Roberta, Ken And The Pups Cruise The World On A Relatively Small Boat
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Current Blog Article: [KensBlog] Many decisions to make


Ken; Just when I thought I had you figured out, you changed the status quo - good for you!  ALL of your articles have been well thought out and informative, and I enjoy your post crisis analysis (grin).  Since you have some time I would recommend hitting one of the Loop seminars as they seem to be very informative.  I am still a sail boater for a few more years, and while a Nordhaven isn't in the cards for me, a Loop voyage is.  I am looking for your reporting to be better than the GSSR (no pressure though).  When you hit Hampton, VA would love to host you all for a dinner.  You are going to like the bow and stern thruster combination!  Regards John

 Bruce T. Shark  12/6/2018


---Reply posted by Ken Williams on 12/6/2018

Greetings Bruce!

Roberta and I do plan on hitting the various Loop seminars, and have already started reading the forum postings daily. 

I saw some sailboats have done the Loop. I don't completely understand how. I guess that the mast can be taken down when needed, and as long as your keel isn't too deep, it is possible. You probably need to motor 99% of the time... 

A lot is going on with ordering the new boat. I probably should blog about it. I'm always worried that I am spamming people when I  write a blog article. In some ways it was better when my blog was tiny. I could write what I wanted and not worry about boring or offending anyone. Now, if I say the wrong thing ... it can create havoc. Oh well ... 

See you in Va!

-Ken W

Hi Ken,

In reading your previous blog entry and this one, I notice you mention high speed a few times. On the Great Loop, there will be few opportunities to take advantage of speeds that leave a wake unless you wish to be arrested or sued. On the Intracoastal Waterway, where it is essentially a ditch, wakes damage the banks and docked boats. In my Willard 40 at 6 knots, locals have accused me of leaving a wake (NOT). If you do sections outside in the Atlantic, or run in Chesapeake Bay, up the Hudson, and the Great Lakes for example, you can open her up. Here in NC, there are a few places people go fast and there are yards which handle insurance jobs replacing the running gear. Outside the ditch, the channel can be confusing and not something to be run fast. People go outside in Florida to avoid the many bridges. You want to read carefully where the Loop books discuss the steps necessary to avoid Florida tax, a Florida DNR fetish. One must carefully consider where to take delivery of your new vessel as certain states are much cheaper when the vessel is documented. At Intracoastal speeds, you may only cover 50 to 80 miles, marina to marina. There are blogs to guide you to cheaper fuel and well-run marinas. Except on the Chesapeake and perhaps Maine, you won't be using your dinghy much. As you plan, you will see that your previous cruising practices will not apply. You will get a chance to improve your docking skills (twin screws and a thruster should make it easy). You will be backing into slips in all types of conditions. For all this, you will find enjoyable fellow cruisers and lovely people ashore.

Welcome to the "right coast",


 Ron Rogers  11/27/2018


---Reply posted by Ken Williams on 11/27/2018

Grin -- you are right that speed will be largely irrelevant on the Loop. I suspect we'll find times where the speed comes in handy, but it will be when we are on the ICW, or running off shore, or dashing back to a marina when bad weather catches us by surprise ... or .. after we get the boat to Europe. It won't be on the Loop.

I am definitely worried about all the marinas we might need to go into on the Loop, and the tight and infrequent anchorages. I do not claim to be good at maneuvering in tight places, and dread going into marinas. I also like plenty of swing room at anchor.

Oh well .. one of the reasons for doing the Loop is to try doing something new and different. It sounds like we'll get all of that we can eat! (and, a bit more!)

-Ken W

Congratulations for your new boat. In my opinion you made the right decision of selecting the Grand Banks over the Palm Beach. Being used to the Nordhavn you would have missed the fly bridge.

Not having the IPS are you going to have both bow and stern thrusters?

I can’t wait to watch your future videos while flying the blue GB flag. 

Arnaldo Dallera

 Arnaldo Dallera  11/27/2018


---Reply posted by Ken Williams on 11/27/2018

I should have put that in the blog entry .. I meant to and forgot. I'll send another blog soon and include it...

We are getting hydraulic bow AND stern thrusters, plus the full joystick setup. I didn't need the joystick, but apparently it is required in order to have the feature to hold the boat in position (gps-based positioning).

With 20/20 hindsight .. the PB55 would have been WAY too small for us...We're TOO spoiled.

