Circumnavigator, Arctic Voyager, Writer, and Photographer
Ellen had dreamt of sailing across the Pacific since age 7 when she first learned to sail in dinghies in British Columbia. After a childhood close to the ocean in San Francisco and Canada, she moved East at age 14 to attend Phillips Exeter Academy and then Yale University. In 2006, while teaching sailing in Maine, she met Seth Leonard who was outfitting Heretic, a 38ft S&S cutter, for a global circumnavigation via the Cape of Good Hope. A week later they decided to sail together, and four years later they dropped anchor in Heretic’s home port, having voyaged 32,000 nautical miles around the world.
Ellen and Seth continue to sail as much as possible and recently made a 7,000-mile voyage to the Alaskan Arctic aboard their cold-molded Francis Kinney designed cutter Celeste. (Heretic was sold upon completion of the circumnavigation in 2010.) Their voyages have been sponsored since 2014 by Katadyn Group, Rolls Battery Engineering, ZEAL Optics, Platypus Marine, OCENS Satellite Systems, and Mantus Anchors.
As a writer and photographer, Ellen contributes regularly to many sailing magazines including Classic Boat, Cruising World, Ocean Navigator, Blue Water Sailing, and Pacific Yachting. She is a recipient of the Cruising Club of America’s Charles H. Vilas Literary Prize and in 2014 became the 41st female member of the club. Also in 2014 she received the Best Photo Award from Britain’s Sailing Today magazine. She is currently completing the final draft of her book about her circumnavigation, just as much a tale of risks and relationships as it is about the sailing adventure.
Ashore, Ellen and Seth have lived in the Swiss Alps since 2010, where they love to hike and ski-tour, and where she taught at an international boarding school. They sail aboard Celeste each summer and will live aboard full time beginning in fall of 2016.