Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness


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Alaska Reel

Here’s a short video I’ve been working on recently, of the beauty of Alaska. I picked some of my favorite footage of wildlife, scenery, and sailing from summers there aboard CELESTE. Hope you enjoy it! (I’ve embedded it from Vimeo because I kind of prefer it, although I’ve also uploaded the video to YouTube. If you’d like to watch it full screen, click the on the four little arrows just to the left of the Vimeo link in the bottom right.)

 


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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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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 the Alaska video series:

My last video episode covered our passages south in autumn 2015 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 (2016).

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!


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The West Coast of Baja, Part 2: Whales, fish, and more good 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 knots and CELESTE flew on her way. It only lasted a few hours, but it was a great start to our next two-day hop 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


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Back in Dutch Harbor/Unalaska

 

In my last post I mentioned that we were back on board Celeste in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. So here’s what we’ve been up to:

Fishing boats tied up near Celeste

Bering Sea fishing boats moored near Celeste

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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 🙂

Cheers,

Ellen & Seth

 


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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