Mexico to Hawaii: passage report
Sailing Totem Blog
by Behan Gifford
1M ago
The last of any cruising cobwebs were shaken out as we sailed Totem across a chunk of the Pacific Ocean. Our recent passage from Los Frailes, Baja California Sur to Honokōhau, Hawaii was within 100 NM of the distance we sailed from Mexico to French Polynesia. Significant! Niall and Jamie watch dolphins at the bow By the numbers Starting with a few facts and figures for the passage: Distance: 2,805 NM Duration: 16 days, 8 hours Top boat speed: 12.0 knots Average speed: 7.2 knots Best 24-hour run: 186 NM Diesel burned: 12 gallons Gasoline burned: 4 gallons Squalls: 0 Flying fi ..read more
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Swallow tattoos and sailors
Sailing Totem Blog
by Behan Gifford
2M ago
Time to share details of the swallows inked up my left leg almost exactly a year ago. I’ve let just a few sneaky peeks on social media, despite the questions. I wanted to keep the tattoos to myself for a while: selfish? Maybe. It’s personal! The flock of swallows marks, for me, the journey our family shared of sailing around the world together. A special time, an uncommon achievement, a journey we shared. the family reunion photo I didn’t share last summer: wasn’t ready to Out the swallows yet What is it about sailors and swallow tattoos, anyway? sneaky peek of the swallows, as I took in Baj ..read more
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Adding Starlink On Board Totem
Sailing Totem Blog
by Behan Gifford
3M ago
Looking for an explainer on using Starlink while sailing your boat around the world? How to combine it with offshore communications tools for safety at sea? This details our Starlink installation, modification(s), service plan, the other essential offshore comms used – plus a view on how Starlink is used in the wider cruising community today.  Housekeeping notes: first, terms can be loaded! SpaceX has changed terminology for Starlink hardware and plans a number of times in a few years; I’m using current/2024 terms. Second, I’m not an expert! Just a cruiser who is, like so many of us, asto ..read more
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Totem gets a ship’s cat
Sailing Totem Blog
by Behan Gifford
4M ago
Planning to go cruising? Don’t get a pet! Maybe it’s a forgone conclusion because a dog or cat is already a member of your family: if you will have a pet aboard, here’s what we’ve learned in the process of adding a cat to Totem’s crew. Panchita was a callejera, a street cat who adopted us: she is one of thirty-something animals we fostered while in Puerto Peñasco on Totem’s extended refit. The rescue agency where our daughter Siobhan volunteered had offered to transport Panchita north of the border for adoption, as they did with another adult cat we fostered. But when the time came to follow t ..read more
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40-year refit: the forward head
Sailing Totem Blog
by Behan Gifford
5M ago
We’re rolling out a series featuring “after” insight from Totem’s massive refit - starting with the forward head. The smallest cabin has very big changes, and is a showcase for many of the decisions shaping our refit overall. This started as a simple repair (this is a theme… the domino effect of a small project). The original sole was a fiberglass shower pan with teak grating, intended as a wet head. In early Totem days we removed the shower, but  in its wet head lifespan the seam between the pan and a bulkhead opened up. Water found a way through and rotted the lower portion of the bulkh ..read more
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Rethink your ditch kit
Sailing Totem Blog
by Behan Gifford
6M ago
The conventional approach on contents of a well-supplied ditch kit no longer makes sense for most cruisers.  As we prepared Totem for ocean passage making again, we were more critical about what belongs in ours. It now looks very different from the ditch kit we packed to sail south from Puget Sound in 2008. Ditch kit stowed in the main cabin on Totem; Maldives, 2015 The point of a ditch kit is to provide resources to survive if we must abandon ship. Necessary resources are contextual, of course. Are you 5 miles or 1,500 miles from the coast? What is the nearest rescue or aid-rendering re ..read more
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Totem’s 800 mile shakedown
Sailing Totem Blog
by Behan Gifford
7M ago
Motoring off the dock. photo: Marc Blaquiere In spite of ourselves, or perhaps thanks to ourselves, we are safely in Banderas Bay after a weeklong passage - Totem’s first since hauling at the Cabrales Boatyard in April 2021. Your boat is unreliable until proven otherwise. This cautionary phrase is repeated to coaching clients eager to set off. Jamie and I did not take our own advice very well: before departing the harbor, Totem’s brand new engine had been run for less than five minutes. New plumbing, wiring, LiFePO4 batteries and a range of new equipment from solar panels to offshore communic ..read more
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Baking bread on board
Sailing Totem Blog
by Behan Gifford
8M ago
Jamie and I are on a road trip to San Diego to share what might be our last stateside Thanksgiving for a while with family. Yesterday, I tossed two loaves of homemade sourdough in the car, along with our duffle bag of clothes. The bread was baked ahead to grow just stale enough for perfect stuffing at tomorrow’s feast, because good bread makes any meal that much better. Totem’s ‘old’ galley… I can’t wait to hide Nisse in her updated one! Judging by recent conversations, the baking habits many folks developed during the pandemic are coming cruising with them. That’s great news! Baking your own ..read more
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Going safely up the mast
Sailing Totem Blog
by Behan Gifford
9M ago
Inspecting the condition of your rigging is an important step in safe passage preparation, so going aloft is – or should be – on the maintenance shortlist of many cruisers this time of year. Does that sound like a glorious opportunity to gaze at your boat from an eagle’s eye view, or a nerve-wracking ascent to avoid (or get over with as quickly as possible)? Maybe the reaction is “hell no, that’s a job for a rigger!” However you feel about going aloft, cruisers should be familiar with safe practices for ascending their boat’s mast(s). Here are some tips for doing it well. Jamie on a pre-India ..read more
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Tall tales and weather stories
Sailing Totem Blog
by Behan Gifford
10M ago
Hurricane Lee’s projected path as seen on Sept. 8 It’s appropriate for reflection on sailors discussing the weather to start with a bar joke. An ‘ol salt swaggers into a bar. He has a ship’s wheel stuffed into the front of his trousers. The bartender says, “Hey, you’ve got a ship’s wheel in your trousers!” The ‘ol salt says, “Aye mate and it’s driving me nuts!” Two sailors DID saunter into a bar taking stools not far from where Jamie and I tucked into our lunch in Newport, Rhode Island last week. We were on break from teaching at the Confident Cruiser Seminar Series at the international boa ..read more
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