Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness


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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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Magazine articles update

I’ve been thrilled to have a lot of articles published in sailing magazines this winter. For those of you who are interested, here’s a quick recap:

  • Out right now in Ocean Navigator March/April 2017 is “Sail Fast! Aleutian Islands to Juan de Fuca Strait in Seven Weeks”, about our summer 2016 voyage. Despite having a schedule to meet and thus having to move faster than we would have liked, it was a great cruise and we managed to pack in the spots we most wished to see. cropped-celeste-and-glacier.jpg
  • For those of you who are Cruising Club of America members, the same piece will be coming out in this year’s Voyages
  • I’m also honored to be the newest member of the editorial team for Voyages – I had a lot of fun creating the maps for each article this year.
  • And I was honored to be one of the judges for this year’s Chuck Husick Technology Award, presented by Ocean Navigator to an innovative technology product in the boating market. It was a hard choice among all the great nominees, but the you can read about the final winner here.
  • Cruising World  just posted Episode 2 of our Arctic Voyage video series! It’ll be up on YouTube soon. 🙂
  • In the January/February issue, Cruising World published my piece “Alaska’s Wild Coast” about our 2014 cruise along the Alaska Peninsula the ‘wrong’ direction – from east to west – and now it’s online hereFirst view of the Bering Sea
  • Sailing magazine published my article “Captain Cook’s Paradise: New Zealand’s Bay of Islands” in the January issue – unfortunately it’s not yet online.

    Dolphin and dinghy

    Dolphin seen from the dinghy in New Zealand

  • Across the Pond, Sailing Today ran my “Introduction to High Latitude Outfitting” in their February issue whose theme was the cold northern climes.
  • Also in Britain, last but not least!, Water Craft ran my story about the Steamboat Liberty Belle as their lead feature, along with a cover shot! watercraft-cover

As always, a big thank-you to all my readers and hope you enjoy these pieces!


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Dutch Harbor to Kodiak: Great sailing and great wildlife!

Sea Otter, Unalaska Island

Sea otter, Unalaska Island

With repairs complete, we departed Dutch Harbor/Unalaska on June 26 for the big, beautiful Alaska Peninsula. The first challenge was to sail between the Aleutians out from the Bering Sea and back into the Pacific. The passes between the islands are notoriously rough, with tidal currents running strong. On our way into the Bering in 2014 we had used Akutan Pass and had encountered a 3-knot favorable current at the supposed slack tide. We’d had bumpy conditions (contrary wind – wind against current) but nothing bad, and the 3-knot boost made it fast. This time things went even better! We chose the smaller Unalga Pass and had glassy calm seas despite a 2-knot current with us. There was thick fog, but otherwise it was very pleasant.

Continue reading


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New pages on Gone Floatabout

Hi everyone,

Bear and sprayWe’ve been doing a little renovation to Gone Floatabout and added some new pages. Finally the Arctic Voyage tab now has a full account of the voyage, from our first shakedown cruise in British Columbia in 2013 to our rounding of Point Barrow and return to the Aleutians this past summer. If you’re really ambitious and or really bored, all the posts are in order now on the 2014: Alaska page and the 2015: Arctic page 🙂

Much more exciting is that we finally did something about the Photography page! It’s now under the new Media tab and has three extensive galleries: Wildlife, Nature, and Adventure & People. We had a lot of fun putting that together, so hope you enjoy it!

Finally, sorry for the last post that got sent out – it was a snafu that happened when we were editing our home page.

Hope everyone enjoys floating about the revamped site 🙂

Cheers,

Ellen & Seth

 


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Passage to the Aleutians

First view of the Bering SeaBefore we went hiking above King Cove, we had talked to the harbor master and he’d confirmed our supposition that the “light and variable” forecast was unusual for that time of year.  None of us thought an opportunity like that would come again that summer/fall, so we planned a direct passage to Unalaska Island, heading out early the next morning (September 2, 2014) in order to catch the tides through Akutan Pass by mid-morning on September 3. Continue reading


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King Cove, Part 2: Sighting the Aleutians

Amazingly enough, the forecast for the next few days following our arrival in King Cove and late night with our new friends on the fishing boat was for clear skies and “light and variable” winds.  We could even take a day to explore the place before sailing the following morning (September 2) around 4AM.  That would time us perfectly for the tidal current in Akutan Pass, the pass into the Bering Sea which Francisco had recommended.

Walking around King Cove

Walking around King Cove

Continue reading


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King Cove, Part 1: New Friends

Humpback whale breaching, Deer PassageOur passage to King Cove had seen fog, strong winds, light winds, sun, a big volcano, islands, birds, and whales—a wonderful 75 miles!  The sea and air were pretty calm as we watched the whales breach in Deer Passage, but then as we turned the corner into King Cove itself the wind began to strengthen, and right from the direction in which we were headed. Continue reading


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Puffins and Whales en route to King Cove

Leaving Sand PointAlthough gales were still raging to the east when we left Sand Point at 04:30 on August 31, 2014 we encountered only moderate wind in our area.  We picked our way out of the boat basin in the fog and pitch dark and hoisted sail once clear of the entrance.  Celeste sailed along happily on a beam reach.  The brisk north wind coming over the Peninsula from the Bering Sea was cold and raw but not more than about 20-25 knots, great conditions to fly along at about 8-9 knots. Continue reading


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Sand Point, Shumagin Islands

Beautiful calm, Alaska PeninsulaThe gorgeous calm sunrise that ended two days of strong winds heralded a perfect day’s sail to Sand Point.  Listening to the VHF National Weather Service forecast, we learned that those high winds had not abated in the more eastern zones we had just come through.  Nor did it sound like they were ever likely to.  But in our zone and further west, both wind and sea state were much calmer.  A breeze filled in enough for us to sail and soon we were in the bare and beautiful Shumagin Islands. Continue reading


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All kinds of weather on the Alaska Peninsula

Making dinner: spaghetti and homemade meatballs!

Making dinner: spaghetti and homemade meatballs!

The hours seemed to fly by as we talked with John (the captain of Kittiwake—see last post) and we only realized the time when it got dark and a light rain started to fall.  John had to get going.  He wanted to get Kittiwake to her next anchorage before the SE winds and waves came: he didn’t want to waste fuel by bucking into headwinds and headseas if he didn’t have to.  The southeasterly would come early in the morning and would be favorable for us, so after dinner we made everything shipshape on Celeste and then lingered in the cockpit, watching the bears once more. We’d seen all sorts of behavior by the bears during our time in the little bay: cubs playing, mothers corralling cubs, bears fishing, the bear that bluff-charged us, young bears play-fighting and flirting. But that night we saw one more and it seemed so sweet: a mother-daughter clamming expedition! A mother and her yearling cub – who was almost as big as she was – were on the beach nearest Celeste digging in the mud, swiping up clams in their claws, and eating them. We watched them until it got too dark to see (it was already too dark for photos) and then finally went to bed. Continue reading