-Ken W

At least for the European journey, the Elling E6 (65') meets all your specifications: gyro stabilizer, dinghy garage, room for office, etc. It has a unique AC/DC power system, Kabola heat, Webasto A/C, 900hp Volvo, Raymarine electronics suite, and low vertical clearance. It is an extremely seaworthy, Dutch built boat:

 Ron Rogers  11/27/2018


---Reply posted by Ken WIlliams on 11/27/2018


Good to hear from you. Been a while.

The E6 looks good! We may have taken a look at it a few months ago, but we're too far down the road at this point to consider changing. 

It's amazing they are getting 20 knots from a single engine boat!

-Ken W

SUBJECT: Mikelson NOMAD in 59'' or 62'' Ken….did you consider a Mikelson NOMAD when searching for your next yacht? See Tom Fexas design with very proven track record for less……Thanks, Patrick Sullivan From: Passagemaking with a Nordhavn [mailto:blogcomments-V1IOI@[...]] Sent: Monday, November 26, 2018 2:54 PM To: patsul@p... Subject: [KensBlog] Many decisions to make

 patsul  11/27/2018


---Reply posted by Ken Williams on 11/28/2018


No - I never considered Mikelson at all. I think of them as a sportfisher brand and didn't realize they made a cruising boat. I just looked at the specs and it does look like it could have been worth looking at. The truth is that when we came upon the PB55 we liked it so much that we stopped looking. We then flipped over to the GB60 from the same boat builder without restarting the search. And, now we're committed. Looking at other boats would just make me crazy...

-Ken W

SUBJECT: RE: [KensBlog] Many decisions to make Ken, I’ve done the loop twice, and have logged over 20,000 miles on the interior waterways of the US. So with that experience, I’ll share a couple comments. · Depending on how high your antennas are when they are up…you will be surprised how little you will be dropping them. The bridge that is the most concerning (that won’t raise) is just south of downtown Chicago, just off of Lake Michigan. · Having followed your emails since the beginning, I understand how you like to anchor, but I think you will be very surprised how different this trip will be. Most of the places you will anchor will be less than 20 to 30 feet deep, and many places less than that. We had a 50 foot boat with 50 foot of chain and another 200 feet of rope, and I never believed I needed more. Plus…in most cases there is very little swing room. · Also keep in mind that many of the places you will go have great marinas…and very little places to anchor. Much of these waterways are narrow, and I’m sure you will be disappointed at the number of great anchorages along this 6000 mile trip. · I understand your feelings on the generator, but here is another thing to think about. Because you will be so close (almost all the time) to marina’s with plenty of good power, do you really need a backup generator? My opinion is (in order to have the extra space) to install a great single generator, that is easy to work on, and has parts that are very easily obtained, and if you have an issue most any marina can fairly quickly fix it. We spent 1 year doing the loop the first time, and 2 years the second time. In both cases we had a single generator (Onan – Cummins) and had no issues. I really enjoy your emails/blogs. You do a great job of explaining things, and I especially like how you discuss electronics, and maintenance. I’m sure you’ll love the new boat. Thanks for sharing. Bob bob.koerner@[...] 616-283-4100 From: Passagemaking with a Nordhavn [mailto:blogcomments-V1IOI@[...]] Sent: Monday, November 26, 2018 4:54 PM To: bob.koerner@[...] Subject: [KensBlog] Many decisions to make

 bob.koerner  11/27/2018


---Reply posted by Ken Williams on 11/27/2018

Thank you Bob. I'll want all the feedback I can get as I start planning our Loop. Currently, it is 18 months away, so I haven't started studying (but, have bought lots of books).

Behind the scenes, we're not sure how much of the Loop we'll do. There's some possibility we'll just do the north and northeast, and then ship the boat to St Martin. 

Or .. maybe we'll do the whole loop. We change our mind often, and won't really know until we start doing some planning. A lot will depend on timing. We are just moving into a new winter home. We live in Seattle, and just completed the construction of a new vacation home near Palm Springs. Like any kid with a new toy, we are looking forward to the new home and want to spend time there. I'm guessing the novelty will take two or three years to wear off, but for the foreseeable future we will want to be winters in Palm Springs. 

Thus, we are left with at most five months on the boat, probably from June to October. We're not sure how much of the loop we can do with that timing, and it may not make sense to divide it over two years because we can't be south during the winter. It's why we're thinking two years in the north, then ship to St Martin, do a winter in Caribbean, return the boat to St Martin and ship it from there to Europe. 

