following your travels. Many thanks for being so generous in sharing your knowledge and experiences.
I am writing today about your Maretron N2kview screen entitled “MvDirona underway”. I’ve been studying it to get ideas for a new Maretron system I am designing. Wow! It contains such a plethora of information. Is there something you would be willing to share that explains each component of that screen?
In any case, could you please tell me more about the 3 boxes in the lower left entitled “Wifi”, “Cell” and “Vsat”. I am currently deploying a communications system similar to yours and it would be useful to have Maretron display information about the 3 communication options in order properly choose among them at any given time and also to see which one is active.
All the best,
Most of them are self explainatory: Wind Direction, Barometer, Wind Speed, RPM, etc. I’ll give you a run down on the the group that show current router state and, if there are any others where you want more data, happy to add them too. 95% of what’s on that screen can be done with standard Maretron support but the indicators you asked about kind of custom both in the undlying infrastructure and in how it shows on n2kview.
Focusing on the infrastructure, the router is a Netgear R7000 which normally has 1 WAN port, 4 LAN ports, a 2.4Ghz radio, and a 5Ghz radio. This router has been reflashed with an open source router system called DD-WRT. Using DD-WRT, we have reconfigured the router to have 3 WAN, 2 LAN ports and the same two WiFi systems. For WAN ports, we have a Ubiquiti Bullet that connects to an external WiFi antena. That’s the Wifi port. The second is the Cellular port, and the third is the KVH V7hts satellite port. We have on router software that gives software control over which WAN to use use automatically chooses the least expensive option that is currently working. The router can be configured through a web page from any device on (or off) the boat to use a specific WAN or automatically switch between them
Now looking at the N2kview screen, if the WiFi is unavailable then that indicator light is black. If available but not in use, the indicator is white. If available and in use, the indicator is green. Same three colors for the Cell and VSAT indicators beside it. Below the WiFi indicator is the “Mode” indicator. If it’s Blue, then the router has been configured via a web page to be manually on a given WAN port. If it’s yellow, the router is automatically keeping the boat connected to the least expensive wan port. If the indicator is green, the router is again automatically choosing but it’ll only use WiFi or Cellular. If all that is left is the satellite, it’ll allow me to access the boat remotely, it’ll allow the boat to send out warnings or alerts, but no other connectivity is supported. It’s green because it’s the low cost. The yellow option is more risky since, if you are streaming a movie and the cellular goes out, it’ll just keep working but at 20X the communications costs :-).
As I said earlier, 95% of what is on the n2kview screen can easily be be done with standard Maretron equipment but the router indicators lights would be fairly complex. It would require a router with the support I described, the ability programaticaly access and change the configuration and you would need some way to set N2kview indicators through a SIM100. What I do is the custom software writes the router state onto the NMEA2000 bus.
If you need more data on any of the other N2kview widgets, let me know.
Thanks for the information, James. I was afraid that the router data would be a bit more difficult to acquire. I agree that most of the other data is self-explanatory.
We hope to cruise the Scandinavian countries in a few years and will follow your travels there with interest.
All the best,
You’ll love your planned Scandinavian cruise. It’s an incredible area.
In Denmark, if time and schedule permits, you might want to visit the “Lion park” (zoo): https://www.givskudzoo.dk/en
If we have time on our way back from Sweden and Finland, we’ll do it then. Thanks Trond.
When returning from the Baltic, you might consider the Gota Canal through Sweden to Gothenburg:
Yes, that’s the plan. After Sweden, we’ll do a pass through the canal.
Hello, James, I thought you were going via Heligoland to take on fuel. However you only seem to have been there for a couple of hours & the remaining fuel figures do not appear to have increased ??
I see the fuel remaining figure is now showing as 1691 gallons so please disregard my earlier comment. Mal D
We’ll have a look at why we don’t show fueling in the on-boat telemetry and, if it’s not too much work, we’ll make the change.
Yes, you are right. We took the 20 mile detour to get duty free fuel before entering the Kiel Canal. We only need 3,500 liters — about 1/2 our fuel load — but we figured it’s easy and saves quite a bit. I’m not sure why we don’t show the rising fuel level. It’s either a but we don’t make fuel records when we’re not underway. We’ll have a look at it.
Re the lost shipping containers, perhaps they should be fitted with AIS!
Not a bad idea Jamie. AIS transmission is getting pretty inexpensive but, since only the refrigeration containers are powered, powering the AIS would be the challenge. Transmitting takes quite a bit of power.
