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DIY: essential oils on board

Sun, 2014-07-06 07:04

We try to keep life simple on Totem: if we can make something ourselves, that’s always a better option than buying. Less waste is created, something on board is usually reused, and there’s probably more cash in our pockets.

A lot of the everyday things I use have been made with essential oils. Because, hey, if you can also make something smell really good, well, wouldn’t you?  This is easy to do with lotion, basic cleaners, heavier duty scrubs, polish, laundry, and just to  make our living space mmmmmmm good. Essential oils work around our sensitivities to commercial fragrance: Jamie and Siobhan have skin that reacts to chemical additives, and most perfume just gives me a sneezy headache. Essential oils keep us smelling sweet without ill effects.

my bin of lotion ingredients with a few favorite essential oils

It’s sensible boat living, too. Carrying the basic ingredients to make lotion and cleaners instead of buying them is easier on provisioning, generally saves space, and means you can have what you want / when you want it.

There are a myriad of ways essential oils get used on board (for a great list, see Windtraveler). Start small to keep it achievable. I’ve listed our primary uses below, organized by scent types to help break it down. A good starter kit would include one or two from each of these. Try a few, mix them up a little, follow your nose and see what sticks.


lemon, sweet orange, or grapefruit

Boat cleaning: I especially like these in cleaners, and their bright aroma brings a great clarifying smell. A shaker of baking soda is an all purpose scrub for the heads and galley; a few drops of sweet orange oil mixed in make it smell amazing. For simple wood polish, a few drops of a lemon essential oil mixed with olive oil is simple and good.

Seasickness: nausea can also be addressed with the sharp tang of citrus. I learned during extended bouts of “morning” sickness that a few drops of grapefruit oil on a cloth to sniff can help set an upset stomach right.


lavender, rose geranium, jasmine

Making lotion: I always always always use rose geranium in lotion. To keep it from being too flowery, I’ll often mix in a little something else; see what works for you.

Calming / getting to sleep: lavender is wonderfully relaxing. A little lavender oil in a diffuser (or sprinkled on a cloth) helps get little people (or their parents) off to sleep. Mix lavender with rose, and you get what I call Spa Smells… that whiff you get in a plush day spa or salon!


Cinnamon, clove

Holiday goodness: Clove is one of my favorites for seasonal aromas. When December rolls around, I put THAT in a diffuser and feel the Christmas! Balsam cedar does the same thing, transporting me to our old chilly climate life and cedar boughs on the mantle… but clove wins for multiple uses on board. Besides smelling great, it’s a topical analgesic and medical kit backup for tooth pain.

Fight bugs! Cinnamon oil is a great way to deal with ants, which have occasionally given us some annoyance on board. A few drops in a spot they traverse can help keep them away. My basic wipe down spray is a 50/50 mix of water and vinegar, and adding cinnamon before using that to wipe down the pantry abates the problem.


Tea tree, pine, eucalyptus

Fight the other kind of bugs! These oils have antibacterial and antiviral properties. I add them to homemade antiseptic cleaning sprays (a mix , and always put tea tree into lotions I made  for skin flared up with eczema. Eucalyptus and tea tree diluted in a spray make a great smelling wipe-down for things that get a little extra grunge… like my yoga mat. Ew.

making lotion with a small helper

It’s tempting to start with a raft of different oils, but start small and get used to where and how you use them. A little bit lasts for a very long time! They DO need to be used with care; Crunchy Betty has an excellent read on proper use.

People who read this on the Sailfeed website smell really, really good.

“21st Century Waterways” — have your say about the Future of Navigation in the USA

Fri, 2014-07-04 19:20

Written by Ben Ellison on Jul 4, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Hurricane Arthur is putting a damper on Fourth of July celebrations even up here in Maine. The fireworks were canceled yesterday, our family lobster dinner is postponed, and the gale watch that went up this morning may mean I’ll be minding Gizmo tonight. But once again knee-jerk criticism of weather forecasting is not standing up to reality, specifically the work of NOAA’s National Hurricane Center. Arthur made a slight left turn last night, hence the gale watch, but remains darn close to the track forecast days ago. What’s more, the NHC not only distributes voluminous detail about the science behind their forecasts, but also a running graphic tally of how their forecast and the underlying computer models compare to the storm’s actual track. No doubt some boaters will still get in Arthur trouble, but I’m also confident that the U.S. Coast Guard is wonderfully able and willing to render assistance. So what a perfect time for those of us in a dry spot with an Internet connection to spend a few minutes helping NOAA, the USCG and also the Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) to maximize their resources in the future.

In 2012 we first heard that the USCG was considering a reduction in physical aids to navigation and other initiatives that may make sense in a world where electronic navigation has gained a lot of ground on visual navigation. This apparently led to a recent series of “Listening Sessions” around the country, and now there’s an online Future of Navigation / 21st Century Waterways survey where you can share your thoughts. While the language in the introduction above is a bit stilted, “collaborative Federal Government effort to effectively integrate information to establish a framework that enables the transfer of data between and among ships and shore facilities, and that integrates and transforms that data into decisions and action information,” read a couple of times suggests a big vision, I think. And don’t be put off by suggestions that this survey is just for professionals; I believe that the USCG asked me to “spread the word/opportunity” on Panbo because they know that many readers are knowledgable recreational boaters.

