Thank you to A Family Afloat for nominating us for the Liebster Award!
The Liebster Award helps bloggers connect: one person nominates various blogs he or she enjoys reading, asks them some questions, and then they nominate other blogs. It’s a nice way of recognizing each other and sharing stories.
Here are the questions we were asked by A Family Afloat:
What inspired you to start your blog?
Sharing our experiences and photos with family, friends, and anyone else who’s interested! During our circumnavigation (2006-2010), I wrote monthly e-mail updates to a group of friends. It was fun, but the list kept growing as we met people en route and it got a little difficult to keep track of. Plus it wasn’t easy to send photos that way. Keeping a blog is a much more versatile way to share things: pictures, links to magazine articles, and posts about our sailing, wildlife encounters, boat work, and gear. It’s also a refreshingly informal way to write, which gives me a nice balance alongside articles. And finally, the two of us just like having it as a record of our journeys that we can look back on!
Who is your target audience?
It started out as our family and friends—the same group to whom I used to send updates—as well as the readers of my articles who might want to know a bit more about our voyages. It’s expanded since then to anyone interested in sailing and cruising, living aboard and preparing/maintaining boats, wildlife and wild landscapes, adventure and travel, photography, and beautiful places like Alaska. At some point I hope to write about some of our land-based adventures as well, mainly trekking and backcountry skiing in the Swiss Alps.
How or why did you end up with the boat you are currently sailing on?
Upon completing our round-the-world voyage, we sold our boat Heretic and almost immediately regretted it. It took us three years of searching brokerage listings and classified ads to find a replacement. Heretic had been a beautiful classic (built 1968, a copy of Finisterre) and we wanted one equally nice to look at, but a bit newer (we’d spent about half our time while circumnavigating restoring Heretic to sea-going condition) and also faster and lighter displacement. Essentially we were looking for what’s known as a Spirit of Tradition boat. But they’re really hard to come by second-hand (in our price range!): they are mostly custom-built for the people who commission them and then they don’t change hands. After three years of searching, we got lucky and found Celeste for sale by her original owner. She was almost exactly what we were looking for! (More on this on our Celeste page.)
What have been your hardest moments in cruising?
- Learning to repair and maintain boats. Neither of us knew much of anything when we were outfitting to sail around the world and we somehow learned everything the hard way despite reading lots of books about it. We’re both pretty proficient now at disassembling our engine, wiring electrical circuits, fiberglassing, etc. but it took a lot of bruises and curses to get there.
- Functioning while seasick. Seasickness feels like a half-world between life and death where only saltines and water and misery exist. Trying to gin up the energy and motivation to sail the boat and stand watch while feeling like that is one of the hardest things I know. Fortunately, if we don’t let ourselves get too exhausted or hungry or dehydrated, we can usually manage it.
- Lighting. We hate lightning! We’ve been frightened out of our wits dodging it in the South Pacific and off Mauritius, Bermuda, and New Jersey.
What draws you to cold weather/water sailing?
First and foremost, the wildlife! A sailboat with a rowing dinghy is a wonderful platform for observing coastal and marine wildlife because you can be so quiet and unobtrusive. We love seeing animals in the wild everywhere we go: manta rays and pilot whales in the South Pacific, iguanas and sea lions in the Galapagos, albatrosses and penguins in New Zealand, kangaroos and parrots in Australia, tortoises in the Mascarene Islands, dugongs in the Indian Ocean, rhinos and leopards and zebra in Africa, baby turtles on Ascension Island, herons in the Chesapeake, puffins in Maine, the list could go on and on. We’ve always wanted to see bears, otters, orcas and walrus (and of course humpbacks and other whales are always wonderful, no matter how many you’ve already seen), and Celeste‘s location in the Pacific Northwest when we bought her spurred us to head north!
Secondly, the incredible landscapes/seascapes. We’ve been to a lot of tropical and sub-tropical regions (which we also love!), so we basically wanted to see something new. Glaciated mountains and volcanoes, icebergs, pine forests, and huge waterfalls all appealed to us, as well as the far northern tundra. Along with this is the opportunity to meet the people who live in such a harsh environment.
Last but not least, it’s challenging and exciting sailing. Maybe it can be too exciting at times, but it feels good to know we can push ourselves to try it. I guess this is the same motivation as that which takes us on long and steep mountain hikes—the sense of accomplishment is unsurpassed.
