My name is Bengie and I am the ship’s cat on Take It Easy.
I am a Bengal girl, a spotty leopardy looking cat with bright green eyes. I am rather good looking if I say so myself. I was born on 28/8/06 in Ballan, Victoria, and was destined to become a ship’s cat. My first ever sea voyage was on Medina when I was just 4 months old and we did a circumnavigation of Bass Strait. I loved it and haven’t looked back since.
Now several years later we sail on Take It Easy. It’s even better, more spacious, lots of nooks and crannies to explore or hide in, very comfortable and I feel safer on it too.
I am pretty adaptable and well travelled. Currently we commute from Melbourne to the boat on weekends or holidays. I don’t mind the car trips as long as I can sit on the power seat: you know, on the lap of whoever is driving. Let it be known that I would rather be at home in Brunswick or Jan Juc, where I can climb trees, chew on a blade of grass – not too much or it makes me vomit – and try to catch butterflies. But I think our days on Terra Firma are numbered. We are spending more and more time on the boat and I reckon it won’t be long till my humans stop working in town and we live aboard permanently to go cruising. What an adventure that will be!
I love nothing better than a salty sea breeze ruffling through my fur. I quite like being in the cockpit – preferably on the helm seat – when we are sailing along, but if things get a bit lively, I sit inside on the settee where I can still keep an eye on Mum and Dad while snuggling in the cushions. If the motion gets too bad, then I just retreat on their bed; in fact under the doona is the best option. It’s warm, I can’t hear, see or feel the chaotic motion… puurfect!
The deck on Take It Easy is really broad and good for a wander or inspection of our surroundings. I am not sure about the nets at the front of the boat, too tricky to walk on, but the pointy bow is a rather cool spot to look at dolphins who often join us. I particularly enjoy peaceful anchorages, when we sit quietly and I can get up on deck, run around, hop on the cabin roof, try and climb the mast – slippery sucker that thing! I also luuve cat naps. I need my beauty sleep, which is just as well because sometimes this cruising thing gets a bit boring.
My humans think I am a sticky beak. But I just like to get involved with what they do on board. I particularly like anything involving repairs and maintenance. Screws, bits of wire or strings are fun to play with and hatches, I just adore hatches – and bags too! My absolute favourite thing is when Dad takes the cushions off the settee and opens up the hidey holes to get to his tools. Did you know that’s where the water tanks and battery bank lurk? What a buzz! And the other super spot to explore is behind the toilet. The rare times Dad unscrews the panel to get to the holding tank, I have to try and get past him and sneak in. It’s dark and goes a long way back. But that’s a no go zone as far as he is concerned. I suppose my sharp claws on the old poo bag could create a frightful mess!
Another fun thing to do is fishing. Again I like to help. Dad and I set ourselves up on the sugar scoops and from time to time we catch a fishy. I especially like playing with the lures. There is something irresistible about the bright colourful ones and the feathery ones. I’ve got to watch the barbs though… They could inflict a nasty injury.
Now one thing that’s important to mention is that being a Bengal, I am quite chatty. I have had to develop a special language so my humans understand my needs. I vary the intensity, length, volume and pitch of my miaows, depending on how I feel; short little miaows mean I am a happy little vegemite, long “woohs” mean I am waiting, “mooaah” means I am inconvenienced. For instance if someone coughs or sneezes loudly, that deserves an indignant mooaah. A long growwwl means there’s something dodgy going on out there. A loud and insistent “waaa” is come on, pay attention. In the main, they get what I am talking about, but I struggle to get them to understand the “I am starving” bit, particularly when I ask for second breakfast… you know, 5pm refuel. I am training them, but they are a bit slow.
Frequently asked questions
Have you ever fallen in?
Errm… Yes, very embarrassing. I’ve fallen in twice now! Once I was watching those pesky little welcome swallows swooping under the jetty. I over balanced and ploof… head first in the drink… I wasn’t swimming too well and sinking. Fortunately Mum jumped in and rescued me. I managed to paw my way onto one of the beams under the jetty and I wasn’t letting go! She called me Barney for a while… you know, for barnacle. And the other time, it was at the Cruiser Club. I was walking along the edge of Medina, minding my own business, when my Dad saw a big mozzie on the clears and bashed it just as I was slinking past. It gave me such a fright that I jumped up in the air and misjudged the landing… slid down the edge of the hull and in the drink I went! But I was able to climb back on board quick smart and howled at Dad in total disgust.
Do you ever get seasick?
I don’t seem to suffer from it. I will give you a hint: if you start feeling a bit green, go to bed and sleep through it… Works for me!
How and where do you hunt?
Well I am proud to say we have no mice problem on Take It Easy. I chase mozzies and flies and the odd dragon fly, to keep myself fit. And cable ties are great fun to play with as are feathers, so I get hunting practice several times a day.
How do you manage with the toilet business?
It’s all mod cons for me on Take It Easy. Dad made me a great litter box. He calls it the shit box… how rude… but it’s excellent, made to measure so it fits between the human toilet and the side of the hull. And I now have my own cat door so I can get in and out of the bathroom and do my business in private.
Do you ever get off the boat when you are cruising?
Rarely. You see if we are anchored, it means going in Peasy, the dinghy; it is not easy peasy for me, I can tell you… just too scary. Sometimes if we are moored at a jetty I like to hop off and take a look at other boats or stalk the terns. I crouch down low and move around stealthily. I’ll tell you a little secret though, I am a bit scared of falling in again, so I don’t do it often. But in the main, Mum and Dad don’t let me go ashore. They are too worried I’d do a runner.