“I may have broken the aft cabin.” This is the text I get from Jamie a few hours after I’ve departed Totem for an overnight road trip to Miami. The smoky-green smell of sawdust wafts to me from half a state away and the disarray of a deconstruction project easy to picture. The critical path project for our departure from the US for the Bahamas is to replace the soft sides for our hardtop dodger, so of course, the aft cabin is going to be torn apart.
It comes down to this: cruising boat projects are more likely to be ... Read More
One of the aphorisms of cruising describes our lifestyle as performing routine maintenance (or repairs) in exotic locations. This rings true, for better and for worse. “If you can’t fix it, be able to live without it” is another truism for voyagers, and a good reason to go simple. Bundle these with the additional reality that most tasks in our floating life take more time than they do in a normal (fixed, land-based, connected) existence. That’s a good summary of life on Totem right now, although northern Florida is NOT exotic, and this particular outboard fix has proved to be ... Read More
The definition of cruising as repairing your boat in exotic places entered the realm of clichés long ago, but that doesn’t make it any less true. There’s no end of irony in the fact that while you can pay $20,000 for a new car and be shocked and upset if it breaks down a few days later, no one is really surprised that a boat that costs as much as a house, in some cases a mansion, can have technicians swarming over it for weeks after it’s launched.
The aptly named punch list—so called because an owner feels like he’s ... Read More
What is this delicious piece of gorgeousness? A blocked toilet hose? I don’t know about you, but this puts me in mind of arterial plaques and makes me want to treat my circulatory system with gentle kindness.
More importantly, does this mean that things are afoot aboard the Good Ship Papillon? Indeed it does! Erik is tearing through our to-do list like a lion taking down a zebra. The girls and I are waiting out the worst of the destruction from afar. If all goes well, the four of us will move back into our floating home in another month, ... Read More
As our time in South Africa draws to a close, we’re focused on preparing for the big miles ahead to cross the Atlantic. Although I felt like we spent a lot of last year preparing for passages, given the significant legs crossing the Indian Ocean, there’s a lot to inspect, and re-inspect. This is the time to catch up on anything that might have slipped on the “routine maintenance” schedule.
One of the first jobs was replacing the impeller Totem’s Yanmar (a decision typically guided by engine hours). And…good timing! Jamie found a wear point along the blades that prompted ... Read More
We’re rarely in marinas, but in South Africa’s harbors tying up is the norm. Jamie and I have fun walking the docks, checking out other boats; I always have something to learn from the critical eye of my sailmaker/rigging-savvy husband. Most often, it’s the condition of sails; on a blustery day in Durban, rigging mishaps were the theme.
The first one that stood out was just across the dock from Totem. It’s a perfect example of why sailors shouldn’t be tempted to tie fenders to the lifelines, although many persist in the habit or don’t seem to know it’s ... Read More
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 ... Read More
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 ... Read More
A dependable suit of sails to carry you towards the horizon is the basic tool of every cruiser. I’m sharing more of Jamie’s expertise as a sailmaker on the blog: most recently, about how to check the stitching in sails for UV damage. This time- he’s going to tell you how to evaluate the cloth.
Jamie often checks sails on the boats we’re with. The cruising boats we meet in Southeast Asia have often done hard miles, but you don’t have to cross an ocean to have sailcloth damaged by UV exposure. He’d like to empower sailors with the ... Read More
We’re in the back half of our stay at Phithak Shipyard (PSS) near Satun, Thailand, and it’s pretty exciting to see work progressing on Totem.
As soon as we arrived, we went through our required projects and the wish list with the yard management. Based on their estimates and some help from home, we decided to go forward… with all of it. I might have had some happy tears at the prospect of these improvements to our Totem! So the plan changed from “a couple of weeks” to as long as our visas allow, keeping an eye on the ... Read More