Congratulations, Jean-Luc! 2019 Blue Water Medal goes to French offshore racer Jean-Luc Van Den Heede

I thought my readers might enjoy the press release about the remarkable sailing achievements of Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, this year’s recipient of the Cruising Club of America’s highest honor, the Blue Water Medal. (I ghost-wrote the release 😉)

2020…

I’m not sure I’m ready for a new decade… so here are some of my favorite photos from the last one – I’ve chosen one photo from each year, though narrowing it down like that wasn’t easy!

Dawn Landfall, St Helena
Landfall on St Helena Island, South Atlantic, 2010

I love this photo of landfall on the British island of St Helena in the South Atlantic. For me it captures the wonder of sighting land after days at sea – the dawn light, the mountainous island, and the lonely ocean all around. St Helena is still one of the world’s most remote islands, but was even more remote in 2010 when access was still solely by sea.

Ellen trekking in the Alps
Trekking in the Alps, 2011

I love the mountains as much as the sea, and this image reminds me of some of my favorite treks, walking for days high up above treeline in the Alps. I love the silence of it, and the fresh cold air, and the immense vistas of the peaks crowned in ice.Continue reading “2020…”

BoKoa Farms and Forest Video

We 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.

Critter Post 7: Atlantic Blue Tang

A big departure from my earlier Critter Posts: this one doesn’t live in Alaska and doesn’t breathe air! The Blue Tang is a reef fish native to the tropical Atlantic, so with this Critter Post, we’re harkening back to Seth’s and my global circumnavigation aboard HERETIC, during which we snorkeled with Blue Tangs in the Caribbean on the way out (2006/7) and the way home (2010).Blue Tangs-3

Continue reading “Critter Post 7: Atlantic Blue Tang”

Critter Post 6: Least Auklet

Least Auklet
Maybe my favorite bird? A Least Auklet! (he’s tiny – only 6 inches!)

Another bird-nerd critter post! I have a soft spots for goofy-looking birds and they don’t get much goofier than auklets. On our sail to the Arctic in 2015, Seth and I spent several days on St Paul island in the central Bering Sea, binoculars and cameras trained on cliffs full of nesting auklets. It was a toss-up for my favorite, but the Least Auklet was certainly a contender.Continue reading “Critter Post 6: Least Auklet”

Critter Post 5: Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl on whaleboneAll my critter posts so far have focused on mammals, but we see so many interesting birds while sailing that I thought it was time for an avian critter post. Two years ago, on the Alaskan North Slope, we were lucky enough to see a snowy owl. We watched him for hours as he swept low over the tundra and perched on whalebones. Since it was summer in the Arctic, he was hunting in full daylight (even though it was close on midnight), and the low angle of the sun made for lovely light for photography.Continue reading “Critter Post 5: Snowy Owl”

Critter Post 3: Caribou

 

Denali - Caribou in snow
Caribou in the snow, Denali National Park

 

Despite a paucity of images, I’ve decided to write about the caribou for Critter Post 3. Caribou are an integral part of life in the Arctic and we were lucky enough to see one on the shore of the Beaufort Sea on Alaska’s North Slope – quite the sight, the lone antlered creature on the vast tundra. He was too far away to photograph, so for Critter Post 3 we’ll have to content ourselves with a couple of images taken on our trip to Denali National Park in 2015.Continue reading “Critter Post 3: Caribou”

Critter Post 2: American Black Bear

Fishing black bearWe saw our first black bear of the 2017 summer on the shore of Wrangell Narrows as we passed through on our way to Petersburg, Alaska. So I decided to make the American Black Bear the subject of Critter Post No. 2. (For those of you who didn’t see Critter Post 1, the inspiration for this series came from fellow blogger, sailor, and birder who writes a regular Bird Photography Challenge post on her site s/v Take It Easy.) Continue reading “Critter Post 2: American Black Bear”

Critter Post 1: Steller Sea Lion

Sea lions
Steller Sea Lions on a nav marker

As many of you know, the wildlife we see on our voyages is one the big highlights of sailing for us. So I’ve decided to try out a few posts exclusively about critters. This is mostly inspired by fellow birder, sailor, and blogger Chris of s/v Take It Easy, who writes informative posts about bird species that she sees, accompanied by her excellent photos. After spending a recent afternoon watching sea lions on a navigation marker outside Petersburg, Alaska (see photo above), I’ve decided to make the subject of my first Critter Post the Steller Sea Lion.

Continue reading “Critter Post 1: Steller Sea Lion”

Avian winter visitors

2016/17 was a bit of a tough winter for living aboard our sailboat – the harbor froze over; it was unusually cold and snowy for the Pacific NW; and the short days were a bit depressing at times – but we made some great friends and, being amateur bird nerds, we really enjoyed all the wintering avian visitors – harlequin ducks, long-tailed ducks in their winter plumage, American widgeons, buffleheads, common goldeneyes, and hooded mergansers. Here are a few pictures we took on one glorious sunny day in January:

American Widgeons:

Widgeons and Rainer
American widgeons with Mt Rainer in the distance

Continue reading “Avian winter visitors”