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.