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Life afloat - a cruising & a snoozing...

Welcome to the first of Buster’s nautical doggy dispatches - 'Tails' of our adventures afloat and our journey of discovery aboard our fabulous home Arcturus.

It’s been almost 8 years now since Fred and Christian bought me aboard as an uninitiated landlubber pup – a new chum to the life afloat.

But gradually, patiently and day by day, I’ve managed to slowly train my skipper and his best mate into the many needs of their canine crew and overall – they’ve both done a pretty good job of looking after me.

Sure, a few more doggy snacks wouldn’t go astray and perhaps Fred will think twice before bouncing a ball on deck while we’re underway – I am a dog.. we do fetch – and just as well,
we swim also!

But gradually we all settled into a pretty laid back, cruising mode and I’d take my daily position up on the bow to keep a doggy eye out for pesky penguins, plundering pirates and peculiar pelicans.

Some of the things we are often asked by friends ashore is exactly about that - How do we set a watch? How often to be have to man (or dog) the helm? and
Do we anchor at night?

In deep water there is no way to anchor, even though we carry 400-feet of anchor chain, so we must keep moving.

That means that either Fred or Christian are always accompanying me on watch in the pilot house. After many trials and errors, we finally worked out a watch schedule that works for us. It might not be right for everyone, but for us it works. During the day we are usually all up and about tending to our daily chores like housekeeping, meals, minor repairs, chewing old shoes and other things like that.

At 7pm Christiane goes to bed and I join Fred on watch until midnight. The responsibilities of the Watch stander are to stay alert for any changes inside or outside of the boat and to keep the doggy snacks coming.

A slight change in engine RPMs might signal a problem - a clogging fuel filter or perhaps we ran over a stray length of rope floating in the water.

Arcturus has a full array of instruments to keep her crew safe: a 48-mile open array radar, two GPSs, a full set of engine gauges, 1,000-foot and 750-foot depth sounders and a 23” monitor which displays our charts.

We use an Icom VHF for short range ship to ship communications and an Icom HF radio for long range and email communications.

We also have active read outs which report our generation and use if electricity in both volts and amps. The main engine is equipped with both a 160-amp and 200-amp alternator, at the moment we are running the 160amp and it generates all the power we need to run the boat including:  microwave oven, coffee maker, toaster or doggy clippers – all without starting our 8-Kw generator

At night we set the radar at its 6-mile range. Any ship beyond 6-miles will not show up because it is not a threat, at the moment.

We don't usually set radar alarms because we have witnessed alarms fail to sound. The only resources we trust with our lives are our human and doggy eyes and ears as our instruments only help us to better interpret the world around us.

Our reward at the and of a long passage?

Anchoring in a crystal clear tropical lagoon, a refreshing swim ashore and time to relax, explore and meet the locals – ahhhhh doggy heaven.


It’s no secret around most of the marinas, beaches and islands of South East Asia that Arcturus carries one of the leading stars of the US Olympic Swim team and probably their best hope for gold at the 2020 Tokyo games.Rippling muscles, streamlined physique, powerful limbs that surge through the water effortlessly and a great nose for competition - this golden haired darling of the swimming world is probably the most exciting aqua offering since Spitzie pulled on a pair of Speedos and powered down the pool.

Each morning or late afternoon this champion in the making can be seen making his way out past the marina breakwater accompanied by his Olympic trainer at the tiller of Arcturus' fast pursuit tender.

There have even been rumours circulating from time to time that Arcturus has in fact a reserve power unit for the reserve diesel engine as a double back up for the main engine. Simply toss a line over the bow and Arcturus could probably still make 3 to 4kts towed behind this powerful paddling pooch!

Ok  Ok Ok - perhaps I’m exaggerating just a tad but everyone knows how much I love my swimming! Deep oceans, quiet anchorages, marinas, rock pools or mountain streams - you’ll find me over the side and doggy paddling away before my skipper Fred can grab his bucket and spade and hit the beach.

In fact, Fred tells everyone he meets "Buster would rather be wet than dry and would rather swim then walk" and he's right on with that statement. Every day come rain or shine and often twice a day, Fred will take me swimming either from the beach or main rock wall or leading him out the harbour ahead of his dinghy.

Fred loves to throw rocks, balls or anything that will make a splash as I clear the high dive board, executing a perfect triple axel, reverse turn, tuck and pike into the water and joyously doggy paddle my way to the sinking object.

To tell you the truth, I think the whole thing is more for Fred enjoyment so I’m more than happy to humour the old boy and what the heck? it gets me into the water.  At other times, we hop into the dinghy and Fred throws a tennis ball or my bright red float toy, (I have never met a Golden who isn't a sucker for tennis balls or red float toys.) and in no more than two shakes of a puppy dog tail I’m over the side and off to to retrieve it. Fred then idles along just fast enough for me to follow but not catch up as I swim 10 to 20 feet behind. I swam over two miles like that one morning last week.

Back on land or ship, Fred always takes the time to wash me off with fresh water and towels me dry. I really like the towelling because it's like a massage and makes me feel good all over. I almost forgot to mention my short fur. No, I am not some strange breed of hair challenged Golden. 

My natural coat is a beautiful gold colour and about three inches long but with me swimming so much, long fur never fully dries and can lead to skin disorders. To solve the problem, Fred gives me a crew cut every four or five weeks. 

Sometimes, when I meet a cute girl dog, I pretend to be a very rare short haired Golden but that breed doesn't even exist as I'm really just an average guy with a a close crop that will dry quickly after a swim and a rinse.On a more serious note, I have a thing called dysplasia in my right hip joint. I was born with it, lots of dogs, my size, have it. Actually, it doesn't bother me much. 

Fred says the trick is to build up plenty of muscle around the joints to keep them from dislocating. Years ago, when I was still a puppy, I heard my doctor tell Fred that the best exercise for me would be swimming. It's a mild form of exercise with none of the jarring that might harm my hip joint joint. What could be better - I love to swim and our home is a boat!

Some of the best swimming days of my life have been up in the mountains in the creeks, rivers and swimming holes. I can literally swim all day as I splash around happily retrieving large river stones thrown in by the adults and children around me.

A diving dog? I hear you ask?

Absolutely! I swim and dive and nothing gives me more pleasure than hearing "attaboy you did good!" Once, as we were leaving the river Fred, counted the rocks that I "retrieved" and brought on shore, the total was twenty six. Can you believe it? Me either! I went down and brought up close to a hundred pounds of rocks in one day. It must be some kind of river record.

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