Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness


Sea of Cortez Part 3: Return Passage to Cabo (May 2018)

Sunset Espiritu Santo

Sunset seen from CELESTE’s deck, Espiritu Santo, Sea of Cortez

It was hard to tear ourselves away from the beautiful bays and empty hills of Espiritu Santo island, but with summer (and hurricane season) approaching, it was time to sail back out of the Sea of Cortez and complete the final preparations for our Pacific Ocean crossing!

Since we’d been back in Mexico on the boat (after being away working for a few months), we had found the wind patterns pretty much the reverse of what they’d been in the winter. Back in February, we had made an upwind passage from San Jose del Cabo up to La Paz, fighting the strong north wind that prevails at that time of year. By May, we encountered frequent dead calms during the day and strong southerlies at night. This meant that we would be fighting headwinds again on our way south to Cabo (at least during the nighttime part of the passage). CELESTE sails pretty well against the wind, but headwinds make a passage longer (literally – you sail twice as many miles over ground to make the same distance good, as opposed to being able to sail straight on course with a favorable wind), so when we got a forecast for a calm day and night, we decided to swallow our sailing pride and make tracks to Cabo – we’d lingered long enough if we were going to the South Pacific that season!

Cabo Passage

Our route down Baja and up the Sea of Cortez (February) and then return to Cabo (May)

We left Espiritu Santo around mid-morning when the night’s Coromuel (strong SW wind) was starting to die down. At first we were sailing close-hauled and fast down the west side of the island (which was the windward side in that wind). By the time we reached San Lorenzo Channel (between Espiritu Santo and mainland Baja), the wind had died to a complete calm. We furled the main and jib and turned on the engine for the putter south.

San Lorenzo channel calm

Approaching San Lorenzo Channel as the wind dies

As the sun was setting, bathing the desert hills in golden light, we caught a faint zephyr of wind, just enough to fill the sails. We decided it was too good a photography opportunity to miss – perfect evening light, flat water, CELESTE ghosting beautifully along. So despite our total novice drone-flying abilities, we decided to give it a go and try flying the drone from the moving boat! It was, um, stressful!, but we got some stunning shots and managed not to lose the drone in the ocean! Phew!

Baja sunset

Sunset off Baja

After that rush of adrenaline, it was time for dinner and then setting the nighttime watch rotation. A peaceful night, a hot and calm morning, and then the wind filled in from the northwest for our last 20 miles. So we enjoyed some great sailing!

And we got the boat speed up enough for our fishing lures to attract a big wahoo! Yay!

Seth and just-caught wahoo

Seth with the wahoo!

By late afternoon, we were turning into Cabo San Lucas. We had chosen to go there instead of back to San Jose del Cabo because fellow sailors in La Paz had told us that marina slips in Cabo San Lucas were a lot cheaper. (Obviously we could have looked this up on the internet to make sure, but we had no reason to suppose they were wrong and, considering how expensive San Jose had been, we assumed they were correct. Always bad to assume things!) So in the interests of saving money, we had decided to endure the noise and frenzy of the famous spring-break-type resort town instead of returning to the relative quiet of upscale San Jose. Needless to say, Cabo was a real shock after the empty, peaceful bays we had come from!

booze cruise pirate ships

Fancy a pirate ship booze cruise? Cabo San Lucas offers two! (And a whole fleet of other booze cruise boats… Bit of a shock after the empty desert islands of the Sea of Cortez!!)

Well, it turned out our informants were wrong…. The marina was just as expensive as San Jose! Oh well, we kept our stay very short – just long enough to visit Costco for a final provisioning run, to clear Immigration out of Mexico, to stock up on fresh fruit and veggies, and to take on final fuel and water.

In the end, it all turned out fine, as Cabo was quieter than usual at that time of year and we were positioned at the very end of the Baja peninsula to start our ocean crossing – a psychological boost at the very least. 🙂

Then we were off, across the big blue Pacific!


Work and Play in Port Angeles, WA (September 2017)

Seth hiking in the Olympics

Seth hiking in the Olympic Mountains

After a speedy Inside Passage transit coming south this year, we returned to our old haunts in Port Angeles, Washington. We’ve spent quite a bit of time there now, between outfitting CELESTE prior to our first departure for Alaska back in 2014 and then last winter living aboard and giving our floating home the TLC she needed after her journey to the far north. So it felt a little like coming home again. Seth and I caught up with some good friends and had a great party on CELESTE with them. We restocked our provisions, had dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant, and replayed two major parts of our previous Port Angeles lives: boat work and hiking. Continue reading


Boat Repairs, Part 3: In the Water. Plus, a quick update.

Here’s another post that I wrote months ago (literally) and never got around to posting…. my apologies, dear Readers!

Celeste received a lot of TLC this winter, both at the boatyard and once we got back in the water. winter-sailing-2

Continue reading


Arctic Voyage Video: Episode 1

Many of you have probably already seen this either on Cruising World magazine’s site or on our YouTube channel, but here is Episode 1 of our Arctic Voyage video series!

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!


Boat Repairs, Part 2: At the Boatyard (Sept – Nov 2016)

I started writing this post after we launched (12/5/2016) but didn’t get around to finishing it until now – sorry! So with that in mind, here goes:

celeste-in-snow Celeste is back in the water! Yes, it’s cold and snowy (update 2017: it’s still cold and snowy!), but it’s wonderful to have her floating and feeling like a real boat again!

We stepped our mast and got the rigging all put in place on Friday 12/2/2016 and launched on Monday 12/5/16. It was so exciting to be back in the marina and nearly finished with our major repairs! Continue reading