Thursday, January 20, 2011

Living aboard with pets

    I wasn't sure what was going to happen moving aboard a boat. For Dave and myself it was going to be a challenge in and of itself. Moving aboard with two cats, a dog and a guinea pig, a challenge. We have a 19 year old half Himalayan cat named Smudge, a 6 year old three legged Siamese, Charlie, our young pit bull, Ruby and  Tony the guinea pig. Fellow boaters with pets have warned me if you have pets on a boat you can expect they will fall overboard at least once. I was terrified of this prospect.

   The boat was docked on the Saugatuck River in Westport, CT about a half mile from the LI Sound. The current of the river combined with the current of the tide could be very strong at times. I knew if my three legged cat fell overboard he would surely drown. Our saving grace was that neither cat was really interested in getting off the boat..... until midsummer hit. I discovered the "old lady" off the boat a couple times and Charlie had now taken an interest in things at the other end of the dock. He couldn't quite manage the jump to the dock so I began to take him off the boat occasionally to give him his land fix. It wasn't long before I saw him off the boat by himself! Now I was beginning to worry. What if he jumped and fell in the water instead of landing on the dock? Well, we had to go away for a two day trip leaving the boat and it's occupants on their own. Since the litter box was being kept on the aft deck, we left one of the side doors open so the cats would be able to go in and out as needed. I was a bit worried about the cats but figured they should be alright for two days.

   When we arrived home, it was late in the evening, and night darkness had settled in. We brought our bags in and I went looking for the cats. The "old lady", Smudge came sauntering out very pleased to see us, Charlie, however was no where to be seen. Instant panic set in. I ran out on the deck and began calling his name. I would call and then listen closely.... sigh of relief I heard him! He was on the bank in the trees. I could hear his meow and his distinctive shuffle since he drags his hind quarters and his tail due to his accident. I kept calling him and he kept coming closer, then I heard it.....*SPLASH*...then no more meows. I yelled at David, grabbing a flashlight and jacket, went running down the dock. I just knew he was going to drown with only three legs and a paralyzed tail. I kept calling his name and scanning the edge of the stone wall that ran along the riverside. Tide was high and there was no shoreline. Then as I did a sweeping check of the edge of the trees, I saw him. Drenched. He looked like a drowned rat but he was alive and meowing at me. I scooped him up and ran back to the boat. Toweling him dry, and knowing he was safe,  I could finally laugh at the situation. The poor cat had forgotten you have to get to the boat via the dock. The property is on a large hill, the end of the hill, is a rock ledge with a six foot drop to the water. during daylight hours, he knows to stay away from the edge. At night, he had obviously forgotten all about the river and just wanted to get to his mom. I can't imagine what must've gone through his head as he was flying off the edge of the rock wall and spashed right into the water, then having to scale a rock wall to get out of the water.... poor Charlie.

   I can say, he learned his lesson. Charlie has never again tried to get off the boat. He is quite content to sit on the benches or look over the rail, to watch the goings on, but he has not tried to get off the boat.

Smudge was not pleased with Charlie for having fallen off the boat, especially because he now smelled like skanky river water and seaweed.

1 comment:

  1. Glad Charlie is okay!

    Dave, saw your post on the sailboatowners forum. I tried to respond there but it wasnt allowing my post.

    I hope you like the site, that you find it useful, and that you get a benefit from the increased visibility. Let me know if you have any suggestions or other sites we should follow.