Gone Floatabout

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Ohia Blossom

Hawai’i, 2018.

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


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Another double-page spread!

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…

Milky Way over Palm


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World Oceans Day

Dolphin

Dolphin just breaks the surface off Celeste’s bow, Baja Mexico, February 2018

Saturday (June 8) was World Oceans Day.

I didn’t actually know that until today — I’m not really plugged into all the sundry United Nations holidays out there. But I like the sentiment behind it, celebrating and protecting the world’s oceans. The ocean is obviously a source of joy for both of us — as all our readers know, we try to spend as much of our free time on or in it as possible.

Under-over_Celeste and Ellen

Ellen swims under Celeste, French Polynesia, August 2018. This was the recent double-page spread in Cruising World.

And so Saturday was no exception, despite the fact that we weren’t aware at the time that we were celebrating World Oceans Day!

We tried out a new (to us) scuba diving site, accessed from shore (i.e. we waded in), and were really pleased to find a reef with healthier coral than we were expecting.

Coral reef

Healthy coral reef!

There was also a good amount of fish, many of them fairly large specimens of their species. Though we didn’t see any big marine life (rays, sharks, game fish), we were still very pleasantly surprised by the health of the reef.

Peacock grouper

Peacock grouper

Both of us are just amateur observers, not scientists, so I have no idea if our hypotheses are correct, but it seems likely that this site (which involved a 3/4-mile hike in over rocky terrain in full scuba kit) was more pristine than many we’ve dived simply because it’s less trafficked. And not just by scuba divers, but snorkelers and spear fishermen too. There was also little run-off from the land and the water temperature wasn’t too hot by tropical standards – 79 degrees F. In an effort to keep the site healthy and untrafficked, I’m not going to say where it is — sorry!

Over the years we’ve seen a pretty big variance in coral reef health, all over the world. Again, this is hardly scientific, as we’ve only gone back to exactly the same places in very few instances and haven’t done any kind of systematic studies, but it does sadly appear as if the reefs of the Pacific are not as healthy as they were a dozen years ago. Thankfully, we still run across some areas of superbly healthy reefs. And even the moderately healthy reefs, like the one we dived Saturday, give hope for conservation efforts.

Reef and surgeonfish

A beautiful reef in the South Pacific, July 2018

In my opinion – and for me personally – there’s nothing like seeing the beautiful natural world with one’s own eyes to make a person care about protecting it. So it’s good we have days like World Oceans Day, which hopefully get more people out there to see for themselves!

 

 


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Photo publication news

Ocean-Navigator-March-April-2019

Seth’s photo of me on the cover of Ocean Navigator!

Good news on the publication front: two of Seth’s images were out recently, one as a cover shot (!) and one as a double-page spread, accompanied by a short article I wrote. The cover image is above – of me tending the spinnaker at the end of a good day’s sailing across Shelikof Strait, which separates Kodiak Island and the Alaska Peninsula. As you can see, it graces last month’s cover of Ocean Navigator magazine 🙂

The double-page spread was an “under-over” (half underwater) shot of me snorkeling below CELESTE, an image we worked hard to get over the course of our last season’s sailing. My article tells the story of getting the image. It was in the January-February issue of Cruising World magazine. Here’s the PDF of it!


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Honored with Young Voyager Award from the Cruising Club of America

2019 CCA Young Voyager

Receiving the Young Voyager Award from CCA Commodore Brad Willauer. Photo courtesy of Dan Nerney.

Seth and I were incredibly honored to receive the Cruising Club of America’s Young Voyager Award this year. Recognizing “a young sailor who has made one or more exceptional voyages,” the award is relatively new among the CCA’s prestigious sailing medals. Given the two previous Young Voyager recipients, and given the club’s history of honoring truly exceptional sailors, we were bowled over to be this year’s awardees!

2019 Young Voyager acceptance remarks

Acceptance remarks for the CCA Young Voyager Award at the ceremony in the Model Room of the New York Yacht Club. Photo courtesy of Dan Nerney.

We traveled to New York to attend the awards dinner at the New York Yacht Club on March 1st, and what a gathering it was! Continue reading


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Passage to San Francisco – feature article in Ocean Navigator

Passage to SF-2More publication news – my Ocean Voyaging feature article about the passage south to San Francisco appeared in the January/February issue of Ocean Navigator magazine and it’s up online now too!

This passage –  down the northwest coast – is very talked of, even a little feared, in the sailing community, and for good reason. It’s a rock-strewn, lee shore with few places to shelter, and it’s subject to volatile and not very pleasant weather. For many Pacific Northwest sailors, it’s the first real ocean passage, too – one leaves behind the protected waterways of Puget Sound and the Inside Passage in favor of the big ocean swells. Finally, if it’s left too late in the year, this passage can deliver some really nasty conditions, so the maxim among West Coast sailors is to round Cape Flattery (the NW tip of Washington State) and be off southward before October 1st.

My Ocean Navigator feature covers the major concerns and strategies regarding this passage and relates our own experience with it.  You can read the piece here.

I also wrote a blog post about it around when we actually did the passage, which is a lot less extensive, but which you can read here. Hope you enjoy!


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Sea of Cortez Part 3: Return Passage to Cabo (May 2018)

Sunset Espiritu Santo

Sunset seen from CELESTE’s deck, Espiritu Santo, Sea of Cortez

It was hard to tear ourselves away from the beautiful bays and empty hills of Espiritu Santo island, but with summer (and hurricane season) approaching, it was time to sail back out of the Sea of Cortez and complete the final preparations for our Pacific Ocean crossing!

Since we’d been back in Mexico on the boat (after being away working for a few months), we had found the wind patterns pretty much the reverse of what they’d been in the winter. Back in February, we had made an upwind passage from San Jose del Cabo up to La Paz, fighting the strong north wind that prevails at that time of year. By May, we encountered frequent dead calms during the day and strong southerlies at night. This meant that we would be fighting headwinds again on our way south to Cabo (at least during the nighttime part of the passage). CELESTE sails pretty well against the wind, but headwinds make a passage longer (literally – you sail twice as many miles over ground to make the same distance good, as opposed to being able to sail straight on course with a favorable wind), so when we got a forecast for a calm day and night, we decided to swallow our sailing pride and make tracks to Cabo – we’d lingered long enough if we were going to the South Pacific that season!

Cabo Passage

Our route down Baja and up the Sea of Cortez (February) and then return to Cabo (May)

Continue reading