Migrating for hurricane season in Mexico

Cruising has seasonal rhythms; weather is the dominant factor, and for cruisers in Mexico it’s time to be in – or well on your way to – an area to spend hurricane season. From Mexico’s “Gold Coast” on the Pacific, the primary choices are south to El Salvador or beyond, north towards the Sea of […]

Weather waffling: the passage departure decision

I watched from Totem’s cockpit yesterday as friends sailed out of the La Cruz anchorage. Their next stop: the Marquesas, French Polynesia’s nearest island group to the Americas, around 3,000 miles away. This week’s weather window spawned the first wave of South Pacific-bound departures from our corner of Mexico. When a big passage looms, evaluating […]

Optimizing Iridium GO use on board

Desert mountains and sailboats

Desert and sea are the incongruous pairing when sailing along Baja, where cactus-studded mountain ranges plummet to a Gulf full of marine life. Miles of isolated coastline make for stunning cruising grounds. We love the remote, wild-west feel of the Sea of Cortez… but we need to stay connected. There are approximately 2,534,934 more cardón […]

Dissecting a passage: Bonaire to Colombia

sailboat and helicopter

This dreaded passage unleashed one true horror. It was not a failure in rigging or other key systems. It was not the feared washing machine sea state. No, it was the ugly reality of unclogging a toilet while sailing at 9+ knots! That awful job aside, almost everything else on the passage went very smoothly. […]

Planning a passage: Bonaire to Colombia

There is a good chance our upcoming passage will suck. Yay… How do we know it’s not a simple downwind run in the trades? Enough friends, cruisers with miles, have told us how uncomfortable the stretch across the top of South America to give credence to the oft-repeated quote that this is one of the “five […]

Hurricane Maria watch: real-time weather

The news that Maria has strengthened from category 1 to category 5 hit like a gut punch. Learning this update at dinner last night stopped all conversation, then brought on questions: how does this happen in only half a day? Has it ever? Dreaded already for the track this storm is forecast to trace near […]

Hurricane Irma: sailing to safety, how you can help

Totem and crew are in Grenada. Time and mobility were our key advantages to get safely far from the devastating path of Irma when others could not. When Irma made landfall at Barbuda, we were secure in St Lucia. Clouds streamed from the west at sunset, sucked in the “wrong” direction by Irma. We watched […]

Weather resources for hurricane season

PredictWind gribs showing hurricane

“It’s like you have a bullseye on Totem!” More than one friend has commented along those lines to us recently. It does seem like severe weather systems have pointed directly at Totem a little too frequently. So far, the systems moved or we moved and all’s well. There are probably more weather forecast posts to our […]

Cruising from the Greater to Lesser Antilles

Drone view of Culebra

  Figuring out the names of Caribbean islands was as daunting as learning island groups of the South Pacific. First, there’s a whole lot of them! And then, where does one country end and the next begin? And could I please have a Venn diagram that shows regions and island groups and countries? At least […]

Offshore Communications: Satellite or SSB?

catamaran beach bahamas dinghies

Cruisers anchored off a small beach in the Exumas dinghy in for cocktails and chat while the sun sinks behind a distant cay. Most evenings in this idyllic spot new cruisers and old salts alike meet over plans to go fishing in the sound, the best time to avoid day-trippers in the Thunderball grotto, when […]