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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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
Sure. Just drop me email at email@example.com and let me know if something like 4PM Monday afternoon works for you.
James: for stainless steel fabrication you can try
I’m all set up on this job but thanks for the reference Gary.
Best wishes to you both for the coming year. We hope your cruising is safe and exciting.
Mike & Trish Taggart
Thanks Mike and Trish. New Years in Amsterdam is certainly a great way to start 2019. The Dutch LOVE their fireworks. We spent the run up to New Years walking around Amsterdam and then brought in the New Year on a pier near our boat where we had a nice place to sit with a glass of wine enjoying the entire sky full of fireworks.
Happy New Year Jennifer and James,
FYI, there is a recently opened Chihuly exhibit at the Groninger Museum in Groningen, it’s up until May. All the best from Bamfield BC!
It’s great to hear from a Bamfield resident. You live in one of our favorite locations on the west coast of Vancouver Island but it’s been a long time. We spent Christmas 2011 anchored in Grappler Inlet near you: https://mvdirona.com/Trips/BarkleySound2011/BarkleySound2011.html.
We last saw some of Chihuily’s work at the Tacoma Glass Museum. Thanks for pointing out the exhibit in Groningen and all the best in 2019.
Full disclosure, we are West Seattleites but still have my grandparents house here in Bamfield, came up for the holidays. I started following you guys just before your trip to Grappler and sent you an email at that time saying I thought your GPS posit was off as I didn’t think anyone without extensive local knowledge would have the “stones” to take a boat as big as Dirona that far back into the inlet!
We do remember getting a note from you basically saying “you can’t possibly be where your AIS says you are.” And,you are right, it was a big of a slow nail biter to work our way in but it’s a great spot. We were pretty proud of ourselves for finding a path in without touching bottom but, when the boat was next lifted out of the water I noticed there was a few inch wide set of scrapes in the bottom paint all along the keel from bow to stern. Looks like “nearly” touched bottom might have been even closer than we thought :-).
We’re looking forward to a fun 2019 in Sweden and Finland. All the best to you in 2019!
James and Jennifer
All the best for 2109. Await your postings with great anticipation
Happy New Year Rod.
Seeing you hooked to the crane reminds me of something that happened once. While using a sign company truck to lift me up so a repair could be made the dang thing quit while extended with no way to lower it without the engine to power the cable reel. Luckily it had a ladder on the boom I could climb down and get it restarted for the guy.
I’ve noticed you’ve used that method in several posts and works well when it does however, you might want to work out a contingency plan with Jennifer :)
There are definitely some downsides to the crane assisted lift system. And, currently we don’t have a backup control system so your point is even more timely. Getting me safely down on a crane control system failure would be challenging. I suspect we would go with a rope up through the safety tie off eye and back down to me with Jen belaying from the boat deck. It wouldn’t be fast :-).
James, reading your post about waxing/polishing the boat in Amsterdam I was wondering if you have tried any of the newer tech “nano” waxes? Some of the companies which produce ceramic coatings also produce easier to use sprey versions. Gtechniq is one I’ve tried (liquid crystal v2) and I can top up the protective coating on the top sides of our 38ft cruiser in about an hour every two months or so. It’s a lot easier than more frequent buffing.
Long time reader and fan of your blog from Dublin.
Thanks for your suggestion John. We probably should some more advanced coatings. We have never done anything other than use old technology wax. We probably should try something more modern. I’m slightly nervous of more modern coatings from my days as an auto mechanic were I have seen some coatings fail and start to yellow or, worse, flake away in sections. There are substantial messes and some required re-painting to correct. They both made me more conservative and less eager to try new products even though it’s extremely likely that some are excellent and could really save us time. Thanks for passing on your recommendation for Gtechniq.
James: i have asked some contacts that have offices in or near Amsterdam if there are any references for a stainless fabricator.
What I need done is simple and only need some cutting, drilling, and a break press but I’ve not found anyone to do it yet. Thanks for checking on it Gary.
Just about any commercial sheet metal installer for H.V.A.C. systems large enough to have a water jet, or plasma table could do it if they were interested in the project. I did a search using those parameters which showed several in Amsterdam but since I can’t read Dutch, about all I can say is look in that direction?
Exactly. In this case we went with a laser cutter equipped facility. I got help from Daniel Boekel of ShipCraft Engineering and Jan Pieterse and we’ll get the brackets in early January. It’s nice to have that one solved. Thanks for the advice here and over the years and have a great holidays Steve.
I got help from Daniel Boekel of ShipCraft Engineering and Jan Pieterse. Daniel was doing an order yesterday and was kind enough to both draft up what I need and include it on his order. We’ll get the brackets in early January. Thanks!
Thanks for sharing your journey with us fellow boater’s that are still dreaming of a journey like yours. I’ve got a couple of question’s. Your computer/electrical skill’s are a lot more advanced then most of us. Would your trip be doable with good skill’s vs your advanced? We all tinker and update our boat’s. My last question is what % of your mechanical/electrical updates you’ve made are just for your need’s and what % would be good “generic” to all of us.
Cliff, it looks like a somehow missed your question. Jennifer just noticed that. Sorry about that.
The short answer is, sure, the trip could easily be done with only rudimentary electrical skills. You will need to be able to read a multi-meter and read voltage or at least use a test light to be able to investigate electrical failures. Without being able to do this, you’ll need help with every electrical anomaly on the boat — you could even survive without that but it would take more patience because you would likely be too frequently needing external help. But, voltage meter skills are very easy to learn. You can a reasonably level of self sufficiency pretty quickly and that makes the trip more enjoyable.
After those simple skills to help find obvious problems, you really don’t need to know anything about software or computer hardware to have a very enjoyable trip. Looking at the work we have done, much of it is to automate and make the boat easier to operate and to ensure we notice problems quickly. All this is useful but none of it is absolutely required and almost all of it is available from commercial sources.
Most of the more advanced things we have done, you don’t need and, for those you really feel are important to you, there are good off-the-shelf solutions available in the market. Maretron is my go to supplier when people ask me how to do X where X is some monitoring or automation task. N2kview combined with Maretron sensors can do almost everything we do and they do it with good support and there are installers that know the equipment and can install it for you.
I think most of what we have on the boat is useful and would be nice for anyone to have. Generator autostart is useful in that if you are away from the boat for longer than expected, the batteries would run down to dangerously low levels. Load shedding is pretty useful in that it allows you to use the high powered appliances on the boat without worrying about what other people on the boat are doing. It makes the boat easier to use and avoid frequent shore power breaker releases. Warnings on low batteries or other electrical or mechanical problems improve safety. We had a battery thermal runaway in New Zealand in the middle of the night that was caught by the monitoring system. We dealt with it quickly and easily before temperatures got unsafe. Remote monitoring is useful if you are away from the boat.
All these features can be added using commercial systems without the boat operating needing special skills and none of these features are a prerequisite for a long trip. You can be perfectly happy without any of them and you don’t special skills to enjoy boating. They just make the trip more enjoyable but you can learn as much or as little as you want at whatever pace you want.
A couple of wines for you to try…although I don’t think you’ll get these in boxes.
Aldi. Exquiste Clare Valley Riesling @ £7.00
Grosset Polish Hill Riesling at £36.00 this is recognised as one of the best. Not cheap though!
Chardonnay? Track down Enate 234 for about £7.00
Chardonnay with a fizz? Again Aldi. Exquiste Cremmant du Jura at about £8.00
Aldi. Portugesse Douro Red Merlot, there’s two Douro’s ones about £6.00 and there’s one @ £4.99 the cheaper one is nice for the money.
Aldi is a German supermarket, but there may well be branches where you are.
Anyhow, Happy Holidays!
We have been in Aldi’s in the past so we do know them. We’ll give some of those wine recommendations a try. Thanks for the advice Paul.
I am trying to decide if I should go with the hydraulic package on our build. It comes with a extra pump on the wing and a hyd windlass, aux pump, and hyd thrusters. Then I ran across that there are hydraulic get home motors! So what if my 20kW genset or my main with the extra alternator and inverters could run a 3 phase hyd power pack of sufficient size? All I would need is a VFD to convert the 1PH 230V to 3PH. Thoughts???
We got hydraulics and love having continuous duty thrusters and windlass. There is no question we would make the same decision if we were to do another build.
Hydraulic get home engines work fine but there are compromises:
1) Direct drive is at least 20% more efficient so, a hydraulic drive system will require a larger engine than a direct, mechanical drive system.
2) We prefer having an independent prop and shaft on the get home engine,
3) If the main engine has failed, then your only source of power is the gen. If the gen is driving the boat, there is no power left for the hotel loads.
Closely related to 1 and 3 above, for a conventional electrical design you might select a 20kw generator because you have to size to peak load. The problem is peak load is very rare. A design like this allows you to size to average load: https://mvdirona.com/2014/08/a-more-flexible-power-system-for-dirona/. If you chose to go with a more modern power system design, then you will likely drop down to 16kW generator. It doesn’t have the power to run drive the boat.
On the design you are thinking through, you need a bigger gen than 20kW to have both propulsion and power at the same time. With a more modern electrical systems, you would use an even smaller generator. As a get home system, the design feels pretty compromised but, with care, it can be made to work.
When I looked at these initially I didn’t realize they worked inline with the main. I thought they actually replaced the wing and therefore could provide true redundancy if say they drove a folding prop on a reduction gear. That would be slick and save a lot of room. I’m not convinced it couldn’t be done (I think I could design and build it myself) but as you and others have said there is value in “off the shelf”. Besides as you also added I would need a much larger genset and then possibly needing a smaller 2nd genset which really negates much of a savings. FYI I’m back to using your method of power generation underway with the second Balmar on the main. When you look at it with the dual inverter it’s really the only logical choice. I have to say this part of the design which I consider the most important is tedious and filled with reconsideration!
You are right, the hydraulic system could completely replace the wing engine. It would work fine. I’ve even been on boats where the main engine drives through a hydraulic drive. My leaning, like yours, would still be towards a direct drive wing but the hydraulics would certainly work.
Interesting to read about massive alternators (from a Canadian company no less), however if you were to install one does this not violate your ‘redundancy law’? Your present set up meets the law requirements
Even with two alternators we have an entire spare off engine and, if we went with a single alternator design, we would still have an off-engine spare. The generator also acts as an emergency backup system if the main can’t produce power. My personal take is that would be adequate redundancy for most use cases but I agree with you that having two identical alternators both being driven at the same time does have appeal.
My apologies for lately inundating your site. If you have an opinion on this. I am leaning away for doing as Dirona did with the extra alternator on the Main and adding a second smaller genset in addition to the standard 20kW (the NL tech suggest 6kW although on the owners group one fellow suggested 9kW) frankly I’m going to add up expected loads and decide what I might need.) this would force us to use the genset whenever underway if we need to run A/C, dryer, watermaker, etc. After speaking with Cascade they said that the 180A additional places the maximum belt stress and adds and extra pulley and extra inverter gear. Just seems like I don’t want extra things on the front of the main although I think the cooling pump is gear driven so a belt loss is not terminal… I kind of think you went the way you did to conserve space in the lazerette perhaps? Any thoughts?
I’m reading your “More Flexible Power System for Dirona” right now and I bet it will answer most my questions.
Excellent. Most of the detail is there. Also worth reading: https://mvdirona.com/2018/01/two-generators-when-you-only-have-one/
Our decision to go with two alternator is unrelated to our want for two generators. They really are seperate points. We want a second generator because that’s our own source of power when at anchor and, if the generator fails, we have a problem. Our goal is to never redirect or cut short a trip due to mechanical problems so we don’t want a failed generator to stop us. All of us have only a limited lifetime and we don’t want to give up weeks every year on mechanical faults. Because our main engine can produce 9kW, it can serve as a backup generator. But, generator autostart is key. We need to be able to be away from the boat for long periods and know the batteries will not be excessively discharged. Our solution is to put autostart on the main so it can serve as a backup generator: https://mvdirona.com/2018/01/two-generators-when-you-only-have-one/.
If we were buying another boat, we would likely spec a second generator but it’s not certain. Since the second gen for us is only to backup the primary gen, using the main to do that seems to work fairly well. Generators are pretty reliable and rarely fail to run. Likely we would go with a second gen but not for sure given how well the backup system we have built seems to work.
Another common driver of two gens is to have a big one to handle oven, dryer, and other big loads and a small one to handle the common case. We use inverters and load shedding to be able to operate big loads without having a big generator. This avoids the problem of having a 20kW that basically is never loaded and allows a single generator to handle the load. So, with backup power if the generator fails and no need for big/little config to support peaks, the push to a second gen is less strong. We only need the second one for redundancy.
The reason we have two alternators is we want to have enough capacity to fully support house loads without running the generator when underway. The argument here is twofold: 1) the main engine has lots of excess capacity when underway, and 2) running the gen 24×7 when underway means you double your oil changes, you have to carry more supplies, it requires more service, etc. It seems nuts to have more than one power source in the common case — you need it for redundancy but, in the common case, we want only a single source so we design to run like this:
1) Shore: we can run off 60hz, 50Hz, 50A, 32A, 16A, and even down to 8A (by using 2). This works so well we never have to run the gen when on shore power. If you spend time at marinas you’ll see larger boats running the gen all the time due to not having enough shore power to support their peak loads. The new power system article describes how this works fairly well: https://mvdirona.com/2014/08/a-more-flexible-power-system-for-dirona/. The remaining aspects of the design are covered in the two generators when you only have one article: https://mvdirona.com/2018/01/two-generators-when-you-only-have-one/.
2) Underway: Underway we run on the main engine along and can drive SCUBA compressor, dryer, oven, and HVAC without running the generator.
3) On hook: We use the generator with autostart to drive the generator and keep the battery state of charge correct. No attention required and it works whether we are on the boat or not.
The serpentine drive belt on the front of the engine is rated to drive heavy duty equipment so that isn’t a problem. When our boat was delivered by Cascade, they had an 85A start alternator and 190A house alternator. I upgraded to 2x 190A which will take more load from the front of the engine but it’s all well within the design limits of the components involved. There was no change in the number of pulleys on the engine when upgrading to 2x 190A.
Also as you may have noticed the train is not really used by anyone but workers of other nationalities and “white” person certainly not. It’s just a class thing. You will notice the taxis in Dubai are generally low cost also but will not pick up non UAE or worker foreigners. Dubai as you most certainly ave noticed is about one thing… money! Just a thing about Dubai. I have skied at the mall and it is fun but the snow is very granular and the rental gear marginal. But was fun to say I did it.
Dubai and the UAE, in general, is a pretty unusual place where all work that is visible to a visitor (and perhaps all work period) is done by teams of foreigners. Many construction projects run three shifts a day with huge teams on each shift and not a single local in sight.
I was wandering why more cruisers don’t use a hydraulic power pack (electric motor driven) in lieu of mounting off the genset or wing. I spoke with the Northern Lights fellow and he said he is not particularly fond personally of mounting Hydraulics off the Genset. I was thinking with a VFD you could convert the 1PH to 3PH (just seams so much more reliable, albeit you do loose some efficiency with transmission, etc) and assuming you have a backup genset or in the case of Dirona the extra on the main. How does Dirona get Hydraulic Power?
On Dirona, Hydraulic power is proeduced by identical pumps on the Wing and the Main engines each of which is capable of running the system. Underway the stabilizers are run by the main engine, when in close quarters, the thrusters and windlass are run off the wing engine since the main is at idle. But, either engine can run the system so, if the main fails and we run off the wing, we still have stabilizers. And, if the wing fails and we’re only on the main, we still have thrusters and windlass available (but the main needs to be brought up off idle to use them fully).
The design you describe of running the hydraulics off of a 3 PH motor that is is fed by the generator through a VFD is used on ABT STAR (Stabilization At Rest) so it certainly works. In all the examples we’ve seen the main engine still has a hydraulic pump PTO so the hydraulics can be run directly when it’s running. I can’t think of any reason why you couldn’t run through the electric motor all the time — it’s a continuous rated system. The only downside is the rather large loss of efficiency when converting rotating energy to electricity and then converting that to hydraulic power. Direct drive is considerably more efficient.
On most Nordhanv’s the crane is hydraulic and driven off a hydraulic power pack rather than the boats hydraulic system. This is a simple design but does suffer the inefficiencies of multiple conversions. Since it’s only used for short periods, it’s simplicity wins over efficiency and the double conversion system works fine. An alternative I looked at was using the boat hydraulic system to drive the crane but they aren’t that easy to interface and my conclusion was the hassle wasn’t worth the trouble and we use the standard electric power pack to drive the crane.
Excellent thanks! The hydraulic option you chose seems smart and I’m going to speak to Nordhavn about that option.
You are correct about loosing efficiency with an electric power pack. One more quickie. So Dirona uses hydraulic thrusters? I am sure you are aware of the new Side Power Pro series which uses a proportional drive system on the DC with analog signal which also allows you to press a button and “HOLD” the position of the boat. Pretty slick and it connects into the NMEA Backbone. I don’t think this was available when you built Dirona and I don’t like the “sound” and lack of throttling on standard DC thrusters.
So… Would you opt for these instead of hydraulic thrusters knowing this?
Our hydraulic thrusters are proportional so no difference there. We don’t have a button to hold the boat in position but you can just adjust the levers (they don’t pop back to neutral) to the appropriate level of the thrust to hold the boat against the dock and leave them there. That sounds similar unless there is a more elaborate position maintaining logic behind the single button you mention. I suspect they are equivalent by those measures.
The sound produced by thrusters is the straight cut bevel gear lash and, whether electric or hydraulic, all designs with the same gears will make the same noise. Certainly thrusters could be made with a different gear set to control noise but I don’t know of any that have chosen to make that a priority.
Our choice of hydraulic is wanting a windlass that can anchor on 500′ of rode without burning out the motor and wanting to be able to run the thrusters indefinitely even after they age, gather dirt, and don’t cool as effectively. We like continuous duty equipment. Recreational boat electric thrusters are not continuous duty but electric thrusters can be. I’ve seen cruise ships with their electric thrusters on for nearly 10 min straight. Clearly it can be done but I’ve yet to see a continuous duty recreational electric thruster.
Thanks James. Reading last night I have to firmly agree with you on this. Looking at the O&M Manual on the pro series and others the duty cycle is only 10%! I’m going hydraulic. The thought of needing to keep the nose into the weather if the main is down, etc is enough for me. Thanks so much.
That was my thinking as well. Unlikely to be needed but I still wanted to have the protection of continuous duty protection for the thrusters.
Hey there kids , so I found you guys from the nordhavn website I was looking at the dirona she’s beautiful James you and Jen must be having a blast .
I’d like to do the same some day with my wife also not quite ready yet , tell me how is the 52 in ocean passages ? I like the bladder idea I quess that’s really the only way to get maximum range right ? How do you guys like the John deer as oppose to the lugger ? What’s the difference .
The 52 is good for a comfortable 2,500 nautical miles so you don’t really need fuel bladders. This is not a computed number but a real on the ocean number — it can do this in ocean conditions. With fuel bladders the range is stretched out to a real world 4,000 nautical miles.
