Exuma Banks

Making Miles

Wednesday May 7, 2014

Exuma Banks

There was only one thing left on my Exuma wish list, and sadly, I did not get to complete it.  The last item on the list that we missed out on last year and I wanted to squeeze in this time around was stopping at Norman’s Cay, just about 10 miles north of Warderick Wells.  This spot is famous for being the headquarters of drug smuggling operations for Carlos Lehder (even featured in one of my favorite movies, Blow), and even though the drug runners have been gone for about 30 years now, this little island still has a few draws.  There’s the famous McDuff’s restaurant where we hear you can pay $20 for a single burger (thanks, I think we would have passed on that one), and the sunken remains of an airplane that lies just a few feel below the water and is perfect for snorkeling.  That is the reason I wanted to visit.  But according to Kim and Jereme, whom had just come from there, getting to the plane from the anchorage we would have been in on the west side of the island would have been very far in the dingy and very hard at times with the current ripping through the cut between islands, where the wreckage lies.

Well, since our intended plan had been to anchor at Norman’s Cay, then Allen’s Cay; Nassua, Berry’s; Great Bahama Banks; and finally Bimini, and now it wasn’t likely that I’d even be able to see the one sight I wanted to go to Norman’s for, we decided to skip it all.  After talking to a couple from s/v Sea Witch while out snorkeling the other day, they mentioned there would be steady east winds for the next three days that they themselves would be riding directly back to their home port of Palm Beach.  We took a moment to think about it, and this is what we came up with.  We need/want to be back in Miami by May 15th to give ourselves at least two weeks to prepare the boat for our Atlantic crossing with a departure date for that of June 1st (weather dependent).  If we were to still hit all of these intended anchorages, even just staying for one night, that wouldn’t put us back to Bimini until the 12th.  Doable, but any bad weather could quickly put us behind schedule.  Or…we could skip all of that and head directly back to Bimini from Warderick Wells.  So that’s what we decided to do.

Matt was a little more enthusiastic about this ‘go go go’ idea than I was, I wasn’t ready to give up these excruciatingly beautiful anchorages just yet, but he’s been indulging me throughout all of the Bahamas so far, so he did not hear any complaints from me when he asked for this one favor back.  He was ready to get into ocean crossing prep mode, and after 8 days, I was just excited at the thought of getting internet back.  Anchor was weighed at 9 am yesterday under sail power alone, and we slid out into the calm waters of the Exuma Banks.  Due to the east winds and still being so close to shore, we enjoyed a good five hours of extremely settled water where it was hard to tell we were even moving.  Poor Georgie, who probably assumed we were still at anchor since it was so calm, didn’t understand why she was being reprimanded as she tried to wander the deck.  We still never want to take the chance that she might go overboard while underway and contain her to the cockpit, but unless conditions are pretty rough we won’t actually force her leash secured leash on her, letting her wander the cockpit and cabin.

Although we were headed in a NW direction, the winds had clocked just south enough to keep fairly downwind the whole way.  Things did start to pick up yesterday evening where the waves began to build just a little and even though our apparent wind was only in the 15-20 knot range, we were keeping a steady 7 knots under our hull.  We passed Nassau just at sunset and then I was sent to bed.  Even though we were speeding along and would normally reduce sail once the sun went down (just so a reef doesn’t have to be put in when one person is trying to sleep…we just take care of it beforehand), there was an unspoken wish between us that we might actually cover all our miles to Bimini before sundown the next night, but we needed to keep going fast to do that.  It was only when I had been down below for a few hours, never actually catching any sleep, that I felt a sudden knock on our side.  A big gust had come up and basically thrown us over and rounded us up into the wind.  Ok…time to slow down a little.  Matt brought in the headsail, but even in doing so we still managed to keep 6 knots under our hull until getting in the lee of the Berrys.

