Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness


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Lightning…

…is, for me, one of the most fearful things at sea. Your boat’s mast essentially acts as a lightning rod, being the tallest thing for hundreds of miles. Not much fun to contemplate in an electrical storm.

squalls in the ITCZ

Squalls in the Intertropical Convergence Zone (around the equator)

Of course, all prudent sailors (of wood and fiberglass boats – metal boats don’t have this problem!) ground their masts so that any potential strike will go down the mast and safely out into the ocean, typically via the keel. If you don’t ground your mast, that electrical current will find the fastest way to water, which can be through the (fiberglass or wood) hull at waterline…. You can figure out what happens next. Even with a grounded mast, though, lightning strikes are still terrifying. A friend of my family had her boat struck twice – fortunately at anchor with no one aboard – and the damage was significant, especially to the electronic equipment, all of which was destroyed.

Ominous, leaden sky before lightning storm

Ominous, leaden sky heralding the worst lightning storm I’ve ever encountered

As a child, I kind of enjoyed thunderstorms – seen from a safe distance and from behind the windows of a snug house. As soon as I started sailing offshore, though, I started hating thunderstorms. I’ve been lucky so far, but a couple close calls have given me a healthy fear of anvil clouds and the lightning they bring. My next installment (online here) in my “Toughest Passages” series for Ocean Navigator magazine recounts these episodes.

 


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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 we’ve dealt with in our 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 Seth’s and my 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 last year in the South Pacific on their way to New Zealand.


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The Sea Gypsy’s Conundrum and other stories

Celeste in Kenai Fjords

When it arrived in my mailbox a couple weeks ago, I was excited to see that the most recent issue of Cruising World magazine features an article I wrote after surveying a bunch of fellow sailors: The Sea Gypsy’s Conundrum. One of the big organizational hassles for offshore sailors is what to do about a permanent address and about receiving mail while voyaging.

01 Post Office boxes

Mail is actually the easier half of this equation, as much of it can be dealt with online nowadays, but the permanent address issue – required for tax filing, applications for foreign visas, and renewals of passports, bank cards, driver’s licenses, even boat documentation – is a little harder. So I sent out my survey questions to a bunch of sailors and got about two dozen responses, all of them super informative and interesting. A big thank you to all of you who contributed! Continue reading


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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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Passage to San Francisco – feature article in Ocean Navigator

Passage to SF-2More publication news – my Ocean Voyaging feature article about the passage south to San Francisco appeared in the January/February issue of Ocean Navigator magazine and it’s up online now too!

This passage –  down the northwest coast – is very talked of, even a little feared, in the sailing community, and for good reason. It’s a rock-strewn, lee shore with few places to shelter, and it’s subject to volatile and not very pleasant weather. For many Pacific Northwest sailors, it’s the first real ocean passage, too – one leaves behind the protected waterways of Puget Sound and the Inside Passage in favor of the big ocean swells. Finally, if it’s left too late in the year, this passage can deliver some really nasty conditions, so the maxim among West Coast sailors is to round Cape Flattery (the NW tip of Washington State) and be off southward before October 1st.

My Ocean Navigator feature covers the major concerns and strategies regarding this passage and relates our own experience with it.  You can read the piece here.

I also wrote a blog post about it around when we actually did the passage, which is a lot less extensive, but which you can read here. Hope you enjoy!


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12 Tips for Wintering Aboard – feature article in Pacific Yachting Magazine

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Tip 1: BEER!

Tip 2: Doughnuts!

In all seriousness, though, two winters ago (2016-17), Seth and I were living aboard CELESTE in Port Angeles, Washington, trying to stay warm and dry through one of the coldest winters to hit the Pacific Northwest in many years (old timers said anywhere between 20 and 30 years). That experience inspired my article that recently came out in Pacific Yachting magazine. Here’s a link to the preview of the December issue.

Since it’s on newsstands right now, I can’t spill the beans on our 12 tips here, but basically it came down to ways to deal with the cold, the dark and cramped space, and the mildew/mold problem. As always, it’s exciting to see my stuff in print!

If that isn’t enough winter for you, my Cruising World magazine article on prepping your boat for winter (while you escape somewhere warm and sunny! or go back to work…) is now online. You can read it here.

 


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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 so 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