Both the Lugger and the John Deere are marinizations of the John Deere agricultural/industrial engine. Both have great reputations. We went with the Deere because we wanted the 266 HP available from the John Deere 6068AFM75. The Lugger is a great engine but we wanted more than 163 HP with an intermittent rating. The 266 HP John Deere is now the standard N52 power plant.
Our John Deere 6068AFM75 now has 10,200 hours and it’s been wonderful. The engine is bright, white, and shiny. After 10,000 hours it’s not leaking oil, it never has consumed any oil, and it continues to run perfectly. What I find amazing is it’s never consumed any parts. Even the coolant pump is original. It’s a good, solid, under-stressed, and super reliable engine.
Noticed your in the Arab region. Lynn and I are planning a 3-4 week trip in Jan-Feb in the Arab and Levant regions. Lynn saw you holding the falcon and is so jealous! Anyway Cheers! I put a post on NOG on boat naming. Basically I was wandering how you two came up with the name and do you think it’s beneficial to have as short of a name as possible? We are stumped!
The criterion of selection was that it be reasonably easy to pronounce and spell, be unique (so that 50 other boats didn’t have the same name), and that reflected our locality in the Pacific Northwest and also our sport of cold-water scuba diving. The name didn’t necessarily need to be short, but we wanted it to be easy to say and understand on the radio. More on the name is at https://mvdirona.com/Dirona/AboutDirona.htm
Hello both of you. I hope everything is going fine.
During this rainy sunday, i was wandering in yachtworld web site and i saw a few nordhavn with 2 engines, same engines… on a 57 with 2 lugger 325hp, one with 2 cat 3126 6 in line 420hp with 11.5knots cruising and so on…
when you moved from bayliner to nordhavn did you ever looked closer to twin engines boat or you were already main + wing convinced ?
For you, why some buyers go twin and some main + wing ?
have a nice stay in holland, we go on summer holidays every year since 15 years in South holland (zeeland: Vlissingen, Middelburg, veere, goes, zeeriekzee, yerseke, etc…) and we really enjoy this country with our 3988.
love your articles each time i receive a mail news. you describe everything so well that you should have a couple of pages every month in the English Motor Boat Magazine & Yachting magazine.
Yes, we absolutely did consider a twin engine configuration. I larger boats, I would definitely select two engines. But, as the boat sizes drops down below 60′, single engine designs seem to win out for us. In smaller boats, the additional space that twin engines require reduce the fuel load that can be carried and shorten the boat’s overall range. In larger boats there is plenty of room for fuel but in smaller boats, the additional space required for twin engines reduce the boats range below what we want. Twin engines are just a small amount less efficient than singles as well so, for our usage, in boats less than 60′ single engines seem to be a better choice with longer range. If were to go with a larger boat, it’s highly likely we would go with 2 symmetric engines. I particularly like the application of two John Deere 4045AFM85 in many newer Nordhavn 60s. The 4045AFM85 is the Tier III emissions, 4 cylinder variant of our Deere 6068 that has served us so well over the last 10,000 hours.
My father and I often speak about how boats should be. he is for twins and i prefer main and wing and big outboards for the recreationnal market but that’s not the point we are interested in.
For me, the way Elling made their e6 is very interesting. they put a volvo 900hp and 75hp wing. the boat has a range of 3500 at 10knots, a full speed of 21.5 and a fast cruising between 15 to 18. i know it is not the kind of range nordhavn owners are looking for but i think it’s a good way to motorize boat from 40 to 60 feet. And i think the holland yards “think” their boats, how owners will use them. like tony Fleming.
when you see that our cummins didn’t missed once in 21 years, a main and a wing should take a bigger part of the market in displacement and semi displacement boat.
after 10000hours on one engine, why would you go for two ? what are the reasons two twin engines should have advantage over main and wing on a displacement hull ?
Nine years ago if nordhavn made a 52 with two 4045 or single 6068 with same range, what would have been your choice? and why?
You asked “after 10000 hours on one engine, why would you go for two?” We put 4,100 hours on the twin Cummins in our previous boat without issue and 10,100 hours on the single Deere in this boat also without issue. So your question could be “with 18,300 hours having never seen a failure, why deploy more than a single engine?” I agree with you that diesel engine failures are rare but they do happen. We have all seen an over-the-highway truck at the side of the highway. Diesel engine mechanics continue to earn excellent livings even though their patients are well built and last long. I really like redundancy.
We really do want to have two engines capable of moving the boat but we could have gone for two symmetric engines or a main and a wing. Due to space limitations and range considerations, we went with a main and a wing and we’re quite happy with the overall configuration. If we bought another under 60′ boat, we would make the same choice next time. If we bought a larger boat where two symmetric engines could be installed without giving up range, we would probably do it and you asked why we would go with twins.
For redundancy reasons, we have already decided we are going with two engines so the only question left is should they be the same (twins) or asymmetric (main with a wing). If we ignore space, range, and efficiency considerations, the advantage of twins is the backup engine is actually running rather than waiting to be started. The second engine in a twin engine configuration has 1/2 the horsepower and, running at higher than normal load can continue to run the boat at normal or very nearly normal speeds. If we drop back to our wing engine, we’re down to 40 hp engine with a continuous rating that is probably closer to 25hp. It works well, it will move the boat at over 4 kts, it’s safe, but it would be far from ideal in heavy seas.
There are lots of arguments for and against asymmetric power configurations. We selected an asymmetric design on Dirona for space, efficiency, and range gains. I’ve also seen it used by ice breakers and military boats to allow massive power to be applied when needed and then to fall back to efficient operation when the extra power isn’t required.
you’re right, 40hp, 4 knots with 2 meters in the nose and 3 knots of tide must not be very funny, you never sink on a sunny flat day… Everything is theory until you’re out there…
one day, a big net around one propeller, force4/5: you don’t dive, you go home on the other engine. it took six hours at 7/8 knots at 1600rpm. Sure with a wing, it could have been more difficult…
do you know if nordhavn ask the owners of twin to always run on 2 engines ou they could alternate?
i red a few years ago an article about an owner who wanted to drive on one engine and he had to make modifications on the transmission to make it cool because the propeller on the off engine turn with the speed and get hot.
do you have in mind a bigger one with redundancy ?
Twin engine boats can run with a single engine but, as you read, the limiting factor is usually the transmission. Some transmissions can be run indefinitely with freewheeling, some transmission manufactures allow freewheeling for up to N hours at which point they recommend running the other side, and some give transmission temperature limits above which they recommend shifting to the other side. Some operators I’ve spoken with chose to lock down the prop shaft to avoid freewheeling entirely but most don’t and just follow their transmission manufacturer recommendations.
When we had twin engines we tried running single engine for a few days but ended up not finding the small gains worth it and we were able to get very good fuel economy at low speeds with both engines in use. I’m sure we could have gotten a tiny bit better but I ended up just preferring to have them both running.
You asked “do you have in mind a bigger one with redundancy?” We feel like we have the redundancy needs covered by the wing engine and we continue to really like the Nordhavn 52 so don’t have a near term plan to move to a bigger boat.
James, sorry to double post but I just wanted to add don’t forget both the engines at the same time are drawing from the same source unless you opted for (2) day tanks… I bet that is what YOU would do.
That’s a good point Eric. A day tank doesn’t really work very well for us unless it’s upwards of 60 to 80 gallons and we do like having a day tank and using it like a day tank with explicit transfers to the tank through filtration. So with twins, we would either need to give up the extra security of the wing fuel tank or need space for two at least medium sized day tanks. Some recent builds on the larger Nordhavn’s have elected to delete the wing tank entirely on the argument that fuel problems are very unlikely on boats that run a full day tank protocol and only transfer fuel to the day tank through filters.
From my perspective, it’s a perfectly reasonable option to give up the wing tank and run both engines on the same day tank. The wing tank does provide some additional security but, with a good sized day tank for the rest of the boat, the probability of problems that would have been avoided with a separate wing tank are fairly small. I probably would be comfortable with the single day tank layout if going to twins.
It’s interesting that really between the 6090 Standard and the 4045 is only about 2″ (I noticed the bore is only 10mm smaller so makes sense). I’m curious is there a fuel usage compromise with twins? Also, do you think with twins you could consider elimination of a stern thruster? Just out of interest I’m going to have them send me a CAD of the standard layout with twins. Lot’s of fun thinking about these things.
Yes, there is a slight loss of efficiency in twins over a single. Twins have the drag of two sets of props, shafts, and machinery in the water and the second engine will add some parasitic losses as well. Because these boats are heavy and draw a lot of water, I would keep the stern thruster even with twins but many would argue it’s unnecessary.
As well as looking at the CAD drawings to make the decisions, you should ask about fuel capacity as well.
I don’t know if I agree on your idea on the twins on the 60. I would venture you’ve been in the engine room on the N60 but even with the smaller footprint I think it would be a squeeze to be able to get adequate access to the mains. The 63 (I think that the model) to me with the larger beam is the start of twins. Of course they put larger in coastal boats all the time but who cares your gonna get a tow anyway and your always close to your home yard. I have spent about 3 hours laying about in the N60 engine room to the frustration of my wife and salesman and I can’t see it but I know they do it just not that often. I love the boat and I can’t imagine needing anything larger for a cruising couple for sure.
The point where twin engines fit without access/range sacrifice is certainly open to debate. The 60 might be better done as a single. I was on N60 Jupiter with two John Deere 4045AFM85s and I liked the access to everything and it looked like it would work to me but I agree it’s close.
I gotta say I just looked at the video on the Jupiter and you may be correct. Looks like the mirrored some of the critical components and being able to walk down the middle vs. the sides of the engine might be easier. Not real sure how they handled the tankage as I cannot make that out. But if you reduced the width and increased the length (of the tanks) you could probably get some access to the other sides. They could also increase the size of the forward tanks of the utility room as they didn’t expand that area as we are forcing us to move things forwards. Jupiter spent alot of money in the pilothouse for sure from what it looks like. Nice boat.
It looked great from my perspective but, as you said, the key question is how many gallons is it able to carry? If they haven’t had to give up tankage, it’s a nice looking solution.
Hello from Campbell River, BC. First, thank you for your interesting, informative and thoroughly enjoyable website, I have followed you since your travels on your previous boat.
We need to replace our aging chart plotter that came with our boat and will return to a PC based system. On our prior boat we used Nobeltec and I have been looking at the new Time Zero. Can you elaborate on your reasons for choosing Time Zero and have you been happy with that choice? I did look into Coastal Explorer but it requires an annual update ($99 US) to maintain BC tide and current information. Thank you.
Thanks for the feedback Julie. We used Nobeltec for more than a decade and generally liked it. Our only big complaints with Nobeltec where it does crash occasionally and, when it does, it usually looses most of the recent track. Annoying but not debilitating. When making the decision between all the options open back in 2010, we elected to go with TimeZero mostly because it can share chart data at no extra charge with Furuno NN3D and supports integration with Furuno including RADAR overlay. The ability to share chart data with Furuno means that you can buy charts once and have them available redundantly on two different systems on the boat. This gives us the redundancy we want without forcing us to pay double for chart data. When you cruising large parts of the world, chart data costs can be material.
Had we not chosen TimeZero, we likely would have stuck with Nobeltec. With the subsequent acquisition of Nobeltec, the choice wouldn’t have mattered and we would ended up on TimeZero no matter what. Overall TimeZero is more stable than Nobeltec and the largest weaknesses of TimeZero have been addressed since the acquisition of Nobeltec and we find the newest version to be quite good.
Hi James & Jennifer,
I’m just starting planning a Maretron monitoring network for N6315 and am wondering if you were able to install your own (very comprehensive!) system using micro NEMA2000 cabling?
Either will support the CANbus physical link used by NMEA2000. At the time and probably still, Maretron recommended a midi backbone and micro drops and that’s what I elected to use. More recently when I did the much smaller NMEA2000 system on the tender, I went with micro everywhere. The advantage of larger cabling for the backbone is you are less likely to experience voltage drops or signal integrity problems over long cable runs. The advantage of the smaller micro-cables is cost.
Generally it’s not difficult to debug devices on a properly installed CANbus network. It gets more complex if there are signal integrity or voltage drop issues so I lean slightly towards using the large micro cabling for the backbone of bigger networks.
Thanks! Very useful advice.
James, am interested in the Heatstrip for the cockpit of N47 Segue II. Could you advise the model and size of the unit that you’ve installed.
Heatstrip sells into many markets and has both 50hz and 60hz systems available and is available in many voltages. It seems that the heater itself is a simple resistive load so the only difference between the 240V 60hz and 50hz system is the plug fitted to the end. We bought the 1800W unit that they sell into the Australian market and replaced the plug with a marine plug of a higher current rating and better waterproof characteristics.
More details are up at: https://mvdirona.com/2018/04/heatstrip-patio-heater/.
James, now that Dirona is taking the winter off, are there any things you do to winterize her and/or the engines, fuel, oil, etc?
We chose to keep the boat always operational so really don’t change anything as we head into winter other than to drain the hoses on hose bib outside the boat so they don’t freeze and crack. Other than that, it’s just business as usual without any changes. Because we live on the boat, the interior is heated if we are on the boat and, if we are off the boat, we still use a greater than freezing set point (around 42F).
If we were in a really cold climate where there were long periods of sub-freezing weather, we would put valves on the external water connections to allow us to drain the water out of the pipes that feed any external hose bibs. This is on my list but hasn’t yet been done and probably won’t need to be for the weather conditions we’ll see in Amsterdam.
Hi, I read that you will spent about 4 month in Amsterdam. Then I can highly recommend to also visit Haarlem, take the train from Central Station, it takes only 25 minutes to get there. From Haarlem Central Station to the center is only 5 minutes walk. Most of the houses are about the same age as the houses in Hoorn and Enkhuizen.
I might step by one day to meet you but will obviously let you know in advance. I work close by, Hotel The Dylan.
Thanks for the recommendations Rene.
Could you elaborate on Dutch VAT. How would VAT be applicable to a foreign flagged pleasure vessel briefly visiting Dutch waters?
Independent of how long the boat is in Dutch waters, if the boat doesn’t leave the EU during an 18 month period, the VAT becomes due. The visiting Dutch officials collected ownership and original purchase documentation showing the invoiced price in preparation for assessing VAT if that were to become necessary. Of course, our intention is to not allow the boat to be in the EU for 18 consecutive months.
Thank you and very good to know.
If you stay longer than the 18 month period you will have to cough up the VAT but then when you leave you can get it back.
Just as you can get the VAT back you had bought a boat in Europe and took it for your use to the US ( and then pay the State Sales tax where you register the boat)
As Jan said, you certainly can get VAT back on equipment brought into the country on temporary import and then later exported. We’re doing that for the pallet of equipment we brought in via sea freight. However, if the boat crosses the 18 month consecutive in the EU, it no longer qualifies for temporary import and VAT will be due on the entire boat. It will not be refunded on exit from the EU.
If you haven’t already, next time you’re in a Dutch grocery store get some speculoos spread (Lotus brand is good, but the others will also be fine). Spread that sucker on toast. It’ll change your life.
That does sound like an unusually good spread :-). Thanks!
Please make sure tou don’t leave the Ortliebs on the bike, they will be gone instantly. Same goes for the bike, look it to a pole or somthing sturdy, otherwise it’s gone.
I am around for some 20 years in Amsterdam and bikes are still high on the list of thieves.
Thanks for the advice René–we’ll be careful.
And thank you also for recommending we visit Hoorn and Enkhuizen–we really enjoyed both. If you feel like dropping by and seeing the boat, let us know.
James – I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Amsterdam over the past 3 decades working for Shell. Check out the NL Museum Card (https://www.museumkaart.nl/). We’ve used this in the past and it is excellent value. It’ll get you into most museums in the country for free and a reduced price for many others. You can purchase it at a participating museum and it’ll be good for 30 days. Then you need to login to the site and fill out the form to have the permanent card (good for a year) mailed to you. Only addresses in NL are accepted so hopefully you can receive mail at the marina.
We’ll do it. Thanks for the advice Evan. Much appreciated. And, if you find yourself planning to be in the Amsterdam area, let us know.
I’m interested in the options when replacing diesel engine oil, since 250-hour intervals can add up. Obviously recycling is desirable and facilities are probably easy to find these days, but I understand that some owners burn waste oil in their fuel, apparently after filtering it? Are there systems to make this do-able? Would burning oil in fuel apply more to older (read: “less finicky”) engines? Does Deere have a position on burning used oil? Or do you?
At a distance, this sounds like a wonderful idea and I know it has been used in commercial applications in the past. However, modern high pressure common rail engines have very low tolerance to fuel problems, emission standards won’t allow it, and modern oils are very carefully designed with special additives to prevent burning (they are getting better and better at making high quality lubricants that burn very poorly). Engine oil recycling is a more environmentally sensitive approach and most manufacturers including Deere don’t permit burning used crankcase oil.
The approach we take is to have 5 pails of 4 gallons (20 liters) with 4 full of clean oil and one empty. We can pump into the empty one and fill from one of the full containers. This allows us to do 3 main engine oil changes and 2 generator changes while out and when we return to shore, we need to pour off the used oil, discard the pails, and buy new ones. It ends up being a fairly simple approach and allows us to operate with less chance of fuel system problems.
Where are your comments on replacing the black water gage tube?
Good question and I will eventually loop back with the full story of what works and what doesn’t and what I’ve learned over the years. The quick answer on this one is “unsuccessful” — so far I’ve tried just the ultrasonic sensor (there were no focus tubes available at that point), the first generation focus tube, and this enclosed full length focus tube. I’m a bit surprised in that the latest full length, fully enclosed focused tube looks like a very nice solution. It’s better than anything I’ve tried so far but it’s still not a reliable solution. It probably works 60% of the time. What I plan to try next is a completely different system that has been getting good reports. On my next trip back to the US, I’ll be getting: 1) Maretron Submersible Pressure Transducer 0 to 1.5 PSI (PTS-0-1.5PSI-01), and 2) Maretron FPM100. I use pressure sensing for the fuel measurement and I’m super impressed with the accuracy so I know this will work well. What I don’t know is what life expectancy the pressure sensor will have. I’ll report back but I’m optimistic that this one will deliver the stable, reliable results for which I’ve been looking.
James – I use the same Maretron components to measure the levels in my diesel tanks. The only snag I ran into was when using two of the transducers on one FPM100, the reading on the second transducer blinks in and out. Maretron tech support diagnosed as a problem in the FPM100 firmware. They will fix in a future version. Fuel level does not change all that quickly so having it blink out for a second or two every now and then not a problem. Expect it will be much less of a problem for the black water tank!
I like Maretron’s gear in general but they really seem to have a bit of a QC problem with their firmware. I recently bought a MBB-300 black box control head and after weeks of continuous crashes they finally agreed to have it back on warranty. Basically as soon as they got it back, they said, “oh, look, we loaded an entirely wrong firmware on this when we manufactured it” Face-palm.
