Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness


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Critter Post 1: Steller Sea Lion

Sea lions

Steller Sea Lions on a nav marker

As many of you know, the wildlife we see on our voyages is one the big highlights of sailing for us. So I’ve decided to try out a few posts exclusively about critters. This is mostly inspired by fellow birder, sailor, and blogger Chris of s/v Take It Easy, who writes informative posts about bird species that she sees, accompanied by her excellent photos. After spending a recent afternoon watching sea lions on a navigation marker outside Petersburg, Alaska (see photo above), I’ve decided to make the subject of my first Critter Post the Steller Sea Lion.

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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 🙂


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Snowy Owls, Spotted Seals, and an ATV: Good times on Point Hope!

Snowy Owl on whalebone

Snowy Owl perched on bowhead whale bone, Point Hope, Alaska

Although getting to know the people of Tikiġaq was what made our stay there so special, the wildlife and the landscape were wonderful, too. No, we didn’t see a polar bear but yes, our probable snowy owl sighting was in fact a snowy owl! These beautiful birds are high on the wish lists of both birders and Arctic travelers: 2 feet tall with a 4-5ft wingspan, they’re majestic birds – the largest species of owl. The almost completely white plumage of the male makes him a kind of Arctic symbol. Fortunately they’re not endangered or threatened, but their habitat (tundra) and range (strictly Arctic in summer, further south into Canada and Eurasia in winter) make them not so easy to spot in the wild. Owls in general aren’t easy to spot, being nocturnal, but of course the 24hr sunshine of the Arctic solved this problem for us. So it was with excitement akin to what we’d felt on seeing the muskoxen that we saw our snowy owl a second time, and this time without a doubt as to what he was! Continue reading


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First day on Point Hope, Alaska’s North Slope

When we dropped anchor off Point Hope following our passage north from Nome, our first thought (after seeing the boat secured) was that there was a ton more to the place than our chart had shown. The chart had the word “Ruins” written across the whole peninsula, and while there were ruins, there was also a small but thriving village, populated – it turned out – by Inupiat.

Although the wind was already strengthening significantly, we got together our water bottles, life jackets, and windbreakers and launched the dinghy to row ashore.

Boat and us on Pt Hope

Celeste and us on Pt Hope, Alaska’s North Slope

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Exploring the Seward Peninsula by bicycle, July 13 – 16, 2015

Our new friends Pat and Sue (who took us fishing in the last post) very kindly lent us bicycles for the remainder of our stay in Nome, so we put them to good use exploring the beautiful mountainous tundra of the Seward Peninsula.

The peninsula is the American shore of the Bering Strait (across the strait is Siberia) and it’s quite wild, filled with migratory and arctic birds as well as musk-oxen, moose, brown (grizzly) bears, and caribou.  Unfortunately we never spotted the latter three, but we saw many birds and musk-oxen! Continue reading