Archive | January, 2014


On-board communication: satellite phone or SSB?

Debating satellite vs SSB? Times change: this post has been superseded by an update in May 2017. Spoiler: a few years and a couple of oceans later, I can’t imagine not having our Iridium GO on board…and most cruisers now are skewing the same way, diminishing the 1:many value of radio. What’s better on board: […]


Koh Phayam: scenes from a small island

There are endless delights of being on a small island, the kind of place where the closest thing to a post office is a small box colored in the Thai Post Red and with a hand lettered sign. In the mornings, the children paddle to shore. Hours every day pass playing on the beach. A […]


Grounded on Koh Phayam

Totem is not aground, but happily anchored in a wide bay fringed by a soft beach, backed by palms and cashew trees. Welcome to sleepy Koh Phayam, antithesis to Phuket’s noisy traffic and crowded beaches, where dogs sleep in the street and cars have yet to arrive. About three miles long from north to south, […]


Unrest in Thailand: being prepared

Here in sleepy Koh Phayam, a little island just south of Thailand’s border with Myanmar, the offer of electricity warrants a banner. What’s not making any headlines is the country’s lurch toward a coup, with political unrest and protesters bloodied and killed in Bangkok as the conflict rapidly escalates. The unrest was not even on […]


Lost WWII wreck- found in Thailand?

We like to think we’re pretty observant about the world around us. In this region vigilance is essential, thanks to the many fish traps and unattended fish nets in local waters. A thin stake with a ragged flag, a piece of Styrofoam that is the body double of floating garbage may be the only sign […]


Pinch me, I’m cruising: Phang Nga fairyland

There’s something a little surreal about the approach into Thailand’s Phang Nga bay, a crowded archipelago of limestone islands tucked up to the northeast of Phuket. Sailing among the sharply peaked rocks is like finding yourself in the middle of the set for an epic high fantasy film. The topography is just a little to fantastic, […]


Hauling water is not fun

You know what’s not fun? This. Hauling water across Chalong Bay. This is not fun. A lot of people do it every day, in less comfort, with less certain access to clean water. So on balance: we’re lucky, really lucky.  Last July, the end caps on our watermaker blew up while we were off the […]


Win a trip to Thailand by defending Asian elephants

We won’t be riding any elephants while we’re here in Thailand. If there’s a code to our travels, it’s to try and leave a positive trail in the places we visit. It’s not always easy to know how to make a meaningful contribution. Here in Thailand, it’s a snap, and anyone reading this has the […]


Satun: a quieter side of Thailand

The more time we spend in Phuket, the more I like the quiet village that was our introduction to Thailand. Ban Chebilang is just a few miles outside the commercial center of Satun, and the home of the shipyard where Totem hauled out in November. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the PSS Shipyard […]


Giant Map of Dreams

If a picture tells a thousand words, then a map is a portrait with countless stories to tell. Consider Cape Disappointment in Oregon, whose name on a map barely hints of the great and perilous journey of Lewis and Clark’s expedition. When it came to naming the place, a deflated Clark must have considered names […]

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