This year I was honored to receive the David Wallis Literary Award from the Ocean Cruising Club. It was for an article I wrote for the club’s biannual journal Flying Fish, recounting spending my twenties at sea, including the circumnavigation Seth and I made aboard our rudimentary, even primitive, boat HERETIC. It was very flattering to be singled out, especially as the articles in Flying Fish tend to be of quite high quality, in terms of the content (some very exceptional voyages recounted!) and the writing and photography. I was also excited to receive my copy of Flying Fish and see one of our photos on the cover!
Mauna Loa, one of the two 4000-meter peaks on the island of Hawai’i, is the largest volcano on earth, as measured by volume. It’s still active: the last flow, in 1984, came within 4 miles of the town of Hilo. Raw black lava flows mark its flanks, and sometimes you can see it smoking.
Up in the thin, dry air on Mauna Loa is a wilderness of brittle lava rock, an immense caldera, and harsh tropical sun. The temperatures are cold – it snows – and the wind howls, but the sun remains at its brutal tropical angle. Sounds like a fantastic hike, right?
You can’t not do it, though: a 4000-meter peak that’s not a technical climb is pretty much impossible for hikers like us to pass up. So Seth and I summited Mauna Loa last September. After many months aboard CELESTE at sea level, it was quite the challenge….
I wrote up the story of our hike for our sponsor Katadyn on their blog. You can read it here: https://outdoors.katadyn.com/blog/hiking-mauna-kea-with-ellen-and-seth
Many of you know that Seth and I are living in Hawai’i. As a good friend of mine put it after our housewarming party, we finally set our “land anchor” after many years afloat. Of course, that isn’t the whole picture, because we haven’t really been sailing full time since our circumnavigation on our previous floating home HERETIC. We undertook our Alaskan adventures in the summers between academic years working and studying in Switzerland. But after leaving Switzerland in 2016, we did live aboard CELESTE for almost two years. Unlike our voyage around the world, however, when we only took on seasonal work during the hurricane months, aboard CELESTE we were also trying to work (career-type work, not seasonal jobs) at the same time. Continue reading
Excited to post our next video from our Alaskan voyages! This episode covers another part of our return trip in Summer 2016 from the Aleutians back to Puget Sound/Juan de Fuca Strait area. A four-day passage across the Gulf of Alaska brings CELESTE to Peril Strait, the aptly named entrance to Southeast Alaska’s inside channels. Here we explore forested islands, deserted coves, hot springs, and lagoons accessible only by dinghy before transiting Wrangell Narrows, another tight waterway with fast-running tides.
The previous videos leading up to this one can all be found on the Videos page.
Hope you enjoy Episode 10!
Last year, author and sailor Nicola Rodriguez in the UK reached out to me to contribute to the second edition of her book Sail Away, a primer for starting out on long-distance voyaging. I enjoyed answering her questions and then I was excited to see her book once it came out. She used one of our pictures to lead her chapter on the high latitudes (above), which was fun to see. It’s a great book for anyone new to offshore sailing and trying to get a feel for what to expect. It’s available online, on Amazon and other places.
One of our photographs, “South Pacific Starry Night” is the double-page spread in SAIL magazine this month! I can’t publish the photo here, but here’s another one we took that same evening with a lovely palm tree growing considerately in the foreground 🙂
We had a lot of fun that evening playing around with settings on our camera and just star-gazing.
Can anyone find the Southern Cross amidst the Milky Way?? Bonus points…
I recently wrote a short “Yard News” item for Classic Boat magazine, that’s out in the July issue. It briefly covers an interesting project that’s been going on in Maine for the past few years: a reconstruction of a 17th century colonial ship, the Virginia. Seth’s dad has been part of the volunteer crew building the ship; the reconstruction has been an almost entirely volunteer endeavor. It’s also being undertaken in as historically accurate a manner as possible, except for what’s required to make her Coast Guard certified to take on passengers when she eventually launches. There’s lots of information about the project, including how to get involved if you live near Bath, Maine, on the Maine’s First Ship website.
It’s been good fun to visit the Virginia on our trips to Maine the past couple of years – it’s so impressive to see what the crew is getting done and the attention to detail with which they’re doing it. Here are a couple of photos: