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The Doggie Paddle

A cup of coffee. That’s really all I had on my mind as I tidied the boat and got the dinghy ready for a ride to shore. I was standing on the swim platform; I just untied the dinghy and was about to call my pup Salty over to join me for the sojourn ashore.

Still full of puppy-ish energy, she must have forgotten we were on a mooring and not our usual slip. She bounded across the cockpit, leapt onto the coaming and off onto, well, nothing. It was one of those slow-motion events. I can imagine the shock Salty felt as she fell into the water. I held my breath and shouted her name as—thankfully—her head rose to the surface. Despite being a designer water dog, she actually hates swimming and therefore isn’t great at it. I can’t remember her ever truly swimming without the ground being inches from her paws.

I saw the panic in her eyes as she doggy paddled frantically but didn’t get any closer to the boat. Clad in socks and shoes and my favorite sweatshirt, phone tucked neatly in my pocket I jumped in after her. I quickly grabbed her under one arm and in a few strokes had her planted on the swim platform—adrenaline is a powerful drug. Karen heard the commotion and came running out to lift her into the cockpit. Connor cried as his best friend showered the boat with a water-ejecting shake.

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In the chaos of the moment I realized that my dinghy was drifting away. I’d have to swim after it too and bring it back to the boat. Sopping wet, I caught my breath as Salty’s tongue hung out, she shook either from the cold or the anxiety of the unplanned plunge.

There’s a certain image I have of myself when out on the water. For better or worse, I try to always remember that I represent the Power & Motoryacht crew. Still, I usually find that whenever I start to feel a little too much like a big shot, that’s when boating comes along and humbles me. This was one of those moments. A humbling lesson that when things go wrong they go wrong fast, and that complacency should never have a home on the water.

Still damp with salt water drying in our hair, Salty and I tried a second time to head for shore in what was becoming a now vital dose of caffeine. We walked up to the café on the corner, bounded up the stairs, reached for the door and for the second time that morning, my heart sank faster than you can say “cold brew with cream.” The sign read: Closed Tuesday.

At this point all I could do was laugh. “Well, Salty, I guess we had our morning jolt anyway.”

Despite what I may have cursed in the minutes immediately after our early morning swim, boating is better—and always more interesting—with a dog.

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