Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Thanksgiving and Christmas onboard Wandering Dolphin

You may be wondering what the Holliday season is like for those of us who live on a sailboat. I can assure you that most of the fun and all of the angst that you feel on land during this season is shared by us.

Every year we have an especially busy December starting with Benny’s birthday on the 4th then Kristofer’s on the 19th and Kaleb right after Christmas on the 27th. To top it all off our wedding anniversary is on New Year’s Eve. Let’s just say that to afford a fun December we have to start putting money away about 6 months in advance. Keep in mind we have no credit cards so what we have in the cash bag is all we have for the month!


Thanksgiving is almost always spent on land at the home of a friend. You may think that is not really special. Thanksgiving should be about family right? Well the friends you meet while cruising are indeed special. We spent a Thanksgiving in Charleston with our friends the Palmgrens, in Oriental with our friends Jimmy and Suzi Smith and their boys, and last year right on the beach with the folks who live on Water Island. The meals we shared with these people are still talked about fondly by our children and I even made some of Maryann Palmgrens sausage balls as an appetizer for our Christmas party this year.

This Thanksgiving was actually the first time since we moved on the boat that we had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with just our family on the boat. The challenge of course is baking and cooking all of the food on a little stove most of you would see in an RV and with less counter space than you might have right around your sink back home. I (Kristofer) have taken on most of the cooking responsibility on our boat and I have developed a system for cooking, cleaning as you go, and using all available space (made a fill-in counter for the sink) and I use the table itself for counter space. The trick is to boot all of the children and the wife off the boat long enough to cook all the stuff needed for a big dinner like Thanksgiving. We also only use our refrigerator as an Ice box now so there is NO WAY we want leftovers. I planned the whole meal down to portions that could be consumed at that one sitting. For example… even a family of 6 doesn’t need a WHOLE turkey for one meal… we cooked a whole turkey breast still on the bone not one of those Spam looking ones… basically a turkey with no legs or wings, I made sweet potatoes with marshmallows (next year cook them in Baileys mmmmm worked out great), Green bean casserole, rolls, stuffing, and mashed potatoes and gravy. Of course we had cranberry sauce and I made an apple pie too.

In the end we ate almost all of the food and had only enough leftover turkey for a sandwich each the next day. The time was special with just the family on board but we missed our Jimmy who was in Wyoming with his Grandmother. If he had been home there would have been NO leftovers!


Christmas is a bit of a challenge for us but I think no more than it would be for landlubbers. We buy only little things but they still cost a lot of money. Have you seen the price of LEGOS!!! The little guys still love the legos which make it seem like they have big gifts on Christmas morning because the box is HUGE but inside there are only a few little bags of blocks… that being said our Lego bag for the kids is one of the HUGE duffel bags used by hunters to pack a whole elk into to take home. Kaleb is still short enough to share his bed with the bag… hopefully when he’s too big to sleep with legos he won’t want them anymore. EmilyAnne is almost always a one-gift kid so she is easy… her gift is usually the most expensive though… and usually electronic. This year she got a Kindle with a cool leather cover that has a built in light on it. (On a side note I got the SAME thing!! WHOOOOOT! Dick and Jill… you sneaky guys!) We also do stockings on Christmas morning but we tend to fill them with only a couple of little toys and a LOT of consumables.

We tend to purge our lives throughout the year. Where when we lived in a house stuff would only find a new spot to sink into oblivion… toys and clothes piled in closets under stairs and never looked at for a year… bigger things like unused high chairs and baby toys piled in an old corner of the garage… even books collecting dust on a shelf or unwatched DVDs just sitting on a shelf for a whole year. Our life has no room for unused or unwanted stuff. We give away books we have read, DVDs are traded off with other boats for new stuff, clothing for the boys and for the most part myself, is really only what we can wear in a few days and wash… only a few pairs of shorts and shirts… if they are not worn enough to throw away in 4 or 5 months they are given away. The little guys have one set of clothes to go out with and the rest of the time they wear beach clothes until they fall apart from too many washings and the sun. The ladies on our boat are a different story though. Emily has more clothes than the rest of us put together. She can look like a beach model or a runway model depending on her mood. Beck has a few nice dresses (mostly because I love the way she looks all dolled up for sushi!) Both girls are the only ones on the boat who own jeans. The guys have no use for jeans.

Our galley has no room for unused stuff so the cooking stuff has been pared down to only the really great stuff that works really well or efficiently… knives are top notch no rust guys, Teflon pans are the only way to go to conserve water… the Rubbermaid ones are even better because you can roll them up and store them in a small space.

