Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness


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Polynesia’s beautiful underwater world

I recently made another a little reel, which I hope gives a bit of a sense of the gorgeous underwater world and incredible marine life of French Polynesia in the South Pacific. I simply love the diving and snorkeling there, whether its with the big critters – manta rays, dolphins, sharks – or the colorful reef fish, splendid coral, or the shoals of barracuda and jacks. Hope you enjoy the short film! (The diver in all the footage is a guy named Alexis, the organizer of a little dive club in the Tuamotus.)

(Click on the 4 arrows in the bottom right to make the video full screen.)


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World Oceans Day

Dolphin

Dolphin just breaks the surface off Celeste’s bow, Baja Mexico, February 2018

Saturday (June 8) was World Oceans Day.

I didn’t actually know that until today — I’m not really plugged into all the sundry United Nations holidays out there. But I like the sentiment behind it, celebrating and protecting the world’s oceans. The ocean is obviously a source of joy for me — as all my readers know, I try to spend as much free time on or in it as possible.

Under-over_Celeste and Ellen

Ellen swims under Celeste, French Polynesia, August 2018. This was the recent double-page spread in Cruising World.

And so Saturday was no exception, despite the fact that I wasn’t aware at the time that I was celebrating World Oceans Day!

I tried out a new scuba diving site, accessed from shore, and was really pleased to find a reef with healthier coral than I was expecting.

Coral reef

Healthy coral reef!

There was also a good amount of fish, many of them fairly large specimens of their species. Though I didn’t see any big marine life (rays, sharks, game fish), I was still very pleasantly surprised by the health of the reef.

Peacock grouper

Peacock grouper

I’m just an amateur observer, not a scientist, so I have no idea if my hypothesis is correct, but it seems likely that this site (which involved a 3/4-mile hike in over rocky terrain in full scuba kit) was more pristine than many I’ve dived simply because it’s less trafficked. And not just by scuba divers, but snorkelers and spear fishermen too. There was also little run-off from the land and the water temperature wasn’t too hot by tropical standards – 79 degrees F. In an effort to keep the site healthy and untrafficked, I’m not going to say where it is — sorry!

Over the years I’ve seen a pretty big variance in coral reef health, all over the world. Again, this is hardly scientific, as I’ve only been back to exactly the same places in very few instances and haven’t done any kind of systematic studies, but it does sadly appear as if the reefs of the Pacific are not as healthy as they were a dozen years ago. Thankfully, I still run across some areas of superbly healthy reefs. And even the moderately healthy reefs, like the one I dived Saturday, give hope for conservation efforts.

Reef and surgeonfish

A beautiful reef in the South Pacific, July 2018

In my opinion – and for me personally – there’s nothing like seeing the beautiful natural world with one’s own eyes to make a person care about protecting it. So it’s good we have days like World Oceans Day, which hopefully get more people out there to see for themselves!

 

 


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Sea of Cortez, Part 2: Sailing, diving, and hiking (May 2018)

Sea of Cortez anchorageIt’s been a while since I wrote about our first experience sailing in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, when we made the upwind (slog of a) passage from San Jose del Cabo to La Paz back in February of this year. So that was Part 1 and now I’m finally getting to Part 2. In between, we spent a couple of weeks in La Paztouristing and doing boat projects in early March and then provisioning and doing boat projects in early May. (In March and April we were back in the US working ashore.)

Anyhow, that’s some background to catch everyone up since I’m so behind on the blog!

So here goes!  Continue reading


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Monterey, California, October 2017

Sailing through Golden Gate

Sailing out the Golden Gate, October 2017

Sailing out of San Francisco Bay, under the Golden Gate Bridge, was a much more relaxed experience than coming into the Bay in the fog and dark. We had sunshine, no ship traffic, and a light breeze – just enough to be able cut the engine and sail through this famous waterway.

San Francisco in our wake

Goodbye, San Francisco

The Golden Gate is an iconic strait in nautical history – it actually acquired its moniker prior to the California gold rush, because the strait was a departure (and return) point for the lucrative trade with Asia. I’d spent a fair amount of my childhood looking at it, and sailing under it, so it was a treat to sail my own boat out of it on a voyage to the South Pacific.

Trimming the jib, sailing for the Golden Gate

Trimming the jib to sail under the Golden Gate Bridge

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Critter Post 7: Atlantic Blue Tang

A big departure from my earlier Critter Posts: this one doesn’t live in Alaska and doesn’t breathe air! The Blue Tang is a reef fish native to the tropical Atlantic, so with this Critter Post, we’re harkening back to Seth’s and my global circumnavigation aboard HERETIC, during which we snorkeled with Blue Tangs in the Caribbean on the way out (2006/7) and the way home (2010).Blue Tangs-3

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“There’s No Place Like Nome!” Arrival in Nome, AK, July 11, 2015

We arrived in Nome on July 11 after the 460 nautical mile passage from the Pribilofs.  The town’s slogan is “There’s no place like Nome!” and they’re certainly onto something – the place is full of character! We got our first taste as soon as we tied up to the dock.

Beautiful sunset sailing

The beautiful penultimate day on passage to Nome

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Diving in the Bering Sea, and a Test Sail, June 22—26, 2015

Seth divingOur propeller zincs arrived the day after our off-trail hike, so then it was back to work, specifically to scuba diving in the Bering Sea. . . . Normally, we haul Celeste out of the water before the start of the season to pressure wash the hull of any growth and to put on the new propeller zincs and propeller shaft zincs (which protect each item from corrosion). But there’s no way to do that on Unalaska, so instead we had to do it all underwater. Continue reading


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Arrival in Dutch Harbor! June 13, 2015

Alaska RangeWe were lucky with the weather on our flight to Dutch Harbor. Not only did we essentially have a 3 hour scenic flight along the way, but we actually got to land! Often the planes can’t get in on account of fog and bad visibility. We took off in Anchorage at 12:30 and soared over the Alaska Range and Cook Inlet, low enough to see crevasses in the glaciers. Seth and I both spent the first half of the flight staring out the window at the immense peaks. Then it went from mountains to muskeg and tundra, dotted everywhere with little lakes. We spotted King Salmon, where we had landed to fuel on our way out to Anchorage last year, and then the fog socked in, thick and impenetrable all over the Bering Sea. Thankfully Unalaska is a big enough island that it burns off the fog if the land heats up enough, so a few minutes before our descent, we saw clear skies and green hills. Some of the mountains were still snow-capped, and the green of the tundra was so vibrant and spring-like it looked almost fake. Continue reading


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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to the Gone Floatabout subscribers!  A couple of the blogs I read have been posting 50 things they’re thankful for, and I liked the idea so thought I’d put up mine!  (They’re listed in the order in which they came to my head.) Continue reading