November 30th

From the ocean to the sky: land cruising in Lesotho

Posted by // November 30, 2015 // COMMENT (2 Comments)

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lesotho mountains

Road tripping from our landfall in South Africa, there was time to loop out and see at least one other country. We decided to include the kingdom of Lesotho on our route: partly because it came well recommended (thanks to everyone who chimed in!), partly because the frosty mountains seemed as different as we could possibly get from the sea-level tropics we’ve been in for so long.

pinterest lesotho visit

We had to get a special letter (at no small cost) from the rental car agency that would allow the vehicle to cross international borders. We had to make sure we had original birth certificates for all three kids on board.…

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November 24th

Gifts for sailors: ideas for the cruisers in your life

Posted by // November 24, 2015 // COMMENT (3 Comments)

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cobb in comoros

Who wants to cut into the cruising kitty for gifts that won’t work when you take off? It’s just about that time of year, so Jamie and I came up with a list of fun and affordable gifts based on our everyday cruising life. Maybe some of these will fit the sailor in yours! We aimed to skew practical but keep it fun and easy, with ideas that are (mostly) under $50.

Dry bag. Ship to shore, or even just walking around on shore, things get wet. I remember tucking a camera into a plastic baggie back in 2008 and was just lucky when we dumped the dinghy and the camera survived.…

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November 20th

Gone wild: a week in Pilanesberg

Posted by // November 20, 2015 // COMMENT (2 Comments)

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For a long time we have looked forward to visiting Jamie’s aunt and uncle in South Africa. They moved to Johannesburg as expats in the 70s, and have made this country their home. In the 23 years Jamie and I have been together, we’d only seen Barb and Clyde once, on a visit back to Rhode Island that the kids were too young to remember.

After some incredible wildlife reserve and park visits with Ty and Nita, we hopped into a little Chevy rental and headed up to Johannesburg to meet up with family. We knew this would be a fun visit, and they told us we’d take a holiday trip to their timeshare.…

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November 18th

Land cruising in Africa

Posted by // November 18, 2015 // COMMENT (8 Comments)

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We dreamed about the iconic wildlife we’d have the chance to see in South Africa. But when we sketched out our plans to sail across the Indian Ocean, seeing them for ourselves in the vast parklands of South Africa felt dubious. Safari prices, at first blush, were well out of our reach. We’d be there in peak season, where choice lodging in choice parks are booked many, many months in advance. I wondered if we’d experience this facet of Africa.

Happily, I was mistaken about the cost and accessibility. Thanks to helpful insights from our friend Sue (of Ocelot fame- there’s a pile of info on their site) and a cockpit briefing from the Delos crew of places they’d visited, and within days of our arrival we were road-tripping our way to unforgettable encounters with wildlife.…

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November 13th

10 reasons to love cruising in Madagascar

Posted by // November 13, 2015 // COMMENT (5 Comments)

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DSC_7196Madagascar might just be the perfect mix of different things we find to love in cruising destinations. Most boats crossing the Indian Ocean stop in, unless they are on a delivery or a schedule to get around the world; I don’t need to convince any cruisers to make it a destination. But for those contemplating cruising in the Indian Ocean, consider this a teaser for the awesomeness that lies ahead.

1. Incredible sailing

I’ve raved and it bears repeating: Madagascar’s diurnal daily breezes provided simply glorious sailing. Swells that have traveled across the Indian Ocean get blocked by the island, so there’s flat water to move us even more comfortably and swiftly along.…

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November 11th


South of Madagascar’s Cap St Andre is a sprinkling of islands, around 15 nautical miles off the coast. They’re aptly called the Barren Islands: some are no more than long spits of sand, just a couple of meters above sea level, and most have no more than thin sandy soil.

I sat down today with the intention of sharing a lookback post on things that went well (and things that didn’t) for our transit to South Africa as a follow up to the passage report, but while culling photos and reflecting, I kept coming back to these striking islands and the people we met in our final Madagascar stop. …

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November 6th


Sailing from Madagascar to South Africa is technically challenging. The Mozambique Channel separating them is famously dangerous, in particular for the effect of gales blowing up from the Southern Ocean against the south-setting Agulhas current. For a reference point that may translate better to sailors in North America, I’m told it’s comparable to experiencing a northerly gale in the Gulf Stream. There’s the very real possibility of some unpleasant weather, and big seas (20 meters!), and grief.

Happily, Totem is now snug in a berth at the Zululand Yacht Club in Richards Bay, South Africa, and this crossing is in the rear view mirror.…

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October 30th

Sailcloth 102: a primer for cruisers

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


schooner 2

Jamie is a sailmaker; he periodically shares his knowledge on the blog, and those posts are under the Sailmaker tag. This is the second post in a two-part series to demystify some of the woo around sailcloth material; you can read the first post here. Anyone with questions about sails is invited to get in touch; Jamie enjoys sharing from his depth of experience as a sailmaker and a cruiser. 

Sailcloth comes in so many forms, each exhibiting unique characteristics. It’s easy to see, and understand differences between a Carbon fiber “string” sail and one made from Dacron with crosscut construction.…

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October 26th

Sailcloth 101: a primer for cruisers

Posted by // October 26, 2015 // COMMENT (1 Comment)

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Jamie is a sailmaker; he periodically shares his knowledge on the blog, and those posts are under the Sailmaker tag here. In this first post of a two-part series, he hopes to demystify some of the woo around sailcloth material. Anyone with questions about sails is invited to get in touch; Jamie enjoys sharing from his depth of experience as a sailmaker and a cruiser.

We gifted Totem’s old Dacron mainsail to a family on Ninigo atoll in Papua New Guinea. There, the fatigued sail that pushed and pulled us over thousands of sea miles found a new life as a tarp.…

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October 24th

The spark to see the world

Posted by // October 24, 2015 // COMMENT (3 Comments)


circumnavigate map of the world

When my husband Jamie was 11, he received a copy of “The Boy Who Sailed Around the World Alone” – the story of teenager Robin Lee Graham’s solo circumnavigation. This book was that spark for him: the awakening that irrevocably instilled a desire to see the world under sail. For me, it was a high school teacher who embedded in me a love for experiencing, and trying to understand, the world through the eyes of different cultures. It took a surprisingly long time to realize this could be accomplished through my other great love- sailing!- to which I owe Jamie.…

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