Or .. not. My guess is that our plans will change many times between now and when the boat is delivered.

As to the generator and anchoring... If the boat were ONLY going to be used on the Loop, I'd agree. But, for the Caribbean and Europe we'll want the biggest beefiest anchor we can get .. and a backup generator.

-Ken W

Ken many thanks for sharing your new GB60 plans. Very interesting and wish you every more success and enjoyment on your new boat. How long do you expect waiting to sell Sans Souci? Because of its history you might have sold it already. All the best

Jo, a dreamer...

 Jo  11/27/2018


---Reply posted by Ken Williams on 11/27/2018

Thank you Jo! 

No -- we haven't sold Sans Souci yet as I am typing this. My suspicion is that we'll be the next N68 sold.

We have 18 months until the new boat arrives, and are somewhat hoping it doesn't sell before May so that we can do at least some cruising this summer.

-Ken W

Thanks Ken and Roberta for you exceptionally entertaining and informative blog. I’ve been following your movements ever since your first Nordhaven. Your decision together a new boat is almost an emotional “bitter sweet” for many of your blog readers - I’m sure. 

Getting rid of a boat, that I’m guessing is probably the most comprehensive and well equipped Nordhaven on the water “ever”. Only a techno-geek will be able to control such a bunch of instruments that make life easier at the command post.

Your new boat will no doubt have all the bells and whistles that space allows. Being a sailing yacht owner, I’m always interested to see what the latest and best “toys” are, and one has to look no further than your blog. 

Looking forward to following the new build

Regards Allan

 Allan Rosenberg  11/27/2018


 How are you dealing with the closure of the Illinois River in 2020?

 Mike caldwell  11/26/2018


---Reply posted by Mike Caldwell on 12/2/2018

The Illinois River is one of those places that cannot be bypassed.  If you make it to Chicago and turn around, that works as long as you have plenty of time to do so.  Consider wintering the boat in inside heated storage and using a second summer to explore.  Georgian Bay and the North Channel is worth two or three summers.

---Reply posted by Ken Williams on 11/27/2018

We have done zero planning at this point. I'm assuming the whole Loop won't be shut down and there'll be some way of bypassing any closures. 

Plus .. it is unlikely we'll do the full loop. I mentioned in another posting that we may only be cruising the northern portion of the Loop and then backtracking. 

All that said, I really shouldn't say anything, because I really don't know what I'm talking about .. at this point I've done zero planning. I am heads down getting the boat spec'd and into production. Once I get that done I'll start thinking about where we'll take it. We've never done the east coast of the US at all. It will all be new to us, so ... there is no lack of places to go.

Thanks! - Ken W

Hi Ken, 

You posted another so well thought out blog on your decisions.  We and many others have found that an I pad with Navionics does the trick for the second source of mapping and GPS information.  We know several boaters who have done the entire loop with only an I pad as their navigation tool.  We use two I pads--one for the Navionics, and the other to mirror the information on our primary multiple function displays.  Your use of Maretron for monitoring also brings up the possibility of using their N2Kvision also on an I pad for your monitoring.  Plus the really great feature of doing this allows "repeaters" (via I pad) in the stateroom--and it is a lot easier to have an I pad handy, vs running all of the wiring and complexity of the LED readouts there.  

 Bob Austin  11/26/2018


---Reply posted by Ken Williams on 11/28/2018

Bob - Good to hear from you. Been a while...

Yes -- I use N2kvision on my ipad with Maretron, both when on the boat, and from at home (using a VPN). Maretron has a remote monitoring package but it is expensive, so I just use Teamviewer to connect to the boat and view Maretron from my PC or Ipad when traveling. 

I just found a radar from Furuno that works with Ipad, so I am considering it as my radar backup.

And... I am planning the Ipad with Navionics as my navigation backup ... as well as Time zero Pro running on my laptop.


-Ken W

Not sure if you have read about this.

 Jill Hautzenroeder  11/26/2018


---Reply posted by Ken WIlliams on 11/28/2018

I saw that, and not sure what the effect is. I monitor the Great Loop message boards and haven't seen the Loopers discussing it, so I'm assuming there must be some route that bypasses the closed locks. 

I still haven't done our route planning .. so I really know very little about what lies ahead at this point. Spec-ing the boat has been a full-time job!

