July 2nd

The imperfect passage

Posted by // July 2, 2015 // COMMENT (6 Comments)


Sailing west from the middle (literally) of the Indian Ocean, to the Seychelles islands just off Africa: circumnavigate, and this may the best passage you make. “Near perfect sailing conditions have been encountered by boats making this passage in May and June” crows Jimmy Cornell’s World Cruising Routes. Spectacular! We’re IN! Slow passages in light air and way too much motoring in Southeast Asia would fall farther over the taff rail.

At just over 1,000 nautical miles, Chagos to Seychelles would be our longest passage in several years, and third longest ever. Preparing for passagemaking is never something we never take lightly, but despite the fact Chagos is uninhabited, we’ve rarely felt MORE ready.…

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June 28th

Living differently in Salomon Atoll

Posted by // June 28, 2015 // COMMENT (9 Comments)

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No question about it, cruisers live differently, especially when we’re off the grid for an extended time…possibly under a rainbow. But my tongue in cheek post about just HOW differently lacked photos, coming as it did from our sat phone. Here’s a peek into those differences, as we lived them on Chagos during the last month.


It’s exciting when the fisher folk bring home some serious bacon! Because fuel is precious when there’s no option to buy more, we usually doubled (or tripled) up with other cruisers on an expedition. Except that it’s fish, and sometimes reminds you how much you miss bacon.…

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June 25th

Highlights from 2,500 days of cruising

Posted by // June 25, 2015 // COMMENT (7 Comments)


Today marks the 2,500th day since we sailed Totem out of Puget Sound; soon we’ll start our eighth year as cruisers. It still feels amazing, and I still pinch myself to make sure it’s not a dream. There are plenty of days that aren’t all sunshine or rainbows (like much of this last passage, which was a wet, boisterous, uncomfortable ride) but never one where I don’t feel grateful that our family can follow this path.

Jamie rounded up a bunch of statistics in honor of cracking this big round number in our cruising journey. Most of them are from a database program he’s been building as a kind of logbook on aquatic steroids, but a lot of this came from laughing and sifting through memories.…

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June 24th


Anchored at the east end of Salomon atoll, Totem floats in clear water that is swimming-pool turquoise, her hull shadow sharply outlined on the sand below. On shore, coconuts sprout where they wash up with the tide, building a picket fence of young palm trees along the high water line.  It’s been nearly five decades since humans were here in enough force to bend the environment to their will, and in the interim a glorious tangle of overgrown mangrove trees and casuarinas have grown, coconut palms leaning out over white sand beaches.


Birdlife International designated Chagos as an “Important Bird Area” – certainly important to the many seabirds with colonies in the islands.…

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June 15th

The easy way to take better cruising pictures

Posted by // June 15, 2015 // COMMENT (3 Comments)

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It’s pretty common knowledge among cruisers that you should have polarized sunglasses. They reduce reflected light from the water, and by allowing the wearer to see into the water (instead of a bright glare), making them valuable safety aids for navigating. When I think about the coral heads we’ve dodged in lagoons the last few months, and back in the Pacific, I can’t imagine cruising without them.

This brings up a question. Why don’t more cruisers use a polarizing filter? It is tremendous how they can transform outdoor photos: like sprinkling fairy dust! The effect can’t be reproduced in post-processing software, and they’re very simple to use.…

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June 13th

Chagos archipelago-better than a soap opera

Posted by // June 13, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

Cruisers love to love Chagos. They rhapsodize about the picturesque islands, amazing underwater life, and self-sufficient living. They wonder how they’’ll manage for a month without being bored out of their skulls, then wake up months later and reluctantly leave only because they’’re running out of supplies (well, back when you actually could stay that long, but boats now are easily maxing out their permits).The stories, the drama, the cast of characters–you can see why the Cult of Chagos came to be. But some of it reads more like a soap opera than a peaceful little fleet:

  • – Boats kicked out for fighting and general bad behavior (threating other yachties with a machete?!)
  • – Crew being thrown off their boat by the captain (not a lot of options out here)
  • – Silly fiefdom building, along the lines of “”this is my private beach, you can’’t walk through”.” (delusions of grandeur?
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June 9th

How cruisers live differently

Posted by // June 9, 2015 // COMMENT (3 Comments)


We’’re in our third week at the remote Chagos archipelago. It’’s hard not to compare what living in an uninhabited tropical island paradise is like in comparison to our prior land-based home life…it’s very, very different.


Home: last minute ingredients needed for dinner? Jump in the car, the store is only minutes away!

Cruiser style: Grab the fishing gear and get to it. The problem isn’’t catching a fish; it’’s landing one before the sharks eat it off your line. Otherwise, if you didn’’t bring it with you (you know, a few weeks ago) or the sharks win, you’’ll have to make it: fresh bread (allow half a day for rising + baking), yogurt (8+ hours to ferment, then chilling time), sprouts (2-5 days, depending on the seeds), turtle soup (kidding!

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June 4th

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What’s it really like homeschooling kids while traveling? What are the tools and resources that help us with boatschooling? How is technology part of our everyday life, especially as it relates to learning?

These are the questions Jason wants to demystify. But backing up: Jason and his wife Keiko met as teachers, and have a really interesting story. More recently (most of the last two decades) they’ve lived in Asia and spent years in high-pressure jobs in Tokyo. Rewarding in many ways, but frustrating in others. So they quit, and they’ve been traveling since with their two kids.

We met up last year in Penang, Malaysia, thanks to the family on Love Song (who had connected with the traveling Jenkins crew through Families On The Move, a  great resource for nomadic families to find and support each other). …

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May 30th

Cruiser Paradise Found

Posted by // May 30, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

What does cruising paradise look like? For some, it looks a lot like the Chagos archipelago, a remote spread of beautiful islands where cruisers enjoy tremendous freedom. Rhapsodize about Chagos and the uninitiated glaze over-what? where? But mention Diego Garcia, Chagos’ most famous atoll and one of the largest (or the largest?) offshore US military bases in the world, and they’ll check back in. For those in the know, it evokes an idealized Robinson Crusoe tropical lifestyle, reports of which have probably fueled a few cruising dreams. Many circumnavigators call Chagos out among their favorite stops. So what makes it special?…

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May 26th

Village vibe in the Maldives

Posted by // May 26, 2015 // COMMENT (3 Comments)

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Our days have a common flow here. Most morning are consumed with activities on board: reading, routine maintenance, writing, dishes, algebra, whatever seems to need doing.

The heat’s not oppressive at dawn, but it doesn’t take long. I really didn’t think it was possible to be hotter than we were during our summer in the Sea of Cortez, but I don’t remember sweating through clothes before 8am like I do here. I guess we can handle anything tropical now! Meanwhile, our raised-mostly-in-the-tropics youngest, Siobhan, wears long sleeve shirts and leggings and declares she’s perfectly comfortable. Hopefully we haven’t spoiled her forever for high latitudes.…

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