About Us

Published: Tuesday, 21 January 2014
We are two biologists with a sense of adventure and a love of travel.  For four years, we slowly fixed up a 34-foot 1973 Columbia sailboat while living in Oregon and California. Then in September of 2013, we decided it was time to put our boat to use. We quit our jobs, sold our stuff, and finished off some boat projects (but not all). In late October we started cruising.  We spent six months in Mexico, finishing boat projects and exploring the Baja peninsula and mainland. In April we left Nuevo Vallarta for the Marquesas and after 42 days at sea, sailed into an anchorage at the island of Hiva Oa.  We spent the next seven months island-hopping our way across the Pacific until we arrived in Brisbane, Australia in late November 2014.  Our plan is to work in Brisbane for the next couple years, save some money, and then figure out our next adventure!
Alena and Chris Rinke
Alena is a fisheries biologist, who has worked primarily along the U.S. West Coast with marine fish species such as Pacific rockfish and Pacific sardine (here is an entertaining outreach video she produced about her research with rockfish).  She grew up in Beaverton, Oregon where she spent much of her time outdoors hiking, camping and skiing. During college and graduate school, she expanded into backpacking, rock climbing, mountaineering and scuba diving whenever she could escape the lab.  She met Chris while working on her Ph.D., and he quickly convinced her to add sailing to the mix.  Before meeting Chris, Alena was hoping to make it to New Zealand after finishing school; Chris soon convinced her it would be way more fun to sail to New Zealand or Australia on a boat.  The lure of a year exploring the South Pacific was enough to convince Alena to adjust her plans.  After graduating, while working on the sailboat, Alena studied temperature adaptation in Pacific sardine, and then spent two years in the science/marine policy world learning how science research can influence policy decisions.   Although always enjoying her work, she is excited to spend this year hanging out with her favorite marine animals (Chris included) in their natural environment.

Chris is a microbiologist, who has worked with marine microbes from the mangrove swamps of Belize to the hydrothermal vents of the East Pacific. He grew up in Graz, Austria and later moved to the capitol Vienna where he also spent much time outdoors, cycling, hiking, and sailing on lakes and rivers. During college, he built his first sailboat starting with sheets of plywood and some plans off the internet, and during graduate school he bought his 23 ft sailboat "Fruechtchen" which was perfect to explore the large lake "Neusiedlersee". Chris came to the U.S. for a postdoctoral position, where he met Alena, who was finishing her Ph.D. Shortly after arriving in the U.S., he began shopping for a sailboat and after a couple months found the 1973 Columbia MKII on the Columbia river in Oregon which he named "Green Panther" inspired by the medieval coat of arms of his hometown Graz. Alena, Chris, and Green Panther explored the Columbia and Snake river together all the way into Idaho. Eventually all three settled in the San Francisco Bay area, where Chris explored microbial dark matter, Alena got into science policy, and Green Panther got a facelift in the Napa Valley boat yard.

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