The NW Channel was crossed over at 3 am, and something we would normally never do in the dark, except we still had our track on the chart plotter from the first time we passed through and we made sure to stick to it exactly.  Surrounding us were the lights of anchored boats that had dropped hook in the shallow waters just before the pass, waiting until morning to make their run through it.  By this point I had been on shift for three hours, and since I had not managed to accumulate any sleep from my first shift below, Matt let me go down early to catch a few hours even though I still owed him two more. (We made sure to both be up for crossing the channel)

The rest of our sail today through the banks was rather uneventful, although I wish some excitement would have come in the form of fish biting on our line.  We didn’t even have any barracuda to throw back.*  I guess in the world of yin and yang though, we had to give something up to get something in return.  Our journey might have been fish-less, but it was also fast.  We rounded the North Rock of Bimini at four in the afternoon, plenty of time to get ourselves to a comfortable anchorage for the night.  Since the tide was now coming out though and we would prefer it to be at our backs instead of fighting it on our way in, we decided to anchor outside of the harbor for the night.  Which not only satisfied my wish for at least one more beautiful anchorage, but it might satisfy my wish for good snorkeling as well.  Because we have just put ourselves in a prime spot to check out the Bimini Road tomorrow morning.


*Imagine my disappointment when, as soon as I logged into our Facebook account after having scheduled a bunch of post to go up as we were heading up the Exumas, one of our readers pointed out to me that the first time we crossed the banks our first catch was not actually a barracuda, but a mackerel!!  Something we could have eaten!!  Thanks for letting us know Ben, we’ll make sure to keep a sharper eye out the next time.  It was those damn big teeth that had us confused the first time.


I’m Raising a Circus Monkey

Sunday March 23, 2014


One morning I was out in the cockpit enjoying my morning coffee while Georgie was also out and about, wandering the deck as usual.  Lately she’s been finding shadows dancing on the dodger, usually a tie from the sail cover swinging back and forth, which she hasn’t quite figured out yet that she can’t catch.  The same was going on this morning, and although part of me wanted to yell at her to stop since she was causing so much noise that she would surely wake Matt and ruin my morning alone time, instead I had to run to get the camera and capture it.

Enjoy my boat cat, whom is entertained by shadows while simultaneously looking like a circus monkey.


Georgie playing from Jessica Johnson on Vimeo.


Georgie’s Shore Leave

Saturday February 22, 2014


We had plans to leave today to head further up the Keys, slowly making our way to Miami instead of doing it in one quick jump, but we had a little bit of a hold up this morning. The 3M 5200 we had purchased to seal up one of the front ports in the v-berth was not the fast drying tube. Having completed the project around four o’clock yesterday afternoon, we didn’t read the part about needing 24 hours to set until it was too late. Looks like we were stuck in Key West for one more day. Neither of us felt like going to shore, there wasn’t anything we needed, we’d already seen all the touristy things to do there, and truthfully, we were kind of sick of paying the $6 fee to land our dinghy. There was one place we could go though, that wouldn’t charge us anything.

For the past few days we’ve been looking at Georgie and thinking ‘Poor thing, she has nothing to do on this boat’. Even in Isla at least there were always minnows and needle nose fish swimming right next to the hull for her to stare at, here there was nothing. Eying the small an uninhibited Wisteria Island that we were anchored right next to we thought, ‘Sure, why not? Let’s take the cat in to walk around’. We placed her in her harness that she normally wears on passage, clipped her leash on, and stuck her in the dinghy. She was not pleased about this part. In fact, I may have received a few new scratch marks to my arm while trying to wrangle her out of the corner next to the dodger where she likes to spend most of her days. Then a quick pass to the dinghy where we shoved off before she had the opportunity to jump back on the boat. Believe me, she was aiming herself to.

Just like her last dinghy ride in Guatemala where we were bringing her back from her catsitter’s, she whined and howled and made noises that would make all other cruisers in the anchorage think that we were performing acts of animal cruelty. As soon as the dinghy pulled up on shore though, she was in love. Not knowing what to think of the situation she sat in the dinghy staring out until we picked her up and placed her on solid ground, something her feet haven’t touched in four months. Then just like a scent hound, her nose hit the ground as she took in this unfamiliar earth, sniffing her way up and down a small patch of the coral lined shore. The search broadened as she made her way up to weeds and bushes, tucking herself under a shaded spot to sprawl out and chew on leaves and twigs.

