Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness


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Ocean Cruising Club Lockdown Lectures

OCC burgee and Marquesan courtesy flag

OCC burgee flying from CELESTE’s spreaders

To keep our spirits up during the pandemic, the commodore of the Ocean Cruising Club had the wonderful idea to organize a series of Lockdown Lectures. The OCC is full of adventuresome and accomplished sailors with fascinating stories – there’s no clubhouse, just a great group of people. I’ve really enjoyed all the Lockdown Lectures, from Steve Brown’s talk on his 2018 Antarctica voyage to Clive Woodman’s tale of skiing the whole length of Norway and sailing back in his little 19-foot Cornish Shrimper! Randall Reeves took us vicariously on his “Figure 8 Voyage”, solo around the Southern Ocean and then around the Americas, almost entirely nonstop; Pam Wall took us family cruising the Bahamas; and Bob Comlay took us back to the days of the renowned sailor, mountaineer, and author Bill Tilman – he sailed with Tilman on some of his last trips. It was a wonderful escape to “attend” these talks virtually during the lockdown.

And I was very honored when Simon (the commodore) asked me to give one, too. I must admit it was a little strange to give a talk to a screen instead of a room full of people! I gather that almost all the presenters felt the same way, but it was a lot of fun and I especially enjoyed the Q&A at the end. My talk was on French Polynesia: I tried to give a sense of the culture and great beauty – both below and above the water – of the Marquesas and Tuamotu archipelagos.

Here is a link to all the talks – they were recorded so anyone can watch them. They’re all wonderful! And here’s the Vimeo link to mine on the South Pacific. Here are a few of my favorite photos from that part of the world:


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Polynesia’s beautiful underwater world

I recently made another a little reel, which I hope gives a bit of a sense of the gorgeous underwater world and incredible marine life of French Polynesia in the South Pacific. I simply love the diving and snorkeling there, whether its with the big critters – manta rays, dolphins, sharks – or the colorful reef fish, splendid coral, or the shoals of barracuda and jacks. Hope you enjoy the short film! (The diver in all the footage is a guy named Alexis, the organizer of a little dive club in the Tuamotus.)

(Click on the 4 arrows in the bottom right to make the video full screen.)


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Alaska Reel

Here’s a short video I’ve been working on recently, of the beauty of Alaska. I picked some of my favorite footage of wildlife, scenery, and sailing from summers there aboard CELESTE. Hope you enjoy it! (I’ve embedded it from Vimeo because I kind of prefer it, although I’ve also uploaded the video to YouTube. If you’d like to watch it full screen, click the on the four little arrows just to the left of the Vimeo link in the bottom right.)

 


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BoKoa Farms and Forest Video

I recently created a video for BoKoa Farms and Forest, an off-grid farm on slopes of Mauna Kea on the island of Hawai’i. They practice restorative forestry, reducing invasive plant species and propagating native and endemic ones. Specifically, they remove strawberry guava and chip it, creating a great product for use in grilling and smoking: the wood chips impart a really nice flavor to all kinds of meat and veggies. In the cleared land, they propagate Koa seedlings, reforesting the land with these beautiful native trees. It’s a great cause and a creative way of addressing a problem that exists throughout the Hawaiian islands.

The video tells this story, along with an explanation on how to use the wood chips in your grill.


Alaska Voyage Video 10: Gulf of Alaska and Inside Passage

Another 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.

Hope you enjoy Episode 10!

 


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Alaska Video Episode 9: Kodiak and Kenai Fjords

In our last video episode, we set sail from the Aleutian Islands heading east for the remote Alaska Peninsula. In this next one, we continue our 2016 voyage onward to Kodiak and then north to the stunning scenery of the Kenai Fjords. Sailing from tranquil coves to calving glaciers, we witness breaching humpback whales, sea otters, huge flocks of puffins, high snow-capped peaks, and deep fjord anchorages. Hope you enjoy!

 

P.S. You can see all the previous episodes on our new Videos page.


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Alaska Voyage Video 8: The Alaska Peninsula

Another episode in the Alaska video series!

The last video covered the start to our 2016 sailing season, in Dutch Harbor Alaska, in which we tackled the most necessary repairs to CELESTE following a typhoon. This episode is the start to actually sailing in the 2016 season, with the boat in seaworthy condition again. Retracing our outward (2014) route back to Washington State, we leave the Bering Sea behind and sail along the Alaska Peninsula, one of the state’s most primeval-feeling coasts. Volcanoes smoke, brown bears pace the shore, waterfalls tumble down cliffs, tides run strong, and glaciers gleam white in the sun. Hope you enjoy Episode 8!

P.S. I’ve also created a playlist for our Arctic Voyage, including Episodes 1-6 which cover our 2015 journey from Dutch Harbor to Point Barrow on the North Slope and return.


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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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Arctic Voyage Video 6: Three Weeks at Sea from the Arctic to the Aleutians

Here is the 6th episode of our Arctic Voyage video series!

The Arctic Ocean and the Bering Sea are in their stormy autumn moods as we sail back to Dutch Harbor from Point Barrow (71.4°N) in September 2015. We encounter 900 nautical miles of rough weather to Nunivak Island where even worse weather demands anchor watches. Then another 450 miles to Dutch Harbor… but we make it, spotting fin whales along the way and witnessing the salmon run on Unalaska Island before returning to work for the winter.

This is our last video from the Arctic, and from the 2015 sailing season. More to come (eventually!) from the following year when we sailed back to Washington State from Dutch Harbor! Hope you enjoy!

If you haven’t already seen the earlier episodes and would like to, here they are: Continue reading


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All Blue Water Boats Should Steer Themselves

So says Yves Gélinas, the incredibly accomplished and innovative sailor who invented the Cape Horn wind vane, and I couldn’t agree more.Strong SE wind

Twelve years ago, Seth and I and two friends set off on our circumnavigation aboard Heretic with no self-steering gear at all. No electronic autopilot and no mechanical wind vane. We both came from racing (round-the-buoys) backgrounds and were used to hand-steering boats to get the best out of them. With four people taking turns at the helm, it was possible to make ocean passages like that, but it wasn’t much fun. Nor was our fatigue helped by the fact that we were sailing Heretic like we were in a race….

Cold sailing

Hand-steering Heretic in a gale off Rhode Island in November 2006. Me on the left, one of our friends – John – at the helm.

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