Pre­par­ing for Ocean Voy­age James & Jen­nifer Hamil­ton


WWe pur­chased Dirona, a Nord­havn 52, with a plan for world cruis­ing and rigged the boat with that in mind. In the years be­fore plac­ing the or­der, we built a long list of de­sired equip­ment and func­tion­al­ity gar­nered through read­ing, at­tend­ing boat shows, ex­pe­ri­ence on our pre­vi­ous boat, and dis­cus­sions with other cruis­ers. We equipped the boat with most of the gear on our list prior to leav­ing Seat­tle in 2012, have used al­most ev­ery­thing since, and have made rel­a­tively few up­grades along the way. Of the few items on our list that we didn’t in­stall, we later learned that some of these choices prob­a­bly would have been a bad call.

This is the third ar­ti­cle in a three-part se­ries de­scrib­ing our trip around the world on Dirona. The first ar­ti­cle (“56,000 Miles and Count­ing,” Pas­sageMaker, April, 2017) cov­ered trip plan­ning and var­i­ous as­pects of be­ing un­der­way; the sec­ond (“Ducks in a Row,” Pas­sageMaker, May/ June, 2017) de­scribes how we made the lo­gis­tic com­plex­i­ties fade into the back­ground so we could en­joy the trip; and this fi­nal in­stall­ment cov­ers how we rigged Dirona for the jour­ney, with spe­cial em­pha­sis on gear needed out­side our home cruis­ing ter­ri­tory of the Pa­cific North­west.


Dirona is a 60Hz boat. This util­ity power fre­quency is com­mon in North Amer­ica and some parts of Asia, but most other parts of the world use 50Hz. Op­er­at­ing equip­ment out­side of its fre­quency range may dam­age it, so we de­signed the power sys­tem to be able to iso­late the house elec­tri­cal loads from shore. The boat has high­ca­pac­ity, fre­quency-in­vari­ant charg­ers and suf­fi­cient in­verter ca­pac­ity to run all the ap­pli­ances. In 60-cy­cle coun­tries, the shore power sup­plies the boat as usual. In 50-cy­cle coun­tries, the shore power feeds the charg­ers and the house runs off the in­vert­ers. A de­tailed de­scrip­tion of our power sys­tem is in the April 2016 is­sue of Pas­sageMaker.

Be­yond fre­quency, shore-power con­nec­tions vary greatly among coun­tries. To avoid re­plac­ing our main power cord plug as we trav­eled, we brought sev­eral pig­tails to build adapters as needed. Our main power cord plugs into one end of the pig­tail and we wire a coun­try-spe­cific con­nec­tor to the other end. Sourc­ing the con­nec­tors lo­cally was easy, much more so than try­ing to de­ter­mine and ob­tain the part in ad­vance. For ex­am­ple, we ended up build­ing three dif­fer­ing adapters for the same ma­rina in Papeete, Tahiti, which sur­pris­ingly had 60Hz power. The ma­rina lent us one adapter, and we bought the other two at a lo­cal marine chan­dlery. These lat­ter two adapters ended up be­ing com­pat­i­ble with most the other places we took shore power in the south­ern hemi­sphere: Fiji, New Zealand, Re­union, and South Africa. Aus­tralia was the only stop in the re­gion need­ing a dif­fer­ent con­nec­tor.

Some­thing we hadn’t con­sid­ered prior to leav­ing is that wa­ter-faucet threads are met­ric in most coun­tries. Our U.S. hoses didn’t at­tach prop­erly and leaked wa­ter at the con­nec­tion. Gar­dena quick con­nec­tors are com­mon in New Zealand and Aus­tralia, and are com­pat­i­ble with U.S. parts. So we added U.S.-sourced con­nec­tors to all our hoses and pur­chased met­ric con­nec­tors in New Zealand to screw onto lo­cal faucets.


Many docks we tied to around the world were ex­posed to surge, and some­times we were up against a rough con­crete wall. These con­di­tions re­quire large fend­ers and strong lines to pro­tect the boat, and lots of anti-chaf­ing gear to pro­tect the lines where they rub against the wall. Large

fend­ers are a pain to stow, how­ever, so we went with in­flat­a­bles. The first brand we bought de­vel­oped seam leaks af­ter a short pe­riod of use. We even­tu­ally switched to ProS­tock Marine, with welded rather than glued seams, and they’ve per­formed flaw­lessly in ex­treme con­di­tions. We carry six of the 18×24s and two of the 24×42 sizes, and in­cluded them in the pal­let we shipped to Aus­tralia in 2015 (see “Ducks in a Row,” Pas­sageMaker, May/ June, 2017). We can quickly in­flate and de­flate them with a portable vac­uum cleaner, and they take up rel­a­tively lit­tle space in the fly­bridge brow. Af­ter years of use and abuse, we have never had a sin­gle leak with these fend­ers, whereas ev­ery fender from the pre­vi­ous sup­plier leaked.

