A cat’s-eye view of the cruising experience

Sailing South ‘til the Butter Melts
As told to the author LeCain W. Smith by the Sea Cat Chowder

August 2021

Review by J. Albert Mann

For Points East

Written from the point of view of a large, fluffy cat, Sailing South is the first book in a three-part series recounting the adventures of Chowder the sea cat. We first meet Chowder curled up in a warm and cozy cabin on the coast of Washington near the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Thankfully for the reader, this is not where she stays.

Chowder finds herself aboard Perelandra, a 43-foot sailboat built by our narrator’s owner “Lee” (Captain LeCain). Lee, writing as his cat, gives us the first leg of an exciting sailing voyage as he, First Mate Sheila, and their sea cat circumnavigate the world. Chowder is an earnest and curious girl whose voice is both sincere and engaging. Like any good sailor, Chowder begins her tale with a boat (not yet built), and then guides us through practicing her sea legs, the exciting moment where hull meets water, a first cruise, and then finally…into the wild blue. When our courageous, but cautious heroine wonders where they’re going, First Mate Sheila responds “they’re sailing south ‘til the butter melts.” And so…Chowder’s journey begins.

The crew takes us from Washington, along California, down the Baja coast, on to Costa Rica, through the “Sweet Gulf” to Panama, across the tropical convergence zone and more. Meanwhile, the crew stops to throw a line in, see some sights, and engage in a few adventures big and small along the way. Chowder explains that all she needs is “good fresh food, some playful activity, and cozy place to sleep.” She ends with a lot more; dolphins, cockroaches, lightning storms, and of course the requisite fall in the drink.

“So many amazing things happened to me that I feel compelled to share them.”

Yes, Chowder. Amazing! I’d also add, absolutely charming. This sea cat’s story had me on a reach. Looking forward to pulling up anchor with Chowder, Captain Lee, and First Mate Sheila again very soon.