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Posted by on Mar 14, 2011 in Blog, Boat Dogs, Sailing | 4 comments

Boat Dogs



I’ve been having a tough time this week. You know what I mean? Yeah, it’s been one of those weeks. I’m working overtime and I still can’t seem to get caught up. So, tonight when I got home and my sweet old dog jumped up and spun around and yelped for joy just to see me, I thought one more time about how great it is to have a dog. I scooped him up in my arms, buried my face in the soft fur round his neck, and as I grabbed his leash and headed out for a long walk, I felt all that stress in my own neck just let go and drift off on the evening breeze.

I’ve noticed this is common thread on my group blog Write on the Water. Quite a few of us have boat dogs. CE has shared with us the photo of her crew Moxy and Rex awaiting shore leave, and Mike has shown us Belle enjoying the sunset on the foredeck, in her holiday gear, and as a bathing beauty. Many of us who love the life of messing about in boats, choose to do so with a good boat dog.

My first boat dog was Nosey, a Schipperke, otherwise known as a Belgian barge dog. She sailed to Venezuela and back with us when I was married and sailing aboard the SUNRISE, a 55-foot cutter my husband and I had built from a bare hull. Cruiser friends said they could tell where I was as Nosey moved about deck sticking her head into whatever port was nearest to me.

I home schooled my ten-year-old son during those years, and the dog was only allowed below decks to study alongside the boy.

But Nosey loved to hang out on the bow, and I remember the time we were anchored in the lagoon at Sint Maarten, and we were getting strong gusty winds. In the lulls, the boat would creep up on the anchor rode, then a gust would hit and she’d sail off on a tack until she hit the end of the chain with a jerk. Little did we know, that happened once when Nosey was standing out on the anchor platform. At some point, I looked up from my book and saw the neighbor on the boat next to us. He was waving his arms and shouting, but his words were carried off by the wind. He kept pointing down. Finally, I got up and looked down at the water and there was an exhausted Nosey proving why they call it dog paddling. I never knew how long she had been in the water, but she was pretty worn out. In all those miles, though, that was the only time she went overboard.

My current boat dog is Chip, otherwise known as The Intrepid Seadog. This, however, is always said with a dash of irony because Chip a) gets seasick and b) is terrified of just about everything. Intrepid, he is not. Chip is the progeny of a St. Lucia street dog who was picked up by a German cruising boat, brought to Fort Lauderdale where mama dog escaped and got knocked up by some local canine lothario. I also refer to Chip as a son of a bitch from the Caribbean.

This little guy has been my first mate on TALESPINNER ever since I bought my own boat six years ago. Even though I have sailed across oceans as a wife, it’s been a whole new story sailing as the captain of my own little boat. Chip has always looked at me with confidence (well, he only has one eye, so I’ve assumed that was the case). We’ve sailed though the Florida Keys and the Abacos together, and Chip makes a helluva first mate. He never talks back or disagrees with the captain.

See? Did he say a word?

While Chip doesn’t like rough water, he is a great companion on board and he thrives in the islands. I know he will be happier (as I will be) when this semester ends and we take off for the Abacos in the Bahamas once again. Nosey lasted until her 16th year. Chip will turn 16 this summer. Though I know it is coming, I can’t bear the thought of losing my first mate. I keep hoping I will get a few more years with him.

What about you? Do you have a great dog? Please share! Help me believe I’ll keep my little guy for a few more years.

Fair winds!



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  2. I do not have a boat dog, I have boat cats. They are my three Key West Trailer Trash cats. They were born of a feral mother under an abandoned trailer on Stock Island. A friend called and asked if I still wanted a kitten for my birthday. I said yes and he showed up with three 4-5 day old kittens, who were looking like they would not last much longer for lack of fluids and food. He handed them to me out the window of his pickup, asked if I liked them, and then, when I said yes put the truck in gear and took off. After a lot of vet bills, bottle feeding, and litter box training, I had three cats.

    We lived in our little house until Wilma the Witch came through town and flooded our house. That is when we moved to the Emma C. She is a sweet little Hunter 33 from the late 70’s. She was totally redone – demasting her in the ship channel off Key West required all new running and standing rigging. And the kittens loved living on her. All the little nooks and crannies. Bear, the littlest one and all black, learned how to crawl through a very small hole and get into the engine compartment and bilge. Cookie, the largest, loves to swim. I thought the first time was an accident when I heard him crying from the water, kitten paddling. I pulled him out and told him that a 3 month old kitten would make a great dinner for a tarpon or shark. Then the next day, I watched him jump in. After that he was under ‘adult’ supervision when on deck. When we moved back to land he now had a swimming pool. He will jump in the deep end, swim the 40′ length, climb out, run around and jump in again.

    So these are my boat cats. Now transplanted to Louisiana.

  3. Hi there! I sailed with my little Tigerlily from Puerto Rico to Maine and she went overboard in the Turks and Caicos, just like your dog. My Tigerlily looks very much like your black curly doggie, and now I have two dogs! We’re planning to leave Maine for a fulltime liveaboard life, departing in 2016, and I would love to head for Europe but the combination of the dog rules and the Schengen visa time restrictions (plus the VAT tax), oh man! I hate all the technical issues! How has it been working with you as far as dogs and paperwork goes? We had no problem with Tigerlily’s travels through the Caribbean but I wonder if that will be the straw that makes it impossible for us to cruise from the Azores into the inland waterways down to the med. I’d love to hear about your experiences cruising between countries with your dog(s)! Thanks!