Boating Adventures | A Skipper without a Boat, by Vicki Totten

Susan Bell's pencil drawing depicting Skipper as she imagines he sees himself.

Apparently Skipper has decided he is no longer a boat cat. I suppose you could say he has now officially been "domesticated." This time last year, he was perfectly happy to have me put his harness and leash on him before he quickly ran all the way down the dock, knowing to turn in at the second to last boat slip, before leaping aboard our boat. 

Fast forward a year, and when I tried to take him onto the boat a few weeks ago, he actually hissed at me before plopping himself down on the dock and refusing to move. I ended up carrying him down the dock, with his claws digging into my shoulder the entire time. And once we were aboard, all he wanted to do was to stay inside the cabin - instead of being out on the cockpit studying the water and leaping onto the bimini and boom - like he used to do. One thing is for certain, he makes it quite obvious when he doesn't like something.

Back in the days when he was still a boat cat.
He was "co-Skippering" that day.


So, what changed since last year? What changed was that we found a house downtown with an attached space for my potter husband to put in a studio/gallery.  So, we sold the lot we had planned to build on, locked up the boat, and began our life in downtown Rockport.  Skipper seemed to take to it even more than we did - which is saying a lot, since we love it. 

He still wanders much farther than I would like - like the day a few weeks ago when I looked at his tracker to see that he was over 900 feet away.  I found it suspicious that according to my gps, he had traveled all the way over to "Miss Kitty's Fishing Getaway's." I suppose if I try and think of that in cat terms, the name would suggest that there would be fishing involved and that it would be the kitty doing the fishing.  Apparently, however, it didn't take him long to figure out that he had been mistaken about what to expect, since by the time I hopped on my bike to go retrieve him, he had already made it back to the house. 

Now instead of climbing on our boom, he settles for bathing on the roof.

I can see why he likes life in downtown Rockport better.  He spends his days literally chasing butterflies, terrorizing lizards, and stalking huge birds that he has no hope of ever actually capturing (at least I hope!).  And when we are in Rockport, he will fall down in front of wherever we happen to be walking in order to get us to pet him.  

Apparently before entering, I am required to pet the cat that just plopped down in front of me.

Once we get to Austin, where we still have a home (for now,) he immediately acts like he doesn't know us.  He will walk right in front of us, with us calling to him and will refuse to even turn to look at us.  He also has taken to hiding from us once we are back in Austin.

The first time he hid, we were just sure he had somehow gotten outside.  We lock him in at night and keep a tracker on him because of his tendency to travel where he shouldn't be traveling.  And according to the tracker he was "home."  I scoured every inch of the house, and could find no sign of him.  

Realizing he had been found, Skipper's paws begin poking out of the box springs.

Finally, I got a powerful spotlight and looked under my bed.  That was when I noticed a strange bulge coming from the box springs.  And when I pushed on the bulge, it felt squishy, and seemed to move.  How? Why?  Maybe he thought if he was just bad enough, we would relent and head back to Rockport right away?  I know, his thought process is probably not quite that complex.  But he does know what he likes and he is not afraid to let it be known. 

Maybe other people see this too, since an artist friend took a picture I gave her of Skipper and began, as she says, "playing" with colored pencils to make a drawing of him from the photo - adding her own interpretation of Skipper's world.  I now keep it framed in my living room as a reminder of who is really in charge. 

As if I need any reminders that he is the Skipper of us, even if he is now a Skipper without a boat.


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