Nautical escapes for the confined sailor

Here to meet your need to shift focus in a positive way: a slew of freebies, cheapies, and cool offers aimed at helping the confined crowd find (or stay on) an even keel in the face of our fuzzy futures. Feeling stuck in the 24 hour pandemic news cycle of uncertainty and gloom? Switch it off, and sink yourself into some of these awesome alternatives!

Audio / video escapism

Last night we joined our hometown club, Seattle Yacht Club, for a documentary about the revival of ancient voyaging knowledge and wisdom in the Solomon Islands. Inspired by the Vaka Taumako Project’s film about traditional Polynesian navigation and boatbuilding and subsequent discussion with director/anthropologist Dr Mimi George! Screening availability is updated mainly on the organization’s Facebook page; the first in their three-part series, We, The Voyagers: Our Vaka, is on Vimeo.

This galavanized me to start a marathon of documentaries to watch up as a family: next up are shorts from the International Ocean Film Festival. With the cancellation of their event in March, they’ve produced a free home edition – how cool is that?! “Our team has personally curated a list of highlights and award winning International Ocean Film Festival films for you to enjoy at home.” Yes please. See IOFF’s website to stream these documentaries.

Ah, who am I kidding. Ever since I found out this morning – thanks to an update from The Water Society – that Coyote, the documentary about extreme sailor Mike Plant is available FREE the next couple of days, our plans for this evening have been set! I can’t wait to watch it: I didn’t have band pictures on my dorm walls: I had a picture of Mike Plant and his boat, Duracell. He was lost at sea in October 1992, not long after Jamie had met with him (at Mystic Pizza no less) to finalize details of new sails for Mike’s entry in the Vendee Globe Challenge. Jamie designed the upwind sails for prior Vendee winner, Titouan Lamazou, and the plans he had with Mike were part of the background of our early dating days (fortunately, he wasn’t threatened by my rock star sailor poster!)… exciting, until the tragic conclusion. Yeah, the IOFF shorts will wait another day.

The Coyote streaming is courtesy of SAIL IN, a festival that’s sharing sailing documentary content starting from yesterday (that’s April 9) and running until May 3. Each week they’ll have new films available, free – but only for a few days! Details at SAIL IN Festival at home.

Speaking of The Water Society: this new podcast is exactly the piece of nautical escapism you need in your life right now! Brainchild of Anne Bryant, the first episodes were up when she landed in Coronavirus confinement and found further inspiration. Nestled in a chaotic little cottage on the edge of a small shipyard in Mystic, CT, Anne is surrounded by STACKS of classic and out-of-print maritime books! Anne’s thoughtful readings from these classics will be a bonus to TWS lineup soon.

Another newer podcast on the radar: Aussie-based Sistership Training has a newish podcast series, too. The mellow pace and English accent of circumnavigator/host Jackie Parry, sharing sea stories take you away, was a balm. Podcast fiend? For more – visit our Press page, and see where Totem’s been recorded.

Join us for a Totem Talk

I’m all about silver linings. Right about now, we should be having our equator crossing party on the way to French Polynesia. Not happening. Silver lining: instead of sailing towards the internet desert of the South Pacific, we’re in Mexico with ready access to decent bandwidth – a perfect opportunity to dip into live video meetups – introducing TOTEM TALKS!

We’re not going to need as many layers on Sunday! Photo: Sung Park Photography

Register to join on Sunday, April 12, 10:00 am PT / 1:00 pm ET. Advance registration garners you the link and a password, so we can dialogue live and avoid that Zoombombing nonsense while catching up on coronavirus restrictions in Mexico and answering your questions.  So that was a LOT of fun! If you register for Totem Talks, you’ll be able to watch the replay – whether you attended or not, the info is there for you.

Want to know about future events? Subscribe to be notified!

Salty reading promotions

How about some reading to edify or distract? There are some great deals aimed at the suddenly working from home / confining!

My pick from sailing magazines: the freebie issues from Good Old Boat, which embodies the do-it-yerself ethos of cruisers. Sign up to download and be notified of future giveaway issues. But check out your favorites: our go-to Cruising World, for example, is planning some cool content additions to their website. Gah! I want to tell but I think that would fall under the category of “spoiler,” so …just watch em at for updates.

Meanwhile, the legendary Lin Pardey is making Kindle editions for many of her books just $3.99! I finally (finally, finally) picked up a copy of Bull Canyon and can.not.wait to read it! Find them all on Lin’s author page. Want to just get away? Veteran cruiser Jasna Tuta’s All The Colours of Polynesia is FREE on Kindle Unlimited (another timely channel for boosting your library). Jasna’s book has to be read on a tablet (or Kindle app on PC), not your paperwhite, to fully appreciate the vivid colors of her title. While a tiny part of me regrets we’re not seeing those islands through our own eyes, her experiences make me feel like I’ve traveled there in my mind – if just for a while.

Timely: Carolyn Shearlock’s pay-what-you-want discount (or freebie!) for her excellent book, Eating Well with a Tiny Fridge. Is there a better occasion for learning how to extend the life of perishables? I am use tips & tricks from her book aaallll the time on Totem.

