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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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


Worst Weather Challenges and other stories

ON201911

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.


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Book contribution

Last year, author and sailor Nicola Rodriguez in the UK reached out to me to contribute to the second edition of her book Sail Away, a primer for starting out on long-distance voyaging. I enjoyed answering her questions and then I was excited to see her book once it came out. She used one of our pictures to lead her chapter on the high latitudes (above), which was fun to see. It’s a great book for anyone new to offshore sailing and trying to get a feel for what to expect. It’s available online, on Amazon and other places.


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Honored with Young Voyager Award from the Cruising Club of America

2019 CCA Young Voyager

Receiving the Young Voyager Award from CCA Commodore Brad Willauer. Photo courtesy of Dan Nerney.

Seth and I were incredibly honored to receive the Cruising Club of America’s 2018 Young Voyager Award. Recognizing “a young sailor who has made one or more exceptional voyages,” the award is relatively new among the CCA’s prestigious sailing medals. Given the two previous Young Voyager recipients, and given the club’s history of honoring truly exceptional sailors, we were bowled over to be the 2018 awardees!

2019 Young Voyager acceptance remarks

Acceptance remarks for the CCA Young Voyager Award at the ceremony in the Model Room of the New York Yacht Club. Photo courtesy of Dan Nerney.

We traveled to New York to attend the awards dinner at the New York Yacht Club on March 1st, and what a gathering it was! Continue reading


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50,000 sea miles

Setting moon on Pacific crossing

Moon setting at dawn on my second Pacific crossing

So, this summer, when I was out-of-touch and offline, we were sailing across the Pacific again. This second Pacific crossing was quite different from the first one in 2007, but more on that in a later post. But en route, we realized we had sailed some 50,000 sea miles.

In that time, we’d sailed across 4 oceans, crossed the equator three times and the Arctic Circle twice, and, I’m pretty sure, had run aground in every ocean. So here’s to the sturdy little vessels that took us so far!


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Stories in Print Around the World

It’s been great to see my sailing articles in magazines all around the world this spring. Starting over in Great Britain, my piece about voyaging to the Alaskan Arctic in a wooden (cold-molded) boat was featured in the beautiful publication Classic Boat. Here is a PDF of the article which appeared in the April edition.

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Across the Pond, in New England, Ocean Navigator featured my article “A Penchant for the Primitive” about our twelve years voyaging aboard rather primitive boats. (I’ll preempt the obvious comment that our boats have been primitive by modern standards, not by, say, the standards of Captain Cook or the Spanish Armada…). Here is a PDF of the article which appeared in the May/June issue.

 

Seth navigating

Seth navigating. No, nautical charts aren’t just décor for seaside B&Bs…

Also on the East Coast, Cruising World magazine’s April issue published one of my shots as their “Big Photo”, alongside a short piece I wrote about a magical encounter with orca whales in Alaska. The piece is now online here.

Orca

Orca surfacing off Kodiak Island (this was not the “big photo” in the magazine – you’ll have to click on the link above for that! 🙂

Jumping all the way across the Pacific to Australia, I was most honored to be asked to be one of the contributors to the very first edition of Sister Ship magazine, celebrating women sailors. As I’ve been excited about our new-to-us stacking dinghy this year, I decided to write a piece entitled “My Perfect Dinghy”. You can buy the digital magazine here and I’ll let you know when I have a PDF to share. Congratulations to Jackie and Shelley and everyone who has made this magazine become a reality! Here’s to many more issues! cropped-kelp-and-dinghy.jpg


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Arctic Voyage Video 6: Three Weeks at Sea from the Arctic to the Aleutians

Here is the 6th episode of our Arctic Voyage video series!

The Arctic Ocean and the Bering Sea are in their stormy autumn moods as we sail back to Dutch Harbor from Point Barrow (71.4°N) in September 2015. We encounter 900 nautical miles of rough weather to Nunivak Island where even worse weather demands anchor watches. Then another 450 miles to Dutch Harbor… but we make it, spotting fin whales along the way and witnessing the salmon run on Unalaska Island before returning to work for the winter.

This is our last video from the Arctic, and from the 2015 sailing season. More to come (eventually!) from the following year when we sailed back to Washington State from Dutch Harbor! Hope you enjoy!

If you haven’t already seen the earlier episodes and would like to, here they are: Continue reading


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All Blue Water Boats Should Steer Themselves

So says Yves Gélinas, the incredibly accomplished and innovative sailor who invented the Cape Horn wind vane, and I couldn’t agree more.Strong SE wind

Twelve years ago, Seth and I and two friends set off on our circumnavigation aboard Heretic with no self-steering gear at all. No electronic autopilot and no mechanical wind vane. We both came from racing (round-the-buoys) backgrounds and were used to hand-steering boats to get the best out of them. With four people taking turns at the helm, it was possible to make ocean passages like that, but it wasn’t much fun. Nor was our fatigue helped by the fact that we were sailing Heretic like we were in a race….

Cold sailing

Hand-steering Heretic in a gale off Rhode Island in November 2006. Me on the left, one of our friends – John – at the helm.

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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