Archive | tips

PredictWind gribs showing hurricane

Weather resources for hurricane season

“It’s like you have a bullseye on Totem!” More than one friend has commented along those lines to us recently. It does seem like severe weather systems have pointed directly at Totem a little too frequently. So far, the systems moved or we moved and all’s well. There are probably more weather forecast posts to our […]

boy on radio

VHF radio etiquette

“Thanks for the wake, @$$%*#!”  Unpleasant to imagine, unpleasant to hear, and rude on all sides. We haven’t heard that since leaving the USA and I don’t miss this aspect of many boaters in close proximity plus a dose of …well, of whatever it is that prompts throwing a wake or respond like that! They […]

3- asymmetric starboard

Efficient Sailing: passage routing

There’s a problem: many cruisers think that sailing performance isn’t important. Hey, cruising is about slowing down, right?! But dismissing performance is poor seamanship. Part two in a series. Efficient sailing is partly about sail trim and sail handling (that’s covered here), and partly about routing. With a few rules, routing from A to B can be […]

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Cruisers should care about performance sailing

There’s a problem: many cruisers think that sailing performance isn’t important. Hey, cruising is about slowing down, right?! But dismissing performance is poor seamanship. After some years of listening to cruisers disregard performance and gripe about slow passages, it dawned on me that confusion is to blame. Our good friend William demonstrated this last year during a […]

royal mail ship st helena

The best mail services for cruisers

What do you do about mail while cruising? A fixed postal address is kind of handy, even when your lifestyle is footloose. (photo above: one of the few remaining Royal Mail Ships, the St Helena, anchored of Jamestown).  Even though most correspondence is digital, a few necessities make a real address important: Voter registration Bank / credit card […]

reef reefed main mainsail sailing

Reefing, by and large

When do you reef? How should you reef? What are some excellent ways to screw it up? A few thoughts from Jamie (filtered through fun with salty sayings and his fondness for puns). Many witty phrases stem from seafaring and sailing ships of yore. It’s a wonder that so few truly help while sailing. Three […]

canning chicken jars bowl

Canning meat on board

At some point, canning food makes sense for a lot of long-distance cruisers. Totem is a boat full of omnivores, and with five people on board, canning meat has been a useful skill to acquire. For those times we need to boost our provisions with canned food, doing it yourself is cheaper and tastier than […]

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Lessons from a dinghy crisis averted

“STAY AWAY FROM THE PROPELLER!” From below deck I heard Jamie shout from the cockpit, and froze. It was our last day in Comoros; our sixteen year old son, Niall, had just left with the dinghy– those words could only mean one thing, and it terrified me. Niall was in the water, and the outboard […]

Computer lessons

How use less internet data

Before we went cruising, we took unlimited internet access for granted. Traveling full time means relying on pre-paid plans for internet, which is almost always metered data, and that data can be really expensive sometimes. [above: Jamie gives lessons on a new computer to islanders in Papua New Guinea. Computers and the internet are part of life, even […]

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