August 15, 2016

Taking your dog on a charter boat holiday

By Robert Cross

We are sometime asked the rules around taking dogs on a charter boat holiday. In Europe in particular, it's common to have the family canine aboard on holiday. Once they are used to the nautical life, most dogs take to it like ducks to water.

Planning to take your dog sailing

Dog owners can get great pleasure out of sharing vacation time with canine crew members. But before taking your dog on a sailing vacation, especially for the first time, there are few things to consider.

Take a local boating excursion first. Make sure your dog gets a little experience on the water, and observe him closely to ensure he can get his sea legs quickly. Most dogs will lap it up, but it's better to check the animal's in-built response to movement and restricted spaces while still close to home.

Both on the initial shakedown cruise and when the real sailing adventure begins, ensure your pooch has something familiar along, such as her blanket and a favourite toy.

Canine health matters at sea

In preparing for the trip itself, consider your dog's health and safety needs, just as you do those of every other crew member. Dogs get sunburned too, so take along a suitable sunscreen, maybe even a canine sunsuit, especially if your pet is short-haired. You may want to talk to your vet about seasickness medication.

Make sure there's a doggy life vest that fits, and when aboard yacht or tender, put it on (the dog, that is). On board, be mindful of his need for shade and a quiet corner if he gets a little uneasy.

Make sure your dog is up to date with shots and other treatments and that she has an identification tag, even if she's micro-chipped. Before your trip you will have checked there are no quarantine rules in your destination that may affect your holiday plans. And when plotting places to go ashore, be aware of local rules that may prohibit dogs or restrict them to a leash.

Dogs aboard boat on charter

Toilet arrangements can be a challenge for your dog and fellow crew-members. A cat's litter tray may suffice if there is room for it tucked somewhere out of the way. Or consider taking along a piece of artificial turf, which is more practical above deck. You can't rely on your dog to wait for shore leave. Teaching him to park over the rail takes more time than you may have, and can lead to an unscheduled swim.

We encourage you to think about taking your dog along on your bareboat or crewed sailing charter; it can be a joyful experience. But there are considerations, and we are only too pleased to work through them with you at the right time, which is well before you arrive at base.

And of course there's nothing here against taking cats on charter, or other species of pet for that matter. Within reason.

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