Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness

Alaska Voyage Video 10: Gulf of Alaska and Inside Passage

Another video from our Alaskan voyages: This episode covers another part of our return trip in Summer 2016 from the Aleutians back to Puget Sound/Juan de Fuca Strait area. A four-day passage across the Gulf of Alaska brings CELESTE to Peril Strait, the aptly named entrance to Southeast Alaska’s inside channels. Here we explore forested islands, deserted coves, hot springs, and lagoons accessible only by dinghy before transiting Wrangell Narrows, another tight waterway with fast-running tides.

Hope you enjoy Episode 10!



Southeast Alaska, May-June 2017

Whale flukesIn my last post about this summer’s sailing (Back to Alaska), I mentioned that we were in Petersburg awaiting parts for our engine. Well, that ended up dragging on for over two weeks! We thought we’d have them in just a few days, but it turned out that they didn’t actually get shipped from the place we’d ordered them until 11 days after we’d placed the order!!  Continue reading


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


New pages on Gone Floatabout

Hi everyone,

Bear and sprayWe’ve been doing a little renovation to Gone Floatabout and added some new pages. Finally the Arctic Voyage tab now has a full account of the voyage, from our first shakedown cruise in British Columbia in 2013 to our rounding of Point Barrow and return to the Aleutians this past summer. If you’re really ambitious and or really bored, all the posts are in order now on the 2014: Alaska page and the 2015: Arctic page 🙂

Much more exciting is that we finally did something about the Photography page! It’s now under the new Media tab and has three extensive galleries: Wildlife, Nature, and Adventure & People. We had a lot of fun putting that together, so hope you enjoy it!

Finally, sorry for the last post that got sent out – it was a snafu that happened when we were editing our home page.

Hope everyone enjoys floating about the revamped site 🙂


Ellen & Seth



Crossing the Gulf of Alaska, July 30 – August 3, 2014

Do your GRIBs do this??

Do your GRIBs do this?? 🙂

In a highly unusual turn of events, the weather gods were smiling on the Gulf of Alaska from July 30th to August 2nd.  According to our GRIB files from OCENS, a high pressure of 1025 millibars was moving up the coast and would be positioned over Cape Spencer just as we’d be exiting the Inside Passage on the evening of the 30th.  If all went well, we’d move with it along the northern Gulf as it strengthened to 1026, 1027, and 1028 millibars.  Our precipitation GRIBs were showing no rain whatsoever (amazing occurrence in this part of the world!); waves were forecast to be practically nonexistent (see image left); and OCENS’ wind predictions showed 5-10 knots, at first favorable and then shifting onto the nose.  If we were really picky people (or if we were sailing in places with more consistent wind like Maine or the trade wind latitudes), those extremely light breezes could have bothered us.  But this is Alaska, where everyone you meet rightly cautions you to ‘be careful out there.’  We were thrilled! Continue reading


Last stops in SE Alaska

Thanks to everyone for being patient about our lack of internet.  We have finished winterizing our floating home Celeste and have, after much struggle (that story comes later!), arrived back in our land-based home where we’re dying of the 68 degree heat 🙂  Now that we have an easy Wi-Fi connection, I have no excuse not to post more about our Alaskan voyage!


We used our time in Hoonah, our last real town in SE Alaska, to do chores: laundry, stocking up on fresh groceries for our passage to Prince William Sound, and filling up with fuel and water.  We tried to access the internet, but a small earthquake had put it out of commission throughout the area.  So we left Hoonah on July 27 naively thinking we might be able to put up our August blog posts and pay our online bills in Elfin Cove. Continue reading


Brown bears!

Sailing past waterfallWe left Baranof late in the morning of the 23rd and sailed across the strait to Whitewater Bay on Admiralty Island. It looked like a good anchorage; we had decent charts of it; and the stream and lagoon beyond the anchorage looked like good grounds for a dinghy adventure.  The sail was beautiful, passing by an enormous waterfall cascading from Baranof’s glaciated mountains down into the sea.  We were snug in Whitewater Bay by mid-afternoon, so as soon as we’d dropped the hook we were off to see what wildlife we could spot in the lagoon. Continue reading


Whales and Hot Springs

Diving FlukesOn the day following our hike in Thomas Bay (July 17), we’d planned to sail about 30 miles and be well on our way to our next big stop on Baranof Island. We only made it 5 miles. Almost as soon as we’d left our anchorage, we saw a whale spout, then five, then dozens. Frederick Sound was teeming with humpbacks! We motored a little closer to a big pod, then cut the engine and drifted, watching them spout lazily on the surface and dive every now and then, showing their distinctive black and white flukes.

Continue reading


Glaciers and Trails in Thomas Bay

Sea lionsOur destination leaving Petersburg was only about 10 miles away, but it was all the incredible wilderness we could have asked for. We turned out of the northern entrance to Wrangell Narrows, passed a buoy covered in sea lions, and crossed the strait to mainland Alaska. Thomas Bay opened out in front of us and we threaded between the navigation markers across its bar entrance, the current taking us in. Suddenly the water turned from deep blue to milky green/gray/blue, a color close to what we’ve seen in glacial melt streams while hiking in Switzerland and New Zealand. The breeze off the water was also noticeably colder. We sailed up the bay, craning our necks to look up sheer cliffs and the 5000ft peaks beyond. When we turned the corner to the head of the bay, we could see the tongue of Baird Glacier reaching down to the sea and we saw our first bergy bit (small iceberg) floating just off Celeste‘s port side! Continue reading


Ketchikan to Petersburg

Thirteen feet of rain fall in Ketchikan every year, but we almost couldn’t believe it in the days that followed our departure. A high pressure built and the sun shone warm on Celeste as she sailed north. We had a brisk beat to windward leaving Ketchikan on July 10, the kind of summer sailing people associate with Seth’s home waters in Maine.

Beating out of Ketchikan

With the sun sparkling on the ripples, Celeste charging ahead at 8 knots, and forested mountains surrounding us, we didn’t mind taking all day to tack upwind to our next anchorage on Prince of Wales Island. The sun was setting over the distant snow-capped peaks by the time we came level with the cove, bathing the sea in purple and pink, and the moon was rising full behind us. As we were admiring the sunset, thinking it couldn’t get any better, the spouts of a whole pod of humpback whales broke the golden surface. They spouted and dove and showed their flukes repeatedly while we ghosted into the bay and made our way slowly to our anchorage – magical!

Midnight whale

Continue reading