We sometimes miss the big Christmas Trees, the snow, and big gifts like say… a four-wheeler ATV… (That was a fun Christmas in Montana), but mostly what we miss is family. We are too far away to afford to visit and too far for them to afford to visit us… so every year goes by missing them all. And this year was our very first without Jimmy and ohhhh how we miss him…

Hope you had a Merry Christmas and a here’s wishing you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR from the crew of WANDERING DOLPHIN!

Captain Tofer

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Swimming after work today

Just another day on WD

Benny and his gear

WD and Benny

Up close with flipper boy

My son the fish.

Thanks for sharing with us,
Becky and the Clan

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Fair

WE all Scream for Ice Cream

Ice Cream for all

OH what fun

Yum Yum!

Getting my Squeeze in

We had a great night with our friends!  Ate local food, looked at crafts, played games and ate some more.
Looking for the next thing to snap a picture of,

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dec 8, 2010 500 miles left to go!

I watched the sunrise over a beautiful ocean this morning. The reds and golds and streaks of orange turned the water into an alien planet. There is no place on land where you can see the very same view. I am on watch now and we have all three sails set out full, the wind is blowing gently off the starboard quarter from the NW at only 10 to 12, just enough to keep the boat moving at about 5 knots. The engine is off so the only sounds are the waves slapping against the hull as she pushes through the water, and the music from the stereo that I am playing quietly so I don't wake up Dylan and Dick. I am listening to Dierks Bently, banjo and mandolines and fiddle music early in the morning... You can take the boy out of Montana but...

I have been thinking about what makes these longer offshore trips so facinating to me. I think that part of it is the changes day by day from calm and quiet, soul searching sailing on a painted sea to the gray heaving monster sea and screaming, ripping wind that seems to hate the little boat and its inhabitants. When I used to whitewater kayak the feeling of survival after shooting out of a huge whitewater hole in my little boat sometimes was exhilerating enough to make my face hurt from smiling and I think that these extremes are, perhaps my attraction to offshore sailing.

Today will be as different from the stormy days before as a pretty delicate flower in a mountain meadow in the spring is to a gnarled old dry sagebrush on a cold Wyoming patrure in winter. The sun is already growing hot and soon we will be in the cockpit in only shorts and sunglasses, the waves are dropping and soon will be only glassy swells spitting out schools of flying fish that skim across the water with their little fin/wings trailing drops as the dart back and forth trying to avoid the predator Mahi folowing them just below the surface.

Time to go... I think I will make some French Toast for the guys this morning!

Sailing into the Morning Sun,

Captain Tofer, Capt. Dick, and Dylan

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Bit of Christmas Cheer

Merry Christmas from the WD

Benny being Benny

Our great Lil tree

Em has the the spirit!

Kanyon is a great Elf!

I got Kaleb with a smile.

From our home to yours,
Many Blessing, The Burton's

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Enjoy, a little look into our daily lives

Hello all, I was lucky enough to get a underwater camera this year for my birthday.  So, I am snap happy and have pictures of lots of things.  Enjoy and little look into our daily life.  Blessing, Rebecca

Thanksgiving day, Dad did all the cooking!

Yes, we even get cold when it drops to the low 70's.... I know you feel sorry for us.

Em is my new model .... how much fun is that?

Tofer on the move, this was just a afternoon swim off the boat before I went to work.

What a fun picture!  Em is so much fun.

OH, my who is that.... we look so great...... Em begged me not to post this one....

Just bits of our life...
Blessing to you and Yours,
Beck and The Crew

Blog Dec 4 -5, 2010

Yesterday was a beautiful day with winds only blowing 10 to 15 from the WNW. We ate Jill's Lasagna and slept each in turn. Dylan worked through some sea sickness issues and felt pretty good by the time his night watches came around. We knew yesterday morning that this was the calm before the storm. Our weather guy Capt. Bob Cook keeps us informed and gives us routing instructions and he had been setting us up for the WSW blow that we knew was coming. We had been steering south for the first couple of days because we knew the high west winds were going to push us east fast. Sure enough at about 9:00pm the westerlies started to fill in at 20+ knots and they continued to build through the night.

