Sailfeed
March 4th

totem in trinco

We approached Trincomalee with excitement and trepidation. This port is run by the Navy; it’s new to cruising boats after decades of civil war: officials don’t understand our needs, any more than cruisers understand theirs.

The first boats to arrive didn’t have the freedom they’re accustomed to at most cruising ports of call (such as not being allowed to anchor overnight and wait for clearance, but required to proceed to a specific location). There were concerns about the lack of transparency around fees, and ensuring that there is parity with the fees levied in Galle. Boats received services from the port (such as piloting, or dockage) which they didn’t realize they’d later be charged for.…

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March 1st

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Trincomalee so far has been a feast of sights, sounds, smells, experiences. It has been both friendly and jarring, and I wake up wondering what each day will bring. But that’s getting ahead of things a little. First, we had to get here!

For years, cruising boats pointing to Sri Lanka all called in to Galle on the southwest side of Sri Lanka. Trincomalee – the fifth largest natural harbor in the world – was in LTTE (Tamil Tiger) territory on the northeast coast, and not considered a safe destination during the civil war that dragged on from 1986 to 2009.…

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February 27th

PW5

Not long before leaving Malaysia, we purchased an Iridium GO!. This was somewhat unexpected because Totem has long been a radio centric boat. Since we started cruising in 2008 we’ve relied solely on our HF radio for long distance communications: it has met our needs, we value the community of an informal radio net at sea, and we are grateful the safety net of land-based hams such as the awesome Pacific Seafarers Net.

What changed?

But this past year, paying close attention to the progress of boats along our intended route in the Indian Ocean, we were dismayed to hear how much trouble they were having connecting to land-based stations for the purpose of receiving updated weather data over PACTOR modems- to the point that we know radio-centric boats that relied upon sailing in company with those carrying satellite based systems on board so that they could to receive updated weather forecasts.…

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February 25th

Giving back: the best birthday gift ever

Posted by // February 25, 2015 // COMMENT (2 Comments)

Cruising, , , , ,

dogs trinco

We’re just over one week in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka. It is an explosion of new experiences: it’s so different, full of new sights and sounds and tastes and smells, which are taking time to process! But we are so happy to be here, relaxing into a familiar rhythm and learning about a new place…like walking past the gauntlet of marine police, above,to what must be the best-guarded dinghy dock we’ve EVER tied up to.

trinco beach

They named her Lucy. Dutch Beach, Tricomalee, Sri Lanka

One of the things you can’t miss in Trinco is the number of stray dogs. They’re not a problem, they’re just omnipresent.…

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February 19th

Passage making: Malaysia to Sri Lanka, part two

Posted by // February 19, 2015 // COMMENT (4 Comments)

Cruising,

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Coastal Cruising has dominated the last couple of years in Southeast Asia. Our passage making skills are rusty. Before we left, I wondered: what habits would we have to relearn? What would come back like muscle memory? Read about the first half of the passage here – this picks up with the back half.

Day 5

With less than 500 miles to Trincomalee, our halfway mileage mark, we celebrate at breakfast with a cherry coffee cake.

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Utopia on the horizon at dawn one morning

We left with Utopia, a Beneteau 50 with an Aussie family aboard. Incredibly, we’ve remained within visual range of our friends for the duration of the passage to date.…

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February 17th

Passage making: Malaysia to Sri Lanka

Posted by // February 17, 2015 // COMMENT (6 Comments)

Cruising,

DSC_4478

Coastal Cruising has dominated the last couple of years in Southeast Asia. Our passage making skills are rusty. Before we left, I wondered: what habits would we have to relearn? What would come back like muscle memory?

Day 0

When you take off for a voyage, sometimes, it’s best just to tuck around the corner instead of going directly into the event. The final weeks we spent in Langkawi, Malaysia, were so jammed with projects and shopping runs and goodbyes: our last hike to the waterfalls, our last evening with friends at Mare Blu, our last barbecue on the harbor islet.…

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February 11th

Best places to sail in Thailand

Posted by // February 11, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

Cruising, ,

Phang Nga Bay

There are a handful of places we’ll never forget from our months of sailing in Thailand. We found a lot to love (and a lot we could do without). These are our favorites spots: the places that capture, in one way or another, what for us was the best of cruising along the Andaman Sea coast of Thailand.

Hippy Bar

Koh Phayam. When we first arrived in January 2014 a friend with us exclaimed – “this is like Phuket in the 80s!” Without cars or utilities, this sleepy little island near the border of Myanmar is geared towards more basic travelers and the counterpoint to chaotic Phuket.…

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February 6th

Cruising in Thailand: what we won’t miss

Posted by // February 6, 2015 // COMMENT (3 Comments)

Cruising, ,

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There are a lot of great reasons to sail in Thailand. But for all those things we really enjoyed, there were plenty of things we won’t miss. What didn’t we like? Here are some reflections based on nearly half a year spend in Thailand between 2013 and 2014.

It’s lousy underwater. Thailand is supposed to be famous for great dive sites and snorkeling. I don’t doubt that years ago, they were great. But now, it’s mostly pretty dead underwater- clear signs of overfishing. We were always within sight of fishing boats, many of them the paired trawlers that drag a net between them and indiscriminately clean out every bit of marine life in the middle.…

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February 2nd
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Seeing the mountains of Cuba, especially after leaving the flat and featureless Bahamas, is exciting. You know it’s going to be different, but just how different you don’t know. Equal parts of fear and anticipation, hesitancy and expectation, jitter about in your mind. It’s not at all like entering any other country.

As you approach, and generally somewhere about 9 or 10 miles out, the Cuban Guarda Frontera (coast guard) contacts you via VHF with a request you identify yourself and your intentions. This is it. You’re heading in and your entire cruising experience is about to be changed.

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ooops…..

My first visit I entered at Puerto de Vita after a 65 nm crossing from Ragged Island in the Bahamas.…

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January 30th

Preparing for passage making

Posted by // January 30, 2015 // COMMENT (6 Comments)

Cruising,

up the rig

How do you get ready for a passage? We’ve done it enough, but we’re rusty. And the upcoming ~1,200 nm from Malaysia to Sri Lanka is our first passage in a year of big passages. Even though we keep Totem in shape, after more than two years of mostly coastal sailing important to avoid complacency and make sure we’re on top of all systems aboard before taking off. Of course, life on a boat is a constantly scrolling list of repairs and maintenance, but the miles ahead add extra pressure.

So, what are we doing before we leave? Here’s a look at the current list.…

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