When you’re a dog owner, your pet becomes a big part of your life. They’re family and you share so much with them. Long walks, cuddling in bed, playing in the yard and maybe even joining you on your yacht for a cruise if they’re lucky. At Pier Sixty- Six Marina and at Pelican Landing (our restaurant right on the docks) we’re pet friendly. We believe there is no reason why you shouldn’t share your love of the sea with one of your furry loves from the mainland.
But as you can imagine, there are a few considerations to keep in mind, in order to make sure the experience is fun, safe and enjoyable for everyone, including your four-legged guests.
Before you embark, there a few things you need to do to ensure their safety. First, if you haven’t done so already, consider getting your dog implanted with a microchip. It will be a lifesaver if Fido accidentally gets lost at port. You never know when they might see something that makes them jump ship. Look, a squirrel! If you dislike the notion of microchipping, at least make sure there is an ID tag on their collar that
contains your yacht’s permanent marina location, a phone number for when you are at sea and also a land line number belonging to a friend or family member as backup.
Secondly, make sure to get your dog a personal floatation device (PFD) and get them used to wearing it. Most animals are naturally good swimmers, but just like people they can panic. A bright orange one is recommended for visibility and if it has a small handle on it, even better. This would allow you to easily grab them out of the water if they fall overboard. You should practice swim and rescue drills with them while your boat is docked and train them to paddle to the yacht’s ladder or swimming platform. Also think about putting down some Astroturf mats or throw rugs to make it easier for your dog to get some traction. Dogs don’t have the advantage of deck shoes (there’s a business idea for someone) and fiberglass decks can be very slippery when wet even for a dog, making it easier to fall off the boat. However, if they dislike the PFD as some dogs do, you just might want to consider a pet crate for when they are on board.
Third, much like their humans, dogs can and do get sea sick. Talk to your vet about sea sickness medication for your dog before your trip, just in case. And then get them used to the yacht before the first voyage. Introduce it to them slowly while it is still docked. Let them walk around and get used to the sights, sounds and smells. Pets love familiar spaces and places of their own, so you might also consider a separate room onboard as a designated space for your dog. It will make them happier and any trip with them a whole lot easier.
Next, playtime and exercise are very important for your pets while onboard your yacht, particularly if you will be at sea for extended periods. Dogs in particular need to move around quite a bit. Try to keep them entertained and having fun on board but keep in mind dehydration from a hot sun can be a big problem. Animals are more susceptible to dehydration, heat exhaustion and sunstroke, so be sure they have access to plenty of water and pay close attention to their behavior. Look for signs of dehydration or heat exhaustion such as heavy panting or little movement and fatigue.
Finally, what about doing their business? It may be a bit challenging if you will not be docking often enough for your dog to go potty on shore. You can train your dog to “go” on a piece of sod. But some owners prefer a synthetic grass pad, as they are much easier to clean. Either way, you will have to get them used to that before you take them on a cruise. All in all, with a little patience, prep and a little practice, yachting with your dog can be a fun, enjoyable, memorable experience for everyone.
Happy yachting Fido!