Pets & Storms

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2012 • all rights reserved

Paz found her own “safe spot” on the laundry under the V-berth, but we didn’t always agree that was the safest spot for her!

I’ve written a fair amount about weathering tropical storms and hurricanes, and also about boat dogs.  Here’s where they converge . . .

I wanted to post up a couple of reminders for any time you’re preparing for a storm or even a rough patch of water, such as a bar entrance or a “boisterous sail.”

  • Make sure there is a safe place for your pet, both as you are prepping the boat and when it’s “rocking and rolling.”  Watch out for stuff stacked on tables and settees — even temporarily — that could slide off and cause injury if the boat rolls.  A 10-pound dog or cat is no match for the main off a 37-foot boat!
  • If you are going to be ashore during the storm, take your pet with you.  Make sure it is allowed where you’ll be or make alternative arrangements.  If you don’t think it’s safe to be aboard during the storm, why should your pet stay there?  They are even less able to help themselves if something goes wrong.
  • If you have a cat that likes to hide, find him/her well before the storm hits and put them in their carrier so that you’ll be able to take them when/if you leave (yes, it’s possible that conditions will force you to leave when you didn’t plan to . . . and you wouldn’t want to leave your best friend behind).
  • For dogs, make sure that their life jacket is readily at hand.  Ditto for the leash.  A harness is much better than just a collar in bad weather.
  • If you’re planning to go ashore “for the duration,” be sure to take food, water and dishes for your pet.  If you’re planning to stay aboard, make sure you have supplies for the pet in your ditch bag.  Just as you need to have any daily medications for yourself accessible, make sure any for your pet are where you can get to them.
  • If you don’t already know the best seasickness preventive for your pet, find out from your vet and have the supplies on hand.  Check with your vet, but it’s generally better to give them early than wait until the pet is sick.  If they become dehydrated from sickness, use the same rehydration drink or Gatorade that you’d take.

When we crossed the bar into Bahia del Sol, El Salvador, we surfed (!) a very heavy Tayana 37 through the breaking seas.  A few days before, a couple of other boats had broached going through.  To make sure that Paz — then weighing only 5 pounds — stayed safe while we were both on deck (Dave steering, me on the radio with the pilot), we taped thick towels around every protrustion in the head, then piled all our pillows on the floor in there.  It was the smallest enclosed area we had on the boat, and we put Paz in there in her life jacket (as padding, not that we thought the boat would go down) and shut the door.  She barked, but we knew she was safe (we didn’t broach or have any other problems).

Every boat, every situation and every pet is different.  But don’t forget to plan for your furry friends — they can’t do it for themselves.

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Comments

  1. WOW! Thank you for the great tips and advice! I will get my crew to read this. I just realised you live on a tayana 37 like me! I love our Nocturne she makes me feel very safe.

  2. Hey Bailey! Do you have any tips that people with boat cats should know? Where’s your favorite place when the boat gets rocking & rolling?

  3. Just a couple of things we’ve done to keep our Brit Spaniel, Becky, safe on board in rough weather or when cruising:
    1. netting on our lifelines (dogs can’t grab handholds!)
    2. A tight-fitting nylon harness that goes around and under the chest. The harness has a large D-ring/strap sewn on top for grabbing and also a water-activated small personal strobe light also sewn on top in case she goes overboard at night
    3. A short tether line with snap shackle at both ends is also attached to the chest harness. When our sea-dog has to do her business up front on the artificial grass, we just clip her into the jack-lines running along the side-decks, tell her “go pee” and up she goes and back again afterwards all on her own. This shackle system works even in rough weather
    4 for what it is worth, our dog is happier in rough weather if she can be top-side and can see what is going on. If down below in rough seas she seems more bothered by the clanking, banging etc
    5. We also have pad-eyes in the cockpit where we also sometime clip her in on her tether-harness
    6. When docking, or crossing a bar or anytime when things might get exciting on short notice we as a rule don’t want to have to worry about her or her getting underfoot so she gets shut down below
    7. We found that on-board we struggled with the problem of keeping her hydrated while not continually knocking over or spilling her water-bowl. The perfect solution is a “WATER-HOLE BOWL” which is a travel waterbowl which comes with a partial lid which stops most spills but still let’s the pet drink. We also use this bowl when traveling long distances in the car (as in driving to Mexico from Calgary, Alberta)
    8.only problem we haven’t yet solved is how to deal with the Mexican and Central American crocodiles that are always hanging around near our boat in Marinas looking for a tasty ‘hot dog’
    Anyhow that’s what we do – might be of some help to other sea-dog owners — we enjoy your website

    Fair Winds
    John (Wannabesailing)
    MOPION
    Gozzard 36

  4. I’m still learning and preparing to go cruising! We are experimenting with alternatives to cat litter atm because this is the biggest problem. (Along with the moans about my uhum…furloss!) I like to tuck myself in to the smallest possible place when we get underway. I’m not too fussy as long as I can brace myself against something.

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