Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness


10 Comments

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


8 Comments

Arctic Voyage Video: Episode 3

A few months ago, Cruising World magazine picked up the series of videos we’d made of our 2015 voyage to the Alaskan Arctic. I also posted the first three – the “trailer” and Episodes 1 and 2 – here on this blog and on YouTube. Then we were busy sailing, so I didn’t get around to posting Episode 3 until now. But here it is! Hope you enjoy!

Pribilofs to Nome, Bering Sea, Alaska (July 2015)

Four days sailing north across the Bering Sea to reach the gold-rush town of Nome where we meet today’s miners, try to catch a salmon, spot nesting birds, and encounter herds of muskoxen – a true denizen of the Arctic.

And because it’s been so long since Episodes 1 and 2, here they are again as well:


24 Comments

A Photo Award! (and some more articles)

In December I was really flattered to have my photo “Alone at the Ice Edge” be nominated by Cruising World magazine for the annual Boating Writers International writing and photography contest. And I recently learned that the image earned a Certificate of Merit for the Boating Photography category! Here is a link to an announcement about the awards, with lots of other great stories and images. Congratulations to all the other winners! And here’s the photo:

Also, for those of you who are members of Off Center Harbor.com, I have a new “Guide Post” up about our 2015 voyage to Point Barrow and back. Here’s the link.

Last but not least, Ocean Navigator has posted my most recent article “Sail Fast” online.

That’s all the publication news for now 🙂


2 Comments

Arctic Voyage Video: Episode 2

Episode 2 of our Arctic Voyage video series came out on Cruising World magazine’s site earlier this month, and now we’ve just posted it on our YouTube channel. Here it is:

This video covers our first passage north in the Bering Sea, to the windswept but wildlife-rich Pribilof Islands. We were thrilled to get some great footage of puffins and fur seals, and really enjoyed celebrating Fourth of July in what’s got to be one of the world’s coldest ball-fields!

 


8 Comments

Seabirds and sea ice on Alaska’s Arctic coast: August 10, 2015

Black guillemot in flight

Black guillemots, Alaska’s Arctic coast

As you can probably tell if you’ve been reading Gone Floatabout, the two of us are amateur birders. And the Arctic – particularly Barrow (see last post) – is a wonderful place for spotting lots of unique species. So when Craig and Cyd told us about Cooper Island, we had to go!

Route Map_2015 to Barrow

Our route to Point Barrow and the Beaufort Sea, June – August 2015

Continue reading


6 Comments

Anchored at the top of America, Part 2: Migrating birds and a sled dog team

Welcome to BarrowWhile a lot of our time anchored near Barrow was filled with sailing and socializing, we also enjoyed some great land-based outdoor experiences: hiking, bird watching, driving around on ATVs, and watching an incredible dog team on their summer exercises. Here are some photos from the “top of the world”, as Barrow calls itself! Continue reading


12 Comments

Anchored at the top of America, Part 1: Shifting winds, tundra town, and muktuk!

Polar ice

Bits of sea ice near the edge of the polar ice cap north of Barrow, Alaska, August 2015

Our sojourn at the top of America could be summed up as sailing back and forth around Point Barrow to anchor on one side or the other each time the wind shifted. The low, gravely spit of Point Barrow itself shelters Elson Lagoon from the west and a series of low, constantly shifting islands shelters it from the north. But the lagoon is so big and shallow that when the wind blows from the south or east there’s really no protection in the anchorage at the northwest corner. So we’d sail around to anchor in the open sea, protected from the wind by Point Barrow again. We never encountered any problems with this strategy, but it was different than much of the cruising we’ve done before where the goal is to find an anchorage sheltered from all weathers for each place we visit. Here’s a Google earth screenshot Point Barrow (red dot) and Elson lagoon (teal green water to the southeast): Continue reading


20 Comments

At the polar ice edge

(In the last post, we finally got ashore in Barrow, America’s northernmost town, after being weatherbound on board for 2 days. A fun night with our new friends Craig, Cyd, and a few others inspired us to try to find a walrus at the ice edge the next morning!)

Celeste among growlers

Celeste approaches the polar ice

Continue reading


11 Comments

Weatherbound in Barrow

At anchor off Pt Barrow

Anchored off Point Barrow in building wind and chop

It turned out that we were very lucky with the timing of our passage to Point Barrow. The strong winds we’d had on the passage moderated enough for us to safely enter the lagoon behind the point, but then the wind came right back up in the ‘night’ (the sun didn’t set, of course). For two days we were weatherbound, unable to go ashore! Continue reading


4 Comments

Snowy Owls, Spotted Seals, and an ATV: Good times on Point Hope!

Snowy Owl on whalebone

Snowy Owl perched on bowhead whale bone, Point Hope, Alaska

Although getting to know the people of Tikiġaq was what made our stay there so special, the wildlife and the landscape were wonderful, too. No, we didn’t see a polar bear but yes, our probable snowy owl sighting was in fact a snowy owl! These beautiful birds are high on the wish lists of both birders and Arctic travelers: 2 feet tall with a 4-5ft wingspan, they’re majestic birds – the largest species of owl. The almost completely white plumage of the male makes him a kind of Arctic symbol. Fortunately they’re not endangered or threatened, but their habitat (tundra) and range (strictly Arctic in summer, further south into Canada and Eurasia in winter) make them not so easy to spot in the wild. Owls in general aren’t easy to spot, being nocturnal, but of course the 24hr sunshine of the Arctic solved this problem for us. So it was with excitement akin to what we’d felt on seeing the muskoxen that we saw our snowy owl a second time, and this time without a doubt as to what he was! Continue reading