Saturday, March 26, 2011


Ok time for a Tofer rant... I don’t do it a lot... well at least on the blog.  I am sitting in Tickles, the Pub in St Thomas where Beck works.  To get here I had to buzz across the bay, on the dingy, in the dark.  Once again, about half way across, I almost ran into a total idiot, actually a whole boatload of really stupid people.  How do I know that the combined IQ on that boat was lower our dog Charlie’s?  They were speeding across the bay, in the dark, with no lights on.  Not even a flashlight among them.
If this were an isolated incident one could just chalk it up to a stupid convention on the island or something, but it’s not.  It happens almost every night.  I have actually pulled dingys over just to listen to their stupid excuses...
 “I was just gonna buy a flashlight today but didn’t have enough money...” slurred one cruiser whose breath fumed so much if he was a smoker and lit a match he would have blown up like daffy duck when he lights up a stick of TNT.  Obviously the multiple $3.00 beers at the bar were within his price range.
Or my personal favorite:  “ I gave up on keeping a flashlight for my dingy... they just rust out and die to quick or the batteries need to be replaced too often!”  WAAAAAAAAAA cry me a river!
Can you imagine people driving down the highway, in the dark, with no headlights on, pulling these stupid excuses out on the cop who pulled them over?  What kind of person puts other people at risk like that and expects them to just drive on by and say nothing?  If you actually pull over to talk with these rock-heads like I do they act like you are the idiot and infringing on their personal freedoms.  I really have no problem with some stupid guy who decides to swim out to his boat in pitch dark.  If I run him over he’ll probably die and I can personally live with that.  His soft body would just be a bump in the dark.  I would turn and say, “Hey did we just hit something?”  He might leave a nasty streak of blood down the side of my dingy that I wouldn’t discover until the next day but, and here’s the important part, he wouldn’t cause my boat to sink or me or one of my children to fly out of the dingy, bashing his or her head in on their flying dingy and drown in the dark.
Last year there was a guy rowing his dingy home in the dark, he had no lights and he was run down by another boat who was speeding along at top speed with lights on.  The retard in the rowing dingy lived through the incident, his pretty little rowing/sailing dingy was destroyed and he had the audacity to ask the owner of the boat that hit him for compensation!  I think it would have been better if the pretty little boat had made it but the dummy would have drown... at least then he wouldn’t have the potential of passing on stupid genes.
Cruisers blather on and on and on about the maintenance they do on their big boats.  They pride themselves on how pretty the teak is, and keep detailed logs about when they changed their oil last.  They run through a safety check list when they run up the boat for an offshore voyage and yackity, yack, yack, about weather windows and life rafts and safe anchoring with proper ground tackle.  These same people get hammered at the bar, stumble down the beach and fall into their dingy in pitch dark and drive full speed back to their boat, sometimes standing up holding onto the bow line with no safety cut-off line on their wrist, hair flying back in the wind like a dog with his head out the pickup window.
Becky works nights at Tickles right now so we have to go back and forth in the dark a lot.  How do we do it?  Well let me assure you it actually isn’t easy.  Normal flashlights do truly die fast.  We discovered this within our first year out.  We now only buy Princeton Tech flashlights.  Maglights, while great on land and for camping, just don’t hold up to the marine environment.  Their insides just rust away and the switches start to fail within a week or so.  Cheaper flashlights rust at an alarming rate.  So what!  Buy a good light.  One of our Princeton Tech lights cost us $60.00, the other was $120.00  both have super bright LED bulbs that last forever especially if you spend the extra and buy the Lithium batteries for them.  They have almost no metal and are totally waterproof so salt water and air isn’t getting at the insides.  We have had one for almost two years and the other for over a year now.

But our flashlights are actually only used to look for the dummies with no lights.  Our dingy is rigged with a small marine battery which powers an LED tricolor light which is mounted on a pole which can be raised and lowered.  If you have it permanently mounted up high enough to see it will be knocked off the first time you go to a crowded dingy dock.  That is the main problem with mounting your light on the cowling of your dingy engine too, that and that when a dingy is up on a plane and the driver is sitting in front of the motor you really can’t see those lights anyway.  (Though I am in favor of ANY type of light on a dingy and would never complain about them.)  Our battery is actually charged by the engine but if you don’t have this ability with yours you can just go to Home Depot or ACE and buy one of those little solar panels that power the little yard lights and run the wires directly to the battery.  If you only use it to power your lights or a small bilge pump it will keep the battery topped up with no problem.