To se­cure the boat, we or­dered 25- and 30-foot, one-inch dock lines with anti-chaf­ing gear around the eyes and part­way down the line. We’d been warned to also carry ad­di­tional anti-chaf­ing gear to pro­tect the lines. We did, and went through it so quickly we ended up buy­ing more part­way through the trip. We ini­tially pur­chased sleeves in one-foot lengths, but switched to four-foot sleeves as these pro­vided su­pe­rior cov­er­age. Another way to pro­tect the lines is to run short lengths of chain from the dock across any points where the line might rub, and at­tach the dock lines to the chain away from the dock. We do carry these chains, along with shack­les to con­nect them to the eyes of our dock lines, but find anti-chafe more con­ve­nient and sim­pler to use.

We also carry two 75-foot, one-inch dock lines that have been use­ful on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions, such as Med-moor­ing off an open-road­stead in heavy swell to take on fuel in Nuku Hiva, French Poly­ne­sia. The sec­ond use was to sta­bi­lize the boat in a su­pery­acht berth in Bar­ba­dos. We have these lines some­what by ac­ci­dent. Our main ground tackle is a 154-pound Rocna with 500 feet of 7/16-inch chain, and we carry a 42-pound Guardian an­chor as backup. For a backup rode, the best price we could find for 450 feet of three-strand ny­lon rope was a spool of 600 feet. This left us with 150 feet to spare, so we had a rig­ger cut it in half and in­stall eyes and anti-chaf­ing gear. We also have four lighter-weight, 150-foot lines that we ex­pected to use for large canals like Panama, but so far haven’t needed.

On oc­ca­sion, the only dock­ing op­tion is against sev­eral widely spaced ver­ti­cal pil­ings. We built fender boards for this pur­pose, us­ing sched­ule 80 PVC. Fender boards hang hor­i­zon­tally be­tween two or more pil­ings and the fend­ers on the boat, al­low­ing the boat to shift po­si­tion fore-and-aft with the fend­ers fall­ing be­tween the pil­ings. Fender boards also can pro­tect the fend­ers when moored against an abra­sive ce­ment wall. Most peo­ple build fender boards from wood, but we went with PVC, as it’s lighter and doesn’t rot or splin­ter. Our fend­ers are large and can be hung side­ways so we’ve only used the fender boards once, in Dunedin, New Zealand, but we re­ally needed them there. We stow our four five­foot boards un­der the ten­der on the boat deck.

In many coun­tries, par­tic­u­larly in Europe, space is at a pre­mium and boats are moored stern-to the dock with a bow an­chor down, a prac­tice known as Med-moor­ing. This moor­ing method stands the boat off from the dock, so we spec­i­fied a Be­sen­zoni alu­minum passerelle (gang­way) with a socket in the swim step and in the gun­wale. One end fits in the socket and the other rests ashore on wheels. The gun­wale socket is used for high docks and the swim step socket for lower docks.


In 2009, when we first moved aboard our pre­vi­ous boat in Bell Har­bor Ma­rina in down­town Seat­tle, we bought Gi­ant FCR-2

bi­cy­cles. We pur­chased them mainly for ex­plor­ing far­ther from the boat, and they’ve been great for that, but the bikes also ended up be­ing in­valu­able for liv­ing with­out a car in down­town Seat­tle and while trav­el­ing the world. With rear cargo racks in­stalled, the bikes can carry a huge amount. Some of the cra­zier things we’ve trans­ported in­clude a full-size de­hu­mid­i­fier, a propane tank, and two 600-foot spools of line. Each of us has a pair of Ortlieb re­ar­rack wa­ter­proof pan­niers whose large car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity is ideal for gro­cery shop­ping. The bikes have per­formed won­der­fully and needed sur­pris­ingly lit­tle main­te­nance, given they’ve trav­eled around the world on our fly­bridge. We store them in a cus­tom can­vas cover and the only reg­u­lar main­te­nance they’ve got­ten is heavy chain lube ev­ery few months.

