We strive to be a green boat, and supply our power through sun and wind as much as possible. But the wants of five people can outstrip what our solar panels and wind turbine provide- especially during a time of grey skies or equatorial calms. Unfortunately, we had periods of cloudy skies and not much wind while we were in Southeast Asia, so our green power struggled to keep up.
Batteries like to be kept above a minimum charge (amount depends on battery voltage and type) and to get a full recharge now and again instead of routine partial charges. Our first battery bank (12 volt AGM) started failing after a solid service life, and we found ourselves running Totem’s engine more often to charge up.… Read More
What a year! We knew 2015 was going to be big, and eagerly anticipated the change after a year of maintenance in Southeast Asia. In hindsight, it was truly epic: I still can’t believe we’ve crossed the Indian Ocean! This past year brought richness in culture and landscapes and beauty that overwhelmed us in their scale and diversity. I struggled a little with how to share how this year felt to us; Jamie, who is a database guy from way back, pulled some statistics out of the data he tracks on our everyday life, and that got it flowing.
- Distance traveled: 7,988 nautical miles (9,192 miles; 14,794 km)
- Days at anchor: 249; days docked: 59, moored: 20, nights on passage: 37
- Countries: 10 – Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Chagos, Seychelles, Comoros, Madagascar, South Africa, and Lesotho
- Places (harbors, anchorages, etc.): 70, and 52 different islands
tied to the police jetty for clearance: Trincomalee, Sri Lanka
… Read More
- Deepest: 130’ (39.6m) – Gaadhoo Island at Hadhdhunmathee Atoll in Maldives…in fading light and as squall hit, per Murphy’s law.
Sailing across the Indian Ocean made 2015 a big year for nautical miles under Totem’s keel: 6,901 of them, in fact, from the time we left Malaysia in February until we arrived in South Africa in October. It had a little bit of everything: light winds. Big winds. Really big current! Weeks among uninhabited islands, and great distances between supplies. We tested ourselves, Totem, and a lot of gear. Here’s what stands out for equipment on board that served us well while crossing the big I.O.
Toughbook. This ruggedized laptop is the brain of our navigation station. After eight years of service, after reaching Madagascar we finally retired our Toughbook CF-52 and replaced it with a current model.… Read More
Who wants to cut into the cruising kitty for gifts that won’t work when you take off? It’s just about that time of year, so Jamie and I came up with a list of fun and affordable gifts based on our everyday cruising life. Maybe some of these will fit the sailor in yours! We aimed to skew practical but keep it fun and easy, with ideas that are (mostly) under $50.
Dry bag. Ship to shore, or even just walking around on shore, things get wet. I remember tucking a camera into a plastic baggie back in 2008 and was just lucky when we dumped the dinghy and the camera survived.… Read More
Jamie is a sailmaker; he periodically shares his knowledge on the blog, and those posts are under the Sailmaker tag. This is the second post in a two-part series to demystify some of the woo around sailcloth material; you can read the first post here. Anyone with questions about sails is invited to get in touch; Jamie enjoys sharing from his depth of experience as a sailmaker and a cruiser.
Sailcloth comes in so many forms, each exhibiting unique characteristics. It’s easy to see, and understand differences between a Carbon fiber “string” sail and one made from Dacron with crosscut construction.… Read More
Jamie is a sailmaker; he periodically shares his knowledge on the blog, and those posts are under the Sailmaker tag here. In this first post of a two-part series, he hopes to demystify some of the woo around sailcloth material. Anyone with questions about sails is invited to get in touch; Jamie enjoys sharing from his depth of experience as a sailmaker and a cruiser.
We gifted Totem’s old Dacron mainsail to a family on Ninigo atoll in Papua New Guinea. There, the fatigued sail that pushed and pulled us over thousands of sea miles found a new life as a tarp.… Read More
Having spent many years sailing in England, where there is no climate as such, just weather (as the Brits love to say, with just a touch of bitterness), transitioning to coastal sailing in the United States came as a pleasant surprise to me. It took a year or two before I stopped toting my ocean-grade foulweather gear around and became acclimated to sailing in shorts, T-shirt and (sometimes) a light jacket. I’ve so seldom worn long pants on the boat that when I sailed in jeans the other week it felt decidedly unnatural.
Of course, pride precedes an inevitable fall, and after a couple of years of fair-weather daysailing I had been lulled into such a sense of false security that when invited to race from Marblehead, Massachusetts, to Halifax, Nova Scotia, I packed only the lightest of gear, the dog days of summer having brought 95-degree temperatures to the coast.… Read More
Revo’s Guide S sunglasses are built with “fast-flow” vents on the arms to keep your head cool and the shades where they need to be (i.e. on your head), and they come with high-contrast polarized lenses. $189. Revo, revo.com
In a past life when I was working as crew for America’s Cup Charters in Newport, Rhode Island, sailing tourists around Narragansett Bay for up to 10 hours a day, the captain on one boat told me my sunglasses, well, sucked, and that if I didn’t want to cause permanent damage to my eyes I had to upgrade. So I ponied up for a pair of polarized sunglasses (my first pair ever) and never looked back.… Read More
Which started out with a bang yesterday, as we journos were lured to Harken’s booth, where Harken’s Davide Burrini (up top) introduced the new Assisted Sail Trim system Harken has developed in cooperation with Jeanneau. This is the Holy Grail of an automatic sailing system we’ve been hearing builders talk about for going on ten years now. Now it’s happening! The boats will sail themselves! All we have to do is press buttons.
According to my friends at Jeanneau, there won’t be a boat with an AST system installed here in the States for us to test until spring.
Should be interesting, to say the least.… Read More
When Hanse Yachts founder Michael Schmidt sold his company a few years ago, it seemed the European boatbuilding community had lost one of its canniest operators. Not only did Schmidt build the company from a startup in a disused East German furniture factory to a multi-brand powerhouse at a time when many other builders were struggling, he is a true character and an innovator; witness how widely copied the trademark Hanse big mainsail/self-tacking jib combo has become. Read More
With a boatbuilding background going back to the 1970s it was unlikely that Schmidt would stay away from the scene for too long, and sure enough, he is back with something completely different—a new line of sleek carbon-fiber bluewater cruisers designed by Italians, styled by a Brit and built in Germany.…