Paradise Next Door - Bahamas Cruise
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~ Did Someone Say Cat Crate?? ~
BahamasIcon/BahamasIcon.gifAWOL For the Boat Haul
February, 2011
 
Preaparing for a Haul Out
It is an ironic fact that the very first thing most sailors do to prepare for a long, offshore sail is put the boat onshore. Checking, repairing, and preparing every portion of your craft to reduce your risks is the rational, but roaming into a remote port looking like a rock star is the real reason.

We concluded that our Windfall of Spare Time was best spent cruising the Bahamas, so of course we first arranged to cruise the working yard. Since Neptune’s normally mellow milieu was about to be yanked into a bit of mayhem, I thought it would be best to secure him in his carrier before we even left the slip. Safely constrained we could then take him to shore while the boat was lifted out of the water, preventing a fateful leap of fear, or some other disastrous act my anxious mind imagined.

In hushed tones with spelled out words, I pantomimed my capture plan to the captain. Unfortunately this clairvoyant cat very much disliked confinement and without detection of our foiled conspiracy, the feisty feline roused from his REM and bolted out the open hatch. (I’m certain this creature has a far greater comprehension of our complex communication than we have of his minimalistic mewlings.)

The First Mate has spent many nights doing exactly what nature has designed his species to do - silently prowling, agilely exploring, and swiftly maneuvering through his environment. Living among scores of ships with hoards of hidey-holes, the little Houdini disappeared before I even hit the deck. We searched, and summoned, and seduced - but there was no sign of the mutinous scaredy-crew. With a schedule to keep, I was left with no choice but to abandon all hope of finding his lair. For the moment, I’d have to leave the deserter behind.

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~ Re Metau in the Travel Lift ~
Travel Lifts in the Florida Keys
We felt fortunate to have a working boat hoist, aka travel lift, located right at our marina’s yard. Recent events left Marathon, a generally boat-centric municipality, completely deficient of this very specialized maritime machinery. Essentially a travel lift is a very expensive, four-wheeled, motorized-steel frame designed to straddle a well, lower a set of slings into the water in order that a very expensive yacht can float over, and then hoist the unwieldy payload up to be set down on a very expensive patch of dry land so very expensive labor can be performed on the hull.

Just months before one of the local lifts veered off the cement platform onto the boat yard’s wooden wharf. With an 8 ton yacht hanging in the slings, the breaking strength of the wharf's 2x4s were tested - and exceeded. That day, the very expensive boat, the very expensive lift, and the very expendable operator were all abruptly and unceremoniously launched into the water. Shortly after that debacle, lift #2 blew two tires while conveying a yacht to the marina’s storage yard, resulting in bent hubs, a stranded snowbird, and a special order for the southern-most Michelin service center. Factor in 6 weeks of lost lift revenue and the cost of these flats further inflated.

Still cat-less, we cast off and motored into the well without incident. They eased us over to the pier so we could disembark and pray while our home was precariously plucked out of her pool. With Baryshnikov-ian skill, Rafael maneuvered our 14 tons of teak onto the jack stands, and gently balanced her like a ballerina on her keel.

We got a 14’ extension ladder cinched up alongside, and forlornly faced the precarious climb required to board our abode. Coupled with drawn-out days of dusty drudgery, exhausted evenings without essential amenities, and late night hikes to the humid head; they called it “life on the hard” because it was HARD!

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~ Ripple - A Dock Mate’s Canine Crew ~
Finding the First Mate
Since several hours had passed, I took a pause to see if the puss had reappeared on the pier. Rounding the mangroves, I noticed our AWOL furball in cozy conversation with Ripple, our dockmate’s canine crew.  A rather large and placid pup, Ripple’s conduct always made him welcome onboard when Ken and Cassie visited. The dog’s indifference to Neptune (and his convenient cup of cat kibble) was an inimitable response to the invasion on the First Mate’s space, and both beasts seemed to be tolorant of each other.
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~ Our Dock at Marathon Marina ~

True to feline form, when his quarters mysteriously went missing, Neptune quickly put his priorities in order and concluded the malleable mutt might make a good boatmate. I found him a dozen slips down the dock, practically hugging the hound, purring for a place in the pooch’s pad. But when I showed up his dogged devotion returned to the crew he knew, (though now with open options, he was still not going to concede to the carrier).

Side by side, one of us sauntered and one of us slinked through the noisy yard to our ship.  While being conveyed up the ladder in the loving arms of the admiral, Neptune (as a reward for my submitting to his desire for unrestricted mobility) rationed his scarring scratches.

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Copyright © 2015 Diana E Reynolds - SV Re Metau.  All rights reserved.

"When men come to like a sea-life, they are not fit to live on land." ~ Samuel Johnson