I, too, will be interested to hear how readers respond to the survey and I’ll share a few opinions I came up with. First of all, I used this opportunity to plead once again for distribution of all the AIS data collected by the U.S. Government to the public. As much as I appreciate how much the Coast Guard does for us, I’m not sure they even realize that another division of DHS financed the Smart Chart AIS app system that could be a much better source of small boat tracking information if it (and related apps) could offer us the NAIS level realtime AIS monitoring. (I appreciate Marine Traffic, too, but volunteer coverage remains very spotty).

I also found a way to remind the USCG that they still have not extended AIS mandates to many commercial vessels running up and down the coasts. Many such vessels — like the Maine ferries, thank goodness — have voluntarily installed AIS but there are still many ferries, passenger boats, small tugs and fishing boats that can afford and should be regulated to adopt this valuable safety device. Heck, this impatient entry dates back to 2010!

What may get me in trouble with some readers, though, is my sense that some physical aids to navigation can be removed without significant harm to our safe navigation. But I think I came up with a clever trade off, suggesting that “the first dollars saved by reducing AtoNs should go to the rapid deployment of a secondary electronic positioning system, probably eLoran” (which is thankfully back on the table). Please take the 21st Century Waterways survey and please tell us your ideas for the future of navigation aids. Have a great holiday weekend, too, even if Arthur comes around.

Click here to read comments about this Panbo entry, or add your own.

Star Worlds: Pressure at the Top

Fri, 2014-07-04 14:29

Malcesine, Italia. July 4th 2014. Via

Today, July 4th, American team Augie Diaz with crew Arnis Baltins in USA 8465 have more to celebrate than their American holiday: Independence Day. In the pivotal, and ultimately dramatic Race 5, USA 8465 Diaz/Baltins won their first race of the 2014 International Star Class World Championship and after the calculation of a drop race, maintain a position in the top five of the overall standings.

As the 12:30 pm scheduled first warning time for Race 5 neared, the Northerly Peler wind began to die and the Race Committee was once again forced to postpone the Star fleet onshore. After one short hour, the Southerly Ora breeze had completely filled in and for the first time during this event, the fleet was all clear at the start. The intense battle for victory in Race 5 had begun with a drag race to the left shoreline of Lake Garda to avoid a foul tide. Italian team ITA 8491 Diego Negri with crew Sergio Lambertenghi and Greek team GRE 8434 Emilios Papathanasiou with crew Antonis Tsotras were the most successful in utilizing the favored, left side of the course and consistently exchanging the lead for the whole first leg.

Greek team GRE 8434 Papathanasiou/Tsotras edged out ITA 8491 Negri/Lambertenghi and rounded the weather mark in first place, however their lead was short lived.

American team USA 8465 Diaz/Baltins, with incredible speed and keen understanding of the current and wind patterns, attacked from behind and took a commanding lead. Throughout the following two legs, USA 8465 Diaz/Baltins continued to control the fleet until an unforeseeable 100 degree right shift shortly after rounding the leeward gate mark for the last time.

Several other competitors including, NOR 8317 Eivind Melleby with crew Bruno Prada and GER 8340 Robert Stanjek with crew Frithjof Kleen, received the new breeze just before rounding the gate and were able to take advantage of the right shift early by heading up the middle of the lake immediately after rounding. USA 8465 Diaz/Baltins lost all of their once 200 meter lead in a matter of seconds and fought hard to cover chasing teams NOR 8317 Melleby/Prada and BRA 8474 Lars Grael with crew Samuel Goncalves as the group sailed toward the finish line.

On their approach to the finish, NOR 8317 Melleby/Prada lead USA 8465 Diaz/Baltins by just a boat length on the port layline to the pin end of the line. Within the final three feet of the race course, NOR 8317 Melleby/Prada made an error in calling the location of the finish line marks and ended up missing pin end of the line entirely, allowing USA 8465 Diaz/Baltins to sneak in and take the winning gun at the last second. NOR 8317 Melleby/Prada was forced to circle back in order to cross the finish line properly, and luckily still managed to place second. Brazilian team BRA 8474 Grael/Goncalves finished in a respectable third place.

As the 92nd edition of the International Star Class World Championship progresses onto Race Day 6 tomorrow, the final race day in the series, German team Robert Stanjek and Frithjof Kleen in GER 8340 lead the event by 10 points over second place USA 8465 Augie Diaz and Arnis Baltins. Eivind Melleby with crew Bruno Prada in NOR 8317 currently sit in third place overall with 24 points total, and Italian team Diego Negri with crew Sergio Lambertenghi in ITA 8491 and Brazilian team Marcelo Fuchs with crew Ronald Seifert in BRA 8398 are tied for fourth place with 26 points total.

Quote of the Day:
Augie Diaz, Race 5 Winner “We are fast at the moment and that means everything in this fleet.” commented Augie Diaz. “It is difficult to put a plan in place when there are so many well sailed boats but when you get out in the front, you can stick to your game plan a lot easier. We will see how fast we are tomorrow but it is going to be tough to catch up Robert and Freda (nickname for Frithjoff Kleen). We will just try to have a good start and take it from there.”

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