Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness


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The West Coast of Baja, Mexico, Part 1: Good sailing, snorkeling, sunsets, and scenery (February 2018)

Desert Hills and White Horses_2

Desert hills and white horses. Fun, fast sailing off the Baja coast

We had a good time cruising down the west coast of Baja – it’s a beautiful, wild place, and it was especially interesting and unique for us as it was the first time we have sailed off a hot desert coast. (Much of the Arctic is a desert, of course, but it’s very different from the red hills of Baja!) It made quite the change from the temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest that we’d grown so used to over the last few years!

 

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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


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Critter Post 6: Least Auklet

Least Auklet

Maybe my favorite bird? A Least Auklet! (he’s tiny – only 6 inches!)

Another bird-nerd critter post! I have a soft spots for goofy-looking birds and they don’t get much goofier than auklets. On our sail to the Arctic in 2015, Seth and I 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


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Critter Post 5: Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl on whaleboneAll my critter posts so far have focused on mammals, but we see so many interesting birds while sailing that I thought it was time for an avian critter post. Two years ago, on the Alaskan North Slope, we were lucky enough to see a snowy owl. We watched him for hours as he swept low over the tundra and perched on whalebones. Since it was summer in the Arctic, he was hunting in full daylight (even though it was close on midnight), and the low angle of the sun made for lovely light for photography. Continue reading


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Avian winter visitors

The last few (belated) posts have been about work on Celeste over the 2016/17 winter. It was a bit of a tough winter for living aboard – the harbor froze over, it was unusually cold and snowy for the Pacific NW, and the short days were a bit depressing at times – but we made some great friends and, being amateur bird nerds, we really enjoyed all the wintering avian visitors – harlequin ducks, long-tailed ducks (“oldsquaws”) in their winter plumage, American widgeons, buffleheads, common goldeneyes, and hooded mergansers. Here are a few pictures we took on one glorious sunny day in January:

American Widgeons:

Widgeons and Rainer

American widgeons with Mt Rainer in the distance

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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!

 


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Back in Dutch Harbor/Unalaska

 

In my last post I mentioned that we were back on board Celeste in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. So here’s what we’ve been up to:

Fishing boats tied up near Celeste

Bering Sea fishing boats moored near Celeste

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New pages on Gone Floatabout

Hi everyone,

Bear and sprayWe’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 🙂

Cheers,

Ellen & Seth

 


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1300 miles in 19 days: Passage from Point Barrow to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, August 13-31, 2015

Celeste at Point BarrowAfter 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.

Wrangel Island screenshot

Google map screenshot of Wrangel Island (red pin) across the Chukchi Sea from Barrow

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


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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

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