When it was apparent that she would probably stay in this one spot all afternoon unless forced out, we picked her up and placed her down on the shoreline once more, keeping a slow and steady pace as she trotted along side. This is only the second time we’ve tried to actually walk her on her leash, the first time being when we first purchased it back in St. Augustine, taking her for spins around the boat yard. She wasn’t too ecstatic about it at that time, but now she was acting like a complete natural, filling the need for just a moment of the K-9 companion that Matt has been missing for the past two and a half years. The three of us walked about a quarter of a mile down the beach before we let Georgie off her leash to do a little exploring on her own. There was a noise in the bushes that caught her attention and she was keen to investigate.

When she didn’t come out and we were 90% sure that a snake lived in the hole that she was probing, we once more had to pick her up and set her on a new course where she happily trotted along side us again. In true cat fashion though, it didn’t take much longer after this before the amount of exercise became too great and she plopped on her side, thwarting any plans of ours to continue on. Giving her a pretty decent rest period we found out that this was in fact it for her for the day. Tugging on the leash did not get her moving again, but instead left a trail snaking through the coral as she dragged behind. Carrying her back to the beach by the dinghy we tried once more to get her to walk around, but her only interests were sitting in the tall grass under a tree. All in all her actual walk only lasted about five to ten minutes, with the other 45 minutes sitting and resting, but I think it was the perfect little escape from her every day boat life, if even for just a little bit.

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walking Georgie

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Matt & Georgie

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Georgie on top of bathroom

Georgie of the Jungle

Wednesday October 9, 2013

Georgie on top of bathroom

When we first got to the marina here in Guatemala back in June, it took Georgie less than 5 days to realize that she could jump from the stern of the boat to the little plank leading to it, and then to dry land dock.  It took her less than 7 days to realize that she could jump from our boat to the neighbor’s.  For a few days after she found all this out we tried to keep her secure to the boat by putting on her Come With Me Kitty harness, and leashing her to one of the cleats or winches in the cockpit.  She was having none of it.  Eventually I talked Matt into letting her roam free.  For the most part, all she wanted was to curl up in a ball in the ranchito and sleep as a cool breeze washed over her.  Something she was not getting in the cockpit.

She began to enjoy her time off the boat so much, that it was hard to get her back on it.  We usually locked her below deck when the sun went down, and she would spend the next two hours sitting on the steps, whining and crying to get out again.  This happened every night.  She began despising her time on the boat so much that we weren’t even sure that going back to life on anchor, where she had free run of the whole boat all day, would make her happy again.  For a short period we even contemplated leaving her in Guatemala, entrusting her to a young girl that works at the marina whom has wanted a cat for a very long time, and has a large enclosed yard for her to wander through all day.

This was not an easy decision to come to, but we thought in the end it might be what’s best for Georgie.  I cried hard that night, thinking what a horrible person I was to adopt her, just to turn around and give her away.  Matt saw how hard this was hitting me and struck up a deal.  While we’d be gone for the boat for six weeks, Georgie was going to be staying at a bungalow with two guys we knew, their two cats, and the option to roam outside to her heart’s content.  If, when we came back to claim her, she went into her old routine of not wanting to be anywhere near the boat, we would give her up and let her live a life on land in Guatemala.  However, if she appeared to miss us and adjusted to life back on the boat, we’d keep her with us.

I had not been very hopeful, seeing how much she loved running about in the marina, and sure that she would forget us a day after we were gone.  Truth be told, a part of me wanted her to be able to forget about us right away because I also couldn’t bear the thought of her thinking that we’d abandoned her, wondering each day why we hadn’t come back to get her.  Those six weeks kind of felt like a lose/lose.  But on the day we arrived back to Guatemala and went to get her, she had nothing but love for us.  It was obvious that she remembered who we were, and instantly let herself fall back into the stage when we first got her and she would not leave our side.  Since we’ve been back on the boat now, she doesn’t whine at night and rarely strays out of our eyesight.  It looks as if her love for us is actually greater than her dislike of living on a boat.  Aawww, makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

That’s not to say that she still hasn’t also been loving her roaming at the marina.  I suspect her time in the wild at the bungalow turned her a little rogue though, and she’s becoming quite the hunter.  Before it wasn’t surprising to catch her at the ranchito chomping away on a moth or any other large flying insect that she’d caught, but now she’s starting to go bigger.  In the past week she has caught 2 bats, how she managed to get them I don’t even know, and then today she brought me this treat.

