Living With A Dog On A Boat, Dragging Anchors, & Other Fun

It’s been a long, slow week filled with sunburn, storms, laundry, a few mishaps, and some work on the boat. I finally got around to resealing the chain plates, and I got them done just in time.

Sparky napping in the laundry

Dragging Anchor Again

There was another really bad storm early last week. It didn’t last as long as the one we had last month, but the winds were really strong. The Turtle dragged anchor again, along with 4 other boats. But this time I was ready!

I still haven’t found a new place to stow the secondary anchor, so it’s just sitting right on deck. I ran to the bow and quickly tossed it in. The line was feeding out so fast that I got a good rope burn on my hand.

After a few failed attempts at tying it on the cleat, I had a feeling that I was just going to wind up hurting my hand. Finally, I just wrapped it around the cleat a few times and the boat came sudden stop as the anchor bit. We were swinging towards the shore only about 45 feet from the mangroves.

Flipping Dinghies

When I got back to the cockpit the dinghy had actually flipped over from the waves and everything inside was floating away. I was able to quickly grab one of the vests, one oar, and the pump, but everything else drifted into the mangroves.

About an hour later when the storm finally stopped I was able to paddle the dinghy over with one oar and get the life vest and the second oar that were still in the mangroves. The only casualties, this time around was my old flip flops and the compass cover.

Thanks to dragging we’re in a new spot where the holding seems to be much better. Another much rougher storm hit early the following morning and we didn’t budge an inch. We’re also much closer to the dock.

getting towed on a jet ski
Getting towed through the Wheel Ditch on a jet ski

Adventures At Work

A few days after the storm it was still a little windy out, and I had a jet ski tour. About half way through the tour we had to shut both skis down because they had sucked up some sea grass that was floating on the surface. One of the skis wouldn’t start back up, because the voltage on the battery had dropped.

While we were waiting for my boss to deliver a new battery to us out on the water, we towed the broken down ski to get us to a spot where were more protected from the wind. Luckily there weren’t too many people out on the water. This was one of those few times that the one boat we saw in the Wheel Ditch was actually nice enough to slow down.

I Came Out Here By Choice

If I stay right here maybe he won't leave me.
“If I stay right here maybe he won’t leave.”

The following morning I had an Eco tour and luckily conditions had calmed down. That afternoon a friend of mine came down with a few friends to go snorkeling. Since I didn’t have another trip and there was an extra seat I went with them.

Winds were already picking up by the time I got back from my Eco tour. By the time we got out to the reef we were in steady steep 3 footers. Not horrible if you’re going diving, but pretty rough conditions for snorkeling in.

The First Mate Is Up To New Tricks

Like most dogs, Sparky can tell when I’m getting ready to be leaving. His new thing is to go lay in his doggie bed which is in the master cabin. I guess he thinks if he’s in there I can’t close the door, so therefore I can’t leave him.

The photo above is from the other day when I ate breakfast before work. I guess I wasn’t supposed to be able to stand up with him in my lap. It was worth a shot since the doggie bed thing doesn’t seem to be working out.

16 Responses to Living With A Dog On A Boat, Dragging Anchors, & Other Fun

  1. It’s my first time seeing a dog on a cruise 🙂 Dogs are really intelligent and loyal. They want to be with their master most of the time. I have a dog too and we love to go to the beach to swim and to the park to play frisbee with my friends. I don’t like to leave my dog in the house alone. If I have to, I would leave him to a friend or to my parent’s house so that he will not be alone.

    • It’s pretty common to see dogs on cruising boats Keye. When I used to charter my own boat Sparky was the mascot. People were more interested in him than what they saw in the water. I wish I had someplace I could leave him, or that I could just take him with me, when I have to work.

      Eventually I may move back into a marina for a while. At least there he will have other neighbors close by. Or after I get some repairs done, move my boat closer to work. Then I could check on him between tours.

      Or hopefully he becomes famous enough that this site starts making enough money that I don’t need a second job. Then I’ll never have leave him.

  2. Wow what a great read! It sounds like you had a heck of a time! I used to sail a lot with my parents friends, and I still do from time to time. I actually thought about getting myself a 50’er and doing away with my house.