I’ve spent a huge part of my career building embedded compute systems that ingest massive quantities of analog-to-digital data. There is really not any rocket science at the level of what Maretron is doing. It’s just not that hard.
I hear you Chris and have also seen the odd quality control issue as well. I forgive these issues mostly because Maretron allows very nice automation systems to be built at a tiny fraction of the cost of they systems popular in super yacht applications. They are good value and so I can afford to have a spare on board. With a spare of everything, it’s super easy to work through issues but there clearly is a cost to stocking all the spares. Even doing that, it seems like good value to me.
On the same page with you, James. I really don’t see any alternatives that offer the features, flexibility, and scalability that Maretron serves up. BTW as I write this I am on a N50 heading south on the US east coast. First time underway in open water on a Nordhavn and really loving the boat. Although I admit to becoming completely incapacitated by seasickness the first 12 hours out, I certainly do not blame the boat for this :)
Lots of solutions for sea sickness both medical and otherwise so don’t let that stop you. The other solution is the one that sail boaters learn quickly, don’t run into the wind. Weather that won’t be a problem on the stern causes big pitching and sea sickness in some when on the bow.
Thanks James, we eventually made it to the Bahamas and the ride from Charleston, SC to Great Abaco was beautiful. The gulf stream was a non-event; winds calm and seas nearly flat. What’s surprising to me is that, as you said, the head sea was more sickening than a following sea. I’ve been sailing for nearly 20 years and have always felt worse in a following sea on my sailboat. On this trip on the N50 it was the head sea that got me. We left Beaufort, NC on an ebb tide opposing the wind and it was horrendous – of course, no surprise there, but it was not my decision to leave at that time. Only my decision to go along with it. I think one experiences a much different motion in an aft-cockpit sailboat as compared to the relatively forward and high pilot house of a Nordhavn.
The motion is different and in different boats. Generally, even in boats that are comfortable running to weather, it’s still not a common choice. There is something to be said for having the weakness all going into the weather since it’s always slower and less efficient as well as less comfortable in this hull form.
When in Rome… :)
Yes, we also use the FPM100 and pressure transducers to read my 4 diesel tank levels and I’m super happy with the setup. We’ve never had an issue with the system and it’s remarkably accurate. I have never seen any gaps in the FPM100 transmissions but I do periodically see N2kview have a guage go blank for a second or so. I don’t really notice or mind the issue but it sounds like a similar issue to the one you are seeing.
James, I was thinking about this and in oil water separators which see turbid water with foaming which can cause issues with ultrasonic sensors, we use continuous read analog level sensors. We buy from a company FPI and you can get both 4-20ma and 0-10 VDC options. You can specify the materials of the tube and float and length span, etc. The only issue I can see if interference between the tube and float over time but just use a M12 connector and pull it out monthly or so. I have used pressure transmitters as you said but the issue here is you must have access to the bottom of the tank and the orifice can become clogged. While you could use a gauge protector you risk accuracy although you could span it yourself. I would use a dwyer 628 with M12 connector once again. About $80 and they last forever. I also thought that technically the density of the grey and black water could vary depending upon usage, etc. Overall I think the float I mentioned above is perfect. What input does the Maretron accept?
Generally my take is it shouldn’t be that hard a problem to measure black water levels but, at this point, all I’ve learned is ultrasonics aren’t an especially good choice. Because I have had excellent accuracy with pressure sensors in level sensing applications, I’ve ordered the parts to try that next. If I don’t get the results I like on that approach, I’ll go with the 4-20ma version of your recommendation. Thanks for passing on your experience Eric.
Here is a small interesting article about the Seajacks Scylla that you saw in Cuxhaven.
Thanks for your blog. Have been reading it for a few years now.
Good article. The wind farm build they are doing will be 33 wind turbines of 8.4MW each for a total of 277MW. The big crane on the Seajacks Scylla is lifting 1,100 ton pile sections. Pretty impressive. Thanks for the referenced article Doug.
Your blog is extremely helpful. I thought I read somewhere that you had added a system to use saltwater for flushing toilets but I was unable to find a blog post on it. Can you send me to the write post or provide some details on the saltwater flushing system? Did you have Nordhavn do the work or get it done after commissioning?
We have Tecma Silence Plus units and they are truely amazing. In nearly 10 years of live aboard work, they simply never cause problems and never get plugged. Tecma are really amazing. We have both presurized salt water and freshwater so our original design was to put a valve into the inlet line that would allow us to run off of either source. Nordhavn did the research and said the Tecma really wasn’t designed to be run on salt water and it might shorten the life of some components. We thought it over and didn’t elect to put the valve in but, of course, we could add it later if we wanted to try it. We also planned a Y-valve to allow them to be plumbed directly overboard when operating off shore.
In retrospect, neither idea seems that useful to us. We have never felt inclined to run the outlet directly overboard and we have never felt the inclination to save water by running them on salt water. With a 415 gallon freshwater tank and a 25 gallon per hour water maker, we never feel so short of water that we feel like flushing the toilets with it. And, with an excellent black water pump out system and a fairly large tank at 120 gallons, we don’t feel like going in and switching the Y-valves when operating off shore. The system always flushes on freshwater and always into the black water tank.
So you can pump your black water tank overboard when offshore?
No, it’s not practical nor legally required to store the black water when off shore. Their are legal restrictions against throwing plastics overboard but not black water. We sort and compress all of our garbage for return to shore-side processing facilities but don’t carry the black water back.
Good to know the Nordies are built with that in mind. Some smaller boats, like my current one, can only switch the discharge from the head between overboard and tank, but whatever is in the tank is staying there until you get back to shore. That kinda sucks. Of course one could redo the plumbing design to pump out of the tank but although I’m a huge DIY person, that’s the kind of project I’d rather not get involved in!
Thanks again -Chris
It’s worth checking around the tank looking for hoses. Most boats are built with both a pump out hose that goes up to the deck fill and second hose that goes to a macerator/pump and then overboard. It’s possible you already have a solution in place. Certainly worth checking for that first.
looks like the file for your ‘k’ line picture got corrupted.
We got that corrected. Thanks for pointing out the problem with the picture.
Hi James, you can visit the site and you will see that you can enter the Staande Mast route much earlier than Harlingen. It also brings you to Leeuwaarden, worth visiting!
Yes but we draw 2.1M and prior to Harlingen there are places where 1.9M is all that is available. Were it not for the depth problem, we would start on the Canal earlier.
‘Love reading your blog and seeing your videos. One of my best friends bought N52-60 recently. Do any Nordy 52 owners have any special methods for cleaning and waxing the exterior up the stack casing/mast above the wings? Any innovative ideas would be appreciated.
We knew the previous owners of N5260 Stella Maris. It’s a well maintained boat.
There are no real easy tricks for cleaning and waxing the stack. We installed steps on ours to allow us to easily climb up and a couple of padeyes to allow us to tie off using a climbing harness for safety. That gets us up there quickly and keeps us up there safely but, in the end cleaning and waxing remains manual work and we have found any great answers on that one.
Thanks James. She is a beauty. My friend will take great care of her. I wonder about a pad eye at the top and something like a Jumar ascender rig. I noticed in one of your blog
entries that you pulled and inspected your exhaust pipe. What is their life expectancy? I grew up on a boat with dry stacks and in 30 years we never had an issue with a pipe. A dry stack pipe leak mid passage could ruin your whole day! I enjoyed your entry about the Cablemaster leak into the lazaret. I find it odd that they don’t build the boat with a manifolded bilge system too. Have you ever had a leak in the fore bilge. I’d be a ;little nervous about moving the water from there to the engineroom bilge (and pumps) thru the small PVC limber tube fast enough.
We replaced the muffler at 9 years since they have a history of failing at 10 and ours was dumping rust everywhere. But, it actually was pretty solid and likely would have gone many more years.
On a forward bilge leak overwelming a 2″ PVC pipes ability to flow, you’ll be amazed what will flow through a 2″ pipe. At 2′ head, the pipe will flow 111 gallons per minute. When bringing on over 100 gallons per minute, the boat is very close to lost. The only two pumps on the boat that will put out enough to keep the boat afloat is the hydraulic bilge pump and the Honda crash pump and neither puts out much more than that but together. The Honda could be deployed forward in such a case. Generally, if a leak is too big to flow on a 2″ PVC pipe, it’s probably too big a leak to save without very quick action.
Hi, in case the weather on your route to Amsterdam is bad you could choose the “Staande Mast route”. That’s a scenic inland waterway which brings you into the IJsselmeer with lots of historical little villages. Hoorn and Enkhuizen is a must do.
Yes, we do intend to take the inland route from the locks south of Harlingen to Amsterdam. Thanks for the recommendation.
…good old Germany .. welcome ! have a good time .. Looking Forward to see you in Amsterdam this winter… have a save trip !
Yes, we’re looking forward to Amsterdam.
Hi again! Have had the need, or desire, to make water since your Atlantic crossing?
Yes, many times. On a big week we’ll use 300 gallons and on a light week we’ll use somewhere in the 150 gallon range. We carry 400 gallons so, if we are away from marinas for more than a week or two, we need to make water. When we aren’t using the water maker, it gets flushed once per week. This approach works pretty well and the membranes seem to last very well. The first set was replaced after 4 1/2 years and this set is 3 1/2 years old and appears to still be in excellent condition and probably will go longer than the original set. The first set lives a tougher life where they get tested but new boats can sit around for a long time before the boat is delivered.
Thank you James. I had wondered if you were making water or relying on marina water when available. I think I would like the consistency of my own water as I am sure shore water is variable!
The water quality in all the countries we have been in recently is excellent so we don’t give a second thought to filling our water tank at marinas. We make water when we are away from marinas for more than a week or so.
I don’t know how thick your exhaust elbow is but if it is otherwise perfect other than a “sand hole” from casting, why not drill, tap and plug it? I’ve never tried it with cast stainless but it worked well with cast iron.
I think I would even be tempted to try JB Weld or something similar.
Epoxy might fail due to heat especially when the impeller fails and the exhaust runs for a few minutes dry. With some research we could probably find a highly heat stable epoxy but, your drill and tap idea sounds like a winner. This time I kept the old elbow rather than throwing it out thinking that I would get it welded up but, the more I think about it, your idea is simpler. I’ll add to my list to drill and tap the elbow and see how much life I can get out of one. I’m betting it’ll be fairly long. There is plenty of “meat” to tap a hole.
Thanks for the excellent idea.
Thirty-five years ago it was a common way to fix sand holes in cast iron sectional hot water, low pressure steam boilers and convection radiators. Most if not all in this area are gone but I would think it’s more about upgrades to a more efficient design than a failure of that particular repair. If the exhaust temperature ever got hot enough to melt a 1/8″ brass pipe plug, I think you’d have more immediate issues and concerns.
I think it’ll work great and I’m going to give it a try. Thanks for the great suggestion Steve.
why not just put a hose clamp over it ( after seeing a few submarine movies closing high pressure pipes). I have done it once on my elbow on one of my crusader engine
As a temporary measure, I agree the hose clamps approach can be remarkably effective.
I couldn’t find any satisfying drawings of your heat exchanger and from the picture I was wondering. How did you go about cleaning the blocked or restricted tubes on it?
The heat exchanger is held in place but boots on both ends so you can get access to the tube bundle fairly easily by taking the boots off each end. The most common form of plugging is the raw water pump impeller failing and some of the rubber impeller teeth end up flowing up to the heat exchanger. Other than that, the tube bundled stays pretty clean and nothing hard or difficult to remove seems to accumulate.
Because Northern Lights supports the tube bundle in place on either end by a rubber boot it doesn’t actually touch the rest of the engine so there is no ground path and, as a consequence, there is no need for zinc anodes to prevent corrosion. It’s an unusual design but seems to work fairly well. The boots require a bit of care to ensure they tube bundle is centered but, overall, it a design that works fairly well.
Yes – you are far north (similar to Mitkof Island) and the waters “indside Skagen” have decreasing salinity as you get closer to the deep indside of the Baltic sea, and can freeze more easily. But both the icebreakers you saw have been taken out of service, and are for sale, should you need a strongly built boat :-)
Ice breakers and available for sale? We’ll take them both :-). Actually, we would love to have ice capability and be able to do the Northwest passage with less constraints but those two are a few hundred feet more than we can afford.
“Glyngore Harbour is full of sailboats, most without masts. Perhaps this is for travelling through the inland waterways, or their masts have been stepped for the winter.”
It is mandatory according to insurance to have your boat out of the water by Nov 11th
“We were surprised to see an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) mounted outside on the street. Good idea.”
The emergency services then have locations of these AED’s i order to tell a caller where to find one to use before help arrives.
It’s pretty smart to deploy AEDs. Thanks for the background.
I saw Dirona from my window when you passed Egholm – but when I got to the marina you were gone :-)
Too bad. We’re sorry we missed you at the Marina. We left fairly quickly for a day of walking around Aalborg and then got back underway the next morning. If you do find yourself near Dirona in the future, drop us email. I’m almost always online. We’ll be in Amsterdam over the winter.
I’m liking your doppelganger, James. He’s even got the same commitment to “where there’s a will there’s way” :D
We all know you like the odd brew!
So I had to smile at two of your notations on the Limfjord map for breweries. Have you thought of applying to the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest pub crawl by private boat !!!???
Yes, you gotta do your research. When on a long trip, it’s important to know where your nearby brewpubs are before you need them. It’s unwise to wait for the last minute and hope you are going to find one :-).
I hope you did get to se the “Sea war museum” – Unlike Norway you heading into the fjord has unlike in Norway bridges that you have to request the watch on the bridge to open. And BTW there is no chance that the satellite connection will be covered by a mountain ;-) as I’ve found i Norway with my car gps.
Yes, we did go to the Sea War Museum and really enjoyed it. In fact, the reason we decided to take this route through Denmark and stop to enjoy the Sea War Museum was your suggestion posted here back in July 9th. Thanks for the passing along the good ideas.
Right now you are close to the island of Fur – famous for its ancient sediments with organisms that lived a very long time ago
Thanks for passing that data point along.
Been cruising for years and yet just found all your material. Incredible work.
Been trying to get some information from satellite internet companies for some months now but no responses.
For instance, we have a tracker for DirecTV, and it works fine, even when our boat is rocking and rolling.
So, why can’t a tracker of similar nature point at the appropriate sat that does internet, just like happens with a fixed location on land?
Yet it seems no one is making that service available.
Am I missing something?
Yes, there are many options for satellite communications at sea. We use a KVH V7hts system and really like the combination of reliable phone calls without dropped calls and other annoyances coupled with high bandwdith data. This is our current system: https://mvdirona.com/2018/03/kvh-v7-hts-twice-the-speed-more-coverage/
The KVH is very high bandwidth and covers just about the entire globe except extreme latitudes and some parts the south Atlantic and south pacific oceans. If you need high speed connectivity and/or are moving a lot of data, the KVH system is hard to beat. We use Imarsat BGAN as a backup but it is 10x the bandwidth cost so we only use it when we have no other options.
Our overall strategy for communications at sea is written up here: https://mvdirona.com/2015/08/communications-at-sea/. There are less expensive options for low bandwidth communications like the Iridium but, for our use case, it’s just too slow and we only use the Iridium as a last ditch backup system.
We have had the KVH V7 satelite system on Dirona since early 2012 and so far, haven’t seen anything that would serve us better. If you are sea and continue to work, I would especially recommend going with the V7. It’ll give you both low cost telephone connections and high bandwidth data.
James, was just reading Secret Coast, you had written about your deck washdown system on the 4087 in the step from the cockpit, where did you plum into, fresh water or did you have a new thru hull installed? Thanks for the advise,,,
Hi Ian. It was a salt water washdown rather than freshwater. We plumbed into an existing through hull. I’m pretty sure it was the aft head raw water intake hose that I teed into.
Thanks, next winter project, cheers
How do you handle insurance for Dirona? My wife and I are Canadian and about to do the Great Loop and the Bahamas. We would also like to travel to Cuba but so far I cannot get any insurer to cover the boat for that area. I am sure it would be just a big a problem if we were to get even more adventurous and travel to far away places.
Thanks very much…………….Paul
Sounds like a fun trip. For insurance we use, the IMIS Jackline program: http://imis.pro/jackline.htm. The insurance underwriter is Markel and both Markel and Jackline have an excellent claims handling reputation.
Hello James & Jennifer!
Just a quick tip in case you are up for yet another hike in the Norwegian mountains. The Pulpit Rock is very famous, but in my opinion the Kjerag rock on the opposite side of Lysefjorden is a nicer trip. The walk is longer, but it is in general a lot less crowded and you get a ~1000m drop down to the fjord instead of the ~600m. And if you are not afraid of heights, you can take a leap onto the Kjerag bolt and get a nice photo shoot.
I hope you get OK weather, this time of year the autumn rain and wind is infamous in Rogaland.
We had a great hike out to Pulpit Rock. We had a lot of very long hanging clouds, much as you expected we might, but still got some good views and had an enjoyable time. Thanks for the pointer to Kjerag.
Ah.. I did not know that you were already on your way to Pulpit Rock. Good to hear that you had a good trip. The upside at this time of year is that you avoid the huge summer crowds. As you probably noticed, the path is kind of paved due to all the heavy traffic the later years.
You are 100% right. Even the “off season” is about the limit that we can put up with when it comes to crowds. It’s amazingly busy. In the middle of the summer, it must be crazy.
Thank you James for the 10,000 hours update. I’ve been following your blog for two years and have found the level of detail you go into for both technical and cruising, fascinating and engaging.
Jennifer and your blogs have certainly been one of the motivating factors in my wife Jenny and l signing a purchase agreement for N5279.
The time and quality is appreciated.
Peter and Jenny, congratulations for getting a new 52. You know how much we have been loving ours. Thanks for the blog feedback and, if you have any questions, we’re happy to help.
Absolutely stunning pictures of Norway and the amazing facilities which they have in that country! In many ways they put us to shame here in North America.
I was thinking exactly the same thing Peter. Norway doesn’t every seem reluctant to take on a big engineering project even when serving a small population center. In large country of only 5 million people there is cellular service just about anywhere we got to. Its impressive.
I sent you a Mail with some suggested places to vist on your route from Bergen.
Thanks very much Stig. We spent yesterday in a car trip to visit to Hardanger Fjord where we went to Tyssedal and to the Voringfossen falls. A really enjoyable trip. Norway is amazing.
Thanks for the advice in your note yesterday. We appreciate it.
James, WRT the photo and comment about the asphaltenes in the fuel transfer filter and the possible need for inspection and cleaning of the fuel tanks: I had similar concerns with our 8 year old, aluminum tanks in our Kadey Krogen 42. I opened he port aft tank and found only a few traces of asphaltenes in the tank. We don’t generally draw fuel from these tanks, while running, only using the aft tanks for storage. We transfer fuel to the forward tanks using our ESI polishing system while on shore or generator power while at dock or anchor. I when I replaced this filter after several years, we found it quite clean, even though the Racor 900’s would be quite black. I concluded that polishing fuel whilst at the dock to be inadequate for removing contaminants as there is no agitation which would serve to lift up such materials for subsequent filtration. I hope to switch the ESI system over to the Inverter side of the panel so I can polish fuel while running in moderate seas. It might be best that this is done when tanks are about 1/4 full to maximize mechanical agitational the remaining fuel.