rain spider

 Don’t worry, it’s not alive here.  I actually had to steal it out of her batting paws and keep her away while I positioned it for a photo.  Then I instantly flung it in the water, fearful that it might be poisonous and that Georgie might try to eat it.  I found out later that it was a harmless rain spider.  Harmless as they may be, I still don’t want one anywhere near me when it’s alive and moving of it’s own accord.  (Ok, so I may have taken it post-mortem and stretched all of it’s legs out so you could see just how big it is in the photo.)

As for Georgie?  She seems to be finding a good balance between boat and land, and I am so happy and relieved that she’ll be staying with us now.  So if you’re a cat owner as well, you must check Observer to know how to treat your cat better. Our only next obstacle with her is finding out exactly what is necessary for a pet passport so we can get her into the Med next year.  Anyone have experience with this or tips they could give me?  I’d love to hear!

Georgie on top of bathroom 2

Georgie batting bugs at the ranchito.

georgie staring at fish in the ranchito

The Great Escape

Saturday February 9, 2013

After Thursday I was afraid it would happen, and it has.  We’ve raised a little escape artist. Georgie has found out that she can climb down the ladder.  There were a few times on Thursday when she would begin to jump down one rung on the ladder, and we’d quickly swoop her up and set her back on deck along with a scolding.  But then yesterday when both of us were distracted getting the dinghy down off the davits so it could get a good cleaning, she hopped all the way down to the ground.  I caught what she was doing just moments after she got down, and was able to quickly grab her and once again set her back where she should be.

From that point we said that we’d no longer let her run around on deck at night, one of her favorite things to do before bed to blow off steam.  It seriously sounds like a race track up there sometimes, with her sprinting lap after lap.  But now we couldn’t trust her to be up there alone and promised her only deck time would be during the day where we could keep better tabs on her.  Except, last night the sun went down and we both got distracted, forgetting she was out there.  After hearing nothing but silence from up above for quite some time I turned to Matt and asked, “Where’s the cat?”.  We both looked at the companionway which was sitting wide open.  Oh, s&*t.

Throwing on headlamps we scoured the deck, looking in every nook and corner and under the cushions that were still drying, trying to find any place up there she might be hiding.  Nothing.  So then we brought the search to the ground.  I had brought a bag of her treats with me, and we began to walk the yard, shaking the bag and calling her name.  I was on one side of Serendipity while Matt was on the other when I heard a yell, “I found her over here!”.  Running over to assist him catch her, I heard a loud noise and then a yell of pain from Matt, quickly followed by yells for me to quickly get my ass over there.  As I came up behind him and saw Georgie in his hands, and thought that maybe she clawed or scratched him as he tried to grab her.  Nope.  What he didn’t see as he was running full speed to get her, was a metal chain that ran the width of the boat next to ours, and ran smack into it with his face.

Grabbing Georgie out of his hands I climbed half way up the ladder and pitched her on deck as I tried to catch up to Matt who had stumbled to the men’s bathroom to check out his face.  It was not a pretty picture.  The nose was most likely broken, he had to snap it back in place, and covering his nose and forehead were cuts and bruises.  He took it pretty well, and back at the boat, although I knew he was in a lot of pain, I couldn’t help but look over at him and giggle a little bit.  He looked like he had just stepped out of a hockey ring without a helmet on, but when people inevitably see the damage and ask what happened he’ll have to reply with “I chased my cat into a chain link”.

Today has been back to work on both projects we couldn’t start until this point, and ones we should have done once we first got here.  Since the dinghy was lowered yesterday, that was given a nice cleaning, bringing it back to close to it’s original white shade.  Gotta love MaryKate On & Off.  I swear that stuff is like a Magic Eraser for anything boat related.  Then it was on to faring the prop shaft area and getting that ready to install.  A little time spent with 3M 4200, and lots of time afterward with vinegar and acetone, and we were ready to call it a night.  Knowing what’s in store for me tomorrow though, I’m not sure I’m ready for this night to end.

