Another bird-nerd critter post! Both Seth and I have soft spots for goofy-looking birds and they don’t get much goofier than auklets. On our sail to the Arctic in 2015, we 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
In it, the story begins in the storm-tossed Aleutian Islands in June of 2015. The year before, we sailed Celeste from Washington State to Dutch Harbor of “Deadliest Catch” fame but sadly didn’t take any video footage. So in this video we’re back after a winter’s work to re-commission her – think scuba-diving in the Bering Sea – explore the tundra-covered mountains of the island, and get ready for the Arctic.
Stay tuned for Episode 2 on both Cruising World‘s site and on YouTube – it’ll cover our first Bering Sea passage and the wildlife-rich Pribilof Islands!
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.
In our last post we mentioned that we were back on board Celeste in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands! So here’s what we’ve been up to!
We’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 🙂
Ellen & Seth
Our last post, recounting our rather difficult 3-week passage from Point Barrow, ended with just one day to go to Dutch Harbor and with the highest mountains of the Aleutian Islands (namely Shishaldin Volcano, 75 miles away) just in sight. That final day was overcast and a little foggy, but the sea conditions were happily just as kindly as they had been the day before, when the fin whales had paid us a visit.
After a great visit to scientist George Divoky and his seabirds, we headed back to Barrow to say goodbye to Craig and Cyd before beginning the return passage to Dutch Harbor. While much of the reason why we’d spent so much time around Barrow was because we’d been having so much fun, another factor was the weather. There simply hadn’t been a favorable window long enough to permit us to head south without getting a complete thrashing. Low pressure system after low pressure system kept sweeping across the Arctic Ocean from Wrangel Island north of Siberia and hammering the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.
There’d been 24-hour windows between lows, of which we’d taken advantage to visit George and to explore the edge of the polar pack ice. But there’d never been a window long enough to make tracks south. Not only had the systems been frequent, but one thing about very cold air is that it actually makes bigger waves than warmer air. It’s denser and thus exerts more force on the water, so that 20 knots in the Arctic feels a lot worse than 20 knots in the Caribbean. We didn’t realize this on our own – Craig the bowhead whale biologist pointed it out to us. However, as autumn – a notoriously bad season in the Chukchi and Bering Seas – approached, our standards for what constituted ‘good’ weather got lower and lower. Continue reading