April 4, 2015

Before we started on this sailing adventure, Cindy and I made a decision that we had numerous times sworn to each other we would never make; we decided to get a dog. I never had a dog growing up; my dad was not a fan of animals living in the house. The best we could manage under his roof was a couple of pet parakeets. After I moved out on my own, I became a cat lover, cats being a handy pet for a single guy who didn’t want to be tied down to regularly scheduled walkings and feedings. Cindy had owned several dogs growing up, but again the literal care and feeding of a dog compared with the relative independence of our two cats had us both convinced there was no dog in our future.

However, as I talked about in a previous post, once we started visiting the Jekyll Harbor Marina on a regular basis, we got to know the four legged denizens of our dock and fell in love with them. Cindy especially swooned over Pearl Ann, a little Yorkie who firmly believes she owns the dock. We talked extensively with our fellow boaters about the finer points of sailing with dogs and within a year were the proud parents of Missy, our now 8 pound Yorkie.

Missy Ice Cream

Share Your Ice Cream, Mama!

Both Cindy and I are introverts at heart and left on our own devices can be given to bouts of hermitism. Missy on the other hand is a veritable social gadfly. She rushes to the front of the boat every time someone walks by, her ears submissively flopped back and her little nub wagging ninety-to-nothing. She strains out over the edge of the boat trying to lick them and hoping to get loved on, something she succeeds at 90% of the time. By virtue of our relationship with Missy, we end up getting drawn in to her social circle.

This evening as Cindy and I were sitting in the salon, a gentleman and two ladies walked by and were immediately drawn in by Missy’s happy dance, loving on her and baby talking her. After a while I went out on deck and started chatting with the guy whose name was Jeff. I found out that Jeff had been recruited into professional baseball straight out of high school but left after a year to pursue his real passion, skiing. He was a professional skier for many years and recently started a venture capital firm.

Missy Smiling

Missy, Smilin’ That Puppy Smile

I chatted with him about our sailing plans and he was very interested in what we were doing and in seeing our boat. I invited him aboard and gave him the nickle tour and then he, Cindy and I chatted a little more before he excused himself to attend a party on the boat next door. Soon we had an invitation to join the party there so Cindy mixed up a vodka-and-diet-cran-lemonade (her drink of choice) and I grabbed a bottle of 15 year old Guyanese rum and we headed next door to Perfect Alibi.

Alibi is a large luxury power yacht owned by a Hollywood producer who produced (among other films) 1993’s “In The Name of the Father”. The owner wasn’t there and the boat was under the watch of Kevin, the captain and Kevin’s wife, who was the boat’s chief steward. We met several boat captain/crew couples at this party and found out that this arrangement is not at all unusual. The owners of these yachts are seldom on board their boats. One captain told us the owner of his boat is rarely aboard more than a couple of weeks out of the year. The crews move the boat to various locations at the behest of the owners and occasionally the owner’s friends, family or business associates show up but much of the crews’ time is spent just maintaining the boat at the dock and moving it to various locations around the globe.

We found out an interesting factoid from Todd, one of the captains at the party. Todd has a license to captain boats up to 500 gross tons in displacement, however he opted not to get this license through the US Coast Guard. According to Todd, one of consequences of having a Coast Guard license to command a boat that large is that, in time of war, the Coast Guard could pull him in to serve. If the government needs captains to sail merchant vessels during a national emergency and you have a USCG large boat captain’s license, you can get shanghaied into service. Something important to know before you decide to get your large boat license!

Another one of the guests at the party was Ben, who is on the reality TV show Below Deck. This show, which runs on Bravo, follows the lives of the people who staff the private yachts of the rich and famous. Cindy and I have not seen the show but I do recall seeing ads for it. Ben is the yacht chef on the show and has been cheffing on yachts for many years. He apprenticed at The Fat Duck, chef Heston Blumenthal’s 3-Michelin star restaurant in Bray, UK, so he’s got some serious culinary credentials. According to Ben, while the stars are all real yacht crew, the boat they are working on in the show is chartered by the production company for the series. It would have been great to sample his skills, but we settled for some really good pizza that Ben and Jeff picked up using Perfect Alibi’s dinghy.

Missy Bird

Missy with One of Her Favorite Toys

A week later we had just finished letting Missy run around in the fenced-in tennis court, our ersatz dog park here at Bahia Mar, and had let her off her leash to run free down our dock. She headed down to the farthest end and started doing her happy dance for a lady who had just stepped off of their boat. Soon we were talking Evin and Anick, dog lovers and the captain and steward for the luxury yacht Lady Pegasus.

Evin and Anick started their nautical careers as working as dive masters. While they were in the British Virgin Islands, they noticed several of the big motor yachts and decided that they wanted to start crewing on some of these big vessels. They have been with Lady Pegasus, their current boat, since the hull was laid down and oversaw the complete outfitting of her interior. Like the other boat crews we met, they maintain the boat and move it around for owners who rarely seem to have the time to be on it.

We were invited on board and enjoyed fine rum and good conversation with Evin, Anick and two of their friends while Missy ran around exploring the boat and charming everyone. One of their friends, whose name I can’t recall and who was, as they say, feeling no pain was even down on all fours at one point playing with her.

Missy has been a wonderful addition to our lives. In addition to acting as our social director, she is our constant companion, always happy to see us, following us around and curling up between us at night to sleep. Neither one of us can imagine our lives without her.

Total Miles Traveled: 377