Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness


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Lightning…

…is, for me, one of the most fearful things at sea. Your boat’s mast essentially acts as a lightning rod, being the tallest thing for hundreds of miles. Not much fun to contemplate in an electrical storm.

squalls in the ITCZ

Squalls in the Intertropical Convergence Zone (around the equator)

Of course, all prudent sailors ground their masts so that any potential strike will go down the mast and safely out into the ocean, typically via the keel. If you don’t ground your mast, that electrical current will find the fastest way to water, which can be through the hull at waterline…. You can figure out what happens next. Even with a grounded mast, though, lightning strikes are still terrifying. A friend of my family had her boat struck twice – fortunately at anchor with no one aboard – and the damage was significant, especially to the electronic equipment, all of which was destroyed.

Ominous, leaden sky before lightning storm

Ominous, leaden sky heralding the worst lightning storm I’ve ever encountered

As a child, I kind of enjoyed thunderstorms – seen from a safe distance and from behind the windows of a snug house. As soon as I started sailing offshore, though, I started hating thunderstorms. I’ve been lucky so far, but a couple close calls have given me a healthy fear of anvil clouds and the lightning they bring. My next installment (online here) in my “Toughest Passages” series for Ocean Navigator magazine recounts these episodes.

 


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Beating Winter Blues

PY Feature_Dec2018About a year ago, my article “12 Liveaboard Tips to Beat the Winter Woes” came out in Pacific Yachting magazine, and now it’s up on their website here, just in time for winter again. Hope you enjoy it, especially while staying snug and warm ashore somewhere! 😉


Worst Weather Challenges and other stories

ON201911

Recently, I’ve been writing a series of features for Ocean Navigator magazine. My series covers the toughest passages in my 50,000 miles of offshore sailing and it’s been a fun way to look back on many years of voyaging.

The first part of the series came out in the September/October edition of the magazine and is up online as well: Worst Weather Challenges. The second one is out in print in the current issue and covers our worst underway breakages. It also just came out online: Worst Breakdowns.

This current Ocean Navigator edition also has another piece I wrote, about a fascinating historical reconstruction going on in Maine – of the colonial ship Virginia, the first English ship built in North America. Last but not least, one of our photos is the cover image for the issue! (See left.) The catamaran pictured is the sleek and fast 57-foot Gunboat Vandal whose crew we met in 2018 in the South Pacific on their way to New Zealand.


Sea Gypsy’s Conundrum article online

Celeste leaving the Alaska Peninsula for Kodiak Island

Sailing in Shelikof Strait, Alaska

My Cruising World magazine article that I mentioned in the last post is now online. You can read it here and I hope you enjoy it! Thanks again to all the sailors who contributed!

https://www.cruisingworld.com/how-to-get-mail-at-sea/

 


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The Sea Gypsy’s Conundrum and other stories

Celeste in Kenai Fjords

When it arrived in my mailbox a couple weeks ago, I was excited to see that the most recent issue of Cruising World magazine features an article I wrote after surveying a bunch of fellow sailors: The Sea Gypsy’s Conundrum. One of the big organizational hassles for offshore sailors is what to do about a permanent address and about receiving mail while voyaging.

01 Post Office boxes

Mail is actually the easier half of this equation, as much of it can be dealt with online nowadays, but the permanent address issue – required for tax filing, applications for foreign visas, and renewals of passports, bank cards, driver’s licenses, even boat documentation – is a little harder. So I sent out my survey questions to a bunch of sailors and got about two dozen responses, all of them informative and interesting. A big thank you to all of you who contributed! Continue reading


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Articles in Cruising World

Big Photo in CWExcited to see two of my articles in the current (December) issue of Cruising World magazine! One of my images from our final summer in Alaska is the “big photo” double page spread (in the picture above!) at the front of the magazine, and my piece about effective winter lay-up practices leads the Hands on Sailor section of practical articles. This article details what we did to prepare CELESTE for the winters she spent in the Bering Sea during our Arctic Voyage.


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Arctic Voyage Video 7: Repairs in Dutch Harbor, Alaska

Here (finally!) is the next episode in the Alaska video series:

My last video episode covered our passages south in autumn 2015 from the “top of America” at Point Barrow in the Arctic back to Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands, once again to be CELESTE’s winter home. So this episode is the beginning of the following season (2016).

Winter 2015/16 was not nearly so kind to CELESTE as the previous winter – a typhoon from Japan hit the Aleutian Islands that year, causing severe damage throughout the town and harbor. So we return in June 2016 to find some major repairs to do. But between installing a new chain plate and readying CELESTE for sea, we also find time to observe the incredible wildlife of the area – humpback whales, sea otters, Arctic ground squirrels, and bald eagles.

Hope you enjoy this episode!


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La Paz, Mexico: Preparations for the Pacific + Fun with Photography (Early May 2018)

I’m finally catching up on the blog! I left off with our time in La Paz, in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, so that’s where I’m starting up again.

La Paz

The required photo op in La Paz

That last post ended with us leaving CELESTE in early March to go back to work for a couple of months. We returned in early May to find her almost as we’d left her, and to find Baja much, much hotter than in the winter! It was very pleasant to be able to stroll around in shirt sleeves at night, but the days were pretty awful… sweltering…made me yearn for Alaska! Continue reading


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La Paz, Mexico: Desert hiking and boat projects (Early March 2018)

La Paz is quite a useful spot for cruising sailboats – a big anchorage, a bunch of marinas to choose from at different prices, almost any shop or service you might need. As the capital of Baja California Sur, it’s actually quite an extensive city but has a fairly relaxed atmosphere and a lovely waterfront area.

Statue on La Paz Malecon

Statue on the La Paz Malecon

Continue reading


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Stories in Print Around the World

It’s been great to see my sailing articles in magazines all around the world this spring. Starting over in Great Britain, my piece about voyaging to the Alaskan Arctic in a wooden (cold-molded) boat was featured in the beautiful publication Classic Boat. Here is a PDF of the article which appeared in the April edition.

cropped-celeste-and-tidewater-glacier.jpg

Across the Pond, in New England, Ocean Navigator featured my article “A Penchant for the Primitive” about our twelve years voyaging aboard rather primitive boats. (I’ll preempt the obvious comment that our boats have been primitive by modern standards, not by, say, the standards of Captain Cook or the Spanish Armada…). Here is a PDF of the article which appeared in the May/June issue.

 

Seth navigating

Seth navigating. No, nautical charts aren’t just décor for seaside B&Bs…

Also on the East Coast, Cruising World magazine’s April issue published one of my shots as their “Big Photo”, alongside a short piece I wrote about a magical encounter with orca whales in Alaska. The piece is now online here.

Orca

Orca surfacing off Kodiak Island (this was not the “big photo” in the magazine – you’ll have to click on the link above for that! 🙂

Jumping all the way across the Pacific to Australia, I was most honored to be asked to be one of the contributors to the very first edition of Sister Ship magazine, celebrating women sailors. As I’ve been excited about our new-to-us stacking dinghy this year, I decided to write a piece entitled “My Perfect Dinghy”. You can buy the digital magazine here and I’ll let you know when I have a PDF to share. Congratulations to Jackie and Shelley and everyone who has made this magazine become a reality! Here’s to many more issues! cropped-kelp-and-dinghy.jpg