Aloha Jen, my wife and I live on board a Downeast 38 in Hawaii. We too
wanted a dog but really took our time in deciding (1) Could we provide
a decent life for a dog on a boat, and (2) What kind of dog that
There was a lot of visiting pet stores, seeing a lot of
different breeds, reading up on them and then going back to the boat
looking around and thinking about it. This process lasted about two
years. The companionway ladder on our boat is very steep so even
though most dogs could be taught to climb up most would not be able
to climb down especially in a sea way so a breed small enough that
we could carry up and down was required. I have seen more than a
couple of cases where someone owned a dog, bought a boat, the dog is
too big so has to remain topside all the time.
However, we are not really into lap dogs so the equation now read
"small but hardy". We also knew that whatever we bought had to be
a puppy so it could grow up being used to boat. Because our Downeast
is fairly open down below and because we have fairly wide side
decks, we felt this "small but hardy" dog would have some room to
run. We finally decided on a Shetland Sheep Dog (Sheltie) and have
been very happy. She weighs about 27 lbs so when we take her topside
or down below we just tuck her under our arm like a hairy football
and go. As far as potti training, be sure that you teach you dog
that it is o.k. to go on the boat. Dogs who don't know this will try
and hold and could get ill.
Heddi (short for Headstrong) has a pad down below and also one up on
the foredeck and those are her spots. Actually, she has learned that
so well that if we are out on the pier and she has to go she will
let us know that she needs to go back on the boat. She will however
go in the grass or on the sidewalk when we go for a walk. A piece
of indoor/outdoor carpeting works well. If you put a gromet in one
corner and tie a line to it you also have a way of cleaning the pad
while sailing. I also recommend putting life line netting up around
the boat. We hadn't had Heddi on board for an hour after we had
bought her before she fell over. Good swimmer but her navigation
skills were a bit lacking. We now have netting around the front
and lee cloths around the cockpit.
Jen, I hope this helps. Sorry I got so windy but it is obvious, I'm
sure, that you opened a topic very close to my heart.
15 Jun 2000
I had two labs grow up on a sloop with just summer use. They were
great and fun but there were problems, as you might expect. Cautious
by nature, they were wary of the dock, with spacing between boards,
let alone the sometimes 1-2 foot jump from dock to boat. Made an
18" X 40" passerelle (gang plank) which helped after puppy hood
(each 80lbs mature).
Another problem, which I never solved, was "doing business" at sea.
I tried to teach them to do it on a green and white Michigan State
door mat (not the maize and blue University of Michigan mat) with
a hole in one corner tied to a lanyard; the idea being after
"business", throw it overboard and wash it off. It was a pipe dream.
Yet another problem was "retrieving" them from the water back on
board after a swim. I rigged and tied a four rung boarding ladder
to the toe rail and was barely able to "assist" them aboard from
below. I think extra rolled old toweling taped around the steps
helped. I seemed to always need a third arm.
I always felt they liked that sloop as they would sleep well underway
on the cockpit floor, just flip over when I tacked and slide to the
opposite corner. On yes, hair. Make sure to clean your automatic and
manual bilge pumps as well as your engine air cleaner intake. Hope
these old memories help out. Have fun.
16 Jun 2000
Our eleven year old female black lab springer mixed hates the boat.
Her problem is she can't keep her balance when it heals. She slides
from side to side when we are sailing. Motoring is a different story.
If we get close to shore, she off is an instant. Retrielev is
easy.....she climbs the ladder. She learned to do this at a
childrens playground. She would climb the steps and then go down
the slide chasing the kids when she was younger. Everyone thought it
was a hoot.
Dog hair can become a problem from a wet dog. I installed a wash down
pump this year to help keep the cockpit clean. We have a doggey life
vest, but she really hates to wear it unless necessary. I guess she
thinks it makes her look like a sissy.
We are in South Carolina and the sun gets rather warm, so we are
careful not to take her out in the heat of the day.
You'll love the Rhodes for sailing in MN (how bout dem ViQueens) and
TN. I'm originally from Wisconsin (cheesehead).
01 Aug 2000
Others have mentioned having dogs aboard, and Rummy has the wonder dog
that can climb ladders. But you need to deterimine how you can get the
pooch back aboard when he/she jumps over for a cool dip. You could
rig some form of a harness for he/she to wear, with a ring on top,
then use a block and tackle system off the boom to pull it aboard.
Never seen it done, but I think I've read someone doing that. A 40#
dog that is wet might weigh a bit more, so plan for it's growth and
the water weight.
I would hate to have to retrieve a pet using that method if I were
sailing and the dog decided to go overboard. Having no experience
with a dog aboard, I don't know what you could expect. Of course
several have mentioned a doggie lifejacket, which I would suspect
would be necessary.