Good approach Jim. We’re set up similarly to what you plan where we can run the transfer pump at any time and, since we run off a small supply tank, we transfer fuel to that tank every 4 to 6 hours when underway. We can run fuel polishing 24×7 at dock or underway if we choose to and that was the intended design point of our fuel polishing design but we have never had fuel problems and don’t do it as a preventative measure. It’s probably a good idea to run it periodically to at least delay needing to clean the tanks.
Over here in Bergen for a holiday from Australia. Wandering along in front of Bryggen today, pushing our stroller, I knelt down to do up my shoe lace and when I stood up I found myself looking at the side of a very nice looking boat with a familiar looking name on it. “That can’t be” I said to myself. a quick look at you tube then this site and yup, it is you guys. I guess it’s just unexpected to see something in real life that I have seen on YouTube quite regularly! And on the other side of the world. I took a quick photo, chuckled to myself and we wandered on.
That’s a loooong trip David but you chose well. We’re loving Norway — hope you are enjoying it as well.
If you feel like having a look around Dirona, feel free to drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ulriken Steps…when we were in Bergen, installation and maintenance work was being done by crews from Nepal. I guess they know their mountains. And speaking of mountains, we are currently enjoying the Dolomites. Maybe our paths will cross one of these months….
Hi Karen! The steps look like they were a massive project. It looks too steep for heavy equipment and I can’t see tracks but the rocks are way too big to move by hand. Interesting that the work was done by crews from Nepal. As you said, they do have some experience with steep slopes.
It would be fun to have our paths cross. We plan to winter in Amsterdam and will be there from November through end of Feb — the plan is to make use of the great rail and flight options and see some more of Europe. If you find yourselves flying through Schiphol on one of your trips, it would be cool to catch up. In the mean time, enjoy your time in the Dolomites.
Karen is right. The steps were made by sherpas from Nepal. They spent 2 or 3 summer seasons. As far as I know, no heavy machinery was used, except for portable winches. The construction work was completed in 2017.
Impressive. It looked like recent work and I couldn’t see any evidence of damage from tracked vehicle operation. The stones are massive. It wonderful engineering to be able to precisely place stones of that size and weight without heavy equipment help.
You mention a few times how power-hungry the Dirona is. One thing I’m curious about is why you elected to go with an AC water maker, given the availability of DC options that draw significantly less power per gallon generated. What do you see as the benefits of an AC water maker?
Water makers put water under 850 PSI pressure and force it through membranes. Given DC motors are not fundamentally more efficient than AC motors, I would think that it would take roughly the same amount of energy to make a given amount of water since all the other parameters are the same. Low consumption DC units I have seen are lower output so really don’t appear to be much different but I’m interested if you have seen something unusually good.
Generally we only make water underway with the main engine running so we have lots of power available but, in the end, regardless of the source, making power consumes diesel so there is a cost so efficiency is always of interest.
Well I ask because I have the Spectra Catalina 340 on my sailboat today. It reliably generates 14-15 gallons/hour drawing only 18 amps at 12VDC (working out to 15 watts per gallon of water made). Even when we aren’t being abstemious with water (showers every day, fresh water head, etc), we end up running it for 3-4 hours every 2-3 days whilst cruising. Between the solar panels and underway time, the power demands are easy to keep up with, and since water makers like to be run there are certainly more underway hours we could run it if we needed to.
When I look at AC alternatives, I come across things like the FCI AquaMiser, which could certainly generate more water, but the model that generates 33 GPH draws 12.5 amps at 120 VAC, working out to requiring 45 watts per gallon of water generated, or 200% more power required to generate a gallon of water than the 12 VDC version.
For our next boat we’re planning to go to a power boat with a sizable generator, so we certainly could go with an AC version if there were a benefit. What I’m wondering is aside from volume of water produced, is there a benefit? If we find that the DC models give us the volume we need, curious if there are other things I should be considering.
I think our Water Maker is roughly 6A at 240V so just about exactly matching the AC pump you are looking at. I can’t think of any reason why a DC pumped system would be more efficient but the your numbers are considerably better. Typically DC motors require more service than AC motors but water makers aren’t used anywhere close to continuously so I have no idea if that would be a factor. If purchase price and parts prices aren’t disadvantaged, then I can’t think of any reason why your DC alternative isn’t a good choice.
Guys, it’s watt-hours for energy, not watts. But the math is right otherwise in Alec’s comparison of the Spectra and the FCI. And extra points to Alec for use of the word “abstemious” :). James is correct that the power consumption of his machine is roughly equal to the FCI but we don’t know the amount of water produced. What’s your machine able to do per hour, James? I have to agree with James on the question of efficiency in general. I would think in practical terms you should only see the additional conversion loss going through the inverter to run an AC machine on battery power vs running a DC machine directly on the battery. The apparently huge difference between the Spectra and the FCI must be due to some mechanical design difference… perhaps at the higher output rate there is something that causes the efficiency to fall off dramatically; perhaps their stated power consumption is worst-case and we would not see that on a continuous basis under normal conditions. Gotta be something like that. No way can a DC motor be 3x more efficient than a same-capacity AC motor, all else being equal.
Finally, keep in mind that even when you run a DC machine on battery and avoid the inverter conversion loss, you will take that loss during recharge if you are recharging from a shore power battery charger.
We’re running a 25 gallon per hour Village Marine water maker and, yes, I do know that watts are a measure of power and watt-hours a measure of energy.
I know, it’s actually the spec sheets of those machines say “watts” and started that whole thing :) So your machine is doing 57 watt-hours per gallon… and I’m sure you’re getting excellent power factor out of your inverters.
I didn’t use the water maker spec sheet when I looked up the draw of the water maker. I just looked at the PH ammeter and just read the power draw. What I was quoting is actual amps at 240V.
Our power factors aren’t wonderful on the boat. We drive the inverters pretty hard and make them do very ugly things like run the SCUBA compressor where the loads are very non-linear and the startup current is way off the charts. The water maker is far better but I suspect it’s still far from unity. The inverters just drive through it all without issue. I’m pretty impressed with Victron. The overall load on our generator is also pretty unfriendly from a power factor perspective. Most of our big loads are chargers and they are high frequency switching systems with power factors far from unity. The net result is our 50A generator (12kW) is actually closer to 41A (~10kW) but, other than the slight derating to just above , it also runs reliably.
And then there’s the whole power factor issue with AC machines. AC and DC are only comparable at unity power factor. These AC machines may be rated at terrible power factors… but still, a 3x difference? I’m looking at the Village Marine LTM series: they seem to be spec’d about the same as the FCI. Interesting to note that the Village LTM-500 at 21 GPH and the LTM-800 at 33 GPH both claim 18A at 110V (1980 Watt-Hours for their respective outputs which are differ dramatically). So it’s probably the same electrical machine in both of them, and maybe the spec is written to cover motor start current…
Hey James, Hopefully you remember me from when you were working on the ForeFront acquisition in Exchange. I happen to live in Oslo, Norway now. If you make it to Oslo (either in the boat or on the train), reach out. I would happily make you dinner. We live about 1 Km from the main port areas in Olso (and quite close to main central station).
Hi Chris. Nice choice of places to live. Norway is incredible — we have been here for 6 months and we continue to be amazed.
If we do make a run to Oslo this year, I’ll let you know. One option we might take is to go there at the end of next summers cruising in Sweden since we want to visit Oslo and the boat needs to leave the EU every 18 months.
Notice that since Norway is included in Schengen, visiting Norway is included in the 18 months. A day in England will reset the 18 month Schengen clock.
The restriction is taxation rather than Schengen. More than 6 months in 12 appears to be sufficient to become a taxable “resident.” We’re it not for that constraint, we would be here for two summers and the winter in between.
James: Reading your comment about Propane, have you considered switching the stove top and BBQ to electric before switching the US Propane tanks?
Yes, both Jennifer and I have talked that over. For sure if we were to build another boat, we would not put propane on it. Electric BBQs work quite well and with a 240V inverter, there is no need to start the generator for a quick use of the stove top. Retrofitting feels like more work than I’m up for but we haven’t completely ruled it out. My current leaning is to buy whatever steel container is standard in whatever country we happen to be in and then buy a hose pig tail that would allow me to remove my US hose and put on the other countries hose. If I can find or make a hose that will fit the bottle and can be adapted to our manifold, changing tanks might not be that much hassle.
Looks like you will have excellent opportunities for indoors boat projects the next days.
Forecasted huge amounts of rain next week. (Up to 50-70 mm/day)
I’m stiff from all the hiking so I’ve really looking forward to a break from all this fun. Yesterday was great and we’re not planning to move the boat today either. Time to catch up a bit.
Catching up is good too. Some hiking opportunities are waiting for you in Bergen, when you arrive here :)
Did you get the new nav computer up and running?
Yes, the nav computer is up and running well. The “new computer” picture in this series shows the finished product: https://mvdirona.com/2018/09/trondheim-projects/.
The only issue that remains is both the old computer and the new one have a rare problem with the CANbus device driver where once every month or so the CANbus device driver is confused by Windows to be a Mouse driver and the CANbus signals start to drive the mouse and the cursor flicks all over the screen. It doesn’t happen frequently and a reboot always solves it but it is annoying.
I use the CANbus to USB adapter to interface with the proprietary Masterbus network. I use the Masterbus protocol to turn the chargers off and on under software control. This works super well and has been in use for 3 or 4 years with no issues other than the device driver problem described above. But, I don’t like the driver issue and so I’ve been working on a design that will take over charger load shedding in addition to supporting a second up to 16A shore power connection. This is a simple design that completely eliminates our need for the CANbus adapter and instead uses a Raspberry Pi to turn the two chargers off and on. This system was recently put into production and yesterday I had some time so I removed the CANbus adapter. Here’s a picture of this system: https://mvdirona.com/trips/norway2018/norway9.html?bleat=9%2F3%2F2018%3A+Dual+16A+Control+Box.
The CANbus adapter is now gone, the chargers continue to be under software control, and the only navigation system computer issue is the screen fluctuates or flashes when the gen starts and stops. It’s not really much of a problem but I’m pretty sure that the problem is caused by me using a low quality monitor cable. I’ll order a good one and I expect the flicker will be gone. The new computer appease to be an across the board win — it’s working very well.
Driver issues can be a pain to figure out. Nice to see you got a solution for the CANbus issue.
Is it maybe one of these cables you need:
(This is a good online store in Norway).
If needed, I could order one for you, so you could get it while you are in Bergen. If so, just send me an email with a link to the cable you need.
Thanks for the reference. They do indeed have the cable we’re looking for. Thanks for pointing it out Trond.
Here is an alternative routing from your current position to Bergen. (I have marked it via the island Fedje, but that island is just an option.
Also you can see I have made a short “side routing” into a very calm and protected anchorage, at the island Toska. This one I have used many times myself. If you choose to enter, notice the very shallow area you have to go around, about half way to the anchorage. Take a wide turn around it. The anchorage is about 7-10 meters, and very good holding in clay and mud.
South of this anchorage, you will pass the island Herdla. This was a German fighter airbase during WW2, and later a coastal fortress for the Norwegian armed forces. Today it is a museum, open a few days a week. The guest harbor at Herdla, is small, accommodating only 3 boats, unless rafting up.
Thanks Trond. Both those stops look like fun. We’ll do at least one of them. Thanks for drawing up both options and we’ll see you next week in Bergen.
James and Jennifer – I know it is early in planning for The Netherlands but I highly recommend a day or two visit to Utrecht while you are there. Easy train ride from Amsterdam and a wonderful Historic town. Just the origins of the city name are wonderful! Make sure you do a walking tour and one or more canal boat cruises.
Looking forward to it. Many years ago I spent a few weeks in Utrecht doing an acquisition and really enjoyed my time there but it was 25 years back and I was pretty busy so didn’t get to explore much. Thanks for the tip John.
On your way south, just east of the Stadt peninsula, is an island called Kvamsøy. A friend of mine is often there, filming otters, deers and sea eagles, and it is a nice island for hiking.
If weather and time permits, maybe it could be an idea to stop by.
Also, after you pass the Stadt, on the south side, is a small village called Selje. This is also a place worth visiting, if time permits. Including the small island just outside Selje.
The 3 places are marked in this map:
Good morning Trond. It’s 5:40am here and we are we’re on the north side of Stadt in excellent conditions. Should be fully around in a couple of hours. Thanks for the things to do in the area.
You have a picture from August 29, named “Mountain cabin”.
In the western part of Norway, there are several small, old farms like this. Some people still live in those farms, but many are abandoned.
The house in your picture, is most likely an old farm, and not a cabin.
Nice to see you got a chance to explore some of the most spectacular scenery of Norway.
Fun fact: If you feel it’s time to replace your Ekornes Stressless recliners on Dirona – then you have come to the right place. The Ekornes factory where they are made (and Ekornes Marina) is situated just in the middle between your latest anchorages (in Skodje and Norangsfjord).
We knew the factory was in the area somewhere but had no idea it was this close. That’s directly across the Fjord from where we anchored two nights back. If we had known, we would have taken the tender over there. In fact, if the weather stays good today, we may go on a longer site seeing run in the tender and could easily end up in the area of the Ekornes Factory. Thanks for passing that along.
Honningsdalsvågen – the village of Glomset – is by the way the same place that another computer-guy from Seattle choosed for his norwegian holiday a couple of years ago – mr Bill Gates. He stayed at the small log cabin style Storfjord Hotel in Glomset.
I see you had a nice trip to Geirangerfjord. Those mountain cabins you saw on the mountain-sides overhanging the fjord is actually old farms, populated from the middle-ages and people lived there until just a couple of generations ago. I myself got ancestors that lived on Skageflå, the farm you can see on the right side just above the seven sister waterfalls on your picture. It was a hard life – but at least: when they heard that the tax-collector was travelling by in the region they just pulled up the ladder on the trail to the farm, and nobody could reach them… No wonder many norwegians emigrated to the flat farm-land in Minnesota, it was a dream come through for them.
Seems like you also hiked the mountain Slogen, now you earned some serious respect as mountain-hikers! Congratulations.
Certainly Bill Gates and family can go anywhere they want for some time away from Seattle so them choosing the Geiranger Fjord area says a lot about how beautiful the area is. It’s kind of cool we both ended up choosing the same small town at different times.
Those old farms look like a tough way to make a living but the view from their cabins was certainly world class.
We did hike Slogen but, admittedly, our legs are feeling a bit stiff today :-). We had a nice clear day and, wow, the view from the top is amazing.
I am Wendy Swalm Shore’s «Norwegian» . She send me our adress. Are you coming to Oslo .
Good morning. Thanks for the comment. We are just loving Norway and will continue exploring and sight seeing as we head south down the coastline. I suspect we’ll run out of time on this trip before we get to Oslo by boat but Jennifer have been talking about possibly taking the train Bergen to Oslo train but we’ve not yet made firm plans.
I really enjoy following you on your website, but could you speak more about your abilities to stay connected to internet and wifi and the cost? Thank you
That’s an important question. Our goal is to always be connected. It’s important to us in general and is required for my job. The longer version of what we do is written up in this article: https://mvdirona.com/2015/08/communications-at-sea/.
The short version is we use WiFi when it is available. cellular when it’s not, and satelite otherwise. We get local SIM cards for cellular wherever we go. For satelite, our primary system was a KVH V7 recently upgraded to a KVH V7hts described in more detail here: https://mvdirona.com/2018/03/kvh-v7-hts-twice-the-speed-more-coverage/.
Hi James, the whole steering pump saga is great info to keep in mind when looking at Nordhavns for my future boat. Do you run the pump off the inverter or DC?
Hi Chris. Both steering pumps run off 24VDC on Dirona.
Hi James. I’ve been following the story around your steering pump. Is this part of your autopilot or does the Nordhavn have a pump that assists when manually steering from the helm?
It’s the autopilot pump. Nordhavn hand steering is 100% manual and so we always have that as a backup. The autopilot steering pump is used by the autopilot system to drive the boat and, when in close quarters, I use a follow-up lever to swing the rudder. The follow up lever allows you to swing the rudder to 30 degrees with a slight movement of the fingers rather than cranking on the steering. It’s nice when working in close quarters but it does mean that we essentially never hand steer the boat. The only reason we have a manual wheel at all is for backup in case of autopilot failure.
It would be interesting to see how your aluminum focus tube works in blackwater. Aluminum is more reactive than iron so you’d think it would corrode quicker however, I suspect it will quickly form a black coating of aluminum oxide on the surface which when intact for all practical purposes seals and stops corrosion.
My guess is if you can keep yourself from wiping the coating off if you ever pull the tube it could last a lot longer than steel.
Do they not make a focus tube out of some form of plastic?
I’ve encouraged the manufacturer, Maretron, to make a focus tube out of some composite material but, at this point, all they offer is Aluminum. I hope it develops a surface corrosion that seals it off as you expect it might. Early accuracy/reliability results are quite good.
James and Jennifer
What are your plans for the 3 Raspberry Pi’s you had in your luggage?
Spares. I like to have 1 for projects or experiments I have under way and then a couple of spares. The old “spares” have been deployed in the boat or are about to be. We now have 4 Pis deployed and 1 that will be soon. I should write up what they all do these days — they have implemented more than 50 digital inputs and outputs, around 15 temp senses, a voltage sensor, a 4×4 matrix keyboard, and a 1×4 matrix keyboard.
The Pis have been super stable and never reboot, never fault, and don’t cause problems. My bench system was recently damaged so it took one of the 3 I brought back. Two of the system I brought back where defective which sounds bad but Raspberry Pi quality control is very good and they are reliable. I suspect that a couple of warranty returns found their way into ready to ship box. That’s never happened before. Those two will need to get sent back.
I loved the dishwasher shot, now if you could just get spitfire to hand you tools, or retrieve that bolt that rolled just out of reach.
Yeah, if he handed me tools, he would definitely earn an extra meal or two.
He did the same thing when I was back installing the new steering pump. He just loves to climb up to my shoulders and have a good look down at whatever is being done.
You should fasten a head torch on him :D
Love it! We’re going to get some work out of that little feller yet.
Hi I hope you are both well and enjoying. I would appreciation tapping into your experience. Trish and I are at the planning stage for our first blue water passage 200 mls 30 hrs. I am looking at options to make watch keeping safer, there will be the two of us. I have not been able to source a non commercial product in the uk. Talking through options with my son he has suggested building us a Raspberry PI or Arduino solution. I wondered if you are aware of any existing products or perhaps an apple app, it would seem a perfect fit for an app if we do not require too much control of other systems such as sounder. If there is not an existing product perhaps someone may be interested in developing one?
Save cruising and best wishes Mike & Trish.