-Ken W

SUBJECT: Re: [KensBlog] Many decisions to make Darn. I was hoping you would opt for the Searay L650 Fly !! :-) Sent from my iPhone > On Nov 26, 2018, at 5:54 PM, Passagemaking with a Nordhavn wrote: > >

 olehh  11/26/2018


---Reply posted by Ken Williams on 11/27/2018

We never looked at Searay, and I don't know much about them. Several of the boats we looked at were Pod-Only .. which we ruled out fairly early on. 

Seaworthiness was a big deal for us, and we limited ourselves to only boats with an Ocean Category "A" rating. 


I live near Grand Banks HQ in Stuart FL and I see  GB 60''s running by our place regularly. They move through the water fast but with little fuss -- no bow rise -- they look great.

One suggestion for navigation gear -- go with two different GPS brands. Garmin for one but place one alongside it with a different charting software. Having two different views of the water  from two charting softwares can clear up tricky channels/inlets/canals very well.  I had a Garmin GPS black out on the west coast of FL in a very tricky spot and was saved by the Raymarine unit next to it which worked without a hitch. Be sure to get one GPS that uses  "Explorer" chart data for the Bahamas.

Although the GB 60 is definitely "downsizing" I think you and Roberta will grow to appreciate the maneuverability and relative ease of management of the Grand Banks. The living space looks pretty comfortable. Given your added generators, heavier Seakeeper and appliances,  the planing hull of a GB 60 might start to waddle if you add weight  of a hot tub.

My only quibble with your power choice was foregoing IPS drives -- I have friends who've had them for years with zero problems. The "skyhook" feature alone is worth it -- being able to stop before you dock and leisurely set out fenders and dock lines  is wonderful. Skyhook could save a life in a man overboard emergency. The unique ability of IPS units to walk sideways to or from a dock makes all docking situations a breeze. Because they turn the water flow directly instead of diverting the flow of water, they provide much more responsive steering control, great when you are entering a tough inlet. If you do the Great Loop you will be running in endless canals and rivers with very tight docking situations and  IPS units would eliminate much of the stress. For most boats they are also more efficient and will push the boat faster. 

Looking forward to reading more about your choices for the GB 60.

 John Schieffelin  11/26/2018


---Reply posted by Ken Williams on 11/26/2018


I should have mentioned it, but I AM getting the joystick system, and the "hold in place" feature. It's an expensive add-on with the shaft drives, but I'm going for it. The truth is that I am not that great at parking boats in a current or strong wind. I'll take all the help I can get. 

It's a twindisc system and allegedly gives even better control than with pods.

As to a backup nav system -- a good thought. Maybe, to have the best of both worlds, I'll go with the Garmin, but also run a small PC running Time Zero professional. It should be possible...

-Ken W


I was impressed by the large number of projects you will have to handle and I can see you many times on flights to Malaysia no matter what Grand Banks says.

On the matter of Garmin navigational equipment I would explore some other options including an all FURUNO set up

Garmin has this nasty habit of changing the electronic format of their charts and forcing you this  way to change or " upgrade" as they say the hardware

I do no think they offer a warranty to cover these future changes.

Furuno takes care of their system no matter how old they are.I have had very good luck with their radar and the chart cartridge they use on their dual  display.

For commercial grade systems I think FURUNO is the way to go

Even the US NAVY uses their equipment for approaches in foreign ports when they do not want to display the electronic signature of their main radar.

For the tilting mast idea I would urge GRAND BANKS to give you more details

Antennas for Radar are heavy if you add a satellite antenna handling the rig by hand is out of question.If they are going to do it with hydraulic actuators  I would go in every detail of the rigg which has to work even in cold weather as I am sure you will encounter in your loop navigation.

So far this is what comes to my mind after a first read of your blog

Good Luck


 ALEX VASILIU  11/26/2018


---Reply posted by Ken Williams on 11/26/2018

I love my PC-based Furuno setup. I have twin PCs running Time Zero Professional and couldn't be happier.

This is a topic on which I'm extremely unsure what to do. I like the idea of "doing what Grand Banks does and has experience with". And, as I said in the blog, the Garmin system didn't seem bad. But ... I do like Time Zero. I'll sleep on it...

As to the mast...

