One of the things about having a cat on a sailboat is that the cat may not always stay aboard. If Captain falls off, he needs to know how to get back on, ideally without someone having to dive in after him. Unfortunately, you can’t exactly give him the lecture version.
We’d bought a strip of carpet to use as a cat ladder before we left, but the water on the ICW didn’t exactly look inviting, so we’d skipped the part where we teach him to use it. But as we headed south along the coast of Eleuthera to Governor’s Harbor (after a stop at the Glass Window Bridge:
), we found clear, flat water at Holmes Bay, and we knew it was time. We started by trying to get him to climb the carpet on the deck, by putting treats at progressively higher parts. He showed off his jumping skills, but didn’t really grasp what we were going for.
OK, then: trial by water it is. I strapped on body armor (because claws) and hopped in the water to play guide, and Jazz did the heart-wrenching part. She tossed him over, turned around to get the camera (we’ve got to capture these special moments), and he was already halfway up the swim ladder. At least we don’t have to worry about his swimming – the guy can really move in the water! He climbed up right next to the carpet strip, but not using it, and in trying to nudge him the right direction, I ended up giving him a boost. That’s not going to cut it: he needs to be able to find his own way up, so back in the water he went. On take two, he went for the swim platform. Better than nothing, but also a dead end:
He went in two more times. Once, he tried to swim forward under the hulls, and I pulled him back and set him on the carpet. He abandoned the carpet for that rope-wrapped swim ladder. We threw him again, and again he tried to climb like a human. His claws should be able to grab the carpet easily, but he’s just not interested. Clearly we have to figure out another way to teach him, or maybe a different cat ladder – a terry towel, maybe? Suggestions welcome. Anyway, we washed off the salt and dried him off, and he gave himself another bath, then sulked and watched the sunset, wishing he had gotten reasonable humans.