Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness


11 Comments

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


24 Comments

A Photo Award! (and some more articles)

In December I was really flattered to have my photo “Alone at the Ice Edge” be nominated by Cruising World magazine for the annual Boating Writers International writing and photography contest. And I recently learned that the image earned a Certificate of Merit for the Boating Photography category! Here is a link to an announcement about the awards, with lots of other great stories and images. Congratulations to all the other winners! And here’s the photo:

Also, for those of you who are members of Off Center Harbor.com, I have a new “Guide Post” up about our 2015 voyage to Point Barrow and back. Here’s the link.

Last but not least, Ocean Navigator has posted my most recent article “Sail Fast” online.

That’s all the publication news for now 🙂


8 Comments

Glaciers, bears, and crossing the Gulf of Alaska: Kodiak to Ketchikan, July 2016

Sunset on Kodiak IslandWe wrote our last post from Kodiak, a wonderful town where we met a lot of very friendly people. As well as completing necessary chores like laundry, internet, fuel, and groceries, we had fun hiking the hill behind town. We really fell in love with the island of Kodiak, though, when we left town to sail to a deserted bay. Deserted, that is, except for humpback whales, sea otters with babies, and hundreds of puffins and auklets! Continue reading


2 Comments

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

 


8 Comments

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

Continue reading


20 Comments

At the polar ice edge

(In the last post, we finally got ashore in Barrow, America’s northernmost town, after being weatherbound on board for 2 days. A fun night with our new friends Craig, Cyd, and a few others inspired us to try to find a walrus at the ice edge the next morning!)

Celeste among growlers

Celeste approaches the polar ice

Continue reading


12 Comments

A chance encounter and the fascinating history of Pt Hope/Tikiġaq

Our unexpected but wonderful stop on Point Hope stretched into a week.  From July 23 to 29 the northeast wind blew constantly, increasing in strength all the time. It would have made for unpleasant upwind sailing and slow progress; furthermore, our Dutch friends aboard Necton had reported from further north (they’d left Nome ahead of us) that the north wind was pushing the sea ice down on shore and they’d had quite a bit of trouble, getting trapped several times.  All that combined with the fact that Pt Hope was rapidly becoming our favorite place on the voyage so far made the decision easy: we would stay until the wind changed.

Fish net

Fishnet spread on Point Hope’s leeward beach

A chance meeting with two Tikiġaq (Pt Hope) residents – Pete and Pauline – cemented that decision. We’d rowed ashore again to verify our potential snowy owl sighting with the zoom lens and, while tramping around the tundra twitching at every white bird, two Inupiat on an ATV approached us and introduced themselves at Pete and Pauline. They were headed out to the ruins of the original village of Tikiġaq (on the end of the peninsula, about 2 or 3 miles from the modern village), to dig for artifacts.  We were immediately interested and ended up spending the whole afternoon with them, poking into the sod and whalebone iglus there, opening up Pauline’s cold cellar and crawling on the permafrost within, and learning a lot about Point Hope’s history and their own lives and culture. Continue reading


4 Comments

Glaciers and Trails in Thomas Bay

Sea lionsOur destination leaving Petersburg was only about 10 miles away, but it was all the incredible wilderness we could have asked for. We turned out of the northern entrance to Wrangell Narrows, passed a buoy covered in sea lions, and crossed the strait to mainland Alaska. Thomas Bay opened out in front of us and we threaded between the navigation markers across its bar entrance, the current taking us in. Suddenly the water turned from deep blue to milky green/gray/blue, a color close to what we’ve seen in glacial melt streams while hiking in Switzerland and New Zealand. The breeze off the water was also noticeably colder. We sailed up the bay, craning our necks to look up sheer cliffs and the 5000ft peaks beyond. When we turned the corner to the head of the bay, we could see the tongue of Baird Glacier reaching down to the sea and we saw our first bergy bit (small iceberg) floating just off Celeste‘s port side! Continue reading


8 Comments

Port Angeles, Part Two

Installing solar panels, varnishing hand rails

Installing solar panels, varnishing hand rails

The ten days following our hoped-for launch date of June 10 were dominated by installing equipment. Once all the paint and varnish had dried, Seth mounted and wired our new solar panels: two on the forward end of the cabin top, two aft where the old Dorade vent was, and one on a swivel mount on the stern pulpit. (There had been a large one there, but it didn’t seem to be producing much—if any—power, so we replaced it.) Meanwhile, I was hard at work back in our hotel room putting together our Jordan Series Drogue.

Continue reading


Our Refit at Platypus Marine

Platypus Logo2

On the recommendation of a trusted friend and shipwright, we placed Celeste with Platypus Marine in September 2013.  We subsequently negotiated sponsorship with them.  In short, we only work with companies whose products we would use regardless of sponsorship.

Celeste was beautifully constructed and designed when she was built: her cold-molded hull was meticulously laid up and saturated with epoxy; her decks, cabin trunk, keel, and rudder were all sturdily built; and everywhere is evidence of the skill and workmanship of both her designer Francis Kinney and her builder Bent Jespersen.  Celeste was also maintained excellently by her previous owner.  He especially took care to keep the bilges completely dry—we’ve found some spare pieces of wood he kept there that didn’t even have a drop of moisture stain!  Nonetheless, all boats come due for a refit after about 20 years and Celeste’s has been particularly thorough in view of the waters we’re hoping to explore.  Thanks to our boatyard in Port Angeles, Platypus Marine, we’re setting off with a classic-looking yet robust and technologically up-to-date vessel. Continue reading