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.


Roger and Karen Montembeault said...

Outstanding blog entry - way too funny!!
Puppies - how many smiles and laughs they bring to us!!!!

Dave Gibson said...

Nice one. It made me smile.

Mike, Linda and Jake said...

Oh, the joys of raising a puppy!

Unknown said...

FYI, I bought a 3-pack of those buoy chew toys for my dog and my in-laws dogs, and they are not ready for prime time. Even my dog (a 1-year old Scottie) was able to chew off chunks of the hard rubber, which if swallowed would pose a serious health threat by obstructing the dog's digestive tract. I returned these toys to the retailer, who was gracious enough to refund the purchase price, but I still see them for sale on many web sites. I would avoid them in favor of real hard rubber chew toys or rope toys that disintegrate rather than chunk off in dangerous pieces. Best of luck and keep working on Dee Dee!

Unknown said...

Karen & Jeff,
One of your first AC members is my Captain, Rip Tyler. Great posts! I will be following and taking note of tips as we will be introducing our 1 1/2 year old yellow lab Cally to the Monk 36 we just bought.
Question - I don't recognize the harness on either dog. I can see one says KONG. They look stronger and better fitting than what Cally is using now. If you don't mind - what are they?
Beth Tyler

Kidworksz71 said...

I saw you tied up in my hometown this past week. Hopefully they treated you well and that you enjoyed your time here. I rode by on my bike and heard the puppies barking, but did not see you. Enjoy your time on the Great Lakes and I look forward to following along with you!

Leigh said...

Beth - We purchased KONG harnesses for both of our dogs before moving aboard last year, after I stumbled across a post Karen did here on them (and I've been a fan of the blog ever since!).

When we started cruising we had a 60-pound Border Collie. She had a rather long, skinny chest shape and we found the harness didn't fit her perfectly (it tended to "ride up" a bit). But still it was so handy, and alleviated my fears that she would choke if it got caught up on something (versus a traditional collar). Also, she was an old gal (we lost her just a few months after moving aboard), and the handle on the top of the harness gave us a good gripping point when we had to help her navigate boat boardings, steep, steps, etc.

We still have our small, 12-pound mutt aboard and her KONG harness fits her perfectly. She has fallen out of the dinghy a time or two, and the handle on top made it super easy for me to just reach down and grab her and pull her back in. And again, if she does fall off a dock while on-leash, or gets hung up in any other way, the harness presents a drastically reduced choking hazard.

Both of our dogs were completely comfortable in their harnesses. We gave Skyler's harness away to another boat dog after she passed, but Pepper's is still holding up great after a year of use and abuse in the marine environment (just a little rust on the metal leash-attachment) loop.

Net/net - these have worked great for our dogs and lifestyle, and I highly recommend them!


Unknown said...

Leigh, thank you. Our 75lb yellow lab wears a harness now and is very comfortable in it, but i think the king one looks even sturdier. Will investigate.