Grand Banks has said they'd give me a design before we sign the contract and I'll hold them to that. As you said, it will be HEAVY. There will be two domes (tv and vsat) .. plus a radar .. plus some gps units, and various antennas. They need to come up with something simple....


-Ken W

SUBJECT: Re: [KensBlog] Many decisions to make Ken, congratulations on the new boat. It’s fun reading about your selection process. We went from a Nordhavn 55 with John Deere engine and Furuno electronics, to a Ranger Tug 31 with a Volvo D4 and Garmin electronics. The Volvo was very expensive to maintain (all filters had to be replaced at every oil change (200 hrs)) and is very difficult to do non-PM work on. In addition, its lifetime was rated in thousands of hours, while we were used to engines expected to work for tens of thousands. Big difference. The Volvo was a nice engine to run, but no more so than the John Deere. I know nothing about Catapillar engines, but expect them to be more like the John Deere’s than the Volvo. The Garmin suite was highly integrated with the Volvo engine, and was pretty functional. It was frustrating to use after the Furuno and Nobeltec, because of the lack of flexibility in configuring the display. I lived with it, but missed my Furuno! Have fun, Jeff Sent from my iPad On Nov 26, 2018, at 2:54 PM, Passagemaking with a Nordhavn > wrote:

 East_676  11/26/2018


---Reply posted by Ken Williams on 11/26/2018

Hmmm.. when you say, "Change all filters" .. are you including the fuel filter? What other filters are there? 

-Ken W

Ken, I have followed you on an off since you did the  Nordhavn Atlantic rally and we even had a deposit on a Nordhavn 68 at one time. We currently own 3 sailboats (Swan 76, Sunfast 3600 and J88) for racing and cruising and I have some comments on your fascinating equipment selection process:

Panda generators have a fragile reputation and I would be very wary for your kind of usage

We had a motor boat in Amsterdam like a Tesla with Lithium only power a complete Mastervolt system and now my Sunfast is Lithium only and I have also halved the battery capacity and run a fuel cell for constant quiet charging at 8 amps.  I did a sailing race Round Britain and Ireland over 12 days and didn't need to run the engine once for charging. single battery was flawless.

Like you I have gone for a big Rocna on the Swan and I need to be able to rely on it when we are 2 up in particular. We have a 70kg one with 100m of 13.5mm chain and it hasn't dragged in 3 years

 Gavin Howe  11/26/2018


---Reply posted by Ken Williams on 11/26/2018

Thanks -- I do think I'll put a Rocna on this boat. I doubt Grand Banks will want me to go with 70kg ... Or, that I need to go that big (although, I would happily!) 

This boat should have MUCH less windage than Sans Souci. And, it only weighs 30 tons as opposed to 120 tons.

GB is currently being managed by an Australian (Mark Richards) who has quite a sailing heritage. I'm trusting that he knows what he is doing on some of this.

Although... like you ... I'm not a fan of Fischer Panda generators. On a lightly used sailboat .. maybe. But, they aren't designed to be run for months at a time.

-Ken W

Ken, been following your adventures for a few years, enjoyed reading about them, as a fellow 42" grand Banks owner, And owner of inflatable Boat 

Center since 1973, primarily a Zodiac Inflatable boat dealer. We also have & have helped many customers with many questions, 

issued and tenders of many size, type and power. I offer my services, if any questions, opinions, directions I can help with. Check out our web site.

Thank you for your Blog, it has been very interesting and educational..

Ron mauselle 

 Ron Mauselle  11/26/2018


---Reply posted by Ken Williams on 11/26/2018

Thank you! I know your store and have bought a couple of tenders from you in the past.... 

-Ken W

Congratulations! I followed you (by reading) across the Atlantic (bought the book), avidly awaited the emails about each next blog, from the Sushi run on, struggled with the mechanics of the Med. felt worse than I might about Cabo (my most distant sail unless you count La Paz as more distant), and generally enjoyed your adventures, even if on a powerboat. I expect to continue. Vicarious is better, far, far better, than not at all. One snarky, but not meant as unkindly as it will in the raw comment: Yes, this does not look like the Grand Banks for my grandfather (or father in my case. since I am on the older side), but rather one designed by Bentaneau. Too slick for a GB. Keep plugging, I've thought about the Great Loop many time, and even done in in my mind in both directions. Thanks for sharing.

 Brian Aherne  10/24/2018


---Reply posted by Ken Williams on 11/26/2018

Grin -- thanks!

-Ken W