I think all the trouble started here, during her first walk.

V-berth cushions drying up on deck.


Gone Today, Here Tomorrow

Friday February 8, 2012

I think one of the most exciting things of us being here in the yard has just happened. The keel bolt issue has been fixed! Can you believe it? And you were probably sitting there having no idea it was even being worked on. You know why? Because it took less than 48 hours for us to start a conversation with the person who was going to fix it, to having it completed and delivered back to us. Amazing!, right?

Ok, let me back up a little bit. If you’re not familiar with the whole story of the keel issue, this is how it started. We took the keel off back on January 10 only to find out that a few of the bolts had crevice corrosion and would need to be replaced. This bummed us out as it was now one more project to add to our never ending list. What bummed us out even more, is that as soon as we began searching, we could not find a soul anywhere near us to do this kind of repair. And only being a few hundred miles from ‘The Boating Capital of the World’ no less. We thought we were going to have to ship the whole keel up to Canada or Rhode Island to have it repaired as they were the only capable people we came across. Not only would that have taken a lot of time, but it also would have cost a lot of money. So we kept searching, and then came across a guy from California who actually builds keels, and would be able to fly out to Florida to do the job. But after costs kept rising due to little add ons, we canceled that deal as well. With, however, lots of helpful tips from the guy on how to do the job on our own with help from our yard.

So on both Tuesday and Wednesday when we were out running errands, we’d stop by Moitessier to talk to Frank who had lots of good ideas on how to do it ourselves, and we’d also be out scouring the aisles of Home Depot for a top grade drill press. We were all ready to make the purchases and start work when Matt had been talked into contacting the the owner of the yard next door where Frank and Yu have their boat. Ever since we got here we’ve been hearing rave reviews about this guy, how there’s never been anything he hasn’t been able to do, and how his work is always meticulous. Tracking him down, Matt had a nice conversation about what needs to be done, and the guy says, “Sure. I’ll have it brought over tomorrow, and have it finished by the end of the day.”.

Even that night (Wednesday) as we planned for the keel to be taken from us the next afternoon, we sat and thought really hard about the directions we’d give him on how to perform the job. Sister in a few new bolts? Take them out and replace them? We were still figuring this out when there was a tap on our hull. We climbed out to see a neighbor of ours, Terry from m/v Island Girl, coming over with a dinner invitation. Having met Matt a few times while I was away, Terry thought Matt was still living the bachelor life and might need a hot meal. Although I did happen to be back, that hot meal was nowhere in sight from my end, so we took them up on their offer to join them for burgers on their boat.It was so nice to be on a boat that’s on the water, and we were able to enjoy a spectacular sunset from the windows in their salon. The burgers were delicious, the company was great, and it was a much needed distraction from all our boat work.

Yesterday afternoon we were just doing little projects here and there, more fiberglassing for Matt and washing the cushions up on deck for me. The guy to fix the bolts stopped by and said that after some preliminary work that morning, he figured that replacing any bolts would be better than sistering in new ones, so we decided to go with his judgement. A few hours later he’d be back to have the keel brought over. After he left, Georgie started her routine of crying out to us while we were on the ground, so once more I strapped her into her harness and leash and let her roam around the yard. She’s doing much better now on the rocks, walking and even running through them without issue. I think she’s still getting used to the fact of being on a leash though, since she did try to chase down a random piece of paper in the yard, and was yanked back in mid-air as she tried to make her leap. The even bigger issue though, was when we put her back on deck and I caught her two times making her way one step down the ladder. I could see that causing some big problems in the future.

After we had finished our little jobs and were running out of things to do, our yard manager showed up with a fork lift to get it ready to take over to the yard next door. Securing some heavy duty chain to the front and back bolts, the keel was lifted a few feet off the ground and we waved to it as it made it’s way out of the yard. Both of us would have been really interested in following it and watching the progress, but the owner next door doing the work gave strict instructions that no one was to disturb him for the rest of the afternoon while he worked on it, not even his employees. But we were just happy that it was gone. A month of just trying to figure out what to do with it, at least now something was happening. In a construction site, one should buy crane warning lights on the site.

