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Wandering Dolphin
A Family With 5 Kids Sailing the World!
Chore Time
Captain Tofer
03/02/2010, Honeymoon Bay, St Thomas, USVI

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Let's talk about chores. Most kids living on land have to take out the trash, clean their rooms, maybe vacuum the floors or in like we did in Montana, shovel the snow. Our kids live on a boat so, although a lot of the chores are similar, like taking out the trash or cleaning the floors, there are chores and work that our kids help with that would be considered strange or even dangerous to land kids.

Our kids take out the trash too but this involves a long dingy ride to the marina where they throw it in the dumpster, Jimmy also does this dingy ride for a cruising kid chore called, "the water haul" while he is at the marina he will fill up four six gallon water jugs and bring them back to the boat for EmilyAnne, who in turn, will use a siphon hose to transfer them into the main tank on the boat.

You would think that the floor cleaning chore would be considered easy for a kid, after all the whole floor is only the size of an average bathroom back home. This particular chore is EmilyAnne's and she hates it! We have four rugs that need to be shaken out off the bow pulpit every morning and then she has to sweep and clean the floor with a sponge. This may sound pretty easy until you think about how much dirt and sand seven people and a dog would deposit every day if they all used only your bathroom floor. If it is not done every day it's even worse of course.

Cleaning your room should be pretty easy if your room is only as big as a large refrigerator right? Wrong! You try crawling into a Refrigerator box and making two (that's right there are two bunks in there) beds! Add to this the heat in the islands where any enclosed space gets so hot that if you do even the slightest work you break out into a sweat. Jimmy's room is a little easier. His bed is bigger and he can move around and turn in there a little bit, but EmilyAnne's bed is right out in the Salon area. She has a curtain to pull for privacy and she is a packrat so she is always trying to organize her stuff so she doesn't have to sleep on her books and stuff. Keeping it straight and looking nice is a real challenge I assure you.

Our kids also get to help with boat maintenance chores that would be considered crazy to land folks. Today we needed to replace our VHF antenna on TOP of the mast. EmilyAnne is our mast monkey. She doesn't weigh much so she's easy to pull up there and she likes heights and loves to be pulled up the Main Halyard just for fun to play. So today when I needed to replace the antenna she was the obvious choice. I love the looks we get from people passing by as they see our pretty little 13 year old girl wearing her climbing harness and zipping up to the top of the mast with a big grin on her face!

Jimmy also has to clean the bottom of the boat about every two weeks. To do this he wears his snorkeling gear and gloves with a brush in one hand and a scraper in the other. He can do everything but the prop and the keel by just free diving it but when he has to clean the prop or go deep enough to clean the keel he uses our Hookah (a breathing system which uses an air compressor and hose with a diving regulator on it.

We may be "living the dream" but as you can see it's not all sun, sand and play.

Cracking The Whip,
Captain Tofer

Captain Tofer
02/28/2010, Honeymoon Bay

One of the VERY strange and wonderful things about this lifestyle is the social aspect. You meet people on different boats, in different anchorages, in different countries, scattered around the world. You may become especially close to a couple or in our case families on board boats from all over the world. There are times you may cruise with these boats for months or just share the same hurricane hole for the whole season. Inevitably there is a parting of ways. Sometimes, if you have been traveling in a group for a while, one boat at a time will head to a different place until finally you are the one on a different heading, or the final boat left in what had been a crowded anchorage.

To landlubbers this may sound very sad, and when we first started cruising it was. But since then we have had the, unique to cruising, experience that just happened to me a moment ago, and this experience makes it all worth while. Let me tell you about it.