I think that’s a good choice Mike. We originally used a product called Watch Commander distributed by Lunde Marine Electronics. They have stores in Seattle, Tacoma, and Dutch Harbor Alaska (www.lundemarineelectronics.com). Maretron has a very nice solution available in N2kview (https://www.maretron.com/products/N2KView.php). N2kview is one of the foundational components of our navigation and monitoring systems and we really like it. Furuno has an offering as well: https://www.furuno.com/en/merchant/bnwas/. The latter example is of a commercial Bridge Navigation Watch Alarm System. If you search for BNWAS, you’ll find many but, from my perspective, Maretron N2kview is a nice, general solution.
Ship ohoy Hamiltons! – I stumbled across your boating story a long time a go…maybe I looked for engine info for my own Selene 49…which also have a Deere 6068…anyway – since then I’ve sometimes checked in here to see what you guys are up to…and I saw that you’re actually in my country now :) But looking at your trip so far in Norway you skipped one of the best parts from Stadt – to Kristiansund on your way north…but guess you’re doing a stop or several on your way south again? I’m also living on my boat – I’m now back in my “home” area (Aalesund) after cruising the fjords a bit further south. If you like I could recommend some places in this part to visit. Check out this small film I did last year to show how beautiful my neighborhood around Aalesund really is :
Would be cool to see Dirona in Aalesund – Feel free to contact me or ask any questions
Erika Krovel :)
That’s a really nice video Erika. Particularly the drone video work. And the scenery really is incredible. Our plan for Norway was to run fairly hard north wanting our time up above the Arctic Circle to be during the best time of the year from a weather perspectivce. And it allows us to explore some of the more popular parts of Norway when it’s less busy. So, our plan is fast north but slow south.
I’ve been back in Seattle for a couple of weeks at work and, since this is the busiest time of the year at work, I’ve got some catching up to do before we can start south again.
Always interested in suggestions for places to visit. On our around-the-world tour, some of the best locations we’ve been to have been from recommendations from people local to the area. Always appreciated.
Love the videos, especially taking the time to document how things are done like the fuel blatters.
What I am really wondering though, if you do an Atlantic crossing or any large crossing for that matter, how do you make that journey? Given that you are only a crew of 2, do you split up day and night? Do you keep night watch at all?
Thanks and keep up the great work!
We keep someone at the helm all the time. Over the years, we tried many different shift divisions for overnight passage. In the early days we did the classic 4 hours on 4 hours off and it works fine but over time we ended up always feeling a bit behind in sleep. We tried slightly shorter and slightly longer and ended up concluding that longer actually was more comfortable.
What we didn’t like about this system is we didn’t really get to spend much time together and I found it hard to keep up with my job at the same time. We ended up evolving to an unusual watch keeping system where I take the helm during the day and jennifer sleeps 6pm to 10pm and 5am to whenever she wakes up. I sleep 10pm to 6am. Jennifer has the disadvantages of two sleep periods but she can sleep as long as she likes on the second one so she finds she can do it and she stays caught up. I get pretty much my normal sleep period so I’m fresh and feeling fine all the time. If anything needs to be done on the boat, I can do it during the day. And I can keep up with my job during the day as well. Jennifer has the more difficult time during the night but we get to have lunch and dinner together which we like.
On this shift system, we both feel safe at the helm and arrive fresh. For example, after 28 days at sea travelling the 3650 nautical miles from St. Helena to Barbados, we arrived at 7am plugged in the boat and went downtown for a day of exploring. It’s really nice to arrive without feeling sleep deprived. I get the easy end of the shift system so I’m always fresh to fix things if we have problems. This has the upside of, when we arrive, the boat is fully maintained so rather than needing to be caught up, we’re done and can go enjoy our new destination. We both really like getting both lunch and dinner together and it feels less like work and more like an adventure to us both. It’s an unusual shift system but we have really come to like it.
We also have a backup system to ensure we don’t make a mistake and fall asleep at the helm, or get busy answering email and just forget to search the skyline, we have an watch keeping system in place. It will alarm if you don’t press a button that can’t be reached from the helm chair periodically. The reason we have the button placed such that it can’t be touched from the helm chair is I’ve read about commercial boats that have run aground with watch alarms where the watch keeper fell asleep and just kept pressing the button by habit but really wasn’t conscious. The watch alarm schedule has evolved over the years to be less intrusive. There is a yellow light that goes on it 8 min, a red light at 9 min, a short beep at 9:45, and a gentle alarm at 10 min. At 11 min without the button being pressed there is a very loud, full boat alarm that would wake the dead. There is also a graphical display on the dash showing a rising green bar so you can see from a distance roughly how much time is left in the watch period. All these warnings make the system less inconvenient and less intrusive and, more important, neither of us ever gets preoccupied, falls asleep, or accidentally gets inattentive.
Oh wow, thanks for the detailed reply.
That watch alarm system sounds like a great idea, learning a lot here. I am also going to implement fuel blattlers myself after reading upon it here.
But first I am going to finish the reinvent 2016 speech, learning some stuff there as well ;)
Thanks again and safe travels
On the fuel bladders, they are a great addition to get more range or more speed when doing long crossings but our boat doesn’t need them. It can do 2,500 nautical miles on internal tanks. My recommendation is to wait and see what you end up with and get fuel bladders if you need or want them. Depending upon what boat you buy, you may not need deck fuel.
Clicked too fast haha. I was also going to ask; since you mentioned work, do you use SAT internet or only roaming while close to shore? I didn’t see anything on the equipment page so I am wondering what you use. I am an ITer myself and would like to equip my boat with internet while underway. SAT is quite expensive, at least for bandwidth if you want to do more than emailing, and I am reading that wile at faster speeds it is hard to maintain a stable connection.
For communications we use 2 different types of satelite system, cellular, and WiFi. More detail here: https://mvdirona.com/2015/08/communications-at-sea/
A few years back we added a highly hacked router that we have modified to have 4 WAN ports: 1) WiFi, 2) Cellular (whichever local provider we are using), 3) High Speed Sat (KVH V7hts high speed channel), and 4) low speed sat (KVH V7hts unlimited channel). The router can auto-select the least expensive or you can request that it manually use a specific connection.
When we are near to shore in built up areas, we almost always use cellular. In Norway, they seem to have cellular just about everywhere but, in most of the world, you will only find it near built up centers. We are often away from cellular availability for weeks at a time and use satellite exclusively during these periods.
The KVH V7hst is 1/10th the bandwidth cost of our other system, Inmarsat BGAN, but the V7hts is still far more expensive than cellular. Both the BGAN and V7hts systems are stable and work reliable with no connection issues. With the BGAN you have to be very careful with how you use it at $6,000/GB (1000x cellular). The KVH V7hts system is far better at $200/GB (10x cellular) and we use it for everything aren’t particularly careful other than not streaming videos or updating computers. In most of the places we have traveled there is no cellular once you are off shore or away from civilization so, in those regions, satelite is the only option.
Is the watch alarm you’ve described implemented by only using N2KView? We’re looking for such a system for our new build. Thanks.
Hi Van. Our watch alarm was implemented before N2kview came out with there BNWAS (Bridge Navigation Watchtander Alarm System) so we use our own. But, what N2kview has looks pretty good to me. We have played with it a bit. The only thing I didn’t like is movement of the mouse or any input into the computer is enough to cancel the alarm. To many users this is a valuable feature but I worry that an operator could signal awake when not fully awake — we like to have something that is not quite in reach when sitting down and leaning back. I also worry that rough seas can move the mouse even if the operating is not awake.
The Maretron N2kview BNWAS is amoungst the most flexible I’ve seen
Hi James and Jennifer! I’m a long-time reader and first-time commenter. I can’t help but wonder how you protect Dirona from theft while away from her. I know I would probably get anxious as soon as she was out of sight. I understand that revealing information about this can be counter-productive from a security perspective but it would be really interesting to hear your thoughts about this topic.
No theft deterrent is perfect but we always keep the boat locked and well lit and try not to leave it unattended in places where it’s not in sight of lots of people. It also helps that Norway appears to have lower crime rates than much of the rest of the world.
When you are staying in Trondheim, maybe a roadtrip to the old mining town Røros (south east of Trondheim), could be worth a visit for you.
Thanks for all the local tips Trond. You’ve been super helpful.
I noticed in your recent “freshwater” picture that you are moored just aft of MY Spiti. I was hired as Master when the owner brought the boat home to Norway. I know the owner has been following your blog as well, and he could probably provide more local knowledge about what to do and see.
Yes, I had a brief chat with the owner of MY Spiti shortly after arriving and he mentioned he had been keeping an eye on our blog. I’ve been attending to invite him over to Dirona for a drink but we’ve been out of town for the last 2 weeks. I’ve been back at work in Seattle and just got back to Norway on Monday. It’s great to be back.
Welcome back! Always great to get out of the office and back out on the water.
It’s true. We also brought home a new laptop for me so I’m getting it operational today. And we brought back a replacement main navigation computer — we were running a 2012 unit that has begun to be very troublesome so Jennifer is getting it running. We have a new steering pump coming this week via air freight. We currently have one failed pump and one that is leaking oil. Changing it will be a bit of work. Finally, for some larger items that we don’t need right away, we’ll be setting up a sea freight shipment from Seattle to Amsterdam. Hopefully we’ll get it sent this week or next. I also fell way behind at work over the last two weeks — its super busy when I’m in town so I’ve now got catching up to do. So, some overhead items need to be worked through but what better place to do it than Trondheim this time of year.
Seems like you have some work waiting for you. Hope you get the nav computer quickly up and running, and fixed the steering pumps.
The computer is going like most IT projects, late!
This project is a big change from a complex, integrated computer with all internal disks and devices to a simple computer with all USB attached peripherals. The goal is to get the computer to “disposable” where we can drop in a new one on failure and just plug in the USBs without so much customization. It’s getting close to done.
James do you alternate your engine on long passages and how often?
I may not have your question right Mick but it sounds like you are asking if we alternate between left and right engines when underway. Our boat is a single engine so that tactic isn’t an option for us. My preference would be to have twins for improved redundancy and better maneuverability. On a 60’+ boat, we would have gone with a dual engine configuration. But, on smaller boats, twins take more space which reduces the space for fuel and reduces range. Twins are just a tiny amount less efficient reducing range yet again. Small boats need all the fuel they can carry to get the range that gives good flexibility in routing and maximizing ability to cross faster or to redirect to avoid weather.
As a consequence of all these factors, Dirona is a single engine boat. To protect against the unlikely event of engine failure, we also have a small emergency backup engine, called a get home engine that can keep the boat safe and allow it to finish the trip at reduced speed (roughly 3.5 to 4 kts). The main engine is a 266 hp John Deere 6068 and the backup engine is a 40 hp Lugger L644.
Along this theme I remember reading that on your boat selection (with maintenance in mind) you and Jennifer purposely selected the smallest vessel that could comfortably meet all your needs. Maintenance is a big item on a boat and I think this was a good strategy. Things like maintaining fixing something like a third or fourth head that rarely gets used would become tiresome. My question is with all the experience you have now if you were to buy another boat at this point would you go any larger? Or would you stick with the same size?
Hey Jamie. If we were to buy a boat today we would end up in a very similar place. We would look hard at each of the N52 and the N60 and we would look speculatively at high speed catamarans. The cats are a wildly different boat and there are so many unknowns, we would be unlikely to end up there. They also don’t scale down to smaller boats all that well — the best layouts are upwards of 55′ or 60′ but a 55′ to 60′ cat is gigantic and really is way more boat than we want. The most likely outcome is another 52 or a 60. The advantage of the 60 is it will support twin engines without giving up fuel and we likely the floorplan but it is a lot more expensive than the N52. Technically the 60 is more boat than we need.
The N52 continues to work out super well for us and, from a size perspective, it can do all we need.
Hello James and Jennifer,
I came across and interesting article today you’ve probably seen but just in case :)
Yes, it was great having Ben Ellison on board Dirona. He has an excellent eye for detail and his site Panbo (www.panbo.com) is one of the best.
How have the various spare Spitfires adjusted (or not) to the midnight sun?
How many hours do you have on your main engine now? Are you considering a specific blog post to comment on 10k hours of running?
Yes, we are currently 9,974 hours do 10k is not far away. Good suggestion to do a 10,000 hour blog. Thanks we’ll do it.
Any progress on that 10k hour blog post, or have you been having too much fun traipsing around Norway?
This is a super busy time of year at work and I need to spend a few weeks in Seattle and it limits the amount of cruising we are doing during this period. So, we’ve not yet got to 10,000 hours and probably won’t for another 2 to 4 weeks.
Fair enough, it will happen when it happens. Didn’t know you were busy enough to simultaneously depart stage left and arrive stage right.
An interesting link for you today, called Phantom Islands, which I think you, and your fellow followers may enjoy. Its a maritime sonic atlas of islands which have been charted as fact but remain historically unproven, maritime folklore etc.
So if you want to escape it all, here it is. http://www.andrewpekler.com/phantom-islands/
PS: I’m thoroughly enjoying my armchair Norway trip :)
The phantom island web site is an interesting read. Thanks Paul.
I really like the picture with the Princess 20 M in front of the ice breaker. We do not see any of those euro yachts here in the US. They look like river yachts and have a sleek profile!
The princess is a fairly common boat in Europe and, as you said, they are not that frequently seen in the US. You will see the odd one and Viking did sell some into the US market under the Viking brand.
I had no idea that Viking made them here in the US. I searched and see they are expensive over here. Different topic, are you going nuts with the extended daylight or getting a lot more done on Dirona?
We run pretty much the same schedule as normal. Perhaps staying up a bit later sometimes and getting up a bit later but, generally, the 24×7 light isn’t leading to any changes. And, there are lots of upsides. It’s nice when on a long hike not to worry about making it back before nightfall.
Hi have been following your trips for a couple of years now and find the quality and quantity of your reports very interesting and highly envious! Just a couple of points since you’ve recently been do in our neck of the UK (SW,Devon and Cornwall) the original Mayflower Steps are buried under the pub opposite their current position! And Hayling Island is near to Portsmouth not Plymouth some 250 mile apart approximately! Keep good wok best wishes and stay safe!p
Thanks for the Hayling Island note — we made that change. In the original note, we didn’t say anything about the Mayflower steps but you’re likely right on their location.
I guess at some point you will head south and pass the south tip of Norway. The you could head SE toward the Baltic sea or yo could continue to the entrance of the Limfjord in Denmark at Thyborøn. The fjord crosses the peninsula into Kattegat towards the Baltic. Very beautiful scenery . 2 good breweries :-)
In Thyborøn you find this: https://www.seawarmuseum.dk/en
Both the museum and the breweries sounds excellent. Thanks for the local tips.
Our current plan is to slowly work our way south and enjoy the Norwegian Fjords and, as the weather cools, work our way south to Amsterdam where we will winter. We’ll likely makes some stops in Denmark on our way south. Next year we plan to go to Sweden.
How are you finding the costs in Norway? I have family that live there and have traveled there and found everything from food to accommodations to be extremely expensive. How do the cost for marine items/fuel compared to other countries who have traveled?
Generally, we agree. Food is quite expensive and dinning out is as well. Accommodations costs seem somewhat high but our read on that is less accurate since we have only booked the one room in Svalbard with little advance notice at a high occupancy time. Fuel is also right near the top end of world prices. Moorage is very inexpensive. Overall, Norway is pretty expensive when compared to most other world markets.
Norway is known to be expencive, and it really is, compared to most countries. Especially anything related to cars and boats! About 60-70% of the gas/diesel price, is taxes. We have a saying that “1 boat money” equals 1000 Norwegian kroner. Makes it sound less expencive.
Most marinas sell diesel fuel complying to the EN590 standard, which is required by the commonrail engines. But some marinas still sell MGO (Marine gas oil), which is cheaper, but has more sulfur.
EN590 is without any bio fuel, while the diesel sold at regular gas stations has some bio fuel, I believe it is around 7%.
In Sweden, diesel is around 50% more expencive than Norway. In Denmark roughly the same as Norway, or maybe a little higher. Don’t know any other European countries with higher fuel prices than Scandinavia.
The last fuel load we purchased in Tromso, Norway was MGO with 500 ppm sulfur. Fuels complying with EN590 are cleaner burning and somewhat better for the engine but, as Trond said, even more expensive.
Hi James & Jennifer. Had to laugh at that picture of Jennifer at Storsteinen viewing platform. Not too hard to figure out who is the tourist and who is the native to the land.
Totally true John. Apparently when June arrives, many Norwegians jump into shorts and a T-shirt independent of the weather. 40F with 20+ kts winds? No problem!
I am interested in understanding a bit more about how you manage the balance between full time work and cruising. Would it be possible to contact you offline for some advice?
N5012 Miss Miranda
My strategy starts with maintaining a high bandwidth connection as close to 100% of the time as possible. I really depend on our KVH V7hst and we don’t make an effort to conserve.
Hi. I hope everything is going fine. I was just wondering if you could tell us your feeling of both world the boats you had. You had for ten years a bayliner and now 10 years a nordhavn. I know the nordhavn is more than double the price of a bayliner. But can you tell us the good side and dark side of both. In my mind nordhavn is one of the best machine on sea just like a fleming, marlow or selene… but i noticed that you had indeed a few things to change or repair on nordhavn like the cooling hoses under your engines that was not premium access or the shaft you had to change and so on… you made 4000h with the bayliner and the double with the nordhavn so what is your highlights difference ? ( except speed and range of course..)
As a Bayliner owner as we were, they really are completely different boats. The Bayliner was a very good value — in fact incredibly good value — but it can’t cross oceans with only 220 gallons of fuel whereas the Nordhavn can carry 1750 (6,650l). The Bayliner is fairly light at 15 tons vs the Nordhavn at 55 tons and the relative strength of the two boats appears roughly proportional to the weight. The Bayliners is close to 1/5 the price of the Nordhavn and comparatively lightly equipped but it allowed us to go on multi-week trips when we couldn’t have afforded a more expensive boat. The Nordhavn is a tank from a build quality and robustness perspective. The Bayliner is fairly lightly constructed.
We loved the Bayliner in that we could afford it and it brought us to some amazing places but the Nordhavn is a fundamentally different boat and can go anywhere in the world. We don’t regret buying either boat but the reason we moved to the Nordahvn is we wanted a stronger boat, with more range, more capacity, more comfort and more open ocean safety.
As an owner of a Bayliner 4788 (and previously a 4087), I completely agree with James. The Bayliners are sturdy boats. Much sturdier than what they are generally given credit. But even if I could figure out the fuel capacity issue, I would never cross an ocean in one. The weather is too unpredictable and the boat is not really built to take a serious ocean-level pounding. There’s no problem traveling in an ocean along a coast though. I’ve taken both my boats out into the Atlantic and crossed the Gulf of Mexico. Just need to wait for good weather.
Nordhavns are rather rare here on the south Texas coast but there are three Selene trawlers on my dock ranging from 48 to 57ft. Two of the three have never left the dock in the past year except to go to the yard about a mile away for maintenance. That’s a real shame. In contrast, I’m away from the dock just about every week.
100% agree. Boats need to be used.
