Carrying pets onboard is an emotional subject amongst cruisers and everyone has an opinion. I regularly cross St. Maarten’s Simpson Bay Lagoon by dinghy and my course takes me past several boats that are home to a motley collection of barking dogs. Seeing them always reminds me of my early sailing days when my wife and I cruised the English Channel and often visited ports along the coast of northwest France. Back then, small, hard-chine plywood boats were all the rage amongst French sailors, and we would often see dad sculling one of these superbly seaworthy and usually engineless yachts into harbor while mom kept her eye on three or four kids and a large, usually Alsatian, dog.
Since then I have seen all sorts of animals carried as pets including a snake, a chicken and a goat, although the goat was carried as provisions. The goat caused an almighty fight amongst the crew when it morphed from meat-on-the-hoof into a pet and the skipper went to slaughter it.
I was against having a seagoing pet until we were duped into taking a cat onboard for two weeks one summer and ended up keeping him for eight years. That cat became a legend amongst cruising sailors, and thanks to his antics, I was almost shot by an irate marina dweller when we spent a couple of nights at a Florida dock. Our Cypriot alley-cat, a bruiser by the name of Sextant, had gone aboard the man’s boat and terrorized his two purebred Abyssinians, traumatizing the finicky pair for days. The first I knew about the furry furore was when the cats’ owner banged on our cabin top, pointed a loaded .45 at me, and demanded I produce the villain for summary execution.
Carrying a pet can help with security; they offer friendship and can be wonderful sailing companions, but it’s not for everyone. If you are thinking about recruiting a pet as part of the crew, then I hope Carol Bareuther’s article Pets on Board on page ? helps you make the right decision.
Recently my wife and I were cruising down the coast of St. Maarten aboard the catamaran Tango as the guests of a friend who was celebrating his birthday. There were around forty adults and kids aboard the day charter boat and we had a wonderful time. As part of the cruise, we sailed into the harbor of Philipsburg where we had been told Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich had berthed his yacht Eclipse alongside the cruise ship pier. We rounded the headland and there she was. The world’s largest private yacht is a sight to behold and she didn’t look out of place amongst the towering sea-going holiday resorts.
Eclipse is packed with the latest technology and needs a hive of worker bees to keep the ship and her systems running. The yacht’s upper decks fairly bristle with telecommunication equipment and there is even rumour of a missile defence system.
While the birthday guests hemmed and hawed over this glittering 536ft floating palace, my eye went to a boat alongside the yacht and a number of crew with swabs. Being the largest private yacht in the world obviously demands the largest and longest swabs and I was amused to see the oligarch’s super swabs in action. Exactly why they were swabbing the yacht’s already gleaming topsides I couldn’t say. But it certainly kept me entertained.