How did you meet each other?
Seth’s answer is always that we met in a bar. My answer is through a mutual friend. Technically we’re both right. The summer after my sophomore year in college, I was teaching sailing in a village in Maine close to where Seth grew up. Seth had graduated from college a year previously and was refitting Heretic for his global circumnavigation. There’s really only one pub around there, so one night we both found ourselves at it. I was meeting a friend from the Yale Sailing Team who happened to be someone Seth had taught to sail several years back, and my friend introduced us. Seth hadn’t had a lot of encouragement about his proposed voyage, so I think my enthusiasm was refreshing—ever since I was eight years old, I’d wanted to cross an ocean. One week later we’d decided to sail together on Heretic!
What sea creature do you most identify with (what would you want to be?) and why?
While I wouldn’t want to be anything other than a human, I love humpback whales. They migrate tremendous distances between the tropics and temperate/sub-arctic waters every year; they’re social animals; and they appear to have lots of fun, leaping clear of the water.
How do you divide your watch hours?
- Midnight—0400: Ellen
- 0400—1000: Seth
- 1000—1400: Both (together time! A funny thing about offshore sailing is that you actually don’t see that much of your partner.)
- 1400—2000: Ellen
- 2000—0000: Seth.
- This schedule shifted a little in Alaska—due to the long daylight hours, Ellen would have had all the hours of darkness, so we changed it to: 0130—0530: Ellen; 0530—1130: Seth; 1130—1530: Both; 1530—2130: Ellen; 2130—0130: Seth. But (obviously) we kept the same schedule of 4- and 6-hour watches. We share galley duties and navigation (we still use paper charts!) pretty evenly.
What is your favorite recipe for your first 3 days of a passage?
We both get pretty seasick, so usually something basic like spaghetti and Bolognese sauce. Thanks to my dad and a pressure canner, we have homemade Bolognese sauce in Mason jars that we use for exactly these occasions. If it’s a super rough start to a passage, our AlpineAire meals (pictured above in an Optimus heat-retaining pouch) are a godsend—you just pour in some boiling water, wait ten minutes, and eat it out of the bag (no dishes!). Our favorites of those are the “Leonardo da Fettucine” (essentially mac and cheese) and the Mountain Chili. We used to eat US military rations before we discovered AlpineAire and believe me, AlpineAire is miles better than what the soldiers get.
What is your favorite ice cream?
Coffee! Nothing better than a coffee milkshake after a passage, especially in the tropics 🙂
So that’s that! Thanks for reading! I would like to nominate the following fantastic blogs for the Liebster Award:
Tenaya Travels: http://www.tenayatravels.com/ Katie and Jim Thomsen’s gorgeous photographs and thoughtful writing about their voyage from Europe to New Zealand and SE Asia and now back in the Black Sea.
Going Solo: http://glennwakefieldaroundtheworld.com Glenn Wakefield’s fascinating account of his solo nonstop circumnavigation attempt in 2013 and now his voyage to New Zealand and onward.
S/V Guava Jelly Travelogue: http://www.svguavajelly.com/ Rick and Hannah and son Wade cruising the beautiful islands of Fiji. We met Rick in the Cook Islands in 2007 during his voyage from Seattle to Mexico and New Zealand. We kept on for the Indian Ocean and he stayed and imported Guava to New Zealand. Not sure who made the better move. . . .
From Pine to Palm: http://frompinetopalm.com Anne and Colin live and sail aboard the beautiful wooden Mimi Rose where they like to keep things simple and fun.
Alaskagraphy: http://alaskagraphy.com Sailing and other adventures in the vast and beautiful 49th state.
Sailing Pups: http://sailingpups.wordpress.com Rob and Sophia sail in British Columbia and have adventures in the Canadian Arctic.
Sailing Wanderer: http://sailingwanderer.com/ Living aboard with a dog and a great attitude!
Pink Tank Scuba: http://pinktankscuba.com/ Gorgeous underwater photography and videos from a very brave woman.
My questions for them are:
1. What has been your favorite moment on (or in) the water so far?
2. What brought you to sailing/solo voyaging (Glenn)/diving (Pink Tank) in the first place?
3. What is your biggest passion outside of sailing (or diving for PT)?
4. What is your favorite book and why?
5. What has been your most difficult/challenging moment out on (or in) the water?
Thanks again to A Family Afloat, and we hope our nominees will enjoy thinking about these questions!