James, I am considering plumbing to the gear reduction on the main and wing on our N60 build as the oil change manifold has the extra ports. Do you feel this is worthwhile? Also, considering using the anchor wash hydraulic pump with a Y valve as an additional bilge emergency pump. The latter of course would normally be in the bilge position so whenever wash I would have to switch manually.
Yes, I did the same thing. On the oil manifold I have wing, wing trans, main, main trans, and gen. On the washdown pump, most hydraulic boats have a dedicated emergency bilge pump and many also have a washdown pump. For the cost, I would get the dedicated emergency bilge pump. Having the washdown pump as an additional backup isn’t a problem but I wouldn’t personally use that to replace the dedicated emergency bilge pump.
I should have been more specific on the bilge pump, we are getting the Pacer (I believe) Emg Bilge Pump. I was considering using the anchor wash with a Y for an ADD Emg Bilge Pump. I’ve been told by Steve D’A that this has been done but I also worry about its ability to hold a prime as I haven’t entirely investigated it’s position or even where I would locate the suction. I suppose also, locating and accessing the Y valve could also be troublesome.
I understood you are thinking of using the anchor wash as a bilge pump and anchor wash by putting a Y in the input. My response was: most hydraulic equipped boats, install a dedicated pacer hydraulic bilge pump and some chose to also install a pacer anchor wash. You could go with the anchor wash only using your Y-valve to serve as a bilge pump. It’ll work but I personally would just put in two dedicated pumps for bilge and anchor wash.
If you were planning to put in both pumps, you could as an additional level of defense put a Y in the anchor wash. This effectively gives you two hydraulic bilge pumps. I’m not sure it’s worth the complexity but it’ll work fine and I’m not against doing it. What I personally wouldn’t do is delete the dedicated bilge pump and rely on the anchor wash.
Hi there James and Jen . I’ve been looking at these nordhavns and the 52 is my favorite also I wanted to ask you guys you still love the nordhavn still now that you’ve had a chance to really get to know it and also what do you think of the John deer diesel motor ? Thanks
It’s a timely question. Jennifer and I were just talking about this. Our “new” boat is 9 years old this February. It’s gone 70,000 miles and run more than 10,200 hours. It’s crossed every ocean in the world and the Atlantic twice. The boat goes for periods where it’s a coastal cruiser. It goes through periods where it’s essentially a downtown apartment in a world class city like Amsterdam, Sydney, or London. It goes through periods where it’s running 24×7 crossing an ocean. It has spent time around the equator. It’s spent time way up above the Arctic Circle. It’s been equally comfortable at both extremes. There are places where the boat looks gigantic relative to other boats in the marina and there have been places where it was among the smallest. The longer we boat, the more we learn and usually, as you learn, there are aspects of the original purchasing decision that don’t age well. Usually a decade of learning grows a very long list of changes for the “next boat”. Some people buy a boat, conclude it’s “wrong” and sell in under a year. Some go 3 years before needing to apply all they have learned into another boat that is closer to perfect for them. A very small number go 10 years before deciding to get out of boating. Next week we’re heading out on the beginning of our 10th year of cruising on Dirona and it’s still amazingly well adapted to all the use cases described above. And it’s still immune to all the problems that typically befall boat ownership described above. It’s still a good strong boat without frustrating recurring service issues. It’s still exposing us amazing experiences and it’s still just as reliable and just as trustworthy as day one. We’re still happy with the boat.
One of the things that amazes me most is if I send mail or call Nordhavn with a question, they jump on it. They act like it’s a new boat still under warranty. They always seem to find time to help. Overall, it’s been an life changing purchase for us.
The Deere is also “hitting on cylinders”. It’s gone 10,200 hours and the reliability is incredible. Its never had a coolant pump or alternator service. It’s still beautiful and white and not covered in oil. The injectors went 9,000 hours before replacement, under warranty, it only had a cam position sensor replaced. It gets a new drive belt every 4 years or so, the air filter needs cleaning every 3 to 6 months, and it gets fluids and filters when called for. Overall, the 6068AFM75 has been an amazing example of how little maintenance a well engineered diesel engine really requires.
When changing the injectors, we needed a tiny O-ring in the South of England so we drove out to a agricultural dealer and walked through their service department on the way to the parts department. Every tractor, combine and other mechanized piece of John Deere agricultural equipment we walked past had a 6068. I was expecting more of the bigger engines in some of these big agricultural machines but they were all 6068s. No wonder our engine does so well. There are many out there around the world in very demanding applications and it’s been like that for decades. It’s a great engine.
