Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness


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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 (of wood and fiberglass boats – metal boats don’t have this problem!) 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 (fiberglass or wood) 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 our 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 couple of 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 our 7-foot rowing dinghy on a windy day in Southeast Alaska:

Sailing past waterfall


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Alaska Video No. 11 – Bears and more bears

We recently uploaded the next installment in our Alaska voyage video series. This one takes you through the islands of Southeast Alaska, where we find deserted anchorages and a wilderness river teeming with bears and salmon before reaching the busy town of Ketchikan, our last Alaskan port before heading south to Canada. You can find the episodes leading up to it in order here. 🙂

Hope you enjoy it!


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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 we’ve dealt with in our 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 Seth’s and my 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 last year in the South Pacific on their way to New Zealand.


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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 super informative and interesting. A big thank you to all of you who contributed! Continue reading