Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness


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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 Seth and I agree wholeheartedly!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 at each and every moment. With four people taking turns at the helm, it was possible to make ocean passages like that, but it wasn’t much fun and it wasn’t very sustainable (in the most literal sense of that word, as in, able to continue indefinitely) for longer passages.

Cold sailing

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

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Work and Play in Marina del Rey (January 2018)

That title rhymes… sorry… couldn’t help myself 🙂

Marina del Rey

Marina del Rey seen from northern promenade

In our last post about our current sailing voyage, we’d reached Marina del Rey, a huge marina complex just north of Los Angeles, CA, on December 12, 2017. (Sorry for being so behind on the blog, everyone!) We settled in at the California Yacht Club, thanks to very generous friends of friends, fellow Cruising Club of America members Steve and Stephanie Hathaway. The California YC members and staff made us feel very welcome and we were extremely grateful to be able to berth CELESTE there for a full six weeks.

At CYC

Settled into our slip at CYC. Photo thanks to Stephanie Hathaway.

We soon had the boat all put away for our absence over the holidays – less of a process than when we’d left her for months in the storm-tossed Aleutians, but still a bit of work. When we returned in mid-January 2018, she was just as we’d left her, always a relief!  Continue reading


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Arctic Voyage Video 5: Arctic Ocean and North Slope, Alaska

Here is the 5th episode of our Arctic Voyage video series!

This episode brings us to the very top of America at Point Barrow, Alaska in the Arctic Ocean in August 2015. We sail through high winds and seas, reach Barrow in similar conditions, and then explore the area when the weather finally moderates. We visit a climate scientist on his lonely islet, accompany Barrow’s last sled dog team on their summer exercises, and sail among brash ice at the edge of the polar ice cap.

It’s been a couple of months since the last video posting, so here are the previous episodes: Continue reading


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What a difference a day makes: Contrasting stops in Southern California (December 2017)

We said goodbye to Morro Bay, and the wonderful time we’d had there seeing the elephant seals, on December 9, 2017. Since San Francisco, we’d gotten into a habit of leaving at sunset, and we did so again as we motored across the Morro Bay bar and set sail in the wake of the beautiful tall ships, Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain.

Leaving Morro Bay

Leaving Morro Bay in the wake of the tall ships

The light breeze we encountered at the harbor mouth soon died off to nothing, so that we started the engine again to motor through a flat calm. We had an uneventful rounding of Point Conception, a notorious bit of the California coast, in the middle of the night, and we were close enough to see the hazy red glow of the wild-fires that were engulfing that area at the time. In fact, the air was so thick with smoke that my chest felt very constricted by the end of my watch, so much so at one point that I had trouble breathing. I obviously shouldn’t have waited until then to root around for my respirator, but one’s motivation to dig around with a flashlight in the recesses of the tool lockers isn’t great by 3:30 AM after fighting sleepiness since midnight.

Ash on the ocean

Ash on the ocean during the Southern California wild-fires

When dawn came, we could see how thick the smoke really was – we even saw large patches of ash lying on the calm water. Continue reading


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Article in Cruising World: How to Install a Watermaker

Cruising World magazine recently ran my piece  “Banishing Water Worries: A low-draw desalinator proves easy to install and maintain”  – which is about what it says it’s about! Here is a PDF of the article, which I hope is technical enough for sailors planning a similar project but interesting enough for general readers!

Celeste among growlers

Celeste in the Arctic Ocean, August 2015. We did not fill water from shore for 7 weeks while in the Arctic, thanks to our desalinator.

Cruising World also posted our video of testing our Katadyn (now Spectra) watermaker at the polar ice edge in very cold temperatures, which puts additional strain on the desalinator’s production rate. You can see the video here – enjoy!  Continue reading


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Pirate Ships and Pinnipeds! Morro Bay, California, December 2017

Sea lions, Monterey

Sea Lions on Monterey breakwater

After spending the month of November on the East Coast, Seth and I returned to CELESTE in the marina in Monterey, California. We arrived just in time for the Holiday Boat Parade, of sailboats and motor boats bedecked in Christmas lights.

Christmas lights in Monterey

Monterey marina ready for Christmas!

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