I was sitting below reading when I heard a rapping on our hull and a voice with a distinct Australian accent calling out and when I peeked my head over the lifelines who did I see but our friends on SV Meander! We had first met Ray and Julie and their son Sam (and Milo the dog) in the Bahamas where we spent a few nights suffering at the posh resort and Marina called Atlantis. We all continued to sail as part of a huge group of "kid boats" through the Bahamas. Those times were some of our families favorites and our kids still miss the families on board boats from that group. There was, Salt and Light, Sanity, Solange IV, High Five, Slow-Mocean, Meander, and a few others. I think the total number of kids was well over 20 during those times. We had BBQs on the beach, gangs of Dads would go out with spears and fish together, having competitions to see who had the biggest lobster that day. The kids explored, swam, built forts, and one time a huge hermit crab hotel. The last time we saw Meander was over two years ago in Georgetown, Bahamas, where they had the whole group (that's a LOT of people) over for drinks and snacks on Meander. Since then we have continued to cruise in the Caribbean while some of those boats are now in Bonaire, a couple are in Cartagena, Salt and Light has made it all the way home to Seattle, Meander gets the "Most Distance Traveled" award for that particular group. After they left us all, they crossed the Atlantic and sailed up the Med as far as Greece, and came back across this year. If you want to read about their adventures check out their blog at they had some great stories to tell.

We are looking forward to spending a week or so with them here at Honeymoon Bay.

Captain Tofer

The Fall of Romeo
Captain Tofer
02/25/2010, Honeymoon Bay, USVI

The sound of children laughing followed by a splash beside our boat is pretty much an everyday sound here on Wandering Dolphin. But the other day when I heard it and looked around me I noticed that all five of my children were within sight and, believe it or not, they were all working on schoolwork.

Every one of my kids was on instant alert, books forgotten, and within a half second they were bursting up on deck to see who the "new" kids were on the mooring next to us. The boat was a 49 foot Bavaria flying an Italian flag. They had rigged a boarding platform from the transom of their boat and it was raised or lowered with a spare halyard. It hung off the back of the boat about eight or ten feet and the really cool thing about it was that with the pull of the halyard it could be raised up about 12 feet in the air, or with a quick motion it could be lowered right down to the water, perfect for divers of all difficulty levels.

The boat had two children aboard one was a little girl whose age I would estimate at eight to ten (right about the age of all three of my little boys) and a boy of about twelve. Well both kids began to put on a little impromptu diving exhibition for our children who were now lined up along the lifelines "Oooooing and awwwwing" the Italian kids.

The boy was especially eyeing EmilyAnne and his dives and jumps were getting more and more daring. Pretty soon he was looking right at her and putting on a little show. At one point he stood on the end of the board backwards but facing Emily he looked at her and gave her a wink then clutched his heart with both hands and fell off the board backwards.

My little boys were full of questions and an actual argument about if the girl on that boat was actually a girl or a boy. Sure she was wearing what was obviously a pink bikini bottom but her brother was wearing what to them looked just like a girls blue bikini bottom (read Speedo) and Kaleb was disgusted with his brothers for even considering that she might be a girl because she was wearing no bikini top and he was certain that THAT was against the LAW so therefore she HAD to be a boy! I broke up the fight before fists started to fly because Benny was now feeling a little strange having decided moments before this that he kinda liked the looks of this little girl so she had better BE a girl. I informed them that the folks on that boat were from Italy which was in Europe and that they thought it was ok for girls of pretty much any age to run around with no tops on.... Kanyon was disgusted by the thought but they all wanted to talk more about it. Kaleb pondered it and said, "So they are like the French only they wear bottoms?" I nodded.

At about this time Romeo had moved the board to its highest postion and climbed to the top, eliciting a little gasp out of Emily, which I am sure was his intention. He had our attention and then the halyard slipped out of its spinlock and the board dropped a full 12 feet into the water with a bang bouncing Romeo a couple of times and flinging him into the water with a spectacular CRASH/SPLASH at one point his nether regions covered only by a blue speedo were on one side of the halyard while his body fell off the other so I was certain that he would be in pain. He came up crying and wailing (with good reason) but all we could hear him say as his Momma and Pappa pulled him out of the water was, "BELLA AMERICANA!!!" which I was pretty sure meant something like pretty American. He was so devastated and embarrassed that he went below and pretty soon they released the mooring and sailed away.

My kids were still jabbering about it all as they continued to work on school the rest of the morning.

Captain Tofer

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Who: Kristofer, Rebecca, Jim, EmilyAnne, Kanyon, Kaleb, Benny
Port: Deerlodge, Montana
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