In which Scourge-of-the-Sea goes for a swim and doesn’t like it one bit
I used to live on a sailboat. I am a 16 year old cat, long, lanky, and orange, with the beginnings of grey showing around my ears and whiskers. I have lived in many places in my long life, all (except for the very first bit, which I don’t remember very well) with my family of humans. The story I’m going to tell you is from my time on the boat.
We had already come a great distance and seen a great many things. We had been in cold weather, hot weather, dry weather, wet weather, calm seas, and rough seas. No matter what the conditions, I always wore a harness on the boat. My humans – two big ones (one with a beard) and two small ones who did a lot of shouting and running around – made sure my harness was clipped to something secure on the boat whenever I was above decks.
I didn’t mind living on a boat, but I really hated the sound of the engine, and, truth be told, I wasn’t keen on the whole ‘“waves” thing at all. I was happiest when we were still and my humans were paying attention to me. But one day, the boat was very, very still and none of the humans were aboard. It was getting quite hot below decks, and I discovered that there was an open hatch. Technically, I wasn’t allowed up there without my tether, but it was very tempting to climb up and take a nap under the small inflatable kayak. And, well, I’ve never been one to resist temptation, especially when the temptation involves a nap.
It must have been a very good nap, because even though I heard the bearded human calling, I ignored him, and when I awoke again, it was dark outside. I wandered around above decks and looked over the edge of the boat. What I saw there was very surprising; there was another cat looking up at me out of the ground, which was smooth and strangely shiny. I reached out to him, and he reached out to me. I decided to go say hello. I thought, “I’ll just step down to that shiny surface.” But instead of landing on the shiny ground, my paws went through it!
Before I knew what had happened, I was in water! It was cold and wet, and I was very scared! I started struggling in the water, flailing my paws around to try to keep from sinking down into the dark. Though I’m definitely not a swimmer, I was managing to keep my head above water as I drifted towards the stern of the boat. But I couldn’t get back to my nice safe boat, nor could I reach the dock, just a couple of tail-lengths away! It was all I could do to stay afloat.
But then, just as I started to feel the cold of the water slowing my movements, I saw the bearded man appear, looking over the edge of the ship at me. I was so glad to see him! He disappeared for a moment, and returned shortly with the butterfly net that the small humans used for catching minnows. Did I look like a fish to him? I think not!
I kept drifting, and when I got to the stern, he was able to scoop me out of the water. What a relief! I must have looked awful with my fur all plastered to my body. Very undignified! But did he dry me off or let me lick myself clean? NO! He put me in the sink and ran fresh water over me (which, as far as I was concerned, only added insult to injury). Then, finally, he towelled me dry and left me to finish up.
By the next day when the rest of the humans returned to the boat, I had fully recovered from my harrowing experience. The humans seemed to think it all very funny once they got over their relief that I had not been lost at sea. Personally, I don’t wonder that my fur is going grey!