Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness


Autopilot sea trials

Autopilot sea trials

We were floating, but we weren’t gone yet. We had some last minute projects to do before we could depart from Port Angeles: installing heavy duty cleats for our Jordan Series Drogue, figuring out how to work our heater, and trouble-shooting our autopilot issues. Ace Sailmakers specifically says not to run your drogue to your primary winches for fear of tearing them out with the load, but we had no other strong points on the stern. We made some by installing cleats with huge backing plates.

Continue reading


Port Angeles, Part Two

Installing solar panels, varnishing hand rails

Installing solar panels, varnishing hand rails

The ten days following our hoped-for launch date of June 10 were dominated by installing equipment. Once all the paint and varnish had dried, Seth mounted and wired our new solar panels: two on the forward end of the cabin top, two aft where the old Dorade vent was, and one on a swivel mount on the stern pulpit. (There had been a large one there, but it didn’t seem to be producing much—if any—power, so we replaced it.) Meanwhile, I was hard at work back in our hotel room putting together our Jordan Series Drogue.

Continue reading


Port Angeles, Part One

New GRP, Kevlar, and barrier coat put on over the winter

New GRP, Kevlar, and barrier coat were put on over the winter

As most of you have already guessed from our posts about our Katadyn watermaker, our Rolls batteries, and other projects, we—and the guys at Platypus Marine—have been hard at work refitting Celeste for ocean voyaging in general and high latitudes in particular (one reason that these blog posts are so far behind reality!). Over the winter and spring, Platypus Marine did the most major projects, especially sheathing the hull in GRP and Kevlar, barrier coating and painting the whole hull, and installing our new diesel engine. Seth and I arrived in Port Angeles in May to finish the refitting by doing the finicky (and high labor cost!) projects ourselves.

Continue reading

Our Refit at Platypus Marine

Platypus Logo2

On the recommendation of a trusted friend and shipwright, we placed Celeste with Platypus Marine in September 2013.  We subsequently negotiated sponsorship with them.  In short, we only work with companies whose products we would use regardless of sponsorship.

Celeste was beautifully constructed and designed when she was built: her cold-molded hull was meticulously laid up and saturated with epoxy; her decks, cabin trunk, keel, and rudder were all sturdily built; and everywhere is evidence of the skill and workmanship of both her designer Francis Kinney and her builder Bent Jespersen.  Celeste was also maintained excellently by her previous owner.  He especially took care to keep the bilges completely dry—we’ve found some spare pieces of wood he kept there that didn’t even have a drop of moisture stain!  Nonetheless, all boats come due for a refit after about 20 years and Celeste’s has been particularly thorough in view of the waters we’re hoping to explore.  Thanks to our boatyard in Port Angeles, Platypus Marine, we’re setting off with a classic-looking yet robust and technologically up-to-date vessel. Continue reading

1 Comment

Hamilton Marine helps us outfit Celeste

HMFlagsWe have long been loyal customers of our favorite chandler, Hamilton Marine, so we were thrilled when they agreed to support our voyage! Started as a small operation to outfit lobstermen in Downeast Maine, the company has grown to include all boaters and now has several stores along the Maine coast as well as selling everything online. It’s independently owned, has great service, and stocks anything you might need. As often as we could, we shopped at Hamilton Marine when outfitting for our circumnavigation, and, since we were doing the same for this voyage, we were very pleased that they agreed to help us out a bit!  Continue reading

Katadyn solves our water issues


In need of an emergency manual watermaker and wishing for a 12V one, we approached Katadyn for sponsorship.  We only work with companies whose products we would use regardless of sponsorship.

After 4 years of filling our water tanks like this, a desalinator was on our wishlist!

After 4 years of filling our water tanks like this, a desalinator was on our wishlist!

After four years of hefting water in buckets from the shore (and sometimes rather bad tasting water at that) and after four years of knowing our life-raft was not fully equipped, we’re thrilled to have Katadyn watermakers on board.  Their most energy-conserving watermaker—the PowerSurvivor40E, drawing only 4 amps—will allow us to be completely self-sufficient aboard CelesteWe’ll no longer have to depend solely on water from shore or on rain catchment, and we’ll still be able to generate the electricity we need with our solar panels.  While preparing for the Arctic, Seth and I originally worried about our water solutions.  On our circumnavigation we carried over 150 gallons aboard the heavy-displacement Heretic, which lasted us about 6 weeks without rationing.  We never use potable water for anything other than drinking or cooking (and often use half seawater for cooking), but we drink a lot of water to stave off seasickness. Unlike Heretic, however, Celeste is a medium-displacement boat and weight makes more of a difference to her sailing and trim.  So she only carries 100 gallons in her water tanks.  This might be fine for some cruises, but water is scarce and expensive in the Arctic.
Continue reading


Rolls Batteries on board Celeste


(NB: After careful research, we approached Rolls for sponsorship.  We only work with companies whose products we would use regardless of sponsorship.)

We’re thrilled that Rolls Battery Engineering (Surrette Battery Co.) has agreed to sponsor our voyage!  Ever since we first learned of the company, we’ve been drawn to both their reputation for long-lasting marine batteries and their consciousness of the environment.  They’ve innovated a ‘closed loop’ recycling process whereby their old batteries become new ones: each Rolls battery is made of at least 60% recycled lead.  Equally good for the planet (and great for customers!) is that a Rolls battery takes longer to be completely spent: the designers have created a unique ‘resistitox’ plate to guarantee one of the longest life expectancies in the industry. But why are batteries so important? Continue reading


Safe and Connected with OCENS and MVS

ocens (2)

After circumnavigating with almost no communications, we knew we wanted good services for our high latitude voyage.  Friends had spoken highly of OCENS, so we approached them for sponsorship.  We only work with companies whose products we would use regardless of sponsorship.

We’re thrilled to have OCENS Satellite Systems and Service, and their partner MVS Satellite Communications helping us stay safe and connected as we voyage north!

MVS_logo (2)Communications are vital for voyaging in higher latitudes where weather is volatile and can be severe, and where ice conditions can change even faster.  Aboard Celeste we’ll need access to good weather forecasts starting upon departure from the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  They’ll become even more vital when we cross the Gulf of Alaska and when we enter the Bering Sea.  Upon reaching Arctic waters we’ll also need daily ice charts so we can make informed and safe decisions.  Thanks to OCENS and MVS we’ll be able to do all that reliably and quickly through OCENS’s excellent weather and e-mail services and through our Iridium Extreme phone and airtime.  Continue reading