We continue to be happy with both our Deere and our Nordhavn nearly a decade after new. They both have reliably carries us through an amazing set of experiences.
For us this is a very reassuring response. We have N5279 currently being built, and while my investigations prior to signing the purchase order indicated this was a good decision, it’s pleasing to hear from someone with ten years experience.
I also appreciated you taking the time to write the blog post on range and fuel options. Excellent information as we develop our initial cruising plans.
Congratulations on buying a Nordhavn 52. Seeing the build number up at 79 is reassuring for us as well. Good to see. When we bought N5263, 5260 was being built and it was lengthened 47 without most of the new features planned for the 52. We love the new features especially the 200 more gallons of fuel but, as an ex-auto mechanic, I know the first build of anything no matter how well thought through it may be, there are always has some teething issues.
We weren’t in a rush and figure we should take the third member of the N52 fleet so we took 63. The funny thing is there was a bit of an economic slow down at the time and neither 5261 nor 5262 sold. Ours ended up being the first build and both 61 and 62 were built many months after 63. It all worked out well, we have really enjoyed the boat, and it’s exciting to hear that N5279 is currently in build. The 47/52 series has become pretty successful and are getting close to the build numbers of the iconic N46.
did you noticed that a few nordhavn delivered to England had SCANIA engines and none in US or Australia ?
Scania makes boat engines for working boat, patrol boat, army, ferry and so on..
I look forward and found that they use by example on a 60feet a 500hp with a 12.7 liters at 1800rpm continious output. That means, i guess, that your cruising speed is your full speed, in fact you have only one speed… you can use the maximum displacement speed of your hull.
Scania is a swedish truck manufacturer from more a century and if nordhavn put their engines on the option list maybe they could fit well in the nordhavn way of travelling.
hope the wind will decrease for you…
We’re super happy with our John Deere but Scania’s are very nice engineered engines with great reputations. There have been some purchased into markets other than the EU. For example, I met the owner from Australia who ordered a Nordhavn 52 with a Scania — I thought at the time it was a decision and, the more I look at Scania, the more I like many of their design choices. I particularly like their use of bypass oil filtration by Centrifuge with 500 hour change intervals. I’ve been tempted to add that option to our Deere to push it’s oil change intervals out. Deere has approved this approach selectively in some mining applications so there are at least some bypass systems that work well enough for Deere approval. Tempting but oil change intervals never quite make it up high on my list of biggest problems list and I’m slightly nervous about the negative impact of a failing centrifuge regardless of how unlikely that fault might be.
I agree that Scania has a nice engine and I think they will do well in the displacement trawler market. One thing I’ve not checked on is their parts prices — when I checked on Volvo parts costs, it was an eye opener. Assuming Scania parts are priced reasonably, they look like a good choice for this sort of boat.
tell me if i’m wrong: when you have a 1800rpm continious rating, you cruise at let’s say 10 knots at 1800rpm for days… and when you have a deere which is 2400rpm full trottle at 10 knots you cruise maybe 8 knots at 2000rpm. So continous rating is not the best deal ?
You are right and do we run our Deere that way. The 6068AFM75 M1 is continuous rated at 231HP at 2300 RPM. We never use more than than. Max speed on Dirona is 9.5 kts and we won’t exceed that at any reasonable power above 230hp. One of the things we like about our engine is we often run for long periods of time at fairly high power when coastal cruising. We like that we’re always within it’s continuous power rating.
On the 52, once you get to 210 to 220 hp continuous, you are basically running at hull speed and aren’t going to go much faster if any with another 100hp. Once you have full hull speed at the engines continuous rating, you’re in pretty good shape from my perspective and there isn’t much more you can do.
I remember that roadtrip to the John Deere dealer fondly James! Congratulations on getting to Denmark. I loved your Kiel Canal video and am excited to follow your summer cruising. Warm regards, Kate
Hi Kate! Thanks for the feedback on the video. The O-rings you helped us get on our UK adventure continue to work well. We appreciate your help with that service operation. We’re underway this morning and expect to be in Sweden this afternoon. All the best!
While you are in the Netherlands, and given your interest in all things technological, you might consider checking out VR Arcade of Delfgauw, located between the Hague and Rotterdam. There they have established a state of the art location-based VR arcade game. The two initial themes (Zombie Apocalypse and Alien Defense) may not appeal to you but the technology could well do so. That is provided by a company called Vicon (a subsidiary of Oxford Metrics) who specialize in high precision motion measurement for industries as disparate as life sciences and Hollywood.
