Honey Learns To Fly (And Other Boat Dog Adventures In 2017)

Every crew member of sailing vessel Meander experienced big changes in 2017. But none more than Honey the boat dog who even learned to fly.

Honey the boat dog learned to fly (literally and figuratively) in 2017.

If I’m attached to a ball, does that make my person a golden receiver?

Here’s what happened aboard Meander in 2017.

We Became More Confident

We traveled over 1600 miles by boat last year. It’s hard to remember everywhere we’ve been.

Luckily, we keep log books of our travels. And we took tons of pictures.

Logbooks for s/v Meander.

Two log books where we track all our travels.

But the biggest change over the year is hard to see in a log book or photos. It’s how much more confident everyone feels.

We share the water with huge vessels. But somehow they’ve become far less scary than they used to be.

Container ship and tugs near Norfolk, Virginia.

Container ship and tugs near Norfolk, Virginia.

Many of the greatest challenges this year involved taking Honey to shore in the dinghy.

Mike and Honey dinghy to shore at Sloop Point Anchorage in Topsail Sound.

Y’know, if you built me a proper bathroom on board, we wouldn’t have to take so many dinghy trips.

We had to battle currents.

Mike raises his hands in victory at the boat ramp dock at Steamboat Landing.

Can you see a triumphant Mike who managed to row Honey to the dock against a strong current?

And inexperience as Pam learned to run the outboard and fly Honey into the boat on the block and tackle.

Honey the boat dog prepares to fly into the dinghy.

Does it look like she knows what she’s doing?

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Honey has become so confident in her Ruffwear Doubleback Safety Harness that we have to stop her from leaping into the dinghy by making her wait until we’re ready for her.

Apparently Honey thinks she can fly.

Other challenges arose because we are now anchoring more.

Adding solar panels to the boat means we can stay at anchor longer. Of course, anchoring has its own challenges.

With only batteries being charged by solar panels, we don’t have unlimited heat or cooling.

We rely on Honey to track the temperature.

Honey tells us the temperature by her position sleeping on the boat.

If my tail covers my nose, it’s below 50 degrees on the boat.

Honey the boat dog spreads out to sleep.

If it’s over 80 degrees on board, I spread out to keep my nethers cool. (Don’t freak out—I sleep with my eyes open.)

When the Honey thermometer tells us its warm enough, we swim off the side of the boat.

Mike swims off the boat in the Great Wicomico River.

Can you guess that Mike enjoys swimming about as much as Honey does? In other words, not at all.

And of course, there are always boat chores to do.

I finally got confident enough to attempt varnishing our teak. Brave? Or stupid? Because there is no more horrifying task than varnishing teak near a shedding dog.

Redoing brightwork on Meander.

Tape protects the boat from varnish. Now if only I could find a way to protect wet varnish from dog hair.

Feeling more confident on board made everything easier.

Of course, there are always plenty of reminders to keep us from becoming too cocky.

Wrecked boats in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Months after Hurricane Matthew hit, we saw the aftermath in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

But most of the sites we saw in our travels were far less horrifying.

Visiting Interesting Places

We traveled at a slow pace, trying to take time to see things along the way.

Many cruisers transit the Intracoastal Waterway as quickly as possible to reach warmer weather. We stopped for weeks and even a month at a time.

We enjoyed seeing St Augustine, Florida…

Honey the golden retriever visits Castillo de San Marcos.

Is this my new house? Does it have indoor bathrooms?

And we spent a month in Marineland, Florida where the beach was across the street from our marina.

Honey made the most of going to the beach every day.

Honey the golden retriever runs with her in on Marineland's beach.

People admire the coquina on this beach. Is coquina my other name?

We anchored several days near St Mary’s, Georgia. Visiting at the same time were replicas of Columbus’s Nina and Pinta.

Replicas of the Nina and Pinta at St Mary's, Georgia.

Love the authentic inflatable dinghy attached to the mother ship. Notice the historically accurate detailing of the outboard engine.

When we got to Annapolis to work the boat show, we did a few touristy things. Although the Maryland state house grounds are not pet-friendly, we found plenty of other places that welcomed Honey.

Annapolis State House.

It’s pretty. But it’s not pet-friendly. There are “no dogs allowed” signs all over the Annapolis State House grounds.

My favorite historical site of the year was visiting Fort Monroe at Old Point Comfort.

The fort has been significant since the colonial era and served as a major stop along the Underground Railroad for people escaping slavery during the Civil War.

The lighthouse is still in use.

Honey the golden retriever poses at Old Point Comfort lighthouse.

Funny, it’s called Old Point Comfort Lighthouse but I’m not feeling too comfortable.

We also really enjoyed being in Belhaven, North Carolina in time to see their annual train show.

Of course not every interesting site is a tourist attraction. We also enjoyed watching this jetty being built near the Savannah River.

Crane building a new jetty near the Savannah River.

Didn’t you ever wonder how they build those gigantic rock retaining walls?

And we always enjoy seeing watermen out on the water. This one looks like a hobbyist with a few traps near his home.

Working a crab trap on the Great Wicomico River.

I wonder if he’d sell a few crabs as carry-out?

If you ask Honey for her favorite places to stop, she’d tell you…

Honey the golden retriever enjoys the beach at Little Bay, off the Chesapeake.

Woohoo, it’s a beach!

…the beach at Little Bay off the Chesapeake, and…

Honey the golden retriever plays on the beach at Dividing Creek off Hughlett Point.

Woohoo! Another beach!

…the beach off Hughlett Point, and…

Honey the golden retriever runs on the beach at Little River Inlet.

Woohoo! And yet another beach!

…the beach off the Little River Inlet in South Carolina.

If it’s a beach, Honey loves it! Probably the only thing she loves more is making new friends.

Making Friends

In some remote areas, we meet more wildlife than we do people.

Some are hitchhikers.

Dragonfly on lifelines.

Dragonflies frequently hitch rides on the boat.

Some are friendly neighbors.

Dolphin swimming beside Meander.

Every day on the water is more fun when the dolphins stop by to visit.

And some are so shy that if we got too close, they’d go flying.

Egret on the dock at St Augustine.

When I see birds this big up close, I worry that one of them will carry Honey away.

Sometimes we’ll travel with other boats for a short while.

Little Vic was waiting for us at one of our favorite anchorages after we told its captain it was a good spot to take a dog off.

Little Vic's dinghy going to shore with the dog.

He was such a friendly boy I know he would have swam over to our boat if we had encouraged him. The dog, not the captain.

Twice we took trips off the boat. We traveled back to Ithaca for Honey’s vet appointment and to let her see two of her favorite people again.

Honey the golden retriever with Glenda and Diana.

I better get a cookie for this shot. Because I would much rather be cuddling up to my favorite people than posing for a boring picture.

And I took advantage of BlogPaws coming to South Carolina. Honey got to briefly meet the crew from the blog thek9harperlee. But Honey was back on the boat by the time I snapped this pic of Harper Lee, Tallulah, and their people.

BlogPaws red carpet.

K9 Harper Lee (in the black ruff) and her sister Tallulah walk the red carpet at BlogPaws.

We meet quite a few cruising dogs in our travels. Every so often, one of them is a good play mate for Honey.

Here’s Lily, a puppy Honey played with in a South Carolina park on Christmas day.

Honey the golden retrieve wrestles with Lily the puppy.

Yeah, you’re only winning because I let you, Lily.

And a few days later, Honey got to meet MacKenzie who visited the boat with her people.

Honey the golden retriever with MacKenzie on Meander.

Who’s cuter? MacKenzie or me?

If you think MacKenzie is as cute as we do, you can follow her on Instagram.

We love meeting new friends. You can see where we are in the map on the sidebar. If we’re coming close to where you live, get in touch. We’d love to invite you aboard.

What To Expect in 2018

For now, we’re still on board and looking forward to new experiences.

Honey is so confident, she even knows how to fly. Who knows what she’ll learn to do next year.

Honey the golden retriever flies off the boat.

I feel like a super hero.

Honey the boat dog waits under Meander to be lifted on board.

Thought you might want proof I made it safely to the ground.

I guess you’ll just have to follow us to find out.

Your Turn: Do you have any questions about Honey’s life as a boat dog? Ask in the comments so we know what to write about in 2018.

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  1. So glad you are living your dream and enjoying it. It takes the right person to live the boat life. Good thing you don’t have a puppy as the trips to shore would be 99% of your days…and nights! Happy New Year!

    • Yes, but if we had a puppy, we would probably not have to worry about teaching her to pee on board. 🙂

      Happy New Year to you too!

  2. Great recap of your year! I can’t wait to see what adventures await you in 2018.

  3. We always thought that dog hair and spider webs made paint stronger.

    Anyway glad for the update, there were times when we feared pirates or sharks might have gotten you. You are without question our most adventuresome blogging buddies. Have a great 2018!!

    • If dog hair makes things stronger than I must be invincible. 🙂

      And no, we’re much more likely to be gotten by the bill collectors or jet skis than we are by pirates or sharks.

  4. Congrats on getting through 2017 in style. Here’s to a pawsome and seaworthy 2018.

  5. Loved reliving 2017 with you and sharing in your adventures. And, of course, we were thrilled to meet Honey and her humans at BlogPaws. If your sails ever bring you to New Orleans (or anywhere along the Gulf Coast), we would love to be your tour guides. Wishing you calm seas and cool breezes in 2018!

    • Thank you for not suing me for using your family photo. Thanks to messing up my camera settings almost none of my BlogPaws pics turned out. But your whole family looks wonderful in this picture! It must be all that golden charm. 🙂

      We’re hoping to do the Great Loop in the future which would take us through the Great Lakes, down the Mississippi, and into the Gulf. Need to save some pennies first. But would love to meet you in your home town when we do.

  6. Love the thought of the confidence you’ve built up going into your second (third?) year of sailing. (times so flies!) I think that is the best thing I’ve heard about your adventures from my perspective. You can keep the people meeting to yourself. lol Now something that was strange, uncomfortable and unfamiliar is becoming like second nature. Wait until next year and see where you, Mike and Honey will be… 🙂

    • Isn’t it crazy how things we think we could never do become comfortable to us?

      I can’t wait to read about your adventures too!

  7. I looks as if you and Honey had a lot of fun in 2017. Onward to even more adventures in 201!8

  8. First! How the heck did you get back to Ithaca? That’s a long way from the east coast waterways!

    Second! Loved this post! Wonderful recap! I hope I can catch you again as you pass my area!

    • He he! We got to Ithaca via the RentalShip Enterprise. 🙂

      Mike really wants to go up the Potomac to Washington to see the sights. Maybe we’ll be in your backyard in the spring.

  9. Edie Chase says:

    Happy New Year! It’s always interesting to read about your boat life.

  10. I’m horrible at keeping up on blog reading so I loved your recap! I am kind of envious, TBH! Looks like you all are having a fabulous time. Love reading about all Honey’s goings ons. 😉

    • Ha ha! Glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t keep up with all the blog writing I would like. It’s also why I love EOY recaps.

  11. What an exciting year you all have had! I love seeing all these highlights, and it helps all of us landlubbers understand why you have chosen the life you have. (actually, I love the water, but I love the comforts of land and space too much as well!).

    • Glad you enjoyed our journey along with us. We’re happy to share life in a ten foot wide (at the widest part) home so you don’t have to. 🙂

  12. What a fantastic year! We saw the replica ships this summer as well when they were in our harbor on Lake Erie! They sure get around 🙂 I can’t wait to see what adventures you have in 2018!

  13. Wow, you have had such an amazing year, I am so happy for you. it is inspiring me to do more next year