FEBRUARY 15, 2015
My woman thought it was high time that I share a bit about our sailing adventures from what she called “my unique perspective”. I have to agree; it seems that everywhere we go, people are very interested in me. If you asked me to tell the most common comments that I hear regarding me, I would have to say, “He’s so cute!” ranks #1, especially among kids. The other one would probably be, “How old is he?” I try not to take offense when my woman, Kathy, tells them I’m 14 and then quickly adds, “He’s an old man!”
When she tells this to children, she explains how that should effect the way they treat me– I do appreciate that.
Well, I have to admit that I’m not the same boat dog that I was 9 months ago when my humans last had me out here cruising. My woman knew things were going to be different when we got to Brunswick, GA and were living on Nancy Lu at the marina. Due to my failing eyesight and the fact that the EARLY morning and nighttime walk that I require to do “my business” are in the dark, I walked right off the dock a couple of times while my man, Captain Mark, was distracted with the task of cleaning up my poop. It’s a good thing that my woman insisted that he put me in my harness and leash, or I would have been a goner. As it was, I just had to endure the humiliation of being yanked up out of the COLD water by my leash, like a bag of shark bait, and the hassle of two unscheduled baths in the shower on Nancy Lu. I hate baths, but at least the water was warm. I don’t really understand why my woman was so put out…it wasn’t she that went into that dirty, salty, marina water!! Since then, anytime my humans take me out to do my business, even on the deck of Nancy Lu, they make sure they put me in my harness with my leash. As late as just last winter, they trusted my footing! But I was a younger dog then! Now, it’s harness and leash unless we’re at a very calm anchorage in broad daylight.
During our time in Brunswick, my woman didn’t seem to be her normal, contented self. I heard her say that marina-living and cold weather do not mix. I can understand! I hate baths under any circumstance, but if I had to get suited up in that foul weather gear the human’s wear in order to brave the cold walk to the bath house on the way to take a shower every morning, like she did, I’d be cranky too!
She suited me up, as well. I didn’t really mind that she took me with her to the bath house in the mornings, in the dark, after I woke her up at what she calls “before the crack of dawn”. The bathhouse was warm, and she always set out some water for me and gave me a treat while I waited patiently for her to finish.
My humans did a lot of hard work provisioning and getting Nancy Lu ready for a season in the Bahamas.
I tried to help out during the first of their 4 major provisioning trips, by sniffing out the meat, but my woman insisted that I go back to my sleeping. I’m glad they got to have a little fun amidst all the provisioning, boat projects, and laundry. They enjoyed spending time with Fred and Debbie from the s/v Early Out (I think Debbie likes me a lot), Geoff and Linda who live at the marina (I know Geoff loves me), and Gregg and Luba from s/v Rhapsody In Blue. Unfortunately for me, that meant some time spent alone in the Suburban waiting in the cold while they went out to lunch or dinner, but I’m not one to complain.
If you were to ask me what the sailing life has to offer a dog like me,
I would have to say the main thing it offers me is new and interesting opportunities for my favorite pastime, sleeping!
My favorite sleeping experience is in my woman’s arms or by her side no matter where I am, but sailing brings a different flavor to it (not always a good one). I don’t usually mind the motion of the boat, but on our passage across the Gulf Stream on the way to the Bahamas this year, I got seasick! My woman sensed something was wrong and asked the captain to pass her a tub for me to barf into, but she unwisely lifted my body from her lap and turned me around before she stuck the tub under my snout! At least she caught some of it, and she didn’t do too much grumbling about the clean up because most of it went on my bed that I was cradled on in her arms. The man and woman were all excited about how fast they were sailing across the Gulf Stream at 8 to 9 knots, making great time, sailing instead of motoring, crossing in the day time, sailing north around Bimini and nonstop straight to Palm Cay Marina near Nassau, blah, blah, blah. Who even cares!? Not this old dog! I would have been happy to stay in
No Name Harbor, the Florida state park in Key Biscayne, where we were peacefully anchored (finally, in warmth) before we crossed to the Bahamas. For that matter, staying in warm West Palm Beach, where we were for a week before we sailed down to Key Biscayne, would have suited this old gentle dog. I got to spend a little more time with my admirer, Debbie from s/v Early Out, there. That is, until my humans left me once again in a rental car while they went to lunch with Fred and Debbie at the South Rybovich Marina restaurant where they like to go eat when we stay at the North Rybovich Marina, which is where we always stay when we’re in West Palm Beach.
They also left me in the car while they had dinner there with John Albertine. I remember him from when he came with us on our first long passage on Nancy Lu back in 2011 when I was a younger dog. As I recall, he was very helpful and fit into our family quite nicely. Another night in West Palm Beach, the humans had dinner at my woman’s cousin, Holly’s, house in Jupiter.
This time, I didn’t have to stay in the car. Holly seemed to adequately appreciate me (OK, she fawned all over me),
and I had some good snuggle time with my woman in her comfortable home! Holly’s family’s big dog, Mya, didn’t bother me too much. I only had to bark at her a couple of times. After that, she didn’t get into my way much as I wandered freely through their home.
