George Town has been a wonderful place to relax, stock up on a few things but also to prepare for the next leg of our journey. We have had very easy days of sleeping in and very full days of hanging out at the beach, hiking the many trails on Stocking Island and exploring George Town and a good portion of Great Exuma Island.
And all of this has been with our pup Ocean alongside. She has truly made this trip so much more colourful and fun.
When we were planning this journey, so many years ago, we knew we would have our dog with us. We have always sailed with our dog, first Brecken and now Ocean, and they have been nice companions to have along. But easy? Well, having a dog on board means extra gear, extra cleaning (the dog hair is no joke!), extra trips to shore and extra worry about safety and comfort. With this bigger journey, there is also the extra expense and work to meet the requirements for entering a new country. So far, we have only had to enter the USA and the Bahamas (both were easy) but in the next three months we will be entering and exiting several countries as we make our way south to Grenada. Many of these countries require a vet check before arriving and another once we have landed, plus a check on her vaccinations and identification. Plus, a pet permit and, of course, import fees. Yeesh. So, is it worth it? YES!!!
The biggest surprise for us with this journey is how much better it is with Ocean on board. It is incredible to us how many more people, locals and cruisers alike, that we get to meet because of Ocean. She always gets attention. Her size is the biggest draw with locals. They can’t believe such a big dog is so sweet. Add to this her beautiful dark fur and a frisbee, well, it is the rare person that walks by without wanting to meet her. All of this is making her a bit famous. Our first day in George Town, we were strolling down the street and we heard a shout out to “Ocean!” as a local car passed us. Wow, we hadn’t even met anyone on shore yet! Does Ocean enjoy all this attention? She loves it! Meeting people is definitely her jam. She has even started to join in with a good old howl during the evening sundown conch blowing.
A few people have asked some logistical questions about our Ocean girl. So here is the low down on the top five questions:
How does Ocean get her daily exercise? Oh my gosh, this is rarely a problem. She swims, she hikes, she strolls around town. Long sailing days actually end up being necessary rest days for her. Time to catch up on some much-needed sleep!
Where does Ocean do her business when we are on a passage? She has a pee pad at the bow. She uses this for her nightly business and also when we are on a long passage.
How did we get Ocean to pee on the boat? Ocean is stubborn so this took a long time and lots of tricks. We started with collecting Ocean’s pee and pre-scenting a piece of carpet at the bow. No go. We then got a fake grass pee pad. No go. We even tried waiting her out but, after 41 hours, she peed but on one of our boat cushions. Geez. In Miami, we bought two pieces of sod and put them on her pee pad. Surely, she would go on actual grass? Nope. But she did figure out that we wanted her to pee and that she would get a treat if she “looked” like she was peeing. This started a round of “fake peeing” that we had to correct. Finally, we took the advice from another sailing couple to “super saturate” her. Every fifteen minutes we gave her a cup of water with tuna flakes in it and then took her to her pee pad. It took three hours but she finally did it. The celebration was huge! She now consistently goes on her pad, which has made all of us rest much easier.
What about the salt water? Yes, salt water is terrible for dogs. They can’t drink it of course but having it on their skin, fur and paws isn’t good either. It dries out their paw pads and makes their skin red and itchy. We always make sure we have lots of fresh water for Ocean to drink, whether we are on shore or on the boat. She also gets a fresh water rinse off EVERY TIME we return to the boat. This gets both the salt and sand out of her fur and off her paw pads.
How does Ocean stay safe when we are underway? She wears her harness or lifejacket and is tethered to the boat. She also stays only in the cockpit unless the conditions are calm or we are at anchor. Luckily, Ocean is a very chill sailor. No matter the conditions, she doesn’t get anxious. No, she just sleeps. 😊
In amongst all of this Ocean fun, we are planning and preparing to head further south. We are watching the weather carefully and have connected with some buddy boats who are also making the same journey. We hope to find the right weather window to head to Long Island early next week. After Long Island, we will continue through the southern Bahamas to Great Iguana. Then we have a 160 nautical mile (30+ hours) to the Dominican Republic. The journey continues!
Victoria is a hiker, dog-lover, blog writer and planner extraordinaire. Oh, yeah and she is kind of fond of living on a boat.