Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness


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4th time across the Gulf of Alaska, August 2017

 

Yakutat

Entering Yakutat Bay again after a thwarted attempt to leave…

 

If the third time’s the charm, I’m not sure what the fourth is….

After our time in Seward, we got a weather window to cross the Gulf of Alaska back east towards the Inside Passage. Light southerly winds were predicted, and that’s what we got: so light, in fact, that we motored most of the way in order to avoid being caught out there when the next gale arrived. So the crossing itself (our fourth) was fine, and we docked in Yakutat, a big bay and Native village on the outer coast of the Gulf of Alaska, thinking we’d have another decent window to continue the rest of the way to the Inside Passage. Continue reading


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Boat Repairs, Part 2: At the Boatyard (Sept – Nov 2016)

I started writing this post after we launched (12/5/2016) but didn’t get around to finishing it until now – sorry! So with that in mind, here goes:

celeste-in-snow Celeste is back in the water! Yes, it’s cold and snowy (update 2017: it’s still cold and snowy!), but it’s wonderful to have her floating and feeling like a real boat again!

We stepped our mast and got the rigging all put in place on Friday 12/2/2016 and launched on Monday 12/5/16. It was so exciting to be back in the marina and nearly finished with our major repairs! Continue reading


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New foul weather gear from Helly Hansen!

hh-logoAfter 10 years and 40,000 miles of ocean sailing, our foul weather gear was due for replacement, so we were thrilled when Helly Hansen agreed to support our adventures!

Outer-wear has come a long way since Seth and I last bought foul weather gear at the start of our circumnavigation, and Norwegian company Helly Hansen has been one of the leading innovators of lightweight and breathable, yet waterproof, sailing garments. hh-olympic-coast-small

Continue reading


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1300 miles in 19 days: Passage from Point Barrow to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, August 13-31, 2015

Celeste at Point BarrowAfter a great visit to scientist George Divoky and his seabirds, we headed back to Barrow to say goodbye to Craig and Cyd before beginning the return passage to Dutch Harbor. While much of the reason why we’d spent so much time around Barrow was because we’d been having so much fun, another factor was the weather. There simply hadn’t been a favorable window long enough to permit us to head south without getting a complete thrashing. Low pressure system after low pressure system kept sweeping across the Arctic Ocean from Wrangel Island north of Siberia and hammering the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.

Wrangel Island screenshot

Google map screenshot of Wrangel Island (red pin) across the Chukchi Sea from Barrow

There’d been 24-hour windows between lows, of which we’d taken advantage to visit George and to explore the edge of the polar pack ice. But there’d never been a window long enough to make tracks south. Not only had the systems been frequent, but one thing about very cold air is that it actually makes bigger waves than warmer air. It’s denser and thus exerts more force on the water, so that 20 knots in the Arctic feels a lot worse than 20 knots in the Caribbean. We didn’t realize this on our own – Craig the bowhead whale biologist pointed it out to us. However, as autumn – a notoriously bad season in the Chukchi and Bering Seas – approached, our standards for what constituted ‘good’ weather got lower and lower. Continue reading


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Sailing to the top of America

 

Weighing anchor

Weighing anchor at Point Hope

After our wonderful, unanticipated stop on Point Hope, we weighed anchor on July 30, 2015. Both the GRIB files and the National Weather Service forecast strong southerly winds, just what we needed for the ~400 miles to Point Barrow, the northernmost tip of the United States. The southerlies would, of course, also make our exposed anchorage off Point Hope untenable, so it was time to go. We were a bit sad to leave, as we’d had so much fun there, and we also had a sense of anticipation about the passage since the winds were supposed to be quite strong – 30 knots – and the seas quite high – 10-12 feet. Continue reading


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Windy passage north through the Bering Strait, July 17 – 22, 2015

After our fantastic bicycling exploration around Nome, we had a day of chores (including trying to help our Dutch friends on Necton with filling their European propane canisters – sadly only moderately successful) and saying goodbye to Pat and Sue before setting sail for our passage north through the notorious Bering Strait!

Map to Point Hope

The Bering Strait – formed by Siberia to the west and Alaska to the east – is the gateway between the Bering Sea (to the south) and the Chukchi Sea (to the north), both known for their storms.  So far we’d done well in the Bering Sea, only experiencing moderately strong winds, up to 30 knots.  The weather forecast showed ceaseless strong winds, but fortunately from the SW so that once we were clear of the Seward Peninsula, we’d be on a broad reach headed north. Continue reading