Then this morning Matt ran over to see how the progress was going. We’re used to having things go wrong, having things delayed, or at least two more projects coming from anything we start, so we were thinking it would probably be over there through the weekend and a couple of days into next week. When he got back I asked him how it was going. “It’s done”, he replied. “What do you mean it’s done?”, I asked. “It’s done”, he said said again. “And it was done right?”, I gaped, “Like it’s actually ready to come back and be put on?”. He just smiled. For once, we finally got it right. Four weeks of anguish and a four hour remedy.

It was delivered back this afternoon with a shiny new bolt sticking out of the lead. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything prettier. Well maybe when the boat is all put back together, but we’re not at that point yet. For now this is more than sufficient. It means that very shortly we can start putting the boat back together. Finally light at the end of the tunnel. Finally I can let myself believe we might get back in the water.

Terry and Patty (photo courtesy of Island Girl Cruising)

I Do My Little Turn On The Catwalk

Monday February 4, 2012

The painting is, dare I say, done.  At least for the areas that have already been fiberglassed.  It was a lot a long process, and a lot of time spent in small spaces, but now it’s one more thing checked off our list.  The process wasn’t hard, although we had to split it up over yesterday and today in order to do two coats.  Yesterday we washed down the whole area.  While waiting for it to completely dry out, we ran some errands on the bike.  Trying to fill the fridge again with at least two or three nights of meals we walked through the aisles of Winn Dixie before jumping across the street to Home Depot. We’re trying to find the right fittings to connect our grill to our propane tanks, and no matter what we buy it never seems to fit.  Hopefully today will be different.

 Errands ran, we got back to the boat and wiped down the now dry areas with Acetone before painting. Then it was the squeezing into small spaces.  The only area I had to do yesterday was the bilge running from the mast to the galley.  I thought it would be easy, it’s painting.  I like painting.  But I guess what I really like, is painting in areas that I can see.  Plus I was given one rule (besides don’t get paint on the floor or settee), and that was Don’t get paint on the wires.  So what happens as soon as I get my brush wet and stick it under the floor boards? I get a big ‘ol splat on one of the wires.  Ooops.  Looks like I didn’t tape them away quite well enough.  Then there was also a little more trouble while painting in between open holes in the floor where I couldn’t even see where my brush was making strokes, but after dousing the area I’m pretty sure it’s covered.

 Matt painted the engine bay, which at first I felt really bad about because he had more square footage, but then I realized his area had much easier access, and then I didn’t feel so bad for him. Then today was a day for the second coat of paint.  Once again we had to wipe down and Acetone the areas, but this time we first had to take sandpaper to what was already painted so we could rough up the surface a little and give something for the paint to grab on to.  Once again Matt tackled the engine bay while I did the bilge.  But in addition to that, I was also given the project of painting the remaining storage areas under the port settee.  I thought it would be a cinch compared to the bilge, because like Matt, it was a much larger and more exposed area to work in.  What I wasn’t counting on, again, where wires and hoses.  It was very hard to work around them and I didn’t finish until more than two hours after Matt.  He was probably sitting around on his computer watching me and thinking “Ah, so this must have been what it was like for you last week while I was working”.

My expert work didn’t finish there though.  We had taken one of our water tanks out weeks ago to make room for the fiberglassing, and while it has been sitting on our deck since then, we were ready for it to go back.  But not after a good cleaning.  I asked to take the hose to it while trying to get the most pressure possible to blast the sides of the tank with.  I tried once and it didn’t work too well.  What I did find out though, is my arm is somehow small enough to fit in whole, so with a few paper towels I was able to give the entire inside a thorough wipe down.  I think I’ll feel much better drinking our water now, after seeing what the inside of the tank had previously looked like.

Also, I hate to admit it, but we have become ‘those’ pet owners.  While browsing through Amazon I came across this cat harness and leash, and thought it would be a good idea to have for Georgie.  It still worries me a bit that she won’t know how to handle herself right away on deck with the rocking motion of the boat when we’re back in the water.  It will probably be more of just a training tool for a little bit, or if she demands on being outside when conditions get just a little bit rough (only in the cockpit of course).  But we also feel so bad for the times right now while we’re on the hard and we’re running around on the ground and she sticks her head over the side, mewing, and basically asking if she can come with us.  So today, we let her.

