February 8th

The Numbers Are In: January 2016 Cruising Budget

Posted by // February 8, 2016 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

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Eastport pram

They say budgets are made to be broken. Maybe they don’t say that but it sounds good when you’re trying to defend your broken budget. This month we managed to spend $539.55 more than we had said we would. The cause? Amazon. Even 800 miles away from home we can’t escape its pull. Not that I’m complaining that is. We had a bunch of little items like an external hard drive, skin suit, some spare vhf radios and a bunch of sail making and repair items. All told it came to about $500. Rachel’s parents packed an extra suitcase when they came down to visit and upon opening it felt like christmas morning!

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February 3rd


As our time in South Africa draws to a close, we’re focused on preparing for the big miles ahead to cross the Atlantic. Although I felt like we spent a lot of last year preparing for passages, given the significant legs crossing the Indian Ocean, there’s a lot to inspect, and re-inspect. This is the time to catch up on anything that might have slipped on the “routine maintenance” schedule.

One of the first jobs was replacing the impeller Totem’s Yanmar (a decision typically guided by engine hours). And…good timing! Jamie found a wear point along the blades that prompted a further internal fix.…

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February 1st


About one year ago, we purchased an Iridium GO! satellite wifi unit. This was a big decision as it is a significant expense and we had been happy using HF radio for years for all offshore communications. Seeds of doubt about radio connections while crossing the Indian Ocean swayed our decision; we did not want any compromise to our ability to have weather information. My desire for better internet connectivity (anticipating a stretch of about six weeks between ports with service) reinforced the choice.

This post updates one I wrote last February after our first big passage with an Iridium GO!…

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January 27th

Cost Control While Cruising the Bahamas

Posted by // January 27, 2016 // COMMENT (6 Comments)

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Now that we’ve been down in the islands for a few months, we’re getting an idea of what it costs to cruise down here. Like always, its more than we thought. As a general rule, everything is twice as expensive as it is in the mainland US. Drinking or eating out can be prohibitively expensive if you make a habit of it. For most people traveling in the Bahamas the cost of things is not a big deal because they are “on vacation”. However since we happen to live full time down here at the moment we have to make every dollar count.

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January 24th

Breaking (down) The Budget: Decemeber

Posted by // January 24, 2016 // COMMENT (0 Comments)


In an effort to be as transparent as possible about how much it costs to cruise, here are the December numbers!






at budget 




106.65 under

Income less Expenses



106.65 under 

So where did all that money go? Heres the breakdown for our luxury items which Rachel has Lovingly named: The Good, Bad and Ugly.
The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Capn Jacks – Lunch (12.1.15)


Budda’s Snack Shack – Lunch (12.5.15)


Macheti (12.5.15)


Lee’s Book


Wild Orchid – 2 Beers & Conch Fritters (12.10.15)


Bahamas Guidebook


Staniel Cay Bar (12.16.15) 


Laundry (12.21.15)


UV Skin Suit (12.22.15)


Amazon Order (12.21.15)


Staniel Cay Yacht Club – Lunch (12.31.15)


Staniel Cay Yacht Club – Drinks (12.31.15)


All together thats $424 on stuff we really didn’t need to buy.…

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January 23rd

entering false bay

We arrived in Cape Town weeks later than originally planned. Conventional wisdom was that multi-day windows out of Durban should cycle through regularly, but we ultimately waited nearly a month! It necessitated a road trip to meet up with visiting relatives in Yzerfontein, north of Cape Town, a road trip adventure of more than 2,000 miles and a story of its own.

When the weather did finally break, it did so in glorious fashion, letting us sail from Durban to Cape Town in just four days. Totem clocked up two of her fastest days ever: 239 nautical miles for one, and the other 234.…

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January 20th

Watch Captain

Posted by // January 20, 2016 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

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Our friend Ty has accompanied Totem on significant passages . We’re very excited that he’s booked a flight to Namibia next month, and will join Totem again to cross the Atlantic to the Caribbean. A little backstory on Ty and our history together seems appropriate: this is a piece Jamie wrote about our indomitable seafaring companion. It first appeared in last December’s issue of 48° North.

You can take the man out of the boat, but you’re nuts if you think his boating days are over.

Last year, Captain Ty Anderson retired after 30 years of service with the Washington State Ferry system.…

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January 16th

Canning meat on board

Posted by // January 16, 2016 // COMMENT (1 Comment)

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canning chicken jars bowl

At some point, canning food makes sense for a lot of long-distance cruisers. Totem is a boat full of omnivores, and with five people on board, canning meat has been a useful skill to acquire. For those times we need to boost our provisions with canned food, doing it yourself is cheaper and tastier than commercially canned meat.

I’ve been water-bath canning for years before cruising, but meat requires pressure canning. This process intimidated me for a long time, but I got over the hurdle when we anticipated about three months in Papua New Guinea without access to stores. Now, ticking down the days we have left in South Africa, We have a lot (LOT) of ocean miles ahead of us; the longest leg will probably be from Ascension Island to Grenada, about 3500 miles.…

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January 15th

Call of the Sea

Posted by // January 15, 2016 // COMMENT (2 Comments)



Do you remember how old you were when you first dreamed about running away to sea? Me neither, though I expect it was after some parental discipline regarding tormenting younger siblings or eating all the cake. What I do recall is gazing out to sea during beachside camping vacations, watching ships and sailboats disappear over the horizon, wondering where they were bound and wishing I was going there too.

It seems to me that the call of the sea is heard more strongly by some than others. Had I grown up in a Midwest farm town, with the wind blowing ripples across boundless yellow cornfields rather than a blue ocean, would the lure of open water and nameless places over the horizon be as strong?…

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January 14th

sunset underway

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.

sailboat sunset generatorBatteries 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.…

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