Sprouting beans, pickled onions, re-growing green onions…faves on Totem in ‘Eating Well with a Tiny Fridge.’

Learn something!

While I am 100% down with this article going around about shedding the pressure to be productive during the changing everyday rhythm under Coronavirus, it’s pretty cool to contemplate tackling some learning opportunities.

Turns out that Carolyn isn’t just doing pay-what-you-want on her book: she’s doing it for The Boat Galley’s online classes, too. This is a pro who teaches both online and at premiere venues like Annapolis Boat Show’s Cruisers U. There’s a course to go with the Eating Well book, on cruising the Bahamas, unwritten rules of cruising life, and others. This is, honestly, an astonishing value. Coupon COVID for half price, FREE gets them for free, use no coupon code and pay full price. Find them all on The Boat Galley’s resource page. Meanwhile, Carolyn’s podcast partner Nica Waters has Coronavirus-relevant training for free, too: check out her Stocking Up Sanely course and keep an eye out for update! She and I use the same approach to provision, and it works on land or at sea. I assume these will both go back to ‘normal’ pricing eventually.

Formal training organizations: The Storm Trysail Club, a New York based bluewater cruising organization famous for their seamanship training sessions, is sharing instructional videos through their Facebook page. These are excellent topics from weather to COB that every sailor can benefit from!

Others to check out: Canada-based IYT, a provider of professional certificates for mariners, is offering free elearning on their site; popular site NauticEd has courses and a Soundcloud podcast series, too; see for more.

Relax yo mind

There’s no shortage of outlets for stress relief in the face of our pandemic pressure. The guided meditations offered on are special for a few reasons. For me, because knowing Dahlia personally and what a compassionate, thoughtful, giving person she is – just the sound of her voice helps me start to relax. But also: SHE’S A CRUISER, living aboard her 40’ sloop, Rejoice, here in Mexico. Do affinities for salty living filter into her guided meditations? You’ll just have to listen and find out.

These are selections from her professional practice, offered for the benefit of all. Dahalia is also posting daily reflections publicly to her Facebook profile. Breathe deep, get something to sip, and read them mindfully and I promise – you will feel better. That’s a pretty tremendous gift.

Before we left Banderas Bay, we were able to listen to Dahlia’s guided meditation on VHF after the morning net. I miss that routine! These help.

Further outlets

Do you have any promos / escapes / freebies for sailors to add? Please share in the comments, or get in touch! I’m going to go sit on the bow, watch swallows continue with their dogged effort to find a place for nest-building on Totem, contemplate our distant neighbors, and wonder if it’s time to “test” the fermenting pickles again; poison check, you know.

My personal outlet: learning new techniques for food preservation! Cucumbers at left… a few days later, delish pickles at right. And those salted lemons… WOW.


I loved the submissions (and reminders, and memory jogged) after making this post. Organizing adds here.

Sailing books! I like to think we’ve read a lot of what’s out there, but have read exactly NONE of the five sailing book recommendations in Herb McCormick’s recent article. Covid/cruiser bonus: four of those five are free to me – I can check them out to my kindle from our hometown Seattle Library. Minor Herb zeitgiest in this post, as he’s one of the featured sailors and narrators in Coyote, referenced above, which we did watch and moved me even more than I expected.

Ship’s Log. Julie Tijerina’s friendly voice welcomed us when we arrived in Jacksonville, FL, where she and Greg and pup Ginger live aboard. Star Stuff Books, named for their Whitby 42, grew from her disappointment with available options for logs on board. She’s offering the Comprehensive Ship’s Log for 19% off (use code TOTEM1 at checkout) until May 15. Cool! Two thumbs up for the content and format, I love the spiral binding!

The sailing documentary, One Simple Question, is ostensibly the story of a young couple’s search for an iceberg – but really, it’s about how to be a cruiser and a peek into what the life is like. I wrote about it a few years ago; it’s being offered free for a limited time. FREE! It’s normally $7.95 rental / $17.95 download. Get it here! It’s produced and stars friends Ben & Teresa of Morse Alpha (sail training) expeditions.

More free movies! Thanks to John for pointing in out you can just type ‘free to watch’ in the YouTube search bar.

5 Responses

  1. YouTube now has over 400 full movies to watch for free! They do run some commercials but hey, someone has to pay for them. Just go to YouTube and type in the search “Free to Watch”

  2. Hi Jamie
    A little vignette to add to your stories about making sails for Mike Plant. Just after Mike’s first BOC I was working on a project with Nigel Ingram, a Britt owner’s rep based in Newport. Nigel had worked with Mike helping him prepare his Open 50 footer. So during the last minute pre-start maneuvers Nigel was up at the masthead installing a GPS antenna. He then came down and entered a few waypoints into the chart plotter, showed Mike where the on-off switch was and hopped off into a RIB. So Mike not only learned to navigate the digital highway while underweigh, but sailed a brilliant race!

  3. In case you never saw it, I thought this documentary is pretty amazing, about a man who wanted to live like a Robinson Crusoe on a desert island in Tonga and did so for about a year-

    The only random guests he gets along the way are some cruisers off the beaten path even for you guys, from what it sounded like to me! But yeah pretty fun. 🙂

Comments are closed.