Sailing Totem: Nautical Escapes for the Confined Sailor

Have some time on your hands? Check out these freebies, cheapies, and cool offers aimed at helping the confined crowd find (or stay on) an even keel.
Sea of Cortez
Practicing social distancing in the Sea of Cortez Behan Gifford

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 the discussion with director/anthropologist Dr Mimi George, we’re starting a family video sesh routine on board. 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.

Next up in our family marathon 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. IOFF will be tomorrow.

The Coyote showing is courtesy of SAIL IN, a festival that’s sharing sailing documentary content starting from 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. (Coyote is also currently available on Amazon Prime)

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! Readings from these coming as 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 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!

The first is this Sunday, April 12, 10:00 am PT / 1:00 pm ET. Advance registration required; this garners you the link and a password to join, so we can avoid that Zoombombing nonsense.

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

We’ll talk about Coronavirus restrictions in Mexico, how cruisers are responding, and some wild stories from remote cruisers. Come have Sunday Brunch with us! We hope to make this a regular series; keep an eye on our Facebook Page or website Events for the next.

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

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 her 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.

pickles and salted lemons
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. Behan Gifford

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.