Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness


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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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Whales!

Since everyone seems to have a different date for World Whale Day, I figured today was as good a day as any to share some whale photos 🙂

The humpback whales are here in Hawaii for the winter – saw five just the other day, including a baby! Seeing whales from a little outrigger canoe is possibly even more exciting than seeing them from CELESTE – one is so much closer to the water and very aware that the whale is a 40-ton creature and the canoe is a very tippy 40-pounds (she’s made of carbon fiber, hence why she’s so lightweight – and fast and fun!). Didn’t get any photos of the whales from the canoe (didn’t bring the camera), but here are some from back up in Alaska:

Breaching whale

Humpback whale seen from CELESTE in Southeast Alaska, 2014.

This is probably my favorite. I love how well it captures coastal Alaska – the rocky shoreline, the steep forest climbing up and up in background, the wispy clouds, the cool, overcast weather, and, of course, the star of the show, the breaching whale. Do you see the two black specks above him? Those are bald eagles… gives you a sense of how immense this landscape is….

Bubble-net-feeding whales

Humpbacks bubble-net feeding in Southeast Alaska, 2017.

Here’s another image I love. These whales are bubble-net feeding in the deep water right off the shore. Bubble-net feeding is a clever and cooperative technique that humpback whales use to corral small fish and krill into balls, whereupon the whales burst up through the center of the fish ball, mouths open wide, to enjoy their feast! There is incredible footage of this in the new BBC documentary Seven Worlds, One Planet – Antarctica. Highly recommended!

Gray whale tail

Grey whale diving off Mexico, 2018.

Here’s a grey whale in Bahia Magdalena, Baja, Mexico. Grey whales make the longest migration of any mammal, more than 6000 miles each way between the Arctic and tropical waters. It was pretty exciting to see these grey whales in Mexico after having seen them in the Arctic. Just like it’s wonderful to see the humpbacks here in Hawaii after having seen so many up in Alaska!

Spinner dolphins

Spinner dolphins, Hawaii, 2019.

Obviously these aren’t whales, but as I don’t have any pictures of whales from Hawaii, I thought I’d throw in spinner dolphins instead. I love spinner dolphins – they’re so playful and they often show up around the outrigger canoe. It’s always so much fun to jump in the water with them. Though this photo was actually taken while scuba diving – this was a wonderful dive!

 


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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


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Cover girl Celeste

Flying Fish 2019 coverToday when I opened my post box, what did I see but lovely CELESTE on another cover! In the photo she’s rollicking along before a strong northwest wind en route to San Francisco from Cape Flattery, Washington a few years ago. Flying Fish, the biannual journal of the Ocean Cruising Club, also ran my story of the passage, including many more photographs that didn’t make it into the first version of the story, which ran in Ocean Navigator magazine. Here’s the cover (above) and some of these new/extra photos:

Plus one of my favorites, that I got from the 7-foot rowing dinghy on a windy day in Southeast Alaska:

Sailing past waterfall


Worst Weather Challenges and other stories

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Recently, I’ve been writing a series of features for Ocean Navigator magazine. My series covers the toughest passages in my 50,000 miles of offshore sailing and it’s been a fun way to look back on many years of voyaging.

The first part of the series came out in the September/October edition of the magazine and is up online as well: Worst Weather Challenges. The second one is out in print in the current issue and covers our worst underway breakages. It also just came out online: Worst Breakdowns.

This current Ocean Navigator edition also has another piece I wrote, about a fascinating historical reconstruction going on in Maine – of the colonial ship Virginia, the first English ship built in North America. Last but not least, one of our photos is the cover image for the issue! (See left.) The catamaran pictured is the sleek and fast 57-foot Gunboat Vandal whose crew we met in 2018 in the South Pacific on their way to New Zealand.


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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Photo publication news

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Seth’s photo of me on the cover of Ocean Navigator!

Good news on the publication front: two of Seth’s images were out recently, one as a cover shot (!) and one as a double-page spread, accompanied by a short article I wrote. The cover image is above – of me tending the spinnaker at the end of a good day’s sailing across Shelikof Strait, which separates Kodiak Island and the Alaska Peninsula. As you can see, it graces last month’s cover of Ocean Navigator magazine 🙂

The double-page spread was an “under-over” (half underwater) shot of me snorkeling below CELESTE, an image we worked hard to get over the course of our last season’s sailing. My article tells the story of getting the image. It was in the January-February issue of Cruising World magazine. Here’s the PDF of it!


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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!