Photo: Fiji the cat, courtesy of Picton Castle
Date: Monday, August 5, 2019
Fiji? Aboard? Huh?
Fiji is a cat. Calico colors … if I am not mistaken.
She is Picton Castle’s ship’s cat. Came aboard Picton Castle during the recently ended seventh round-the-world voyage.
Fiji is a wanderer.
According to Picton Castle’s cook, this wandering around ashore is new. Hmm … a cat goes wandering is not novel. Wandering from home and returning home is a common event for domestic cats that have a home base to return to from their neighborhood wanderings.
Except Fiji’s home base is moving from port to port. Weekly moves during this summer. Only three to four days at each new port. Going ashore for Fiji might possibly be akin to exploring by Europeans in far-off continents never before visited by Europeans. A time before maps made by European explorers.
The first I heard about Fiji was a story from Picton Castle’s Captain Dirk Lorenzen of getting a phone call during Basil Port of Call: Buffalo, the festival that kicked off our nation’s 4th of July long weekend.
This call came from an animal shelter. One some thirty miles from Buffalo. They figured out how to contact the ship through the chip installed in Fiji. Part of the amazement of the story is that the chip seems to indicate Fiji is from Fiji? Or is it the ship is her home and it is from the Cook Islands? Whatever, it seems the animal shelter twigged to the tall ship festival ongoing in Buffalo, thirty miles away, and managed to make contact and arrange for Fiji to be transported to Buffalo and back to her floating home, only temporarily, in Buffalo.
Now, how did Fiji get thirty miles away from Buffalo? Someone took her, of course. A good Samaritan. From that event, Fiji now carries a big sign (big for a cat with a collar) that tells of her floating home and provides a number to the captain. But I recently learned from the same captain that the phone number has been taken off. He was getting calls at 1 a.m., 2 a.m., 3 a.m. declaring, “we found your cat.” The captain’s response each time was, “No, you did not find the cat. You picked her up near her home floating in your harbor. Please put her down and let her be.”
So, Fiji is aboard, meaning aboard Pride — something I heard a few times during Kenosha Tall Ships®. Seems Fiji makes visits pretty frequently. Seems logical. Here in Kenosha, Pride is the first ship Fiji would come across when departing her ship for her exploring. Some couple of times Fiji has taken to sleeping on Pride‘s captain’s bunk, the bunk I use aboard Pride. I have not been using it. I am fine with Fiji making use of it. I have been using the air-conditioned hotel room provided by the festival organizers.
Unlike Toronto and Buffalo, all of the other port festivals have had all of the participating vessels moored near each other. All in one compound, so to speak. Whereas in Toronto and Buffalo, there were two or three separate compounds of ships. Each compound some distance apart. Upwards of half a mile in Toronto. More like a third of a mile in Buffalo. For the all-grouped-together-in-a-compound scenarios, I have witnessed Fiji ashore making her way along the row of ships. Seems by the stories I have heard, Fiji visits all of the ships. Not sure, nor can I guess, as to why Fiji chooses Pride’s captain’s bunk for lengthy naps.
My wife, Leslie, a friend to all animals, possessor of four house cats, and a friend to a yard cat that has adopted Leslie as much as she has adopted him, indicates that I may have some of our home cat smells for Fiji to identify with, having brought clothes from home.
Other factors that might play into the frequent visits aboard by Fiji could be smells to be found aboard Pride. Maybe also because Pride is pretty quiet. Only a dozen living aboard. All the other larger vessels have twice or more living aboard. Whatever Fiji’s thinking, she is welcome. And we make sure she is not aboard when we move Pride.
A different kind of inter-ship friendship story. Eh?
Captain Jan C. Miles