Don’t get me wrong, the maintenance on this system is a pain in the neck... I have to replace a switch or the whole light every year, sometimes the whole thing gets broken by some yahoo who climbs through my dingy in that crowded dingy dock, the battery isn’t cheap and needs to be replaced about every three years or so.  So what... your dingy is a boat too and will need the same kind of maintenance that your big boat does!  If you noticed that your car had no headlights working what would you do?  Shrug your shoulders, jump in and drive to the bar anyway... no you would go get the lights fixed.
If one of you dummies buzzes by me in the dark just don’t expect me to ignore you and keep going, I will turn around and follow you and say what I said tho the boatload of people I saw tonight.  When they saw me turn around they dropped off a plane to see what I wanted, I drove up to their boat looked them all over carefully.  One guy finally said, “What ya need man?”  To which I replied,  “I just wanted to see what stupid looked like...  Get a light dummies!”  
I Fell Better Now Thanks For the RANT,
Captain Tofer

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A visit from Grandma!


My Mom came to visit us in St Thomas this past week.  She brought our oldest son, Jimmy with her.  He has been living with her in Wyoming since last summer.  He is going to school and helping my Mom out.  We lost my Dad in October and it has been really tough on her.
This was the first time anyone from my side of the family has visited the boat.  We have had visits from Beck’s Sister, Niece and her Mom but my family has never made it down so we threw out all the stops and my Mom had quite a visit. 
The highlights:   She watched her son stop a drifting boat from going up on the rocks one evening, watching the same boat the next day pull up its anchor and drift down on us so that we had to throw off the mooring lines and motor away while our kids ran off in the dingy to rescue the little dog on the drifting boat.  They brought the dingy alongside the big boat transferred the little trembling dog and tied off the dingy and got onto the big boat all while underway.
The next day I received an email about a stollen Catamaran and thought it looked a lot like the boat that was anchored out behind “Sweetest Thing.”  I told Mom about the email and she and Rebecca and I took the dingy out to “Sweetest Thing” where Mom waited for us to check out the boat.  Upon closer inspection we were certain that it was indeed the same cat that had been stollen two weeks before in a bay on St Thomas.  We had the hull number and a picture of the boat’s registration number as well as it’s name and hailing port and when we looked at her closely you could still read the ghost numbers and the old name under the new one.  The hull number was right there for anyone to see.  Cool beans and a reward from the insurance company to top it off.  The insurance guy came over from Tortola and Jimmy and I helped him move the boat over to the marina.  Mom could hardly believe it!  

We took her on an afternoon sail on “Sweetest Thing” and while we were out there she saw the Para-Sailors being pulled behind their boats and said,
“If only I was 10 years younger!”  (She’s 78)  
Rebecca said,
“Aww Mom they just launch those people right off the boat and they are in a big harness just like a chair!  I think you could do it!”  My Mom got that look on her face that we all know so well... the one that says, “By Damn I could do that!  Why the Hell not?”
EmilyAnne, who has always wanted to do it too said, “I’ll go with you Grandma!”
So the next day we called the company and a couple of nice guys showed up right at the Water Island Ferry Dock and we headed out.  Mom was trying to catch all of the experience, the boat speeding out into the ocean kicking up a rooster tail and the guys got a huge kick out of her. Geran has dredlocks  and looks like your typical young rasta island surfer dude.  We got a picture of him with Mom right before they hooked her up to the Parachute.  

The first thing they do is inflate the parachute and as it opened up behind the boat it was a huge red, white, and blue dome covering the boat with deep blue sky all around.  Mom actually caught her breath and said, “Oh Lord that is beautiful!  Look at that!!!”
When Geran came over to put Mom in her harness there wasn’t a trace of fear or concern on her face just excitement but when he turned to EmilyAnne I could see her concern.  She was a little nervous but there was no way she would show it with Grandma acting like she was just going for a stroll on the beach.
Once they were in the harnesses they had to sit on the platform of the still moving boat with the parachute inflated above them while Geran hooked the harnesses into the crossbar that was attached to the parachute.  He asked one last time if they were ready to go and Grandma yelled, “YES LET”S GO!!!”  and they did....
As the line was paid out they drifted off the end of the boat and just off the surface of the sea and then the Captain put the juice on and they zoomed up, up , up and away!  In the end they were about 500 feet up and could see St Croix, Culebra, Puerto Rico, St Thomas, Water Island, Buck Island, Savannah island and a number of smaller rocks and islets.
Before the trip was over the guys let them drop as though they were on a parachute, then he pulled them back up high again and dropped them slowly into the ocean for a dip.  He dipped them in the sea a few times, pulled them back up and then slowly reeled them in.  When she was safely back on the boat the first thing she said was that she wanted to do it again!
They flew out yesterday, headed back to Wyoming but now when we talk about things like, heading to town in the dingy, kids playing on the beach, boats dragging anchor in squalls, she can be there with us in her mind and memories.  She now can better imagine what it is like when we are sailing offshore with all the kids on our 47 foot boat. 
Thanks For the Visit Mom! (Oh and thanks for the genetics... I am sure that is why I am out here in the first place!)
Captain Tofer and The Family