Photo: Jack balancing on the bow pulpit.
"Elsie, come out here quickly and help me find Jack! The urgency in Steve's voice told me this was more than just an incident of Jack wandering into some unknown part of the boat. I dropped the sponge I had been using to clean the galley counter and raced up on deck.
Steve was standing on Osprey
's stern looking overboard.
"He was on top of the lifesling. I saw him jump toward the dinghy, but he's not there now. I can hear him meowing but now I can't see him," said Steve.
The sun had set a while ago and dusk was settling into Hisnit Inlet in Nootka Sound where we had anchored for the night. I could still see the nearby shore with its encircling marshes and mountains beyond but not many details.
Then, I too heard the meows, louder and lower than Jack's usual meows. I ran to the port side deck and looked over. There, close to the Osprey
's hull, I saw a flash of orange fur moving toward the bow. I called him, "Here, Jack, Jack, Jack." He turned toward me, tried frantically to climb up the boat's side, then swam right by me, heading for the stern. Afraid that he would swim away toward shore, I got down on the deck, reached my right hand as far as I could toward the water - and grabbed Jack's tail. He struggled against me, but I held on. Dragging him back, then briefly letting go to grab his harness, I swung him onboard. Steve grabbed him while I collapsed in relief on the deck.
Earlier that evening we had laughed as Jack balanced on the stern pulpit, then raced up and down on the deck. I had jokingly said that I wished he'd fall overboard at anchor when we were awake and could rescue him so he would learn a lesson. I hadn't realized how difficult rescuing him would be.
Steve put Jack in the galley sink and hosed him off, then I dried him with a towel as best as I could. He spent the rest of the evening grooming himself and shivering.
Did Jack learn his lesson? He acts like he knows no fear. He still walks on the bow and stern pulpits and when we're at anchor, he takes flying leaps from Osprey
's deck into the dinghy and vice versa. But he does seem a bit more cautious when we're underway and we hope he's developed a better sense of when he can jump.