Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness


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Whales!

Since everyone seems to have a different date for World Whale Day, I figured today was as good a day as any to share some whale photos 🙂

The humpback whales are here in Hawaii for the winter – saw five just the other day, including a baby! Seeing whales from a little outrigger canoe is possibly even more exciting than seeing them from CELESTE – one is so much closer to the water and very aware that the whale is a 40-ton creature and the canoe is a very tippy 40-pounds (she’s made of carbon fiber, hence why she’s so lightweight – and fast and fun!). Didn’t get any photos of the whales from the canoe (didn’t bring the camera), but here are some from back up in Alaska:

Breaching whale

Humpback whale seen from CELESTE in Southeast Alaska, 2014.

This is probably my favorite. I love how well it captures coastal Alaska – the rocky shoreline, the steep forest climbing up and up in background, the wispy clouds, the cool, overcast weather, and, of course, the star of the show, the breaching whale. Do you see the two black specks above him? Those are bald eagles… gives you a sense of how immense this landscape is….

Bubble-net-feeding whales

Humpbacks bubble-net feeding in Southeast Alaska, 2017.

Here’s another image I love. These whales are bubble-net feeding in the deep water right off the shore. Bubble-net feeding is a clever and cooperative technique that humpback whales use to corral small fish and krill into balls, whereupon the whales burst up through the center of the fish ball, mouths open wide, to enjoy their feast! There is incredible footage of this in the new BBC documentary Seven Worlds, One Planet – Antarctica. Highly recommended!

Gray whale tail

Grey whale diving off Mexico, 2018.

Here’s a grey whale in Bahia Magdalena, Baja, Mexico. Grey whales make the longest migration of any mammal, more than 6000 miles each way between the Arctic and tropical waters. It was pretty exciting to see these grey whales in Mexico after having seen them in the Arctic. Just like it’s wonderful to see the humpbacks here in Hawaii after having seen so many up in Alaska!

Spinner dolphins

Spinner dolphins, Hawaii, 2019.

Obviously these aren’t whales, but as I don’t have any pictures of whales from Hawaii, I thought I’d throw in spinner dolphins instead. I love spinner dolphins – they’re so playful and they often show up around the outrigger canoe. It’s always so much fun to jump in the water with them. Though this photo was actually taken while scuba diving – this was a wonderful dive!

 


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2020 Calendar – Alaska Wildlife

We’ve made another calendar for sale this year, featuring some of our favorite images we captured of wild animals in Alaska. Bears, whales, moose, an adorable sea otter, a baby seal on an ice floe, and Arctic critters like muskox and snowy owls. We hope you enjoy it! It’s for sale here: http://www.lulu.com/shop/seth-ellen-leonard/wildlife-of-alaska/calendar/product-24260768.html

Breaching whale

Whale breaching near Glacier Bay, Alaska – the cover photo of our new calendar. Copyright Ellen and Seth Leonard.

 


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Alaska Video Episode 9: Kodiak and Kenai Fjords

In our last video episode, we set sail from the Aleutian Islands heading east for the remote Alaska Peninsula. In this next one, we continue our 2016 voyage onward to Kodiak and then north to the stunning scenery of the Kenai Fjords. Sailing from tranquil coves to calving glaciers, we witness breaching humpback whales, sea otters, huge flocks of puffins, high snow-capped peaks, and deep fjord anchorages. Hope you enjoy!

 

P.S. You can see all the previous episodes on our new Videos page.


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Arctic Voyage Video 7: Repairs in Dutch Harbor, Alaska

Here (finally!) is the next episode in our video series:

Our last video episode covered our passages south from the “top of America” at Point Barrow in the Arctic back to Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands, once again to be CELESTE’s winter home. So this episode is the beginning of the following season.

Winter 2015/16 was not nearly so kind to CELESTE as the previous winter – a typhoon from Japan hit the Aleutian Islands that year, causing severe damage throughout the town and harbor. So we return in June 2016 to find some major repairs to do. But between installing a new chain plate and readying CELESTE for sea, we also find time to observe the incredible wildlife of the area – humpback whales, sea otters, Arctic ground squirrels, and bald eagles.

Hope you enjoy this episode!

P.S. I’m taking a break from catching up on our Pacific voyage this year to catch up on these videos from a couple of years ago. So stay tuned for the next Arctic Voyage (really just Alaska from now on) video!


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The West Coast of Baja, Part 2: Whales, fish, and more great sailing (February 2018)

Good wind!

Great wind on passage to Bahia Magdalena

When we left Bahia Tortugas to continue south down the Baja peninsula, the light northerly wind we’d had on the first part of our Mexican voyage had built to a perfect 15-20 knots and CELESTE positively flew on her way! It only lasted a few hours, but it was a great start to our next two-day passage to Bahia Magdalena, a giant bay famous for the gray whales that mate and give birth there each winter.

Desert Hills and White Horses_2

Sailing off the desert hills of Baja

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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


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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