Adventures of s/v WILD HAIR


Our land life took on form, solidity, routine. We had mastery of a limited set of skills. We had habitual expectations of others and ourselves. Going sailing, we let go of our attachments to our roles, views, and rituals. We persist because we are growing in this shapeless and dynamic world.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Dinghy the Sailor Cat: Part IV

Dinghy is easily the most admired member of our crew. So sweet is her disposition that Dave and I had to institute an “equal kiss policy:” if you’re going to kiss the cat you must kiss your spouse. How did she earn this extreme popularity?

First, she adores attention. “Road-kill Kitty” is what Dave calls her sudden flop-and-roll move that cannot be ignored. Lying fetchingly on her back, white paws suspended in the air, it is impossible to resist giving her chin a scratch. Below decks, she has the habit of standing eye-to-eye with us on the top step of the companionway poking her nose toward us for kisses. She is especially fond of Dave’s bristles and their “kiss sessions” go on for minutes. Her naps inspire our naps as she looks sleepily at us with Bahamian, yeah-mon eyes. Nightly, she imitates a lap dog as we watch a DVD. Her favorite program is Battlestar Galactica.

Dinghy does her part with crew chores, too. She is assigned varmint patrol and stalks the bowls of the boat munching flies and the occasional cockroach.

Who would have guessed that our kitty would be the hunting dog Dave always wanted. On island after island, the two operated like a well-honed team. No bug was too small, no curly-tailed lizard too big for their attack. Much to her dismay, Dinghy never came close to catching a lizard. But, when we learned of the killer ticks populating the islands, her hunting days were over. Ticks resistant to any US flee and tick preventions reportedly crawl onto the animal, ride into the boat, lay eggs in the beds, produce larva that grow under human skin, and kill pets from secondary infection. We were impressed enough to curtail our fun.

Does Dinghy swim? Not by choice. One day in Jacksonville we were taping large boxes for shipment. As Dave straddled the box on the pier, Dinghy came around the corner. Her body met his swinging foot and she was launched to the full extent of her leash. This is when I began hearing Dinghy psychically speak to us in full-fledged sailor talk.

For her first birthday, we made one of her favorite dinners: tuna casserole. As a gift we gave her free-rein above decks when on anchor from that point forward. This created a monster. Now at every sunrise Dinghy does patty-paws on the companionway hatch boards, rattling them until we are awake. She is biologically compelled to monitor the local bird population at this time of day. Our only solace is how uncomfortable she is walking in the deck’s morning dew, high stepping and shaking her feet with every step.

Clearly, her favorite sailing task is climbing the mast, sinking her claws into the lines that hang. From there, she can sleep in the best place on the boat: the folds of the sail stacked on the high boom. Yes, we’ve lost her in the folds of the sails several times. We encourage her to surface again with the prodding of boat poles. Her mast climbing skills are an asset because this is a sometimes necessary task her humans don’t enjoy. Perhaps we’ll teach her how to carry a drill and pull a line so she can do something valuable while she’s at it.

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