I read through there web site. Looks pretty interesting. It looks like there are also VR Arcades in the Amsterdam area: https://www.vrarcade.nl/locations/amsterdam. A couple of weeks back I noticed a bunch of VR equipmnet in an office window near us. It’s a VR game publisher only a block away from where we are currently moored (Vanguard Games). Thanks for the pointer.
Dear James & Jennifer,
(i’ve send you an email, but just discovered you rather receive messages here.)
I hope you are enjoying Amsterdam, and the rest of The Netherlands so far.
This really is a huge coincidence, as I got on to your YouTube Channel, via which I eventually got to your website, on which I saw you are actually are in Amsterdam. Which happens the place where I and my girlfriend live.
I am completely amazed by your extensive journey, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Barbados, Ireland, Scandinavia, and so on..
My girlfriend and I (both are 30 years old) are figuring out, and exploring various way to go and explore and make extensive sailing trips. We have been looking at some sailing vessels, but my girlfriend rather does this on a motor vessel, so i eventually got via Fleming and Selene’s to Nordhavn’s. I work myself for Feadship, and saw you already had a visit of a Heritage Fleet owner whom I have met as well on one of our events.
Long story short, (which is already getting into a long story) we would love to come and visit you, to talk about your journeys for us to get even more inspired to push through this dream of ours, to make dreams into reality. To learn more about Nordhavn and its operations and maintenance. And take you out for an easy dinner, or returning you the favor of welcoming you to our home, which seems completely logical as im asking to see your home too. ;-) And of course we can give some tips on nice things to do and see in The Netherlands.
Kind regards, and really hope for a reply. And very curious until when you are staying in Amsterdam (or The Netherlands, as it is rather small like you guys most have figured out by now ;-)
Again, kind regards,
Chantal & Folkert
Hello Folkert and Chantel. Sure, you are welcome to come by and talk boats and tour Dirona. We’re leaving for Finland and Sweden in a week but we’ll be back in November if you can’t drop by in the next week or so. Best time for us is around 4pm on some day where we plan to be around the boat. Drop me a note at email@example.com and we’ll figure out what mutual fits our schedules.
Good Morning James/Jennifer. I have read your crane controller bits. How happy are you with this solution (I know it hasn’t been long). My controller is not responding. I replaced the pigtail this morning and that didn’t solve the problem so, I will move on to the controller.
Having read your solution, I am wondering if I should change tack . . . Jinhee flies over in 4 days and I can get that controller on a plane with her. I would need the other bits too for the wiring.
So are you happy, is everything working well? Do you suggest having both solutions (SM controller and wireless) or are you comfortable with just the wireless controller?
In some ways the wired controller is a bit easier to use. Just a bit more convenient button layout for single handed operation. But, the wireless unit has the advantage of not be tethered to the crane so that’s what we use. The way ours is set up, we can run either the wired or wireless controller. We use the wireless but have the wired as a backup in case of failure.
Using the pin out I show in the article above you can run the crane with jumper cables. Take a jumper form the 24V+ pin and connect it to each of proportional, pump, and feature at the same time will cause the feature to operate. The power to pump, turns on the pump. The power to proportional opens that valve. The power to any single feature connection (e.g boom up) will cause that valve to open and, in the case of this example, the boom will go up. I find it super useful to be able to drive the crane without a remote control as a way to debug if the wireless remote (or wired pendant) is at fault or the problem is in the crane and/or wiring. It’s even easier to figure out if you have both a wired and wireless controller.
Using the wiring data I posted above, you can test the crane without the pendant or test the pendant without the crane. It took me a while to get this data all figured out but, once that’s been done, it’s pretty easy to test. I chose to order an extra Deutch connector pigtail to make this testing easier: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07H3N21MD/ref=oh_aui_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1.
Given how unreliable the wired pendants appear to be, I would install a wireless unit and having an extra pigtail around makes testing easier if you encounter another problem.
Thank you, I will review the wiring in more detail this evening and try to get both setup. I will also try to rewire my pendant. The issue is probably in the wiring near the pigtail. (Sometimes, with just the right manipulation I can get a signal to the pistons!)
I appreciate your feedback and the fact that you share all of this information.
The most common pendant fault by a very large margin is the proportional trigger proximity switch fails or goes intermittent. A quick and easy work around for this fault is to connect the 24V+ feed to the pump solenoid to also feed the proportional valve. It’s easy to put a jumper between these two connections at the pump. Once you have done that, the proportional switch and trigger are no longer needed and the system will now work in non-proportional mode. I ran like this for 8 years before putting proportional back in place when I got the new wireless controller.