And after 10 000hours, you know a nordhavn 52 better than anyone, what are the things you would like to improve, replace, delete, move, change…about reliability, comfort, cosmetic, trust and so on.. and does nordhavn company try to have info back from you ?
We aren’t alone in winding up the hours on our Nordhavn but, yes, Nordhavn does pick up on some of our suggestions and ideas. For example they have done a very nice power system design including some of what we have done. And they continue to help us with ideas when we want to make changes or tackle a challenging service item even though the boat is now more than 8 years old.
would you say the Vengsoy is an ‘x-bow’ design?
How is Spitfire liking the additional hours (continuous) of daylight?
Yes, it does look a bit like an X-bow design but the ferry predates the invention of the X-bow by Ulstein. It does look like an early exploration of the principals behind the X-bow.
Spitfire sleeps great during the day and he sleeps great during the night. 24×7 sun doesn’t slow him down a bit :-)
On November 12, 1944, 30 Lancasters from 9 and 617 squadrons attacked and sank the Tirpitz with 12,000 lb Tall Boy bombs near Hakoy, just a short distance from Tromso. The Tirpitz has since been scrapped and was an important source of low-background radiation steel (i.e. pre nuclear-era steel). Bomb craters are still visible on land. The ship is gone but it might be an interesting dinghy trip.
Incidentally, If you visit Bergen on your way back south, you could visit the U-boat pens there. My father was the pilot of a 419 Squadron Lancaster that was part of the force to bomb the U-boat pens there (October 4, 1944). Dad died 24 years ago, but the U-boat pens remain, still used by the Norwegian navy for their own submarines. His 1,000 lb semi-armour piercing bombs were useless against the 10′ thick concrete roof.
Dirona anchored very close to the Tirpitz wreck site when they arrived here a few days back, and there’s not much left to see other than perhaps the craters.
And welcome to Tromsø, btw ! We finally got some sun today, summer has been cold and wet so far. I went by the harbour just now and saw Dirona, she looks great ! : )
Thanks for the historical notes Jim and Rauo.
Its surprising that 1,000 lb semi-armour piercing didn’t level the U-boat pens. That’s a lot of explosive power. We’ll check it out when we get back south to Bergen.
Rauo, if you feel like dropping by and looking around Dirona, drop me a note and we’ll set up a time.
Svalbard…land of the midnight sun this time of year. Looking forward to the photo’s :)
Hey Paul. We’ve already got 24×7 sun this time of year in Tromso at 69.4 degrees north but Svalbard is another 550 miles closer to the pole up at 79 degrees. We’re really looking forward to it.
Thanks for sharing the continued journey as always.
I was hoping you may pass through the Norwegian ship tunnel on your travels. Impatient for sure, I looked it up to see where it was in relation to where Dirona was and then it became evident as to why you didn’t try it – it isn’t built yet! At least according to this article. Looks interesting.
Yes, if that was open, we would ABSOLUTELY do a trip through it. That’s a really audacious engineering project. Unfortunately, construction hasn’t yet started but apparently funds have been allocated.
James, going of your last comment that pump has got to have 4 or 5 chambers with diaphragms within them taking up the expansion. The pump will also pulse deliver hot water depending on the requirements. You could fit a separate expansion vessel :-)
Paul, what you are describing is a very common marine freshwater pump design. I use several of these on Dirona — one on the pressure salt water system. However, for the house freshwater system, it’s a 24V centrifugal pump where the impeller runs on the pressure side, pulling water in through a check valve and running the pressure up to the desired 60+ PSI. It has a pressure sensor on board and when the water consumption stops, the system pumps up to max pressure and turns off. This stops the impeller but the input check valve stops reverse flow and the system stays at the design pressure. When water is consumed, the pressure drops and the impeller is turned on to again build the pressure back up. This pump design doesn’t pulse. It’s a single check valve system with no means to flow back to the fresh water tank and no means to relieve pressure.
I suspect you are right that a separate expansion tank may be where I end up. Thanks,
PS: Personally I wouldn’t fit an expansion vessel if Dirona wasn’t originally spec’d with one. In doing so you’d be sidestepping the fault, issue.
This evening I had a chat with a family member who works in the hydraulic valve and pump industry, he assured me that system pumps that require no accumulator for thermal expansion are in use on marine pressurised water systems and have been commonplace for years!
This makes me think, and gives credence to your extensive experience and knowledge about Dirona that the pump you have is one of these.
How these pumps deal with thermal expansion is a mystery to me but, if it’s a microproccesor controlled flow sensor of some sort, and drawing just the right amount of water required from the potable tank for constant delivery to the outlets then feeding the back pressure caused when the outlet is turned off back into the potable tank in someway a one way venturi springs to mind? All being done silently and without generating water hammer, it becomes plausible that the sensor has gone out of spec or scaled up. This excess pressure which the system isn’t expecting is then slowly being discharged at the safety valve?
This is just my hypothetical theory about how these pump’s operate, one which goes against my background regarding the need for adequate thermal expansion.
Hi James – have been following Dirona’s path for several years . The track NW of Andenes Friday June 8 has perplexed me. Can you enlighten me as to why the many changes of direction. Did the steering finally pack it in ?
Whale watching. That strange course you saw us weaving is us working our way around the sharp ledge of the continental shelf where the water depth goes from a hundred to 200 feet nearly straight down to 1500 feet or more. It’s a favorite place for the commercial fishery since fish tend to feed in this area. And these same characteristics attract squid which attract the whales that feed on them. Whale watching trips are popular here. We did see a few whales but they seem to be fairly busy feeding and are only coming up for a quick breath before returning to work. Perhaps they are diving deep for food but, whatever the reason, there was no frolicking at the surface, just a quick blow with the whale barely visible and then back under. There really wasn’t all that much to see and we didn’t end up with any interesting pictures from this expedition.
Paul, I went through the pump manual this morning since this theory sounds the most likely to all of us. However, there is check valve in the inlet of the pump that prevents any flow back into the freshwater tank. It appears that once water is forced into the pressure system, it’s staying there and the only exits are consumption points and the T&P valve. If there isn’t an accumulator in the system, I think there should be :-).
Thanks for the advice.
Hi James, give the (free) predictwind app a try. It gives you a direct comparison of the gfs and ecmwf forecasts, plus a couple of other models. The graphics are nice too. Just watch out for the file update times to make sure you are looking at the latest forecast. All the best, Stephen
I did use PredictWind a bit prior to and during the last Atlantic crossing so I’m somewhat familiar with the app. I hadn’t considered them for coastal weather reporting and we’re pretty happy with Windy but another source is almost always worth consulting. Thanks Stephen.
Insulation and secure mounting will probably solve your problem with contactor hum however if it doesn’t. It’s probably rust on the armature or “pole” disassembly and cleaning deals with that. Chattering is a broken or shorted shading coil.
Thanks for the additional suggestions Steve. I’ll go with insulated and secure and see how it goes. I do have a spare so, if needed, I can take it down but it’s a high quality Schneider relay so it’s probably fine.
A question for you Steve: my hot water tank T&P valve was changed 6 months back because it leaked. The new one dumps water on heat cycles. I would think the plastic lines throughout the system should be able to absorb pressure changes but the T&P valve is pushing out water on heat cycles. When running the engine it’ll get quite hot (around 160F) and it normally runs in the 120F to 135F range when electrically heating. I suppose the new valve could be faulty but it’s definitely pushing out water. There is a plastic soft drink container below it and it’ll fill in a week or two. Any ideas or suggestions?
Regarding the T&P valve. I presume it’s a pressurised system, if so, check the expansion vessel air pressure with a tyre pressure gauge. Usually these were schrader valves on the gear I used to work on. You need to drop the pressure down to zero and ensure the temperature in the system is cold.
The required pressure may be stamped somewhere close by, but as a general guide…
The water pressure in a hydronic boiler shouldn’t be over 12- to 15-psi. It should have only enough pressure to raise the water a few feet above the top of the highest point in the piping system. A 12-psi setting will lift water 28′ above the fill valve. A 15-psi setting will lift the water to 34′.
Low pressure or lack of, can cause valves to weep, discharge due to overheating and lack of resistance.
If I’m on the wrong tack here, please ignore.
Thanks for the ideas Paul. I agree that most boats run relatively low pressure water pumps and many also have an air pressurized expansion tank. However, Dirona has neither. We don’t have an expansion tank and we run close to home water pressures. We’re using a Headhunter Xcalibur XRS-124 which, at the low current setting, still runs up to 50 PSI.
Our hydraunic boiler even lower than the 15 PSI you’ve seen — ours runs down around 7 PSI on the coolant loop and this is independent of house water system so it won’t influence the pressure in house water supply.
Thanks for the suggestions Paul.
I concur with Steven’s comment. I used to change the Schrader valves on expansion vessels (aka as accumulators / bladders in the USA) as a routine service item. If water leaks out when the Schrader valve cap is removed, the vessel is knackered and will need to be replaced. I’ve since Googled that Headhunter Xcalibur XRS 124 and the company provide a YouTube tune-up for the pump, which you may find interesting.
Thanks for your suggestions Paul. It certainly seems like an expansion tank would be required but I know the boat pretty well and it would very hard to hide an expansion tank and have me not find it. I’m pretty sure there isn’t an expansion tank on Dirona.
Hmm. I’ve been going through my mental archives and giving this issue of yours some further thought – in my working career I have worked on pretty much everything from domestic to industrial installations both sealed (pressurised) and open vented – installed, commissioned full systems with expansion vessels in all manner of sizes from them being as small as an orange to the size of that Twizzy car you posted up.
Thing is, I’ve been retired 20 year’s now so I’m out of the loop in advances in technology and system design etc. However, in my time there’s been some faults that I have discovered that can cause safety pressure valves to discharge, despite the expansion vessel proving to be in good condition and having the correct PSI for the system!
I believe you when you say you cant find any form of vessel:) The first place to check for a vessel is inside the actual boiler (water heater) casing. Now, given my mental picture of Dirona’s overall size, I would imagine this vessel to be sized in comparison to lets say a gallon of oil container and could be a round flat tank or the size of a washing up liquid bottle.
You say Dirona’s now 8 years old, so things are beginning to wear out, and up to now has been running and operating to within spec! Ruling out the things Steven has already mentioned like the temperature control thermostats not causing the system to overheat and the replacement valve possibly being faulty. We’ll assume for now taht hese are all in good working order.
Here’s a list of things that I’ve discovered being the guy sent to kill problem jobs that’ve had serious money already spent on them with no resolution of the issue.
1: The humble shower mixer valve found to be passing water from the cold side into the hot side when not in use, causing it to over pressurise the system and trickle discharge on the safety valve.
This has happened on the thermostaic cartridge and bar type of mixer valve.
2: Wash basin mixer taps, especially those with hoses for washing vegtables etc are prone to cause the same as number one.
3: Washing machine (laundry machine) solenoids controlling the flow of water into the machine passing water through the block when off. Quite rare that one, but it was in inferior quality machine and no longer on sale in the UK.
4: Calorifer (water to water heat exchanger) with a minute hole in it caused by cathodic corrision. A manufacturing defect which the company wouldnt admit liability for but, the replacement I fitted was a completey different design and spec. This caused water that should never meet, to meet, and gradually over presurised the sytem when in use (thermal expansion) with a resulting dsicharge.
5: Filling loop passing water. A simple one to fix and test, just disconnect the filling hose.
The others, like the mixer valves etc, if these have service isolating valves, which they usually do, just turn them off one-by-one and monitor the situtaion.
A bit long winded James but these are actual events and things worth checking but, 99 times out of a 100 its simply low pressure in the vessel :)
Hope this helps in some small way,
Thanks for the useful list of problems you have seen Paul. Many of your examples include leaks between the hot side and cold side via mixing valves, mixing taps, washing machines, etc. In looking at the system in Dirona. We have what looks to me to be a single closed system where the cold water connects to the bottom of the water heater and everything after the water heater is hot and everything before it is cold. But, there is no valve that I can find on the boat or in manufacturer manuals. The system is 100% open with water entering the system through a one way valve in the bottom of the water pump, and leaving through taps or consumption valves. Between those two points, I can’t find any accumulators nor can I find any way to relieve pressure of water expansion and there doesn’t seem to be any valve between hot and cold. In a system like this, I don’t think I can have any of the failure modes you outline below but I appreciate the ideas.
I am assuming two things one is the water never gets hot enough to trip the thermal on the relief the temperature would be stamped on the valve tag. The other is it the valve seals drip tight when not in the heating cycle.
That being the case all hot water systems have thermal expansion devices installed. Either in the form of multiple air chambers at the point of use which can be covered up and hard to find or, a simple bladder expansion tank which is now the most common method.
It sounds to me like you have lost thermal expansion ability either through the individual devices filling completely with water, or loss of air charge on top of the tank bladder.
If you have a tank you can drain the system enough to inject 6-12 psig into the fitting on top of the tank. If you have no tank you can completely drain the domestic hot water system so air will move to the individual devices on refill.
In either case it means you have a slow leak either in the tank or one of the individual devices.
Reading through other remarks and your reply, if you never had a problem with the old relief valve until it failed there is a tank or multiple air chambers installed somewhere you just haven’t found them. PEX piping does not do good as an expansion device and thermal expansion on hot water is the most common cause for failure. The most common air chambers used with PEX look like a very large CO2 rifle or pistol canister and while they could be mounted many places they are normally near the point of water use.
If none were installed I really can’t imagine why it wouldn’t have been apparent when Dirona was new.
It is within the realm of possibility the new relief is defective however I see exactly what you describe quite frequently and 99 times out of 100 it’s lack of thermal expansion capacity.
The other time it’s the wrong valve for the application.
I suppose there is another possibility since I’m not familiar with the potable water system on Dirona. While I still believe what you describe is a lack of thermal expansion capability, homes until around the mid to late 1970’s depending on region did not require expansion tanks on hot water because they used the actual city main for thermal expansion. After modifications to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act water purveyors began installing swing check valves in all branch lines to prevent back flow situations which then required thermal expansion be dealt with by the building owner. While I am assuming your system has what I would consider the normal foot valves and swing checks, maybe not. It could very well be that your system is designed to use the potable water tank for thermal expansion. That would be the only logical reason I can think of for lack of a expansion tank on Dirona and being self contained, there would be no regulation or law I can think of preventing the practice. I’d go over your system drawings and look for possible restriction points there.
Nordhavn does an unusually good job on getting the details into their owners manuals and, if there is an expansion tank, they don’t mention it. After 8 years on the boat, I’ve seen most nooks and crannies and I think it would be hard to hide an expansion tank that I’ve never seen. As much as the logic makes sense that I would need an expansion tank, I’m 99% sure I don’t have one. It would seem like I would need an expansion tank unless there is some other form of pressure relief valve allowing flow back to the water tank as the water is heated. I don’t think the Headhunter Xcalibur XRS-124 will let it flow back to the tanks so there is essentially nowhere for the expanding water to go.
It’s possible I do have an expansion tank and just haven’t seen it. One solution is to just put an expansion tank on the system — based upon all you have said, it would seem like a functioning expansion tank would solve the problem.
I do believe a functioning expansion capability would solve your immediate problem. It was also silly for me to even suggest with as much work as you have done on Dirona, that if there was an expansion tank installed that you wouldn’t have seen it.
Since you’ve not had constant problems with the relief or broken PEX flitting on the hot water thermal expansion had to be designed into the system. That leaves the potable water tank as the only possibility I can think of.
I couldn’t find anything in the way of drawings on the internet but I did find a picture of a Torrid installation on a Nordhavn that showed an adjustable 3 way valve near the heater that while the picture wasn’t good enough for me to identify the purpose, it didn’t have a sensing bulb leading me to believe it’s not there for convention mixing of water for temperature.
Installation of an expansion tank while not hard or expensive would require room I’m sure you’d rather not lose.
If you have good drawings of the potable water system I would start there first and try to identify what could have changed. Or it sounds like Nordhavn has excellent tech support, I’d probably talk with them and see how they intended to do it.
I was reading about your freshwater pump. I’m leaning toward were Paul was going in his comments and it may be worth looking hard there. It could be the sensor driving pressure that has gone off or, when you installed the new relief valve or anodes the system simply over-filled. Over filling is easy to check if your relief is piped in a SAFE direction. The next time you catch it in a heating cycle with the engine running as that is when it is the hottest, manually trip the relief holding it wide open for a couple of seconds. When you let it go it should close drip free and if the system was over-filled be the end of the problem. If the relief was leaking while heating in the electric mode, you could use the same process and if it deals with it, repeat when the engine was running.
If the relief is sealing drip free and only leaks during the heating cycle I don’t suspect the relief valve and would look harder at the pump and whatever sensors tell it to maintain pressures. The spec. sheet I read was short and to the point but I believe it indicated you can change the output settings at the pump. If the relief continues to leak on heating after tripping the relief my next step would be to lower the pump output. If that solves the problem, it’s probably a sensor going out or needing to be cleaned or another part you might be needing to order down the line.
Since you’ve (more likely than not) used hot water since the relief and anode change the chances that the system is over filled are extremely slim. The key is whether or not the relief seals when not in the heat cycle for determining where to go next and it would be nice if you had pressure gauges on your freshwater supply.
Steve, the challenge to chasing down the leak is that it’s super slight. I dump it into a plastic soft drink bottle and it’ll half fill in a week. Some days it doesn’t leak at all and other days a bit but never much. I’ve never caught it relieving but the bottle slowly fills.
You are right that a pressure sensor on the water system would be a very nice addition and it would help answer this question quickly. I’m leaning towards buying an accumulator and putting a pressure sensor in at the same time. Thanks for your thoughts as always.
Steve, the three-way valve that you saw is possibly an electrically controled valve that select water from the Everhot (the water heater in the hydronic heating system) and the A/C powered water heater. On Dirona, we take from the hydronic heater when it’s running and from the A/C heater when it’s not.
The system appears to have 1 inlet at the inlet to the water pump from the water tank. And, it has hot and cold outlets all over the boat. In between there are no valves and so the system will have a single pressure throughout the full system. The pump has a spring loaded check valve at the inlet so it won’t relieve pressure. It appears the only way to get pressure out of the system is the T&P valve. I can’t find any air pockets or designed accumulators. The Torrid MV20 hot water tank appears to have the outlet a few inches down from the top so it could form it’s only accumulator but the Torrid manual cautions on not turnning the outlet fitting to ensure all air is out of the tank which sort of implies they don’t intend to act as an accumulator.
Nordhavn support is excellent so, as recommended, I’ll ask them. Failing that, I’ll probably install an accumulator or try another T&P valve. Thanks for the help with this.
Hello both of you. first, forgive my mistakes, English is not my mother tung.
As i am in my sofa since 4 weeks now after a back surgery, i found you on youtube and after your blog. I must tell that your way to share your boat adventure with us is really amazing!!! What i love is your technical report on the side that most magazine doesn’t show or explain. My favorite mag is motorboat&yachting which i receive every month and they should let you write a couple of pages each month in it! they make good reports on refits or used boat but a step back from you.
