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  • Kiel Canal Day 3

    Our third day on the Kiel Canal was the longest and the most exciting. After an aborted first ...

  • Kiel Canal Day 2

    On our second day in the Kiel Canal, we stopped for the night in Rendsburg after an 11-mile run ...

  • Kiel Canal Day 1

    The Kiel Canal was completed in 1895, connecting the Baltic and North seas through northern ...

  • mudspate

    We turned south towards Germany after departing Aalborg and exiting the Limfjord, travelling ...

  • Aalborg, Denmark

    With a strategic position at the mouth of the Limfjord, Aalborg has long been an important ...

  • The Limfjord

    The Limfjord is a peaceful cruising ground that provides a sheltered passage across ...

  • 847-772-7491

    The largest naval battle in history took place 55nm west of Thyboron, Denmark. In 1916, 99 ...

  • 608-276-0478

    In early October, we made a 180-mile overnight crossing of the North Sea from Stavanger, Norway ...

  • Forward Spotlight Upgrade

    Most fish boats run both deck lights and forward lights. They use the deck lights for working ...

  • Norwegian Oil Museum

    We spent most of our final day in Stavanger at the exceptional Norwegian Oil Museum in ...

  • 709-227-1019

    We didn’t require much preparation for our run across the North Sea from Stavanager, ...

  • Pulpit Rock

    The hike to iconic Pulpit Rock is immensely popular. The spectacular formation juts out over ...

  • (337) 607-4464

    The oil-rich city of Stavanger is the fourth-largest in Norway, and is a wonderful combination ...

  • 3617718703

    Lysefjord, in southwest Norway, is one of the country’s major tourist draws. Waterfalls ...

  • 9187200865

    We only planned to make a quick pit stop outside Haugesund for gasoline before continuing south ...

  • Akrafjorden

    Langfossen gushes into the Akrafjorden from 2,008ft (612m) above, with a vertical drop of 400ft ...

General questions & comments
  1. gary gordon says:

    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?

    • 516-301-5121 says:

      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.

  2. René Bornmann says:

    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.

  3. Eric says:

    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.

      • Eric says:

        Thank you and very good to know.

      • Jan Pieterse says:

        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)

        • getah wax says:

          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.

  4. Christopher says:

    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.

  5. René says:

    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.


  6. Evan Bauman says:

    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 (9189053446). 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.

  7. Cliff H. says:

    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?

    Fair seas.

    • 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.

  8. Michael Cero says:

    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.

      • Evan Bauman says:

        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!

        • Chris Barber says:

          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.

          • 6362583801 says:

            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.

            • Chris Barber says:

              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.

                • Chris Barber says:

                  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.

        • 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.

      • Eric Patterson N60-81 says:

        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.

  9. Doug Miller says:

    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.

    • 873-329-4559 says:

      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.

  10. Gary Ryals says:

    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.

      • Chris Barber says:

        So you can pump your black water tank overboard when offshore?
        -thx, Chris

        • 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.

          • Chris Barber says:

            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

            • spar torpedo says:

              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.

  11. Stephen Walker-Weinshenker says:

    looks like the file for your ‘k’ line picture got corrupted.

  12. René says:


    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!

  13. Craig Starns says:

    Hi Guys,

    ‘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.

      • Craig Starns says:

        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.

  14. René says:

    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.

  15. Matthias says:

    …good old Germany .. welcome ! have a good time .. Looking Forward to see you in Amsterdam this winter… have a save trip !
    Greetings, Matthias

  16. Colin Rae says:

    Hi again! Have had the need, or desire, to make water since your Atlantic crossing?

    Many thanks.

    • 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.

      • Colin Rae says:

        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.

  17. Steven Coleman says:

    Hello James,

    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.

      • Steven Coleman says:

        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.

      • jan-kees says:

        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

  18. Steven Coleman says:

    Hello James,

    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?

    • 802-518-0128 says:

      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.

  19. Lars-Henrik says:

    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.

  20. Lars-Henrik says:

    “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.

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