20 September, 2011

Cats in the Cabin

Last night – well not quite last night but I wrote this piece the day after it happened but have not uploaded it till now.  We stopped at Ardoise  We had stayed here on our way north – it is off the river up a tributary just south of the nuclear plant.  It is a back water with little traffic and a few boats tied up in a marina run by a lovely French lady.  On our first visit we did not stop at her restaurant but eat on board.  The following morning our neighbours told us about the great meal that they had at the restaurant and we should go that night.  Unfortunately we were moving on so we had to skip the meal.  Now this time when we tied up we advised the restaurant lady we would be having dinner and a great dinner it was – To start we had a pastry parcel of tomatoes, goat’s cheese and herbs followed by hare in wine sauce and a pork fillet.  All prepared and cooked by the lady.  Needles to say we had a good quantity of Cote de Rhone wine.
After a very enjoyable dinner we returned to Malua which was moored alongside a large British barge with no people on board.  The night was warm so I slipped in the lower and upper wash boards to close off the companionway and retired to bed.  At about 3:00 o clock I was woken by a noise I thought was the rattle of the wash boards.  I lay awake listening hoping to catch another noise or to hear some movement in the saloon.  I heard nothing but knew I had to get up to investigate.  Taking the touch beside my bed I entered the saloon and there on the top step of the companionway was a big black cat.  With a shout that not only woke Denny but most of the marina, the cat slipped between the wash boards and bounded down the walkway fleeing a mad captain.
Now that remind me of the last time I heard a cat noise in the night.  I was alone moored Med style to a quay alongside Charlie Girl at little Vathi in Greece.  We had been out for some food and I had returned knowing that the Greek cats like to scavenge for food on empty boats so I had closed the companion way, portlights and all the hatches.  I went to sleep with only the small portlight open a meter above the stove.  I was woken with the noise of the kettle moving on the stove.  I thought it was only the wind but after listening awhile I heard another noise.  I knew I had company.  I switched on the touch and advanced into the saloon to find a cat on the settee.  I aimed a good shot with the touch and the cat started to climb the walls, ceilings and every other place to get away.  It could not jump back through the portlight and the companionway was closed.  After a good attempt to subdue the animal with the touch I decided to let it escape through the companionway.  I removed the wash boards and advance on the cat.  There was a flash past a good swing of the touch and the cat was gone.  I closed the aft cabin door and closed the wash board and return to bed.
The following day I cast off the quay and sailed to the other side of the island for two days of relaxation while I lay at anchor about 30 meters from the shore.  The following day I sailed to Vlikho a good days sail from Kalamos.  On this occasion I again went stern too the quay and dropped the boarding plank to get ashore.  Before I left to see the island I opened the aft cabin door for the first time for four days.  I was struck by a vile cat sell.  Not wanting to investigate further I hit the high road asking my neighbour to keep an eye on Malua while I was gone.
On my return the neighbour who did not speak much English told me my cat had run off the boat and had been chased down the wharf by the local tom and I should go and look for it before it was killed.  On further investigation at the back of the aft cabin I found where the cat had lived for four days.  A mess of hair and other things brown was unbelievable.  I must have scared the shit out of that cat on the night and then locked it the cabin without food or water for four days.  It took me a week to get the mess out of the cabin and at least four weeks to get rid of the sell.
I should have learnt my lesson on that occasion but I did not expect the French cats to follow the Greek example but on this occasion I was sure it ran down the walkway.

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