Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness


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Honored with Young Voyager Award from the Cruising Club of America

2019 CCA Young Voyager

Receiving the Young Voyager Award from CCA Commodore Brad Willauer. Photo courtesy of Dan Nerney.

Seth and I were incredibly honored to receive the Cruising Club of America’s Young Voyager Award this year. Recognizing “a young sailor who has made one or more exceptional voyages,” the award is relatively new among the CCA’s prestigious sailing medals. Given the two previous Young Voyager recipients, and given the club’s history of honoring truly exceptional sailors, we were bowled over to be this year’s awardees!

2019 Young Voyager acceptance remarks

Acceptance remarks for the CCA Young Voyager Award at the ceremony in the Model Room of the New York Yacht Club. Photo courtesy of Dan Nerney.

We traveled to New York to attend the awards dinner at the New York Yacht Club on March 1st, and what a gathering it was! So many amazing sailors from around the world, ocean voyagers and racers with fascinating stories and mind-boggling accomplishments. And all of them so humble and understated about it. To name but a few, we so enjoyed talking with Jessica Watson, the Australian woman who, in 2010, was the youngest person to sail solo nonstop around the world at age 16, and who was last year’s Young Voyager awardee. Bruce Halabisky and Tiffany Loney and their two daughters were the wonderfully down-to-earth family who received the club’s highest award, the Blue Water Medal, for their 11-year circumnavigation aboard their wooden, gaff-rigged cutter. And it was fascinating to meet and get to know Stan Honey, the phenomenal ocean racer, navigator, and entrepreneur who received the Far Horizons Award, and his wife Sally (twice Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year!). I could go on and on about all the remarkable sailors and wonderful people we met and talked with over the two days we were there in New York.

2018 CCA Award Winners    Photo © Dan Nerney

With fellow Yalies and CCA members at the Awards ceremony (right to left): racing champion Steve Taylor, offshore racing record-holder Stan Honey, me, yacht designer and Arctic voyager Bill Cook. Photo courtesy of Dan Nerney.

CCA burgeeThe Cruising Club of America is an international organization dedicated to offshore voyaging and “adventurous use of the sea” through efforts to improve seamanship, the design of seaworthy yachts, safe yachting procedures and environmental awareness. The CCA was founded in 1922 and today has approximately 1300 members with great experience in offshore passage making. The CCA also organizes the Newport to Bermuda Race together with the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.

Mexican flag

CCA burgee flying from CELESTE in Mexico

Seth and I are both members of the CCA and, as we said in our acceptance remarks, simply being part of an organization made up of such outstanding people – both as individuals and as sailors – is a great compliment, and to be recognized for our sailing by the club, a real honor. We’ve been very fortunate to be able to sail “two-handed” (alone together) across oceans from such a young age, and, of course, doing so – rather than crewing for older, more experienced sailors – has meant we’ve learned pretty much everything the hard way: by making mistakes. We have the distinction, for example, of having run aground in every ocean… (One of my favorite quotations is: “Show me a sailor who hasn’t run aground, and I’ll show you a liar!”  – Hal Roth in How to Sail Around the World) … and our boat repair skills were all learned by doing. So we both think of ourselves more as lucky sailors than expert ones, with enough stubbornness and determination not to let a mishap here and there deter us. So thank you, to the whole CCA, for this incredible honor!

(More about the award in this CCA press release and in this Cruising World magazine article.)


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Passage to San Francisco – feature article in Ocean Navigator

Passage to SF-2More publication news – my Ocean Voyaging feature article about the passage south to San Francisco appeared in the January/February issue of Ocean Navigator magazine and it’s up online now too!

This passage –  down the northwest coast – is very talked of, even a little feared, in the sailing community, and for good reason. It’s a rock-strewn, lee shore with few places to shelter, and it’s subject to volatile and not very pleasant weather. For many Pacific Northwest sailors, it’s the first real ocean passage, too – one leaves behind the protected waterways of Puget Sound and the Inside Passage in favor of the big ocean swells. Finally, if it’s left too late in the year, this passage can deliver some really nasty conditions, so the maxim among West Coast sailors is to round Cape Flattery (the NW tip of Washington State) and be off southward before October 1st.

My Ocean Navigator feature covers the major concerns and strategies regarding this passage and relates our own experience with it.  You can read the piece here.

I also wrote a blog post about it around when we actually did the passage, which is a lot less extensive, but which you can read here. Hope you enjoy!


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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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Thank you for your patience…

Hi everyone!

Thanks for your patience with our lack of blog posts this summer! We were (predictably) off sailing and have only just now returned to the land of fast internet. Baja sunset

I have to admit that (barring a few frustrations with getting our work sent off), we both enjoyed being so disconnected and unplugged for so long. I know it sounds ridiculously cheesy, but it really allowed us to focus on “the present” in a way that just doesn’t happen when we have Wifi and mobile data…. So the challenge now is to maintain that mental state while also being connected again.

That said, it’s been great fun to check my email (yes, you read that right – I hadn’t checked one of my accounts in literally 4 months!) and read all the wonderful comments from our readers! Thank you all for your kind words and positive thoughts! I’ll respond to them all right after this post!

And then I hope to start writing here fairly regularly again.

Thanks again to all our lovely readers, and wishing you all a happy fall (or spring if you’re in the southern hemisphere!),

Ellen & Seth


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The West Coast of Baja, Mexico, Part 1: Great sailing, snorkeling, sunsets, and scenery! (February 2018)

Desert Hills and White Horses_2

Desert hills and white horses! Fun, fast sailing off the Baja coast

We had a wonderful time cruising down the west coast of Baja – it’s a beautiful, wild place, and it was especially interesting and unique for us as it was the first time we have sailed off a hot desert coast. (Much of the Arctic is a desert, of course, but it’s very different from the red hills of Baja!) It made quite the change from the temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest that we’d grown so used to over the last few years!

 

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Arctic Voyage Video 6: Three Weeks at Sea from the Arctic to the Aleutians

Here is the 6th episode of our Arctic Voyage video series!

The Arctic Ocean and the Bering Sea are in their stormy autumn moods as we sail back to Dutch Harbor from Point Barrow (71.4°N) in September 2015. We encounter 900 nautical miles of rough weather to Nunivak Island where even worse weather demands anchor watches. Then another 450 miles to Dutch Harbor… but we make it, spotting fin whales along the way and witnessing the salmon run on Unalaska Island before returning to work for the winter.

This is our last video from the Arctic, and from the 2015 sailing season. More to come (eventually!) from the following year when we sailed back to Washington State from Dutch Harbor! Hope you enjoy!

If you haven’t already seen the earlier episodes and would like to, here they are: 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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