365 days, 7,988 miles, 2 oceans, 1 boat


What a year! We knew 2015 was going to be big, and eagerly anticipated the change after a year of maintenance in Southeast Asia. In hindsight, it was truly epic: I still can’t believe we’ve crossed the Indian Ocean! This past year brought richness in culture and landscapes and beauty that overwhelmed us in their scale and diversity. I struggled a little with how to share how this year felt to us; Jamie, who is a database guy from way back, pulled some statistics out of the data he tracks on our everyday life, and that got it flowing.

Summary log

  • Distance traveled: 7,988 nautical miles (9,192 miles; 14,794 km)
  • Days at anchor: 249; days docked: 59, moored: 20, nights on passage: 37
  • Countries: 10 – Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Chagos, Seychelles, Comoros, Madagascar, South Africa, and Lesotho
  • Places (harbors, anchorages, etc.): 70, and 52 different islands
tied to the police jetty for clearance: Trincomalee, Sri Lanka


  • Deepest: 130’ (39.6m) – Gaadhoo Island at Hadhdhunmathee Atoll in Maldives…in fading light and as squall hit, per Murphy’s law.
  • Shallowest: 12’ (3.7m) – Mutsamudu, on Anjouan Island in Comoros
  • Floated anchor chain (to protect coral): 3
  • Most beautiful: tough call, but Anse Lazio at the north end of Praslin Island in Seychelles is stunning
  • Most like walking naked down Main Street: outside of Cosmoledo Atoll, Seychelles – yeah, it was that exposed!
shallowest anchorage
this actually wasn’t the shallowest, it’s just shockingly clear…approx 18′.


  • Startling ethnic/religious hatred: Malaysia
  • Least ethnic/religious strife: the proudly diverse Seychelles
  • Countries most marred by trash pollution: five way tie between Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Comoros
  • Languages: 20+? Most fun: the clicks in Zulu, Xhosa, and other languages we hear in Africa
  • Best foreign language “thank you”: in Afrikaans, “buy a donkey.” Surely spelled differently, but easy to remember!
  • Scratches to Totem from canoes tied alongside: countless


  • Best 24 hour run: 239 miles, between Durban and Simon’s Town (with much Agulhas Current assist!)
  • Best sailing: the west coast of Madagascar. Unparalleled.
  • Worst Sailing: everywhere between Malaysia and Maldives (equatorial calms, and the season of no wind)
  • Dumbest: when Jamie forgot to fold mast step into place before passage. While reefing, main got hooked on step and Jamie had to climb the mast to first spreader, at night, in 25 knots of wind and rolly seas, 300 miles from South Africa.
  • Great Capes rounded: 1 (Cape Aghulas). Wahooo, we rounded 1 of 3 great capes!
  • Best macramé: the genoa sheet and barbour hauler became incredibly fouled on the passage between Madagascar and South Africa.  Murphy was once again on board: it was a dark night, with 30+ knots of wind and whitewater seas.
glassy seas between Sri Lanka and Maldives


  • Gas: 104 gallons (395 l) – outboard and generator
  • Propane (LPG): 92 pounds (42 kg)
  • Diesel: 489 gallons (1,853 l) – mostly between Malaysia and Maldives with too little wind
  • Cheese: 84 pounds (38.1 kg)

Gear Fails

  • Most annoying: Caframo fans, for motors that consistently burn out in less than a year.
  • Most disappointing: Spectra watermaker, for the new membrane that failed just months after installation (and full service) by a certified dealer; no support from the manufacturer.
  • Most repeated: Totem’s vang: the tang on the boom failed, making it our 4th vang failure (Jamie = racer = 16:1 vang = high load)
  • Cheapo manufacturing: Highfield 2.9m dinghy, for Hypalon failing less than 2 years after purchase [Shame on us update: turns out, a lot of what we thought were failure points… weren’t, they just needed better cleaning. Highfield gave us some Hypalon material to patch the spots we had. Carry on.]
praslin beach
Praslin island’s beautiful Anse Lazio anchorage


  • Whales: humpback (Madagascar), sperm (North of Sumatra), pilot (South Africa)
  • Coolest animal sighting: 97-way tie, seriously, South Africa, Madagascar, and Sri Lanka have wicked cool beasties!
  • Greatest heart rate accelerator: getting mock charged by African elephant, who herded us half a km down the road in reverse at dusk.
  • Funniest animal moment: when a vervet monkey swung through the door into game park cottage, grabbed bananas from kitchen counter, and dashed away. Cheeky, cheeky monkey!