I love your nordhavn and the way you improved it but when i discovered that you had a bayliner before, it made me something…
With my father we have a 3988 bought new in 97 with the 330 cummins so your articles on your 4087 spoke to me !
As you are in Europe and if you pass by Nieuwpoort Belgium i’ll be glad to have you on board.
Thank’s for sharing your dream, it makes me dream also.
It’s good to hear your enjoying it — we’re having an excellent time in Norway. Thanks for the feedback on the blog.
Have you noticed that the Finnamrken had a variable pitch propeller?
And that it could be set to a 0° pitch ?
Why would that be needed?
Unlike an airplane, I don’t see the direct benefit of feathering a boat’s prop, except of course when towed…?
I’d speculate that the prop could then be used as a sort of a paddle wheel , working a bit like a stern thruster?
Good observation Jacques. The Finnamrken is capable of zero pitch operation.
Variable pitch equipped boats often don’t have a reverse and just pitch the prop the other way so there is a neutral pitch as a consequence of having both a forward and reverse pitch capability. And, a common operating mode for variable pitch equipped vessels to to put the boat in gear before leaving the dock with the pitch neutral. Then the engine is brought up to a speed appropriate for maneuvering prior to getting underway. The boat is just sitting there at zero pitch. Then the helmsman can dial in some reverse pitch to pull away from the doc, and then switch to forward pitch to continue to pull away from the dock. It’s possible to set RPM and leave it alone and run the boat on pitch but it’s better to adjust engine RPM to that needed for the desired speed and then add pitch to appropriately load the engine.
Fixed pitch boats have the correct pitch at full rated RPM and are actually under-pitched at all other speed. Since most boats seldom run at full rated RPM, most boats run under-propped most of the time. Variable pitch props allow a knowledgeable operator to always have the correct pitch for a given load.
This is exactly how I was thought to operate boats with variable pitch propellers.
The school vessel I did my practice for my master’s license, was an old ice breaker tug, with twin main engines connected through one gearbox to a 6ft single variable pitch propeller. The stern pulled the same direction regardless of selected prop pitch.
We set the appropriate rpm, and the rest was done by adjusting the pitch.
Worked very well.
Hello. On the way south you should go by Stamsund in lofoten and Kjerringøy just north of Bodø
Thanks for the recommendations for places to explore. Much appreciated.
5/30/2018: At 900ft (275m) up, we could see climbers scaling Svolværgeita (circled in red at bottom right—click image for larger view). I showed this photo to the domestic authority (my wife) who said, “you’ll be going on your own.” She gets all panicky stood on a dining room chair! :D
One of the places we ended up backing out of on the way down was a fraction of the steepness of the one in the picture but, at least for me, working near a steep edge without ropes is even more scary than even a sheer face with ropes.
Hi James & Jennifer, are you going to Tromso to visit the Artic Circle?
Yes, we are definitely going to Tromso but we have already crossed the Arctic Circle a couple of days back. We’re currently at 67 degrees 56 minutes north so 6 degrees closer to the pole than on any of our previous trips.
If you are interested in something to test “sockets” which I take to mean receptacles, this is a gives a little more information than a non contact tester. Although you do have to actually plug it in. This link is for one that will test GFIC’s however the one’s that don’t are only about 3 bucks less.
Yes, thanks Steve. I also have a pigtail that plugs into my international cord adapters to do this. I happen to use a UK device aimed at 240V but, otherwise, it’s the same as what you have referenced. Where there are issues I sometimes bring this tester our but I always use the non-contact tester as a quick verification that we actually have power at the shore power cord. The near instant results are appealing.
Blimey, I’ve never seen a Twizy before, and I must say, it looks like a quad bike with enclosed body panels. Do they have a steering wheel or handle bars?
Breath taking photography, too!
You are right Paul. A Twizy is essentially a quad bike with a steering wheel. But, I was kind of impressed with it. They are fairly inexpensive and, for many errands around town, the two hour charge would be more than adequate.
Long time reader of your blog. Thank’s for taking all of us along on your trip! Haven’t read any mentions but since you’ve crossed the Atlantic have you had any issues with bugs?
Bugs haven’t yet been much of a problem in Europe so far but it depends upon time of year, nearness to shore, weather and location. We expect we will see them in Norway at some point. We have seen some minor quantities of bugs in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides Islands but not much anywhere else.
There was a similar thread on bugs in the comments section of the St. Katherines dock posting: https://mvdirona.com/2018/05/st-katharine-docks/. The speculation was the overall bug density has decreased world-wide.
James and Jennifer,
Loving the pictures and descriptions about Norway. Thank you.
Our new N68 is in the mold, finally, and we’re now deep into choices and decisions including really simple things such as the BBQ – electric or gas? We’ve decided to go with gas because we like the results much better than with electric. At least one other new 68 is going with an electric grill thinking that getting propane in the middle of the Pacific or Europe might be a challenge. You guys have been everywhere, what’s your experience with trying to find propane here and there? Or maybe you went with an electric grill, I can’t remember?
Tracy says hello.
Van, it’s good to hear from you and Tracy. When we specified Dirona back in 2009 we went with propane stove top and BBQ because we didn’t want to have to start the generator every time we wanted to do something quick. We since put in a 240V inverter that will support any load in the house so we can do fast jobs on battery and, on longer jobs, we would start the generator. We can start the generator from any web connected device including mobile so starting the generator is pretty easy as well. In retrospect, we would go with electric on both the BBQ and Stove Top.
The Advantage of gas is the control of heat and not having to start the generator. The big downsides are explosion risk and the difficulty of getting tanks filled in international locations. To mitigate the former, we have well designed storage areas that drain via through hulls overboard. To reduce the frequency of filling, we carry 4 20lb containers and only fill them every 2 years and sometimes longer. We filled in NZ which was technically not allowed but some operators are willing. We next filled in St Lucia. Then Again when we returned to the US. The last fill in the US was a big hassle because the person filling them had a real hard time getting the vent to operate correctly — not sure if that was an operator error or an aging valve assembly. Now that our Aluminum tanks are 10 years old, we will not be able to fill them in the US without re-inspecting and I suspect they might fail.
I’ve been giving some thought to just replacing the aluminum tanks with steel tanks that we get in each country and just discard when used up. This would force us to get new adapters for each country but at least we would be buying a part that is normally available in that country. Another approach is to buy another set of aluminum tanks or go with the newer composite tanks (they were not looking safe enough at the time we last bought tanks 10 years back with recalls and explosion problems). Another more radical approach is to go electric — I suspect it’s just too much hassle to put in new 240VAC circuits for these new loads. I suspect we’ll move to the approach of buying local tanks and new hose connections every couple of years but we won’t likely face that for another year or so.
We would recommend electric for your 68.
Hi J & J,
Pretty simple questions if I may. I saw the lettering you were applying to your new tender and wonder what the type of material & source are. I have a hypalon tender that I need to re-mount a name on and lettering I’ve used in the past hasn’t held up very well.
Also, in a few pictures I noticed you have aft-facing cameras mounted under the overhang of the cockpit. I’m assuming they’re weatherproof and wondering if they’re infrared/night viewing as well as type/source and if you’re happy with their performance.
Very much enjoy seeing the pictures of your travels (and repairing Dirona in exotic places :). Continued safe travels.
The graphics are amazingly durable. These graphics appear to be an Avery printed film installed on 3M SCPS-2 Prespacing tape. Looking at the 3M page on the applications of the pre-spacing tape, they list the various film printing systems they support. The right approach is to find a sign company that prints Avery or 3M films. Here’s a link to the 3M SCPS-2 prespacing film that both 3M and Avery use:
We have two generations of cameras on Dirona. There are some very old analog cameras that are used by the Furuno NN3DBB system. In this system we have a Flir forward looking Infrard Camera mounted on the forward edge of the lower RADAR support on the stack. In addition, we have an engine room camera and aft looking camera. Both of these are Raytheon bullet cameras which are surprisingly durable but certainly just generic cameras rebadged by Raytheon.
The second generation of cameras are Reolink 4 megapixel cameras and we use a combination of dome and bullet cameras. So far we haven’t had any failures so these cameras appear to be very durable. We have a forward looking camera above the PH window, an aft looking camera on the stack, two side looking dome cameras on the stack, and two dome cameras in the ER, one looking forward and one looking aft. These cameras are remarkably good quality for the price and can be had on Amazon.com for only $60.
We use a Synology DS416 central file server on Dirona
The DS418 is the current version of this product:
On the synology we use Surveillance Station which is a Synology product to acquire multi-channel video from IP cameras. It comes free with 2 licenses and you can get 4 more for $199:
The Synology is wonderful, Surveillance Station is good value and works well, and the Reolink cameras are amazing price/performers.
Long time follower, first time commentor. Great blog.
What type of (US) bank account do you have. I see Jennifer and you withdrawing funds directly from ATMs in most of the countries you visit. This would be a great tip for US travelers who want to rely just on ATMs for local currently.
We’re actually using our Citibank Australia account which has no foreign transaction fees and works well just about everywhere. We also have a Citibank US account and it works in the same places and also doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee. These days most cards from large institutions seem to work all over the world. It’s rare when we find a bank machine that won’t accept our card and, when that happens, there is almost always another bank machine in the area that will.
Hi, Ylvingen is a nice island just west of Brønøysund.
( googel translator)
Ylvingen looks beautiful on Google maps. We’ll keep it in mind for a visit on our way north or returning south later in the year. Thanks for pointing it out to us.
May be too late for you now…but Tromso has the world’s most Northern botanic garden. It is lovely. The blue Himalayan poppies were out when we were there (June).
Hi Karen. I incorrectly figured in Northern Norway we had a shot at being somewhere you haven’t already visited :-). You and Gord do travel an amazing amount.
Thanks for the tip on the most northern botanic garden.
Velcome to Langøysundet. Nice boat! :-)
Right now You are stopped in «Ellingvaagen». (12. Mai 2018 kl. 18.40). Hope You have a nice stay in Norway! Remember our national-day 17. Mai. You must see it on-shore in Kristiansund og Trondheim. :-)
Thanks for the hospitality. This looks like a beautiful stop and, wow, we have been loving Norway so far and we’re really only just getting started. It’s nice enough we might be able to eat outside this evening.
I dont know how much You know Norway, but I recomend to experience the 17th of May, Norway`s national day. It is more like a childrens day as they marching in the streets with Norwegian flag and singing national anthems. Highly recommended! :-)
Thanks for the recommendation.
Wanted to add my thanks to you and Jennifer to the legions of others for your willingness to share your hard earned knowledge. Electrical has been a knowledge weakness of mine and even as I build a land-based offgrid system I refer to your design work often. I have no need for frequency conversion and am putting off solar to the future so it’s amazing how much what you have done is instructive to me. Again, my thanks and appreciation.
We appreciate you passing on the blog feedback Larry.
James and Jennifer
Sadly my travels to the UK did not coincide with yours!
If I read your personal tracks correctly it seems that you have been giving the new tender a good work out.
As always thoroughly enjoy the blog – a must daily read!
Just curious, with your hectic maintenance projects/schedule if you ever plugged that cable pipe in the aft Glendinning locker?
Glad you are enjoying the blog Rod. Yes, we did make many changes as a consequence of the “Alarms at 1:15am” issue. I’ve written more detail on the extensive set of changes here: https://mvdirona.com/2017/12/alarms-at-115am-follow-up/.
Welcome to Norway! I have been following you since you were in the Pacific, and I see you are heading to “my area” now. I live in Bergen and do my boating in the western and southern parts of Norway.
On your way northbound, passing the area “Jæren” south west of Stavanger, it is recommended to have at least 100-200 meters depth. Closer to shore, it can be more rough sea conditions. I would then take the “Karmsund” fjord north to Haugesund. A few miles south of Haugesund, there is a reconstructed viking farm, based on archeological findings several places in Norway. Worth a visit. Also on the west side of the island Karmøy, in the village Visnes, is the old copper mine where the copper for the Statue of Liberty is from.
Further north, the village Espevær might be worth a visit. Even further North, in the middle between Haugesund and Bergen, the village Bekkjavik is worth a visit. A popular and good restaurant there.
Feel free to ask if you have any questions.
To ensure we do get as far north as we plan, we’re going to run relatively directly north to Tromso as the weather allows. We’ll then work our way slowly back south, exploring in more detail as we go. So we will save Haugesund and Bekkjavik for the return trip. Conditions in the North Sea right now are excellent, with less than 10 kts wind, but the wind is predicted to pick up from the north a bit tonight and more tomorrow as a small weather system passes. So we actually are planning to stop and anchor in the inlet on the west side of Espevær tomorrow and wait for that system to pass before continuing on. We’ll be there for a couple of nights so definitely plan to visit the village.
Thank you very much for the advice and suggestions. A lot of the best places we’ve been to come from recommendations.
In that case, I would suggest that from Espevær, you can take the “inshore” sheltered route northbound all the way to Måløy. This route can be done in almost all weather conditions, and is well marked and easy to navigate, day and night. It is used by the high speed passenger ferries as well. Then you need a good weather window to cross the Stadt peninsula.
When passing the “Sletta” between Haugesund and Espevær:
If the wind is between south west and north west, it is recommended to stay away from the shore, due to confused seas. Northern part of this area is usually the worst, with currents often coming from 3 directions.
That was super useful Trond. We hadn’t noticed that we could stay mostly inshore when heading north. That looks both more interesting and more sheltered. Thanks very much.
Please see the link for a route suggestion, beginning south of Haugesund, and ending at Måløy, where you can wait (if required) for a weather window to cross Stadt.
The chart can be used for navigation planning, as it is taken from the official Norwegian map authority.
Haven’t any personal boating experience further North than this.
Thanks Trond. We just spent the last couple of hours studying your recommended route and it looks excellent. We plan to follow it. Thanks for the welcome to Norway and for sending us the trip planning ideas.
Conditions continue to be excellent and we should be in Norway Tomorrow morning.
Glad I can help. I have learned a lot from your technical info/blogs, so the help goes both ways. :)
You should check out the website Barentswatch, for wave forecasts along the most exposed parts of the Norwegian coast. It is a government/ official service:
For winds (and sea) forecasts, I find Windy.com the most accurate.
The Norwegian yr.no is not reliable enough, especially for winds, which at least for the west coast, is double compared to the forecasted. But the weather radar they have, is pretty good.
You probably already know, but the official Norwegian pilot guides, can be downloaded for free here:
Sorry for your comment not appearing immediately. We get 100s blog spam comments per day and they are just about 100% removed automatically. We need to deal with the odd one that gets through and occasionally a note gets flagged for administrative approval. That’s what happened to your posting and I just approved it.
We’re “enjoying” a Norwegian ride out here with 30 knots of wind right on the bow creating short, steep waves. We’re currently pitching 17 degrees and rolling 8. An hour ago we did a 22.5 degree pitch cycle. I’m just glad we’re not in shallow water.
We’ve used Windy.com in the past and like it although it’s currently under-estimating our wind conditions by a fairly large margin. Thanks for the reference to Barentswatch and the Pilot as well.
With the wind you have now, you might want to follow this route, which ends where my first route begins. It is a few NM longer than the direct route, but is worth it if the seas are rough.
Notice the start point, which should be at least 0,5NM W of the YBY light buoy at “Jærens rev”. It is important to keep this distance, to avoid potential breaking waves. (Warnings in the pilot books)
Also, from your current position until the beginning of this route, it is recommended to keep enough distance to shore, that you have at least 100-200m water depth. This area, called Jæren, is one of the roughest ocean areas in Norway.
Well, this body of water is definitely living up to it’s robust reputation :-). The winds are averaging 30 kts, gusts to 35, our 5 min max pitch is 17 degrees, and because of the heavy pitching, we’ve slowed down to the 6.0 to 6.5 kt range. We won’t be at the buoy that marks the start of the route you suggested for 6.5 to 7.0 hours in current conditions. Hopefully conditions will improve slightly but, if they don’t, it’s good to have some options. Thanks again.
I see you make good progress. Hope you enjoy the scenery along the route.
After passing Stadt, you may choose a more or less sheltered inshore route almost to the city Molde, and there you need to head out for the open ocean. Notice that you need a good weather window to cross the exposed Hustadvika. (Beginning at the village Bud. This is another of the most rough ocean areas in Norway. Never use the narrow route close to shore in rough seas!
Further north, an ocean area called Folla, must also be respected.
In this chart (see link), I have roughly marked the 3 areas I know of, where you want a good weather window to cross:
Have a nice and safe trip.
Thanks again for you local experience Trond. We’ve been enjoying the relatively sheltered inside route you recommended and have been finding the scenery incredible. In fact, so good we were drawn into the Sogefjordn Fjord. We’ll visit the rest of the Fjords on the way south but we decided we just had to explore and enjoy one now while the snow is still on the mountains.
Sognefjorden (the world’s longest fjord), is mostly avoided for cruising. Reason is very few (if any) sheltered anchorages, and few guest harbors. But I agree, the scenery is spectacular!
On your way south, when stopping in Bergen: Spend a day and take the “Norway in a nutshell” tour: Train from Bergen past Voss to a tiny place called Myrdal, then change train down to the village Flåm, from there boat/ferry to Gudvangen and buss to Voss, and finally train back to Bergen.
You’ll laugh but many of the reasons we’re heading down Sognefjorden are the ones you mentioned. Our interests here are: 1) it’s the biggest one, 2) many boaters don’t even go down it, 3) long time blog reader Jacques Vuye recommended the Flam Railway so we’ll definitely spend a day with it, 3) we want to visit the narrow Naeroyfjord, 4) we want to visit the Glaciers, and 4) the scenery is extraordinary. Your right that there are very few anchorages in the area but, as long as it’s not crowded (and we’re not expecting it to be) we’re fairly confident we’ll find anchorages that can work. We have a 70 kg (154 lbs) anchor with 500′ (152m) of chain rode so we can often find locations that work well that are passed up by others. But, I agree it Anchoring looks more challenging than usual in this area and we may have some adventures in front of us :-).
At least you will be seeing some of the most spectacular scenery of this part of the country. A crowded anchorage there would be one boat only, and yours is definitely equipped for the most challenged anchorages. Adventures is what makes boating extra nice. Have fun!
By the way, it is often cheaper to buy gas for your dinghy engine, at regular gas stations than marinas. Also you hardly ever need cash in Norway. Most people use cards for everything. But if you need cash, get it from grocery stores instead of an ATM: You can ask for up to about 1000 kroner in cash when you buy groceries. (No visa/ mastercard transaction fees then). It’s an arrangement the grocery stores have with the banks. (Some stores only accept debet cards, though)
We need you with us on all our trips Trond! Thanks very much for the steady stream of ideas, thoughts, and well timed suggestions. We certainly owe you at least a beer. If you ever find yourself in the vicinity of Dirona, let us know. It would be great to meet you in person.
Thank you! I will definitely get in touch if we are in the same area. Hopefully the chance comes when you are heading south again.
