January 30th

Preparing for passage making

Posted by // January 30, 2015 // COMMENT (3 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 (5 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 (6 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 (8 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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December 25th

xmas beach

Growing up in the northern hemisphere mid-latitudes, it still feels strange to have Christmas on a sunny beach, but it’s not too hard to get used to.  Annual decorations were stored in our garage in stacks of boxes at home, but they’re not missed. We keep our old traditions, just in simpler ways, and shifted a little to adapt to new surroundings- as we have in Mexico, Australia, and Indonesia.

Familiar decorations set the mood and don’t have to take up a lot of storage. Our Christmas stockings are almost relics; mine and Jamie’s dating from our childhood, the children’s since they were babies.…

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December 13th

Your day is about to get better

Posted by // December 13, 2014 // COMMENT (4 Comments)

Cruising, People, , , , ,


Get ready to smile! You know how when you smile at someone, it’s hard for them not to smile back? When someone passes along a good feeling, it’s hard not to share it and pass it along yourself? That’s pretty much how the kids & kittens fundraiser happened. It all started with a picture of the cute little boy we call Monk (for his impassive demeanor and bald head). His name is actually Hualan, but whatever the name, who can resist a trouser-less toddler gripping onto his favorite thing in the world, a new-to-him scooter?

When Mike messaged me after seeing Monk’s picture on Facebook, wanting to get scooters for other resident shipyard kids, a quick fundraiser was born.…

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December 7th

Friendships and cruising

Posted by // December 7, 2014 // COMMENT (1 Comment)

Cruising, People, , ,

DSC_0793Ponnusamy, or Sam as we call him, prepared chicken curry at his home in Penang, Malaysia for us to share on Totem recently. He called it “a simple curry” although was anything but simple, with so many different spices that even chili-fueled fire didn’t overwhelm the complex flavors. Other than love of good chicken vindaloo it would be easy to assume we don’t have much in common with Sam, yet over the course of a few evenings together he’s become a good friend. Different paths, cultures, beliefs, and we are richer for our time together.

We’ve made precious few friends like Sam during this last year in Malaysia and Thailand.…

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November 29th

Fundraiser: kids & kittens at the shipyard

Posted by // November 29, 2014 // COMMENT (1 Comment)



A few days ago, I posted the photo above to Totem’s Facebook page with the following caption:

We’ve decided the scooters on Totem will have an extended useful life if they stay with the kids in the shipyard instead of coming across the Indian Ocean with us. How many paved roads are there in Maldivian atolls, anyway? This little guy is really too cute for words. We lowered handlebars as far as they could go for him and he won’t let it out of his grip.

One of our followers, Mike F., was inspired to send a scooter to the kids here… then realized how outrageous the shipping costs are.…

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November 28th

Holiday gifts for cruisers

Posted by // November 28, 2014 // COMMENT (2 Comments)

Cruising, , , , , , , , , ,

christmas afloat Shopping for a sailor? Getting ready to go cruising, and don’t want to spend on things you won’t use in your life afloat? Here is a list of suggested gifts we love (or wish we had!) that you can take with you…and some distractions to help you keep the cruising dream present while you wait.

Dream fodder

If cruising is in your future, here are some great reads to keep the dream alive, with tales directly from cruisers about their experiences afloat.

Blown Away, Herb Payson. One of the true classic cruising memoirs, this new edition includes the author’s hindsight on the aftermath of cruising.…

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