I don’t want to be here right now.
We’re living in Totem on the hardstand, on stilts in the shipyard. There is a lot of noise, and a lot of dirt, and a lot of chaos. Chunks of Totem’s interior are torn up. We climb a wobbly ladder with a rise that must be double a normal step to get on board. We have no refrigeration. It is hot, under tropical sun during the day and in the breeze-less yard at night. We share communal bathrooms in the yard and try desperately to avoid needing them at night.
But our present circumstance has nothing to do with my discontent.… Read More
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
With 71% of our planet covered by oceans, there is no shortage of places to explore by boat. So when I landed recently on a page for the latest campaign from LOOK, which aims to identify the world’s most exotic sailing location, well, I had two reactions. What’s their pick? And how could we possibly choose just one from among our favorites? I asked the question on Totem’s facebook page and had a slew of interesting suggestions… so we started thinking more about ours.
As we’ve done a interviews for podcasts or print, the question of a favorite place typically comes up.… Read More
How much does it cost to go cruising? How much / how long did you save in order to go? What do you spend every month as a cruiser? What about earning money while cruising? Questions along this line are among the most common that we get on Totem.
We recently had a chance to do an interview with Teddy J from SailLoot, and talk about ALL those issues. To listen in, you can stream it below, pick up on his site, or check out the SailLoot itunes channel.
Teddy has his eye on living aboard and cruising with his his wife, Megan, and their dog, Barley (yes, he likes beer!), and is asking all those questions to fuel his own planning.… Read More
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
Jamie and I co-author the cruising column for 48° North, a Pacific Northwest regional boating magazine. He lead on this piece for their for October issue, with ruminations about what lies ahead for us with a big year coming. The complete magazine is free on newstands around the Salish Sea, and available online wherever you are.
Transition then Monsoon
Southwest monsoon season is active here in the Malacca Straits. Intense squalls with cold, biting rain, and streaks of lightning that are always too close divide the day’s oppressive heat. It is extreme weather – eerily calm, blindingly bright or catastrophically loud.… Read More
Well, that was unpleasant.
There are the beautiful days of white sandy beaches and gin-clear water, and then there are the days when you have your ass handed to you by the weather.
We spent just over a week knocking off a list of projects from rig tuning to galvanizing in Penang. It’s probably our last marina stay until we arrive in South Africa, more than a year from now, and some things are just easier to do at a dock when the boat is relatively motionless and the fresh water runs freely. But we were ready to get out and back in our happy place, rocking gently at anchor.… Read More
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
We’ve been in Penang for a couple of days now, catching up on projects. This afternoon, after the sun disappeared behind the condos backing the marina and the air cooled, Jamie and I took a walk around and looked at the other boats. Primary takeaway: the sun, she is strong!
Many boats had some degree of the damage shown here: a protective cover worn thin from UV (see the tear?), with stitching so rotted it’s literally breaking apart in place. Is the UV strip material a low quality knockoff? Not sure. Was UV resistant PTFE thread used? Highly unlikely. Sailmakers don’t like this thread because it’s expensive and difficult to work with.… Read More
When engine issues took priority over adventuring, we needed a place at the southern end of the Malay peninsula to park Totem for a while. Puteri Harbour Marina, in Johor (just west of Singapore), made sense for a variety of reasons. It was a rigging job for Jamie that initially brought us there in June, and the friends that made coming back instead of looking elsewhere an easy decision.
Isn’t it always the people that make the place? During the weeks we spent there, we met a host of cruisers who are now cemented into great memories. Half a dozen other boats with kids came through, including Momo.… Read More