Here are links to the Coast Radio (Kystradio) VHF radio channels in Norway. They can receive distress calls/ be the link between the resque center and the vessel in distress, provide weather forecasts on request, in addition to the scheduled forecasts, ship to/from shore phone calls, and a lot more… They should be contacted on the working channels, instead of 16.
Thanks for the radio references. We are currently anchored in what will certainly rank in our world-wide top 10 list of great anchorages. We’re anchored in Indrefjord surrounded by tower peaks and waterfalls! Sognefjord overall is a gem.
Here is a scanned pdf of the harbor guide for Flåm. Hope you have a great time.
GREAT! We have an online version of that book and it’s very good. Wow, what a great spot we have here in Flam. It’s really beautiful here. What a country!
Good to hear you do well. Hopefully there aren’t too many cruise ships (and loads of tourists) there at the same time.
We took the Flon to Myrdal railway yesterday on the recommendation of long time blog reader and railway buff Jacques Vuye from France. It was an excellent trip. Lunch at AEgir Bryggeri and a great dinner on the outside deck of our boat enjoying the great weather. Today we’ll rent an electric car and head up the Stegastein viewpoint and perhaps do some exploring by tender as well.
It’s a good thing it’s the off season. Even now there are a surprisingly large number of tourists. I can’t imagine what it would be like with 2,000 tourists descending on the tiny town from a cruise ship arrival. We’ll be safely further north by that time :-).
That railroad is spectacular! Have taken it a couple times myself. It is also very popular to do that trip on bikes, all the way from the Finse railway station at 1222 meters above sea level, via Myrdal down to Flom. But the first part is not available before the snow is gone, usually not recommended before late July.
We did ask about the bike option but, as you predicted, they said it was too early in the year for that one but we could walk.
About 8-10NM NNE of your current position, is a place called Selje. A nice place to visit, if you are waiting to cross Stadt. (Looks like tomorrow will be a good day for the crossing.)
Yes, we were thinking of going around Stadt tomorrow and continuing North. We really enjoyed Sognefjord but want to see the Lofoten group and other Norwegian gems but I suspect we’ll be back in the Fjords earlier than originally planned. We just love them.
Agreed! Lofoten is a “must see” area. Also, if you stop in Bodø, a guided RIB-tour to the Saltstraumen, is an adventure. This narrow fjord/ passage has one of the strongest currents in Norway. (Don’t go there with Dirona!)
A friend of mine is working as a RIB driver for one of the companies offering tours, and it was great fun when I did it 2 years ago.
Sounds like fun. We did something that sounds similar to the Saltstraumen adventure you described in Australia. The Horizontal Waterfalls: https://mvdirona.com/2015/07/horizontal-falls/
The horizontal falls in Australia looks similar, on a smaller scale. The link is a wikipedia article about Saltstraumen.
You’re right, the Norwegian version looks even bigger than Australia’s Horizontal Falls. We’ll have to check it out.
Trond Saetre said “if you stop in Bodø, a guided RIB-tour to the Saltstraumen, is an adventure. This narrow fjord/ passage has one of the strongest currents in Norway.”
We took our tender there last night and had a GREAT time. The rapids are amazing. We took some interesting pictures of the depth of some of the whirlpools and shot some video through the fastest flow.
It was a really cool experience. Thanks for recommending it Trond.
Very cool you got a chance to experience the Saltstraumen.
From all your pictures and blog entries, I see you have seen a lot of the spectacular scenery Norway has to offer.
We keep thinking we’ve seen the best and then finding more. We’re really having fun and could easily spend several seasons here. It’s a wonderful place to boat and enjoy nature. Thanks for the helpful tips along the way.
Hi James and Jennifer, I hope you are enjoying the Netherlands (I finally caught on that you have moved on from the UK).
I am looking to replicate your work on struts for lifting the base/mattress in the master (on our 47 which should be essentially the same as yours I think). I wonder if you can share your experience for the characteristics of the struts and your location for installation.
BTW, I have also had to replace my strut on the floor in the main salon down to the engine room. Seems like the original spec was a bad choice!
Thanks in advance and I really enjoy your blog with all of the details. I am looking forward to trying to replicate some of your projects on Home Free.
Hey Don. Congratulations on the new boat. You can always see where we are in real time at:
What we used to lift the master stateroom bed were a pair of 120 lb gas struts designed for heavy pickup truck box covers. The the structs are only $17 each at Amazon:
You’ll also need these as appropriate for each end:
It’s a really nice addition that makes using the wonderful space below the bed much simpler and somewhat safe to access.
on your way further east you might want to stop at Helgoland. Taxes especially on Diesel are reduced.
Absolutely. That is the plan. We will pick up around 4,000 liters there before heading north to Norway. Thanks,
Why is Harlingen your first stop in Northern Europe?
They are picking up their new tender.
Stephen is right. This is the new boat: https://mvdirona.com/Trips/britishisles2017/britishisles15.html?bleat=4%2F12%2F2018%3A+AB+12VST
Great looking new tender. Are you going to transfer your equipment over to the new one or buy new electronics for it? Hope the three of you are doing well!
Hey Timothy. The only electronics we have in the tender is a $100 depth sounder so we’ll leave that with the boat. As another act of partial craziness, I plan to install NMEA2000 depth, GPS, and even connection to the Honda 50. I’m not sure when I’ll get time to do all that work but we’ll get to it and I’m really looking forward to seeing that new tender next Wednesday.
Since you are going to Harlingen to pick up the tender, enjoy navigating the Waddenzee. it is a great place to find a spot to dry out with low tide and check the hull.
This boat isn’t stable on it’s keel when dry so I wouldn’t want to intentionally ground it in a non-emergency situation. We’ll be careful on the way into Harlingen.
Good luck with the tender today. I look forward to seeing the upgrades in the future. I hope all three of you are doing well.
Got it as scheduled first thing this morning. It’ll do 42mph in open water with three people in the boat. I think we are going to really like it.
We have a bit of a fuel pressure issue, I need to chase down but I doubt it will be challenging to solve. Otherwise, all good.
James – was reading about your NMEA network crashing due to low battery voltage. Curious to know why you have a separate 12v system when you could easily install a 24v-to-12v converter and power all of your 12v devices from your monster 24v system. Is there any significant advantage in having a separate bus?
I do have a 24 to 12v converter but there is also a battery on the 12V side to ensure that convert faults don’t take down the 12V bus. I screwed up and accidentally shut off the 24v to 12V converter. It’s easy to alarm on faults (or human error) and I’ll make that change so it doesn’t happen again.
Looks like you are enjoying the British Isles!!
On your Maretron I see you monitor battery state of charge, as do I, but separately for all four house banks and the start battery banks. As you know, the BSOC is a calculation from other parameters that the sensors measure. When we are at the dock, or in anchorages, the BSOC is working fine and moving up/down as it should during charge/discharge cycles. But when underway and the charge to the batteries is provided by the main engine alternators, the BSOC just declines till it hits zero. Maretron says it has to do with the charge efficiency setting, but I don’t think so.
The main engine alternators are attached to the same bus as the batteries and chargers, and provide the charge to the batteries, as needed, depending if we are leaving the dock fully charged or exiting an anchorage with the batteries depleted requiring charging. However, once the batteries are fully charged, while they go into float condition with very little current going in/out as the alternators keep them fully charged (as noted by the voltage remaining steady in the 26.3V range with amperage fluctuating around zero on the house battery banks), the alternators DO NOT go into float as they are still generating power as required to fulfill the AC system demand through the inverter. As these components are all connected to the same bus, I am wondering if the four house bank current sensors are somehow sensing this load requirement to the AC through the inverters and assuming it is a draw on the house banks, therefore resulting in a calculated decline of battery state of charge, even though the batteries are fully charged and in float.
Do you have this issue or have any thoughts on this?
Hi Tim. Good hearing from you. Yes, I recognize those two problems. They are both a bit challenging but both are addressable. Unfortunately, neither is a simple topic so this can’t help but be a bit longer than ideal for a blog question. I’ll answer it here but will end up filling it in and posting as a full blog entry.
On the first question, battery State of Charge (SoC ), the best solution is not to use it. You are right that I display a state of charge in our system and I have invested quite a bit in getting a more accurate SoC report but it’s been a hassle and I’m pretty sure it’s not worth the effort. There are some proxies that are quite accurate and far easier that I’ll cover below. I’ll start with what I use instead and then we can circle back to why SoC is inaccurate and what I have done in an effort to get a more accurate reading.
I use voltage and current as a proxy for state of charge when the system is discharging. The relationship between voltage and current is a complex surface (I’ll return to this below) but most of the time your boat is at a fixed, and not particularly heavy discharge rate. When there are no heavy, intermittent loads on your batteries and it’s just the steady background discharge rate, the voltage will closely match the discharge curves shown on page 34 of the Lifeline Technical Manual (http://lifelinebatteries.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/6-0101-Rev-E-Lifeline-Technical-Manual.pdf). Of course, if you are using some other battery manufacturer, you must use their data but I’m using Lifeline as an example as they are a common choice and I use them on Dirona.
If the batteries on your boat would need to be charged twice a day (likely) then you are on an approximate 24hr discharge cycle since they need to be recharged at roughly 50% charge. Assuming that you are on a roughly 24hr discharge cycle, you can use the 20 hour discharge cycle curve from that graph to get the relationship between voltage and state of charge when you have no big loads on your system.
Of course the absolute most accurate approach is to disconnect the batteries and use the State of Charge vs Open Circuit Voltage on page 33 of the Lifeline manual. This is highly accurate but not practical on a boat during use. What I do is have battery voltage prominently display and learn to look when the system has no abnormal loads and the state of charge is a fairly accurate function of the voltage level with 24.2 to 24.3V being roughly 50% on a 24V boat and half that for a 12V boat.
Why not just get SOC correct? The short answer is its really hard and every manufacturers SOC indicator that I’ve looked at measures the same things and has the same inaccuracies and these inaccuracies are so large under some circumstances that the SoC reading is close to valueless. What all commercial SoC calculators that I’ve looked at measure is the current leaving the battery and the current going back in. They know the charge efficiency (entered by the user) so they know how much extra current must go in to achieve a 100% charge. Just a bit more than what came out.
Generally these systems are very accurate through a small number of charge/discharge cycles. But batteries are complex chemical systems and they transitions they are going through change over time and so the charge efficiency and, more important, battery capacity isn’t fixed and will change over time. Because they are tracking current in and out, even small errors become additive over time and the inaccuracies can mount quickly.
The system can be reset by charging to 100% but the inaccuracies will creep back in as you go through charge/discharge cycles. You can work hard to tune the charge efficiency and you will get the commercial systems far more accurate but they will never be great. Consequently I use voltage at a known discharge rate as a proxy. It works well and is fairly accurate but it won’t work when the kettle is on (not the steady, background discharge rate you have calibrated for) and it won’t work when charging (not on the steady discharge rate).
The voltage as a proxy for charge levels works fairly well and it works far more accurately than any commercial SOC measure I’ve seen so this is my primary tool. For generator autostart, I automate the finding of the fixed, background discharge rate by averaging voltage over 15 min and this works very well and yields a very precise generator start signal. In many ways, this completely solves the problem in that, if the generator starts when needed, I don’t have to worry about SoC.
But, I couldn’t resist doing my own SOC calculations since I would like to be able to display that data accurately. If I display the SOC computed by using the 20 hour discharge curve from the Lifeline manual. This is wonderful and works very well but has a few issues: 1) it won’t show SOC during charging, and 2) it will not produce a reliable number if you are going through a prolonged heavier than normal discharge cycle.
Since the data in the Lifeline manual appears fairly accurate, I decided to program not just the 20 hour curve but to also use the 1hr, 2hr, 4hr, 8hr, 20hr, and 120hr curves. I then curve fit the data to produce a 2 dimensional mathematical surface that returns SOC from current discharge rate and voltage. I implemented this and it mathematically worked fine but the Lifeline data at deeper discharge rates on used batteries is not accurate and ends up producing unstable results. My simple system of averaging voltage over 15 min and looking it up on the single dimensional 20 hour discharge curve actually worked better so I reluctantly ditched the complex multi-dimensional curve fit.
But, I’m a sucker for punishment and I couldn’t leave SoC alone. Even though showing the function computed using the 20hr discharge curve and the voltage averaged over 15 min works very well, I still wanted to get a better SOC number. Clearly I should have left it alone but I would love to have accurate SOC even when charging and the discharge curve won’t help you under those conditions.
I’ve invested some time in refining this and it is better than commercial systems I’ve looked at but the complexity wasn’t worth it. In this model I note that the commercial SOC calculation systems are very accurate at a few charge/discharge cycles but the errors mount over time and get less accurate. Once the batteries are returned to 100%, the SOC is re-calibrated, it again is accurate. Understanding this, I decided to use the commercial SOC number but calibrate it more frequently.
Rather than just calibrating it at 100% charge, I use the 20 hr discharge curve and, since we know it is accurate when the boat hasn’t had any recent discharges, my automation waits until the discharge rate has been very stable for a long period of time and then corrects the SOC to match the 20 hr discharge voltage curve (actually a modification of it that slightly more closely matches the background discharge rate on Dirona). I then use this SoC bias to recalibrate the commercial SoC and report the commercial number with my bias. This combines the accuracy of the commercial SoC system computing current in and current out but corrects the system error that creeps into these systems over charge/discharge cycles.
This synthetic SOC calculation is still not perfect but its good enough that I again show SOC in the N2kview display. The generator still is started on the 15 min averaged voltage which is simpler and seems very accurate but I display the SOC using the calculated bias as described above. Because I had a solution for the generator autostart years ago that works well and I’m used to reading voltage myself, it’s certainly not worth the work of trying to get SOC to work but that’s what I did.
So, with that background, looping back to your question, should your state of charge be incredibly inaccurate? No, it should produce fairly accurate results for a handful of charge/discharge cycles if set up correctly. Make sure the Peukert function is correctly set for your battery type. Lifeline recommends 1.12. Make sure the capacity of your bank is set correctly. It turns out this is both very important to accurate SOC but they are also hard to get right. Bank capacity will fall slowly over time as the batteries are used. But, capacity will also fall somewhat more quickly as the system is taken through partial charge/discharge cycles. You eventually will need to equalize (Lifeline calls this “conditioning”) and, after each equalization, you will return more closely (but not quite) to your original capacity. The battery bank capacity is always changing and it’s very difficult to know what the current capacity actually is to accurate report SoC.
As I said previously batteries are complex chemical systems that are changing all time so, if you get all these parameters right once, they will again be inaccurate sometime later. But, yes, you can get them right and get acceptable results for a period. I personally don’t find it worthwhile so just use voltage as a proxy and continue to work on the accuracy of my synthetic SOC calculation. Where I end up on this is recommending not to invest time in SOC and just use voltage with knowledge of the background, steady-state discharge rate. It’s a “good enough” data point and I find it’s actually excellent for driving our generator start signal.
The second question you asked Tim was “Once the batteries are fully charged, while they go into float condition with very little current going in/out as the alternators keep them fully charged (as noted by the voltage remaining steady in the 26.3V range with amperage fluctuating around zero on the house battery banks), the alternators DO NOT go into float as they are still generating power as required to fulfill the AC system demand through the inverter.”
It’s a great question. The short answer is that this can be “easily” solved by the charger and, for the alternators, the voltage regulator suppliers. If they measured the current going into the batteries then, with the voltage, they will know exactly the state of charge of the batteries and could fairly easily know the difference between supplying 75A to the house with the batteries taking nearly no current (high house draw with charged batteries) and the same 75A charge rate where 50A is going to the battery (Batteries nearing full charge but not yet there).
However “easy” this might be, manufacturers of alternator voltage regulators and chargers don’t measure the current at the batteries and instead just measure the current output at the source (the chargers or alternators) and use this data as an estimate for what the batteries are consuming. For the reason you mention and I outline above, this often doesn’t work. A high house draw will look very similar to batteries still charging. I suspect that charger manufactures don’t like the installation complexity of measuring the current at the batteries so instead using the current at the source as a proxy for current at the batteries. In actuality, as bad as that is, most alternator regulators don’t even measure output at source. Instead they measure field strength in the alternator and use that as a proxy for current produced which is a proxy for current being sent to the batteries.
Naturally, this approach doesn’t work well. It’ll work fine if the boat is just charging but if there are large house draws, it will compound the calculations. Some chargers like Victron Centaur (https://www.victronenergy.com/chargers/centaur-charger-12v-24v) use a time driven algorithm and run for 4 hours in bulk and absorption. These fixed time schedule approaches are a disaster and need to be avoided. Some like Mastervolt provide a vast number of parameters that can be changed but they essentially leave the problem up to you. This is not idea but, in the absence of measuring and using the current going into the batteries, this is best you can get and, although current isn’t known, voltage is known and this actually does give an accurate view of how close the batteries are to full charge. So, the data is there is get the system working right so if enough flexibility and tuning is offered, the system can be setup to work correctly and not abuse the batteries.
On Dirona, we use a Balmar MC-624 (http://www.balmar.net/product/regulators/regulator-mc-624/) to control each alternator and Mastervolt 24-100/3 https://www.mastervolt.com/products/chargemaster-24v/chargemaster-24-100-3/) battery chargers. Neither measure the current heading into the batteries but, since the voltage level goes up during the absorption phase, you can still tune these systems to use voltage as a proxy for charge level and get the behavior you want.
What I did was reads the short Lifeline Technical Manual (http://lifelinebatteries.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/6-0101-Rev-E-Lifeline-Technical-Manual.pdf) and program the Mastervolt and Balmar systems to deliver the closest match to what Lifeline wants under our usage patterns. I can share the configurations I’m currently using on Dirona as a starting point. It’s not quite as good as measuring the current flowing to the batteries but seems to work fairly well. The important thing is to not allow the system to go into bulk or absorption during high current consumption in the house and stay there for long periods on charged batteries. This is very bad for the batteries. Your two goals are to: 1) fully charge the batteries, and 2) back off to float and just feed your battery recommended float voltage the rest of the time.
Thanks so much for the response and detailed information. There is a lot to consume in your reply, but the jist of it is that I am likely correct in my assumption as to why the BSOC is not reading “correctly” while underway with the alternators providing the charge. I agree with you in that I use voltage and amperage as the proxy to ensure that things are working as they should an my experience over three years on the boat tells me that it is. I ran over this information with Lifeline and they concur. Like you say, without spending an inordinate amount of time on something that can be achieved in other ways, I will look at a few options before moving on to other issues.
I will also take into account your comments on the other response related to Maretron for the ongoing management of the system. While I agree that spares can allow the system to get up running again quickly, some of the components are not cheep. For example, the one favorite that everyone seems to be having an issue with, the WSO100, is $1000. That’s not cheap for a chunk of plastic (I know there are some intricate things inside the plastic). Now I am up to three failures in three years, so I have you beat.
PS….what are you doing up all night?!?!?
I agree that the Maretron gear is not cheap but it actually is relatively inexpensive compared to competitive monitoring systems. Your WSO100 at $1000 prices seems way high. You can have them for $566 on Amazon: