The best sailing pet

Cat Instincts in Lorient

22nd September 2011


Cat Instincts in Lorient

Lorient France

Bye, bye, Concarneau, hello Lorient, Haliguen and Vannes.

Did you know that Lorient was so named because it was the French staging post for their East India Company to the Orient? Don’t let anyone tell you that theses blogs are not educational!

The sail to Lorient was truly superb. Calm seas, just the right amount of wind, blue skies, warm weather and no pesky dolphins. It was perfect but I am sure that’s not what you want to hear. You want to know about the blood, sweat and tears. Well sorry there wasn’t any. It was just perfect, so go back to turning the central heating up and watching “Dead Enders” and “Coronation Strife”.

Lorient is a large natural harbour with several little Islands in the main channel.  The obligatory rocks are scattered around in the most inconvenient places but they were well-marked.

There are literally thousands of boats here but as far as we could tell we were the sole British representatives.


Submarine pens

The Submarine pens in Lorient

The submarine pens in Lorient.

Opposite one of several marinas there are the old German world war two submarine pens complete with a U-Boat.(Now a museum). You will no doubt be heartened to hear that during the war the English tried to bomb the pens which were like trying to crack Fort Knox with a melting ice crème cone. Having failed, some bright spark came up with the idea of destroying the city to kill a submariner or two which did not go down too well across here. Lorient was laid to siege for a year and only surrendered when Hitler decided to do the decent thing and cancelled his next birthday party. The city is now a mixture of old and new and as cities go it works pretty well.


Thank you for French toilets

The toilets in Lorient

The Toilets in Lorient

Some of the toilets were a bit daunting as they had no doors. You try going when the world can see you. In the marina launderette there was a bowl just stuck on the wall! When Angelina was washing she got a bit flustered with her French when a man decided to use the urinal next to her. She meant to say “Bonjour” but instead said “Merci”.  I cannot imagine he had never been thanked for going to toilet before! Most toilets in the places we have visited don’t have seats for some reason and in Haliguen they are mixed!



From Lorient we made the trip to Haliguen , which is not too far from the Gulf of Morbihan and Vannes. I am sure you don’t want to know the next bit so stick your fingers in your ears and hum very loudly. There was not a cloud in the sky, the sea was flat calm and it was hotter than a vindaloo in a sauna. It took about six hours to get to Haliguen and that sun was torture. I am sure all you back in England remember last April and that one sunny day you had. Well it was like that but a whole heap better.

Port Haliguen is a beautiful little village but we were kicked out as the world, his mother, grandmother, plus a few distant relations were all here racing boats. There was nearly no room at the inn. I told them that Angelina was having an immaculate conception and a bright white light was following us. In the end it turned out to be a bad case of wind and the anchor light at the top of the mast but we managed to get a place for the night.

Aiden in the Morbihan

Going into the Morbihan

The following day we went into the Golfe of Morbihan and up to Vannes. It was like entering the bowels of John Prescott, very scary but I will leave that to the next blog. Suffice it to say we are still here to tell the tale.

Well that’s it, a bit of general knowledge, a bit of history and a quick mention of John Prescott’s bowels. What else do you want?……. Well the other day this strange thing happened which got me thinking….


Sailing cat Instincts

I saw a bloke leap from his boat onto the pontoon in his salmon pink trousers with a lead in his hand. Attached to the end was a small ball of black cat fluff with a leg at each corner and a face that could only have come from continually running into walls. He was taking the damn thing for a walk. I presume it was a compromise to the wife but surely there must have been ample opportunity along the way to lose the damn cat over the side. Ten minutes after the splosh he could have whispered very quietly “Fur ball overboard”. OK, he would waste another half hour going round in circles to appease the distraught wife but would it be worth it. Of course it would.


A cat is a waste of good DNA

Let’s face it a cat is a total waste of perfectly good DNA that could be used on something more useful like grapes or hops and yeast. They won’t even chase a stick. A Cat will usually be found skulking under stationary cars looking all innocent when in fact what they are doing is sawing through your brake pipes.

Have a cat aboard your boat and anything that goes wrong is down to the hairy Ninja saboteur. You never own a cat; they own you and they have got no concerns when it comes to selling you out at the first opportunity. Leave the critter alone on your boat and if “Billy the Burglar” in the stripped tee shirts and mask come calling what does the fur ball do? Shows its teeth or makes a noise? No, it either ignores them or shows them where you keep your prized possessions. Even if Billy does not come calling with his jemmy leave the fur ball alone for too long and it will be putting posters up and holding an open sale of your worldly goods.

A cat will always think it know better than you, you can see it in their sly, scheming eyes. Do a bit of maintenance here and there and although they are pretending to be totally disinterested, that one eye he has on you is thinking “That’s all wrong, it will never work”.  You can also tell a cat lives aboard a boat. It smells as if Grandma Mable’s has eaten the world’s supply of asparagus and her colostomy bag has burst.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a modern-day man and can show my emotions. Just like the next man I like to stroke the occasional pussy but a cat as a companion on a boat! I would rather have Charles Manson in charge of sharpening the ship knifes whilst I slept soundly in my bed.


