February 25th

Giving back: the best birthday gift ever

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

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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)


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.


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)


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)


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)



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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January 30th

Preparing for passage making

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


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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January 28th

Why we love cruising in Thailand

Posted by // January 28, 2015 // COMMENT (8 Comments)

Cruising, ,


We’ve checked out of Thailand, and don’t know when we’ll be back. While we wrap up pre-passage projects on Totem in Malaysia, it feels like the perfect time to reflect on what we loved (and didn’t) about the nearly six months we’ve spent in Thailand between 2013 and 2014.

The landscapes are breathtaking. The Andaman coast is peppered with stunning spots. From the surreal archipelago of limestone spires in Phang Nga bay to the sparkling water of the marine park islands offshore, there’s one beautiful anchorage after another. There should probably be a whole separate post of favorite places!


beautiful Phang Nga bay

The food is outrageously good.

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January 21st

Last days in Thailand

Posted by // January 21, 2015 // COMMENT (7 Comments)

Cruising, Uncategorized,


Cruising is hard work. Really. Our punch list to have Totem ready for the Indian Ocean is shrinking but it’s constant daily effort to track towards an end of month departure. Even when we’re relaxing, like those lazy weeks up in Koh Phayam, we’re not on vacation. I made this list of things Jamie did over the course of a few days while we lingered in the bay there:

  • -     cut hole in deck for inner forestay
  • -     cut six inches of 3/8 inch 316 SS plate from an overbuilt/oversized backing plate
  • -     install backing plate with some exceptionally messy butyl tape
  • -     re-splice dyneema inner forestay
  • -     connect solar panels (offline since arch was rebuilt at the shipyard)
  • -     field install connector for NMEA 2000 network GPS (getting aaaalll the little wires into an end: finicky work)
  • -     replace burned-out Caframo fan in forepeak

Relaxing is not so much relaxing lately.…

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January 12th

Tradition for the fun of it

Posted by // January 12, 2015 // COMMENT (7 Comments)

Cruising, Miscellany,

It was just a little tickle on my neck, but something made me give it a flick instead of a scratch. Good thing, too, because instead of aggravating the little scorpion that perched there I knocked it to the cabin sole- and I ended up with a nip instead of a serious injury.

The little brown scorpion had jumped from a large stem of bananas (200+ bananas!) that I was cleaning and cutting into hands, the gift of a generous family back in Panapompom Island. It all worked out, but how could we have avoided a scorpion in the first place?…

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January 5th

Sailing into 2015

Posted by // January 5, 2015 // COMMENT (9 Comments)


seas between penang and langkawi

By many measures, we did not have a great year. 2014 was not marked by exotic anchorages and interesting cultural exchanges, but routine maintenance (and breakdown, and more maintenance), costly equipment replacements, and attempts at upgrades with varying degrees of success. Gear failures cost us plans for sailing to Borneo and the Philippines, and just much everything we tackled took significantly longer than it could or should. It is marked by complications and aggravations.

But a good year, or not, is mostly what you make of it. And although we would rather not repeat much of 2014, we had some incredible experiences that stand out like fireworks in hindsight- events and encounters and trends that added light to life.…

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