November 20th

A dependable suit of sails to carry you towards the horizon is the basic tool of every cruiser. I’m sharing more of Jamie’s expertise as a sailmaker on the blog: most recently, about how to check the stitching in sails for UV damage.  This time- he’s going to tell you how to evaluate the cloth.

Jamie often checks sails on the boats we’re with. The cruising boats we meet in Southeast Asia have often done hard miles, but you don’t have to cross an ocean to have sailcloth damaged by UV exposure. He’d like to empower sailors with the right information to check their own to avoid an unpleasant days on the water, or worse.…

Read More
November 19th

Nearing the end of the shipyard grind

Posted by // November 19, 2014 // COMMENT (6 Comments)


ladder looking down

We’re in the back half of our stay at Phithak Shipyard (PSS) near Satun, Thailand, and it’s pretty exciting to see work progressing on Totem.

As soon as we arrived, we went through our required projects and the wish list with the yard management. Based on their estimates and some help from home, we decided to go forward… with all of it. I might have had some happy tears at the prospect of these improvements to our Totem! So the plan changed from “a couple of weeks” to as long as our visas allow, keeping an eye on the costs, and getting as much done as possible within time/budget limits.…

Read More
November 10th

sail evalCruisers flock towards the tropics, where all that sun exposure can be tough on sails. Short of alien ships on a bad landing approach, UV damage is the biggest culprit in ending the useful life of a sail. Jamie often checks sails on the boats we’re with, like Papa Djo next to us in the shipyard: in the last few months, a spate of them had no idea their sails suffered from moderate to severe damage.

It’s not difficult for cruisers to inspect their own sails and have a good pulse on the condition, so compromised integrity doesn’t unexpectedly turn a nice day on the water into a mess.…

Read More
October 22nd

Welcome to the shipyard

Posted by // October 22, 2014 // COMMENT (3 Comments)

Cruising, Maintenance, , , ,


PSS Satun, a Thai shipyard just a hop over the southern border with Malaysia, sits at the edge of a small village up a winding muddy river. Because we can only enter the river at high tide, we spend the night before our haulout at a bend where the depth drops enough to keep water under the keel through a full swing. Surrounded by mangroves, we watch fishermen wade knee-deep in the mud at low tide, pushing boxes and collecting something- crabs?- from the flats.


Crossing into Thailand to this spot retraces the same route that brought us here nearly a year ago.…

Read More
October 12th

Making a boat into a home

Posted by // October 12, 2014 // COMMENT (5 Comments)

Boats and Gear, Maintenance, ,


In the run-up to cutting our docklines, my friend Toast and I would meet for workday lunch breaks in downtown Seattle to talk about All Things Cruising. It was a much needed outlet during a time that we weren’t very public with our plans, and could only bore close friends with for so long. One week, she reported back from a daysail with another would-be cruising family that hoped to point south soon: “they’re never going to leave Puget Sound.”

She was right. They didn’t leave, and sold the boat the next year. Most of the right cruising prep boxes were ticked, so what was the giveaway?…

Read More
October 2nd

Understanding engine overheating problems

Posted by // October 2, 2014 // COMMENT (1 Comment)

Cruising, Maintenance,


Why is the engine overheating? Our Yanmar engine’s shrill alarm was the jarring start to some stressful hours during the last five months, and we asked that question many times. The answer was not one root cause, but more likely a series of related events, as a domino effect of different issues cascaded. I’ve written about the painful side of this before, but less so the final diagnosis and fix, so this is for cruisers like Mark, Lynn & Rick, Gary, and others who reached out and asked to learn from our experience.

It all started when tried to fix something that wasn’t broken.…

Read More
September 29th

EYES ON BOATS: And Other Important Upgrades

Posted by // September 29, 2014 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

Maintenance, ,

New eyes and hole

Lunacy was on the hard last week to get her bottom cleaned and some new paint put on before she goes south for the winter, and while she was out I finally made two changes I’ve long been pondering. First I cut a hole in the aluminum plate (the “bob-plate” I call it) that supports her bowsprit; second I stuck a pair of eyes on her bow.

The reason for the hole is that I really dislike the way the bob-plate sometimes makes the bow look like a clipper bow in profile. Not that I am inherently prejudiced against clipper bows, but I do think they look a bit silly and pretentious on common sailing yachts that are less than 60 feet long.…

Read More
August 15th


Posted by // August 15, 2014 // COMMENT (3 Comments)


Winch service prep

I spent some time last year installing new “disc springs” on the two Andersen primary winches in Lunacy‘s cockpit. At that time I knew I should have also taken the trouble to clean and grease those winches, but I have exceptional procrastination skills and so managed to talk myself out of it. This season, however, the winches were screaming so loudly every time I turned them, I knew I could no longer forestall the inevitable.

Servicing winches is definitely a chore and can be a bit time-consuming if you do it properly. But it is also a pleasant job, so long as you do it carefully and deliberately and don’t rush through it.…

Read More
August 14th

Oh, RATS! Getting rid of rodents aboard

Posted by // August 14, 2014 // COMMENT (31 Comments)

Cruising, Maintenance,


It’s not easy to get rid of rats on board. Preventing rats from getting on in the first place is better, of course. We blame our current dock-bound status for the uninvited visitors, but two other boats have related to us how rats in New Zealand swam to their boats from shore and entered by climbing the anchor chain! These are determined creatures… and if they’re going to find you, it’s good to know how to deal with them first.

Our unwanted rodent remained aboard for four weeks to the day. I’m not going to think about the hours of sleep lost wondering 1) if it would crawl ON ME again, 2) how much damage it had done so far, or 3) when and where I would next hear it scratching around or gnawing wood.…

Read More
August 12th

Hauling Out

Posted by // August 12, 2014 // COMMENT (3 Comments)

Cruising, Maintenance,

No one likes hauling out. Mostly because it means you are not sailing, and that is a terrible fate when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing.  Hauling out means fixing things, buying replacement parts, discovering nasty surprises, and living in a boat yard. None of those are my favorites.  But what needs to be done needs to be done, and Papillon definitely needs a propeller shaft rejig and some centerboard work.

We got out of the marina on Monday morning, and made the short trip across the bay to the yard. As Erik heroically defied our massive prop-walk and started backing us into the slip, one of the guys from the yard ran over and started waving his arms.…

Read More