These days I’m wearing a red “outfit” that holds a pad in it that absorbs the pee when I have an accident. I prefer it when my humans call it a Depends (considering my age), but unfortunately, they usually call it a diaper. I probably would not have been allowed to wander freely in Holly’s home if I hadn’t worn it there. Since we’ve been back on Nancy Lu, I’ve often heard my woman exclaiming, “Thank goodness for the Peekeeper or I would have abandoned ship by now!!”…So dramatic…Whatever. I don’t mind wearing it because it looks sort of like a super hero cape and is quite comfortable. If it brings my woman such peace of mind, I guess I’m happy to endure her putting it on me. A couple of other new paraphernalia that have become part of my geriatric dog life is the “doggy stroller” and the black-with-white-polka-dots-over-the-shoulder-bag that the humans carry me around in since I can’t walk as far as I used to. The doggy stroller served me well before we got back on Nancy Lu.
I was able to enjoy walks in my neighborhood,
go with my family to Baylor Homecoming along with two high school seniors, Danny and Emily, from my humans’ church,
walk around the BU campus before one of my girl, Claire’s, choir concerts,
and go to “First Monday Trade Days” in Canton, Texas with my woman and her college roommate, Jane, and her old dog, Ellie. We couldn’t bring the stroller on Nancy Lu, but the polka dot bag works pretty well.
I was able to come along for a walk down South Beach in Miami Beach, Florida, and I must say, my woman and I felt quite stylish strolling down Ocean Dr. in Miami Beach!
Well, after 6 days at No Name Harbor near Miami, my humans decided to take a less than ideal weather window to the Bahamas. If they hadn’t, they would have been in Florida for another week or so. They were very happy with their decision, but I already told you how it affected me.
One more thing that I’d like to share, since I’m writing this blog post, is something that I don’t think my woman was intending to write about, for fear it might worry her mother and father. But, I think it was too exciting not to share. I don’t really remember all the details. I was groggy, having just been disturbed from slumber in my cockpit-floor-bed by my woman’s feet during our passage along the coast of Florida from West Palm Beach to Key Biscayne….We had a near miss with a cruise ship and its pilot boat as we were under sail power alone!! Here’s how it happened, as best as I can remember: It was 5:00 in the morning, and my woman was on watch. It was pitch dark. I was vaguely aware of movement in the cockpit as my woman was moving about alternately pressing buttons on the AIS, checking the radar, and looking into the distance through the binoculars. This went on for about 30 minutes. The AIS is an instrument which displays the location of other boats relative to Nancy Lu (only those which also have AIS), and with a push of a button, it can give my captain-man and woman all kinds of information including other boat’s closest point of approach (CPA) to Nancy Lu and what position relative to Nancy Lu that will be. From all the woman’s observations, she had figured out that the cruise ship was on its way into port via the shipping lane, which we were crossing. She saw another blip on the radar to our starboard, which concerned her, but she couldn’t make out anything through her binoculars. She decided that it must be something reflecting from the land or a little fishing boat. Her attention was mainly on the cruise ship. When she saw that we were going to come within .1-something miles of the cruise ship in 15 minutes, she decided it was time to go get Captain Mark. I heard her say, after all the excitement, that she wishes she had gone to get him earlier. Everything turned out OK, but it was tense there for a few minutes! My captain tried to hail the cruise ship on the VHF, but got no response. In a few seconds, the pilot boat (That’s what the blip on the radar was!!) hailed us and told us we would have to change our course to port because the cruise ship couldn’t alter its speed or course, or it wouldn’t make the entrance to the channel! At about that moment, my woman made out the pilot boat right in front of us and a little to starboard. It was motoring with NO running lights! She yelled to our captain, “Go port; go port!!!!”. Captain-man Mark was already turning on our motor, since we had the preventer rigged (it prevents the mainsail from going to the other side of the boat, which is what has to happen if you want to turn the boat around) and preparing to turn to port. We ended up doing a 180-degree turn in order to stay clear of the cruise ship. We barely missed the pilot boat! I saw my woman turn around and put her head down on the bench as soon as she yelled for the captain to go port. It’s kind of funny in hindsight, but I wasn’t laughing at the time. My captain-man, Mark, got us back on course and turned the engine back off after the cruise ship passed. I don’t know if my woman has thought of this, but the pilot boat may have been so close to us in order to bump us out of harm’s way with his boat, which has inflated sides, if it had been necessary.
My woman snapped a picture after we got turned back around. The pilot boat hailed us by name again and my woman answered. To me, her voice seemed shaky. The pilot boat nonchalantly told us thank you for coming back to him on the VHF and wished us a safe continued journey—WHAT!?!?!?! After they just about ran us over!?!?!?! After all the excitement, I laid my head back down and Captain-man Mark went back to bed
until a couple of hours later when we were getting close to our destination.
Today, we’re safe and sound, anchored in George Town in my family’s beloved Bahamas.
I’ll let my woman fill you in on our time in the Bahamas, so far, in another blog post because I’m pretty indifferent about the whole Bahamas thing. I’m with my family as usual, and everyone I meet loves me. That’s all I care about! Well, to tell you the truth, being with my woman is really all that matters to me.