    Lucky, he loves boats, but I couldn’t get him to swim in it! He is a Yorkie/Maltese mix – Morkie
    The dock that my mother’s friends keep there boat in barely budges when even a category 3 hurricane comes through. It is a small deep deep channel surrounded by land with only two 100 foot wide exits. They are deep though, when we go over, the channel say 50 feet. Prety impressive for a channel that is only 100 feet wide right? LOL It can make for difficulties though.

    • Dot it Chris! If you like being an the water and already know how to sail there’s no reason not to. The only potential obstacle to overcome is downsizing all of your belongings.

      Sparky loves to swim, sometimes too much. He used to constantly jump off the paddleboard during tours. And even used to jump off the back of the boat after iguanas at my old slip.

      That is impressive. I was in Miami when Sandy went by. It was a category 3, but more than 200 miles out, and it was rough. I’m actually thinking of moving back into a dock here. There is a marina nearby that has a lot of protection from being in a narrow mangrove channel. More so to make life easier while I’m working, and maybe get me a few more trips, since I can get there faster when someone wants to go “now”.

  3. Wow, your living my dream Captain Chris. Love the water and get claustrophobic if I spend long periods of time inland. Do you do any fishing off the boat? Think I would keep a line in the water if I were you. How long have you been out from the marina? Guessing you use a generator for power? Live it up brother, your doing what so many of us wish we had tried.

    • Thanks Mark! I get asked that question a lot. for reasons that I can’t explain, I don’t really do a lot of fishing. I’m on a boat full time, I like fish, it should be a no brainer. In fact the gear was getting such little use that I sold it. I do have a pole spear that I hope to start using soon.

      I was at anchor full time for a little under 2 years. Then forced into a dock when I started chartering. This time around I’ve been back on the hook for 9 months. I had a generator for a short time, but not any longer. I get enough power from my solar. In the rare case that my batteries do run low I can charge off the engine.

  4. Hi Captain Chris,

    I think the company of a dog is something that should not be without, especially in difficult situations because they are the first to prevent any unforeseen approaching and especially at sea. I see that your dog is smarter than you thought it was, is not it? He not wants to miss the adventure, though you do not invite 🙂


    • Yes Renan,

      He’s the best little first mate you could have aboard. Sparky just isn’t used to be left alone, and he definitely does want to go on all the adventures. Up until this season I was doing trips on my own boat, so he was always in the center of the fun. When I guided people on kayak tours he’d come even out on the paddleboard with me.


  5. Hi Chris,
    Fascinating adventures. You are living the life, although I am not sure that living on the water is my cup of tea. First mate seems to be a lot of fun. What was is reaction to the storm? Where are you headed next? Will you stay there or head to different locales?
    Hope it is a safe and fascinating adventure.

    • Duncan,

      He does get all of the attention everywhere we go. He was curled up in a ball hiding under the covers. You could tell he didn’t like, but not scared like some dogs get with any storm.

      I’m starting to get burned out with Islamorada…or maybe it’s just burned out with not moving. I really want to make it to Belize, but for now maybe just further down the Keys, if I can find a job.

      Thanks, Chris

  6. Wow this dog is really living life to the max! the storm in the video looks pretty scary stuff.

    I live in the U.K and our storms are pretty tame.

    does the dog ever get scared or motion sickness id love to take my dog on more adventures but dont want to put him through any stress

    • Yeah, it was a pretty nasty one. It was even worse when it first hit. The winds were stronger than what you see in the video. He really doesn’t seem to get too scared from storms. He does occasionally get sick, but only out in the ocean, and in much bigger waves.

  7. First of all, love Sparky so so much. He’s so adorable but yet macho in his own way. 🙂 Well, I really envy Sparky & you for being able to spend so much time together travelling around. Is not easy as it takes hard work & efforts for both of you to make this work out. And the mutual understanding between the 2 of you must be awesome. Hope you can write something about how you train Sparky up to be such a great companionship. 🙂

    • Thanks Chris!

      There wasn’t really anything special that needed to be done to train Sparky, other than the things you’d do with any dog. He took to the boat very easily, and he’s naturally a very friendly, people dog…although sometimes a little beggar. He makes more friends than me! I’ve actually debated taking myself off of the site entirely and just making it all about Sparky.


  8. That is awesome that you take your dog on your adventures. I bet you guys have so much fun together. The trip looked like it was a blast too. It’s convenient that he’s a little dog, a lot less hassle with taking him to different places. Much less worry about food too I’m sure!

Leave a reply
Your email address will not be published or added to a list. Required fields are marked *