Monday, October 21, 2013

Preparing for the Big Voyage

Preparing for the Voyage
(This blog contains multiple hints on our final destination.)

The excitement is palpable on Wandering Dolphin.  The whole family is excited about our coming voyage.  Not only the final destination but each of the five legs of this huge 10,000 mile trip offer destinations that are thrilling in their own right.

Beck, EmilyAnne and I have been pouring over charts, pointing out spots to stop that are must see for us.  The boys, who have mostly grown up in the tropics,will be experiencing new and challenging environments so they will need to get used to things like wearing jackets and shoes.  They will also have to learn to do school work while underway.  It has always been our policy that there is no schoolwork done on offshore passages.  This won't work out though with such long passages. ( The voyage is long. We will be at sea for 70 days...not all at one time but over the course of six months).  The truth is, the biggest challenge of an offshore passage is to keep boredom at bay.  The schoolwork will give all of us something"normal" to do each day while we are underway.

The boat is mostly ready to go after her refit for the past couple of years.  But she will need  some more spares for the engine and watermaker.  The rigging will need to be checked again before we leave and any compromised fittings will need to be replaced.

Provisioning is going to be a major challenge because WD is not one of those full keel boats with tons of storage.  We also have six people aboard for most of the voyage and seven when our oldest son Jimmy comes to join us for the final two legs of the trip.  Obviously we cannot provision for six months so we will have to provision along the way.  The end of the first leg will be in a spot where provisioning is easily obtained and actually the prices will be better than they are in St Thomas and just over the half way point is a great place to reprovision so if we can manage the three middle legs (about 6000 miles) on provisions we obtain at our first stop we should be able to keep the provisioning affordable.  This will mean meal after meal of rice and other starches augmented by canned meats that Beck will can herself in St Thomas before we leave.  Fresh fruits and veggies can be purchased at all the stops but the vast distances between them will mean many days at sea with no fresh produce.  We will take vitamin C and other supplements to keep healthy.

Communication shouldn't be a problem as our Iridium phone has world wide service.  Friends and family can send texts to us for free and we can send and receive email through the service as well.  Our SPOT satellite messenger however does not have world wide coverage and will be non operational for most of the trip so we will be switching to a Delorme In-Reach communicator which uses the Iridium network and has a world wide coverage area.  Followers will be able to track us everyday.  Our blog will be updated through email every day but there will only be pictures when we reach land at each stop.

It is our thought that this might really be a fun thing for classrooms and even families with young kids to follow.  The trip should be pretty fun as we will never release our destinations but simply allow people to follow us in real time and figure it out for themselves.

We will also be doing a collection of phytoplankton data throughout the voyage to help scientists working through Plymouth University who are studying the phytoplankton which underpin the marine food chain.  Our children will be keeping a log of all garbage and types of human waste found throughout the voyage and the specific latitude and longitude it was seen at.  They will be keeping a similar log of all wildlife seen on the voyage and the location for each as well.

We welcome anyone who wants to be a part of this Voyage in any way.  There are a million things you could do to take part.  We welcome feedback through email and on our Facebook page "Wandering Dolphin."  Our kids would be willing to FaceTime or Skype with other kids in classrooms and answer questions about what it is like to be one of the "Sea People."  If you have ideas for how we can make this an experience that people at home can share please let us know!

Captain Tofer, Rebecca, Jimmy, EmilyAnne, Kanyon, Kaleb, and Benny - Wandering Dolphin

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Benny question....

Benny's Question of the day:

Dad, what do you mean by nautical mile?

Answer: The exact length of a nautical mile has varied with our ability to measure the earth. It is the equivalent of one sixtieth of one degree, which is in itself one three-hundred-and-sixtieth of the distance around the earth. For all practical purposes, one degree of latitude equals 60 nautical miles. And therefore one minute of latitude equals one nautical mile. For many years the nautical mile was reckoned to be 6,080 feet, but now it’s officially 6,076.1 feet or 2,025.4 yards. For small-boat navigation, you can presume the nautical mile to be 2,000 yards. Unless you’re on fresh water, of course. There the mile is still the landlubber measure of 1,760 yards.

School on Wandering Dolphin

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Head Troubles!

On WD we have been having head issues for sometime now.  (For landlubbers, the Head on a boat is the toilet.)

Marine heads are notorious for terrible smells and clogging pipes, even back pressure explosions of sewage all over the poor guy trying to fix them!  Our head has always been a source of frustration to Kristofer.  He has pulled out and replaced all the pipes, replaced through hulls, replaced the head itself, changed it from a hand pump to a macerating electric head.  The list of work goes on and on.  The last three years though, it seemed like nothing we did worked for very long.  The head clogged almost every day. 

This last week hasn't been any different.  For four days I have been unclogging the sink/toilet drain.  I would hear,  "Mom, it is clogged again".  I would then go in and work for a short while with a three foot pull tie as my snake to work the clog free.   This was a great plan and worked ok until Sunday morning when my handy dandy pull tie didn't work anymore.  I had to call in the big guns.   "Tofer I need your help, please".  (Prepare yourself for this little gem about "living the dream.") to fix these extra stubborn clogs Kristofer had to put on his mask and snorkel and swim up to the through hull fitting where he would run that wire tie up into the through hull from the outside while I pumped the head!  This always worked but it meant that when it unclogged he would be in the cloud of sewage! YUCK!!   

We worked like a fine oiled clog freeing machine.  It cleared with some effort and to our surprise a AAA battery game out of our thru hull.  Yes, a AAA battery... Then the metal wrapping of the battery came out on the next flush.  Lets just say our head hasn't worked this well in ages.  
To solve the mystery we asked the kids, having promised them immunity from punishment if they could shed some light on the mystery.  Benny contemplated the likely hood of this immunity being upheld by his father who had just climbed back on board after swimming in sewage, to his credit he 
piped up and said, "We'll, when I was around 6 I dropped one in the sink." There is our answer we 
laughed, but that was 4 years ago folks.  It took four years, a new toilet, many hours of frustration, gallons on Draino and some yelling fits to get that damn battery out.   

So our fingers are crossed and we hope this solves our heads issues for a little bit.

Below are some technical drawings of the workings of marine heads... You can see how complicated they are compared to landlubber models!  The last picture shows what happens when seawater meets sewage in pipes over time.... They slowly clog to the point that, well, a AAA battery would totally clog the system!

Liv'n the dream
Bec and the Burton Clan