No kennels for these cruising canines

On those dog days of August, cruising can be very hard work. Chloe and Molly take a break.

July, 2004

By Carol Standish
For Points East

Castine, Maine

Chloe and Molly, the yellow labs who cruise with Pam and Bob Scott, were the inspiration for this volume of Dispatches. In the April issue of Points East, their humans wrote a letter describing the dogs’ extraordinary talent – making GPS obsolete by giving a warning bark at the approach of each navigational aid encountered by their boat.

“The buoy business is totally true,” says Pam Scott. “They can be sound asleep on the deck and not miss one. We had to break them of barking at lobster buoys – there are just too many of them.”

Their unique take on the cruising life suggested further investigation. What else do they do around the boat? Plenty. They climb the steep companionway ladder of their 1936 S&S New York 32. (Molly needs a little boost from behind.) They are highly attuned to the duties of crew and move to the windward side (outside the coaming for better footing) when coming about. They eagerly jump from the dinghy to the deck (with another boost for Molly.)

They love their dinghy very much and spend a great deal of time in it. Bob is concerned that it may be an emotional time when the venerable inflatable needs to be replaced. In the summer, in the harbor, they frequently indulge in “dogsterboat races” with their friends Mac and Maggie – when they can persuade Bob and Paul to run the outboards. “They are quite competitive,” says Bob. In the winter, they get harnessed up as a team of mushers and pull Bob on his cross-country skis – uphill only. Squirrels are the only hazard.

True to their breed, they are quite obsessive about tennis balls and have been known to stop on the way to the store to watch a match, albeit from the wrong side of the fence. And of course they love to swim almost as much as they love mudflats. After a good wallow, they are requested to swim back to the boat, and they oblige with aplomb. Usually they are presentable on arrival – at least in the biased eyes of Pam and Bob.

 

Bucksport, Maine

White-muzzled 10-year-old Rigel, a chocolate Lab, is more of a working dog than Chloe and Molly. He is first officer on the handsome Windhorse, a 38-foot Holland finished by M. L. Pettegrow. Rigel’s human, Philip Rosen, made sure that the cabin was heated because he dives for scallops all winter and Rigel holds down the fort, or rather boat. He has his own bed and his own toys and isn’t bothered by Rosen going over the side.

“He’s been mellow from day one,” says Rosen. The scalloping season ends in April and Rosen makes his summer livelihood chartering the boat and giving “discovery tours.” He has a special exemption from the Department of Marine Fisheries to dive for all types of sea creatures and bring them aboard for the examination and enlightenment of his passengers, then return them to the sea. Rigel is mildly curious about the odd animals on his boat, but since he considers himself human he doesn’t really relate. He also loves to swim – in the pond near his house and in the ocean, but he doesn’t jump in from the boat. “He’s a cautious and sensible guy,” says Rosen. (For pictures of all the exotic animals Rigel has to put up with, as well as a dignified portrait of himself, go to www.windhorseadventures.com.

 

Belfast, Maine

Jessie Raphael Rock-weiler also accompanies her human, lobsterman Tom Ware, to work. She may have an ulterior motive – she loves the taste of the bait. “That can be a problem,” says Ware. “I keep the bait barrel covered and make sure she’s well-fed before we go, but it’s a constant battle.”

Tom and Jessie are sometimes accompanied by Mitsubishi, a registered Siamese who also has a soft spot for lobstering. “He hangs with us,” says Tom. On recreational outings, Ware’s wife, Danna, and her Pekinese from the shelter, Samantha Chin, will ride along – the Rottie on the bow, the Peke standing between her front legs. “They’re best friends and quite a sight,” says Ware “They love the wind.” When the Wares take their 12-foot Herreshoff to the Fourth of July celebration in Camden, just to sail around and see the sights, all four of them – Jessie, Samantha, Danna and Tom – fit quite handily in the little sailboat.

Jessie is Ware’s third Rottweiler. Old age (14 and 16 years) felled the first two, but he’s devoted to the breed. (They are actually water dogs, webbed feet and all.) When Jessie moved in with the Wares she was 10 weeks old and fit in Tom’s hand. “I used to sit her up on the dash of the boat,” he says. “Now, at 11 months, she’s as big as the dash.”

 

Kennebunkport, Maine

Diego is probably the most well traveled dog in this group, and in a mix of mediums at that. Ever since puppyhood he’s been on the road or in the air or on the water. A black lab mix from the local shelter, this youngster spent his early days at Meadow Glenn Inn and Cottages in a leafy and secluded part of the bustling resort town. At six months, he was bundled into a transcontinental jet and flown to San Diego, where his humans, Stephanie Thayer and John Redmond, spend part of the winter on their 1963 Islander 32 Satori at Driscoll’s Mission Bay.

“He was terrific,” says Redmond. “Loved the boat. He’d lie on the bow and watch everybody. He was trained not to leave until invited. Underway, he prefers the cockpit. At night he has his own quarter-berth.”

Come midwinter, the couple heads for Florida, another big air trip for the pup and more water when he arrives, but this time it’s aboard an inflatable. “Diego stands right up on the bow, sort of like a hood ornament,” says Redmond. Just as the weather starts getting a little wilting, Steph and John and Diego head back to Maine by car to open the inn. “Diego stared out the window the whole trip,” he says. When there’s a minute during their busy summer, Diego will ride up and down the Kennebunk River in the Maine dinghy, looking like a hood ornament.

 

Kennebunkport and Kittery, Maine

Maine coast cruising buddies for 25 years, the Morris and Spottiswoode families wouldn’t leave the dock without their dogs. Lia, a Portuguese Water Dog, cruises on Interlude, the Morrises’ 48-foot Californian that also serves as a summer live-aboard. Cash, a lab-golden mix, lives aboard the Spottiswoodes’ 60-foot cruiser, Latitudes, at Badger’s Island Marina from spring to December.

“Cash is the most incredible swimming dog,” says John Spottiswoode. “He’ll jump off just about anything. He’ll dive after stuff, fetch anything through the waves, over the waves. It’s impossible to keep him out of the water.” Fortunately, at 70 pounds he’s really good when riding in the family kayak. When asked to, he sits perfectly still between the paddler’s legs. “He thinks it’s his own private taxi,” says Spottiswoode.

Lia is more sedate, but not much more. The breed was developed to jump off boats and pull in fishing nets. She’ll jump off Interlude’s swim platform with permission. She climbs the companionway ladder, loves to ride in the dinghy and the kayak, lying down and resting her chin on the forward deck. She’s not enthusiastic about a big sea. And Steve Morris admits that her marina etiquette is a little lacking, but that’s because she’s a boat connoisseur. “She snoops a bit,” he says. At anchor she’s either perched on the bow, trying her best to fall in, or happily curled in the captain’s chair. “She loves the helm,” Morris says.

Boston, Massachusetts

Bruce Teris and Bob Barllargeon cruise on Growler, their 2004 Mainship 34, with Caleb, 14, and Tucker, 5, both Tibetan Terriers – little guys. Perhaps it’s a question of scale, but the dogs think riding in the dinghy is the absolute best, Teris reports. Their favorite trip in their three seasons of cruising has been motoring the length of the Annisquam River in the dinghy. “They took to it right away,” says Teris. “They’ve cruised to Maine, Buzzards Bay, Block Island. In rough weather they get restless and uncomfortable. We take them below and they curl right up.” When not making a great sea voyage, they enjoy the many amenities available on the docks of Constitution Marina.