elephant charging musth

For Fun

  • Coolest boat visited: the 56m (174′) yacht Fidelis
  • Smallest boat visited: at Anjouan Island –the dugout outrigger canoe that brought Jamie on board in a slo-mo paddling chase after teens had boarded a nearby cruising boat
  • Most shoes collected on a remote beach in 45 minute: 250 – wait, that’s not fun at all!
  • Most talked about, unmentionable saga: Pipistrelle on the Reef in Chagos – the story of drama, rescue, repair, camaraderie, lousy seamanship, another rescue, delusion, lies, and unfathomably bad behavior. What a story! Wait for the book…
  • Quote of the year: “We’re fluffed.” Okay, we’re not doing the quote justice in order to keep it family friendly. The comment was made by a Belgian climate scientist we met in Lesotho, when talking about likely environmental and human catastrophes due to climate change.
  • Smallest fish caught: in Chagos, a fish that began as the biggest grouper Jamie has caught and ended as just a grouper head (with stunned expression) after black tip reef sharks ate the rest before landing in our dinghy.
  • Number of pub crawls attended (sans kids of course): 1 in Lesotho
  • Safest means of pub crawl transportation: by donkey!
cush accomodations on Fidelis (photo: Luxdb).
Mairen peeks over the edge of Fidelis. Note the furler motor… bigger than an XL barbecue!

Mostly: we’re all grateful for another year living this crazy life afloat, and all the wonder it brings.

This post is syndicated on Sailfeed.

17 Responses

  1. Loved reading this post! Thanks for sharing the adventure highlights. The cheeky monkey was hilarious, had a couple monkey events in Malaysia. The monkey boarded my scooter uninvited and first scammed my towel then my map while I gave chase ????
    Still hoping to catch up in Walvis Bay before I head out. Happy 2016!!


      1. I needed the map so the unwilling monkey gave it up but growling at me the whole time! My travel partner was laughing so hard he didn’t think to video it ????
        Are you guys sailing straight to New England or what will be your route after leaving Walvis Bay? I just got a bunch of waypoints from a SA delivery skipper from St H to along the Brazilian coast staying in the favorable current and out of the oil fields. If they are something you can use, I can forward to you.


        1. Hey Judy! I’d love waypoints. Brazil will probably wait. We’re thinking: Walvis Bay –> St Helena –> Ascension –> French Guiana OR Trini OR Grenada –> TBD. Bounce up eastern Carib, then via US coast, maybe aim further north via Bermuda, but aiming for New England by the 4th of July.

          1. Behan
            Can you give me an email address and I will forward the entire email. It has a lot of useful info. Just looked at the chart and you would pick up the route he has plotted out around Surinam, looks like.


  2. As an Afrikaans speaking South African sailor I find your “buy a donkey” for “thank you” an absolute classic! I cannot wait to pass it on to my family and friends.
    I am pleased learn that you have embraced so much about the country and it’s people during your time here.
    Well done too on rounding one of the three Great Capes.

    1. Thank you Frans! And truly, we LOVE being in South Africa: it is a beautiful, challenging, fascinating, complicated place. I do wish we were learning more local languages, though… beyond buying a donkey, ha!

    1. It’s one of my favorite food groups. 😉 You must have been in heaven back in French Polynesia… I think I gained 10 lbs in brie during our three months!

  3. Hi Behan, a happy new year to you all. Wish I had read about the fans before I re-fanned our boat with the very expensive Carafamo ones. Anyhow I noticed that your link to Sailfeed is going to your own sailing totem web page.

    Phil Gray

    1. Sorry about those fans! And they cost a stupid amount of money in Australia, too. 🙁 Just hold them to the 1-yr warranty, and you’ll be fine. It’s when they die under warranty but the boat is oin far-flung water that it’s a real problem.

  4. Thanks for bringing your life closer to us – I love the stats – as a snap shot of what would otherwise take 100’s of words. Sail on!!!

  5. Of all this, which is all amazing – the MOST amazing is that you take the time to track your cheese!

    Is there nothing better to do out there? 🙂

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