Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness


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Ocean Cruising Club Lockdown Lectures

OCC burgee and Marquesan courtesy flag

OCC burgee flying from CELESTE’s spreaders

To keep our spirits up during the pandemic, the commodore of the Ocean Cruising Club had the wonderful idea to organize a series of Lockdown Lectures. The OCC is full of adventuresome and accomplished sailors with fascinating stories – there’s no clubhouse, just a great group of people. I’ve really enjoyed all the Lockdown Lectures, from Steve Brown’s talk on his 2018 Antarctica voyage to Clive Woodman’s tale of skiing the whole length of Norway and sailing back in his little 19-foot Cornish Shrimper! Randall Reeves took us vicariously on his “Figure 8 Voyage”, solo around the Southern Ocean and then around the Americas, almost entirely nonstop; Pam Wall took us family cruising the Bahamas; and Bob Comlay took us back to the days of the renowned sailor, mountaineer, and author Bill Tilman – he sailed with Tilman on some of his last trips. It was a wonderful escape to “attend” these talks virtually during the lockdown.

And I was very honored when Simon (the commodore) asked me to give one, too. I must admit it was a little strange to give a talk to a screen instead of a room full of people! I gather that almost all the presenters felt the same way, but it was a lot of fun and I especially enjoyed the Q&A at the end. My talk was on French Polynesia: I tried to give a sense of the culture and great beauty – both below and above the water – of the Marquesas and Tuamotu archipelagos.

Here is a link to all the talks – they were recorded so anyone can watch them. They’re all wonderful! And here’s the Vimeo link to mine on the South Pacific. Here are a few of my favorite photos from that part of the world:


Sailing in the Aquarium, article in Classic Boat Magazine

Celeste in Sea of Cortez

Celeste in the Sea of Cortez, 2018

Here’s a link to another of my articles, written a little while ago – after sailing Celeste around the southern part of Mexico’s Sea of Cortez in early 2018 – but published quite recently in the British magazine Classic Boat. I hope everyone enjoys the story!

Subscribers to Classic Boat should see what’s essentially the next installment in this story, an article about crossing from Baja California to French Polynesia, in a future issue.


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Amazing Trades, article in Ocean Navigator magazine

Ascension

Landfall on Ascension Island, South Atlantic, 2010

It’s been a little while since I posted links to my published writing, so I thought I’d share one that came out in the latest issue of Ocean Navigator magazine. It’s the last piece in my four-part series looking back at the toughest passages in my years sailing. But it’s not about a tough passage at all! I decided to end on a good note, so it’s about the best passage I’ve ever sailed, across the Atlantic from Ascension Island to the Caribbean. Hope you enjoy the story!

http://www.oceannavigator.com/July-August-2020/Amazing-trades/


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Polynesia’s beautiful underwater world

I recently made another a little reel, which I hope gives a bit of a sense of the gorgeous underwater world and incredible marine life of French Polynesia in the South Pacific. I simply love the diving and snorkeling there, whether its with the big critters – manta rays, dolphins, sharks – or the colorful reef fish, splendid coral, or the shoals of barracuda and jacks. Hope you enjoy the short film! (The diver in all the footage is a guy named Alexis, the organizer of a little dive club in the Tuamotus.)

(Click on the 4 arrows in the bottom right to make the video full screen.)


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Lightning…

…is, for me, one of the most fearful things at sea. Your boat’s mast essentially acts as a lightning rod, being the tallest thing for hundreds of miles. Not much fun to contemplate in an electrical storm.

squalls in the ITCZ

Squalls in the Intertropical Convergence Zone (around the equator)

Of course, all prudent sailors ground their masts so that any potential strike will go down the mast and safely out into the ocean, typically via the keel. If you don’t ground your mast, that electrical current will find the fastest way to water, which can be through the hull at waterline…. You can figure out what happens next. Even with a grounded mast, though, lightning strikes are still terrifying. A friend of my family had her boat struck twice – fortunately at anchor with no one aboard – and the damage was significant, especially to the electronic equipment, all of which was destroyed.

Ominous, leaden sky before lightning storm

Ominous, leaden sky heralding the worst lightning storm I’ve ever encountered

As a child, I kind of enjoyed thunderstorms – seen from a safe distance and from behind the windows of a snug house. As soon as I started sailing offshore, though, I started hating thunderstorms. I’ve been lucky so far, but a couple close calls have given me a healthy fear of anvil clouds and the lightning they bring. My next installment (online here) in my “Toughest Passages” series for Ocean Navigator magazine recounts these episodes.

 


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Cover girl Celeste

Flying Fish 2019 coverToday when I opened my post box, what did I see but lovely CELESTE on another cover! In the photo she’s rollicking along before a strong northwest wind en route to San Francisco from Cape Flattery, Washington a few years ago. Flying Fish, the biannual journal of the Ocean Cruising Club, also ran my story of the passage, including many more photographs that didn’t make it into the first version of the story, which ran in Ocean Navigator magazine. Here’s the cover (above) and some of these new/extra photos:

Plus one of my favorites, that I got from the 7-foot rowing dinghy on a windy day in Southeast Alaska:

Sailing past waterfall


Worst Weather Challenges and other stories

ON201911

Recently, I’ve been writing a series of features for Ocean Navigator magazine. My series covers the toughest passages in my 50,000 miles of offshore sailing and it’s been a fun way to look back on many years of voyaging.

The first part of the series came out in the September/October edition of the magazine and is up online as well: Worst Weather Challenges. The second one is out in print in the current issue and covers our worst underway breakages. It also just came out online: Worst Breakdowns.

This current Ocean Navigator edition also has another piece I wrote, about a fascinating historical reconstruction going on in Maine – of the colonial ship Virginia, the first English ship built in North America. Last but not least, one of our photos is the cover image for the issue! (See left.) The catamaran pictured is the sleek and fast 57-foot Gunboat Vandal whose crew we met in 2018 in the South Pacific on their way to New Zealand.


Sea Gypsy’s Conundrum article online

Celeste leaving the Alaska Peninsula for Kodiak Island

Sailing in Shelikof Strait, Alaska

My Cruising World magazine article that I mentioned in the last post is now online. You can read it here and I hope you enjoy it! Thanks again to all the sailors who contributed!

https://www.cruisingworld.com/how-to-get-mail-at-sea/

 


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The Sea Gypsy’s Conundrum and other stories

Celeste in Kenai Fjords

When it arrived in my mailbox a couple weeks ago, I was excited to see that the most recent issue of Cruising World magazine features an article I wrote after surveying a bunch of fellow sailors: The Sea Gypsy’s Conundrum. One of the big organizational hassles for offshore sailors is what to do about a permanent address and about receiving mail while voyaging.

01 Post Office boxes

Mail is actually the easier half of this equation, as much of it can be dealt with online nowadays, but the permanent address issue – required for tax filing, applications for foreign visas, and renewals of passports, bank cards, driver’s licenses, even boat documentation – is a little harder. So I sent out my survey questions to a bunch of sailors and got about two dozen responses, all of them informative and interesting. A big thank you to all of you who contributed! Continue reading