Privacy is sometimes non-existent for charter crews in small boats. If the forepeak is a guest cabin, you have either the main salon, the cockpit, the engine room or the deck.
On Avenir II, our 50-foot sloop based at St. Thomas in the U. S. Virgin Islands, we had no comfortable place to sleep on charter. Both the forepeak and the aft cabin were for guests. The two side “cabins” were really only single berths and too small for two people. The settee in the main salon was comfortable but not wide enough and every little squeak you made could be easily heard. The cockpit seats were too short and the engine room was standing room only. The cushions on the main deck forward of the central cockpit were fine—but if it rained, you got soaked.
The logical solution was to have long roll-down flaps on the front of the awning that extended to the deck and were tied down, as well as flaps on the sides. These worked reasonably well unless it really rained hard or when the third “member of the crew” decided to romp.
Cat, like most felines, loved to play at night. The large awning which covered the deck from the mast to the backstay was terrific fun to pounce upon, particularly when the canvas billowed in the wind. We eventually got used to her energetic charges on the awning which creaked with every pounce, but when we added the flaps, she started a whole new game.
First, Cat charged noisily from the backstay to the front of the awning and then slid down the flaps to thump loudly on the deck as she landed. Then the little rascal charged right across our prone bodies, not caring who she stepped on, galloped back to the aft deck and leaped up onto the awning again. It was POUNCE POUNCE POUNCE on the awning and then ZIPITY ZIP down the flap, ending in a loud THUD on the deck until the early morning hours.
One windy night, when she was having oh-so-much fun on her “trampoline,” we heard the usual pouncing on the awning followed by utter silence. Because we heard nothing afterwards, we became curious. Where had she gone?
Then the boarding ladder, which was always left down at night, jiggled a couple of times. We heard a pitiful “mew” just before a sopping, dripping, salty, wet cat walked on top of us. Cat had missed the flaps and sailed over the side! We tried to rub her dry with a towel but, too mad to stay still, she went below to lick herself dry … and threw up all over the place.
Cat was for sale for a few days, but we had no takers. I wonder why?!
Jeannie Kuich, once a long-time charter chef in the Virgin Islands, has been writing monthly columns for the Daily News since 1985 and periodic columns for Caribbean Boating, Nautical Scene, St. Thomas This Week and Cruising World magazines. Jeannie is the author of “Soap Operas of the Sky”, the only stargazing sky guide for the Caribbean.