Having put her in the harness for a few hours for the past few days just to get her used to it we figured she was finally ready for a little walk today.  We clipped on the leash and carried her down the ladder.  We set her on the ground,….and nothing.  She didn’t move.  Thinking she may not like the surface of the rocks in the yard we picked her up again and brought her to the little park across the street.  She wasn’t a fan of walking in grass either.  She literally just went limp on the ground.  Trying to get her moving we would pull up on the leash, but she’d still just stay limp, with her feet dangling a few inches off the ground.  It gave us a good laugh for a minute, until we felt bad.  On pavement though, she likes to move.  We can walk her just like a dog. That is, until she decides to stop and twist herself in circles, which was often.

Georgiana On My Mind

Sunday November 25, 2012

Both Matt and I are totally animal people and when we lost our greyhound Mazzii (short for Maserati) back in April of 2011 due to cancer it was very hard for us to deal with. She was always on the boat with us every weekend and when she was gone it just felt so empty without her. There’s no way that she could ever be replaced in our hearts, but the need and want for a furry little companion was still there. We’ve heard and read from many other cruisers that cats make great boat pets because they are comfortable living in smaller spaces and since there’s no need for them to get off the boat they’re much easier to care for while traveling. Not that there aren’t just as many people out there with dogs, but a cat just seemed like a responsibility we could handle. Before leaving I bugged Matt incesently about getting one. When he asked what I wanted for my 30th birthday my response was always “A boat cat”. He’d confirm that yes, an animal companion would be nice to have and yes, a cat would require less work than a dog, but the fact that he grew up with dogs and had always been a dog person kept him hesitating, maybe later. Luckily for me, two boats in our buddy armada have cats and after hearing stories of how great they are to travel with and having these cuddly critters forced on him on multiple occassions he finally broke down and said we could look at getting one.

 Hearing from Anthyllide that there was an adoption center right in St. Mary’s where we were staying we walked out to the offices on Friday to inquire about looking at the cats. Finding the actual office was closed we had been told the husband of the shelter had his office right night door and after talking to him and giving our information he said his wife would be in contact with us. We stressed the fact that we were only in town visiting and wanted the cat before the next workweek began so it was a pleasant surprise when we heard from his wife, Terra, first thing the next morning. The shelter that housed the cats was a few miles from the waterfront and she scheduled an appointment for us to come out that afternoon. After being very surprised about hearing that we lived on a boat and this would be the cat’s home as well. I figured with this being such a big cruising community it would be common for her to hear this but maybe adopters fear this question and get their kitties while they still have a land based address. Either way she still agreed to let us come.

Neither of us had an idea of what to expect since back when we adopted Mazzii there was a whole process where they brought the dog to the house for a visit, and after certifying that we were capable pet owners there was a background check and a slew of paperwork. If you ‘passed’ the dog was brought back at a later date. Matt was thinking this would be similar and wanted to make the trip out to the shelter on foot. I kept thinking ‘What if they give us the cat today? How are we going to get her back on foot? (it was always going to be a girl) We don’t have any supplies back on the boat’. Teaming up with Kim we got a hold of a SUV for the afternoon and with six of us stuffed into it we drove off to hopefully be returning with a seventh member. Locating the place based solely on verbal directions from that morning we entered the gates and were greeted by a few dogs wandering the property. Sitting off to the side of the main house was another building and on the front railing an orange tabby was poking it’s head out of a cardboard box. We all swarmed to it and while the girls cuddled and cooed Matt was standing back probably thinking ‘Ahhh crap, we’re going to be leaving here with a cat’.