That’s good to know. I will perhaps try that in the morning before ordering a new pendant.
James, can I check my diagnosis with your experience? This morning I took apart the hand controller/pendant. I can’t figure out what kind of sensor that trigger is, perhaps a proximity sensor. In any case, I cleaned things with a toothbrush (it was very clean, it is stored in the pilothouse) and put it back together.
I tried it on the crane and got better results (not indicative). But here is the part where my finding separate from the probable failure thesis of the trigger. When I press a button (not the trigger) it engages the hydraulics, the trigger simply sets up the proportional component. When I was pressing buttons, it sometimes would engage and sometimes not. This implies to me that my problem is wiring and not the trigger. It also explains the anecdotal “it was better this time” which is completely unpredictable with a wiring defect.
If you have any insights or conflicting analysis, I would take it gratefully.
I can’t get the bits to a Canadian address to add the wireless for this trip, in time. I am not sure I can get a new pendant from SM before Wednesday either so I may have to live with uncertainty for a while longer.
A nice simple and very definitive test is to unplug the pendant and carefully run tests at where the Pendant plugs into the crane. Ensure that pin #1 has 24V+ and that pin #15 is ground. If that’s not the case, you have a wiring issue on the crane side. Take a jumper from pin #1 to pin #10 momentarily and the pump should go on. If that works, run the jumper from pin #1 momentarily to pin#9 (proportional), pin#10 (pump), and pin#5 (boom up). If the boom goes up, you have a pendant problem. It’s really that easy to figure out where the issue is.
I just posted a message on the NOG, you don’t happen to have a temperature sensor in the stack do you? I am trying to figure out what normal temps look like in there. My muffler is kaput, and I am working on a plan to get me moving but I want to monitor closely if I do.
The air exiting the area between the inner and outer pipe on the port side of the stack is up over 250F at full load. Expect the outside of the outer pipe will run around that temp. The exhaust at full load is around 850F but it’s less at lighter loads.
Permatex Muffler and Tailpipe sealer, some clamps and some sheet metal scraps or even metal tape and you’ll be able to get it sealed well enough to make progress to where you can get it fixed right.
James: I see you are using one of the Midtronix MDX 600 series units to test your dinghy starter battery. Will that unit test deep cycle batteries such as the Trojan 105s? Also, I have the Northstar NSB210s with 2300 Marine Cranking amps for my Bow Thruster. It’s a 4D AGM for high cranking applications. Would the Midtronix be suitable for that battery?
It’ll test the T-105s fine. The max CCA test on the Midtronicx MDX-640 is 2000 CCA is 2000 (also 2000 Marine cranking amps) so it won’t be able to precisely check your Northstar.
Concerning your “frozen” picture:
Does your water source heat pumps draw directly through the hull for each individual heat pump or is there a water loop involved? Around here it’s a simple matter to install a small auxillary heater to heat the water loop to 65-70 F to keep them heating though the winter when the loop temperatures drop.
Hey Steve. I often think of you when using my Klien crimpers.
The HVAC cooling system is all flowing from a single central pump. Given the volume of water flowing, I would think it would take quite a bit of heat even though it would only need a few degrees of increase. Which heaters have you seen used.
Separately, did you see that after I had changed the T&P valve on my water heater, it continued to leak just as much. I did the planning and some buying to install an expansion tank. But, before installing, I decided to replace the new T&P valve “just in case”. It worked! It’s not often that the new part is as bad as the old one but it looks like I got a bad part this time.
When I saw how many times your old crimpers were being used for various projects I couldn’t help but think you’d enjoy that style of crimper so I’m glad you like them.
I saw that replacing your T&P fixed your leak which is good. Expansion is evidently designed into the system already. I can’t think of the last time I saw a bad T&P out of the box but in a world of mass production bad parts will occur you were just either lucky enough, or unlucky enough to get one. Lucky in the aspect you tried replacing it again first, since everyone else was pointing you down another path.
In the water source heat pump systems I deal with you are correct in assuming it doesn’t take much auxillary heat to maintain winter operation in relation to the size of the systems. I’ve seen everything from a 150 watt heating element for a small motor bank to multiple 1 million BTU condensing boilers for a college campus. The big difference is what I see are all closed loop systems which I am not sure is applicable to Dironia.
