Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness


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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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Article in Cruising World: How to Install a Watermaker

Cruising World magazine recently ran my piece  “Banishing Water Worries: A low-draw desalinator proves easy to install and maintain”  – which is about what it says it’s about! Here is a PDF of the article, which I hope is technical enough for sailors planning a similar project but interesting enough for general readers!

Celeste among growlers

Celeste in the Arctic Ocean, August 2015. We did not fill water from shore for 7 weeks while in the Arctic, thanks to our desalinator.

Cruising World also posted our video of testing our Katadyn (now Spectra) watermaker at the polar ice edge in very cold temperatures, which puts additional strain on the desalinator’s production rate. You can see the video here – enjoy!  Continue reading


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Arctic Voyage Video 4: Arctic Circle and Bering Strait

We’ve just uploaded our 4th episode of our Arctic Voyage video series! Hope you enjoy!

This episode covers sailing from Nome, Alaska through the Bering Strait and across the Arctic Circle to Point Hope in July 2015. It’s a rough passage in cold fog until north winds cause an unplanned stop at the longest continuously inhabited village in North America. As so often happens, the best experiences are the unexpected ones, and here we become immersed in the subsistence culture of Alaska’s North Slope. With south winds finally in the forecast, we end the video explaining how to read sea-ice charts and weather files downloaded by satellite phone.

Since it’s been a long time since we posted the last episode, here are Episodes 1 – 3: Continue reading