Last days in Thailand


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.

But then we delayed our departure from Thailand a bit longer for the best possible reason: the chance for a visit from my cousin and her new husband, as the first stop on their honeymoon travels in Southeast Asia. With Maeve and Noel on board, we had a great break from the pressure.

on totem

They had a taste of the cruising life. Beautiful anchorages. Lugging provisions. Underwater exploring. Wicked cards. Gorgeous sunsets. Making plans based on the tide. Glorious sailing, interspersed with wind on the nose, or no sailing wind at all.


Maeve hooked 2/3 of our junior crew on rock climbing. Siobhan climbed a 5.9 that nearly stumped me. Niall got up a 5.10 at mountain goat speed. Suddenly I’m looking at the many atolls that sprinkle our 2015 route and thinking we should start researching climbs in Sri Lanka and Madagascar. Now.


In Koh Phi Phi the climbing bug (and a few annoying mosquitoes) bit at Ton Sai wall. We caught up with Delos, who we first shared an anchorage with back in Mexico in 2009; there was the funny bookshop lady who managed to rope us into setting up her shop.

Phi Phi

In Koh Muk, we swam through a dark tunnel into the sky lit “room” of the emerald cave, and found breathtaking and unexpected life underwater.




New experiences, old friends, the stuff cruising is made of.


Back in Langkawi, we stare down the punch list again. At this point, it’s only “must-do” items that are chipped away at daily. We’ve begun some goodbyes, and started to do things “for the last time” here. It’s bittersweet, but it’s exciting all the same.

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5 Responses

  1. Will you be stopping in the Andaman Islands? For some reason I keep thinking that would be great place to visit……if you are not in a hurry.

    1. We aren’t going to the Andamans. Visas are costly and a major hassle (trip to Bangkok!), and honestly, I think what we’ll see farther west is going to be more interesting (lackluster reefs after recent Andaman Sea warming killed coral)… although 9 months sounds like a lot of time to get to South Africa, we’ll still have to pick and choose – to avoid being in a hurry!

  2. Always fun to read about your adventures, looking forward to hearing about your experiences across the Indian Ocean—the stretch between Cocos Keeling and Mauritius was pretty rough for us, but I think it cycles between good and bad years. Some of my favorite memories from circumnavigating come from the Indian Ocean, though, so you’re off to some wonderful ports of call!

    1. thanks Ellen! there may be some annual variation, but ultimately that’s just a big piece of water with a lot that can happen. I would love to know some of your favorite IO spots- western end anyway, since seems our routes converge around Madagascar.

      1. It’s been a while since we were there, but as I recall the Indian Ocean is subject to something known as the Dipole, an oscillation of sea surface temperatures. We crossed during a positive phase when “unusually strong winds from the east push warm surface water towards Africa” (from We never encountered less than 25 knots but neither did we have more than 40, so it was manageable. Of course we didn’t know about the Dipole until after the fact… 🙂

        As for good spots, Reunion Island is a must see! A little slice of France in the tropics, but more than that it has the most stunning treks through three calderas that ring a central 11,000ft peak. Easy to get around by bus and the little mountain huts make overnight hikes simple. I’d imagine there are some good climbs there, too! Then again, Madagascar sounds awesome… so much to choose from!!

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