Gone Floatabout

Lucky to live on a boat!

2015: Arctic

Aleutian Islands to the Arctic Ocean and Back

The 2015 voyage reached the very northern tip of the United States, right up in the polar ice. On the way there and back, we traversed the notoriously rough Bering and Chukchi Seas not only once, but twice!

Rowing in Ice

No, we didn’t make the trip in the dinghy…

We broke the northward journey into smaller hops, meaning that we sailed in better than average conditions (although it was still no picnic!) and that we got to experience places that most people never visit. Being wildlife-nerds, we were especially excited to witness unique nesting seabirds, herds of prehistoric-looking muskoxen, a snowy owl – icon of the Arctic – and great flocks of migrating birds.


Musk-oxen, uniquely Arctic and prehistoric-looking

The people we met truly made the voyage, though – generous new friends who ranged from Inupiat elders to a college student to marine biologists. Two of the best moments were being shown traditional whale-bone and sod iglus on the longest continuously inhabited place in North America and running with Barrow’s last remaining sled-dog team.

Sled dog team

Barrow’s last dog team on their summer exercises

The return voyage to Dutch Harbor was a 20-day saga without setting foot on land. The Chukchi and Bering Seas were in their full autumn fury, making the passage our most challenging yet. Still, that made the sight of the volcanic peaks of the Aleutians all the more welcome!Fast sailingIf you’re really ambitious and would like to read all about it, here are the blog posts in chronological order, listed in categories: Dutch Harbor, Pribilof Islands (central Bering Sea), Nome and Bering Strait, Alaska’s Arctic North Slope, Arctic Ocean, and the return voyage to the Aleutians.

Dutch Harbor, Aleutian Islands

Unalaska eagles

St Paul, Pribilof Islands, Bering Sea

Bull fur seals_header

Nome, Alaska and the Bering Strait

Seth spots fish

Point Hope, North Slope

Ellen on Point Hope

Chukchi Sea, Point Barrow, and the Arctic Ocean

Sea Ice, Arctic Ocean

Return Passage, Point Barrow to Dutch Harbor

Arctic sailing header

Full route map

To read about the 2014 voyage from Washington State to the Aleutians, click here.

All text and photographs © Ellen Massey Leonard and Seton Leonard, 2016, All Rights Reserved.