Saturday, August 17, 2013


Anyone who has been to sea knows that it's critical to the proper running of a vessel that all crew members know and can properly execute their duties. That is no different here on aCappella. In our early cruises we managed with just a First Mate.

Tucker was our first First Mate and performed his duties to the highest level. He loved his job and packed so much into his far too few years.

Dyna was our next First Mate. She was equally capable but with a bit more attitude. She made sure we knew how lucky we were she had taken on the position.

Dylan came onboard as Second Mate and learned his place with much enthusiasm, often filling the First Mate position when Dyna had more important things to do. This allowed him to quickly step in when Dyna's position became honorary in her retirement years.

Today Dylan is a full fledged First Mate extraordinaire. Dee Dee has been brought onboard as a Third Mate. The Third Mate position is a probationary one. It's for crew members unable to fulfill the requirements of a Second Mate, who must be able to step in as First Mate if needed. There's a lot of work left to do...

MV aCappella First Mate Job Description

1.  The First Mate must assist the Captain on the flybridge in all close maneuvers such as docking and undocking. This requires ascending and descending the 7 stairs to the flybridge unattended and on command.

While Dee Dee has mastered ascending the 4 stairs from the salon to the pilothouse, she is unable to descend and has 3 more stairs to master. As for the "on command" part? Well it only happens right now if there is food involved.

2.  The First Mate must assist the Captain at the helm whether piloting from the flybridge or the pilothouse. They must provide companionship without causing a disturbance and must lie down on command.

Dee Dee loves taking the First Mate position under the helm whenever she can and is usually lulled to sleep when we are underway. But there is still the issue of the flybridge stairs and that "on command" thing.

3.  The First Mate must accompany the Captain on the bi-hourly Around the Block tour. This requires being able to descend the stairs from the pilothouse to the salon, use the step-stool to look over the side to check the fuel vents, and ascending the very steep outside stairs, all unaided.

Dee Dee fails on all counts here today.

4.  The First Mate must be able to get on and off the pilothouse settee unaided and on command while underway.

Dee Dee has manged to ascend to the settee using the step below but must still be lifted back down. And then there's that "on command" thing again.

5.  The First Mate must be able to be left uncrated and unattended for a minimum of one hour without destruction of the boat and items contained on the boat that are not Dee Dee toys.

Dee Dee is still of the belief that if she can reach it, it is a Dee Dee toy despite our best efforts.

Big Blue Bone - Dee Dee toy

Daddy's shoe - Not a Dee Dee toy

Pink Flamingo - Dee Dee toy

Mommy's computer cable - Not a Dee Dee toy

Striped Buoy - Dee Dee toy

Water hose - Not a Dee Dee toy

6.  The First Mate must successfully meet other criteria including never standing with paws on the bow caprail especially when underway, completing a minimum of 5 dinghy passages without going overboard, being able to independently spy dolphins, and other tasks as may be defined in the future.

Dee Dee still leans out on the bow when given the chance causing us to fear that she might be the first of our Mates requiring a man-overboard operation. We have some time before we will be spying dolphins again so this requirement is being relaxed to include other forms of wildlife.

Dylan certainly has his work cut out for him bringing this crew member into line.  Will he succeed? I guess we'll find out.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Navigating the Erie Canal

We left Shady Harbor Marina on July 19th to begin our much delayed trip through the Erie Canal with our two crew mates. Dylan had thousands of miles under his harness although only minor experience in locks. Dee Dee was a newbie but ready to learn the ropes from the first mate.

She quickly learned one of the most important functions of being a member of the canine crew.

We've had to make a few minor modifications including protecting the shoes on the cockpit from puppy teeth. Note, we raise them a rung or so every week as Dee Dee continues to grow like a weed.

The pilothouse trashcan has been moved to the helm table.

Dee Dee is still learning that a dog bed is for sleeping in and not tearing the bottom out of.

Dylan has taken her under his wing but reminds her that the first mate spot below the helm still belongs to him. Well, mostly.

Thus far we have traveled through 31 locks and risen over 450 feet.

And as for those low bridges, this crew hardly bats an eye anymore.

Yes, the scenery is beautiful and the cruising is peaceful and easy. But what has been the best part is the many towns we have visited and the people we have met. In most every stop we make we are warmly greeted and told about what to see and events that are happening. We've had mayors grab our lines and while we haven't received the keys to any cities, we've been given peppermint oil and fresh veggies, and local maple syrup, and even Frisbees for the four-footed crew members.

Dee Dee attended her first concert on the green in Lyons.

Quickly followed by a second one we enjoyed from our cockpit in Newark.

She also received her final puppy shots from a vet we walked to from the Newark docks.

They're a hard working crew and we don't know how we'd get along without them. We do grueling days of 1, 2, sometimes 3 hours of cruising. It's a quick rest when they get in and then they have to perform on the bow for the local admirers.

It's a hard life...