A last-minute pur­chase be­fore we left San Fran­cisco for Hawaii was a Tipke 2100 fold­ing cart that turned out to be much more use­ful than we ex­pected. Many of the mari­nas we’ve vis­ited don’t have dock carts, so hav­ing our own is handy. In Bris­bane, for ex­am­ple, the ma­rina had no carts and was at least a five-minute walk from any road ac­cess. We used the dock cart to trans­port four, five-gal­lon pails of de­liv­ered oil. Jen­nifer has taken the cart on count­less gro­cery trips, and, if we’re at an­chor, some­times also a dinghy ride away. Like the bikes, we keep the cart stowed on the fly­bridge in a cus­tom can­vas case, which looks bet­ter, makes it safer to move the cart around with­out dam­ag­ing the boat, and keeps all the loose parts se­cure. The cart is also a great con­ver­sa­tion starter— we al­ways get ques­tions about it wher­ever we go.

We also have a dozen or so EarthTote Re­us­able Bags. They can han­dle heavy loads, so we can pack them to the top. When trans­fer­ring gro­ceries to the boat (and some­times to the dinghy first), it’s much more con­ve­nient to have a few large, sturdy bags than many smaller ones that might rip. The bags also are great for load­ing the fold­ing cart to max­i­mum ca­pac­ity.


We bought a 12-foot AB ten­der for Dirona be­fore even tak­ing de­liv­ery. It was ex­cel­lent for high-speed, rough-wa­ter win­ter runs be­tween our home port and El­liott Bay Ma­rina where Dirona was com­mis­sioned. The deep-V hull han­dles heavy seas well, and it’s a sturdy plat­form for div­ing and gen­er­ally tour­ing around. A 30knot ten­der that can han­dle heavy seas and cover long dis­tances is a great part­ner for a slow, ocean­go­ing boat. We fre­quently ex­plore as far as 30 or 40 miles away from Dirona in the ten­der. It’s also big enough to carry our bi­cy­cles. We’d likely buy a sim­i­lar model if this one needed re­plac­ing, but would con­sider the lighter alu­minum hulls in­stead of our fiber­glass model.

Another AB fea­ture we like is the thick rub rail all the way around which pro­tects the tubes when we’re tied off against a rough wall or dock. We of­ten use a Tuggy Prod­ucts’ An­chor Buddy (a bungee cord that at­taches to an an­chor) to keep the dinghy in deep wa­ter in tidal areas or to pull it away from a busy or dan­ger­ous dock. We in­stalled a depth sounder that is use­ful, for ex­am­ple, in lo­cat­ing wall dive sites and keep­ing a close eye on depth as we work through shal­low wa­ter.

The AB’s size and weight pro­vide many of the fea­tures we like, but they also are a dis­ad­van­tage. Other cruis­ers had told us the big ten­ders com­mon in the Pa­cific North­west just aren’t suit­able for beach land­ings in the South Pa­cific, but we fig­ured we would sim­ply make do. Af­ter nearly cap­siz­ing the 850-pound beast in the surf off Maui, we re­al­ized they had a point. In Honolulu we bought what we call the “mi­cro-ten­der,” a Mer­cury 6-foot, 7-inch in­flat­able with a 2.3-horsepower Honda mo­tor. We can de­ploy and stow it quickly, and the whole pack­age weighs just un­der 70 pounds. We can carry it be­tween us, over reefs, or up a beach through surf to tie it on shore out of the tide’s reach. We’ve even drift-dived with it in French Poly­ne­sia, tow­ing it 100 feet above us on a long line.

As an ex­per­i­ment, we’d gone with as small as pos­si­ble, but the Mer­cury was a lit­tle tight for space, a bit of a wet ride, and wasn’t very sta­ble, both ini­tially and di­rec­tion­ally. When we saw the next larger size on sale, we couldn’t say no. The new mi­cro­ten­der is 7’ 10”, weighs only eight pounds more, and stows in the same place in our lazarette. It has much more in­te­rior space, is a dryer ride, and is more sta­ble. We love it.


Be­low: Our Gi­ant FCR-2 bi­cy­cles, with rear cargo racks in­stalled, can carry a huge amount. Some of the cra­zier things we’ve trans­ported in­clude a full-size de­hu­mid­i­fier, a propane tank, and two 600-foot spools of line. Bot­tom: ProS­tock Marine in­flat­able fend­ers are big enough to pro­tect the boat on docks ex­posed to surge and strong enough to han­dle rough con­crete walls for years.

Top: For longer trips, we have in­creased our speed and range through fuel blad­ders that carry an ad­di­tional 960 gal­lons. Above: We’ve only used our fender boards once, but re­ally needed them in Dunedin, New Zealand, where the only moor­age op­tion was again

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