Maritime industry and safety at sea: infographic

I’ve been thinking a lot about safety at sea lately, as we get ready for next year’s Indian Ocean transit- waters that have a well earned reputation as dangerous to mariners. So when Bracken Foam Fabricators sent me this infographic on maritime safety, it got  my attention. (Mum, I promise we will stay away from […]

Life raft: more than two four letter words

How do you choose a life raft? We looked for the best raft available. That wasn’t enough. As dewy-eyed gonna-be cruisers, we focused on choosing a superior product for that moment of (heaven forbid) dire need. We looked at independent research reports, read books and blogs about the life raft experiences of other cruisers, and met with all […]

Engine trouble and kidnappings

There’s a Yiddish proverb: “Man plans, God laughs.” The cruiser’s equivalent is to say that our plans are written in the sand, at low tide. Yes, we still make plans. Usually, they’re weather driven: designed to avoid hurricane/cyclone/typhoon seasons on the grand scale, and pick days for optimal sailing on immediate front. The current “big […]

Safe passagemaking in the Straits of Malacca

There’s a long history of piracy in the straits of Malacca, and plenty of modern bandits too- this area currently has more pirate activity than any other part of the world. But those aren’t our concerns as we sail south from Langkawi toward Singapore. Unlike the Gulf of Arabia, the piracy is focused entirely on commercial […]

24 hours under martial law

On May 22, a military coup displaced the elected government in Thailand. They enacted martial law, put a curfew in place, dispersed protests, and quelled media. On May 24, we entered Thailand for a tourist visit. Did we have to go? Well, Malaysian visas for the kids and I were about to expire (Jamie had […]

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 […]

How to use social media to help in a crisis

Typhoon Haiyan ran a course of destruction through the Philippines this week, cutting through the middle of the country on a westbound track. It came with sustained winds of nearly 200 mph (320 km/h)- gusts were up to 235 mph. Can you even imagine what it feels like to be in that kind of wind? […]

Pirates in the South China Sea

Add caption Our recent crossing from Borneo to the Malay peninsula is probably the last multi-day passage we’ll have for a while. Breezes funneling up from the Indian Ocean give us a nice angle to reach across, so hopes were high for a good sail. We’ve had precious little of those here in the land […]

Sun protection for pasty white cruisers

Sun protection- with sunscreen, sun protective clothing, and more- is something we take pretty seriously on Totem. When I was a teenager, my mother was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. My uncle (her brother) died from metastasized skin cancer. Jamie’s family has a history of skin carcinomas, so you could say that we have the skin […]

A tale of three EPIRBs

Punchline: we have a brand new, 406 mHz EPIRB for sale at a ripping bargain (as in, just don’t make us lose too much money on this). Email for details- but do it soon! We depart Australia soon. This EPIRB has a built in GPS, is manually activated, and is coded for vessels registered in […]