July 11th

The Evils of Cockpit Flooring

Posted by // July 11, 2014 // COMMENT (2 Comments)

Cruising, Maintenance, , ,

There are many things I love about my boat.  It is a comfortable home. It sails beautifully in heavy weather. It is very pretty.  But even Papillon has its flaws.

The girls and I were playing a game in the cockpit. Stylish rolled, and the die skittered off the table. All of us shrieked and grabbed for it, but it was too late. It fell through the cockpit floor.

What, you might wonder, is the big deal? Our floor is painted aluminum with a teak grid overlay. It is a good concept: when water gets into the cockpit, it falls through the grate and disappears down the drains in the corners.…

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June 29th


The engine failed our test run, but it at least had the grace to wait until we were beyond the worst of the shipping traffic. With a few miles left to our intended anchorage the needle began to steadily tick up again. This has been the pattern: it’s fine, right up  until it’s not, and then the overheating happens very, very quickly. We shut it down and drifted with the current, happy to be outside the shipping lanes. Jamie replaced 1 1/2 liters of coolant, much of which had spilled into the well.

It’s dashed our plans, if not our mood.…

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June 28th

Testing day: mechanical and technical

Posted by // June 28, 2014 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

Cruising, Maintenance,

979 targets in Singapore

Today’s a day of tests, in two very different ways- Totem’s Yanmar engine, and Totem’s blog!

Mechanical: the engine

With a clean bill of health for our overheating woes, we are heading out today for a trial run. We want to make sure it behaves as desired before we departing on the ~3 day passage across to Borneo. Today’s distance of about 50 nautical miles, across the bottom of Singapore, should give us an excellent indication of whether the overheating problems are truly resolved.

Cross your fingers for us, because we sure don’t want to be dealing with overheating problems in the nutty Singapore port traffic.…

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June 25th

Engine trouble and kidnappings

Posted by // June 25, 2014 // COMMENT (8 Comments)

Cruising, Maintenance, , ,

Engine repairs

There’s a Yiddish proverb: “Man plans, God laughs.” The cruiser’s equivalent is to say that our plans are written in the sand, at low tide.

Yes, we still make plans. Usually, they’re weather driven: designed to avoid hurricane/cyclone/typhoon seasons on the grand scale, and pick days for optimal sailing on immediate front. The current “big plan” is next year’s Indian Ocean passages, starting early in 2015 and winding a slow path through a number of countries before South Africa. It’s trying to nail down any nearer term plans that has proved impossible. I hesitate share any, because every time we make them- even in a general sense (like, hey, let’s go to the Philippines this year!)- they change.…

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June 3rd

Maintenance on board: how mechanical are you?

Posted by // June 3, 2014 // COMMENT (2 Comments)

Maintenance, ,

Maintenance month

We just had a crazy stretch of boat work on Totem, and knocked several big items off our list of essentials for maintenance or repair as we anticipate next year’s Indian Ocean passages. Sometimes it was just a matter of paying a vendor. Sometimes it was work we did ourselves. Typically it was a combination, where we invested a lot of effort too: replacing the boat batteries wasn’t just a swap out. Jamie built a whole new box to store them in and decomissioned the old one. Over and over, I was grateful for his diverse skills and creative problem solving in everything from carpentry and fiberglass to fabricating the new roll pin needed with positioning a bearing on the autopilot.…

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May 28th

Battle of the Pests

Posted by // May 28, 2014 // COMMENT (1 Comment)

Cruising, Maintenance,

Friends, I am doing something very exciting: for the first time in four years, I am going on vacation. “Amy,” you say, “you live on vacation.”  Well, yes.  But even when I am supposed to be lolling about on a beach somewhere, I am thinking of you, dear reader, and the stories I want to tell you.

But right now, I’m heading home to see my family.  And to mark this momentous occasion, I am going to leave my blog behind for a little while.  Now, don’t start weeping into your hankies just yet.  I’ve dusted off some golden oldies for you to enjoy while I’m gone.  

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May 27th
Silentwind install instructions

This could be the shortest post ever, because installing the Silentwind wind generator was a non-event.

Silentwind install

Silentwind install
The instructions were easy to follow.

It took three hours, including decommissioning our old turbine and installing Silentwind.

It worked immediately.


Ease of installation (and instant gratification!) matter to us because of the sharp contrast with our prior wind turbine installation experience. In 2009, it took more than six months for the AirBreeze we purchased from Southwest Windpower to function. The details are on a post Jamie made to Cruiser’s Forum; suffice to say it was a drawn out, frustrating experience hampered by abysmal customer support.…

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May 24th

Written by Ben Ellison on May 24, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Gizmo_5-2014_Ocean_Armor_topsides_cPanbo.jpgCheck out the evening gleam on Gizmo’s flared bow. I think it’s impressive for a gelcoat surface that’s seen a lot of weather over 14 years and better yet, the pros who applied the “nano polymer wax replacement” were also impressed. There’s more detail on the new coating called Ocean Armor Pro Maxi All Gloss further along in this entry and also my experience with an initial application of Pettit HydroCoat Eco bottom paint, which seems like another winner so far…


You may recall that I already conducted a three-year test of copper-free Interlux Pacifica Plus and it did pretty well.…

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May 16th

Written by Ben Ellison on May 16, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub


I’m tentatively proud of Gizmo’s 2014 forward transducer installs (which you can see better by clicking on the photo above). I knew it would be hard to remove the three ducers installed there in 2010 and “mistakes were made” during the replacement phase, but I’m fairly sure the boat is set up now to properly compare EchoPilot FLS with ForwardScan, and I also look forward to checking out the manly HD version of Navico StructureScan. Plus, there are yet other possibilities for the forward retractable casings and two new fixed transducers back aft…


The biggest problem was removing the big old Interphase FLS transducer, which I had installed with liberal quantities of 3M 5200 adhesive/sealant.…

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May 12th

Keep It Accessible

Posted by // May 12, 2014 // COMMENT (2 Comments)


What is wrong with this picture? Take a good look. We see a hose run above, a seacock below… wait a minute. What about that hose in the middle?  The part someone built into a wall and then painted over? Gee, I hope that never fails, because someone is going to have a hard time getting at it.


That hose did fail,and that person is me.  And if there is one thing I resent, it is making an easy job hard.  I have enough to do without battling this sort of nonsense.  So today, dear readers, we are going to take a refresher course on Things I Promise Never To Do On My Own Boat Or Amy Will Track Me Down And Beat Me Senseless With My Vicegrips And I’ll Deserve It, Too.…

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