Inspiration and gratitude flow fromÂ the mundane in an annual review ofÂ Totemâs year by the numbers. Weâre serious about tracking data on Totem; Jamie canât resist having fun with analysis (annual cheese consumption, anyone?Â After all, cheese provisioning data isÂ vital on a boat with three hungry teenagers!). But pondering the data and events of 2017 he turned reflective. Read onÂ for Jamie’s takeaways.
Distance traveled in 2017: 3,402 nm / 3,915 miles / 6,301 km (since 2008 – 47,095 nm / 54,196 miles / 87,220 km)
Countries/territories visited: 14 – USA, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, USVI, BVI, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, St Lucia, Grenada, St Vincent and Grenadines, Bonaire, Colombia
Best 24-hour run: 208 nm, Bonaire to Colombia
Nights anchored: 249 (68%), Docked â 65 (18%), Moored â 31 (8%), Hauled â 10 (3%), Passage â 10 (3%)
Shallowest anchorage: 6.08Ft / 1.85M (Totemâs draft + 1 inch) for 4 days at Thompson Bay, Long Island, Bahamas
Number of times worked on: Toilets â 8, Watermaker â 11, Outboard â 8, Rigging – 8
Number of flight takeoffs Jamie had during 3 trips away from Totem: Â 21 (thankfully also an equal number of landings!)
Best new food weâd never heard of: Mofongo con langosta!
Number of field trips: 21
Number of visitors on Totem: 322
Number of audio/video calls with coaching clients: 118
Shark species we swam with most often: nurse shark
Shark species we didnât know we swam with until getting out of the water: tiger shark!!!
Biggest surprise of the year: This is a tie between a good surprise, and a bad one. The bad one was discovering that underneath Totemâs bottom paintâ¦ there is no gelcoat! Apparently, it was peeled by a prior owner and the detail did not get passed in the sale. The good surprise was finding Rita. Behan has a handmade apron from Bequia, a piece of functional art found in a thrift store that sheâs owned for about two decades. From the lettering âR WILLIAMSâ stitched at the bottom, she set out to find the maker when we arrived in Bequia. Like searching for unicorns, I thought, but, surprise!
Hardest part of 2017: Hurricanesâ¦
The North Atlantic had 10 hurricanes, 6 of which were major (category 3 or higher). We were having a blast in Nanny Cay, BVI as Harvey rambled across the southern Caribbean, arcing northwest up into Texas. At the same time along the coast of Africa a tropical wave began moving westward. Forecast models had it likely going towards the northern Caribbean, so we got moving south. Martinique, where we were anchored, had potential storm force winds; to avoid them we sailed further south. St Lucia is about 230 miles below where Irma slammed into Barbuda, Sint Maarten, Tortola, and rest of the northern islands. We watched grey, streaky west-flowing clouds shift direction to the northeast. Very ominous! My log entry for that day reads, âHurricane Irma, now cat 5, to make landfall in Leeward Islands tonight. It’s going to be bad badâ¦â
If you lived in Irmaâs path, your world was turned upside down, lashed and smashed. Hurricane Jose was a threatening post-Irma bully that held everyone one edge but fortunately stayed out to sea. News and pictures trickling out from Irmaâs destruction were unimaginably worse than my log notion. The day after Irma died, yet another tropical wave started westward across the Atlantic. This disturbance grew rapidly to tropical storm force, then Hurricane Maria. We hopped further south to Grenada. By no means a hurricane-free island, we watched Maria with intentions of shifting further south should the system stray our way. This cat 5 hurricane smacked Dominica, where we were 3 weeks before; and then Puerto Rico, where we were 6 weeks before.
We were close enough to see the atmosphere do strange things, while far away enough to feel only light winds and swell. The hard part was feeling for the friends weâd made in these, now, broken islands. A coaching clientâs boat on the hard in St Martin was destroyed; another client’s boat in Tortola suffered moderate damage. A third coaching client was in the process of buying a boat called âNo Worries;â it was later found sunk. We know new cruisers and very experienced cruisers whose boats were a total loss.
I admit to anger watching ShipTrack.com placing vessel AIS positions in insanely stupid places directly in the broad path of these forecast monsters. I shouted, âwhy are you there now!â as many boats and some people literally disappeared. People have commented to us, âit must have been so stressful dodging so many hurricanes.â It wasnât. We had mobility and the benefit of timely decision thanks to the science of meteorology. Forecasts were not perfect, so add a margin for error. I am thankful for the easy mobility that so many people had little or none of.Â Some boats werenât ready to dash, some owners had other obligations. Islanders without means suffered deeply. We remember Sheldon Hamilton in Portsmouth, Dominica who traded his fresh fruit and interesting sea glass for our clothes and canned food. Sheldon lived in a shack on the beach and wore the same rags trading this time as we saw him in the year before.
Our year in review shows a some metrics and silliness. It was a good year for us, despite a few medical maladies. It was a nightmare year for many friends. Sheldon Hamilton didnât have shit for opportunity before Maria. Now his home, village, and island are in ruin. Hurricane season is coming againâ¦ Sounds gloomy, right? But the message isâ¦ Get MOBILE! REBUILD better! LEANER! APPRECIATE what you have because even if it doesnât seem great, itâs better than AFTER Irma, Maria, natural disasters, cancers, accidents, and clumsy dentists. Make a plan (as the South Africans say) to do what YOU dream of. Go _______________ (insert preferred form of transportation) and get out, whatever that means to you. Go to Dominica and to search for Sheldon Hamilton, Bequia to meet Rita, or search for your own unicorn.