In the midwest along sandy or muddy bottoms, I have beached my boat
and tied off to a tree. Out in the west, where the bottom and
shoreline is very rockey, we don't do that much. With the centerboard
up and rudder up, you can pull in quite close to shore. In the
Michigan area, along Lake Michigan and their inland lakes, you will
find sandy bottoms, once again, there are rocks. particularly this year
where the big lakes have such low levels. The R22 is a good boat for
the purpose you mentioned.
01 Aug 2000
I sail with a mixed husky and black lab. The brains of a husky (or
lack there of) and the enthusiasm of a lab. 1 happy, dumb dog. She
does well as long as she knows she is on her leash.
Mt. Zion, IL
01 Aug 2000
We sail often with our Cairn Terrier (about 18 lbs fully grown) which
is a totally different situation from your dog. She has her own PFD
and loves the boat. Her favorite pastime is walking in a loop
around the seats in the cockpit visiting everyone. The only problem
is that she is just tall enough to hit the tiller as she walks under
it. I always think the rudder has hit something!
Although the Rhodes is technically beachable, I've not been
comfortable the few times we've done it. It is not flat bottome like
most center boarders. Depending on the steepness of the bottom, when
the bow is beached, the boat will be rocking on the keel. I usually
anchor close enough to shore to float the boat and wade in or use a
Insurance runs me about $250 for the year on the east coast for a
1990 hull. Aside from liabilility, the value of the hull will be
set by the company unless you have the boat appraised.
01 Aug 2000
We have sailed many times with our beagle. She has short legs, and
therefore a low center of gravity, but she still isn't very
sure-footed in heeling or choppy water. We found out the hard way
that she needs a child-sized dose of Dramamine before sailing. Like
most dogs, she is happy to ignore her own discomfort out of
loyalty and desire to follow her humans wherever they go.
The R22 does have the biggest cockpit that I've seen on a 22ft boat,
and it's actually a bigger cockpit than those of many of the much
larger boats in our marina. That's probably a big consideration when
you've got an 8 1/2 month old 40 pounder.
Good Luck and Happy Sailing
05 Aug 2000
In response to your question about sailing with a dog. We spent many
a night with our german shep/aussie shep mix aboard our Rhodes. He
was not wild about the heeling but he would plant himself in the
stern under the tiller and the cushion gave him enough traction to
keep from sliding back and forth. We were able to get close enough
to shore for a shallow wade to the boat and as the dog never got
comfortable wwith going from the boat to the water, I would lift
him off the side of the boat and carry hime ashore. Also saved the
wet dog smell. That was in WV where the lakes are rather small and
the wind puffy... not a sailor's paradise but the love of sailing
kept us on the water. We are now in costal N Carolina and the boat
is again perfect for weekend cruising and I even sail to work on
occasion. The Rhodes has proved to be the perfect boat for us
although more extensive cruising plans and two young boys are
pushing us to start looking for a larger boat. Good luck in your
searching and feel free to write if you have any more questions.
Insurance runs around $190 for us. BoatUS does an agreed hull value
which saves arguing about the worth of the boat and depreciation
issues. You tell them how much you want it insured for and they give
you the price. I covered the cost of the loan.
s/v Flying Circus
02 Aug 2000
I currently have a Poodle with whom I have sailed numerous times. I
keep him in a doggy pfd which would make it easier to retrieve him
out of the water with a boat hook. I tether him to a winch to keep
him securely in the boat. I sailed a lot with a Beagle in the 60's
both on a 32 foot something and a 19 foot Malibu Outrigger (similiar
to a catamaran). While cruising, we would row to shore with her
2x a day which seemed sufficient for her. On the Malibu, she would
run around on the deck (there is no cockpit on that boat - it's all
surface) chasing birds and fish and was continually falling off.
Having no motor, we would circle around and go through a DOM (dog
overboard maneuver) and fetch her out. Luckily neither she nor our
current Poodle were inclined to motion sickness. I have heard of
folks doing longer crusing runs training their ogs to use one
particular spot on the boat when rowing to shore isn't an option.
The mess is easily washed off.
05 Aug 2000
We have 2 English Bulldogs which sail with us. Neither one can swim
and when in the water they sink like a rock so they both wear PFD's
and we keep rather long leashes on them. They are really no trouble
other than taking up space they weigh 85 and 60 pounds respectively.
05 Aug 2000
It depends on the dog and the boat, one of the smaller water dogs that
was raised a boat, will be at home, From what I heard people use grass
door mat that is attached to a rope for cleaning. Use the mat instead
of papers with the puppy. On the other hand a Adult house dog would
never use the boat, is is like them crapping in the house or car and
violate years of training. I take the Daisy out day sailing but would
leave her at home for overnight sails. The other issue, it is only a
22 foot boat, Daisy is a 70+- lab, who loves to be with us but get
banged around allot and has a hard time finding a place that "safe"
for her. Also nver under estimate how sharp thought claws are doing
the doggy paddle, unless the dog is trained to use the ladder get
the dog back on board can be painful.
09 Aug 2000