Shortly after, an assistant came by to lead us into the building and began asking questions on what we were looking for. We knew we wanted a female and a kitten young enough that it could easily adapt to life on a boat. Walking through the hallway there were stacks of beds and scratch pads all full of full grown cats looking for a little attention and love. We had found out from the husband the day before that this is a no kill shelter so they were currently housing 209 cats!! That is a lot of cats looking for love! We also had heard from him that there is a full time staff of three people that regularly take the cats out and play with them so it was nice to hear they weren’t shut away and ignored. Being led into the room of young cats it was so hard not to pick up every one and say “I’ll take this one, and this one, and this one”. Some were roaming free and others were in cages but the woman started opening all the doors to let them jump out and play. Matt had the idea that he wanted a white cat or one with white in it since he thought they were pretty, and sitting in a cage were two mixed color cats with white in them. Of the two one was male so he was out, but opening the door I scooped up the female to find her quickly jumping out of my arms and onto the counter. Picking her up a second time she did the same thing.

While I was trying a third time to grab her a few other kitties tried to come in and fill the space this one was leaving open by cuddling and purring and trying to get their faces, bodies, and tails anywhere our hands were moving. These super social cats were a little older than we were looking for but Kim was there to scoop one up give it a little love while we kept looking. In the smaller range (5-7 mo) was a litter of domestic black striped/tiger cats (?). One of the females (I can’t remember her name so I’ll call her Dylan) was also very interested in being pet. After playing with her for a few minutes on the counter I tried scooping her up as well to see how she liked being handled. I couldn’t keep her in my arms very long as at first chance she’d crawl up my shoulder and on my back. I was very fond of her though and as we paraded around to all the other cats in the complex she stayed attached to me the whole time. The other cats were cute but they were all either too big or too old, or even too young. 90% sure that I wanted Dylan I kept putting her on the table and picking her up to try and keep her in my arms, and each time she’d crawl up my shoulder. As we were getting to the point to make the decision, Dylan jumped off and scampered to another table. We went to search after her but she seems to have a twin in her litter and it made picking the right one difficult. With the help of the staff who know the cats much better, we found which one was Dylan and that her twin was Roxie. Thinking I had been carrying Roxie around the whole time though, the assistant raved about her personality, what a great cat she was….and while doing so was holding this cute little kitty in her arms without it trying to climb or run away. Split second decision between Dylan and Roxie I chose Roxie. The paperwork was filled out and even though they desperately tried to get us to adopt a second one as well (for no cost even) we had Roxie in a carrying case and ready to go.

Back in the car I looked at Matt and presumed “We’re not going to keep her name Roxie, are we?”. “Hmmmm,” he thought, “Probably not”. Not that Roxie was a bad name. We just have this thing where we like to name our pets. “What do you want to call her?” I probed, curious to see what he had in mind. “It’s your cat”, he retorted, “You pick a name”. So I went with a name that I had been saving for a child that he’d probably never agree to (Name or child? You’ll never know.) It’s something that’s fit for the Southern Belle of a kitty she is and specific to where we got her. Georgiana. Maserati, Georgiana…what kinds of yuppy names do we give our pets? But we’ll be calling her Georgie for short so any new cruisers that meet her along the way won’t know how stuck up we really are. Georgie took the car ride back very well and even accompanied us in to a quick trip into the pet store where we picked up food, bowls, a collar, toys, and treats. When we got her back to the boat she was eager to explore and even more eager to cuddle. She does this thing that we’ve started to call dive-bomb cuddling where she’ll lunge her head really hard at your hand or neck or face to cuddle with you. She constantly wants to be on your lap and will purr like crazy any time you’re touching her. She wants to be around you so much that if you pick her off your lap and set her to your side she’ll come back again and again and again. I had to do work on the computer with her on me because she just wouldn’t go anywhere else.

So far we are loving the new addition to our crew although Matt did have a small breakdown when he tried to fit all her new belongings (litter box, litter, food) into our already cramped living space. It all worked out though and the love we’ve already received back from Georgie totally outweighs any negatives of space. She always wants to spend time with us, gets excited for guests, and has the cutest little meeew while looking up at you with big saucepan eyes. If you’re ever in southern Georgia or northern Florida I highly recommend going to For The Love of Pets and adopting one of their animals. We’re already trying to talk Rode Trip into going back and getting one as they’re now the only boat in our little armada without a cuddly little feline that brings so much joy. You hear me Brian? Go back and get one. Now!!

Entering the grounds for the shelter.

Cats everywhere!!!

Sorry kitty, you’re just a little too old.

Georgie making herself right at home.

Couldn’t get rid of her if I tried.


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