We dropped the hook in a roadstead anchorage, somewhere along the coast of Sarawak. This part of Borneo has been littered with oil rigs and little fishing boats, so we take coastal day hops instead direct passages to work northward.

packages-3Hoping to pick up a decent signal from a cell tower on shore, I sat up in the cockpit with the iPad in my lap for a skim of email- when the screen started to auto-rotate, flipping back and forth, thanks to our increased roll as Totem moved and the swell came parallel to our beam.

It was not pleasant.

Rolly anchorages are the occasional bane of this lovely existence. The first hours we can often tolerate; after that, we put out a stern hook to orient Totem into the swell. Sometimes, that’s not possible, and sometimes, it’s just a pain to deal with the stern anchor, and we just go somewhere else instead. But certain places get a reputation.

After a night of terrible sleep, Jamie and I sat in the cockpit with our coffee as we pointed Totem toward our next stop- where we were pretty certain a night of blessedly flat sleep awaited us. There’s no point in sour grapes, so we just started making a top ten list of how to know you’re in a rolly anchorage, cracking ourselves up like the sleep deprived sailors that we were!

My fellow sailors on the Women Who Sail Facebook group added a bunch more. Thanks toKatieVerenaDianeCindyBrittanyToast, and the other seafaring chicas who chimed in. We’ve all been rolled!

You know you’re in a rolly anchorage when…


  • your tablet auto rotates as you are sitting still on the settee
  • setting a stern anchor in the middle of the night sounds like a good idea
  • you run through the options for dinner in your head and then ask, “Want some crackers and cheese?”
  • you set up your fore/aft bunk so you can sleep athwartships, even though it forces you into the fetal position
  • you make a drinking game out of watching the increased angle heights on the inclinometer
  • you tear a locker apart to figure out what is rattling around
  • you gain new appreciation for the genius of Ensign Pulver and his rolling marble
  • you clamber, disoriented, up on deck thinking it’s your turn to go on watch
  • you seriously consider hauling up the anchor and going elsewhere at 2am
  • the afternoon’s ‘entertainment’ consists of watching all the charter boats break anchor and drift by
  • for once, the land looks more fun
  • you have to sit to shower
  • you have to roll an extra blanket to stay in v-berth
  • the dog thinks he is on a slip and slide
  • you feel seasick
  • you have to stow like you’re going offshore
  • you have to take a dose of sturgeron
  • your eyes look like fried eggs after a sleepless night
  • your husband leaves to go diving and comes back with a hotel reservation
  • you decide to hike 10+ miles in the heat, in the desert, to a HOT springs
  • you loop your arm through a handhold so you can relax a little
  • you stack up all the spare sails in your aft centerline bunk so you can wedge yourself in
  • your unbreakable french press shatters as it slides off the counter and crashes into the sink
  • you start remembering what things around the salon don’t have non-slip under them
  • you keep wondering “are we there yet?”
  • you can’t find your kitchen knife, then see it sticking point down in the floor like a javelin
  • the stainless steel coffee pot does a swan dive off the stove into the stairs and gets a huge dent
  • a full water bottle does a somersault and spills all over your berth in the middle of  the night