Meet the Gulledges

Zen life in Alaska aboard a Selene, the full story!

All photos © 2018 Carl Gulledge

Carl and Melody Gulledge are the proud owners of Ellipsis, a Selene 60 Ocean Yachts which also serves as their home. Not a home from home, mind you, but their home! Carl and Melody are an amazing couple who have had several lives… But their past does not define them at all. And certainly does not define who they are today: a wife and husband team living the dream and constantly challenging boredom and routine.

Perhaps, without hurting their feelings, could one call them « Sea Gypsies », those fascinating nomadic peoples from Europe who place freedom, solidarity and self-reliance above all else. For years now Carl and Melody are happily roaming the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia waters and the Inside Passage. And although they might modestly claim that they are no more than simple mariners peacefully living on the water, their life seems to have been born from of a novel that Joseph Conrad or Robert Louis Stevenson could just as easily have written… A life made of adventures in the wilderness of the Northern hemisphere and on the high seas.

A life made of true friendship and unexpected encounters at the dock or at anchor, of storms and calms and stunning sunsets and sceneries with crystal-clear skies illuminated by the moon and the stars leading them to the next anchorage better than the most sophisticated electronic chart plotter. Their next way-point in life is always their appetite for discovery…

The Zen life

Carl wrote an exclusive story for us, we want to share it with you with a selection of his beautiful photos. It’s inspiring and leaves us with the certitude that when it comes to go sailing, it’s never too early… As Mark Twain wrote — and many sailors have shared this famous quote — « Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. »

A floating photo studio

Carl is not only a competent and wise captain, but also an inspiring professional photographer! One of the things you will pick up from his photos is that he really enjoys images where a yacht is in a very large and impressive landscape. As he says “boating is a great way to get perspective on how insignificant we are in the universe!” And these photos are intended to capture that sentiment.

From a 28’ classic cruiser to a Selene 60 trawler

“We are Carl and Melody Gulledge, and boating is not something we do, it is our lifestyle, and to that end it has been priceless. Out on the water is where we planned our family, raised our children, and continue to share our life together voyaging the remarkable waters of British Columbia and SE Alaska. We purchased our first vessel (28’) in 1991 and never felt comfortable venturing north of Nanaimo. In 2001 we moved up to 41’, which extended our comfort-boundary to the north end of Vancouver Island.

By 2005 we found ourselves out aboard more than a hundred nights a year and our mindset shifting from destination-boating to voyaging. For us the journey itself became as much the experience as the destination. And we began to prefer a nomadic lifestyle, outside the media, traffic and the internet. Our constant, and the place we call “home” is M.V. “Ellipsis”, a Selene 60 trawler delivered in 2007. We boat now without boundaries and enjoy navigating the rugged open waters off the west coast as much as we do the Inside Passage. On the water, life meets death daily. And that grounding experience is one that brings us liberation and peace. Self dependence, teamwork, adventure, and an endless awe in the beauty of it all is also why we boat. Here’s to meeting you and yours, North of the 49’th parallel.

M.Y. Selene 60 Ellipsis at anchor in Alaska.
Patience and luck, that's all you need to watch whales...

Gunkholing is our thing…

We used to say, « Drop the hook, stay the night, shore tie and stay two! ». We spend most of the season on the hook visiting marinas only to provision or pick up guests. Sitting in a desolate bay for 24 or 48 hours allows us to absorb its beauty through several tide changes and capture the changing light. Just when we feel satiated, we pull the hook and start that process over again in another pristine location. We enjoy putting our deep hull vessel into very intimate locations that often require high tides, a bow watch, and a willingness to reconnoiter passages and bays that are for the most part uncharted.

A symbiotic crew…

We work as a team, both competent in most tasks, but generally segmented for optimized results. This proves especially beneficial when sea and weather conditions become extreme. Our guests generally note how much we don’t ask them to do and how much we do together without verbal communication relying on gestures, hand signals, and thirty three years of trust.

Not surprisingly, we find ourselves voyaging for weeks at a time anchoring alone. It’s as if the whole world was created just for us. When the joy of it all overwhelms, we will at times shout out « Haida Gwaii » as an expression of unbounded happiness and gratitude. There really are no words to convey the euphoria.

The fragility of life…

The shorelines of any beach can be a sobering place to observe the line between life and death and how fragile that is. A bird breaks its wing, it dies… A seal pup gets lost and becomes an orca snack. Eat or be eaten provides great perspective when sorting out life’s priorities. Focusing on weather, tides, currents, waves, water production, power production, waste management, catching and gathering food, food storage, fuel and engine maintenance all feel like duties for survival and very thus important and fulfilling. Especially when the outcome results in the simple joy of a steamed dungeness crab and a shot of rum under an orange sunset on a pristine bay with the person you love.

Bears are part of the scenery in Alaska
In one word: Zen...

Adjusting to the "unplugged" life

Pulling away from society, news, advertising, and traffic is cathartic. So much so that I often find myself seriously not wanting to return and suffering social anxiety when when do. Frustrated by how to properly order coffee at Starbucks or expeditiously proceed through an overly automated grocery checkout. Our experience is best when we cut off the world at large and confine our outside communication to simple email via satellite batched once a day. The lifestyle may sound carefree, but it’s actually quite careful.

We have an amazing community of boating friends, many Selene owners and many others. Rallying with friends and sharing experiences and learnings is a highlight in our season. Easily realized on the inside passage, not so much when coastal cruising. Boating relationships are unique in that they become deeply loyal and loving, boaters will move heaven and earth to help one another. It is a community of likemindedness that we don’t find landside. We meet people from all over the world and from all walks of life that we would have never found otherwise.

People often say, « perhaps I should buy a boat » and my response is always the same, « If it will be your lifestyle, it is the best investment you can make in your self and your relationship with your mate. » I don’t recommend solo boating. Finding a mate that is comfortable with the motion on the water is the first challenge, the second is their comfort with living somewhat Zen…”

Story and all photos © 2018 Carl Gulledge

The Haida Gwaii islands are an archipelago formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands. Why is this «Haida Gwaii» the «war cry», or rather, the «peace cry» of the Gulledges, that will remain their secret! And it’s good this way…

Thanks Carl and Melody! Selene Yachts  wishes you fair winds and following seas…


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