I’ve wondered about that multiple times but obviously not enough to ask even though I’ve looked once or twice on the internet to no avail. If the water going to your heat pumps is in a closed loop using a heat exchanger that then uses raw water to add or remove BTU’s, given the total BTU’s of your system I could point you to a inline heating element that would give you the choice of staying on your heat pumps and not running your fuel oil heater at least while you were in a marina. Then if you had space and wanted to you could intall a small calorifier to heat that loop with the engine while underway in cold climates.
If you are using raw water and dumping it over the side for the entire process then of course the size and energy requirements may not make it worth the effort since depending on injection temperatures you may be needing to raise the temperature 20F rather than 2-3F.
Steve, your are right that new parts being faulty is rare. So rare, that it’s easy to get stuck in “it must be something else” — I only tried changing it because it’s easy and I like to have a spare on board anyway.
You’re right the HVAC cooling system is open loop so heating wouldn’t make sense. I had forgotten that the vast majority of the worlds HVAC systems were closed loop and a tiny amount of heat would solve that one. If I felt really inventive I could plumb a variable bypass where I run closed loop when it’s really cold and, as the water in the loop warms, progressively bypass less and use a higher percentage of outside water. It would work but it’s probably not worth the complexity and hassle.
57F here in Amsterdam and bright and sunny. It’s starting to feel like it’s time to head north again!
It’s been a severe winter here, I know I’m ready for it to end.
I’ve enjoyed reading about your explorations in and around Amsterdam but I’m also looking forward to posts about your travels North :)
Love the blog and have thoroughly enjoyed many of your videos. Especially enjoyed watching one of your ocean crossing videos, I think from 2017. How do you accurately measure wave height [while underway]? I find myself struggling to do that while cruising in the Puget or Georgia Sounds. Also, just rewatched your “AWS re:Invent 2016: Tuesday Night Live” video. I’m not sure which I enjoy more – your boating or AWS videos. All of them are so entertaining, and informative. I’m a big AWS fan.
Thanks David. I also think it’s hard to measure wave height with precision. What we do is 1) keep in mind that just about everyone overestimates waves they are experiencing especially at night, 2) when we can cross reference our estimates with a weather buoy data, we do it, 3) short duration waves appear larger and long duration waves shrink, and 4) use parts of the boat with known heights as a reference point to check wave height.
Hi Again. What travel log software do you use. My wife and I will be going away next month and would like to share with close friends our routes.
For personal tracks (when we are away from the boat) we use Google My Tracks on an Android phone. It’s since been discontinued but they open sourced the code when the stopped supporting it and so we did a private build and use that. For boat tracking we have a very elaborate system that logs all boat data every 5 seconds. A subset of that is uploaded to Amazon Web Services where we show it using custom code integrated into to our Word Press-based web site.
My recommendation is to use Spot or Delorme InReach — both are easy to use commercial systems that do what you want.
Leslie and I met you at the Seattle party. Great to meet you and Jennifer. We are just about 30 days out of taking delivery of a new 63 and I noted your comments on the black water sensor. Just wanted to get one last update on how it’s working before we begin the process of installing our Maretron system. Still working ok?
Congratulations on the 63 that is on it’s way. Wonderful boat. Yes, the black water sensor is amazing. Very precise and it works 100% of the time never a glitch. Short term it’s a proven winner. Over the long term, I’m pretty sure it’ll eventually need cleaning. If it goes 2 years between services, I’m thrilled. I can live with 1 year. But it’s too early to know how long it’ll last.
I’m pretty optimistic that this is a good design and it’ll deliver more than a year between service and quite possibly longer.
Hi James & Jennifer,
I’m the guy with the white beard that stopped you at the BoatsAfloat show in Seattle and gushed about your blog. Every word I meant. It has a been an inspiration to Maria and me as we set our retirement plans into motion. I wish I would have had the composure to ask you all the questions about your North Atlantic passage that I have, but I was, admittedly a bit flummoxed at actually seeing you there. Thanks for taking the time to talk. It was a pleasure to meet you.
MV Sonder (formerly 10&2)
It was a pleasure meeting you as well and we appreciate your feedback on the blog.
Apologies if I am asking this in the wrong place. I have followed your videos and adventures with interest recently. I wondered how much sailing or other marine experience you both had before you purchased Dirona and set off on your epic trip. I particularly enjoyed seeing you arrive in Liverpool as its my home town, best wishes
For about 10 years before purchasing Dirona, we coastal cruised on our previous boat along the Washington and British Columbia coast line. During this time we wrote numerous magazine articles and and a cruising guide while racking up 4,100 main engine hours. We elected to get Dirona to be able to go far greater distances and we wanted a boat able to take on more difficult weather at lower risk. We’ve now cruised 10,200 main engine hours on Dirona and, during that time, crossed every ocean and we’re currently in Amsterdam.
