Velella's Drift

An account of Velella's voyage from Seattle to New York via Panama, 2009-2011

We’re having a baby

Don’t freak out, not a human one.

But I’ve decided it’s time for me to have a baby. That’s what my body keeps telling me and there’s nothing I can do about it. But clearly that would ruin pretty much everything, and we’d be obliged to dismiss the sailing voyage in favor of a shotgun wedding, so I’ll backburner it for another few years. But I’ve been realizing lately, in a very hormonal fashion, how much I need to mother something.

Giving away Nuala to my parents was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, and I miss her so much that I called in tears to Skype with her last week. She was just sleeping on the couch, happy as could be, having dog dreams. And I know it was the right decision to let her go live in my parents’ huge back yard, because a boat is no place for an energetic adult dog.

Cats, on the other hand, are made for boats, and there’s a long history of nautical kittens. Juliette and Suzette on Dove, and Tarzoon on Varuna are my more recent favorites. Prescott and I tend to want to live our lives like a book, so at first we decided to rescue a Mexican kitten out of a basket in an alleyway. We would name him Pedro, and he would be spunky. It would make for a good story.

However, I started doing my research and decided that, although romantic, that would not be wise, because kittens in Mexican alleyways have like a 90% chance of having some weird disease or worms or something.  And I also learned that LA has an enormous cat problem, and kitten rescue is very important here. I adopted Nuala from the humane society, and I like the idea of getting a rescued cat too–not to mention that they come spayed with all shots, dewormed, etc.

I could train the cat to use the ship’s head. I worked with a cat trainer on a book once and it’s totally possible to do this but takes some work. (Only problem with that is that we’d have to leave the door open all the time so it could get in and out, which probably wouldn’t work at sea. Plus, cats might be able to perch on a toilet seat in a house, but when the boat’s banging around at sea, what if it fell in??) Plan B is more sensible–find a place for a litter box. We have a wet locker (ie it drains into the bilge) behind the nav station. The locker is about 3.5 feet tall, 8 inches wide, and the door is removable. I’m planning to build a litter box that fits in the bottom of that locker, and line the walls with old carpet for scratching. The other perk about this location is that it’s low and along the centerline of the boat, so it moves very little even when the boat is in motion. See, I’ve thought about this.

Prescott is more rational than I am, naturally, but he seems surprisingly unopposed to the idea. We’re going to a kitten adoption this weekend, where there’s a tiny grey fluffy one I want to hold. She looks like a cloud–maybe we’ll call her Seattle. Or Pacifica.

Before you condemn this idea, consider why this makes sense:

Boat kitten can curl up in our laps and keep us company on solo night watches.
Boat kitten can be transfixed by the waves spashing the side of the boat.
Boat kitten can climb up on shelves and stick her head through windows.
Boat kitten can ride in the dinghy with us.
Boat kitten can purr next to us in the v-berth at night.
Boat kitten can make sure we never get rats!
Boat kitten can make us laugh and be our company when we’re sick of talking to each other.
Boat kitten will side with Prescott about throwing a line out for tuna, every time.
Boat kitten can have her own hammock because that would be funny and she’d really like it.
Boat kitten can learn tricks, like maybe “salute,” for the entertainment of our guests.
Boat kitten will be the favorite visitor in every anchorage.
Boat kitten will be funny when the salt spray hits her. Then she can be wrapped in a towel so just her nose pokes out.
Boat kitten will be another thing to take pictures of when there’s nothing else to photograph at sea.
Boat kitten will probably do something about cockroaches too.
Boat kitten will be curious about Prescott’s engine projects but not my woodworking.
Boat kitten will play with the ends of lines and fall asleep on coils of rope.
Boat kitten should probably be a few months old when we leave, so maybe we should get her now.
What do you think???


  Jessica wrote @

I think that this is the funniest thing I have read all week. I LOL’d, for reals. Boat kitten simply must become a reality.

  webecomeus wrote @

Boat kitten sounds perfectly wonderful. I can’t wait to meet him/her when I come visit!

  Brook wrote @

I can tell you haven’t given this much thought! 😉
Looking forward to “The Adventures of Boat Kitten”

  janice reid wrote @

Sounds like fun. I think yes!

  kathy cleary wrote @

couldn’t you name her “hobie”?

  Papa wrote @

I just hope boatkat adopts you too… ( you do know that cats think they own the place, and that they put up with the people around them… if/when they feel like it )

I’m sure a cat will add a whole new and generally positive dimension to the voyage of Velella.

Have you looked into foreign port entry issues? (could be an administratve hassle, but I don’t think it’s a show-stopper. I think it just requires current shots & health record/documents )

I only hope you find a cat that’s as sweet as Nuala (who’s sleeping comfotably in the late winter afternoon sun out on the deck )

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