Jonathan and I have been traveling the world together for a few years now, and for most of that, it has just been the two of us, aside from the occasional family or friend visiting from home.
Having spent almost over 8 months preparing the boat to start sailing in the Caribbean, plus some extra delays courtesy of Hurricane Irma and a month-long trip to Europe, we started to feel like we had a place we could call our own.
Not long before Christmas, a British-Bermudan sailing couple from S/V Aeeshah (read their blog! Love their adventures!) moved onto the mooring ball next to us, with a huge cat called Chico who they had adopted from a shelter on one of the islands they sailed to. Seeing how much Chico loved the boat life - sunning himself on deck, climbing the boom and watching all the dinghies and birds go by - we started talking about having our little addition to our sailing life.
On Boxing Day (December 26) morning jumped in the car, a Mazda 3 Grand Touring we were using for a week and drove to the Florida Keys SPCA shelter to see if they had any kittens in need of a good home.
While there are way more adult cats than kittens in need of a new home, a younger kitten would find it much easier to adapt to boat life than a cat that had spent all of its life on land.
As soon as we walked in the door we were greeted by a “meow!” and we turned to see two little eyes in the face of bright orange fur looking straight at us! Right away Jonathan said, “That looks just like our cat when I was a kid, Tim!” With that, the decision was already made. We processed the adoption paperwork and took our new kitten home a few hours later, with his new name, Captain Ahab!
Ahab took to the boat life immediately, treating the mast, boom, and rigging like his 37-foot climbing frame. Within a week we took him for his first sail in 15mph winds and choppy seas, which wasn’t a little rough for his first trip but he found himself a little space to curl up in and didn’t seem phased by the experience!
Of course, we already knew that having a pet on board with us would bring some extra challenges to sailing life, in particular, the animal import laws of each country we plan to visit, starting with the Bahamas.
That’s right, our cute little kitten was going to need his own ‘pet passport,’ health certificates and travel permits for each separate country we take him too. So we now have a small child on board but without the need for nappies (diapers), less crying and in our opinion a lot cuter too! It looked like we had some paperwork to get our heads around, but luckily our friends and fellow sailors in Boot Key Harbour, Carolyn and Dave of The Boat Galley, have all the experience and the know-how you need in one of their articles.
The first job was to arrange for Captain Ahab to have all of his check-ups and vaccinations at a local vet, including his Rabies vaccination which is the most important of all when entering a new country.
So Captain Ahab had his first dinghy ride since we brought him to the boat, with his head sticking out of his carrier, keenly watching everything going on around him.
We drove him in the Mazda to the local vet to make all of his vaccinations and to set another appointment. From there we then had to apply online for his Bahamas Animal Import Permit, which with some gentle persuasion via email arrived in about two weeks. Now all that’s left is to go back to the vet to finalize his health certificate and we’ll be good to go!
Just look at these pictures of Captain Ahab exploring his new boat!
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