Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dee Dee Finally Gets It (dolphin excitement)

You don't have to be a longtime follower of TakingPaws to know that Dylan loves dolphins. Back in December when Garmin was onboard Dee Dee had her first real dolphin experience. But even then she was way more focused on Dylan and our guests (especially Joe). She simply reacted to their reactions.

We left Sarasota and spent a night in Venice at Crows Nest Marina Restaurant (great meal!) and then headed out the inlet to our Seatrout Flats anchorage near Cayo Costa State Park/Useppa Island before heading on to Pink Shell Resort Marina at Ft Myers Beach. Soon after leaving the anchorage we were surrounded by a pod of leaping dolphins. This time the lightbulb went off in Dee Dee's little brain and she finally understood what all the excitement was all about.

She ran to the cockpit and tried to climb up and over, or so it seemed. She cried and whimpered. When we finally brought them back in she used her door lever skills to let herself back out. This is causing us to keep the doors locked when we are underway - we can't have her going outside without knowing about it. We keep the keys in each door for our safety.

Lucky Dylan now has a partner in crime when it comes to dolphin hunting. Both of them are stationed at the door ready to leap into action should the dolphin threat reappear. Homeland Security should have such a dedicated crew.

Monday, February 24, 2014


Much of the charm of cruising is getting to see so many interesting places. Pretty much every stop we make has something special, different, or interesting. But all of this moving around does have a downside as well. It takes time to plan the routes (Jeff's job), keep the boat well provisioned (my job), and physically move the boat from place to place, all while keeping up with ActiveCaptain (both our jobs). Wait, I don't see what the kids' job is....

So, every so often we like to pause for a spell to get caught up on things and take a mental and physical break. We pick our lingering place based on a variety of criteria and it is rarely the same from one time to the next. But always we factor in how Dylan and Dee Dee will like it.

This cruise we chose to spend a month in Sarasota. It's a place we had heard a lot about. It's very dog friendly. It was a good spot for Jeff to drive to the Miami Boat Show, while I stayed home with the kids - the floating docks at Marina Jack made that easy. But probably the biggest reason was there's a nice Castine contingent who have chosen to winter in Sarasota. We've had such a great time, it's hard to imagine it is coming to an end.

It is not possible for anyone to claim they are bored in Sarasota as there are numerous restaurants, shops, theaters and galleries, parks and wonderful walkways, all of which are just steps from the boat.

As for the kids, they've loved it. There are dogs everywhere, on the docks, in the restaurants, along each of their favorite walking tours. I think Dee Dee may have doubled her number of dogs friends. In our time here we've even named their three favorite walking routes.

There's the "Art Walk," a path running south along the water lined with a seasonal display of sculpture. It gives the kids a bit of culture.

The "Dolphin Walk" (Dylan's favorite) which circles through a park that has a dolphin fountain looking out over the water.

And the "Point Walk," a wide walkway that circles through Golden Gate Point to the north and takes us past the "Kissing Statue."

Staying for a spell has also allowed the non-canine crew to enjoy some sites. There was the Ringling estate which included the circus museum. Fun!

I even found some wheels I thought we would be able to fit on the boat.

We enjoyed a day at Myakka River State Park which was teaming with alligators. Dogs are permitted but not recommended. We left the kids home even though Dylan thought it would be a good learning experience for Dee Dee...

Selby Botanical Gardens was just a short walk away (thank you, Doug). And we did mange to visit just a few restaurants, do a bit of shopping, and never missed the terrific Saturday Farmer's Market.

The last week here we were joined by more Castine friends, Bill and Sheila, who arrived on Spray with their canine crew, Rigs and Katie. Then Dylan's long lost love, Tillie, along with Derby, arrived on Quest with their crew Mary and Duane. That was a few days of fun filled walks.

But alas we have been here a month and it is really time to move on. Castine friends and now winter Sarasota residents, Alex and Jeryl arranged a huge send off. But unlike many goodbyes when we're not sure where or when we will meet up again, we can look forward to seeing everyone in Maine this summer.

We know this will be a stop we will be making again and again. So what do the kids think? Just check out Dylan's smile.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Where Do They...

TakingPaws has a great following of dog owners, dog lovers, cruising dogs, and dogs who want to cruise. We hear from them on the blog, via email, and, best of all for the kids, in person when they stop by to say hello. We answer a lot of questions about living the cruising lifestyle with two (big) dogs. We love talking about our canine crew and couldn't imagine living this life without them.

The most common questions we get starts with, "Where do they..." Number one is, "Where do they go (or do their business)?" That's one we've addressed numerous times including in an article we have on the ActiveCaptain website:

The next most common question is, "Where do they exercise?" Making sure the canine crew gets a daily workout is an important consideration on aCappella. In fact, if you look at the first item under the Services tab of an ActiveCaptain marina marker you will see it is "Pets." Finding a place Dylan and Dee Dee can walk, run, and play is always a high priority when we plan our stops. And while onboard they often turn the bow into their private dog park.

The third most common question is one that impacts the whole crew, "Where do they sleep?" Their followers wonder if we have two dog beds on board or maybe just one large one, and don't they take up a lot of room?

The answer is they pretty much sleep wherever they want. At night that means they sleep on the bed in the master stateroom. Oh, they allow us to share their bed and even leave us a little space, well, usually.

Now recently I was asked if there was anything I missed from our land-based home, also known as our house. That's easy. My dishwasher - I know that a dishwasher could be put on the boat but I would have to give up too much space for it. The second thing I miss is our king-size bed. Ah, to stretch out and still have covers. Now I'm pretty sure that Dee Dee doesn't remember the king-size bed but come summer, she'll find out what it's like to stretch out without someone pushing back. I'd say we all have something to look forward to when we get back to Maine.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Clever Dog?

This is one of my all time favorite cartoons - ever. If you've ever owned a dog and left them for even 5 minutes, then you are well aware of the "look" and know they would follow you if they could.

We calculated that we've had approximately 17 years of dog experience onboard before we got Dee Dee. In all that time, not one dog had figured out the mysterious door handles on our boats. They never even got close.

Then came Dee Dee.

Somewhere around 4 or 5 months old she managed to pull the lever and escape to the cockpit. I'm pretty sure the first few times were accidental. But over time she has refined this skill to an art and can open the door anytime at will. Goofy Dylan simply stands behind her and waits for the Great Escape.

So now we have to lock the door from the inside if we don't want them running out. It works pretty well but it's kind of a pain.

Yesterday Dee Dee had another vet appointment to deal with another ear infection. We think it's allergy related but that's a different story. After multiple infections she has gotten a bit sensitive to having anyone peer into her ear - and that's an understatement!

Jeryl and Alex, friends from Castine who winter in Sarasota, graciously loaned us a car to take her. We decided to walk her the approximate half mile to tire her out a bit before the appointment. It worked as she was the best she's ever been at a vet appointment.

After another walk back to the marina we decided she was walked out but we still needed to give Dylan his exercise time. So Jeff took him for a one-on-one walk. Needless to say, Dee Dee was not pleased and immediately opened the cockpit door which I immediately locked. Miss Devil stood in the salon for a moment thinking (yes, I know she was thinking) and ran for the port side pilothouse door which was still locked giving me time to run and lock the starboard side door.

Now I admit that the lever handles onboard aCappella are not as complex as a normal round doorknob. And I'm pretty sure (I think) that she couldn't open an actual doorknob. But this little girl is actually thinking a few steps ahead. What in the world are we going to do with this clever girl?