What is the best sailing pet?

Now this got me into thinking, what pet would make a good cruising buddy?

A lot of people have dogs but come on. They just suck up to you at every opportunity they can. Paint it orange, put it in a ballerinas tutu and audition for “Britain’s got no talent” it will let you without question. If you sailed to the middle of the Pacific Ocean, kicked “Tiger” squarely in his landing gear and threw him overboard you know damn well that in a year or two he would just turn up. He would find you wherever you are with bleeding paws and present is nether regions for another kick as he likes this game. They drool, slobber, leave hair everywhere and produce huge quantities of dog eggs for you to stand in. OK they chase sticks but if you tossed a telegraph pole it would spend the next week or two trying to bring it back to you whilst proudly showing off his new tutu and paint job. Dog’s do however have one redeeming feature which in my book makes them OK. They hate cats. Oh, and if you spell dog backwards you get a whole new discussion point.

So what is left as a pet for those surrounded by sea? It has to be something that costs nothing to keep or maintain and is useful. It doesn’t leave a lot really as Noah found out after his 40 days and nights.

In my humble opinion it leaves two things, the first being Freddie the tortoise. Now they are low maintenance and it takes them until two years on Monday to have a quick wander round the decks. Throw them an acorn and by the time they bring it back you have a fully grown oak complete with a tree house and a Polish family living there. You can test paints on tortoise shells and in winter they make wonderful door stops or props for a wonky chair. The only problem is that a tortoise is just not for Christmas. They will live until Armageddon and probably beyond.


The perfect pet for a boat

I other thing I have come up with as the ultimate crew member is Bob, the humble sponge. No, it doesn’t fetch sticks and in the faithfulness department it will stay by your side through thick and thin unless you move it. It won’t protect you from Billy the burglar but it won’t collude with him or give your secrets away. It makes a pretty good listener and best of all will help you clean the boat even if its role is pretty passive. If pushed a Persian cat could be dipped in a bucket of soapy water and rubbed over your hull but its Stanley knife claws would rip you to shreds. This tends to defeat the object as the blood leakage gives you a pink boat and salmon pink trousers. Now isn’t this where we started?

The ultimate pet

The ultimate pet

Before concluding this week’s edition of “Animal Magic” with Johnny Morris (brings back memories doesn’t it) I have to give another version of the ultimate pet. Although not strictly adhering to the rules you do have to give me full marks for thinking outside the box!

I would like to add that no animals were injured during the making of this blog and anything which may cause offence, apart from to the 3rd Reich is totally intentional.

“Women and a cat will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.”


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  1. Cats or Dogs…or tortoise or… , I am always afraid of cats but I had a dog once and it was a great experience. It was a funny post and I was surprised to see without door toilets in Lorient. It means I will never go there 🙂 , and sometimes it happens when you are trying another language as your wife said “Merci” instead of bonjour . It often happens to me when I am trying to speak arabic …
    thanks for sharing a nice travelling experience.

    1. Thank you for commenting about the cats and dogs. As for the toilets. Do’t read my post where men and women share the toilets and showers .. that would get you going.. Thanks again for the comment.

  2. Hey Mark, gives a new slant on the term Ship Cat. If you can have a rock for a pet I don’t see why not a sponge !

    1. Paul, I do prefer the Penthouse Pet myself but if I tried to get one aboard I would end up with the sponge in my mouth, rock tied round my ankles and being pushed overboard with the ships cat.

  3. Now I should probably be appalled by your discussion of cats and dogs, but I was too busy snickering at your wife telling a French man thank you for taking a wiz next to her. And ok…the cat and dog comments were kind funny. 🙂

  4. Hi Mark,
    Pleased to meet you! I love all animals, but I must say, I also love your brand of humor. 🙂
    I got a good chuckle about “Dead Enders” and “Coronation Strife” and a number of other places in your post.
    You may enjoy a joke I created. Cats come in three religions… Roman Catlick, Pusspaterian and Athee-hisssed!

    All the best!

  5. Not a big cat fan either. Not sure what happened as I liked them when I was younger. Maybe it was the continual scratches inflicted on my head over time. They do have very cool distant cousins in Africa though.

  6. Hi Mark, your comment link is working for me now – don’t know what happened before – maybe it was too early this morning 🙂
    You are right, I have to give you some flack for the cat comments, I am a proud cat lover, have two of the lovable fur balls 🙂
    Cats are just little people with fur coats – I got rid of my husband. The cat was allergic – And my fav: Dogs have owners, cats have staff.
    I know one thing for sure, cats have attitude lol
    However I do have a sense of humour and can laugh along with you – good post 🙂
    By the way, I liked your take on Lorient!

  7. This is jay

    I feel the same way that you described about cats. Once again thanks for taking us along on your trip.

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