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

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the insight into your family's holidays, Tofer. I hope you all continue to be blessed in the new year.