Friday, March 12, 2010

The Truly Essential Crew

On many boats the four legged crew rule. It is no exception on our boat. Kita has worked out well as a boat dog, too well.

She is not paricular who's boat she is on. She is often an unwelcome guest on the boats of others. I think it is cute when she goes below on my neighbours boat to wake up their kids. They don't.
I don't see her to scold her when she down below on my friends boat checking out how the seafood salad is coming along.

She has her friends and feels free to go visiting when she pleases. At home, she prefers walking on boats, so she merely jumps from boat to boat, foregoing the docks when possible.

Travelling with the four legged crew, (friends cruise with their cat Lucky), requires some safety measures, just as travelling with children. The dog life jacket works in most cases. Not all dogs can swim. Those that can are unable to make great distances in rough water should they go overboard. We have had some boaters with bad luck visiting our harbour. A dog is a difficult thing to spot in the dark or heavy seas.

I keep a leash on Kita while at sea. She has fallen off the dock and has no interest in jumping in. On the boat, she perfers the cockpit floor, which suits me just fine. A large bone and she is set for a lake crossing. I do not put on her life jacket on unless I am sailing alone, or the weather is really rough. It restricts her comfort level and she tends to not want to lie down when she wears it.

I attempted sailing with one of the cats. He was almost enjoying it until we tacked. The noise of the rigging and the shift of the boat ended that in a hurry. He was scared to go many places down below, including the only suitable place I could find for a litter box. I decided the cat could stay home. I think the best time for a cat's sailing lesson might be when it is a kitten.

Dogs are not welcome everywhere. Unless you have an easily portable pooch, Toronto Island's Royal Canadian Yacht Club is not a practical destination for you. The Oakville Club has a no dog rule, but is a little more lax in enforcing it if your dog is fairly well behaved. Most clubs, however, are fairly dog freindly as long as you stoop-and-scoop and keep the animal out of the clubhouse.

Kita has so many dog friends to hang with when crusing. She loves the water, digging in it, laying in it and even sometimes swimming. She would rather be with be with me than home. She senses or smells land onboard, before we can see it sometimes.

Handy Training Treats

For bite size training snacks I thinly slice a package of the cheapest chicken weiners I can find. I thow them in a food dehydrater for about eight hours. If I face time constraints, I stick them in the oven at about 250F for a couple of hours. It gives me a baggie-full of dog treats that do not spoil.


  1. That is too cute.
    I don't think I could ever let my dog on a sailboat. I would be too worried about him seeing something out in the water and wanting to go chase it!

  2. The golden in the picture likes to belly flop of the boat. I think dogs are smarter than you think. He never attempts jumping off the boat when it is out on the lake.
    I think we all had the same concerns when we first tried boating with our pets. It doesn't happen, they bark at seagulls, growl at the dog on the boat beside them, but they don't jump out.

  3. I have my sister's dog right English Bulldog. She would definitely need a doggy life jacket - she is too fat to swim and would sink to the bottom right away!

  4. Sharon, I enjoyed this post. I dream of one day owning a nice boat, sailing the seas with no deadlines. Wouldn't that be nice? I met this older gentlemen at the Port Dalhousie yacht club, when I was doing a report for Cogeco. It was an event for Easter Seals. This guy had to be retired, but he was the man. He was wearing a Ron Jon's Surf Shop buttoned-hawaiian shirt, "herb-tarlic's" shoes, and had the nicest golden retriever on his boat. There was a huge blow-up palm tree, and Jimmy Buffet blasting from the boat. He was a great guy, and his dog was awesome, sporting a life-jacket like the ones you have pictured. I want his luxurious life at sea....

  5. So this is your infamous dog? Sharon we already concluded the cats are a difficult bunch, so sticking to the dog is great idea. Also i was wondering if i could go for a ride on your boat sometime? I can see that you are very passionate about it.