Let me paint you the picture of today. I woke up to take my 06:00 watch and Dick came down from the cockpit soaking wet. When the guy coming off watch is dripping seawater and looking grim you know that you are in for work. The sun came up right in front of the boat and I got my first glimpse in daylight of what I had been hearing throughout the night. The sea was slate gray but faded into oranges and reds in front of the boat. The waves had grown to 16 to 18 footers boiling and rolling white foam as they came from behind about every six seconds. The wind was blowing a steady 40 knots gusting to 50 (our highest gust today was 55) and the wind was blowing white spin drift off the tops of every wave like I used to see on the cornices that formed way up high on the peaks when I was skiing in Jackson Hole. When the wind is blowing like this the whole ocean is a living monster, tendrils like moving snakes can be seen just below the surface everywhere you look and little tiny waves on the surface turn into huge waves right before your eyes. When you look right behind the boat every six seconds a new behemoth forms and barrels down on you like a 747 airliner with a similar roar. The roar of the approaching wave is deafened though by the sound of the wind ripping through the rigging and over the sails. The boat almost always rides right up over the top of this mountain and surfs down the back side only to rise again on the next one. Once in a while the boat slides off to the side just a little too far and the white foaming top of the overtaking wave crashes over the boat drenching you with a thousand gallons of water. You almost always can see this coming and have time to hunch your shoulders, tuck your head into your jacket and hold tight with your hands to the sides of the cockpit.

Today the adventure continued with a new twist. The auto pilot decided to continue his strike and every so often quits altogether forcing the guy at the helm to think quick, grab the wheel and fight the boat back onto her coarse an reset the auto pilot. If you are to late she rounds up into the wind and waves and it's a lot of fun getting her back on course in these seas and winds.

We are all doing well, the very fact that I am writing a blog tells you that. We were well rested going into this and our weather guy told us this morning that it would be over "soon," a somewhat cryptic answer but still he is a weather guy.

Thanks for all of your riddles and messages we love to receive them.

"Ridin' The Storm Out,"

Capt. Tofer, Capt Dick and Dylan on "Changin' Tags"

Friday, December 3, 2010

Day 1 and 2, Dec. 2 and 3, 2010

Welcome to the voyage! "Changin' Tags" is well on her way from Norfolk, VA toward St. Thomas. We left the dock this morning at around 09:00 after a final run to the grocery store, a great breakfast of eggs Benedict at a local cafe, and topping off the water tanks and strapping down the dingy on deck.

Both Dylan and I are used to the warm Caribbean so our bodies simply rebelled against the 40 degree weather! We looked like "Stay Puff Marshmallow Men" in our layers of foul weather gear. As we left the dock three fast little navy boats full of SEALs zipped past us looking firmly ahead... no waves or smiles... what's with that? Then as we approached the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel three HUGE Navy hover craft barreled past us as well. Leaving Norfolk it's hard to forget about our troops overseas. Here's to all of you over there a SALUTE from "Changin' Tags" and a Merry Christmas!

We spent the day motoring in very little wind and low seas around Cape Hatteras. I made some grilled swiss cheese sandwiches for lunch and put roast beast on Dick's and my own... DylAn reminded me at this point that he is a vegetarian... a fact I had known but forgotten. It might have served him better to have reminded me while we were in the grocery store earlier but there is plenty for him to eat and Dick and I get more steak, hot dogs and hamburgers so we are OK with it too.

For supper I made some spaghetti and we all ate quietly trying to stay warm. In the middle of the night our old friend AUTO PILOTI decided that he had had quite enough of our treatment of him and went on strike. Well let me tell you there is absolutely nothing that makes you love a working auto pilot as much as one on strike. Dick and I played around with it while Dylan hand steered around Diamond Shoals at 3:00am. Dick pulled out fuses, we both read the books, we messed with the gain and turned it on and off a bunch of times... finally we gave up and decided to head into Beaufort, NC to get it fixed and then Auto decided to work again and has been steering like a champ ever since. This morning we made our turn to cross the Gulf Stream and if you look at the "SPOT" at you will see that we are finally heading out to sea.

Dylan is doing great although waking him up in the middle of the night has been a very humorous challenge for me. He wakes up staring at you like a deer caught in the headlights, and the first time I woke him up he just went right back to sleep. Once he is up and about he stays awake and alert at the helm and he seems to be adjusting to the motion of a mono-hull with no ill affects so far.

Thanks for all of the riddles from Mike, and Dylan's Aunt... we are working on them. Don't send us answers!!!! we work on them until we solve them.

Hope you all have a beautiful day!

From the Gulf Stream,

Captain Tofer, Capt. Dick and Dylan