Thursday, June 20, 2013

Wanderlust on Wandering Dolphin

Wandering Dolphin Sailing South Last Summer
       Back when I still lived on the prairie in Montana when I first started thinking about finally going, about really getting out there cruising, the dream itself became an escape.  It was an escape from the frigid northern Montana winters.  I would sit at my desk reading Latitudes and Attitudes or Cruising World.  I would read all of the new books on sailing and what I called then “How To Make It Happen” books.  The snow would be blowing against the window pane, my feet were snuggled up to a space heater under my desk but  my mind was in the warm breeze blowing off a little Caribbean beach.

Well, we have been living right off that little Beach every winter for five years and again I am reading blogs and books about the cruisers who are not tied to their anchors.  People ask us why we are so keen to leave, and looking at our “frontyard” it really is no surprise that we have kept coming back every winter for five years, and I can appreciate their confusion when we express our desire to leave.  I will answer that question in todays blog.

I am simply not interested in living on a boat in a pretty little anchorage.  I am interested in the voyage.  Wanderlust is really what draws me to this life.  What is over the horizon?  Who will we meet there?  The idea of sailing our own vessel to new places, making landfalls in new countries draws me.  I have always had a wanderlust.  Even before I road my bicycle from Wyoming to Canada and the next year from Canada to Alaska when I was six-teen, the gypsy wanderlust had gripped me.  Sure, I have had long periods in my life where I was tied to the same plot of ground.  I thought that putting down roots was the right way to live.  I thought as a man I was supposed to build a home, a business, and a life that would be secure.  My father told me that roots were good.  Don’t get me wrong, I think they are, for some people.  But through all of those years I still had a wanderlust.  I think some of us are born with it.  Do you really think that all of the explorers just crossed oceans for money or to make a grand name for themselves?  No way!  They all had this same wanderlust.  They wanted to know what was over the horizon.

I was eight or nine the first time I dreamed about crossing an ocean.  Believe it or not it was because I stumbled across the story of the Titanic in the Worldbook Encyclopedia.  I began to think about the ocean, I looked at the globe and imagined going places on the ocean.  I saw it as a huge worldwide path to anywhere.  I read the story of the Kon Tiki and began to draw pictures of the raft I would build myself.  I even convinced my brother to help me.  We nailed a bunch of pallets together.  He kept asking me what my plan was with this raft and finally I took him inside and showed him the Rand McNally road atlas.

“See this Caleb?  Garden creek flows right by our house, it goes into the Platte River, which flows into the Missouri,  which flows into the Mississippi, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico.  We launch this raft right here, and we can go anywhere!”  I  smiled like a mad scientist and he shrugged and helped me haul over another pallet.  Of course the raft we built was much too big to float down a creek so it became a fort where we would defend ourselves against hoards of bloodthirsty imaginary indians and canibals on our own deserted island.

I was 14 the first time I saw the ocean.  We had driven out to California as a family in our VW Camper Van for my brothers wedding on the Queen Mary.  We stopped at Del Mar Beach to camp for the night and even before we got out of the van I could hear the surf breaking on the other side of the dunes.  It sounds like a cliche or trite but I swear it is true, as I walked up that dune I had a lump in my throat like I was about to meet a pretty girl who I had only been sending letters to before that moment.  I topped the dune and there she was.  The vast Pacific ocean slamming her fists on the beach, white water crashing, seagulls screaming.  The hiss as the water flowed back down the sand pulled me closer and I sat down in awe. I was a kid from Wyoming.  The largest body of water I had ever seen was Alcova lake.  Just a little mud puddle in the desert by comparison to what filled my eyes at Del Mar.  I sat there for a very long time and most of that time I was thinking about what lay on the other side.  It boggled my mind that on the other side of what I saw there was another beach in Japan where another kid might be sitting staring this way.  From that point on it was really only a matter of time before I would sail across an ocean.

I have two more charters on Sweetest Thing before Jimmy and I raise the sails on Wandering Dolphin and point her bow south.  She will be sailing out of the hurricane zone, one tack to windward next stop Trinidad.  Jimmy has been landlocked for a couple of years in Wyoming so he will have to get reacquainted with the nuances of an offshore passage.  Rebecca and the kids will be in Washington state visiting family.  When they rejoin WD and myself in Trinidad we will set sail to somewhere new, probably Suriname.

We get a lot of questions about living aboard a small boat with so many kids.  Is there something you would like to hear about?  Drop us a comment.

Captain Tofer

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