I noticed from your “snow covered Dirona” pic that you don’t keep the cap on your main engine exhaust anymore. I assume it’s because of the auto start in case of shore power failure.
What I was wondering is have you noticed an increase in stack debris discharge or has the low Sulphur diesel pretty much eliminated that?
Good eye Steve. Most Nordhavn owners use an exhaust cover. We didn’t for the first two years we owned the boat and got some sooting at times. Then we started to use the exhaust cover and, initially,it “seemed” better but I kind of wonder if it wasn’t at least partly psychological. When you do something active, it seems at least partially effective. With the cover or without, deck sooting seems to happen occasionally. It’s not that bad without the cover and it’s not that good with it but it does SEEM to help.
With the past couple of years of low sulfur fuel, the incidence of sooting is way down and so we pretty much stopped putting the cover on. And, now that we have the main engine as a backup generator, it’s always possible it’ll turn on so we shouldn’t cover it. t could possibly melt the cover and make a mess in the unlikely event that the engine was started.
Will you sleep while underway on auto pilot at night, or is there someone always at dog watch?
We always have someone on the helm and we also use a watch timer that needs to be touched every 8 min to ensure we don’t inadvertently fall asleep. The watch timer shows a yellow light at 8 min, a red light at 9 min, a gentle beep at 9 min 45 seconds, a medium volume alarm at 10 min, and really loud alarm that will wake everyone on the boat at 11 min.
Love your site and posts.
My wife and I are considering upgrading from our 340 cruiser and are wondering how best to budget for this $$?. Fuel is pretty straight forward. I think we worry more about major failure costs? Any suggestions on making sure that there is enough cash flow/savings available for potential failures while underway?
I’ve kept working full time so we continue to have cash flow to make major failures easier to live with but that wasn’t the intent when we started trip planning. The original plan is I would quit and would sell the house and car and fun the big failures as they came along. We did sell the house and the car but I did stay working so we could manage larger failures without it being so hard on the finances. But, there have few big issues and none have been very expensive. We do major out-of-the-water service every couple of years. We have had some major faults like the crane failure. After 9 years we replaced the tender. So, yes, there are expenses but the expensive mechanical systems have been very reliable over the last 10,000 operating hours and so we aren’t seeing any big surprises. Eventually the engine will need an overhaul but I would expect it would get 15,000 hours at minumum and it might easily go more than 20,000 hours. Most boats will never even get close to 10,000 hours.
My only suggestion is to buy a strong boat engineered for high hour operation and to buy the smallest boat that has the space you need for your trip plans. Our goal was to chose a boat we could afford so service wasn’t back breaking. Generally, we’re conservative in our decisions and it really helps keep the surprises to a minimum.
When mounting new hardware externally, such as the new side lights, how do you seal the hole? A dab of silicone on the screw/bolt? Or?
I used to always use 3M 5200 but, more recently, I mostly use white silicon calk.
We are Dawn & Lucky Read. We currently live on our 43′ sailboat, which we love. But, we also love Nordhavn’s. And, I love reading your blog–great stuff, and I learn a lot.
Anyway, I was hoping you had a simple answer to how you are able to use google maps on your travel blog. I just LOVE the way you have incorporated it.
We are hoping to cut our dock lines later this year, and would love to incorporate something similar for our family and friends.
Our current website is on the Wix format, and I’m not even sure if it’s possible, but I thought I’d at least ask.
Keep up the adventure, and posting. You guys are great.
Hope to meet you OUT THERE one of these days.
That sounds like a very good plan. On the real time tracking software, it’s part of what has become a very large integrated system. The work has it’s roots back nearly 25 years ago on our last boat where I got tired of NMEA 0183 multiplexers failing. I designed my own multiplexer. Then since my software was touching all network packets, I started to store all the data in a database. Then I started writing apps against this database.
That same architecture is still there today. We have software that writes all NMEA2000 data to the database, 5 Raspberry Pis that send digital input data from throughout the boat to the database, a monitoring program that gets data not captured by the Pis and not accessable on the NMEA2000 bus and this program stores the data in the database as well. All data from all over Dirona is stored every 5 seconds in a database and that’s been like that for many years. We write applications against this database to support power load shedding, generator autostrart, warning, alerting, and email notification, remote monitoring, and to extract the data used to support this website (mvdirona.com). Jennifer made modifications to WordPress to allow this data to be displayed using Google maps. We also have a real time tracking system running on Android that tracks us when we are not on the boat and that data is also integrated onto the web site using custom code. It all works well but it’s very specific to the equipment and design that we have on Dirona and it would be challenging to port to other configurations. My recommendations would be to use Delorme Inreach or Spot to get your real time tracking.
