Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness


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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 both of us — as all our readers know, we try to spend as much of our 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 we weren’t aware at the time that we were celebrating World Oceans Day!

We tried out a new (to us) scuba diving site, accessed from shore (i.e. we waded in), and were really pleased to find a reef with healthier coral than we were expecting.

Coral reef

Healthy coral reef!

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

Peacock grouper

Peacock grouper

Both of us are just amateur observers, not scientists, so I have no idea if our hypotheses are 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 we’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 we’ve seen a pretty big variance in coral reef health, all over the world. Again, this is hardly scientific, as we’ve only gone 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, we still run across some areas of superbly healthy reefs. And even the moderately healthy reefs, like the one we 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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Not too late for summer reading!

It will probably come as no surprise that I love to read about outdoor adventures, ashore and afloat. So when we finished our summer’s sailing this year and received our big stack of waiting mail, I was excited to see the Summer issue of Misadventures magazine. Misadventures

Of course it’s always thrilling to see my own writing in print, but most of the fun is seeing what else is in there. This issue was full of fascinating tales of guiding on the Inca Trail, becoming a park ranger in retirement, and advocating for public lands as well as fun stuff like a recipe for campfire Bibimbap. The theme of the issue was Landfall, which is of course a central part of offshore sailing (or at least, one hopes so!) My own piece was about the magic of landfall to a seafarer, that exhilarating – and sometimes bittersweet – moment when you first sight land on the horizon after days or weeks at sea. Misadventures-2

Misadventures is written by all kinds of adventuresome women and I was honored to be among them this summer. The magazine was started to celebrate women and the outdoors, and while it’s certainly inspirational to women and girls, it’s also just a good read about the great outdoors and great pursuits!  The Landfall issue is still available in stores, or on the magazine’s website. And while most of the print articles aren’t online, the site has lots of other interesting stories!

 


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50,000 sea miles

Setting moon on Pacific crossing

Moon setting at dawn on our second Pacific crossing

So, to spill the beans… this summer when we were all out-of-touch and offline, we were sailing across the Pacific again. This second Pacific Ocean crossing was quite different from our first one in 2007, but more on that in a later post. I’m still processing the whole experience in my head (and in my photo file folders!), so for now this post is just a fun little look back:  Continue reading


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All Blue Water Boats Should Steer Themselves

So says Yves Gélinas, the incredibly accomplished and innovative sailor who invented the Cape Horn wind vane, and Seth and I agree wholeheartedly!Strong SE wind

Twelve years ago, Seth and I and two friends set off on our circumnavigation aboard Heretic with no self-steering gear at all. No electronic autopilot and no mechanical wind vane. We both came from racing (round-the-buoys) backgrounds and were used to hand-steering boats to get the best out of them at each and every moment. With four people taking turns at the helm, it was possible to make ocean passages like that, but it wasn’t much fun and it wasn’t very sustainable (in the most literal sense of that word, as in, able to continue indefinitely) for longer passages.

Cold sailing

Hand-steering Heretic off Rhode Island in November 2006. Me on the left, one of our friends – John – at the helm.

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Passage to San Francisco (October 2017)

Passage to SF-2Last winter, while we were living aboard and working on CELESTE in Port Angeles, we discovered just how frequent and how deep the low pressure systems that hit the Pacific Northwest can be. So this year, after returning to Port Angeles from our Alaskan cruising, we were determined to get south of their tracks before the winter pattern began.  Continue reading


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Inside Channels to Open Ocean: Ketchikan, Alaska to Juan de Fuca Strait, Washington, August 2016

brown-bear-fishing-alaska

Brown bear fishing for salmon, Southeast Alaska

Our last post ended in Southeast Alaska, where we’d encountered a whole range of sailing conditions, revisited places we’d enjoyed in 2014, and discovered new places including a river where both black and brown bears fished for salmon.

Upon leaving the touristic town of Ketchikan, we once again entered deserted channels between forested islands. Our last stop in Alaska was a little cove just a mile or two north of the Canadian border, and then we set off to Prince Rupert to clear Customs into Canada.

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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