I was assuming you might be using WordPress. I tried it, but found it to be too cumbersome. The Wix platform is WYSIWYG, and SOOOOO simple. Of course it does have it’s limitations. It will allow for HTML code, if and when the need arrises.
Until then, I believe we will most likely use the Spot system, as we have a couple of friends that use that as well.
Thank you so much for your response.
Look forward to following your journey, and possibly meeting up someday.
I had a look at the Wix platform web site and it looks pretty good and with more than 11 million web site, there is good critical mass behind the engineering effort. Friends using Spot have also reported good results with a nice web page showing location and route similar to what we did.
James and Jennifer, we are deep into the specification of the N6081 and I must say this has been 100’s of hours on my part just reading data sheets and O&M Manuals and going over every decision over and over again. We are getting close on the mechanical and hull essentials. Exhausting but fun! I wanted to thank you for your ideas and replies from your site. Without the help of yourselves and others I feel I would have made several errors.
Good to hear Eric. Most of the design features we have discussed where done after the original build of Dirona. Your approach of doing it at build time is far more efficient but I know it requires a ton of research.
James, I think you know Steve D’Antonio. We are going to use his help some in China and perhaps during commissioning. I would consider myself a pretty good engineer but discovering problems/concerns on boats isn’t what I get paid for nor would consider myself completely qualified. I am hoping he will save us money, time and maybe even our life.
Steve is incredibly knowledgeable and can both catch system design issues that we both might miss and he can help to help find the best solutions where there are design alternatives.
Hi James, with reference to your latest project – I recently implemented a soft start modification to N4736 and it has been a great success. It was well worth the effort.
I managed to fit the additional equipment into the existing shore power enclosure inside the cockpit locker. It keeps the installation neat and tidy. The total cost of the modification was around £35. I used a 25 Ohm 50W resistor and a 25A contactor.
Before the modification I would get a text from the boat almost every week saying that the power had gone off (lots of power interruptions happening externally). The pontoon would then have its power restored but my 32A supply would then trip out on the restoration of the shore power. The MCB on the 32A supply would trip at least once in about every three power cuts! There does not need to be any load on the supply as the inrush from the large inductance winding on the 12KVA isolation transformer was all it took. Marinas tend to fit ‘type B’ MCBs.
Since the modification my pontoon MCB has never tripped.
If you like I can send a photo of the finished installation, just let me know.
Your blog is wonderful – keep it up.
Love it! I’m taking a very similar approach but I’m limiting current down a bit further than you do since I often plug in into very low amperage shore power connections (sometimes down around 10A or lower). I’m using a 40 ohm, 100W resistor but the rest of the approach is pretty similar. I’ve got a timer on the contactor to keep it in circuit for 500msec but the 14 msec delay in the contactor itself is probably fine without the timer. The house load is brought online 10 seconds after the shore power becomes available.
I’m about 80% done with the new control box completed and installed with the power leads in a loop waiting for another nice day for outside work. All that needs to be done to complete the job is to connect the input leads to the shore breaker and the other side on the feed to the isolation transformer. It’s good to hear you are happy with your configuration given how similar what you have done is to what I’m putting in on Dirona. We’re really looking forward to eliminating spurious shore power breaker openings.
Hi James. As a retired airline pilot and now teach pilots to fly biz jets I use Garmin avionics. I was wondering if you knew or had heard from others about Garmin in Marine world. We hope to build if we can or buy used Nordhavn once I finally retire. If building I’m tempted to use Garmin. Thank you. You guys motivate us with your travels! Keep it going! 😎👊
Garmin is massive in the business jet market and seem to be getting traction in the small boat market. I never see them on cruise ships and other large commercial vessels, they aren’t super common on the fish boat fleets, but they do seem to be getting traction in the small recreational boat market in the US. I’ve seen them used fairly heavy in small law enforcement boats as well.
Our leanings were toward the gear used by the Alaska fish boat fleet and many commercial vessels so went with Furuno. Generally we prize reliability so look to the professional fishing industry to get a read on what they depend upon.
Thank you James!
Visiting Amsterdam and just saw the Dirona docked west of central station. I would love to come say hi before i return to California tue am